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Smackdown: The "stretch" drive before the Draft
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


With WrestleMania 25 fresh in our memories and the WWE Draft looming on the horizon, WWE Smackdown hit the airwaves Friday night with what should bean interesting edition.

We kick off Smackdown tonight with Matt Hardy headed to the ring amidst a brief introduction to our new announcing team of Todd Grisham and Jim Ross. Hardy talks about his victory at 'Mania and how he is the superior of the brothers. Then he talks about how he has to erase Jeff from WWE, ensuring that the feud continues. He asks Jeff to then come out and apologize to the fans and to him, yada yada yada.

After sufficient taunting, Jeff does indeed come out and attempts to attack Matt, who escapes unharmed. Before Matt can head back to the locker room, Teddy Long comes out as the returning GM of Smackdown. Making mention of Matt's earlier reference to putting Jeff out of WWE via a stretcher, Long orders a Stretcher Match for later in the show. Good setup for what should be a great main event.

Backstage, Eve Torres interviews Kofi Kingston, leading up to our first match.

Match 1 - Big Show vs. Kofi Kingston

Kofi tries a couple Capoeira attacks to start in a nice touch, but they're ineffective as the match quickly turns into a squash-esque match. Kofi does get some offence in eventually, including the Trouble in Paradise finisher. Still, in the end, Show gets the Roaring Fist for the duke.

Winner: Big Show

Next up is Santino Marella, who gets on the mic after his introduction and talks about the other Divas being jealous of Santina, then talks about his open challenge for tonight. The Great Khali comes down then with Ranjin Singh, who says that Santino can get out of the match if Santina agrees to be on the Khali Kiss Cam. Khali and Marella then exchange words.

Match 2 - Santino Marella vs. Great Khali

If you don't know what happens next, you must be a new viewer. Squash city.

Winner: Great Khali

Match 3 - Michelle McCool vs. Gail Kim

The two have a solid match with Gail taking an impressive bump into the ring post at one point. Eventually, Kim reverses a pin attempt to gain the victory.

Winner: Gail Kim

Edge then comes out to host The Cutting Edge with special guest John Cena. The two talk about the title loss/victory at 'Mania. The two have a memorable exchange, previewing their Backlash Last Man Standing Match, which looks to be the final encounter between the two. After Cena challenges Edge to punch him, the Orangeville native leaves the ring.

Match 4 - Los Colons vs. Priceless

Looks like Miz and Morrison are officially out of the title picture…at least for now.

Again, the Colons have good chemistry in the ring, this time with fellow next-gen'ers. I hope to see more of these four superstars together. As is, Cody picks up the duke for his team after the Crossroads.

Winners: Priceless

Post match, DiBiase takes a cheapshot at the injured Carlito, which leads to Primo getting shots in on Teddy Jr. which leads to a pier-sixer won by Priceless. Randy Orton then comes in to get the parting shots in.

Back from break, Orton's on the stick talking about the Backlash main event and Batista's return. Strong promo, once again.

After a quick rundown of the Backlash card, we get our main event.

Match 5 - Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy (Stretcher Match)

As you'd expect, there is some fun action here, including a very nice spot with Jeff stretcher surfing down the ramp into a flying clothesline on Matt. Later, Matt busts out a nice Octopus-style submission to put Jeff out of commission and I hope it's a sign of a finisher to come.

The two have one of the better Stretcher bouts I've seen in the last few years, ending with Jeff trying to hit a Swanton on Matt on the stretcher, before the older brother moves. Give Jeff credit - he was pinpoint accurate in landing on the stretcher. Soon after, Matt KO's Jeff with a chair and pushes him up the ramp to get the duke.

Winner: Matt Hardy

Overall this was a good episode of SD! Obviously, next week's show will have a much different feel, so be sure to check back to SLAM! next Friday for the first post-Draft Smackdown report.

Jon Waldman has been with SLAM! since 2000.