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Smackdown: Returning superstar makes big impact on World Title match
By MATT BISHOP - SLAM! Wrestling


Tonight on Friday Night Smackdown: The rivalry between World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Hardy and CM Punk really heats up as the two meet in a mandatory rematch for the World Heavyweight Championship. The match, which was supposed to lead off the show, had many twists and turns, but a shocking return paved the path to gold for one of the competitors. Should be a good one!

And we are TAPED! from Long Island, N.Y. Todd Grisham and 2007 WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross are our hosts. This show is presented in WWEHD (TV-PG,V).

We are immediately greeted by former World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk. He's in the ring with a mic. He says he tried to empathize with everyone's weaknesses. He implored them to "just say no." But they only loved Jeff Hardy more than they did. He says he'll stay the course and still believes in teaching everyone the difference between right and wrong. He says it will be a challenge, but he'll meet it like a man. He then shows a video of him attacking Hardy last week. He says Hardy and the fans are alike: none of them have the strength to be straight edge. It's easy to be weak like Hardy because they can't be strong like him. He says the people boo because he tells the truth and the truth hurts.

He runs down the list of things he doesn't do, like perscription drugs, cigarettes, "funny" cigarettes. He says he's not a criminal. He then talks about alcohol. If you take one drink, you're an alcoholic, he says. He says the champion should represent dignity, class, etc. The fans need CM Punk.

Match "#1" - World Heavyweight Championship - (c) Jeff Hardy (Cameron, N.C.) vs. CM Punk (Chicago, Ill.)

Well, we're kicking things right off with the main event. Ring announcer Justin Roberts introduces Punk in the ring and a "Hardy" chant immediately fires up.

Hardy immediately attacks Punk once he enters the ring. The referee tries to pry Hardy off but can't. More referees come from the back to try to break it up. It finally takes the entire referee roster, Mike Rotunda and Dean Malenko to finally separate the two. Theodore Long comes out to try to restore order and then Vince McMahon of all people comes out to the stage.

McMahon says Long can't control anything. McMahon says cooler heads need to prevail and since Long can't control it, he'll find someone who will. Vince says he's going to assign a special guest enforcer to keep control. Except he's going to make people wait to find out who it is.

Right when Vince says that, Hardy goes after Punk again. Punk is out of the ring and referees restrain both parties with Punk yelling, "you're tough now!"

(Ads)

Match #1 - John Morrison (Los Angeles, Calif.) vs. Tyson Kidd (Calgary, Alberta)

This is a return match from WWE Superstars last week. Morrison pinned Kidd with Starship Pain. Kidd has demanded this rematch.

Fast paced back-and-forth match to begin. Kidd sends Morrison to the outside and distracts the referee. Natalya delivers a cheap shot to Morrison's back and with the ref distracted now by Natalya, David Hart Smith lays in a big shot. Kidd hits a dropkick that sends Morrison flying into the guard rail.

(Ads)

We're back and Kidd is in control with a "nasty" headlock, according to JR (I concur). Kidd screams for the official to "ask him!" Morrison is able to get up and Morrison gains control. A roll-up goes for two but Kidd is able to counter and lock in a shoulderlock. He lets it go and stomps Morrison for good measure. Kidd hits a Blockbuster for two. He goes for another pin but again gets two.

Kidd puts the boots to Morrison in the corner. Kidd avoids a kick but runs right into a sitdown power bomb for two. Morrison goes for the Moonlight Drive but Kidd pushes him to the outside. Morrison deftly slides back into the ring and hits Kidd with a springboard kick. This sets him up for a Starship Pain that looked like it sucked bad (like, could've legit KO'd him) for the pin.

Winner via pinfall: John Morrison

It's time for Word Up with our friends Cryme Tyme. Today's word is pretenda: A fake, a fraud, a wanna-be. A paper champion. They go over some pretendas before Slam Master J comes in (he's so official he has to carry a whistle). He's got a match tonight.

(Ads)

Match #2 - Charlie Haas (Dallas, Texas) vs. Slam Master J (The ATL)

Real fast pace early. Jesse goes to the top but Haas stops him. Jesse knocks him off and hits a flying splash and that's all she wrote.

Winner via pinfall: Slam Master J

(Ads)

Match #3 - Fatal Four Way, Intercontinental Championship No. 1 contender at the SummerFest - R-Truth (Charlotte, N.C.) vs. Finlay (Belfast, Northern Ireland) vs. Mike Knox (Phoenix, Ariz.) vs. Dolph Ziggler (Hollywood, Calif.)

Knox nearly kills Ziggler with a crossbody right off the bat. Knox follows with a double clothesline of Finlay and Truth. I love Mike Knox.

(Ads)

We're back and Knox is still killing people until he gets low-bridged by R-Truth. Truth then slingshots over the ropes onto him.

Truth suggests he and Finlay team up against Knox then Finlay double-crosses Truth. Knox tries to break up Finlay's pin on Truth but Finlay moves and Knox nails Truth.

This match is all over the place. Knox sends Truth flying over the top rope then Finlay hits Knox with the Shillelagh, but Ziggler comes up and hits Finlay with his finisher for the fall.

Winner via pinfall: Dolph Ziggler

(Ads)

Melina and Maria are backstage talking about Maria's relationship with Ziggler. Melina wants to talk to Maria about Ziggler. She says that's how he is inside the ring, but he's nothing like that outside. In fact, he's a good guy.

Match #4 - Chris Jericho (Winnipeg, Manitoba) vs. JTG (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

JTG gets off to a hot start but Jericho cheap shots JTG when the referee was talking to him. JTG goes to the outside where Big Show puts a very large boot into his gut. A "Y2J" chant actually breaks out. Jericho starts slapping JTG in the head but JTG fires back with a slap of his own. It sends Jericho reeling but it's not enough and he comes right back.

Jericho locks in an abdominal stretch but JTG is able to fire up but he runs right into a boot. Jericho goes for the bulldog but JTG pushes him off and hits a facebuster for two. JTG hits a reverse neckbreaker for a two 7/8. Jericho gets a takedown and goes for the Walls of Jericho but just slingshots him. JTG instead hops into the corner and comes back with a legdrop off the second rope for another nearfall. JTG comes at Jericho but walks right into the Codebreaker. JTG ends up near the apron and his leg and arm are outside the rope. Jericho tries to pin him but the referee won't count, so Jericho drags JTG toward the center but JTG hooks an inside cradle for the upset!

Winner via pinfall; JTG

(Ads)

Match #5 - The Great Khali (India) vs. Ricky Ortiz (Paradise Valley, Ariz.)

Khali squash. Like 30 seconds.

Winner via pinfall: The Great Khali

Kane's music hits and he comes in from behind and knocks Khali out of the ring. He then turns his attention to Ranjin Singh. He tries to escape but Kane stops him. Kane drags him into the crowd and stomps him. He then drags him through the crowd and out of the arena.

(Ads)

It's time for the main event.First, it's time to find out who the special guest enforcer is. After several tense seconds, it's revealed to be Matt Hardy.

(Ads)

Match #6 - World Heavyweight Championship - (c) Jeff Hardy (Cameron, N.C.) vs. CM Punk (Chicago, Ill.)

This match gets underway without any pre-match shenanigans. Hardy hits an inverted atomic drop, the leg drop between the legs and a low dropkick for two. He calls for the Twist of Fate early but Punk pushes him off. Hardy sends Punk to the outside and tries to follow up but Punk catches a kick off the apron and brings him hard to the ground.

(Ads)

We're back and Punk is in control, hitting several knees to Hardy's body before locking in an abdominal stretch, the second of the show. Punk throws Hardy into the corner but Hardy bucks out and hits the Whisper in the Wind for two. They trade kicks and punches and Hardy gets the better of it. Hardy goes to the top but Punk crotches him and lands some punches. Punk follows that up with a superplex for a two count.

Punk starts beating Hardy with strikes and lifts him for the GTS, but Hardy gets out. Hardy goes for the Twist of Fate but Punk counters that into a roll-through but Hardy kicks out, the momentum sending Punk to the outside. Hardy slingshots out onto Punk and both men are down on the floor.

Hardy sends Punk back into the ring and then tries to look at his brother, who hasn't made a peep the entire time. Jeff looks at Matt but Matt won't look him in the eye. Punk goes for a baseball slide but Jeff moves and Punk hits Matt. Punk kicks Jeff and sends him back into the ring. With Punk getting back in the ring, Jeff hits the Twist of Fate with Punk in the ropes. He goes to the top for the Swanton Bomb but Punk gets his knees up.

Punk goes for the cover but Matt pulls the referee out of the ring. Punk is incensed. Hardy starts lecturing him. But out of nowhere, Jeff rolls Punk up and Matt counts a quicker-than-normal three.

Winner via pinfall and STILL World Heavyweight Champion: Jeff Hardy

Matt quickly bails and heads to the back. If you thought Punk was upset before, you should see him now. Punk runs to the top of the ramp and just starts jumping around in anger. He sees Jeff struggling to get up in the ring and comes back with evil intentions. He lands a kick and throws Hardy to the outside and rams his head repeatedly into the announce table. He grabs a chair and hits Hardy in the back with it. He unfolds the chair, puts it over Hardy's neck and then runs him into the ring post. Hardy is down and not moving. Punk tells the EMT's to "make sure (Hardy's) OK. Fix him so I can break him again."

Punk then blocks the EMT's with the stretcher and makes them go the long way around the ring. Punk walks up the ramp with a devious look on his face. Theodore Long meets him at the top. Long asks him if he's proud of what he's done and Punk says he is. Punk says he wants his rematch because what happened was not fair. Long says if Hardy is able to defend the title at the SummerFest, it will be in Hardy's style of match - Tables, Ladders and Chairs. Long then runs down to check on Hardy as Punk yells, "Yeah, go check on your poster boy, Teddy!"

The show goes off the air with Hardy in a neck brace and being taken out on a stretcher.

Matt Bishop can be reached at bishop20@msu.edu. Please include your name and hometown. Click here to follow Matt on Twitter. And if you're interested in mixed martial arts, check out Matt's weekly podcast -- Lights Out Radio. Should be a good one!.