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Smackdown: Truly, the greatest interview of all time
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


This time we mean it. This is the absolute last WWE program before WrestleMania 23. Want to see title changes and shocking surprises? You won't find them here. What we will see is everything settling into place for the biggest pay-per-view of the year. It's Smackdown, totally not live from Grand Rapids, Michigan!

A briefcase hangs above the ring and a very large ladder stands poised outside the ring to remind everyone of the Money in the Bank ladder match this coming Sunday. Tonight's matches will feature men from that match facing each other in whatever combinations we haven't already seen. Also, JBL promises the greatest interview of all time when he has Batista and the Undertaker in the ring together. Not to rain on your parade, but if those two men are the interview subjects, you are going to have to ask the greatest questions of all time to get anything out of them at all.

Edge is introduced for tonight's first match, but he wants to talk first. Reminding everyone that he won the first Money in the Bank ladder match, he expects the same thing to happen at WrestleMania 23. He's also not risking an injury facing Matt Hardy tonight, so he's found a replacement: one who knows Matt's brother Jeff very well and can't wait to meet Matt. Yep, it's the Great Khali. Is it too late to get him in on the "greatest interview of all time?"

Match 1 - Great Khali vs. Matt Hardy

Hardy unleashes a series of devastating new moves that have Khali staggering. Just kidding! Khali no-sells Matt's offense, drops him with a big clothesline and works him over in the corner. A few seconds later it looks like lights out for our hero, but the lights dim and flames erupt from the stage. But where's Kane? Khali leaves the ring to find him, but he's on the video screen, not in the arena. Swinging his hook and chain from that slasher flick he "starred" in, Kane laughs and tells Khali "two more days."

Is there something going on between Theodore Long and Kristal? I mean, I don't watch Smackdown that often, but it sure seems like it. While they make plans to hook up later on, Teddy says he might be late. There's that whole "greatest interview ever," you know.

Match 2 - Mr. Kennedy vs. Finlay

Mr. Kennedy says that after Sunday, he'll be known as Mr. Money in the Bank... in the Bank. The match starts with both men locking up and rolling out to the floor. Kennedy takes control back in the ring and tries to uncover the top turnbuckle in one corner, but Finlay stops him with an uppercut. He finishes his foe's work on the turnbuckle and almost falls victim to a roll-up. It's Finlay who ends up going head first into the exposed metal, but Kennedy's rolling front Samoan drop only gets a two count. Finlay recovers just in time to use a swinging kick to discourage Kennedy from grabbing a ladder from beneath the ring. After some more brawling, Kennedy gets an even better idea and retrieves the huge ladder standing outside the ring. He swings and misses inside the ring and gets dropped by a clothesline. Finlay's little pal Hornswoggle goes underneath the ring for a ladder that's just his size (it has just two steps) and leaps off to deliver what JBL quickly dubs the Lepre-ton Bomb. Finlay's Celtic Crush finishes off Mr. Kennedy, but I have a feeling he'll do okay in the match at Mania.

A video package shows Lashley and Mr. McMahon confronting each other on Raw. After the break, there's a vignette from Maryse. I don't know who she is, but I like her.

Match 3 - MVP vs. Viko Batamango

Mr. Batamango is the Ethiopian Heavyweight Champion, and his ring attire and gimmick are sure to offend any Ethiopians who happen upon this broadcast. Apparently his belt is not on the line. MVP softens him up with some suplexes and pins him with the Playmaker. MVP has defeated champions from around the world. Chris Benoit is doomed, I tell you. Doomed!

More video hype, this time focusing on Batista and Undertaker. It's undefeated streak versus championship, live on Sunday (... Sunday... Sunday!).

Match 4 - Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy

Hardy starts out strong; Orton rallies with an uppercut and some hair-pulling in the corner. A big clothesline knocks Hardy for a loop, and Orton knocks him off the apron and sends him crashing into the barricade. Commercial. Orton has Hardy in a headlock on the mat and follows with enough offense to score several near falls. He misses a kneedrop, giving Hardy an opening to earn some near falls of his own. Jeff goes up top but never gets to even try a Swanton as Randy rolls away. Orton dumps his opponent out to the floor and watches as Edge comes down and kicks Hardy in the stomach. An angry Orton confronts his former tag team partner, yelling that he doesn't need any help. Back in the ring, Orton is still distracted by Edge, so Hardy rolls him up from behind and scores the pinfall. An amused Edge backs up the ramp as Orton shows his frustration.

Even more hype for Batista and Undertaker as we go all the way back to last week's Smackdown. And Michael Cole and JBL run down the complete WrestleMania card.

Match 5 - Melina, Victoria, Michelle McCool, Jillian and Kristal vs. Ashley, Candice Michelle, Maria, Mickie James and Torrie Wilson

It's almost every woman on the WWE roster in one big match. Mickie James starts out for the good girls, holding her own with Victoria but eventually falling prey to underhanded tactics by the bad girls. She finally rolls away from a Victoria moonsault and tags in Candice so she can hit her GoDaddy.com elbowdrop. Maria tags in for a Bronco Buster and Torrie Wilson executes a move I haven't seen since the days of Rikishi - and I'd much rather get it from Wilson. Ashley tags in and clears the ring - maybe that's supposed to convince us she deserves her big shot on Sunday - then reverses Jillian's power bomb attempt by sitting down and pinning her. Hooray, I guess.

Stone Cold Steve Austin is a movie star! He does his best to stir up interest in The Condemned. It does look better than The Marine, but that's kind of like saying the Coyotes are better than the Flyers this season.

Match 6 - King Booker vs. C.M. Punk

JBL talking about Punk's Straight Edge gimmick reminds me of that old Adam Ant song: "You don't drink, don't smoke. What do you do?" And if that dates me, so be it. Punk's arsenal of kicks gives him the upper hand early, but Booker rallies with some flying feet of his own. Both men exchange two counts, but it's King Booker who looks for the win after his step-through kick leaves Punk dazed. He recovers to dodge the scissors kick, and he uses a roll-up into a bridge to get the duke.

Had to keep that match short so we could promote the Undertaker-Batista collision one more time. We also see highlights from the WrestleMania 23 press conference, which was carefully scripted to make it look like a boxing press conference broke out. Hopefully Floyd Mayweather Jr. won't slap Oscar De La Hoya like Donald Trump did Vince.

We've waited patiently, now we're about to be rewarded with the greatest interview in sports entertainment history. JBL wants to toot his own horn one last time, but he gets big surprise when an unexpected guest crashes the segment: Stone Cold. If you can't guess what happens next, you must be new around here. Austin gives JBL a Stone Cold Stunner, then calls for the beer guy to throw him some Steveweisers. And Cole informs us that the interview will still take place, just in case we were worried.

After a commercial break, Long is in the ring with a line of security guards splitting the ring in two. He introduces Batista, then the Undertaker. Here's a complete transcript of the interview:

Long: Batista, you once said you had nothing but respect for the Undertaker. After all that's happened over the past few weeks, can you still say you have respect for him?

Batista: No!

Long: What was that?... Okay then. Undertaker, how do you react to that?

Undertaker: ...

Long: Excuse me?... Alright. Batista, what's it going to take to beat the Undertaker at WrestleMania?

Batista: 48 hours! Because in 48 hours, I'm going to beat your ass!

Undertaker: {Takes off coat.}

Batista: {Busts through the wall of security guards and starts a wild brawl.}

To paraphrase Tinny Tim from Futurama: "Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Greatest interview of all time sucks!" Anyway, the ensuing donnybrook takes all ten security guards plus some of the road agents to break up. Just when everything looks like it's settled down, Batista breaks loose and floors The Phenom with a spinebuster. But wouldn't you know it, Undertaker sits up as Batista is heading back up the ramp.

And that's it. Show's over, nothing more to see here. WrestleMania 23 is live from Detroit's Ford Field on Sunday, in front of 75,000 fans that will someday be reported to be 135,000 fans! Don't miss it, and be sure to read up here at SLAM! Wrestling if you do.


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  • Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen DVD Set
    Nick Tylwalk is usually the SLAM! Wrestling columnist but was happy to step in and lend a hand with Smackdown. As the parent of a four month-old daughter, he had no plans on Friday night anyway. It's hard for Nick to believe that any interview can beat the one he saw on Smackdown, but if you'd like to nominate another one for best of all time, you can e-mail him at ntylwalk7@yahoo.com.