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   Fri, April 11, 2003



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COMMENT





Smackdown!: Cena, Benoit in tourney finals
By DALE PLUMMER -- SLAM! Wrestling


The WWE is stretching March Madness well into April with the Number One Contender\'s Tournament. Tonight, in Chicago, John Cena will take on Undertaker and tag-team partner Rhyno and Chris Benoit will face each other for a chance at the WWE Title.

The show opens with footage of Brock Lesnar entering the arena. He doesn\'t seem to be showing any ill effects from the concussion he suffered at Wrestlemania. In fact, he in coherent enough to stop and sign autographs. Giving special attention to the young woman that wants her chest signed. It may be good to be the king, but it\'s good to be the champ.

Match #1: Matt Hardy (v1.0) vs. Brock Lesnar

Apparently Brock Lesnar accepted Matt Hardy\'s champion-on-champion challenge he made last week. Lesnar is unimpressed with Hardy\'s cruiserweight belt and kicks it aside to make room for his title. Hardy tries to pick up the WWE Championship belt, but Lesnar steps on it. He unloads on the founder of Mattitude with a brutal clothesline. Shannon Moore jumps to the ring apron to distract Lesnar. Hardy capitalizes on the distraction, clocking Lesnar in the back of the head with the championship belt. Hardy only scores a two count out of the cheap shot. Lesnar sells the head shot the rest of the match, but is still able to throw Hardy around the ring with release-overhead suplexes. Lesnar counters a Twist of Fate and turns it into an F-5. Hardy must go down, and he must go down hard. Lesnar gets the 1-2-3 and the victory.

We, the home audience, are then treated to a classic Piper segment, getting us ready for the return of Piper\'s Pit. After the commercial we see a recap of Vince McMahon banishing Hogan from WWE last week on Smackdown!

Match #2: Torrie Wilson and Brian Kendrick vs. Nidia and Jamie Noble

Is WWE billing the women over the men in this match to protest Augusta National\'s exclusion of women from the club, or does WWE realize that we\'d rather look at Torrie and Nidia, then Kendrick and Noble? I\'ll go with the second choice. Sable has come out from backstage to watch this match up close. She is also paging through the Playboy issue featuring Torrie Wilson. I wonder if she caught the MLB preview on page 88? (See, I told you I bought for the articles!) Kendrick and Noble start off this mixed-gender tag match in the ring. Noble tries to whip Kendrick into Nidia waiting boot, but Kendrick reverses it and Noble tastes nothing but boot leather. Nidia tags in and instead of waiting for Torrie to enter, as per the rules of this match, she lays into Kendrick hard. Nidia tries a splash from the top rope, with some help from her boyfriend, but Kendrick rolls away. Torrie tags in and takes advantage of a stunned Nidia. She even slaps Noble off the apron for good measure. Noble tries to extract vengeance on Torrie, but she is saved by a missle drop kick from Kendrick. Nidia tries a crossbody from the top rope, but connects with Noble instead of Torrie. Torrie drop kicks Nidia and scores the pinfall. Sable is impressed and offers a round of applause for Torrie.

Backstage, Benoit congratulates Brock on his win at Wrestlemania and says he is looking forward to facing him for the title at Backlash. Rhyno begs to differ, as he steps into the conversation. Lesnar doesn\'t seam to care and hopes both men beat the hell out of each other. Lesnar also informs the duo that at Backlash he is going to bring the pain.

Match #3: Chris Benoit vs. Ryhno Semi-Final Contender\'s tournament match

The match starts off slow with these tag team partners feeling each other out, not quite ready to \"beat the hell out of each other\", as Brock Lesnar put it. Rhyno and Benoit spend the early part of this match reversing and countering each other moves. The match swings in Benoit favor as Rhyno misses a gore, and almost catches the ring post. Benoit then hits a flying headbutt from three-quarters of the way across the ring, but that doesn\'t finish off the man beast. Benoit scores the victory with a pretty boring backslide. After the match the two men take Lesnar\'s words to heart and beat the living hell out of each other. No they don\'t. Benoit and Rhyno shake hands, cementing their tag-team partnership, for now.

Sable is backstage looking for Torrie. Now, don\'t get me wrong. Sable still looks good, but she is no longer Number One on the depth chart. This isn\'t 1997 when WWE was pretty thin on women\'s talent. If this were football, Sable would be on the practice team. WWE is loaded with better looking and talented women. I\'m still trying to figure out why they brought her back. Anyway, Sable finds Torrie in her locker room of all places, and Torrie is in the shower. Sable steals her towel and tells Torrie to come and get it. Oh, I see, Sable came back to be put in a creep HLA angle with Torrie. Yea, that\'ll work.

Vince McMahon\'s music hits, as the stagehands are getting the ring ready for Piper\'s Pit. Vince reminds us that last week he injected Hulkamania with a lethal dose of leprosy. I\'m no doctor, but I thought leprosy was a disease, not some kind of poison that can be dealt out in doses. According to Vince, Hogan is now at home collecting paychecks for doing nothing. This is bad, how? Hogan gets paid to do nothing, and we don\'t have to watch him wrestle. It\'s a win-win situation. \"I\'ve shelved Hulkamania,\" brags Vince, and while Vince was in this proverbial closest, he found one of his other creations. Piper\'s Pit has been dusted off and ready for show. Piper\'s music hits, (maybe it\'s my Scottish heritage, but you gotta love the bagpipes) and Rowdy Roddy Piper makes his way to the ring. Vince announces he will be the first guest on Piper\'s Pit, much to Piper\'s chagrin. Piper refutes Vince claim that he made Piper. Piper made Piper. Vince then makes fun of Pipers shape, or lack there off. He then asks Piper if he wants to join the infamous \"Vince McMahon Kiss My Ass Club\". Piper declines, and decides to play \"This is you Life\". Piper lists all of Vince\'s failures, including the XFL. He also says the only job Vince was able to keep was the one his daddy gave him. Piper and McMahon do agree on one thing, they both hate Hogan. As Vince heads up the ramp, Piper reminds him of the one thing Vince has done that Piper hasn\'t been able to accomplish, losing to Hulk Hogan.

Piper is wrapping things up, when Rikishi\'s music hits. The big man makes he way to rings side, as a stunned Piper yells, \"He\'s not scheduled!\" Rikishi is holding a coconut and asks Piper if it looks familiar. Rikishi tell Piper that he remembers Jimmy \"Superfly\" Snuka getting laid out by a coconut from Piper, and he his here to defend his family. Piper stall Rikishi long enough for Sean O\'Haire to come out of the back. O\'Haire clotheslines Rikishi and then lays him out with a steel chair. Riskishi is hauled to his feet, only to get a face full of coconut from Piper. Don\'t you love it when history repeats itself?

Match #4: Team Angle vs. Tajiri and Rey Misterio

Charlie Haas gets on the mike and demands a moment of silent prayer for team captain Kurt Angle, who will be undergoing neck surgery. The crowd won\'t have any of that and boos rain down from the crowd. Sheldon Benjamin grabs the mike and says this is why the Cubs haven\'t won a World Series in like a hundred years. Tajiri and Haas start off together in the ring. Tajiri slaps the tarantula on Haas and Misterio lands a drop kick with Haas tied-up. Misterio then avoids a cheap shot from Haas by leapfrogging a baseball slide on the ring apron. Misterio tags in, only to be double-teamed by Team Angle. Haas gets tied up in the bottom rope, allowing Misterio to hit the 619. He then springboards off the top rope and hit Haas with a leg drop. Tajiri and Misterio score a major upset here, and we may have seen the formation of a new tag team.

Match #5: Nathan Jones vs. Bill DeMott

This is Jones\' in-ring Smackdown debut. Jones just overpowers DeMott. A big boot to the faces does the job, and Nathan Jones scores his first WWE victory.

The Full Blooded Italians are filing a police report back in their locker room. Apparently, they went out to grab some food and when they came back $1200 was missing from their bags. Who carries that kind of money in their gym bag? The police ask if they have any idea who might have done this. The FBI says they have an idea who it could be.

Backstage the police catch up with Nathan Jones. They need to take him in for some questioning. Undertaker steps in and yells at the police for harassing Jones, and says that his debt to society is paid. I guess Undertaker didn\'t watch that last match, because Jones definitely owes the wrestling world something. The police tell Undertaker that Jones is not under arrest; they are just taking him in for questioning.

Match #6 John Cena vs. Undertaker Semi-Final Contender\'s tournament match

Cena comes out in a San Juan, I mean, Montreal Expo\'s throwback jersey. Cena raps his way to the ring, pretty much running down Chicago and saying he will beat Undertaker. Undertaker is in control of the match early. He even hits Cena with a chokeslam, who staves off elimination by getting his foot on the bottom rope to break the pinfall. We are then treated to 120 seconds of commercials. When we rejoin the action, Cena is in trouble. Undertaker is hitting leg drops on the ring apron. Cena gets out of trouble by introducing Undertaker\'s face to his steel chain. This knocks Taker out of the ring. Cena won\'t let Undertaker back in, trying to win via count-out. The ref won\'t count out Undertaker, and is rewarded by accidentally getting run into by Big Evil. Cena goes for the Death Valley Driver, but Undertaker counters it with the Last Ride. The ref is still out, though, and the FBI storm the ring. Undertaker holds his own, until Chuck Palumbo lays him out with a steel chair. The FBI leave as fast as the ref start to come to. Cena crawls onto Undertaker and scores the win. Next week John Cena will take on Chris Benoit for a title shot with Brock Lesnar at Backlash.

Tune in next week to see what 80\'s star Vince McMahon \"pulls off the shelf\". How about Mr. T? I\'m sure making commercials doesn\'t take up that much of his time.

Dale Plummer is a rookie on the Slam! Wrestling staff. Dale only started watching wrestling in 1992, so he could care less if any other stars from the 80\'s try to make a comeback.