December 27, 2008
Smackdown: On the road to the Rumble
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling

Welcome to the final edition of Smackdown for 2008. Unlike past years, tonight's episode is not a highlight show, but instead is original content derived from the recent supershow in Toronto. Let's take a trip now to "Bizzaro World" as U.S. fans call it and see what WWE cooked up for us.

We kick off with Triple H, who gets a very decent reaction. Trippy is none too happy with Vladimir Kozlov. Chavo Guerrero comes out, though, and says, on behalf of Vickie, that if HHH lays one finger on Kozlov, he loses his spot in the Rumble and will never challenge for the WWE Championship again. A brief back-and-forth between the two leads to El Commissionaire de Smackdown coming out and making a match between the two immediately.

Match 1 - Chavo Guerrero vs. Triple H

Vickie watches the entire match from the ramp. At one point, Chavito tries the Eddie Phantom Chair shot, but it doesn't work when Trips is able to get said chair out of the ring before distracted referee Charles Robinson turns back towards the ring. As a result, Chavo eats a Pedigree and the loss.

Winner: Triple H

Match 2 - Shelton Benjamin vs. Hurricane Helms (US Title Match)

Okay let's cut to the chase here -- this was a great match, definitely worth catching on YouTube, which Helms loses clean after Benjamin hits the Paydirt. Had the title not been on the line it would've been one thing, but Helms' momentum coming back in is now killed. I imagine there will be a feud (and a lengthy one at that) between these two now, but Helms should not have been in the title hunt so quickly, because in reality this was the expected finish. Having Helms beat the champ of nearly half a year after only being back in the ring for a month or so is totally unbelievable. Had WWE not released a number of their lower-tier wrestlers in recent months, Helms would have had the opportunity to build his name up to this bout. As is, Helms is somewhat dead in the water. Let's hope he isn't JTTS-bound now, but I have a sinking feeling in my stomach that he will be.

Winner: Shelton Benjamin

After the match, we get treated to a promo from Jeff Hardy in his Raven gimmick and Joker-esque facepaint. I'm still really digging this character, but the problem is that Jeff is now back to being full-on babyface, so the maniacal twisted soul doesn't quite jive with being a fan favourite.

Match 3 - Carlito Colon vs. Brian Kendrick

I'm sick of seeing a variation of the two tag teams every week. Just have the title match already and let's move on.

Winner: Carlito

Backstage, Edge and Vickie are chatting when Big Show comes in to talk about the match tonight. Vickie implies to Show that if he beats Jeff, he gets a title shot, much to Edge's chagrin.

Elsewhere, Michelle McCool tries to influence Maria into calling her title bout a little left of down the middle. Maria no sells her sneakiness though.

Match 4 - Maryse vs. Michelle McCool (Divas Title Match)

Maryse gets a small Canadian pop at the beginning, but by the time she gets the victory (after a semi-decent match), she gets a full-on Canadian face reaction. Maria, to her credit, worked the neutral ref angle perfectly.

Winner: Maryse

Post-match, Michelle McCool induces a LONG beatdown on Maria to officially turn heel. The most effective spot here was chucking Maria into one of the ring posts. I wish WWE would be more inclined to do more violence between the ladies in their action, because this was screaming for a blade job or a Pillmanizer of some sort.

Match 5 - MVP vs. Great Khali

Yup.

Winner: The Great Khali

Post-match, Mr. Kennedy comes out and taunts MVP. I'm guessing this leads to a match between the two in a few weeks, but all this means is another run of losses for MVP, because there's no way the booking team is so stupid as to kill a wrestler's momentum so quickly after his retu...(looks back to match 2)...oh, nevermind.

Apparently, Kizarny will dizzebut next wizzeek. Fizinally!

Match 5 - Jimmy Wang Yang vs. Vladimir Kozlov

As expected.

Winner: Vladimir Kozlov

After the bout, Kozlov cuts a quick promo about how this is what will happen at the Rumble, but doesn't accentuate by throwing Yang over the top rope. Oy.

To the back we go next for another chat between Show and Edge to establish Big Show further.

Match 6 - Big Show vs. Jeff Hardy

As sad as it is, I think I've seen these two compete far too often to really care. Yes, both have undergone major transformations, but the image of Show treating Hardy like a pesky fly is too deeply burned in my brain.

Backstage, Edge asks Vickie if indeed Show gets the number-one contendership if he wins, to which Vickie says no -- that instead he would face Edge next week.

Much like my memory, Jeff is treated like a pesky fly here and only gets some minor offense in. Eventually, the action ends up on the outside, which is where you would've expected some Edge trickery to ensure Show does not get to their potential match next week, but instead Jeff gets the countout honestly.

Winner: Jeff Hardy

Post-match, Matt Hardy comes out to celebrate with Jeff, while Vickie makes Show and Edge vs. the Hardyz for next week. Oh, this is just screaming for a Matt turn on his brother.

Overall, this wasn't a bad way to close out the year. There is some intrigue that lies ahead as we work towards the Rumble, which is fine by me.

See you next year.

Jon Waldman will celebrate his 10th year of working for SLAM! in 2009. What does he have up his sleeve to celebrate this anniversary? Keep clicking to SLAM! Wrestling to find out.


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