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


With just a couple short days remaining before Backlash, the Smackdown crew has prepared another Friday night of action. Let's send it up to the ring!

We open the show with La Familia in the ring for a group promo, which ends with the match between Undertaker and Batista now becoming a no DQ match. You know, there was a time, not too long ago, where a no DQ match actually was a stipulation to look forward to, not an every-show occurance.

CM Punk wanders out for no apparent reason soon after this proclimation. Young Punk and Mr. Copeland get into a verbal battle, which ends up setting up our semi-main event for the evening. The segment ends really abruptly with Edge saying that Punk will be "bankrupt" following their match. No witty comeback for Punk though. The guy needs a catchphrase, stat!

Match 1 - The Miz vs. Shannon Moore

This, of course, is a follow-up to last week's John Morrison/Jimmy Yang match. The bout isn't bad, as Miz has definitely improved from his early days. I'm still waiting for someone to describe this team as being "Tough Enough", but I'm not going to get that with C&C Rambling Factory on the headsets.

Moore ends up getting the blatantly fluke pin with a backslide for the win. Does he even have a finisher?

Winner: Shannon Moore

Oh, and I'd like to point out that despite the fact that these four have been on TV tons with a hot feud, none are on the PPV this weekend.

Match 2 - Natalya vs. Cherry

Michael Cole proves once again that Divas don't have last names by talking about Natalya, then saying that she's Jim Niedhart's daughter. Hmmm... no ring on her finger... that must mean her last name is... We also get some Mike Adamle-level commentary from Cole as he stumbles over the Jimmy reference. It's like there are only two adjectives for retired WWE superstars - Hall of Famer, of which Neidhart is not, and Legend, for which I don't believe Jim has signed a contract. Evidently' Cole hasn't watch the Bret Hart DVD yet.

In any case, I don't know why Cherry is in this match. Natalya does get to show off a pretty decent moveset here, finishing with, naturally, the Sharpshooter, but her opponent is about as green as Lambeau Field.

Winner: Natalya

Next up, Matt Hardy is greeted in the ring by Michael Cole before MVP joins the party. The segment is basically used to remind people of the 2007 FOTY rivalry between the two, and executes it well. Strong back-and-forth from these guys, even though it takes the fans a bit of time to get into the verbal confrontation.

Match 3 - Edge vs. CM Punk

This was another tease for what should be an upcoming feud that will fully transition Punk to the Smackdown roster. If Edge wins on Sunday, I can see Punk cashing in immediately.

This was yet another solid match between the two, with Punk seemingly ready to wrap up a win with the GTS. Edge, however, falls to the outside, allowing Zack Ryder enough time to make it down to ringside. Once Edge is back in the ring, Ryder distracts Punk, allowing Copeland to get set for, and then deliver, a Spear.

Winner: Edge

Match 4 - Vladimir Kozlov vs. Marty Garner

Quick match here to further Kozlov's supposed dominance and nothing more.

Winner: Vladimir Kozlov

Next up, Batista and Vickie have a quick chat about the match tonightl. Batista regresses to a babyface for a brief time here, which is the exact, polar opposite of what he shoud be doing.

Match 5 - Batista vs. Undertaker

Some would probably call this a solid match between the two, worthy of being on Sunday's show. Me, on the other hand, am sick of seeing these guys in the main event of seemingly every show.

Near the end of the match, the action intensifies with the introduction of the ring steps into the bout. Batista is able to escape a near Tombstone on the steel steps and counter into a Spinebuster. This leads to Shawn Michaels coming out of the crowd and into the ring. HBK quickly delivers Sweet Chin Music. Undertaker then hits the Tombstone for the W.

Winner: Undertaker

Overall, this was an incredibly strong show. I'm still waiting for the tag belts to be on a PPV though. Miz and Morrison deserve a PPV slot, no questions asked.

 


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    Jon Waldman has been with SLAM! since 2000.