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Smackdown!: All about the Championships
By DAVE HILLHOUSE -- SLAM! Wrestling


The announce team of Todd Grisham and Matt Striker have just enough time to announce Friday night’s main event, featuring the World Heavyweight Champion Jack Swagger facing Kane, before Matt Hardy walks purposefully towards the ring for an unscheduled opportunity to air his grievances with Drew McIntyre. Tonight’s show from North Charleston, S.C. starts off with a bang that shakes up the WWE title landscape.

Matt Hardy has very little to say regarding the beatings he’s taken from Intercontinental Champion McIntyre – just that he’s not going anywhere. McIntyre ambles confidently down the ramp, reminding Hardy, and everyone else, that as the hand-picked “Chosen One” of the WWE, he is untouchable. Hardy begs to differ and draws McIntyre into the ring. Unfortunately for Hardy, he ends up on the receiving end of another beat-down, but this time Teddy Long has had enough. After repeatedly warning McIntyre to stop his attack, the Smackdown! GM first suspends the Scot, then strips him of the IC title, and finally fires him. McIntyre is escorted out of the building (with Ricky Steamboat and I.R.S. serving as anonymous enforcers) without even receiving the chance to put his shirt back on.

Match #1 – MVP vs Luke Gallows (w/ CM Punk and Serena)

In the opening moments, MVP runs circles around the “Day One” member of the Straight Edge Society before Gallows brings MVP down with his brute strength. Gallows starts simple with punches and kicks, but soon lands a big splash on MVP off the ropes. It takes a mistake by Gallows, missing a running charge in the corner, to get MVP rolling. He soon hits the Ballin’ Elbow and nearly lands the Playmaker, but for the distraction of Serena, which permits Gallows to regain the upper hand. Gallows is then himself thrown off his game, though, as Rey Mysterio emerges from the crowd to take down Punk with some poetic justice. MVP hits his new “Play of the Week” finisher for the win.

Winner via pinfall: MVP

After the break, CM Punk is still in the ring, stewing and pacing with a mic in his hand. He labels Mysterio a coward and demands that he come out again – a request which Mysterio grants. Mysterio explains that this is payback for the mysterious masked man attacking him from the crowd, and Punk claims ignorance as to the existence of this man – suggesting that hallucinogens are playing havoc with Mysterio. Mysterio suggests a tiebreak match at Over the Limit, again putting up his joining the Straight Edge Society against Punk’s hair. After Punk accepts, Mysterio plants a seed of dissension within the SES, asking Punk why he thinks he’s better than Gallows and Serena.

Match #2 – Kelly Kelly & Tiffany vs. Michelle McCool and Layla (w/ Vickie Guerrero)

Kelly Kelly has found a new partner to take on Laycool this week: the former ECW General Manager, turned wrestling cheerleader, Tiffany. I wonder if the payrates are comparable. Tiffany starts off with McCool, hitting the former Women’s champ with a monkeyflip that sends McCool rolling to the outside. When Tiffany follows, she is confronted by Layla and Guerrero, giving McCool enough time to set up a drop kick for Tiffany as she returns to the ring. Once Layla tags in, though, Tiffany block a splash attempt and tags in Kelly, who provides some acrobatic offense before quickly tagging out again. This leaves Tiffany in the ring, subject to Laycool’s double-teaming, and Layla finishes her off for the win.

Winner via pinfall: Michelle McCool and Layla

Backstage, Teddy Long has come up with a plan for the now-vacant Intercontinental Title: a four-man tournament that starts tonight.

Match #3 – Kofi Kingston vs Dolph Ziggler – Intercontinental Title Semi-Finals

Both combatants bounce around the ring in a high-tempo opening until Ziggler grounds Kingston and tries tossing him out of the ring. Kingston comes up with a unique block, using his head against the top rope to bounce back inside before sending Ziggler over the opposing ropes instead. Ziggler turns the momentum to his side again, though, as the commercial break allows time to reflect on Todd Grisham’s analogy that attempting frequent pins is like frequent shots on net in playoff hockey – you never know when you’ll get lucky. He’s right, of course, but what’s an American sportscaster doing with a hockey reference of any kind? Upon return, Ziggler is actually following Grisham’s advice and going for pin after pin. A brief flurry of moves by Kingston is counter-acted by Ziggler in a very even match. Finally, Kingston lands a number of successive moves including the Boom Drop, but Ziggler dodges Trouble in Paradise and locks in his sleeper hold. Kingston escapes before he fades and nails his second try at Trouble in Paradise for the win.

Winner via pinfall: Kofi Kingston

Match #4 – Christian (w/ Heath Slater) vs Cody Rhodes – Intercontinental Title Semi-Finals

The second semi-final begins with Rhodes knocking Christian down and demonstrating to him using “in-ring sign language” that he wants to wear the Intercontinental Title around his waist. Christian doesn’t seem to care and tosses Rhodes over the top rope, following with a baseball slide drop-kick. Rhodes quickly regains the hammer by driving Christian into the stairs on the floor, but the momentum shifts again as Christian finishes a series of moves with a hard slap across Rhodes’ cheek. This seems to only empower Rhodes as he takes control for a lengthy stretch, highlighted by a moonsault and very tall superplex, stunning even himself too much to go for a cover. This hesitation allows Christian to get his wind back and eventually sneak in the Kill Switch for the win.

Winner via pinfall: Christian

Next week on Smackdown, therefore, Kofi Kingston will face Christian for the vacant Intercontinental Title. This week, though, we are treated to another live edition of Fun Facts About Jack Swagger (FFAJS). The champ is in the ring seeming in a more relaxed, jovial mood than last week as he reveals he was the first high school student ever to be nominated for an ESPY, that he was in contention for the Heisman Trophy, and that he was a chess champion. Not checkers, he insists, but chess – because listing “checkers champion” is clearly ludicrous. FFAJS is cut short again, this time by Swagger’s opponent Kane who enters the ring and clearly unnerves the champ with his pyrotechnic abilities.

Match #4 – Jack Swagger (C) vs. Kane

The match isn’t really a match at all, because after a few moves traded between champion and challenger, Big Show comes to the ring area and seats himself at the announcer’s table. As Swagger smartly works Kane’s leg, Big Show insists that he’s only here to observe. However, as the match comes to an abrupt end with the referee disqualifying Swagger for refusing to stop ramming Kane into an exposed turnbuckle, Swagger heads to the floor for a staredown with Big Show.

Winner via disqualification: Kane

While Swagger shows off the belt to his Over the Limit challenger, Kane attacks the champ from behind and clears off the announcer’s table with bad intentions. Swagger recovers, though, knocking Kane out from behind instead, only to find himself hoisted up by Big Show for a chokeslam onto the table which breaks apart in the impact. Big Show hoists the championship belt up on his own shoulder to end the broadcast.

Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and enjoyed the fact that McCool’s t-shirt marked “Smelly Kelly” brought back memories of Brutus Beefcake’s “Scary Sherri” chant.