December 30, 2006
Smackdown: The best of 2006
By ANDY McNAMARA - SLAM! Wrestling
New Years Eve is this Sunday so there is no better time for the Best of Smackdown 2006. Michael Cole and JBL recap some of the best moments over the past year and give their two cents about each event. Also, it has been announced that GM Theodore Long has a major announcement involving the World Heavyweight Championship. It's been a great year everyone, so sit back with some eggnog, and enjoy the final report of 2006.
Rey Mystero's Royal Rumble win is the first highlight this evening and is the start of using Eddie Guerrero's death as an angle. Rey came in number two to face off against HHH who was in at one. The final two were Mysterio and Randy Orton, who Rey eliminated with a head scissors. Mysterio's Rumble victory was an incredible accomplishment and played the underdog card quite well.
Mysterio's main event victory over Kurt Angle and Randy Orton for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania is outlined. This was the feel good story of the year and at this point the Guerrero storyline was kept positive -- if only it had ended there.
2006 Diva Search
Unfortunately we are forced to relive this waste of TV time. Layla has worked hard but was put in the ring too soon and hurt herself, which is a disturbing trend with the new Divas. Following this is a summertime Diva bikini contest hosted by The Miz. JBL had the quote of the night saying that he hates the Miz, wants him to go away, and hopes he had a terrible Christmas. Ultimately 2005 Diva Search winner Ashley won the "competition."
Rey Mysterio tricking JBL to defending his United States title against anyone ... that anyone turned out to be Bobby Lashley. Bradshaw ended up losing the surprise confrontation and proceeded to storm into GM Long's office demanding Mysterio. JBL states that he will retire if Rey beats him. Bradshaw does lose to the World Championship and retires as an active wrestler. On the plus side Smackdown did gain an excellent colour commentator.
The first of two highlight packages of the WWE's fourth annual Tribute to the Troops is displayed.
Vicki Guerrero's heel turn
The tasteless turn of Vickie Guerrero to a heel with Chavo is unfortunately revisited. The clip of her attacking Mysterio with a steel chair is then remembered. You can't blame Vickie for wanting to support her family but WWE creative should be ashamed.
Rey Mysterio / Chavo Guerrero Feud
The Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero series of matches is reviewed and highlights of Mysterio's final match (up to this point) is shown. That is of course the "I Quit Match" where Chavo made Rey say those very words after smashing his knee with a chair while his former friend was hung upside down on the ramp. While it can not be disputed that for the most part these two had some phenomenal contests, the storyline behind the rivalry can certainly be questioned. I personally found it inappropriate to continue to exploit the death of Eddie Guerrero for angles. It is now over a year since his death and Chavo is still fighting with his main focus being Eddie Guerrero. We can only hope that 2007 will finally put an end to Eddie themed bouts and allow Chavo to develop a new character.
GM Theodore Long has a major announcement. It is the first ever "Smackdown Sprint" where there will be a series of timed matches. This will be ongoing from week to week and at the end the fastest win will earn a World Heavyweight title shot at the Royal Rumble.
The rejoining of The Undertaker and Kane
The recent reuniting of The Brothers of Destruction is up next and has certainly provided a spark to the Smackdown program. Highlights of their November 3rd No Disqualification tag match against MVP and Ken Kennedy are shown. This slaughter demonstrates just how dominant Kane and The Undertaker can really be.
The first Inferno Match in 7.5 years is briefly discussed where Kane put MVP on fire. This took place at Armageddon, as did Undertaker vs. Mr. Kennedy in a Last Ride Match. Taker was able to recover from a big fall off of the ramp to stuff Kennedy into the awaiting hearse.
The debut of Finlay's "Little Bastard" leprechaun-like creature is quickly highlighted. The Irishman's rise to prominence on the program is discussed and clips of his May 21 bout at Judgment Day against Chris Benoit is shown. On this particular night The Crippler made his opponent tap out in The Crossface. During a hot and cold year for Smackdown one thing you could always count on was the smash mouth, exciting, quality wrestling of Finlay and Benoit. It is hard hitting feuds like Benoit/Finlay that remind fans why they watch WWE television.
Some general moments are now rushed through including: Gregory Helms winning the Cruiserweight championship from Funaki; the debut of the Asian cowboy Jimmy Wang Yang; Boogeyman biting the growth off of Jillian Hall's face; acrobatic highlights of Paul London and Brian Kendrick; The Miz's male stripper birthday surprise; Vito fighting in a dress; Vito kissing/spanking Michael Cole.
Tribute to The Troops clips are reviewed and is truly one of the continual class acts by the WWE.
The reign of King Booker and Queen Sharmell is recapped. The King's King of The Ring victory in June and his World Championship run are glazed over much too quickly for my liking. Booker single handedly kept Smackdown tolerable to watch while injuries decimated the roster and storylines were at times unbearable. His Majesty and his court provided comedy and quality matches through the last six months and I believe is truly the number one shining star of the show.
Batista recapping the World Heavyweight title is the final moment of 2006. The Animal having to give up his championship due to injury and the road back to regain his belt are reviewed. Clips of Batista's Survivor Series win against then champ King Booker is highlighted. This was the culmination of a long chase from The Animal where if he didn't win he would not have another shot at Booker's title. I thought it was a strange finish having Batista cheat by hitting the King with the belt for the victory, where a clean pin would have put him over stronger. Still frames of the Batista/John Cena vs. King Booker/Finlay match at Armageddon are displayed momentarily.
I don't believe Batista has the same lustre as he did when he left and his overall ferocity has seemed to decrease. It will be interesting to see if he can pick it up in 2007 or will there be someone new to carry the Smackdown flag? From this reporter's view the only other legitimate main eventer at this time is King Booker, with a runner-up possibility to Finlay.
Well that's all for 2006. Happy New Year's to the SLAM! Wrestling nation.
Andy McNamara is a freelance writer and writes for SLAM! Wrestling. To all of our loyal readers have a Happy New Year. Andy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.