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Smackdown: The Dead Man returns
By ANDY McNAMARA - SLAM! Wrestling


This eveningís focus is around the return of The Undertaker to Smackdown! The Dead Man will take on his hated rival Mark Henry, the very man who cost him the world title. MVPís one year anniversary in the WWE celebration is cut short when he must defend the United States championship against his old foe Kane! A womenís and cruiserweight match also add to the excitement as Indianapolis gets ready for this edition of Smackdown!

The program begins in the back office where Vickie Guerrero informs Mr. McMahon that GM Theodore Long has been in a coma for the past week with no signs of improvement. Vince says the show must go on and names Vickie the new General Manager. Finlay then comes in and he and Vince discuss strategy on how to keep Hornswaggle under control.

Match 1: Torrie Wilson vs. Victoria

Torrie Wilson is surprisingly holding her own, not looking nearly as sloppy as per usual. Cole and JBL also keep pointing up how much Wilson has improved. Torrie scores a near fall with a spinning head scissors, but in the end Victoria counters a roll up attempt by sitting on top and holding the ropes. A blonde stranger appears in the ring and for unknown reasons beats up Torrie inside and outside the ring.

WINNER: Victoria

Another edition of the VIP Lounge with MVP is ready to go as the United States champion and half of the tag team champions celebrates his one-year anniversary on Smackdown with his posse. MVPís tag partner Matt Hardy comes down and says he has two gifts for the cocky youngster. Hardy plays a music video showing MVP getting hammered on by the likes of Kane, and Evander Holyfield. MVP wasnít amused and Matt told him to relax and gave him a bottle of Crystall as the legitimate gift. Hardy states that he has one more surprise for his partner -- and that is a U.S. title match versus Kane tonight!

Match 2: Chuck Palumbo vs. Kenny Dykstra

Palumbo is surprisingly over with the Indianapolis and essentially pummels Dykstra around the ring ... again. Why do these two keep fighting when Chuck always takes it to Kenny? Nothing too special here as Palumbo puts away his opponent with the Full Throttle, following a brief offensive stint from Kenny.

WINNER: Chuck Palumbo

Batista is interviewed on the Titan Tron by JBL, who accuses him of being afraid of the Punjabi Prison Match. The world heavyweight champion tells that people get hurt when he is backed into a corner. Batista is still too calm for my liking, if he were to show more emotion in his promos it would take him to the next level.

Match 3: United States Championship - MVP (c) vs. Kane

Up against his old rival who at one point set him on fire during an Inferno Match, MVP is in for a tough defense of his U.S. title. MVP attempts to work over Kaneís left arm, however, the big man scoop slams him and then takes control. The two battle in and out of the ring with MVP getting a two count from reversing a suplex into a DDT and a neckbreaker. Not a bad contest thus far, and looking back over the past year MVP has improved quite a bit. Following the commercial break Kane eventually turns the momentum with a big side slam and a top rope clothesline. The Big Red Machine sets up for a chokeslam, but is hoofed with a kick below the belt causing the disqualification.

WINNER: Kane by DQ

JBLís interview with Rey Mysterio is up now with Bradshaw stating that he will ask the real hard questions. The colour commentator announces that Mysterio will face The Great Khali next week. Rey Rey asks if JBL has all the hate because he retired him, and the two verbally joust. Mysterio tells him "to put up or shut up," and gets shoved. Rey is able to drop kick Bradshaw into the ropes, hit the 619 and Drop The Dime. Finlay sneaks in and smacks Mysterio from behind with the shillelagh.

In the back Vickie Guerrero is speaking with Hornswaggle and discusses the cruiserweight championís safety since heís a title holder and a McMahon. Guerrero strips the leprechaun of the belt for his own good, and the junior McMahon walks away disappointed.

Match 4: Jamie Noble vs. Shannon Moore

Noble makes the belt sign around his waist, and we would have to assume that a cruiserweight championship tournament will be arranged soon. Moore starts off quick, but misses on a cross body off the top as Noble switches it into a knee to the gut. Although both Superstars are connecting with a variety of aerial assaults, the audience is pretty dead. Noble eventually finishes off Moore via pinfall and it looks like the cruiserweight division will be receiving some much needed TV exposure moving forward.

WINNER: Jamie Noble

On the Titan Tron, Khali and his translator say that Batista better watch what The Great Khali does to Rey Mysterio next week as a preview to their match at No Mercy.

Match 5 - Main Event: The Undertaker vs. Mark Henry

This is The Undertakerís return to Smackdown and his grudge match for Mark Henry costing him the world title to Edge a few months back. A long and impressive entrance for The Deadman featuring Takerís symbols and fire. As could be expected, The Undertaker was all over Henry for the most part and looked in fine form. The Worldís Strongest Man was able to counter Old School with a bear hug, and follow it up with a big splash to the corner. Having used up essentially his entire offensive arsenal it is no surprise that Taker regained the momentum. The finish comes when The Undertaker connects with a chokeslam for the clean win and a successful comeback contest.

Andy McNamara is a SLAM! Wrestling writer, a play-by-play broadcaster for both Rogers Television, and on the radio for Durham College sports. Contact Andy at andymcnamara@hotmail.com.