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Smackdown: Contenders and conflict
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


Smackdown begins a new era, the era of Punk, with tonight's episode. And appropriately it is Punk who starts off tonight's show, holding high the World Heavyweight Title. Punk gets a mixed reaction as he cuts a very honest promo about defeating Jeff Hardy this past Sunday. You get feeling that he's starting to turn heel, but it's a slow burn, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Eventually Hardy comes out and the two have a war of words, with Hardy furthering the heel turn. Hardy demands a rematch, which brings Edge out to say that he wants his rematch. Edge then lays into Punk, keeping CM face. Hardy, ever the face, then attacks both men. I'm confused...

Teddy Long then comes out and makes a number-one contender match between Edge and Hardy.

Next up, Long returns his office to find Jericho there. Jericho wants a World Title match as well. Long then makes a non-title match between Jericho and Punk.

Match 1 - Dolph Ziggler vs. The Great Khali

Joy. I'm done with this lame feud. Ziggler wins by countout after taking Ranjin Singh hostage.

Winner: The Great Khali

Match 2 - Michelle McCool/Layla vs. Melina/Eve

Joy v.2. I will say this though - Melina has really been coming up with some innovative moves of late. McCool ends up getting the pin with the Styles Clash. Two straight losses for the champ? That's far from strong booking.

Winners: McCool/Layla

Match 3 - R-Truth/John Morrison vs. The World's Greatest Tag Team

We're close to getting a rebirth of the Smackdown Six with talent like this in the ring. Great match as always between these four. Morrison gets the pin again with Starship Pain.

Winners: Truth/Morrison

Before our next match, Jericho cuts a promo, holding Rey Mysterio's mask. I'm waiting for him to dig out Juventud Guerrera's mask and Prince Iaukea's mahi-mahi.

Match 4 - CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho (non-title)

Let's make that two strong matches in a row. It makes you wish Punk wasn't turning heel, because these two could have a great feud. Punk gets the duke after hard-fought match with the GTS.

Winner: CM Punk

Match 5 - Edge vs. Jeff Hardy (Number One Contender)

Punk sits in on commentary for another good match, especially as both sell injuries from Sunday.

The bout is one of the longer ones in recent memory on WWE TV with solid back and forth action. Punk is pretty good on the headphones too, adding good insight on the bout. At one point, Edge tossed Hardy straight into Punk at ringside. The bell sounds after Punk leaves the desk to attack Edge.

Winner: No contest

Punk eventually leaves Hardy lying after the GTS, and we go back to Long's office, watching him and Tiffany. The match on Monday, Long declares, will be all three men in a Triple Threat bout.

Well, we batted .500 in terms of match quality, but not much was done, on the flip side, to advance storylines. Take this episode as is if you look for a replay somewhere, but don't TiVo it for much more than a first watch.