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Smackdown!: Comings and goings
By DAVE HILLHOUSE -- SLAM! Wrestling


The new-look, post-draft Friday Night Smackdown! comes to us from Hershey, PA. The opening credits have been adjusted for the new roster, most of whom will play a large part in tonight’s show – along with a number of outgoing superstars on their way to Raw.

A review package featuring the most prominent results of Monday’s draft shows that Smackdown! is going to have a lot of agile newcomers vying for titles, including MVP, Cody Rhodes, and Christian – plus one behemoth in Big Show. Perhaps Big Show will be the first newcomer to find success, as he now stands tall in the upper echelon of wrestlers on Friday night along with the Undertaker and Kane. Teddy Long starts the show off by introducing one more new name known for quickness: Kofi Kingston. Kingston comes out for a match with the departing Chris Jericho – and Kingston is wearing an awful lot of Red for his Smackdown! debut. Jericho addresses the crowd and suggests that he’s on his way to become the “face of Raw”, while Kingston lays back and seems quite amused by Jericho’s rant.

Match #1 – Kofi Kingston vs Chris Jericho

Jericho has the early upper hand and holds on to it right through the first commercial break. He mocks Kingston’s “Boom” pander before wearing Kingston down with a rear-chinlock. The crowd gets behind their newest acquisition, who escapes the chinlock and mounts some offence before finding himself trapped in The Walls of Jericho - twice. Kingston escapes once by reversing the hold into a small package for a two-count, and again by reaching the ropes. Kingston then suffers the Codebreaker, landing outside of the ring. By the time Jericho drags him back in, Kingston has recovered enough to decimate Jericho with Trouble in Paradise for the win.

Winner via pinfall: Kofi Kingston

Here’s a segment of the show that will hopefully last a long time: Fun Facts About Jack Swagger (it’s not actually called as such). The champ is backstage and tells the television audience that he once received an invitation to The White House from the “greatest” U.S. President, George W. Bush.

After the break, Jericho is ambling through the backstage area, looking worse for wear. He speaks to someone off camera, wondering where they were when he needed help. A huge fist connects from off-screen, leaving Jericho out cold and Big Show shaking his head at his former partner. Back in the ring, yet another newcomer has his time to address the fans, but this time it’s Smackdown! veteran Chavo Guerrero. He wants a welcome back cheer from the fans, but instead gets a welcome back chokeslam from Kane. With enough time for one more backstage promo, Shad Gaspard cuts a dashing figure in a suit and reminds everyone again that it’s “his time”.

Match #2 – John Morrison vs. Cody Rhodes

Rhodes tries to cheap-shot his way to an early advantage but Morrison runs him ragged – until Rhodes hits a nifty kick to the soon-to-be Monday Night Delight’s head while outside on the floor, leaping off the ring steps. After the break, Rhodes continues to keep Morrison down, showing he’s not above pulling hair to do it (which is perhaps why Rhodes could not defeat Orton). Rhodes hits a rather high-arcing moonsault on Morrison, but when he misses a follow-up knee-drop it allows Morrison to start on a roll ending with a springboard kick to Rhodes’ head for payback. Morrison shows off some good in-ring smarts when, attempting a pin near the ropes, he grabs Rhodes’ arms and legs and pulls them away from the ropes. Alas, ring smarts don’t beat hair-pulling, as Rhodes goes for the silky top of Morrison’s head again and follows with Cross Rhodes for the win.

Winner via pinfall: Cody Rhodes

Fun Facts About Jack Swagger: the champ recalls leading his Oklahoma Sooners wrestling team to three consecutive National Championships.

After the break, Edge is in the ring to say his farewell to Smackdown! He acknowledges how important the fans are to him, telling them that he loves them. Christian arrives in the ring, though, to dispute this claim. After allowing the crowd to soak up the stench of awesomeness with Edge and Christian in the ring together once more, Christian claims that Edge doesn’t care about the fans at all. Edge breaks down and admits that he played the fans like a fiddle for his own purposes (note to Edge: do not ever defend yourself in court). Christian says that the days of himself and Edge as a tag team are over, but instead wants Edge as an opponent. Edge refuses, but hits Christian from behind on his way out. Christian recovers and leads the crowd in a “Na, Na, Hey, Hey” serenade to see Edge off. Backstage, Edge meets up with Big Show, who again has little to say but plenty of punch as he knocks Edge out.

Match #3 – Michelle McCool & Layla (w/ Vickie Guerrero) vs. Beth Phoenix & Kelly Kelly

McCool models a t-shirt that states “Bad Move, Kelly” (she forgot a “Kelly”), but it’s McCool who is worked over by Kelly. Kelly even knocks Layla out on the floor before Guerrero stops the madness by railroading Kelly. From there, Laycool works a double-team for a spell before Phoenix enters to clean house – though she lets Kelly Kelly enter to deliver an awful awful leg drop for the win.

Winner via pinfall: Beth Phoenix & Kelly Kelly

Fun Facts About Jack Swagger: the champ regales the television audience with a list of impressive schools that he did not attend. Heck, I could do that.

In four very quick, successive promos: Chris Masters brings his dancing pecs to Smackdown!; Dolph Ziggler brags about putting Hornswoggle to sleep on Monday; Matt Hardy says that the beating he took from Drew McIntyre was the worst of his career – before McIntyre arrives to beat on Hardy some more; and JTG tries to match his former partner Gaspard’s promo but doesn’t have a catchy thing like “My Time”.

CM Punk emerges with the Straight Edge Society, still enjoying the feel of his long hair. His speech is interrupted by the returning MVP, who describes Punk as a “wet blanket” that has ruined the fun atmosphere of Smackdown! After Punk, Gallows, and MVP decide to settle the conflict violently, Rey Mysterio Jr. comes to MVP’s aid, leaving Teddy Long no choice but to sanction a tag match.

Match #4 – MVP & Rey Mysterio Jr. vs CM Punk and Luke Gallows

Punk quickly gains the edge over Mysterio, tagging in Gallows who really manhandles the pint-sized former World Champion. Mysterio escapes, though, tagging in MVP who is, indeed, Ballin’ as he drops the elbow on Gallows so hard that Serena actually visibly feels the pain outside the ring. Mysterio illegally hits a 619 and MVP follows with the “305” – obtaining the win ASAP as CM Punk was AWOL. As MVP and Mysterio celebrate, though, the mystery masked man attacks Mysterio from behind, prompting Striker to “speculate” that it’s the same man that attacked Mysterio at Extreme Rules. Sherlock Holmes, he ain’t.

Winner via pinfall: MVP & Rey Mysterio, Jr.

The World Heavyweight Champion comes to the ring for a live version of Fun Facts About Jack Swagger. Putting Swagger in a suit and taking away the push-ups really just makes him look like Biff from Back to the Future. His first Fun Fact is that his father told him when he was two (or three, he couldn’t seem to decide) that he would be a future World Champion. The next Fun Fact is that he graduated Magna Cum Laude, but Teddy Long isn’t in the mood for any more Fun Facts. He arrives to introduce the new #1 Challenger, and Big Show walks to the ring with big support from the crowd. He suggests one more item for Swagger’s list of accomplishments: early retirement, and he knocks out the champ for his third KO of the night.

Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and did not attend Oxford University.