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Smackdown: Edge escapes the cage
By ANDY MCNAMARA -- SLAM! Wrestling


Ric Flair is in for the fight of his life tonight as he takes on Edge and the Edge Heads in a steel cage handicap match. The final chance for Batista to capture United States gold is upon us, and this time it will take place in a No Holds Barred match. The final Money in the Bank spot will also be filled as the WWE tag champs square off for that coveted position. From the Windy City of Chicago, it's time for some Friday Night Smackdown!

Starting off the show is, you guessed it, the Ultimate Diva Contest! Maryse has been voted off via text message, and the remaining ladies have to run an obstacle course (including tires in the ring). Michelle McCool wins it.

In the locker room Ric Flair and HBK chat about The Nature Boys handicap match tonight and how both of them want the other to be 100% for their WrestleMania battle. Michaels assures Flair that he has nothing to worry about.

Match 1: Handicapped Match- Big Show vs. Jimmy Wang Yang & Shannon Moore

Its a shame that two of the most gifted performers on the Smackdown roster are being buried in a squash. Big Show is looking like the dominant monster that he is as he destroys both men and gets the pin on Moore. Following the bell he tosses Yang over the top rope and to the floor.

WINNER: Big Show

Match 2: Money in the Bank Qualifier - John Morrison vs. The Miz

With Jeff Hardy out of the MITB bout at Mania due to his drug suspension there is an open spot and it will be the WWE Tag Team champions squaring off for the coveted spot. The partners start off slow before Morrison locks in a half crab and works on the left leg. Morrison is so athletic and uses that ability to finish off Miz with an impressive swinging neckbreaker. Morrison is going to WrestleMania.

WINNER: John Morrison

Finlay is interviewed by Michael Cole and he goes over how hard it was to see his son Hornswaggle getting smacked around by JBL. The Irishman goes over how he will destroy Bradshaw in their Belfast Brawl match at WrestleMania.

Match 3: No Holds Barred- United States Championship- MVP (c) vs. Batista

This bout should have been built up a bit and played out at Mania as the match quality difference between this one and Batista vs. Umaga will be night and day. The two competitors take some time to feel each other out, but MVP is able to take charge with an over the head belly-to-belly suplex, and follows that up with head kick that sends The Animal outside. A big spinebuster sets up the champ for a Batista Bomb, however MVP is able to squirm away. Look out, here comes the plunder! The momentum changes frequently with MVP landing some chair shots and Batista using the announcers table to his advantage. Just when you think Batista is ready to put MVP away, Umaga appears out of nowhere. The monster lays a nasty Samoan spike on Batista and this allows the U.S. champion time to crawl over for the pinfall and retain his title.

WINNER: MVP

Match 4: Chuck Palumbo & The Great Khali vs. Kane & Jamie Noble

This was a relatively sloppy match with Palumbo landing some blows at the beginning, but Kane quickly takes charge. Khali eventually puts Noble to rest with a two handed chokeslam and the 1-2-3.

WINNERS: Chuck Palumbo & The Great Khali

Match 5: Main Event Steel Cage handicap match - Edge, Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins vs. Ric Flair

Shawn Michaels has decided to try and even up the odds by joining Flair in the cage. However, general manager Vickie Guerrero will not be outdone as she adds Chavo Guerrero to the mix to make this a 4 on 2 affair. HBK becomes entangled in the ropes and during this time The Nature Boy gets busted wide open. A nice looking spot occurs when Flair and Michaels simultaneously lock in figure four leg locks on the Edge Heads; however Chavo lands a double frog splash for the save. The crowd is extremely hot for this battle. Suddenly the lights go out and The Undertaker appears! The Dead Man goes on a path of destruction, however, the world champion is able to scurry up and out of the cage to escape and give his team the victory.

WINNERS: Edge, Zack Ryder, Curt Hawkins & Chavo Guerrero

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