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   Sat, April 14, 2007



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Smackdown: wrestling mania on Friday night
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


Smackdown is alive and kicking, with a lineup that, based on the spoiler reports, looks intriguing. Let's see if the show passes the SLAM! test.

We start off with Teddy Long in the ring, announcing a rematch between Batista and The Undertaker at Backlash in a Last Man Standing Match. If it's anything close to their first encounter, we might be looking at the start of a decent run for 'Taker as champ.

Match 1 - Fit Finlay vs. Ken Kennedy
God bless alliteration!

We take a quick look back to 'Mania before Kennedy comes out to a pretty loud pop with the crowd sensing the face turn. Kennedy, however, gets the crowd to flip again as he apologizes for his misdeeds, and gets the crowd to cheer for Finlay. Finlay then accepts the apology and the crowd boos him again. The two agree to call off the match. This was absolutely classic crowd working by these two.

Of course, Long has to come out to ruin the segment and put together a tag team match featuring the two against Batista and Undertaker. Yawn.

Winner: none

Backstage, one of the Divas is getting prepped for something when she hears screaming. Indeed, Jillian Hall has attacked Ashley Massaro in her lockerroom, apparently upset over not being in the Timbaland video. I can't say for sure, but I think this NFD is Michelle McCool, which, from a storyline standpoint, would make no sense since her and Massaro were at opposite ends last time the two had an encounter.

Match 2 - Deuce and Domino vs. Brian Kendrick and Paul London (WWE Tag Team Championship match)
We definitely need some team names here. I should also note that London has the goatee going, which means only one thing - eeeeevil!

London and Kendrick get going with some of their RoH-style moves, which suits me just fine. Kendrick and London eventually try to get Domino on the outside with an assisted Air Juvi, but London only half connects and takes a nasty bump on the outside. Somehow, he walks away cleanly.

Back from break, D&D quickly gain control and Domino shows off some great moves himself against Kendrick. Eventually, London gets tagged in and gets control back for the champs. Deuce and domino hit Goodnight, Sweetheart, but as disqualified for the two being in the ring for too long. Odd way to end the match, really odd, but it was a very strong bout overall.

Winners: Kendrick/London

Backstage, Kristal and Long are interrupted by D&D. Nothing comes from it.

Match 3 - Chris Benoit vs. MVP
The two start their match with a great display of technical basics and fundamentals, with MVP gaining a firm control on the outside after throwing Benoit into the ring post. The advantage doesn't last, as the back-and-forth action resumes. The classic work continues and these two are absolutely clicking on every level.

MVP repeatedly counters everything Benoit throws at him, just as Benoit does. Eventually, the back-and-forth finishes with MVP reversing a roll-up and grabbing the ropes for the end to an easy 7/10 match in my books. MVP has really stepped up his game, and I cannot understate how much JBL made this match feel more important with his commentary.

Winner: MVP

Backstage, MVP gets some mic time to sell his victory.

We then take a look back at the action between 'Taker and Booker T. Booker's condition is updated and it's announced that he's ou indefinitely. I sense a return just after King of the ring.

Match 4 - Kane vs. Daivari
The fact that Daivari is formerly Khali's manager is completely ignored. The bout is nothing more than a squash.

Winner: Kane

Post-match, the two Brits come out and nothing comes of it, other than making William Regal and Dave Taylor look incredibly weak.

Back from break, we find out that Mark Henry is on his way back. Oh joy.

Match 5 - Undertaker/Batista vs. Ken Kennedy/Fit Finlay
'Taker and Batista play up their tensions with several blind tags well while dominating the match. Eventually, Batista takes a lengthy amount of abuse from the boys in green. Unfortunately, this was little more than a squash, making Kennedy, the guy who needs backstage support more than anyone else in the equation, look incredibly weak. Good psychology, granted, but as usual it's short-sighted mis-booking by the Fed.

Winners: Undertaker/Batista

An overall great show was almost ruined, but thankfully hard work in the ring prevailed, making this one a must-see.


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    Jon Waldman has been with SLAM! since 2000.