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Smackdown: "The Animal" is unleashed
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


It's Friday night and Smackdown is on the air. We're continuing the road to Survivor Series and kick off tonight with The Undertaker headed to the ring for a rare promo.

As one might expect, 'Taker is building up the main event of the Series, and also as expected Chris Jericho comes out to refute 'Taker's belief that he will retain the title. Eventually the two come to blows and 'Taker easily takes the advantage. Pretty standard opener to build heat.

Match 1 - Dolph Ziggler/Hart Dynasty vs. John Morrison/Cryme Tyme

This is the 100th meeting between Calgary and Brooklyn. Seriously -- the Flames and Rangers haven't had as many contests as these guys have. The match itself drags a bit and is not at the level that we've become accustomed to with Morrison and Ziggler. Dolph, however, does continue his hot streak after getting a blind tag in and hitting the Zig Zag on Shad

Winners: Ziggler/Harts

Backstage we next to an interview with Rey Mysterio. We learn that Rey and Batista will fight at the Series. Mysterio seems the unwilling opponent here, which really doesn't work well. I've seen this angle too many times for it to mean anything anymore.

Match 2 - Beth Phoenix vs. Brittney Carter

This match was over quicker than it took me to type this report up. Here's the scary thing -- Beth's getting over as a face from these monster squashes.

Winner: Beth Phoenix

Match 3 - Drew McIntyre vs. Jimmy Wang Yang

Match doesn't start until after a strong beatdown by McIntyre. Once the bell rings, Drew makes short work of the sparsely seen Yang. Methinks the further budget cuts may be coming soon to Friday nights.

Winner: McIntyre

Backstage we go to a Batista interview. He sounds as cold as he should be in this situation.

Match 3 - Mike Knox vs. Rey Mysterio

Hey remember when these two had a feud going? Yeah, so do I. Back then, Knox wasn't a fall guy. Now, he is.

Winner: Mike Knox

Before we head back to the ring, we find out that Morrison and Ziggler will meet next week for the IC belt.

Match 4 - CM Punk vs. R-Truth

Match starts scarily as Truth somewhat botches a Plancha and looks to have hit the padding

Punk takes over after a commercial break in what is a more solid than expected match. These two actually have pretty good chemistry. Eventually, Punk gets a near fall, but complains to ref Scott Armstrong about a slow count. So the next pin, Armstrong does count faster, only this results in a win for Truth. This, understandably, doesn't sit well with Punk.

Winner: R-Truth

Backstage, Mickie James is checking out a seamstress's work when Layla and Michelle McCool come in. We learn that Mickie's team will face Michelle's team in a Survivor Series match. God, McCool's delivery is more wooden than the brooms Ric Flair used to wrestle.

Back from a break, Matt Hardy talks about Batista while referencing Jeff for the second week in a row.

Match 5 - Matt Hardy vs. Batista

The match starts fairly early in the show, which concerns me, because this likely means a long, back-and-forth match rather than the short destruction it should be.

By the way, a heel turn apparently means no more pyro. Despite that, Batista gets a pretty good pop coming out.

The match, as I alluded to, has way too much back and forth for what it should be. Batista is dominant at times, but not dominant enough for my liking. It isn't until Batista nearly loses the match that he snaps and gives Hardy the ass-kicking we needed to see. The match result is expected

Winner: Matt Hardy (DQ)

Batista continues the violence after the match and only finally gets booed when he doesn't deliver a Batista Bomb. Interesting.

Well, tonight's show was another one that was lacking in the wrestling department, but the storylines are getting better, so thumbs up here.

See you in seven.