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Smackdown: Setting up the Rumble
By Blaine van der Griend, Live Audio Wrestling


Happy New Year to all and welcome to the first Smackdown report of 2009!

This week's show comes to us from East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Justin Roberts kicks off the show by introducing the Smackdown GM Vickie Guerrero, who is met by a chorus of boos. Vickie greets the New Jersey crowd with a "Happy New Year!" She then comes up with a line that 2008 was really great, but 2009 will be really fine, which was so lame, that Vickie should be back in the wheelchair. The general manager announces that it is time to prepare for the road to Wrestlemania with the Royal Rumble. She announces that at the rumble event, it will be the WWE Champion Jeff Hardy defending his title against Vickie's husband Edge. Vickie also announces that as far as the 30-man Royal Rumble match is concerned, all of the Smackdown participants for that event will be announced later in the night.

As soon as she says this, the familiar Motorhead theme plays for Triple H to make his way down to the ring. The game wishes Vickie Happy New Year and claims that it's his favourite holiday. He says it's now time for the rumble and he's excited, but he doesn't want to wait for Vickie to announce the participants later on. He says he and the fans are very impatient people and demands that Vickie tell us now, because these people can get a little unruly. He continues that if Vickie does not put Triple H in the rumble match, then a Smackdown superstar will probably not win and therefore, Vickie will be seen as a weak GM and will eventually be fired (and we all know Triple H can make it happen). He says that if Vickie is no longer GM, no one would buy this (revealing Vickie's action figure). He says they've done a great job with the realistic features. She has the same confused look, the same designer clothes and the same child-bearing hips. Vickie cuts him off before he goes any further and tells Triple H he's in the rumble. Triple H sarcastically remarks that he's very happy about that and Vickie tells him to leave the ring immediately.

The game says there's just one little thing he has to do before he leaves. He says it's kind of embarrassing for him to admit, but earlier, he was playing with her doll and he couldn't take his eyes off of it. He said one thing led to another (where is this going?) and the doll's clothes came off. He says when he took the clothes off, he noticed that some things got bigger, while other things got smaller, but he thinks the action figure is hot. Triple H unfortunately continues that he wanted to look into it a little more, so he got behind a computer and started looking for info on the doll and ended up finding a page full of nude photos of the Smackdown GM. Vickie has a puzzled look on her face, as she forces the words out that she never took any nude photos. The game tells her they're selling like hot cakes on E-bay. He says he put down a lot for them, but kept getting outbid by some guy named Chavo G 2009. Vickie then leaves the ring and storms off, as Triple H continues to mock her by impersonating her voice and doing actions with the doll, using her catchphrase "EXCUSE ME!" I'm actually surprised that we didn't hear that from Vickie tonight.

Backstage, in one of the gayest segments I've ever seen, Hornswoggle and Finlay are posing for pictures with the Great Khali and Ranjin Singh. This looked so stupid, but the highlight was when Jim Ross announced that Finlay and Khali will team up tonight and said it's a unique pairing of cornbeef and curry. I've had both but never together.

Back from commercial, an Umaga promo airs, saying that he will be making his return to Smackdown (presumably at the Rumble).

Match #1: Finlay and the Great Khali vs. Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins (These guys are still employed?)

JR comes with another gem that the combination of Finlay and Khali are a bruising buffet of international cuisine (I guess someone was upset that Grisham and Striker got the announce team of the year slammy). Hawkins and Ryder are on the outside, arguing who's going to start and eventually Hawkins draws the short straw and has to deal with Khali. Hawkins clubs Khali in the chest and then tries a kick, but Khali catches him and just shoves him backwards. Khali then grabs Ryder on the apron by the hair and flips him over the ropes into the ring. The big man then delivers a noggin knocker to the former tag champs. Hornswoggle then rushes the ring and with both Hawkins and Ryder on their knees, courtesy of Khali's strength, Horny delivers a noggin knocker of his own. Khali sends Hawkins to the buckle and tags Finlay, who delivers a club and a European uppercut. The Irishman then stomps on Hawkins' hand and delivers a slam, followed by a big splash for a near fall. Finlay connects with another European uppercut, followed by a short-arm clothesline, shades of Jake "the snake" Roberts.

JR notes that Finlay may be ambidextrous, meaning that he's just as effective with his left hand, as he is with his right. Finlay attempts to bounce Hawkins off the buckle, but Hawkins counters and does it Finlay, who tumbles to the outside. Hawkins tries a baseball slide, but Finlay pulls the ring skirt on top of Hawkins and starts beating him senseless, until Ryder tries to intervene, but receives a clothesline for his trouble. Hawkins uses the distraction to get back in the ring and connect with a baseball slide to Finlay. Hawkins kicks away at the Irishman in the ring and sends him to the buckles. Ryder tags in and delivers a running forearm in the corner. He then uses a snapmare and applies a reverse chinlock. Finlay fights out, so Ryder lands a knee to his midsection and whips him to the turnbuckles. He chases in, but Finlay catches him with a boot and a forearm. Finlay whips him to the turnbuckles, but Ryder bounces back and they both clock heads. Finlay then tags Khali, who just shoves Ryder away and delivers a clothesline. He whips Ryder to the buckles, but Hawkins comes in and receives an elbow and then gets whipped into Ryder and receives a chop. Khali then delivers the Punjabi Plunge to the legal man Ryder for the victory.

Winners: Finlay and the Great Khali by pinfall

After the match, Hornswoggle gets in and starts kicking Hawkins, who Finlay nails with the Celtic Cross and then Hornswoggle delivers the tadpole splash to finish him off.

Eve (who's new year's resolution is look even hotter than she did last year) interviews Michelle McCool. Eve reminds Michelle that last week, she not only lost her Divas title, but she also lost her cool. She then takes everyone through last week's footage of Michelle's vicious assault on Maria. Eve says she thought they were friends, to which Michelle responds that they WERE. Michelle says everyone is concerned about Maria, but what about her? She continues that Maria is and has always been jealous of her and last week, she got exactly what she deserved. Eve asks Michelle if she's going to apologize and Michelle just shoves the microphone back in Eve's face and tells her to stick to what she does best.

Edge is livid in the GM's office and keeps ranting and raving about the nude pictures of his wife Vickie. He says this is embarrassing that there are naked pictures of his wife all over the Internet. Big Show is sitting with him and Vickie all calm and relaxed. He says he saw those pics and they weren't bad. Edge gets in Show's face and reminds him that it's his wife he's talking about and Big Show asks if he means the same wife that he's constantly hiding behind and lets her fight his battles. Edge says at least he's not some dumb giant who got KO'd at Wrestlemania by a flyweight (I thought Mayweather was Welterweight). Edge tells Big Show that he better hope he can knock out Jeff Hardy tonight, so it'll give him enough incentive to win the Royal Rumble and challenge Edge for the title at Wrestlemania (why would Edge want that?).

Match #2: Jesse and Festus vs. The Brian Kendrick and Ezekiel Jackson

The man with the plan is jukin', jivin' and thrivin' all the way to the ring (Kendrick is awesome!). The bell rings and Festus goes nuts. He connects with right hands to both Kendrick and Zeke. Zeke then catches him and whips him to the ropes, but it's reversed and Festus nails Zeke with a shoulderblock. He then forces Kendrick to the corner and delivers an uppercut, followed by a slam. He tags Jesse and slams him on top of Kendrick (as gay as that sounds). Jesse gets two on Kendrick and sends him to the buckle again. He uses a snapmare and applies a modified crossface chicken wing. Kendrick escapes the hold with a foot stomp and runs the ropes, but gets hit by a back elbow from Jesse for two.

Festus tags back in and explodes with a whip, an uppercut and a big splash. Kendrick tries an aerial manoeuvre, but Festus catches him and then pulls a Kevin Nash, as his knee gives out. Kendrick delivers some stiff kicks, before tagging Zeke, who comes in with a chopblock, followed by some kicks to the hamstring and elbows to the inside leg. Zeke proceeds to slam Festus' leg repeatedly against the canvas. He tags the Kendrick back in, who delivers a low dropkick to the knee and more kicks. Festus finally fights back with a press slam and tags Jesse, who delivers a double axe handle to Kendrick, followed by an inverted atomic drop. He whips Kendrick to the buckle and connects with a running clothesline. He does the same thing in the other corner and hits Kendrick with multiple clotheslines. Jesse scores with a twisting perfectplex, shades of Perry Saturn. Zeke provides a momentary distraction, allowing Kendrick to deliver a drop toe hold into the ropes. He goes for the Kendrick, which Jesse avoids and delivers a belly-to-back suplex, folding Kendrick like a low poker hand. Unbeknownst to Jesse, Zeke got a blind tag and comes in to deliver a yurinagi slam (modified Rock Bottom) for the win.

Winners: The Brian Kendrick and Ezekiel Jackson by pinfall

Match #3: Vladimir Kozlov vs. Hurricane Helms

Helms delivers a kick to the big man's thigh and attempts a second one, but it's blocked this time. Helms is able to negotiate a go-behind, which Kozlov fights out of with a series of strikes and a judo throw (hip toss). Kozlov then locks in a keylock (inverted hammerlock) and switches to an inverted fujiwara armbar. Kozlov dominates with punches and sends Helms to the buckle, but is met by a back elbow, coming in. Helms tries fighting back with punches, but Kozlov attacks with trapped headbutts and shoulderblocks in the corner. Kozlov takes Helms down with an armdrag and re-applies the keylock. He then picks Helms up in fireman's carry position and positions him horizontally across the top turnbuckle and delivers a stiff kick, followed by a fallaway slam, shades of Scott Hall. Helms catches him with a low dropkick, but Kozlov retaliates with the battering ram headbutt, followed by the modified chokeslam for the win.

Winner: Vladimir Kozlov by pinfall

JR is in the ring to announce the Smackdown participants for the Royal Rumble. He says we are just under four weeks away from the 22nd annual Royal Rumble event, involving the Rumble match, which will feature 30 superstars. He adds that the one man who does not go over the top rope and touch the floor with both feet, will be the winner and earn a championship opportunity at Wrestlemania. JR then announces some of the participants involved and lists stats for each of them: Triple H, The Big Show, Vladimir Kozlov, the US champion Shelton Benjamin.

Before JR can continue, Benjamin's music cuts him off. Benjamin gets in the ring and asks JR what the hell he's doing. He says JR shouldn't introduce the gold standard that way. Benjamin says he has a serious problem with being introduced as just another participant. He says he should be considered the odds on favour. He then tells JR that unless he wants to be the first man Benjamin tosses over the top rope, he better leave the ring immediately and JR follows the instructions. Benjamin says he's been US champion for six months and it's about time he starts main-eventing pay per views like Wrestlemania (I agree). He says he's called the gold standard because he is no joke and no other superstar can even be compared to him. He says no one compares to his skills. Not Randy Orton, not Chris Jericho, not R Truth, not Finlay. Before he continues down the list, a familiar, eerie voice echoes through the arena and says "you forgot someone." The lights go out and the bell tolls. When they come back on, the Undertaker is in the ring and lifts Benjamin up for a chokeslam and then gives the traditional Taker salute.

The final Kizarny promo airs, announcing that he makes his debut later tonight.

Michelle McCool is on her way to the ring and it looks like her breasts have grown (maybe it's just me). Michelle says she wants to address something that a friend brought to her attention earlier. She says she does owe Maria an apology and unfortunately Maria can't be here, because of her. Michelle asks Maria to please accept her apology and seemingly delivers a sincere "I'm sorry." Michelle says there's someone else she needs to apologize to and calls out Eve. Eve comes to the ring and Michelle thanks her for being there and making her realize what a horrible thing she did last week. Michelle says she shouldn't have taken it out on her, because it wasn't cool. She asks for forgiveness and Eve says "of course." They hug and some of the fans in the front row are chanting "kiss," which I thought was pretty funny. As Eve is bidding farewell to the fans at ringside, Michelle blindsides her from behind and whips her into the security wall. She then fish hooks her and delivers some kicks and a running knee against the security wall. She then delivers some mounted punches, followed by headslams against the concrete floor. Michelle then delivers a Randy Orton style punt to the ribs and whips Eve into the post.

Vickie and Chavo are backstage and Chavo says Vickie is onto something. He says he's seen them (pictures) and asks how this could have happened. Triple H walks in all casually and Chavo gets in his face. Chavo tries making an excuse that if his chest didn't hurt... (hilarious). The game says he came to apologize about the naked pictures and Vickie punished him by putting him into three matches on next week's show (only Triple H can get three matches on one show). She says he will compete in a tables match, a handicap match and a last man standing match. Vickie says she's going to call it, but before she finishes that sentence, Chavo jumps in and says "triple jeopardy." Vickie tells Chavo to shut up and then repeats what he said, as if to take full credit for it, which I thought was hilarious. Chavo owned this segment.

MVP is in the ring and he seems more depressed than ever. He says he knows he has a match tonight and doesn't want to waste anymore time. JR notes that MVP had to pawn his bling to make ends meet and he's truly hit rock bottom. MVP just says let's get this over with (how about we get this storyline over with. They've done enough to this guy. It's getting ridiculous).

Match #4: MVP vs. Kizarny

Kizarny comes to the ring, leaving MVP with a bitter expression on his face and who can blame him? MVP tries rushing at him with a kick, but Kizarny avoid it. MVP tries a clothesline, but Kizarny ducks and goes for a backslide, but only gets two. Kizarny takes MVP down with a pair of Japanese armdrags (haven't seen those in a while). He then delivers a slam and a legdrop, followed by a low dropkick. He then delivers a high risk move to the outside (I didn't see the move he actually did as I was taking notes at the time and unfortunately I missed it, which is why I can't describe it. Sorry about that). He rolls MVP back in and goes for a pin, but only gets two. Kizarny then nails a high crossbody for two and then uses his weight to jump and squat down on MVP's back. MVP eventually catches him and rolls Kizarny under the bottom rope to the outside. He then elevates him and drops him on top of the security wall. He rolls him back in and tries a pin, but gets two.

MVP then delivers an elbow drop and applies an inverted bearhug/waistlock. Kizarny fights out and MVP delivers a press slam, followed by a kneedrop for two. He then goes back to the inverted bearhug. Kizarny fights out and MVP takes him back down with an overhead belly-to-belly throw, shades of the Great One. Kizarny hits a jawbreaker and a low dropkick and a second low dropkick, against the ropes, which looked very unorthodox, which seems to be the popular word these days. He then uses the rope as a springboard for a double gut stomp for two. MVP delivers a double thrust, followed by a facebuster. He then tries the playmaker, but it's countered and Kizarny nails a modified double arm DDT, shades of Mick Foley and floats into the cover for the win.

Winner: Kizarny by pinfall

Kennedy comes out after the match and rubs it in. He says MVP just got whooped, or he says maybe he got wizooped. He reminds MVP to try and roll off his back... again. He tells him to smile, relax and enjoy Kennedy's new DVD that comes out next Tuesday. He then closes by saying "ladies and gentlemen and MVP," this message has been brought to you in part, no, in full, by MRRRRRR. KEEEEEENNNNNNNEEEEEEEEDDDDYYYY!!

JR and Tazz announce that not only will we see the triple jeopardy of Triple H take place next week, but also, the tag titles will be on the line, with the Colon brothers defending against The Brian Kendrick and Ezekiel Jackson.

Match #5: Edge and the Big Show vs. The Hardy Boyz

Edge grabs the microphone and lets the crowd know that naked pictures or not, they will respect Edge and his wife Vickie. He says that after the Royal Rumble, he will be the champion for the 7th time and then everyone can blame him like they love to do. He says they all blamed him about a year ago, when he supposedly took advantage of a poor, defenceless, lonely woman, who is still the love of his life. He says they blamed him for supposedly taking out Jeff Hardy the morning of Survivor Series, but whether they like it or not, Jeff Hardy is and will always be a screw-up and they all still point blame at Edge. He says soon that the juvenile, irrational period known as Jeff Hardy as WWE champion will end and then, they can all blame him (great promo). Jeff Hardy looks like Darth Maul this week.

Matt and Edge start things off with a collar and elbow tie-up and Matt quickly takes him down with an armdrag. They lock up again and Edge forces Matt to the buckle and swings wildly, but misses and Matt uses another armdrag. They lock up a third time and Matt takes the advantage again with an arm ringer, into a hammerlock, which is reversed. JR mentions that it's ironic that both Matt and Edge grew up as wrestling fans their entire lives (I'm not usually a critic of words, but I'm sure the Law's Jason Agnew must have picked up on the fact that this one wasn't ironic at all). Matt hits a belly-to-back suplex on Edge and tags Jeff for some double teaming. They whip him to the ropes and as Matt delivers a fistdrop, Jeff simultaneously delivers a rolling senton. The Hardy brothers then knock Big Show off the apron and back bodydrop Edge into Show's waiting arms. Back from commercial, Edge is choking Jeff Hardy on the middle rope. He then sends him to the buckle, but catches an elbow coming in, followed by the whisper in the wind for two. Matt comes in with punches and a slam, but misses a moonsault. Edge tags Big Show, who sends Matt to the corner and delivers some massive slaps to the chest, followed by a headbutt and a suplex and then an elbowdrop for two.

Show tags Edge back in, who deliver punches and elbows and then a body splash, with Matt stretched out on the middle rope for two. Edge then applies a seated abdominal stretch. Matt fights out with punches, but catches a knee to the midsection. Show comes back in and wrenches Matt's arm, to deliver an elbow to the joint. He then hammerlock's Matt's arm around the top rope and headbutts him for a near fall. Edge comes in and tries a guillotine, but can't get the body scissors applied, so he just sinks in a regular front facelock. Matt back bodydrops him over, but runs into a clothesline. Edge goes back to the hammerlock and Matt fights out with punches, so Edge pulls the hair, but Matt lands another haymaker and Edge retaliates with a big boot. Meanwhile, Big Show inexplicably just deserts his tag team partner and walks out on the match. Edge goes for the edgecution on Matt, but Matt counters with a twist of fate attempt and Edge counters that with the edgomatic. He sets up for the spear, but Matt catches him with a punt to the face and delivers the side effect. He tags in his younger brother, who delivers an inverted atomic drop, followed by a double leg takedown and a double gut stomp/legdrop, followed by a low dropkick. The Hardy's hit the poetry in motion. Matt then connects with a running clothesline and a bulldog, followed by the twist of fate. Jeff lands with the swanton for the victory.

Winners: The Hardy Boyz by pinfall

After the match, the Hardy's celebrate with both respective singles titles as the show comes to a close.

Final thoughts:

I thought this was a mediocre episode of Smackdown. There was really nothing significant to mention. JR had some decent lines, but there were some bad ones as well. I'm not sold on the Michelle McCool heel turn yet. It sucks that Eve is going to miss a couple weeks to sell her injuries. I thought Kennedy did a good job with his promo last week, but this week was even better. I'm glad that Shelton Benjamin is getting some time to promote his entrance into the Royal Rumble. It's good to see Taker back as well. I really, really hate it when Triple H tries to do comedy and that's why I think he's terrible as a face. It's not 1998 again and quite simply put, I don't find him funny at all and the fact that he thinks he's funny annoys me even more. What more can be said about MVP? If this really is an angle, then it's by far the worst angle in the history of angles. Chavo had some funny spots on the show I thought, but I wasn't too thrilled with the way Edge has been booked in the last couple of weeks. He's been booked like a complete idiot and now he jobs for the second time in a couple weeks to Jeff Hardy? That's fine that Hardy's winning, but why is Edge either jobbing or bitching every week? It doesn't make him look like a strong contender at all. 6.5 out of 10 this week.