Here we are in Montréal, Québec, for the "season premiere" (does the wrestling season ever end?) of Friday night Smackdown (a.k.a. the second half of WWE's Monday SuperShow).
We open the season with Smackdown's royals interrupting General Manager Teddy Long on the phone. Queen Sharmell points out her hubby King Booker's hands are those of true royalty and are unsullied by the dirt and filth of common people. Errrr... didn't Book do time once? When they do finally get down to brass tacks, Booker reveals he doesn't want to have to take on the dress-wearing Vito, which I suppose is fair enough.
Teddy, to their surprise, notes Vito has graciously stepped aside to allow another opponent to take on the World Champion -- The Undertaker! Booker's royal calm demeanor dissolves as he has a fit.
Match 1: Batista & Bobby Lashley vs. Finlay and William Regal
The usual intense Montréal reaction greets Batista and Lashley. Announcers Michael Cole and JBL remind us of the blood-letting Batista suffered two weeks ago courtesy of Finlay.
Regal and Batista start things off, with Batista unloading with shoulder blocks, a clothesline, and back body drop before dropping Regal with a powerslam. Finlay breaks up a powerbomb, but Batista then instead lands a spinebuster. Finlay interferes to stop a three count.
Lashley's tagged in and he and Batista give Regal a double standing vertical suplex. Lashley continues with a shoulder block to the corner before giving Regal a snap suplex. A cover gains only a two count. Lashley misses nailing Regal again in the corner as the knighted one rolls out of the way to tag in Finlay.
Finlay fairs no better as Lashley gives Finlay a belly-to-belly suplex that sends his opponent halfway across the ring. Finlay recovers quickly but is hammered back down by a clothesline. Lashley keeps the pressure on with a boot and forearm smash across the back.
Lashley fireman carries Finlay into a backbreaker before dropping to his knees. A pinfall is interrupted by Regal. This is a quick paced match.
Eventually, Finlay takes over, working over Lashley with European uppercuts, clotheslines, and elbow drops, before slowing down the match with a sleeper. Lashley fights out of it, but another clothesline stops the big man. A number of double team combinations keep Lashley on the defensive but he won't stay down.
A brawl erupts outside the ring, which eventually leaves Regal and Lashley alone in the ring. Regal goes for the shillelagh but Batista grabs it first from the outside. Regal turns around in frustration only to be greeted by Lashley's spear, which gets him the win.
WINNER: Batista & Bobby Lashley
The 2006 Diva Search Winner Layla comes out for a blether. Her little dance that followed was cut off by the 2005 Diva runner-up Crystal. Blah, blah, blah. What Reagan said about trees for me can apply to the non-wrestling Divas: "If you've seen one, you've seen them all."
Anyhow, Crystal welcomes Layla to Smackdown with a slap. Jillian breaks up the eventual catfight by tearing off both girls' tops. She then pulls off her own. What can I say? Way to go, Jill.
We then recap the ongoing tasteless Chavo Guerrero/Rey Mysterio feud. I feel uncomfortable watching this. Leave Eddie alone already.
Match 2: Non-Title- Matt Hardy vs. Gregory Helms
The "longest reigning champion in sports entertainment today" and Hardy renew their match of last week, that ended in yet another screw-job win, this time for Helms.
Hardy opens up on Helms, eventually dumping him over the top rope to the outside. Going a step further, he flips himself over the top to land on a staggering Helms. Helms finally gets in some offence back in the ring. Standing on the apron, Helms yanks Hardy, who was on the second turnbuckle, and hangs him onto the top rope. Both Carolina boys are selling well. A neckbreaker gets Helms a two-count.
Targeting his opponent's neck, Helms again hangs Hardy up on the ropes in what looks like a modified Whippersnapper.
Helms mocks the crowd with his own "Let's go Hardy" chant. Helms impresses with a number of innovative moves, so much so that they even cause Michael Cole to stop jabbering long enough to acknowledge something's happening in the ring.
Nevertheless, Hardy won't stay down and he fights through two sleeper attempts before countering a Helms wild punch with a Side Effect. When that fails to keep Helms down for the count, Hardy launches himself off the top with a textbook moonsault. Another kick-out. Hardy calls for a Twist of Fate, but Helms counters by holding onto the top rope.
Helms delivers a Shining Wizard but that gets him only a two-and-a-half count and he's visibly frustrated. He goes to remove the top turnbuckle, but while the ref goes to stop him, Hardy gives him a kick well below the belt and rolls him up for the duke.
WINNER: Matt Hardy
Oh Jesus -- it's the Miz and he wants to say something. He's backstage and I have no idea what his point is. His match is apparently next ... but not before we get Jimmy Wang Yang to announce (after commercial) that he will debut next week in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (He would have done so this week, but there aren't enough rednecks in Canada, and people up here talk funny. Sure, whatever.)
Match 3: Mike Mizanin vs. (No. 1 Smackdown announcer) Funaki
The two color commentators (does Smackdown have a play-by-play announcer?) remind viewers of the Miz's undefeated streak following victories over Scotty Too Hotty, Tatanka, and Matt Hardy.
JBL's potshots and savage burns on Miz are the highlights of this match.
"What a match -- we've got two guys who can't speak English."
"What is up with the Miz's haircut? It looks like a Red Rooster starter kit."
Miz wins with a modified swinging neckbreaker, "The Mizzard of Oz." The what?! Mother of god almighty, man ...
WINNER: The Miz
Backstage, Mysterio continues to push his angle with a little soliloquy before the camera. "Tonight is the first day of the rest of my life," says the man who feels like his soul has been raped. So much for pathos.
Match 4: Chavo Guerrero w/ Vickie vs. Rey Mysterio
Chavo gets the early jump on Rey, hammering him around the ring. Rey returns the favor, firing Chavo out over the top to the floor with a hurricanrana. He goes for another off the apron to the outside, but it just leads to both men falling over the barricade.
Fighting into the crowd, the two go back and forth before Rey lands a standing swanton and continues kicking and punching Chavo. Referee Nick Patrick is calling for Rey to back off but Rey continues to lay a beating. (When did this become a no count-out contest?)
At long last, Rey rolls Chavo back into the ring. Vickie slides Chavo a chair but Rey springboard drop kicks it into his mouth. Vickie enters the ring and spins Rey around before trying to slap him. He blocks that but Chavo tackles him and starts to give him the boots.
Is this still a match? Nobody seems to know -- the announcers aren't sure, Patrick keeps trying to separate the two combatants, but the bell hasn't rung. Now several refs run out to keep Rey and Chavo apart. Huh? Weird ending.
WINNER: No contest
Match 5: Triple threat for tag team gold -- Paul London & Brian Kendrick vs. The Pit Bulls vs. Idol Stevens and Casey James
The Pit Bulls work on the champs before Stevens and James even come out. The action borders on chaotic and is more often than not hectic. Zoom! Bloody hell.
Well, the Pit Bulls are more or less beating the snot out of everyone while the tag champs lie on the floor in a state of near unconsciousness.
They finally come back, with London taking on ... just about everybody. Multiple pin attempts from everyone are broken up. After a couple more false finishes, London rolls up Noble and holds his tights long enough to get the win.
Winner: And still tag team champions, London & Kendrick
Backstage, we get the low down about MMA behemoth Sylvester Terkay from his mouthpiece Elijah Burke. Terkay, for his part, follows this up with: "I am Sylvester Terkay." Well, that clears that up. Thanks a bunch.
Match 6: Sylvan vs. Tatanka (a.k.a. Milk Cow, according to JBL)
Sylvan comes out to a huge pop and he starts the match with right hands. Tatanka battles back to a chorus of boos, which eventually shifts to a "Let's go Sylvan" chant.
A great drop kick and sideslam earns Sylvan a near three-count. Tatanka is thrown out of the ring and when he re-enters with an attempted sunset flip, Sylvan counters by dropping on him. Holding onto the ropes, Sylvan wins. Screwed again, Tatanka seems to be thinking as he yells at the ref.
John Cena makes a return to Smackdown, with his previously river submerged title belt around his shoulder. He is backstage speaking to Teddy Long. Cena tells Long he owes him one, which Long uses to get Cena to agree to be part of a six-man tag match next week. He agrees and Long does the Dance of Joy.
So next week -- Cena hooks up with Batista and Bobby Lashley to take on King Booker, Finlay, and William Regal, marking the first time ever both heavyweights will be in a Smackdown ring.
U.S. Champeen Mr. Kennedy makes his way down to the announcers table for the Main Event:
Match 7: King Booker vs. The Undertaker
"Mr. Kennedy, maybe you just better go to RAW," advised JBL to Mr. Kennedy as 'Taker slowly walked to the ring amidst the roaring cheers of the crowd. That was even funnier than the pained look on Booker's face when he watched Undertaker enter the ring.
A bit of posturing takes place before Booker strikes first. But he hightails it soon after. Running on the outside, he slips backs into the ring to catch 'Taker following him. But he can't keep the upper hand and Undertaker clotheslines him to the outside.
Back from commercial, we (is that the Royal "We"?) see Undertaker throwing Booker into the ropes to give him a boot for a two count. 'Taker works on Booker's shoulder, and while holding onto Booker's injured arm, impresses the crowd by lifting Booker and holding him in the air. An Old School attempt is stopped dead in its tracks (pun intended) by Booker. He attempts a superplex but is foiled with body shots and a head butt. Sharmell's distraction on the apron allows Booker to low blow Taker and finally pull off the superplex.
Book keeps pouring on the offence, with a scissors kick to the back of 'Taker's head while he leans forward on the top rope, and then a sidewalk slam for a cover.
Undertaker comes back with punches but is stopped with a DDT. 'Taker sits up but a thumb to his eyes staggers him, yet he still manages his big flying clothesline off the ropes before dropping Booker with the snake eyes, a boot, and leg drop. Booker kicks out at two!
Undertaker threatens a chokeslam but Booker elbows out of it. A side kick gets Booker a two count. Booker attempts a Tombstone Piledriver but Undertaker reverses it. Wriggling out of it, Booker ends the match by low blowing Undertaker again. Taking the championship belt to Undertaker's head levels the Dead Man.
As Booker walks up the aisle with his eyes on the ring, Lashley intercepts him from behind and hurls him back into the squared circle. Booker slides right into Undertaker, who sits up to give him a chokeslam followed by the Tombstone. The fans count to three and go wild.
'Taker rises to glare at Mr. Kennedy before drawing his thumb across his throat.
"Thank God I'm retired," JBL says to close out the show.
Winner: Undertaker (DQ)
That's it kids. Overall, a very strong show. Goodnight and goodbye.
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Richard Kamchen writes from Winnipeg and can be e-mailed at email@example.com.