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Smackdown: Kozlov seeks competition
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


The Smackdown crew is back on the air after the Unforgiven PPV, just in time for the build to No Mercy. Let's see what the boys and girls of silver and blue have cooked up.

We start the show with Triple H, chatting about his title victory. He shills the upcoming DVD for Unforgiven and his usual shpiel, when one Jeffrey Hardy comes out. The two continue their Kayfabe-breaking exchange, with Hardy talking about Triple H's family ties and Hunter responding with allusions to certain activities that kept Hardy off of TV for a while. The exchange is good, though it seems to tell me that their feud will continue through tonight's "fatal-four-way" match to determine Trippy's opponent at No Mercy (the others being Brian Kendrick, MVP and Shelton Benjamin).

Match 1 - Michelle McCool/Brie Bella/Maria vs. Natalya/Victoria/Maryse

You'd think this match would be used as a vehicle to transition Natalya or Victoria into the number-one contender spot for the Butterfly Belt, but instead it's just another instance of the Brie Bella magical reviving act. You'd think that after two weeks of something happening under the ring the heel girls would catch on and block Ms. Bella from going under the ring. Sadly, we'll have to wait to see if the ladies have unlocked the mystery one more week, as Bella again makes Victoria the victim.

Winners: McCool/Bella/Maria

Match 2 - R-Truth vs. Chavo Guerrero

I dig Truth's entrance and hope that he can get some gold consideration shortly. Chavo, on the other hand, is pretty much lost here. In an effort to bring him back to the point of interesting, Chavito ends up on the losing end of the match after Bam Neely interference.

Winner: R-Truth

Post-match, the Familia members have a spat and duke it out until Truth clears them both away.

Elsewhere in the arena, Benjamin and Eve Torres are chatting when Trple H walks in. He discusses the Scramble and the upcoming match, giving the IC champ a pep talk.

Match 3 - Festus vs. Kenny Dykstra

Apparently Festus and Jesse are now working for My Moving Co. The match doesn't last long, as young Kenny is duct-taped and put on a cart. I get the joke, but I think you have to take it one-step further and not only use the Dire Straits "Money for Nothing" song, but make a digitzed version of Jesse and Festus video.

Winner: Kenny Dykstra (I think...)

Post-match, bubble wrap gets involved. That's all I'll say.

Next up, the scream queen is out with her man of the hour - Big Show. The expected promo on Undertaker is delivered, nothing really of note at this point.

Match 4 - Vladimir Kozlov vs. Scott Goldman/Funaki

Lovely -- Cabana is now at Funaki level. Methinks he's not long for this world.

Winner: Kozlov

Kozlov demands competition again after the match, this time threatening to find his own.

Triple H then runs into Zeke and Kendrick, with a pretty good exchange. I like the way that Kendrick and the big man are being built up here, I really do.

Match 5 - Zach Ryder/Curt Hawkins vs. The Colons

Carlito's back, but not with the hair that a SD! promo poster showed. Rather than cornrows, the 'fro is in full effect. And what's the deal with this team? Wasn't it just a week or two ago that Primo was trying to distance himself from Carlito?

I guess I can forgive WWE because the Colons are a wicked tag team, doing some great tandem moves and showing off a Lucha style. Together, the four put on a solid match and, if Jesse and Festus can be kept away, we could see the beginning of a rejuvinated tag division here, especially with Miz and John Morrison.

The Colons get the first strike in this feud with Carlito hitting the Backcracker to a pretty sizeable pop.

Winners: The Colons

Elsewhere in the arena, MVP and Triple H have a less-than-friendly exchange.

Match 6 - Jeff Hardy vs. MVP vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Brian Kendrick (#1 contenter match)

I suppose the angle we're supposed to buy into for this match is that with so many heels and a face champion, Hardy wasn't likely to win, but the exchange earlier in the show pretty much gave the ending away. Still, the match is worth checking out on a Score replay or hunting down on YouTube.

Winner: Jeff Hardy

Hardy doesn'y get to celebrate for long though, as Kozlov makes good on his threat and takes out the new number-one contender. Interesting twist here, but I think it's too soon for Kozlov to be in the main event mix. We'll see what fallout there is wrinkle next week. See you then.

Jon Waldman has been with SLAM! since 2000.