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Smackdown: ...And The Dead Man Leaveth!
By DAVE HILLHOUSE -- SLAM! Wrestling


Last week, The Undertaker made a dramatic return to Smackdown by qualifying for the upcoming Fatal 4-Way match to vie for the Heavyweight Championship. What a difference a week makes, however, as The Phenom is now out of action and his coveted spot in the championship match will be decided tonight by a Battle Royale contest.

General Manager Teddy Long opens the broadcast, something he’s done a lot lately, but this time he wears a grim face. He announces that, over the weekend, Kane found his brother The Undertaker in a “vegetative state”. This is, of course, in contrast to the bubbly and boisterous state that The Undertaker normally displays. The Undertaker’s druids make their way to the ring with a coffin, and Kane arrives to deliver a sort of eulogy for his undead brother. Kane vows vengeance in several creative ways and convinces me to hire him for my eulogy when the day comes.

Match #1 – Jack Swagger (C) vs MVP – non-title match

Swagger plays to his amateur wrestling strengths while MVP counters with his hard knocks. On a couple of occasions, MVP follows an offensive move not with more offense, but with verbal taunts to frustrate Swagger. MVP takes first command of the match, though, with a vicious kick to the champ’s head, knocking him out of the ring. Swagger regains the hammer by continued pressure on MVP’s arm. After a lengthy stalemate, featuring both a Ballin’ Elbow and a Swagger Bomb, the champ capitalizes on a missed kick by MVP, which left MVP with his leg draped painfully over the turnbuckles, for the clean win.

Winner via pinfall: Jack Swagger.

MVP’s night isn’t done yet, though, as Curt Hawkins and Vance Archer select him to make an impact, decimating the worn-out wrestler. Backstage, Vickie suggests that Dolph Ziggler take The Undertaker’s place at Fatal 4-Way – but Long decides on a Battle Royale to select a new entrant. Elsewhere, Kane takes on a detective’s role as he interrogates CM Punk about his involvement in The Undertaker’s injury (psst: Kane did it).

Match #2 – Kofi Kingston (C) vs Drew McIntyre – Intercontinental Title Match

The challenger seeks to overpower Kingston from the bell, but Kingston keeps hitting back with assaults from unusual and unexpected angles. A mention of Matt Striker’s excellent observation must be made: Kingston was on the ropes pounding on McIntyre as the crowd counted up to 7 – and of course the referee should have disqualified Kingston at 5. There’s a commotion in the crowd as Matt Hardy arrives sporting a ticket for all to see. This momentary distraction fuels Kingston’s comeback. He escapes a suplex by twisting around to land on his feet, clotheslines McIntyre in the back of the neck, and lands the Boom Drop on McIntyre as he is laying face down, which somehow makes the move look more effective. McIntyre makes his big mistake as he attacks Hardy at ringside, and when he returns to the ring Kingston greets him with an SOS for the win.

Winner via pinfall and still Intercontinental Champion: Kofi Kingston.

Hardy evades the security around the ring long enough to hit McIntyre with a Twist of Fate before the guards do their best Keystone Kops impression as Hardy escapes back into the crowd. Backstage, Gumshoe Kane has some questions for Rey Mysterio, who denies any involvement in The Undertaker’s injury. Kane even interrupts Jack Swagger moments later, as the champ serenades the crowd with the University of Oklahoma Fight Song (really) – but Swagger denies a hand in the attack as well.

Match #3 – Rosa Mendes vs. Kelly Kelly

Although Mendes is allowed to dominate for a while, the purpose of this match is to have Co-Women’s Champion Laycool emerge to watch Kelly Kelly’s Komeback for the win. Team Laycool is sufficiently shocked.

Winner via pinfall: Kelly Kelly.

Big Show and Hornswoggle are playing a friendly game of cards when Kane, P.I. arrives to question Big Show. With his investigation continuing to turn up dead ends, Kane takes out his frustrations on the card table.

Match #4 – Battle Royale to determine final entrant in Fatal 4-Way Championship Match

Perhaps I missed it, but there isn’t an announced number of competitors in this match – it’s merely touted as featuring the entire Smackdown roster. If that’s the case, then, suspiciously, Hornswoggle is absent. It’s a long way into the match before there’s an elimination (and the first to go are The Dude Busters and Chris Masters), suggesting that this match is being given some real weight as wrestlers usually go flying out right from the beginning. Several individual feuds are strengthened in this match: Rey Mysterio goes after CM Punk’s mask; Kingston eliminates himself and Drew McIntyre with a clothesline; and Christian eliminates Ziggler. The final three, Kane, Gallows, and Mysterio, quickly become the final two as Kane eliminates Gallows (despite the masked assailant’s attempt to topple Kane). Just as Mysterio is lined up for a chokeslam, he twists out of the hold and sends Kane flying to the floor with a hurricanrana to enter the championship match later this month.

Winner via elimination: Rey Mysterio, Jr.

Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and would like to solve the crime: it was Kane, in the Graveyard, with the Shovel.