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Smackdown: Do you feel lucky, Punk?
By DAVE HILLHOUSE -- SLAM! Wrestling


With last week’s show finalizing the four competitors in next weekend’s Fatal 4-Way match for the World Heavyweight Championship, tonight has a set of singles matches featuring those same wrestlers: Big Show versus CM Punk, and Rey Mysterio, Jr. versus Jack Swagger. Foremost on everyone’s mind, though, is Kane and his dogged determination to exact vengeance for the anonymous attack on The Undertaker.

Mysterio and Swagger are slated to start off the show, but Mysterio first takes a few moments in the ring to win over the Tampa, Florida crowd. That leaves Swagger, entering second with a mic already in hand, asking the hostile crowd to be quiet while he explains his destiny to be a champion. Mysterio responds by making fun of Swagger’s lisp (and gets cheered for doing so). Punk and Big Show inevitably join the party for a sort of town hall debate, but it’s Kane with the last word, appearing on the Titan Tron to promise ... you guessed it: vengeance.

Match #1 – Jack Swagger (C) vs. Rey Mysterio, Jr. – non-title match

After the break, we’re left with just the two combatants in the ring. From the outset, Mysterio is ducking and dodging to stay away from Swagger’s power, but Swagger gives Mysterio the rag doll treatment whenever he gets his hands on him. It’s Mysterio, though, with the first near-fall after he hits an early 619 – but Swagger just manages to get his foot on the bottom rope. The champion punishes Mysterio with headlocks and body scissors, but Mysterio escapes from the clutches of the gut-wrench powerbomb, proceeding to hit two more 619s (one to Swagger’s midsection) for the well-earned victory.

Winner via pinfall: Rey Mysterio, Jr.

Swagger wastes little time in attacking Mysterio after the bell, and then both find themselves chokeslammed by Kane, who has apparently given up on his Sherlock Holmes-ian investigative techniques and is going to play “bad cop” tonight.

Match #2 – Layla (C) (w/ Michelle McCool and Kaval) vs. Tiffany (w/ Kelly Kelly) – non-title match

Laycool emerge with their rookie from Season 2 of NXT: Kaval. McCool’s parents are in the crowd, and don’t seem to mind that their daughter is displaying a most rude behaviour towards the Tampa crowd. Tiffany lands some hard punches and clotheslines, but the Women’s Champion hits her Lay-Out neckbreaker for the win. If they could be given more time, these two showed some promise for a good match.

Winner via pinfall: Layla

Match #3 – Christian vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/ Vickie Guerrero)

Ziggler is headed down the path that worked so well for Edge, and not so well for Big Show – befriending Vickie Guerrero to advance his career. Ziggler does have complete control of the match early on, but Christian fights back by really launching Ziggler to the outside with a catapult, then with a lot of slaps and a missile dropkick. Ziggler ducks out of the Killswitch, though, turning it into a sleeper hold, which Christian then escapes before obtaining a victory via sunset flip!

Winner via pinfall: Christian

After the bell, Hawkins and Archer make quick work of Christian to make their impact, leaving Christian open to further attack by Ziggler.

Backstage, Kane continues to mourn his undead brother, speaking to nobody in particular about how he always showed him the path to success. Back in the ring, Drew McIntyre is headed to the ring and looking really, really mad. He calls for Teddy Long to show him the latest happenings between himself and Matt Hardy. McIntyre is poised to drop a bombshell on Long when Kofi Kingston interrupts and begs him to shut up before taking it to the Scotsman.

After the break, McIntyre arrives in Long’s office to drop the bombshell – next week, McIntyre gets a match with Long, as per Vince McMahon. My question is: why didn’t McIntyre hold the meeting in Long’s office in the first place? Does he just like using the big-screen TV to show the replays?

Match #4 – Big Show vs. CM Punk (w/ Luke Gallows and Serena)

Punk is running around his behemoth opponent, flinching as Big Show threatens his big right hand. Punk lands some kicks, but as he ascends the ropes to capitalize, Big Show begs him to do it. Punk clambers down and heads outside for some advice from the Straight Edge Society. After the break, Punk is brought back into the ring with a patented Big Show chop (where at least Punk has the good fortune of having grown some extra padding on his chest). Punk is caught by the throat as Big Show thinks chokeslam, but changes his mind and goes for Punk’s mask. This is too much for the SES, as Gallows and the masked mystery man attack Big Show from behind. The SES bring Big Show down, but Kane arrives to brandish more chokeslams of his own on everyone except Punk and Serena, who escape up the ramp.

Winner via disqualification: Big Show

Considering the changes of plans with The Undertaker’s removal from action, the story heading into the Fatal 4-Way is sensible and unpredictable, two of the best qualities of wrestling storytelling. Perhaps Punk being the only one not to be chokeslammed is the hint that he will walk away with the title next weekend.

Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and wonders if Smackdown will ever be important enough for the NXT Rookies to invade.