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Smackdown: What you saw and didn't see!
By ANDY MCNAMARA -- SLAM! Wrestling


CM Punk stares down Matt Hardy at the Smackdown taping at the John Labatt Centre in London, ON, May 6, 2008. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea


Judgement Day is just over one week away and this evening will answer the question as to who will face who for the now vacant world heavyweight championship. A battle royal is ordered to help with that decision, but not before a slew of entertaining qualifying battles. This edition of Smackdown goes north of the border to London, Ontario so lets get right to the action!

GM Theodore Long, her boy toy Edge, and Assistant GM Theodore Long are out to begin the show. Vickie gives a heartfelt speech to the crowd on how difficult it is to be the general manager, and how she really did not want to strip The Undertaker of his world title. Smackdown’s GM announces that the vacant title will be decided at Judgement Day, and that Taker will be involved provided he does not use his choke hold finisher. To determine his opponent there will be a series of matches tonight, where the winners will square off in a battle royal in the main event this evening as well.

Match 1: Qualifier #1- Matt Hardy vs. CM Punk

Hardy focuses on Punk’s arm/shoulder almost immediately and is able to concentrate on that body part despite his opponent’s best efforts. Matt is able to recover from a missed second rope leg drop with a Side Effect for two. From their Punk goes on the offensive with a knee to the face, a bulldog, and a suplex for a couple of near falls. Each man escapes from the other’s finisher, but it is Hardy who is able to squeak out the victory from a quick pinfall. So when exactly is Punk going to start being made to look like a main eventer?

WINNER: Matt Hardy

Match 2: Qualifier #2: MVP vs. Finlay w/ Hornswaggle

Hopefully this will be a battle of hard hitters and not a comedy fest with Hornswaggle. Naturally the contest begins with the mini Irishman throwing tennis balls at MVP to give his man the quick advantage. Both men exchange some wear down manoeuvres (MVP- side scissors, Finlay- side headlock), before MVP hones in on Finlay’s shoulder following a missed corner attack. The Irishman is still in an arm lock once we return from commercials, and after escaping is sent tumbling to the outside from a running head kick. A brief distraction from Hornswaggle does not side track the former U.S. champ for long as he goes right back to Finlay’s injured left arm. This match has turned into a solid battle. The finish comes when both men’s shoulders are counted down as Finlay held a back suplex.

WINNER: Draw

Match 3: Natalya Neidhart w/ Victoria vs. Kelly Kelly

Finally Natalya will get to showcase her international wrestling skills without distraction. Neidhart turns a slap attempt by Kelly into a beautiful tilt-a-whirl suplex, and shortly thereafter slaps on a perfectly executed surfboard submission. Kelly eventually is able to climb to the second rope, but is ripped down by the leg and made to submit from a sharpshooter. Although this was a short match it was able to get Natalya over as a nasty, tough heel.

WINNER: Natalya

Back from the break, Vickie Guerrero reviews the draw by MVP and Finlay and determines that both men will advance to the battle royal in tonight’s main event.

Match 4: Qualifier #3- Batista vs. John Morrison w/ The Miz

Morrison tries his hand at some leg kicks early, but is forced to high tail it once Batista gives chase. Action spills in and out of the ring with Morrison able to gain some brief momentum by hurling Batista into the steel steps, alongside a face kick. The tag champion’s speed is keeping The Animal off balance, allowing him to score a couple of near falls and to lock on a side headlock following his dancing leg drop. Morrison appears poised to polish off the muscleman when he climbs to the top rope, but is caught in mid air with a vicious spear. A Batista Bomb later and it is Batista advancing to the battle royal. The Animal did a good job of keeping Morrison to look strong throughout.

WINNER: Batista

Match 5: Qualifier #4- Big Show vs. Tommy Dreamer

Big Show isolates Dreamer in the corner and delivers some punishing kicks. Tommy tries his best to land some punches here and there, but they don’t do much to slow down the big man. Show connects with a giant chokeslam for the 1-2-3 in a quick little match.

WINNER: Big Show

Match 6: Qualifier #5- Chavo Guerrero w/ Bam Neely vs. Kane

The rivalry since WrestleMania continues with Kane nursing an injured knee. The Big Red Machine wards off a feisty Chavo flury early on to power him into a military press slam. The former ECW champion makes the hurt leg a focal point and goes after it whenever possible. The sneaky Guerrero is able to distract the referee just long enough for his bodyguard to inflict more damage on Kane’s knee. He follows that up with some leg locks until Kane sits straight up and hits some power moves to get back into the match. The Big Red Machine cannot support the weight of Chavo when going for a side slam, however, he does catch him coming off the top in a chokeslam ready position. Guerrero does wriggle out, but it matters not as Kane is able to sunset flip him to advance.

WINNER: Kane

Match 7: Vladimir Kozlov vs. Phil Atlas

Ladies and gentleman it is time once again for Mr. Kozlov’s weekly squash! Mick Foley points out that Phil Atlas is a London, Ontario native, but unfortunately for the youngster there is no hometown luck. Kozlov displays his impressive blend of technical wrestling and power in this short lived match. The angry Russian runs his winning streak to 6-0 courtesy of his modified neckbreaker.

WINNER: Vladimir Kozlov

Match 8: Main Event- Battle Royal: Big Show vs. MVP vs. Kane vs. Finlay vs. Matt Hardy vs. Batista

Everyone pairs off stick to separate corners initially. MVP rolls in and out of the ring a couple of times to catch his breath, and Big Show unleashes fury by tossing his foes all around the squared circle. Following the break all six men remain in the matchup, that is until MVP eliminates Hardy from behind. A cool spot comes when Batista spears Show as he was holding Finlay high above his head. Moments later Finlay goes wild by smashing all comers with his shillelagh, but The Animal is able to toss him out. MVP is the next to go and finally it is the giant who clotheslines Kane over the top. The final two left are Big Show and Batista. The Animal goes for a Batista Bomb, however, Show lifts him up and looks to be poised to dump him over. Batista is able to use his leg strength to scissor lock Show over and seemingly pick up the win…but wait…Vickie Guerrero rolls out and announces that her fiancée, Edge, has just been medically cleared to wrestle. She claims the hunt for the championship continues as The Rated R Superstar is now entered into the battle royal. Batista had gone over the top rope while powering out Big Show, and Edge is able to sprint down and spear The Animal off the apron to the floor. Your winner, and the man to face Undertaker for the vacant world title at Judgement Day is Edge. Before we go off the air for the week the championship, which is showcased in a glass case at the top of the ramp, has flames explode around it…followed by The Undertaker’s gong sound and a shocked looking Edge.

WINNER: Edge

Make sure to check out SLAM! Wrestling’s photo gallery from this week’s Smackdown!
Some notes from the TV taping, by Greg Oliver:
  • About half of the top tier of the JLC was covered off.
  • Jamie Noble beating Ted DiBiase Jr. with a small package started things off in a dark match. No entrance video for DiBiase, so crowd was flat for him.
  • CM Punk & Kane beat Bam Neely & Chavo Guerrero Jr. in what was apparently a dark match -- it was hard to tell.
  • Biggest pops: Batista, CM Punk, Matt Hardy.
  • Mike Adamle was sincere in his apology for not being up to snuff yet, and chatted with fans about it during the show. "I'll keep working for you guys," he said at one point.
  • A few fun signs: "Strong man 6 years ago living in the past" for Mark Henry; "Edge sucks just like the Toronto Maple Leafs"; "Big Show ate my hot dog."
  • After Smackdown stopped taping, Batista took his time hanging around with the fans, and even drank some of one fan's beer. He also got the task of taking the dias with the vacant title belt off the stage.


  • RELATED LINKS

  • Smackdown in London photo gallery
  • ECW in London photo gallery
  • May 7, 2008: ECW: 100th show a major disappointment

    Andy McNamara has been a writer for SLAM! Wrestling since 2005. He is also the play-by-play broadcaster for Rogers Television: Toronto Maple Leafs inter-county league baseball, along with Toronto university and high school basketball and volleyball. Contact Andy at andymcnamara@hotmail.com.