Greetings and salutations, fellow “Smackdown” fans!

The work week has ended for me, and I invite you to join me in leaving the realm of public education behind, and diving headfirst into the B-show that really isn’t. I’ve read no spoilers, and actually have no idea what is happening tonight.

We open with a video package detailing last week’s “Beat the Clock” matches, their outcomes, and Vickie Guerrero’s announcement that Rey Mysterio and Batista had to square off this week to determine the Number One Contender to the Undertaker’s World Heavyweight Championship title at the Royal Rumble ppv.

To the ring! Batista comes to the ring wearing very tight black pants and an equally tight black sweater. He looks like a black condom. It’s quite disturbing. The Animal asks politely, for the last time (he says), for a spotlight. He gets it. He asks for his music. Twice. He gets that too. Batista runs down Teddy Long for cheating him out of his title match and ignoring Rey’s actions, then praises Vickie Guerrero for trying to make things right. Vickie, however, is not the GM. Batista calls out Long. Nothing happens. Batista threatens to come to the back and get Long. Cue Rey’s music. He’s dressed in wrestling gear, and has a mic. Rey says that Batista is not World Champ because Batista is blinded by his own selfishness and greed. Batista is nothing but an arrogant crybaby. Rey wears no colored contacts, and is more natural and serious on the mic than I have ever heard him. Good for Rey! Rey calls out Batista for being afraid to face him in the ring. Batista is all the blustering bully, and Rey is by far the strongest “underdog” in quite some time. Really strong exchange between these two, and I’m not at all a Batista fan. In short, Batista agrees to the match against Rey tonight, and threatens to prevent Rey from walking out on his own. Rey counters that HE will win tonight. Good stuff here!

Kane vs. Dolph Ziggler: Oh, somebody’s getting hurt. We get a replay of the ending of the match between these two last week, and Ziggler’s post-match attack. Kane counters Ziggler’s aggression and speed with raw power, and dominates the early part of the match. Kane hits Ziggler with two boots to the face, but only scores a two-count. Kane sets Ziggler on the top turnbuckle, but Ziggler fights back with a series of punches. Ziggler returns the favor with two boots to the face, but only gets a one-count. Kane out-powers Ziggler, but Ziggler retaliates with a kick to Kane’s leg. Ziggler leaps onto Kane’s back and applies a sleeper hold. Kane backs into the ring post, then throws Ziggler to the mat. Kane flattens Ziggler in the corner. Ziggler fights out, but eats a Big Boot. Kane covers Ziggler, but only gets a two-count. Kane lands a top rope clothesline, and tries to follow up with a chokeslam. Ziggler fights out. Ziggler hits Kane with a Zig Zag. Kane kicks out at 2 3/4. Ziggler returns to the sleeper hold. Kane fights to stand, but makes it to his feet. Ziggler remains attached to Kane as the two fall through the ropes and to the floor. The referee counts to ten. Ziggler rolls back into the ring at “9,” but Kane does not make it back.

Winner (by countout): Dolph Ziggler

To the back! Michelle McCool and Layla apologize to Beth Phoenix for the kick to the face last week. Team Lay-Cool (which, interestingly, is how Michelle McCool has a career at all) carries a pig trough filled with lettuce labeled “Piggie James.” Beth reminds Layla that they have a match later, and that she should take it seriously. McCool tells Layla that she’s glad it’s Layla fighting Beth.

To the back! Chris Jericho talks to the Hart Dynasty. Natalya is looking good! Jericho says that he respects them for taking him out after he told them to make an impact. The Hart Dynasty tell him that he may be the best in the world at what he does, but nothing lasts forever, they are better than the best, period, and that what happened with Bret Hart on RAW was an embarrassment to the entire family. Hmm, interesting.

R-Truth & Cryme Tyme vs. Chris Jericho and the Hart Dynasty (w/ Natalya): Tyson Kidd and R-Truth start. Tyson Kidd has the same hair as the village idiot in “The Leningrad Cowboys Go America.” If you know what that means, I love you for being awesome. Really nice opening series of moves, with Truth tagging in JTG, who quickly tags in Shad Gaspard. Kidd gets worked over, and Truth tags back in and goes after him again. Kidd tags in Jericho, who gets the short end of an attack by Truth, and kicks out at two. Truth knocks Jericho to the floor at ringside. Back in the ring, Jericho gets stomped in the corner by Shad. Shad raises Jericho in a very impressive gorilla press slam, and drops him. Kidd distracts the referee, while DH Smith pulls down the rope, allowing Shad to fall to the floor. Natalya runs over and kicks Shad in the gut while he’s down. Nattie by Nature! The distractions continue as Kidd tags in, and Jericho hits Shad from ringside. Jericho and Shad exchange punches, and Jericho gains the upper hand. Kidd tags back in, and charges Truth. With the referee distracted, Kidd is launched into the air by Shad. JTG and Jericho tag in and go. Truth and Kidd grapple, and go over the top rope to the floor. JTG gets a 2 3/4 count on Jericho, but Jericho kicks out. JTG tries a top rope leg lariat, but Jericho gets him in the Walls of Jericho. JTG taps. Matt Striker was 24 kinds of gold here.

Winners: Chris Jericho & the Hart Dynasty

To the ring! CM Punk and Luke Gallows enter, with Gallows carrying a steel folding chair and the Slammy Award. Punk carries a small black bag. “Quiet down.” Punk says that last week, he made a pledge to save one very lost soul here in the audience tonight. His crusade is very real, and he keeps his promises, unlike the rest of these people, who quantify their willpower. Who wants to be saved? I want it on the record that I had a sign at the “Smackdown” tapings on December 5th that said, “Save Me, CM Punk,” and this was before this particular gimmick had even started! That doesn’t really mean anything, I just want to say so. Punk chooses a young man in a maroon hoodie, and sends Gallows to fetch him, along with security. Punk says that the young man has nothing to fear from either him or Gallows, and asks him his name. His name is James. Punk invites James to sit. Gallows sets up the chair, and JAmes sits on it. Punk says that what is about to happen is the most important moment in James’s entire life. Punk kneels next to the chair and asks James if he is tired of living his life like the rest of these losers. James says, “Yes.” Punk says that he can’t hear him. James says it louder. Punk asks him if he is ready to stop treating his body like a sewer. James says that he will try, he has tried to stop smoking several times before. Punk interrupts him, shouting that this isn’t good enough. Punk calms himself, and continues to give the best promos on WWE television. Seriously, just watch this whole segment. It’s fantastic. The Straight-Edge salvation of James culminates with Gallows removing a set of clippers from the bag, and Punk shaving James’s head. When it’s over, James looks happy, and mouths “Thank you,” to Punk. They embrace.

Luke Gallows vs. Matt Hardy: Gallows and Punk remain in the ring until Hardy enters. Hardy dominates the early running, and works over Gallows’s leg. Matt Striker is the greatest announcer ever. EVER! Gallows knocks Hardy to the floor, and Punk cheers the effort. Gallows is all power and heavy punches, and Hardy counters with a bit more finesse and technical acumen. Hardy hits a top rope moonsault, but Gallows kicks out at two. Hardy hits a tornado DDT, but Gallows kicks out at two. Hardy goes for his top rope leg drop, but Punk distracts him just long enough for Gallows to kick Hardy in the face. Gallows flattens Hardy with the 12th Step / Gallows Pole and gets the win.

Winner: Luke Gallows

To the back! Teddy Long congratulates Maria on her role in “Celebrity Apprentice.” Vickie Guerrero interrupts, all sweetness and congratulations, but pointing out how she would have done the show herself, but she was just far too busy. Vickie tells Maria to give her best sales pitch to the new line of WWE products, like action figures. Maria lays into the selling, and the Great Khali turns up, with Ranjin Singh in tow. The Great Khali says that he looks forward to collecting all of the action figures, particularly Vickie’s. She’s flattered and pleased. Until he says that it’s because she reminds him of the cows back home. We get it, we get it, already! Everyone should hate Vickie because she’s over twenty years of age and over 120 pounds. We get it.

Beth Phoenix vs. Layla: Layla looks terrified. She begs off and tells Beth that she’s sorry. Beth squashes Layla, who begs McCool to help her. McCool rolls Layla back in the ring, where Beth drops Layla with a Glam Slam for the win. Beth pins Layla while staring straight at McCool. Awesome! Post-match, McCool enters the ring, and Beth gestures at her to have a go. Layla grabs Beth’s foot, allowing McCool to kick Beth in the head. The two lay into the fallen Glamazon, until Mickie James arrives and rids the ring of McCool. Mickie ends with a kick to Beth’s head, and stands tall at the end of the segment. As long as one or the other of them wins the title and puts McCool through a wood chipper, I’ll not complain.

Winner: Beth Phoenix

To the video package! A recap of the Bret Hart / Shawn Michaels /Vince McMahon segments. Unlike some people, I was a huge Bret Hart fan, and I teared up just a bit even watching the recap of this.

To the back! Josh Matthews welcomes the jaw-droppingly sexy Intercontinental Champion, Drew McIntyre. Matthews asks McIntyre about his actions last week, shoving John Morrison into the referee. McIntyre says that his clean win over Morrison illustrates a bigger point. Morrison got frustrated at being so thoroughly dominated by McIntyre. Ooo, I like it when you talk like that! Huh? Oh. Sorry. McIntyre will be the first Intercontinental Champion to win the Royal Rumble. Morrison interrupts. He tries to goad McIntyre into losing his temper, but the Scot remains silent. Morrison prods him with a reference to bringing the IC title back to MacGregor’s farm to party with his sheep friends. McIntyre says that he knows what Morrison is trying to do, and that it won’t work. It’s over, and McIntyre is moving on to bigger and better things than Morrison. The tension here is incredibly raw and feels unusually real for a WWE segment. Morrison pauses before accepting this. He says that one of them has to lose his temper, and if it won’t be McIntyre, it may as well be him. Morrison slaps the hell out of McIntyre. They get to scrapping on the floor, and have to be pulled apart by numerous referees and security figures. Really strong moment here.

Rey Mysterio vs. Batista (#1 Contender’s match): The winner of this match faces the Undertaker for the title at the Royal Rumble. The classic power versus speed and agility battle ensues. Rey hits a dropkick on Batista. Batista targets Rey’s back with a series of backbreakers. Rey sets up for a 619, but Batista makes it to the floor first. Rey attempts a dive to the floor, but Batista catches Rey and throws him into the turnbuckle. Batista manuvers Rey to the top rope, but Rey fights him off with kicks. Rey lands a Frog Splash on Batista, but his landing is less than ideal, and both men stay down. Rey eventually recovers and goes for a springboard. Batista catches Rey and plants him with a spinebuster. Batista follows with a second spinebuster, and a spear. All seems finished for Rey Mysterio. GONG! Undertaker’s music plays, and the lights go out. When the lights come up, Batista is down. Rey senses his chance, and manages both a basement dropkick and his wheelbarrow bulldog. Batista fights back with a power slam, but Rey counters with a DDT. Batista gets kicked into position for the much-anticipated 619. GONG! The lights go out again. When the lights come up, Rey and Batista are both down. Because theatre is all about threes (it’s true, look it up), the lights go out and Undertaker’s music plays again. When the lights come up, there is no Undertaker. There is, however, lots of fire on the ramp to go along with the two bodies in the ring. Some fans actually boo this turn of events. Taker laying out Batista is great. Taker laying out Rey Mysterio, not so much. The show ends here.

Winner: N/A

Peace out,


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