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Smackdown: Big builds on Friday night
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


We're getting closer to No Mercy, which means more build will highlight this edition of Smackdown! Let's see what WWE has in store, as we open up right into the action.

Match 1 - Michelle McCool vs. Maryse (Diva's Championship)

McCool is wearing a sawed-off Tennessee Titans jersey, and no one cares. I'm sorry, but McCool is nowhere near as over as 75% of the Raw women.

The girls pull out some nice innovative moves and I'm still surprised at how much Maryse has improved. She shows a hell of a lot more personality than Michelle also, which only works in her favour. If the Beautiful People indeed move over to WWE once their TNA contracts expire, I woudn't be surprised if Michelle joins the group. McCool, of course, wins the bout with an Implant Buster.

Winner: Michelle McCool

Backstage, Big Show and Vickie Guerrero are chatting when Eve Torres comes in. She starts an interview but gets cut off. Then she talks about wanting to get in the ring, but is again cut off. We then see a recap from Unforgiven from Big Show. Are we supposed to care about the tease of Eve being in the ring or the UT/Show rivalry? Because neither are lighting my world on fire.

Match 2 - Festus vs. Ryan Braddock

Festus is in the moving gear again, as is Festus, and you know what happens next. Why they do this with a newer star, I don't know. Horrible segment that unnecessarily continues after the break.

Winner: no winners, only losers.

More backstage chatter from Show and Vickie is up next, and the replay is shown again. I still don't care.

A screener from Shelton Benjamin then leads into our next match…

Match 3 - Shelton Benjamin vs. R-Truth

These two men are arguably the best two pure ring performers on Smackdown right now and the match is extremely solid as a result. Truth pulls out a win after a roll-up.

Winner: R-Truth

Post-match, Greg Helms, apparently calling himself Hurricane again, appears in a pop-up bubble and adds a quick comment on Benjamin's loss. Okay, that was different…

Match 4 - Jeff Hardy vs. The Brian Kendrick

Before the intros finish, Hardy cuts a promo on Triple H. Before Hardy can fully turn his attention to Vladimir Kozlov, Kendrick comes out for the match and the two have a very good exchange. Kendrick is getting better and better week-in and week-out on the stick. Who knew? What's actually scary is, with Kendrick's new hair style and stubble, he looks remarkably like Kurt Cobain.

Hardy and Kendrick have a pretty solid match, which concludes when Hardy reverses a Sliced Bread No. 2 run into a backroll.

Winner: Jeff Hardy

As Hardy heads up the ramp, Kozlov appears and knocks him out cold with a thrust kick. I'm really, really digging Kozlov now.

Backstage, Vickie is talking to some guy when Show runs into the room and says he saw 'Taker, we then get a first-person camera view of what is supposed to be 'Taker. Guerrero acts all tough, until the camera pans back, revealing Chavo. Nice how they completely ignore the events with Bam Neely. We then look at the Unforgiven footage again. Hammer it all you want - I still don't care.

Back from a break, we're in the ring for Carlito's Cabana with special guest, Primo Colon. The two have a pretty good exchange until Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder come out, accompanied by Hurricane in a bubble.

The four have an exchange with the result being a title match set for next week. Carlito calls for people to pack up his set now that his show's over, and Jesse and Festus come out. A scuffle breaks out, leading into the commercial break.

Back to air, Maria is working on some sketches when Brie Bella comes in and asks her to make a couple of the same outfits. Victoria and Natalya come into the shot and challenge Brie and Maria to a match next week. Done and done.

Match 5 - Great Khali vs. Scotty Goldman

No doubt here.

Winner: The Great Khali

Post-match, Tazz announces that Khali will face Kozlov next week. I'm not sure what to think about that one, other than they've got my attention.

Backstage, La Familia is chatting, and for some reason Neely is there. Chavito then asks them to leave and checks out the same footage AGAIN from Unforgiven. This time though, the TV goes on the fritz until the image of The Udndertaker appears, before the Deadman's arm does, choking Guererro.

Match 6 - Triple H vs. MVP

Much like the last match, there's no doubt here.

Winner: Triple H

Post-match, Kozlov drops Triple H like a bad habit.

Well, I hated the build for one of the top angles, but loved the other. Kozlov is really being raised up the proverbial pecking order well and I'm looking forward to the match next week, something I thought I'd never say about a Khali bout.

Jon Waldman has been with SLAM! since 2000.