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CALDWELL'S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 5/2: Taker stripped of title, Hardy vs. MVP, Foley's SD debut on commentary

May 3, 2008 - 8:34:54 PM
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By James Caldwell, Torch columnist

WWE Smackdown Report
May 2, 2008
Atlantic City, N.J.


The show started with Teddy Long, who stood on stage to announce a mini night of champions for tonight's show. He called for the tag titles, U.S. Title, and World Hvt. Titles to be defended. And despite that tease, the show drew one of its lowest overnight ratings for a regularly-scheduled broadcast since moving to the CW.

In-ring: Michael Cole introduced Mick Foley as the new color commentator for Smackdown. Strong reception for Foley, who walked to the ring holding a green college-ruled notebook with his notes loosely tucked inside the front cover. That is a great debut and so apropos for Foley. Cole welcomed him to championship Friday.

1 -- WWE tag team champions THE MIZ & JOHN MORRISON vs. JIMMY WANG YANG & SHANNON MOORE

After ring intros took place, Justin Roberts handled the formal ring introductions for the first title match of the night. The champs worked on both challengers early on the match. Cole talked about Miz's progress, starting with Tough Enough. Well, that's not a reference you hear everyday. Foley said Miz, who they tried to book as a babyface back in the day, used to be the most hated and least respected in the locker room, but now he's just the most hated. Yang eventually escaped the heel corner and made the tag to Shannon, who came in hot and scored a nearfall on Morrison. The action broke down, with Yang being cleared to the floor. Shannon nearly scored a pin on Morrison with a backslide, but Morrison came back with his corkscrew neckbreaker on Shannon for the pin and the win.

WINNERS: Miz & Morrison in 8:00. Fine tag match that served two purposes of reinforcing the tag champs as the best tag team in WWE and showing the challengers on near equal footing. Crowd was into the action and Foley provided sound color in his first Smackdown match. (*1/2)

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Armando Estrada was in the ring representing ECW. He brought out Colin Delaney, who was listed at an alarmingly light 107 pounds. Eat a burger! Foley said maybe he needs to hop on Armando's scale to feel better about himself. Armando then brought out Vladimir Koslov as the opponent. It was only a matter of time they took advantage of the no-entrance-music link.

2 -- COLIN DELANEY vs. VLADIMIR KOSLOV

There was the obligatory "USA" chant early in the match while Vladimir took Colin apart. Sweet goodness, Vladimir punted Colin off the top turnbuckle into a fireman's carry position for an overhead slam. That was awesome. Vladimir with a reverse DDT for the pin and the win, much to Armando's pleasure.

WINNER: Vladimir in 2:00. The punt into overhead slam might have been the greatest thing ever on Smackdown. Fine squash. (1/2*)

Backstage: A man was shown lacing up his boots when Mark Henry walked in and placed a hand on his shoulder. Man turned out to be Nunzio, who was given a warning by Henry about their match later tonight.

[Commercial Break]

Earlier Tonight: Victoria and Natalya tried to intimidate Cherry backstage when Michelle McCool walked in to interrupt the hazing. Victoria mocked McCool for being no. 1 on Yahoo last weekend. She had a comeback. Wasn't great, but it was fine.

3 -- NATALYA & VICTORIA vs. MICHELLE McCOOL & CHERRY

Foley told a story that Natalya told her about her father, Jim Neidhart, showing up at a school meeting without his shirt on. Cole was flabbergasted. Cherry showed aggressiveness early on with slaps to the face on the heel divas, but Natalya tripped her from the outside, setting up Victoria's attack. Announcers talked about the Hart family connection for Natalya, prompting Cole to say Natalya gave him a look earlier in the day that seemed to say she wanted to slap him. Foley said that's not unusual in the locker room. Michelle got the hot tag at 4:00 and cleaned house. Victoria then shoved Michelle off the top rope, which allowed Natalya to cover Michelle with a hook of the tights for the pin and the win.

WINNERS: Natalya & Victoria in 5:00. Sound match. Cherry's development is solid, while Natalya is growing more and more confident each week. (*)

Announcers: Cole and Foley talked about Undertaker forcing Edge to submit in their Backlash PPV match, then Taker keeping the hold locked in post-match for added injury. This is leading to Taker's punishment of having to face Great Khali tonight.

[Commercial Break]

"Somebody gonna get their ass kicked" was the message coming out of the break with Mark Henry walking out to the ring all-smiles in anticipation of an upcoming beating. Nunzio then came out on stage, but he called for some reinforcement. Out came Big Show as his back-up. Henry wasn't smiling anymore.

4 -- MARK HENRY vs. NUNZIO (w/Big Show)

Nunzio tried to start the deal with kicks and body blows, but Henry simply wasn't feeling the effects. Henry had enough of this and gave Nunzio a big front slam. He covered Nunzio while staring down Big Show.

Post-match, Henry teased further destruction of Nunzio, which prompted Big Show to quickly step into the ring and stare Henry out of the ring. Henry laughed with a big smile on his face before raising his arms triumphantly. Show then took a mic and told Henry to pick on somebody his own size next time.

WINNER: Henry in 1:00. Apparently Show's tentative list of opponents for the year is Khali, Henry, Snitsky, Big Daddy V, Vader, and Giant Gonzalez. (n/a)

Backstage: They showed a split screen of Matt Hardy and MVP walking in anticipation of their U.S. Title match.

[Commercial Break]

The clock started ticking for MVP's music and he emerged from The Bubble looking very determined to get his U.S. Title back. Matt Hardy then walked out with the belt around his waist to a strong reception. MVP told him to hurry up and bring it. Foley with a good intro question of whether Hardy is better MVP, or if he was just better for one night at Backlash.

5 -- U.S. champion MATT HARDY vs. MVP -- U.S. Title match

After Roberts handled the formal ring intros, Cole said the belt has been held by some of the greatest names in wrestling. Foley reinforced the point, then Cole listed Flair, Race, and Austin as just a few of the previous titleholders. First eight minutes saw an exchange of control before MVP knocked Hardy to the outside into the guardrail. MVP caught his breath while Hardy recovered on the floor as they cut to a break. Good first-half of the match in the ring and on commentary.

[Commercial Break]

Back from break, MVP had Hardy flat on his stomach in a straightjacket hold to wear down Hardy. Hardy to his feet where he broke free and hit the side effect for a nearfall. MVP then surprised him at 15:00 with the big Chono boot. Hardy tried to recover near the ropes, so MVP went to the outside and nailing a running boot while Hardy's head was draped over the apron. Nice. MVP was in full control, then Hardy suddenly hit a kick to the boot and the Twist of Fate for the pin and the win.

WINNER: Hardy in 18:00 to retain the U.S. Title. Fine match. Not flashy; just a good mat-based match with quite the out-of-nowhere finish. Foley added good commentary by focusing on MVP having to be more aggressive to win the belt, rather than just finding a way to keep the belt the previous year. Foley has shown good balance on knowing when to be serious calling serious wrestling and when to be entertaining when calling not-so-serious activity on the show. (**1/2)

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: Back from break, Mick Foley was in the ring and he called out Batista for a post-Backlash interview. Batista posed in the ring to a strong reception before walking up to Foley, who introduced a clip from the ending of Michaels vs. Batista at Backlash. Batista smirked and said he respects Michaels as one of the best of all-time, but he doesn't like the way he got to the top. He said the bottom line at Backlash is that he let his guard down and got beat by Michaels. Foley then played the Highlight Reel clip from Raw of Jericho mocking Michaels's "injury".

Foley asked Batista if he believes Michaels faked the knee injury to beat him at Backlash. Batista paused and said it would make him sick to his stomach to fake an injury. He said he hopes Michaels is hurt for his own sake, because if he finds out Michaels isn't hurt, he will make sure Michaels is hurt. Batista's music hit, then he slapped hands with the fans on the way out of the ring. JC: Good start to Act II of the Michaels vs. Batista program. Some fans are going to feel frustrated with a lack of tangible post-Backlash development on Raw and Smackdown, but it's a good frustration, as people actually want to see where this is leading to.

DVD promo: Before cutting to a break, they showed a video promoting the Hardy Boys DVD release. The video included a clip of the infamous Byte This interview where Edge started his big heel turn defending Lita against Matt. They also included a clip of Jeff Hardy saying he got involved in a dangerous environment of drugs in his first WWE run.

[Commercial Break]

6 -- JESSE & FESTUS vs. HAWKINS & RYDER

I'm still not sure which one of Edge's friends is which. In any event, the bell sounded and Festus snapped on the Edgeheads. Apparently Hawkins is in the traditional wrestling trunks and Ryder is in the long pants. Of course, the deal here was the Edgeheads working over Jesse in their corner before Festus finally took the hot tag at 4:00. Hawkins surprised Festus with a thrust to the throat, which quieted the big man based on the number Taker did to him a few weeks ago. Festus made a desperation tag to Jesse, who walked into a swinging neckbreaker for the win.

WINNERS: Hawkins & Ryder in 5:00. Not much to see here. Just a buffer match prior to the Taker main event. (1/2*)

[Commercial Break]

Well, I thought that was the buffer match.

7 -- FINLAY vs. JULIO DINERO

They came back from break and there was a match starting with Finlay working over Dinero, who is a rather tall individual. Dinero found himself on the floor, and Hornswoggle emerged from under the ring to get in some offense on Dinero. Back in the ring, Finlay with a rolling slam into the Celtic Cross for the pin and the win. Afterward, Hornswoggle up top and nailed a Tadpole splash on Dinero to add insult to injury.

WINNER: Finlay in 2:00. Just a deal for the kids watching at home. If you ever want to know the difference between a Mac and PC, just look at how the word processors handle "Dinero". I typed the report on my Mac laptop, and Textedit did not put the squiggly line under "Dinero". I c&p'ed the report onto my PC, and Word put the squiggly line under "Dinero". (1/2*)

Video package: They showed a recap of the Backlash match between Taker and Edge. They did a super-slow motion recap of Edge tapping out to The Choke and Vickie screaming in slow motion. I'm 99 percent sure they were not looking for comedy here, but that's what they got with the exaggerated slow mo.

Backstage: They did the Andre shot of Great Khali walking in anticipation of facing Taker.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: The Undertaker came out first for the World Title match. Vickie Guerrero and Edge then came out on stage instead of Khali. Vickie said Taker's chokehold is illegal in the WWE. She said she cannot allow Taker's chokehold use to continue, as it has led to too many injuries. Vickie officially banned the hold, and said Taker will have hell to pay if he uses the move again. She said regulatory authorities have put her under intense pressure, so she's stripping Taker of the World Title. "Sorry," she said under her breath. Taker didn't react facially while he paced inside the ring.

Vickie advised Taker to walk up the ramp and surrender the title to her. Taker looked down at the belt around his waist, then he put the belt over his shoulder and Vickie brought out Great Khali to get the belt for her. When Khali entered the ring, Taker laid down the belt in front of him.

Big tension as Khali slowly approached the belt. He bent over to pick up the belt, but Taker kicked him in the head. Taker then slapped on his triangle chokehold, which allowed Hawkins and Ryder to slip into the ring and retrieve the belt for Vickie. Taker eventually released the hold and stared to the stage where Edge wheeled Vickie away with the belt in hand. Khali had the red substance representing blood coming out both sides of his mouth as Taker stared after Edge and Vickie to close the show.

Final Thoughts: Fairly newsworthy show by Smackdown standards with the debut of Foley on color and Taker being stripped of the World Heavyweight Title. People didn't tune in for this show, but word of mouth should generate stronger interest in next week's show to see the fate of the World Title. ... Foley is already a significant upgrade over Coach, who spent more time trying to make fun of Cole rather than add to the broadcast. Foley is going to get in his share of jokes at Cole's expense, but he's committed to adding sound analysis throughout the show.

We still welcome your 1-10 score and comments on this show for a "Smackdown Reax" feature in the Torch Feedback section of PWTorch.com. To contribute your thoughts on Smackdown, click here.


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