Hey kids! It's time for Express! Sadly, I am sick for the second time in the past month thanks to my germy little brother I was visiting this past week, but I am going to persevere to give you the best Smackdown coverage around! The "Supreme" Seth Berger is on vacation this week, but stay tuned for a special Raw Is Trivial note about, ahem, some mistakes made by Express's editor (aka me) with last week's Raw Is Trivial. Also, Christi's Corner is out this week thanks to a Washington, D.C. Smackdown preemption (Those bastards!), but will be back next week. On to the show!
We opened with a recap of last week's Kurt Angle versus Undertaker No Way Out rematch. They included some great clips from both men's careers, and also emphasized the wrestler versus striker storyline. The highlights of the match were set to the classic Survivor Series 1998 theme song, "Deadly Game." My favorite spot of this match was Kurt Angle missing the moonsault. Angle has the most beautiful moonsault in the world. After the missed move, Taker hit the tombstone piledriver and did the classic casket pin on Angle. It was clear he was going to get the win (Do we really need to do this to the World freakin' Champion?) when all of the sudden, out came Mark Henry to break up the pin and give Taker the disqualification win while costing him the World Heavyweight Championship! He laid out Taker on the announce table, then stood on the Spanish announce table which they had claimed was there because of this big main event, but was obviously there for some kind of spot. Henry then ran and leapt (well, as much as Mark Henry can leap) and splashed Taker through the table! It was definitely a memorable spot. Daivari held up his client Mark Henry's hand in victory afterwards.
*** No Smackdown opening video, but Mark Henry and Daivari started coming down to the ring. They've done a nice job making Mark Henry seem like a bad dude, and even after stinker matches, they can reestablish him with spots like that splash. Daivari got on the mic and talked about how, last week, we saw Undertaker versus Kurt Angle in a rematch for Kurt's World Heavyweight Championship, which Daivari called a "classic." Daivari then repeated that "classic" term sarcastically and asked how we can possibly have a classic without Mark Henry involved. (This may be the funniest question in Smackdown history.) Daivari said that there is one man who deserves to be the World Heavyweight Champion, one man who is the most dominating force in WWE, one man that deserves to be in the main event at WrestleMania, and then he repeated "one man" several more times before saying that it was, of course, the World's Strongest Man, Mark Henry.
Henry got on the mic and said that everybody seems to have forgotten about Mark Henry, "until now." Henry talked about how Batista forgot about Mark Henry until Henry hurt him so bad he had to give up the title. Henry talked about how Taker took his title shot away from him, but after last week, Taker remembers! Henry then said that Kurt Angle wouldn't even have the title if it wasn't for Mark Henry. (Good point. Also, what about how Kurt had to cheat to win at the Royal Rumble?) Henry said that he does what he wants, to who he wants, whenever he wants. Henry wants his title shot! Henry called out Kurt Angle. He said that Angle has options: He can either give it up, or he can "get it took." Henry said he didn't have all night, so he suggested that Angle reached down inside to find the courage. He was interrupted by Kurt Angle's music.
Angle has an awful new "You Suck" t-shirt. (Almost as bad as Randy Orton's music, but more on that later.) Angle said "You want to call me out? Here I am." Angle said he has forgotten about anything, but Henry has. He said that Henry forgot that Angle is a wrestling machine. Angle said he won't have to wait until later on tonight to have that match, because he's ready now! Angle dropped the mic and ran into the ring!
Angle ducked a punch from Henry and threw a series of blows followed by an uppercut. However, Randy Orton ran in! He tried to ambush Angle, but Angle took him down and started beating away. Henry made the save for Orton, attacking Angle. Henry and Orton started double teaming Angle, but then Rey Mysterio ran in! Angle fought Henry while Orton fought Mysterio. Orton dropped Mysterio over the top rope. Orton then turned his attention to help with Angle, and gave him the boots to send him to the outside. Mysterio had his head between the second and third ropes, much like the 619 position. Orton directed traffic with Henry, who ran over and dropped down through the second and third ropes on Mysterio's neck to the outside! Daivari yelled "You are the man!" at Mark Henry repeatedly. Angle ran in with a chair, causing Orton to bail to the outside. Angle yelled that if he wants to take Angle on, he'll take him. Theodore Long's music hit.
Our Smackdown GM got on the stage and said that he wants them to stop it right now. He doesn't want to be fining or suspending anyone before WrestleMania. (What if they test positive on the drug test?) Long said that they all want to fight each other so bad, in the main event, it'll be Randy Orton and Mark Henry versus Rey Mysterio and Kurt Angle. (Isn't this a bit of a weird match just a week before Orton, Mysterio, and Angle have to team up at Saturday Night's Main Event?) Angle and Mysterio pounded fists in the ring.
They hyped the six-man Money In The Bank ladder match for a title shot briefcase at WrestleMania, which will have three members from each roster. We already know that, from Raw, it will be Shelton Benjamin, RVD, and Ric Flair. Tazz talked about how Long made the announcement on WWE.com Unlimited on Monday that it would be an inter-promotional match (which was also repeated on TV, though it's kind of sad that Smackdown gets stuck with WWE.com).
Up next: The first Money In The Bank Smackdown qualifier will be tonight: Fit Finlay versus Bobby Lashley! Cole reminded everyone about the freaking awesome fight these two had last week. I can't wait!
Hi There! I'm Robbie Daw-- Whoops, sorry, I was writing about OVW again for a minute there. WrestleMania 22 is only 23 days away! I can't wait for the video package they put together to that incredibly cheesy "Big Time" song.
(1) Lashley versus Finlay in a Money in the Bank Qualifier never officially started.
"My name is Finlay, and I love to fight!" Finlay is so, so great. He's a man who seems like he would beat you to a pulp, just for kicks, and that, my friends, is what a good heel badass should feel like. He had his goofy shillelagh club with him. Cole noted that the winner of this match would be making their WrestleMania debut this week. They're already missing the boat on Lashley, who could have been the next Goldberg or Brock Lesnar in certain ways, but this feud is working wonderfully. Finlay's bringing out the intensity that Lashley needs to show instead of always looking like he's holding back. I don't know that Finlay's video really needs a cartoon leprechaun, but whatever. Cole talked about how Edge used the Money In The Bank stipulation to win the WWE Championship from John Cena a few months ago.
Lashley came out next. Finlay ran out of the ring with the shillelagh and went to go clock him with it, but Lashley grabbed him and ran him kidney first into the apron! Finlay then hit Lashley in the jaw with the shillelagh, followed by another shot to the back. He dropped the weapon and continued the assault, taking the fight to the ground. Charles Robinson tried to pul Finlay off, but Finlay shoved him away hard and went back to attack! Lashley reversed it and took control. Finlay got onto Lashley's back on the ground. A couple more refs, including Nick Patrick, came out and tried to pull Finlay off. A huge group of security ran out to restrain Finlay. Officials were tending to Lashley and helping him up, but Lashley broke free and speared Finlay to the ground on the entrance! Lashley was beating the crap out of Finlay as security desperately tried to pull Lashley off. They weren't able to, and Lashley brawled with Finlay through the curtain. Those goofs cut to ringside instead of sending the cameraman to follow the fight right away.
They did follow up, though, showing the brawl continuing in the parking lot! Finlay got free and was going after Lashley, but Lashley grabbed him and threw him into a metal fence! Finlay took a steel pipe and swung it at Lashley's abdomen! Finlay even used the pipe to fight off one of the security guards! Finlay swung and smashed a car window, setting off a car alarm! Finlay hit Lashley with the pipe again with a straight shot, then hit the car again and broke another car window. Finlay swung again and knocked off the car's side mirror. Lashley kicked Finlay in the gut, causing him to drop the pipe, then bounced Finlay's head off the hood of the car twice. Lashley threw Finlay up on top of the car. Lashley hit a security guard, then showed some nice agility and ran up the car, then beat on Finlay on the roof. He bounced Finlay's head off the roof several times. Lashley dropped down and threw a security guard into what looked like a big laundry cart, though I believe it was used to move equipment around. With Finlay on top, Lashley tried to turn the car over! First Finlay rolled off. The security guards tried to stop the car from rolling over onto Finlay. Lashley turned it over and rolled the car over, but the security had pulled Finlay out of the way. Lashley went to go pursue Finlay, but the guards grabbed him. Guards were also holding back Finlay. That was so great. I think it wasn't quite as good as last week, just because it was a little less fresh and a little overly sports entertainmenty, pushing the suspension of disbelief with the car stuff, but still cool.
Promo time:The Miz is debuting! "Your reality is about to get checked." What does that mean? They showed some clips of him talking to himself and hanging out in Parma, Ohio. They showed various clips from his run on the Million Dollar Tough Enough from back in 2004. They showed a backstage segment with Miz hitting on two random blondes, wearing red and white tights and a Santa hat, saying "Santa Miz has come to town! You guys want to sit on Santa's lap?" I don't remember this at all, but sure. (Can anyone identify the random blondes? If so, shoot me a line at email@example.com!) They showed Miz walking around in some "Be Miz" tights (such a lame catchphrase). Miz said "Hopefully you will get to know me, and love me." He closed saying "Hurrah, baby! Step into my reality!" The closing graphic said "The Miz is coming to Friday Night Smackdown! Miz: Reality Check." Ohhhh, so that's what that goofy "check" thing at the beginning was about.
Moments ago: They recapped Lashley beating the crap out of Finlay on the roof of the car, then Lashley trying to turn that station wagon over onto Finlay.
*** JBL returns! Hand surgery cannot stop this man! They talked about how he had hand surgery two weeks ago after having his hand injured by Chris Benoit. He had a female limo driver this week, which was weird because she was wearing a freaking jean jacket. Not exactly normal chauffeur gear. JBL had his left hand taped up. Cole said that JBL deserved it, since he tried to break Chris Benoit's hands a few weeks ago. Tazz said he was happy for all the people that work for Bradshaw, because he writes his checks with his right hand, not his left hand. Cole said that JBL has health insurance, though he wasn't sure if his employees do. (Boy, I don't even know what to say about the surrealness of that line.) Tazz said his employees have health insurance. (Guess they're better off than WWE "independent contractors.") Cole plugged JBL's column on WWE.com, saying it must have been hard to write with that broken hand, but Tazz said he has some "ham and egger" to do that for him.
JBL got on the mic and said that it is rarely that he is at a loss for words, but he wanted to say that he is blessed by the emotional outpouring of love and support from you, all of his great fans, since he had been "so savagely hurt" two weeks ago. JBL said that a lot of wrestlers would have just retired with a hand this badly broken, but he wanted to say to the fans, "I love you too." (JBL is so great.) Since his injury, JBL said that he has been cheapshotted and blindsided by a person who wanted to question his legacy, and he looks forward to dealing with that person face to face, and he will confront them. That person: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
In an interview on WWE.com, when asked about the greatest wrestlers in Texas history, Austin mentioned them all: The Funks, the Von Erichs, Murdoch, Rhodes, Hansen, Brody. All of them but one, the one he should have mentioned. JBL quoted, saying that, speaking of JBL, Stone Cold Steve Austin says, "He is from Texas, so I take my hat off to him for that. But that's all I have to say about that." JBL said that he is Texas. Despite the fact that he left the south "for obvious reasons" (Ha!), there is nobody with a resume that reads better than his that is not fiction. He was a high school all stater in football, a two-time All-American, played professional football in the state of Texas, and has held every title there is to hold in WWE. JBL said he came to WWE to cement his legacy as the greatest of all time, and he held the WWE Championship longer than anybody in the history of Smackdown television. JBL pointed out that it was longer that Stone Cold. (Ooooh!) JBL said that the last WrestleMania, that he headlined, was the most successful WrestleMania of all time. More successful than Andre/Hogan, and more successful than anything that Stone Cold has ever done. JBL said, "On your best day, in the prime of your life, Stone Cold, I am better than you. I am a better wrestler, I am a better performer, I am a better entertainer, a better talker, and a bigger draw." JBL said that the only thing Austin has left in his "mediocre life" is the fact that he is a legendary beer drinker. JBL said that may be how he relates to average Americans. JBL said he isn't average, but he is America, so next Saturday night, he will do what he does best, beat people at their game. JBL said he can't stomp a mudhole and walk it dry, like Austin says, since he's hurt, but he will challenge Austin, one on one, man on man, JBL versus "Stone Cold," history finally getting their dream match in a beer drinking contest! JBL said he will put the Perrier, Cristal and Hennessy, to beat Stone Cold at his own game and put him back into retirement! (I wonder if this match counts in my wrestling fantasy league?)
Then, fifteen days later, he will deal with the guy who injured his hand. They showed a recap of Chris Benoit dropkicking JBL's hand between the steel steps and the steel post. (For those wondering, word is that it wasn't really broken on Smackdown, despite WWE.com's claims to the contrary. He'd had a minor infection and they did the angle to explain it.) JBL said that Benoit couldn't beat him, so he tried to put him out. JBL said, at WrestleMania, it will be his "finest hour," and he will "personify greatness" at Benoit's expense. JBL said he will take the United States Championship from him. JBL then spoke to WrestleMania, like it was a person. He told Mania that it better put JBL on last, because if it doesn't, "you better get a pine box," because nobody follows "the killer." He closed with "I'm JBL, damn it! And I am a wrestling god!" Great promo and a nice job setting up a couple feuds.
*** They cut to Theodore Long's office, where he was reading a piece of paper. Someone knocked and he told them to come in. It was Gregory Helms! He asked what happened to Helms' nose. Helms said that Long knows that Helms broke his nose at a live event in Australia. Long was saying how it's all crooked and reached up to touch it, but Helms pulled back and told him not to do that. Long said it was a shame after Helms called in sick last week. Helms said that he knows, and he feels like hell. Long said that he looks like hell, too. Long said that was one of the reasons he'd called Helms in there. He'd been thinking that forcing Helms to defend the cruiserweight title every week wasn't fair. Helms was shocked, and smiled, saying that he doesn't either. Helms said that he was glad they finally saw eye to eye, and was going to go ice his face. Long stopped him, saying that, before he goes to ice his face, even though he's not defending the title tonight, he's still going to have a match. In a great bit, Helms quietly went "My face!" Long said that he sees Helms' face, then suggested a champion versus champion match: One on one against the United States Champion, Chris Benoit! Long wished Helms luck. Helms was not a happy man.
Tonight: Kurt Angle and Rey Mysterio versus Randy Orton and Mark Henry, with Daivari!
Up next: It's the boring pirate, Paul Burchill, versus William Regal! Tazz questioned whether he would be laughed out of the building.
Promo time: They recapped their Road to WrestleMania tour through Australia and New Zealand from last weekend. There was one particularly cute girl who started off welcoming them to Sydney, Australia. They also went to Brisbon and New Zealand. They showed Kurt Angle interacting with some native dancers. He said "It's great to go to another countries and learn other people's cultures and learn what respect is all about in each country." Lashley talked about how great the tour was so far and said it was a beautiful country. Lashley showed more personality than he's shown in his entire WWE run in this segment, walking the beach and posing with a cute Australian girl in a bikini. She said that Lashley had shown her enough of her moves, and told him "now take off your shirt, I want to see the rest of that body." That's hot. Randy Orton said that he's loved by women not only in the United States, but also in Australia and New Zealand. A group of girls had on "Aussie WWE divas" tank top shirts and one of them said it was the highlight of their year. Chris Benoit said that the receptions they get there are tremendous. Benoit said the fans are starved and they only once a year get to see the stars of Smackdown. Matt Hardy said he would "magically" make them louder. He was in front of a large crowd apparently on the outside of the parking structure all looking down at the wrestlers. Rey Mysterio talked about how the fans were breathtaking and off the hook. Angle said that he gives a hundred and twenty percent for the fans, and they give him a hundred and fifty percent back. (Kurt Angle, apparently not a math major.) Angle said it's rewarding, he loves coming there, and it's well worth the trip.
(2) Paul Burchill defeated William Regal.
Pre-match analysis: William Regal came out first. The announcers talked about Regal and Burchill going their separate ways. Regal got on the mic and said that what we're about to see is a joke. We're about to see a man that thinks he's a buccaneer come out here and make a complete and utter bloody fool of himself. He asked the people to try to refrain from laughing while he beats the bejeezus out of the man who was once his tag partner, but is now a phony pirate. Regal said he's an embarrassment, a joke, pathetic, ungrateful, and, if he comes here tonight, he won't be an embarrassment anymore. He introduced Burchill.
Burchill was standing next to a rope and turned toward the camera and laughed. Burchill then swung out onto the stage! It was a little low for it to be awesome as he apparently swung off the little mini-stage that Rey Mysterio uses for his entrances, but still cool. He had a better look this week without the ruffled shirt, just with the jacket and the bare chest (well, except for a goofy necklace). Burchill removed his right glove as he walked down to the ring and put it in his pocket. He pulled out some beaded necklaces and threw them into the crowd. Regal was cracking up in the ring. Burchill pulled out a sword, and Regal stopped laughing. Regal bailed out of the ring as Burchill got in. He did a nice pose in the corner. Burchill's a much better heel than face, but he's getting better both on WWE TV and in OVW. Burchill threw out some more beads and took off his jacket, wrestling in black boots and yellow pantaloons!
Match analysis: They locked up, with Regal getting an early advantage, but Burchill quickly rolled through and countered. Regal countered into a front headlock, but Burchill hit a pair of armdrags into an armbar. Regal sent Burchill through the second rope to the floor. He hung on and climbed back to the apron, but Regal hit him with a big knee to the chest as he came back in. Regal delivered a boot to the face, then delivered a knee drop to Burchill's head on the apron. Regal hit an uppercut and went back in the ring. Burchill hit a left hand to the gut, but Regal hit several knees to the head. Regal applied an inverted full nelson. Burchill fought out and Regal went into a regular full nelson, but Burchill fought out. Burchill went for a sunset filp, but Regal ducked and moved out of the way. Regal hit an elbow drop to the sternum and covered, but Burchill kicked out.
Regal applied a crossface chickenwing in the ropes, but had to break. Regal was choking Burchill, but used some misdirection on the ref so he wouldn't notice. Regalsent him throat first to the second rope. Burchill threw some body shots, but Regal hit an exploder suplex! Regal covered, but Burchill kicked out.
Regal clamped the jaw and put a knee in the back, but Burchill moved to his feet. Regal went to a side headlock, but Burchill fought free and hit a back elbow. Regal hit a forearm, but Burchill came back with kicks to the gut, ducked a clothesline, and hit a flying clothesline. He flipped to his feet! Burchill caught Regal who was running at him and hit an inverted atomic drop. He followed up with a big back body drop, then a jumping enzuigiri. He hooked the leg, but Regal kicked out. Regal hit a knee to the head, then choked him on the top rope. Regal hit his finisher, which goes from a Rock Bottom position into a moonsault while holding his opponent. It was a little sloppy, but still cool. He covered and got the win.
Post-match analysis: Cole said it was a huge upset. Tazz said that he made a bloody fool of William Regal! They showed a replay of the finisher. Tazz said that, at the beginning, it's like a urinage, almost a Rock Bottom, but then he backflips like a moonsault and flips the guy over. (They've got to call this move "walking the plank," don't they?)
Match grade: C+. Paul Burchill is a good worker and William Regal is a great one, but even that couldn't get past Burchill's wacky pirate gimmick. Burchill is also a much, much, much better heel than face from his previous work.
Tonight: A "divas uncovered" match between Kristal and Jillian Hall. This will not be good, despite Jillian being fairly good in the ring.
*** Booker T was walking backstage with his wife Sharmell. He had on a great grey pinstripe suit. They were getting freaked out when they saw someone behind a corner, as they're apparently still freaked out after their recent encounters with the Boogeyman!
Tonight: They recapped Kurt Angle getting called out by Mark Henry earlier in the night, with Angle rushing the ring before getting ambushed by Randy Orton. Angle stopped him with a double leg takedown, but then got double teamed. However, Mysterio ran out to help. Orton sent Henry to drop down across the back of Mysterio's neck to the outside in the big spot of the segment. All this means we've got Kurt Angle and Rey Mysterio versus Randy Orton and Mark Henry later tonight!
*** Booker and Sharmell came out. Sharmell had a lower cut than normal red sequin dress Sharmell had a large black bag slung over her shoulder. Tazz said that the Boogeyman could be anywhere: In the woods, in your closet, in your bedroom, underneath your bed, inside or underneath the ring, inside a pillowcase (?!), underneath the desk, anywhere! They talked about Sharmell doing commentary last week and showed a clip of Booker T versus Tatanka. Boogeyman's music hit right before Booker was about to do the spinaroonie and get the pin to win the match. Boogeyman popped up, foaming at the mouth behind Sharmell at the commentary position. Booker was trying to warn her, but this allowed him to get rolled up and pinned by freaking Tatanka. Yes, Tatanka has pinned Booker T.
Booker and Sharmell were talking in the ring. Sharmell got on the mic and said that the way they've been treated the last few weeks is an outrage! Booker T was robbed of the US title at No Way Out, then last week, he got screwed again in his match with Tatanka! Sharmell said there are two people to blame for this: Theodore Long, and the Boogeyman! Booker T: "You know it!" Sharmell said, quite frankly, they think it's an outright disgrace that Theodore Long hasn't done anything about this. And they are not alone! Sharmell says they have letters! She opened up the mail sack. Booker said they're not talking about just a couple of letters, they're talking about bags and bags of letters of people all over the world talking about this problem, the Boogeyman! Booker took one letter to show what he was talking about. This letter came from Bruce Gordon, president of the NAACP, who says "The Boogeyman is a bad role model for minority children. The Boogeyman is rolling back all the gains we made in the civil rights movement." Sharmell cheered him on. From Ben Matthews from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA): "What Boogeyman does to worms is cruel." Booker looked at the letter again and said "It's cruel. The worms have feelings too." Booker said that he knows that, because he got another letter, from James Melvin, the executive editor of Worm Digest! (Yes!) Everyone that writes in agrees they have to stop the Boogeyman. Booker read a letter from the President's Council on Physical Fitness: "Eating worms is not healthy. It's not sanitary. It's a horrible nutritional choice."
Booker said that this is just the tip of the iceberg, and if he doesn't want this type of backlash falling on Smackdown, Long needs to come out here right now and tell him what he plans to do about the Boogeyman problem! Long appeared on the video screen. He said he's not going to be the one to take care of his so-called problems with the Boogeyman, Booker is. It's going to be live from Detroit, one week from tomorrow, at Saturday Night's Main Event! Booker, one on one with the Boogeyman! Booker yelled for Teddy Long to come out and talk to him face to face. Booker said that they have all these letters, then took out the letters and started tossing them in the air. Suddenly, the bag started shooting out red smoke! He turned it over and out poured worms!
Booker bailed out of the ring while Sharmell was still in the ring. Booker backed back down to the ring as he saw the Boogeyman coming out! Booker was yelling in fear! Sharmell grabbed Booker. Booker held Sharmell in his arms and carried her over the ringside barrier, and they fled through the crowd screaming. Booker loosened his tie as he backed away toward an exit door. He pushed past a fan into the lobby. Boogeyman ate worms in the ring. (It's so odd that it doesn't feel weird to type that anymore.)
Raw Rebound: On Raw, it was Shawn Michaels versus Shane McMahon! Stephanie came in to allegedly apologize on behalf of her father and brother for what they've been doing and for how Shane made an unconscious Michaels kiss Vince McMahon's ass. Stephanie said "You might not want to listen to me, but I'm pregnant. Children change your life, Shawn. And I just hope that things work out, and I hope that you accept my apology." She started grabbing her stomach and asked for some water, but it was a trick! She pulled white powder out from her bra and spiked Shawn's drink! Michaels came back with water and asked if he was OK, and she said that the baby was just thirsty. Shawn then drank the poison water. Shawn had the advantage early on, knocking down Shawn, but he started stumbling around and wrestling sloppy, like he was in no condition to perform! Shane McMahon hit a punch combination and knocked Michaels out, then hooked the leg and won! Shane told Lillian that Shawn has another match now, against Vince McMahon! Vince took off his coat and jacket, hooked the leg, and won! Vince and Shane giddily celebrated.
*** Kristal was heading down to the ring. Well, at least she's nice to look at. She's just not nice to actually listen to, and definitely not to wrestle. Sigh.
Promo time: WrestleMania 22! It's Triple H versus John Cena in the Raw main event for the WWE Championship, and over on Smackdown, it's Kurt Angle, Randy Orton, and Rey Mysterio in a triple threat match for the World Heavyweight Championship. They used a lot of clips in this from the Mania I went to, Mania 19. Ahhh, memories. It closes with clips interspersed with "Celebration. Tradition. Entertainment. Triumph." Good stuff.
Promo time: At the WWE Hall of Fame this year, Stone Cold Steve Austin will induct Bret Hart. Eddie Guerrero will be inducted by Chavo Guerrero, Chris Benoit, and Rey Mysterio. Mean Gene Okerlund will be inducted by Hulk Hogan. Cole mentioned again that Okerlund is his hero. I noticed that Tazz had on the pimpest suit ever this week, grey with a silver pocket square. They then replayed the video we got earlier this week of Sensational Sherri Martel. Shawn Michaels talked about her being a great female wrestler making her a better manager. Vince McMahon put her over as well. Sharmell talked about watching her with Harlem Heat. Michaels said it was a huge boost for her career to be in his corner. Ted DiBiase talked about her as well. Michaels said she had a good feel for the ring and good instincts. (They could at least make Smackdown seem somewhat important by announcing the inductions on Raw, then saying who would induct them on Smackdown first before Raw.)
(3) Kristal defeated Jillian in a Divas Uncovered match.
Pre-match analysis: Jillian! She looked great tonight. Michael Cole said that he talked to her earlier tonight, and she said that she would love to pattern her career after Sherri Martel. Jillian had on a black tank top, a white mini-mini-mini-mini-miniskirt, pearls, and short black wrestling boots. Tazz, of course, made a "pearl necklace" gag. The announcers talked about what led to this match, that being that awful Kristal promo that led to Jillian coming out and Kristal punking Jillian out after not taking some of Jillian's comments kindly. Kristal had on black boots, a red miniskirt, a black bra and a lace black top.
Match analysis: Jillian attacked right after Kristal came out. This is a "divas uncovered" match because you win when you "uncover" your opponent. (Didn't these used to be called bra and panties matches?) Jillian threw Kristal by the head across the ring. Jillian went for a clothesline, but Kristal ducked and hit a crossbody. Jillian rolled through and pulled off Kristal's top. It was revealed that her bra was black and pink under the top. They rolled around the ring, but Jillian hit a thumb to the eye to take control. Jillian missed when running at Kristal in the corner and the straps on her top came off, but I guess her top was superglued on or something. Kristal tried to pull her skirt off, but Jillian hit a great stomp. Cole asked if Tazz had ever wrestled in this kind of gear before. Yikes. Jillian kicked Kristal in the ribs. Kristal went for a sunset flip but grabbed at the skirt instead of pulling over for a pin. Jillian's panties were revealed. Jillian hit a back elbow and was loudly screaming. She followed up with a scoop slam and pulled her top up to avoid, ahem, a wardrobe malfunction. Jillian tried to pull off Kristal's skirt but didn't have much luck. Jillian went to scoop slam Kristal, but Kristal countered into a small package type position and pulled off Jillian's top for the win!
Post-match analysis: Jillian covered her boobs and started running to the back. I think they came very close to showing some nipple here, but thankfully for the UPN censors, Jillian did a good job covering herself up. Kristal bit her finger in the ring and pulled down her skirt to show off her black panties. They showed a guy in the crowd taking a camera phone picture, and happy guys in the crowd. Tazz asked what the "stain" in the middle of her panties were. Whaaaaa?
Match grade: D+. This match wasn't good, but it was alright and Jillian did a great job carrying this and adding some intensity to the goofy proceedings.
Tonight: Tag team main event featuring the main event of WrestleMania, as well as Mark Henry!
Up next: A champion versus champion match between Chris Benoit and Gregory Helms!
Promo time: Smackdown's coming to a town near you! They're heading to Louisiana for the next few days, followed by Saturday Night's Main Event next week.
Last Sunday in Columbus, Ohio: Batista appeared at the Arnold Classic. They interviewed Rulon Gardner, 2000 Olympic gold medlalist, talking about it being the biggest fitness show in the world. Batista spoke to a group of girl wrestlers and said that the things he took away from wrestling are invaluable, and that that hard work ethic is going to follow them in every aspect of their of their lives. George Kun, chairman of the Arnold Wrestling Challenge, said that Batista's speech was on the money and helped make this a successful event. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was there as well, and Batista got to do a photo op with him. Batista talked about how meeting him face to face for the first time was surreal after him being a childhood hero for Batista. Batista said it was a dream come true. He talked about there being a lot of fans there, and how they said they miss him and are conting the days until he comes back. My favorite was Batista signing an action figure that was even more jakked up than he's ever been.
(4) United States Champion Chris Benoit defeated Cruiserweight Champion Gregory Helms in a non-title match.
Pre-match analysis: Chris Benoit came out first. Gregory Helms was out next. Tazz talked about how Helms is still looked at as an outsider on Smackdown. Benoit was grinning big, and Tazz talked about the possibility of the crossface being applied to that broken nose. Cole talked about Benoit being a leader in the Smackdown locker room.
Match analysis: Benoit took a shot at Helms' nose, and Helms backed up behind the ref and said to watch his face. Helms hid again. Cole talked about how he'd broken his nose three times, the first when he was five years old and a girl threw a shovel at his face! Yikes. They tied up. Benoit and Helms traded the advantage. Helms hit a knee to the midsection, followed by shots in the corner. Helms choked Benoit, but Benoit then grabbed Helms' broken nose! Helms screamed in pain. Benoit threw a series of chops, followed by a back body drop. Benoit hit a snap suplex, and Tazz compared it to the Dynamite Kid. Benoit threw chops in the corner. Helms tried fighting back, but Helms grabbed his leg and hit a dragon screw into a sharpshooter attempt, but Helms kicked out before it was locked in.
Helms went on offense, but Benoit came back with chops. Benoit ran the ropes to follow up, but Helms hit a flying drop toehold into a high jumping legdrop to the back of Benoit's neck. Helms went for what looked like a modified neckbreaker. Helms applied an outside half nelson submission. Helms threw knees to the midsection, followed by a high elbow to the nose. Benoit went for the sharpshooter again, but Helms powered out again. Helms hit a single legdrop to "the side of the leg," but really hitting the, ahem, nether regions. Helms hooked the leg, but he kicked out.
Tazz said he would joke about how bald referee Jimmy Kordaris must have had his hair in his eyes, but that it was a very old joke, and "I'll leave that for the guy on Monday." Ha! Cole: "The ref has no hair either." Tazz: "That's... my point." Helms applied a rear naked choke/chinlock. Benoit moved to his feet and hit an armdrag out. Benoit ran right into a forearm to the head. Helms whipped Benoit into the corner, but Benoit hit a chop back. Helms threw right hands to the gut and went for a scoop slam, but Benoit countered out into a German suplex! Benoit punched at Helms' nose, followed by a shoulder knockdown. Benoit was going for a snap suplex, but Helms countered out and hit a final cut! He hooked the leg, but Benoit kicked out.
Helms signaled for the finish. He went for the shining wizard, but Benoit ducked underneath and hit a double leg takedown and went for the sharpshooter, locking it in! Helms crawled over and grabbed the bottom rope for the break. Helms rolled to the outside. Helms threw his arms at the ring and went to back out to leave, but out came the cruiserweights to stop him! Well, some of them at least. It was Paul London, Brian Kendrick, Kid Kash, and, in a somewhat surprising appearance, Jamie "By God" Noble! They stopped him and threw him back into the ring. (My local Smackdown affiliate's feed dropped out here for a few seconds.) Back in the ring, Benoit hit a release German suplex and signaled for the finish. He climbed up top and hit the diving headbutt! The cruiserweights watched on from the outside. Helms stood up, but Benoit locked in the crossface across the bridge of the broken nose! Helms quickly tapped out.
Post-match analysis: The cruiserweights on the stage were happy. Kid Kash and Jamie Noble would be a great tag team. They should definitely push the tag teams of those four.
Match grade: B+. Not a bad little match. It's not possible for Benoit to have a bad match, and Helms was pretty good as well. The storyline with the crossface and the broken nose felt fresh.
Up next: Kurt Angle and Rey Mysterio versus Randy Orton and Mark Henry!
WrestleMania Big Time Moment: From 1999, Bart Gunn faced off against Butterbean in a boxing match. Butterbean made quick work of Mr. Gunn, effectively ending his career.
Promo time: The point of this segment: Buy Candice Michelle's Playboy, you perverts. Arny Freytag, the photographer, seemed like the creepiest dude ever. Jim Larson, the photo editor, was slightly less creepy. Candice should not be allowed to talk, ever. It's "on newsstands today."
They did the standard outside shot of the arena in Mobile, Alabama, showing a fountain that either had a green bottom or was really, really dirty. It also had a statue in the weirdest pose ever.
Smackdown last week: They showed a recap from last week's Smackdown of Matt Hardy and Road Warrior Animal versus MNM. Matt Hardy told Animal to go up top for the Doomsday Device, but things went awry and MNM won. Animal was pissed after the loss and shoved Hardy. Hardy shoved back, then Animal kicked Hardy in his injured knee, then slammed that left knee against the steel post before walking to the back.
*** Cole asked Animal, who was backstage in front of a cloth background with red lighting. Cole said that Hardy had challenged Animal to a match next week on Smackdown, and Cole had to ask Animal his thoughts on the match. Animal said that he'd "get to that." (Animal was giving the weirdest face ever. Maybe too many blows to the head?) He said that, for over twenty years, he's been part of one of the greatest tag teams in the history of the sport, the Legion of Doom/the Road Warriors. They won more tag championships than any other tag team in the business. He worked his butt off to become number one, but where was his partner Hawk during all this? (More dead people exploitation!) Animal informed us that Hawk was out partying all the time, and asked what kind of team player that was. Animal said, without Animal, there would be no Legion of Doom. He tried to keep the team player thing going, he tried to make Heidenreich a new member of the Legion of Doom, but it was a joke. Heidenreich turned out to be an even bigger screwup. Then, Matt Hardy needed a partner, so Animal said he'd be his partner. Animal asked how he showed his appreciation, and said that Hardy told Animal to go up to the top rope and do his finishing move, the Doomsday Device. Animal asked Hardy who he thinks he is. Animal said the tag team days are over, and it's time to look out for number one, himself. He accepted Hardy's challenge, and said that he would teach him the lesson he wishes he'd taught Heidenreich and Hawk. "I am the Road Warrior!
Next Week: Matt Hardy one on one with Animal! Wasn't Animal not allowed to wrestle singles matches? Well, whatever. Bad wrestling, next week on Smackdown!
(5) World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle & Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton & Mark Henry ended in a no contest.
Pre-match analysis: Mark Henry came out first, with his manager, Daivari.
Earlier tonight: They did a recap of the Finlay/Lashley fight earlier in the night. This came across as filler, as it seemed a very odd spot in the show to hype this feud. The fight spilled out into the parking lot. Finlay used a lead pipe, Lashley beat Finlay's head against the top of the car, and finally, Lashley tried to overturn the station wagon onto Finlay! He overturned it, but not before security had pulled Finlay out of the way.
Next week: Lashley versus Finlay in a lumberjack match! Sweet. (But wait, aren't these matches supposed to be used to stop heels from running away? Eh, that's WWE for ya.)
Mark Henry and Daivari were standing in the ring with their music playing, when Randy Orton's music hit. He was back to his regular theme song after that disastrous venture into a goofy heavy metal song last week. If you dig that kind of music, more power to you, but it wasn't right for WWE and it wasn't right for Randy Orton. Orton patted Henry on the back before going up to the corner to pose.
Rey Mysterio was next. They actually showed more of his video than usual, which was kind of cool. The way the video screens are set up on Smackdown, you don't often get to see much of the videos as people come to the ring as opposed to the big Raw Titantron. Mysteiro had on a new ringer t-shirt with a big Mysterio mask on the front. White t-shirt with a black image. Simple, and pretty cool looking. He also had on blue EG armbands with yellow writing. He pointed at the heels in the ring and waited on the stage for his partner, Kurt Angle, to come out. He did his so, so lame "You suck" pointing at the opponents in the ring. Angle pulled up his straps.
Match analysis: Angle and Randy Orton started things off. They started off catiously. Orton backed off after a brief knuckle lock. Angle shot in for a single leg takedown, but Orton moved out of the way. The crowd chanted "Eddie!" since Mysterio was in this match. Angle had Orton in the corner, but there was a clean break. Angle shot in, ducking under with a high crotch takedown into a go behind, into a side headlock. Orton shoved off, but Angle came back with a shoulder knockdown into a cover. Orto nkicked out at two. Angle went to tag in Mysterio.
Mysterio leapt in, springboarding off the top rope into a shot to the arm! The fans again chanted for Eddie. Mysterio kicked Orton. Mysterio ducked underneath a clothesline, but got a kick to the midsection. Orton whipped Mysterio to the corner, but Mysterio went up and hit a headscissors to Orton. Orton hit the drop toehold to set up the 619, but Mark Henry pulled Orton out of the way.
Mysterio hit a shoulder to the gut, then went up to the second rope for a ten punch with both fists. Mysterio climbed down and Orton fell to the mat. Mysterio went to climb the ropes, but Daivari grabbed his leg. Angle went after Daivari, but the distraction allowed Orton to hit Mysterio with a dropkick as he came off the ropes. Orton tagged in Henry as they showed a recap of the dropkick.
Henry beat on Mysterio in the typical little man/big man dynamic. Henry hit a headbutt, then covered Mysterio's nose and mouth on the mat, trying to suffocate him. Henry hit a knee to the gut, then tagged in Orton. Orton toyed with Mysterio a little and hit a couple of knee drops. Orton threw a series of forearms from behind to the chest. Orton hooked both legs, but Orton kicked out. Orton tagged Henry back in. Henry kicked Mysterio on the mat, then hit a clubbinb blow to the back. Henry stomped Mysterio in the ropes, then stood on his throat until having to break. Henry took Mysterio over to the corner and tagged in Orton, holding him for Orton to kick Mysterio in the gut. Orton put a rear choke on Mysterio in the ropes, also pulling at the mask and raking the eyes. Orton tagged Henry back in. Henry shoved Mysterio into the corner, but Mysterio got his feet up for a kick to the jaw, then a double kick to the jaw! He jumped off the second rope for a crossbody, but was caught in midair! Henry pressed Mysterio up and moved out of the way for him to fall to the mat. Henry went for a splash, but Mysterio rolled out of the way! Mysterio hit a modified enzuigiri and tried to roll to tag in Kurt Angle. Angle tagged in!
Angle hit a couple of clotheslines to Orton, then booted Henry to the outside. Angle hit a German suplex to Orton and pulled down the straps. Angle went for the Angle slam, Orton countered out and went for the RKO, but Angle countered out and picked the leg and went for the ankle lock! He grapevined the leg, but Henry came in to break it up. Angle hit an elbow to Henry and tagged in Mysterio.
Mysterio hit a springboard front dropkick to the face, followed by a 619 to Orton! Orton was stumbling around. Mysterio hit a seated senton and covered, but Henry broke it up. Angle ran over to Henry and gave him a couple of big uppercuts, then went after Orton and kicked him to the outside. Angle went to bounce Orton's head off the steel steps, but Orton bounced Angle's head off the steps! Henry walked on Mysterio in the middle of the ring. Henry shoved referee Nick Patrick into the corner and splashed him!
Post-match analysis: Daivari pulled a table out from under the ring! Henry headbutted Mysterio. Daivari brought the table into the ring and started setting it up. Henry laid Mysterio lengthwise on the table. Henry climbed up to where he was sitting on the top rope, but Angle ran in, rolled Mysterio off the rope, and threw rights and lefts to Henry in the corner! Angle looked like he was going to try to lift Mark Henry and throw him through the table, but Orton ran in for the save with a right hand and an uppercut. Orton hit an RKO to Angle! Orton pointed at Henry and asked if he was ready, then asked if Angle was ready and laid him out on the table. Orton asked if Henry was feeling him, then said "Squash his ass!" Henry hit a splash on Angle through the table! This splash looked much better than the splash from last week. Orton talked trash in Angle's face on the mat. Orton and Henry celebrated their victory. They showed a replay of Orton playing traffic cop and Henry doing the splash. Henry was yelling in victory in the ring when Undertaker's music hit! The blue light filled the arena. In his goofy "scary" voice, Taker said "Mark Henryyyyy! You! Me! WrestleManiaaaaa! In a casket maaaatch!" Henry stroked his beard, perhaps in thought. Henry said "Yeah, you want me? You want me in a casket? You better be ready to put me in a casket!" That was a nice show of a little fear, but not too much. That's what's been great about Henry, as he doesn't act like a total wimp like most of the main event heels when they get challenged (other than Triple H). There was no official announcement, but this apparently caused a no contest.
Match grade: B. The lack of any sort of announced ending was pretty lame and took this down a notch. They did a solid job of getting over the RKO, the Angle slam, and the ankle lock as legitimate finishers that could play into the WrestleMania main event.
Show rating: 6.5. The big story of this show was that Mark Henry is a badass, but Undertaker could possibly be an even bigger badass, so pay your money to see them fight in Undertaker's match at WrestleMania. Sadly, this meant that the Smackdown title match had to play second fiddle to Henry and Taker. The main even tag match was good, and they produced another memorable spot with the large, large Henry splashing Kurt Angle through a table after their match. They did a good job building up Kurt Angle and Randy Orton during this show, but I think they need to do more to make Rey Mysterio seem like a legitimate title contender.
The Finlay versus Lashley feud is so excellent, and I really can't remember a feud that has been so simple but so great all at once. They pushed it a little with the sports entertainmenty spot of Lashley trying to crush Finlay beneath a car, but it was memorable, and the rest of this week's pull apart and the parking lot brawl were well done. Just a notch below last week, but still excellent.
JBL cut yet another great JBL promo. It's quite a coup to have "Stone Cold" Steve Austin coming back for an appearance on Saturday Night's Main Event, and he was still hugely over with the crowd. He also did a nice job transitioning from talking about Stone Cold to hyping his WrestleMania match with Chris Benoit. Booker was super entertaining while hyping up his feud with the Boogeyman, and while the match will be a stinker, it's one of those over the top things that can stick with casual fans who might tune into SNME.
It was nice to see them at least try to explain why Gregory Helms wasn't on the show last week, and Helms definitely got some rub by working with Chris Benoit. Helms is getting more and more character while the rest of the cruiserweights become more and more faceless, but I'd rather have them give one of them some focus rather than just ignoring all of them.
Animal managed to use the name of the dead for heat, bury Heidenreich, and bury Matt Hardy all in one promo, yet still be completely boring. Pirate Burchill was slightly better than I expected, but still boring, and will not get over. The Miz is annoying, and after seeing him in OVW, I have no reason to expect him to be enjoyable in the ring either. Jillian's great, but Kristal should never wrestle again, and preferably never talk again.
1) JBL will face "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in a beer drinking contest at Saturday Night's Main Event.
2) Animal referenced and insulted his dead Road Warriors/Legion of Doom tag team partner Hawk in his promo tonight.
3)The Undertaker challenged Mark Henry to a casket match at WrestleMania.
4) Booker T will face the Boogeyman at Saturday Night's Main Event.
5) On next week's Smackdown, Fit Finlay will face Lashley in a lumberjack match and Matt Hardy will face Animal in Animal's first singles match since an insurance settlement that forbid him from wrestling singles matches.
(Express jefe Mike Roe forgot to include the answer when last week's Express was initially posted, though he edited it in later.)
Enough of the personal blah-blah-blah, onto Trivial and this week's question and, as a special bonus, the return of the answer portion! I know, something suffered from crossed-wires and last week's answer was somehow deleted. This week, we will just reprint the question with the correct answer. And, if you're looking for your opinionated fix, check out Christi's Corner. It's very-well thought-out and quite a find for the Express! Last week's question with the lost answer: Who was the last NFL player to be eliminated in the WM2 Battle Royal? (Dramatic pause.) Russ Francis! Back to Mike!
I promise to, in the future, include the answers to Raw Is Trivial. Promise! Hopefully we'll have both Seth and Christi back next week for more Express goodness. Be sure to check out my most recent OVW column, and I'll be back early next week with more OVW goodness. Until next time, be strong and remember to smile!
Mike Roe reviews Friday Night Smackdown every week for PWTorch.com. Mike always wants to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, comments, questions, critiques, or whatever else you want to share. He also writes an OVW Specialist column.
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