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Smackdown: Batista and 'Taker tune up for 'Mania
By ANDY McNAMARA - SLAM! Wrestling


WrestleMania 23 creeps ever closer and it is time to make sure that each Smackdown Superstar is ready to roll. Money in the Bank competitors battle in singles action, while Batista and Undertaker tune up in a couple of high profile matches. Thanks to "Mad-Man" Matt for filling in during my absence, but now Andy Mac is back jack, so from Tucson, Arizona on to the report!

Match 1: King Booker w/ Queen Sharmell vs. Matt Hardy

King Booker starts with a cheap shot, but the fan favourite Hardy quickly recovers and hits a Side Effect. During the commercial break we are shown Hardy dropping an elbow off of the top turnbuckle for a near fall. Just as fast, Booker turns the tide by connecting with a vicious standing sidekick. Matt seems to be taking more risks than usual as he crashes and burns on a top rope moonsault attempt. Hardy is smacked in the head with Sharmell's shoe after a missed Twist of Fate and a referee distraction. A scissor kick later and the King is your victor.

WINNER: King Booker

MVP storms into GM Theodore Long's office and demands a match with Chris Benoit for the United States Championship at WrestleMania 23. Long said he'll take it under consideration ... what a waste of Benoit.

Match 2: Non-title- Batista (c) vs. Kane

This is a solid tune-up match for the World Heavyweight champion as 'Taker and Kane have similar styles. The two counter one another early and have the momentum switch back and forth. The Big Red Machine tried for a chokeslam, however, Batista was able to power out and chuck him to the outside. Following a whip into the steel steps, Kane is back in control and later on is able to weaken the champ's back with a wishbone on the steel post. Batista catches Kane with a clothesline on the first top rope clothesline, but luckily for the big man he connected on one a couple of minutes later. Things are now heating up as both the champ and The Animal have a finishing move kicked out of (spinebuster and chokeslam). Kane's downfall comes when he went to the top once too often and Batista caught him while up high and translated that into a Batista bomb.

WINNER: Batista

The Miz has his own interview segment in the ring and his first ever get is Ashley. This is pretty much just a plug for Ashley's Playboy magazine until the Women's champion Melina interrupts. Melina eventually cheap shots Ashley and the two roll around. This will be settled at 'Mania for the title.

Being interviewed backstage, Kane is blindsided by The Great Khali and is busted wide open. Looks like another WrestleMania contest will be put together soon.

Match 3: Ken Kennedy vs. CM Punk

The battle of the two youngsters is underway with Kennedy almost taking Punk's head off courtesy of a clothesline. The ECW standout comes back with some high knee thrusts, but is then back dropped over the top and hits his back hard off the apron. The end comes out of nowhere as Mr. Kennedy delivers a reverse neckbreaker while Punk is tied up in the second turnbuckle.

WINNER: Ken Kennedy

Finlay is interviewed by Krystal in the back and the Irishman says he has no fear of The Undertaker or anything.

Match 4: Finlay vs. The Undertaker

Finlay's strategy is to rush The Deadman, which works initially, but soon 'Taker begins to work over the shoulder and deliver Old School. Once the fight is taken to the outside it's the Irishman who smacks around The Undertaker. The leprechaun distracts him and allows Finlay to regain control after an offensive flurry by 'Taker. The majority of this bout is being fought on the outside and it is now Finlay showing some strategy by trying to injure 'Taker's chokeslam hand. In the end this is not enough as The Dead Man connects with a chokeslam and follows that up with a Tombstone piledriver.

WINNER:The Undertaker

After the bell, the world champ comes out, and this causes the program to go off the air with Batista and 'Taker staring down one another.


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    Andy McNamara is a freelance writer and play-by-play radio broadcaster for Durham College sports. Andy is disappointed that broadcasting is done for the year, but is excited to dive back into the writing for SLAM! Wrestling. Contact Andy: andymcnamara@hotmail.com