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Smackdown: Last stop before Orlando
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


It's the very last stop on the road to WrestleMania tonight for Smackdown. Usually, this unfortunately means a very low-quality show as everyone takes everything carefully so as to avoid injury before the big show, and all of the storylines are pretty much in cruise control. Let's see if this show is any better.

Match 1: Kane vs. Great Khali vs. Chuck Palumbo vs. Mark Henry

Immediately, we see Chavo Guerrero on commentary.

I suppose we should have the impression that these four men are the favourites for the Battle Royal, but really, Palumbo is not in the league of any of these men (yes, it's sad when I put Henry as a legitimate contender in the BR. I know, and I apologize for it). Palumbo is the first out, tossed by Kane. Kane's then tossed by Henry, and after a brief skirmish, Khali is gone.

Winner: Mark Henry

Post-match, Henry is attacked by Chavito, but Junior doesn't have the advantage ong. Is this WWE's attempt to turn Mark face?

Next up is the stupid Smackdown Diva Challenge. I'm sorry, this is more lame than the Raw Search. Eve is eliminated this week, and I don't care. Victoria and Maryse come in and stir up stuff, so we are getting a wet 'n wild fight tonight, whatever the hell that is.

Match 2: CM Punk vs. John Morrison

Michael Cole makes a dumb remark early, saying that Punk and Morrison are "rising stars" on ECW, then noting that both are former ECW champs. Tell me, Cole, how much higher can you rise than being the best on your brand?

As usual, Morrison and Punk have a very solid match. If WWE plans this properly, the two could have an on-off rivalry for years to come a la HHH/Rock. They go full tilt here, which is really surprising, but definitely appreciated.

During the match we get a crawl about Big Show vs. Floyd Mayweather. The match is anything goes, with pinfalls, submissions or knockouts being the winning methods.

At one point, Punk gets a double underhook, looking like he's going for the Pepsi Plunge, but turns it into a Jericho underhook backbreaker in a sweet spot. The awesomeness continues in a a PPV-calibre match until Punk puts this baby to sleep with the G2S. Easy 7/10 in my books.

Winner: CM Punk

Next, we get analysis of the Big Show vs. Maywetehr match from boxing analysts and former champs. Everyone shows support and sympaythy for Mayweather. Again - who's the face here?

After this, the show continues to slow with press conference highlights from NYC.

Match 3: Miz/Trevor Murdoch/Lance Cade vs Jesse/Festus/Kofi Kingston

It's good to see that WWE is giving the Battle Royal some attentio, but it's a bit too late for anyone to truly care about it. The match itself isn't half bad, with Kingston getting the Tornado leg lariat on Miz for the W.

Winners: Jesse/Festus/Kofi Kingston

Next up is the re-announcement of Gordon Solie being named to the WWE Hall of Fame.

Match 4: Snitsky vs. Batista

Umm... okay, honestly, has Snitsky beat anyone in the last thre months? Three moves and we're done.

Winner: Batista

Post-match, Batista brings a chair into the ring and feeds the yellow-toothed star a Batista Bomb on it.

Match 5 - Victoria/Maryse vs. Michelle McCool/Cherry

Man, when you make Raw's recent T&A swing look like serious competition, you know you've fallen off the radar. And when did Cherry turn face? This is too horrible for words. Really. Michelle wins with a double underhook into a split-legged pancake for a decent finisher to a deplorable match. Trish, Amy, please come back and save the Women's Division!

Winners: Michelle McCool/Cherry

Match 6 - Chris Jericho vs. MVP

This was another very solid match with both men taking a few risks leading to the Money in the Bank match. Both men pull it all out before MVP brings the belt in for the DQ.

Winner: Chris Jericho (DQ)

Post-match, Jericho attacks MVP with a ladder.

To wrap up the show, Edge, Hawkins and Ryder come out for a funeral for the streak, joining Teddy Long and Vickie in the ring. Come on - a funeral? What could be more obvious an outcome here; and yes, it is pretty tacky to have a funeral segment with Vickie involved. 'Taker ends up coming out of the casket. I guess this was done to plant the seed of doubt in everyone's mind, since the WWE Code dictates that the man who looks bad on TV comes out the winner on PPV,but no one's falling for it. Are they?