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Smackdown: Strong bouts going into the Rumble
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


It's the last time we'll see fresh WWE TV before the Royal Rumble, so let's sit back and enjoy what Smackdown has to present for us, the Friday night faithful.

We kick off the show with video footage of the many troubles one Jeff Hardy has had in recent weeks. Following that, we get Jim Ross and Tazz talking about a sit-down interview that JR conducted with JH.

From there we go to the ring for, coincidentally, a promo by Edge, Jeff's opponent on Sunday. Edge begins to deliver the usual "I'm not a crook" speech, when Matt Hardy comes in and tried to go all Watergate on him. The two end up on a Wile E. Coyote chase through the crowd. Good enough for me.

Match 1 - Undertaker vs. Shelton Benjamin (non-title)

Okay when was the last time 'Taker was the curtain jerker?

'Taker proves that he does not belong in this position by having a great under-10-minute match with Benjamin. Both guys looked great here and the U.S. champ got in a strong amount of offence before succumbing to the Gogoplata (or whatever WWE's calling it).

Winner: Undertaker

After a Hardy interview teaser, we head to the ring with Chavo Guerrero doing his best to get the go-for nickname to stay. Seriously folks, it's as bad as the whole CLB chant effort for Christian. This leads to...

Match 2 - The Great Khali vs. Chavo Guerrero

Yup.

Winner: The Great Khali

Backstage we go, and Vickie Guerrero and Edge are chatting. Vickie's none too happy with hubby's cowardice (as opposed to every other week) and puts him in a no-DQ match against Matt.

To "live" action we go next, with Maryse coming out to join JR and Tazz at the announce table.

Match 3 - Los Bellas vs. Natalya/Michelle McCool

The match barely gets going before Maria comes down to extract revenge on McCool, and I do mean barely -- one of the Bellas and Nattie don't even get tagged in

Winners: McCool/Natalya

Post-match, Maria delivers more extremely weak punches (Maria, follow Trish and Lita's example -- don't punch, use the forearm) until McCool decides to turn the tables and deliver her Umaga hipcheck against the hockey boards.

Now let's look at the logic here. Maryse is the cocky heel champ. McCool is a pissed off heel. Who's going to pay money to see two heels fight for the title? Maria needed to look strong here to, at least, build to a three-way; instead, McCool looks, well, I guess what you'd call dominant, while Maryse continues to look arrogant after some decent commentary. Feh.

Next we go to the sitdown and Jeff delivers an incredble promo. Seriously, go to wwe.com or YouTube or wherever you get your web-based replay fix from, it's well worth the watch.

Match 4 - Edge vs. Matt Hardy (no disqualification)

Okay, who thought we'd really see these two guys fight ever again after all the stuff that went down with Ms. Dumas a few years ago? That these guys are able to move on and not have bitterness or grudges between them is nothing short of amazing and both should be rewarded for their professionalism.

So as expected, it's plunder time and Matt has the advantage until the interference train rolls through the ring. First it's Mark Henry, then it's Jack Swagger, who ends up looking that much more impressive by taking out Matt after Henry failed to do so. A series of finishing moves, capped by Edge's spear, puts this baby to bed.

Winner: Edge

Match 5 - Miz and Morrison vs. Los Colons (non-title)

Seriously, what is up with the WWE booking crew? Miz and Morrison are doing three shows a week, plus their Dirt Sheet show. I mean these guys deserve it and clearly are the best thing going for WWE right now (and mark my words, at least one will have individual gold around his waist by year's end), but I'm getting worried about burnout.

As you'd expect from these young guns, we get a great match. You almost look at this as being a sneak peak of the Money in the Bank match at 'Mania as you watch these guys, who have some really good chemistry, work and pull off a really sweet bout. Naturally, Miz and Morrison pick up the duke.

Winners: Miz and Morrison

Match 6 - Triple H vs. Vladimir Kozlov/Big Show

As you'd expect, really. It was a good match, but the finish was never in doubt. Kozlov gets the pin.

Winners: Kozlov/Show

Post-match, Vickie comes down for the celebration.

Well, we got some really good tv bouts, a couple decent promos and aside from the women's non-match and about 30 seconds of Great Khali, nothing horribly stunk up the show, so good job all around.