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Smackdown: The last dash to the Rumble
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


The Smackdown roster faces the final leg of their sprint to the gold today. Yes, by the end of the weekend's episode, we'll know who will face Batista at the Royal Rumble. Unfortunately, due to Mr. Kennedy's quick win last week, we're faced with a group of matches that will primarily last 5:07 (or less), but hey; that's par for the course in today's CrashTV format. Let's get to the action.

Match 1 - Fit Finlay vs. Matt Hardy (Sprint Match)
Before the match starts, we get comments from Mr. Kennedy about the rest of the sprint.

To the match we go and as one would expect, there are a lot of pin attempts, with some wrestling moves thrown in in between the contests. With around 1:20 left left, the leprachaun gets involved, allowing Finlay to use his international object. From there, Finlay locks in a Native American Deathlock, but Hardy doesn't tap.

Winner: none

After the match, Finlay keeps the hold on while Joey Mercury attacks, even attempting to Pillmanize Hardy's face, in what would have been a very unique spot had officials not come down to stop it. Hey, sometimes the most obvious variants look the coolest.

Back from break, Kristal gets word from Mercury. As bad as it may sound, the injury may be the best thing that happened to Mercury's career.

Match 2 - Tatanka vs. Jimmy Yang

Yes, the inevitable "cowboys and indians" feud now looks to be in full swing.

Yang, naturally, uses his martial arts skills to get an early advantages, much like Billy the Kid did back in his bank-robbing days. Soon, Tatanka takes over and gets some more than decent offence, including getting a spear on Yang while the "redneck" was hanging in the Tree of Woe. A little further into the match, during a great exchange on commentary, JBL calls Yang the Asian Steve Austin, and just a couple minutes later, Yang pulls out the Stone Cold Stunner. Eventually, Tatanka gets the win with what most closely resembled the Black Hole Slam.

Winner: Tatanka

For some reason, back from break, we see Maryse. Quickly, we transition to an interaction between London and Kendrick and Regal and Taylor in a nice promo spot.

Match 3 - Mr. Kennedy vs. Chris Benoit

Benoit starts out with some wicked offence before we go into a decent match with back and forth action. As Benoit gets set to go up top for the Swandive, Chavo Guerrero Jr. comes out, leading to a break.

Back from the break, Chavito is with Cole and JBL on commentary, while the awesome match between Kennedy and Benoit continues, with solid wrestling and back and forth action, keeping away from the standard WWE style of heat segments. Kennedy looks really impressive here and this is quite possibly his best match in WWE thus far. There's too much action to really describe here, but suffice it to say if you didn't see the match, borrow a friend's tape or look for it on YouTube. Eventually, Benoit gets the Shapshooter on before Chavito gets on the apron. Guerrero is eventually brought into the ring and while Benoit is distracted with the interference, Kennedy schoolboys him for the pin. Wicked match, an easy 7 out of 10, and our first MOTY candidate.

Winner: Mr. Kennedy

After the match, Benoit and Guerrero continue their fighting until Chavito escapes into the crowd.

Back from the break, we get our second look at Batista's story. Of course, throughout this, there was no reference to his time as Deacon Batista.

Match 4 - Brian Kendrick/Paul London vs. William Regal/David Taylor (WWE Tag Team Championship match)

This match is as solid in action as our last bout, and given the clash of styles, that's saying a lot. Eventually, after an extended heat segment on London, Kendrick is tagged in and the end result is Kendrick getting the backslide on Regal for the duke. Easy 5 out of 10 here.

Winners: Kendrick/London

Match 5 - MVP vs. Vito (Sprint Match)

Give MVP credit - he may not be much in the ring but he sells that back injury like a pro. Vito, meanwhile, still looks incredibly lame in the dress. Time expires and mercifully ends this match.

Winner: none

Post-match, MVP and Vito continue fighting until Vito throws MVP back-first into the stairs. Looks like we have our next feud for Porter.

Back from the break, Cole announces that Benoit and Guerrero will face off next week in a no-DQ match for the U.S. Title.

Elsewhere, Kristal interviews Batista for his thoughts on who he'd rather face. No real answer is given.

Match 6 - Undertaker vs. The Miz

Unfortunately, the match isn't long enough for us to truly see what we all want - the holy hell beat out of The Miz. What does happen, however, is Kennedy causing enough of a commotion that The Undertaker can't pin Miz before the bell rings.

Winner: none

This was a surprisingly strong episode of SD!, given the parameters we were given. Once again though, Smackdown proves it is the best WWE wrestling show on television.


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  • Vive Eddie Guerrero Double DVD

    Jon Waldman has been with SLAM! since 2000.