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Smackdown: Backstage we go...
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


With just over a week remaining until the Royal Rumble, WWE carried forward Friday night with Smackdown, it's last-ever wrestling broadcast before the switch to HD (at least assuming that they don't go back to what we can now call the "before times").

We start off this week with a look back to last year's Royal Rumble and Undertaker's victory over Shawn Michaels to claim the 'Mania spot, which leads into a promo from the Phenom. As 'Taker makes his promise to be the last man standing, Big Daddy V and Matt Striker come out. By tussle's end, V is scurrying off with his handler. The result - 'Taker looks strong, and I get disappointed that we aren't building up to a casket match so we can finally be rid of Big Balogna Bosoms for ever. Man, I've been talking to Matt Mackinder too much lately.

After a couple more filler spo... i mean videos, we get to our first match.

Match 1 - Great Khali vs. Finlay

Okay, seriously - who did Khali piss off backstage so bad that he's been relegated to feud with Hornsoggle? Look - we know they're not going to do the King Kong Bundy spot (well, maybe with Big Show), so let's move on before Finlay's career is over.

Unlike previous encounters between the two, the international object doesn't get Finlay the win, as Khali gets to use the Kona Krunch for the first time in what seems like ages for a W.

Winner: Great Khali

Backstage we go...again... and it's Edge comforting the love of his life v2.0. Both Teddy Long and Chavo Guerrero Jr. insert themselves in the picture, with Chavito making amends after last week...just in time for our main event no less.

Match 2 - Deuce/Domino vs. Jimmy Yang/Shannon Moore

Okay, the latter duo needs a name. Hmm... how about Dragon Count? There we go.

Match 2 - Deuce/Domino vs. Dragon Count

Okay, two points to anyone who knows the reference. Now that that's over, we can get to this match, which was fairly decent, or as good as you'll get out of the Greasy Boys. Seriously, it's time to break up this duo and give them respectable material to work with. Yang gets the duke for his team with the Moonsault Press.

Winners: Dragon Count

Backstage we go...yet again... and Vince McMahon fills his quota by making a second appearance on Smackdown this year. Next week we'll see the two fight...yet again...though this time it will be a Belfast Brawl. I wonder how this differs from a Chicago Street Fight. Anyone who can tell me gets two points.

Match 3 - Batista vs. Mark Henry

Oh joy, two more hulking bodies taking up space that I don't care about. Where's that fast forward button...there we go. End result - win for Batista, with the Spinebuster he uses when he can't fully lift his opponent. Can't say I blame him though.

Winner: Batista

After some more filler, we head to the VIP Lounge with MVP and Ric Flair. Pretty good exchange here, the result being Flair chopping MVP to stand tall at the end of the segment.

Match 4 - Michelle McCool vs. Layla

I'll say it again - why should there be women fighting on Smackdown when there's nothing to fight for? It's not like the cream of the crop here will get a shot at Beth Phoenix.

The two Diva Search alumni do battle in a shorter match, with McCool getting the duke.

Winner: Michelle McCool

Again we go backstage with McCool and Jamie Noble.Suddenly, flowers arrive, courtesy of Chuck Palumbo, who wants to make nicey with his friend. Right here is where the gimmick is lame - if Chuckles was really just Michelle's friend, why would he care who she dates so much? McCool wants everyone to just Love Life and be friends. Oh lord, please let this not be yet another wacky tag team that doesn't get along. TNA killed that many times over.

Match 5 - CM Punk/Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero/Edge

Man, what I wouldn't give to see Rey and Punk mix it up in WWE. If you search around YouTube, there's a three-way from the indies involving these two and Eddie. Great bout.

As one would expect with these four workers, the match is very strong, and carries back memories of the Smackdown Six (trivia note - if Chavo wins on Tuesday, then all of them will have won world titles. What does that say about the quality of work on SD! some five years ago?). Unfortunately, the match is kept too short with Edge using a chair to take out his Rumble opponent.

Winners: CM Punk/Rey Mysterio

Post match, the Edgeheads come down to the ring to help in the beatdown, as Chavito and Edge celebrate. Methinks mesmells a double cross coming at the Rumble.

Overall, this was a decent show, but a little to much backstage stuff for my liking. Still, the build for next Sunday was strong, so mission accomplished.

Jon Waldman has been with SLAM! since 2000.