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Smackdown: Money in the Bank looming large
By DAVE HILLHOUSE -- SLAM! Wrestling


Smackdown broadcasts this week from Atlanta, future home of Wrestlemania 27. The granddaddy of pay-per-view shows, though, is a far-off thought compared to the rapidly approaching Money in the Bank event. Tonight, the final spots for that event will be finalized, Big Show requests, and is granted, a rematch with Jack Swagger, and, first up, a returning Scotsman seems to have turned over a new leaf.

Drew McIntyre opens the show in the ring, sporting a contrite look on his face. Before he gets a word out, though, General Manager Teddy Long struts to the ring, certainly looking less intimidated than the last time he stepped into the ring with McIntyre. The former Intercontinental Champ, his immigration issues now settled, offers an apology to Long. The GM, though, wants more – and gets McIntyre to drop to his knees and beg for entry into the Smackdown Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Even that doesn’t quite work, though, as Long announces that McIntyre must beat Kofi Kingston tonight to get into the match.

Match #1 – Dolph Ziggler (w/ Vickie Guerrero) vs. Chavo Guerrero vs. MVP – Money in the Bank Qualifying Match

Guerrero and Ziggler begin the match by double-teaming MVP, who starts to fight back as Chavo seems more interested in making sure Vickie is watching his skills. The double-team continues, though, with a double-suplex on MVP. Guerrero then steps back and allows Ziggler the opportunity for a pin, though he only gets a 2-count. After the break, Ziggler is perched on the top rope for a strike, but MVP runs Guerrero into the corner and knocks Ziggler off his feet. After a superplex by MVP takes both himself and Ziggler out, Guerrero has a moral quandary on his hands. Despite Vickie’s vocal protestations from the outside, Chavo goes for a pin on MVP – but again only gets 2. Ziggler then unloads on Chavo, who fights back with the Three Amigos suplexes. MVP re-inserts himself with the Play of the Day on Chavo, but Vickie pulls the ref out of the ring to prevent a sure 3-count. Ziggler then locks his sleeper hold on MVP and the ref calls for the bell – though it seemed awfully early to do so.

Winner via submission(?): Dolph Ziggler

Alberto Del Rio gets another promo, but it’s a repeat of his “inspiration” segment from last week. Boo! In a backstage training room, Rey Mysterio, Jr. is being examined by a doctor who throws as much medical jargon as possible into a sentence to try and guarantee validity. Before Mysterio gets to speak, though, Jack Swagger enters and clamps on his ankle lock again – dragging Mysterio around like a rag doll for minutes before Big Show finally makes the save.

Match #2 – Matt Hardy & Christian vs. Vance Archer and Curt Hawkins

Hawkins and Hardy start the match off quickly before Archer tags in and manhandles Hardy. Hardy fights back with a swinging DDT and makes it to his corner for a tag. Christian holds on to Hardy’s hand, though, and drops to the floor, draping Hardy across the ropes. As Christian walks away to a fairly strong chorus of boos, Archer and Hawkins finish Hardy in the ring for the win.

Winners via pinfall: Vance Archer & Curt Hawkins

A point to be made here: even though Christian turned on Hardy and walked away, he did receive a tag before doing so. So, really, the match should have been a win by count-out for Archer and Hawkins.

Match #3 – Drew McIntyre vs. Kofi Kingston (C) – non-title match

Kingston is too quick for McIntyre at first, ducking and dodging the Scotsman’s maneuvers. McIntyre finally gets his hands on the Intercontinental Champ, though, and punishes him with a chinlock and abdominal stretch. After McIntyre misses a leg drop, though, Kingston lands a splash off the second rope onto McIntyre’s back as he was crouched over. Kingston hits the Boom Drop, misses an attempt at Trouble in Paradise, but follows immediately with a half-hearted version of the finisher from the other direction. McIntyre is drop-kicked out to the floor, and moments later is draped over the apron as Kingston tries for another Boom Drop on the apron itself. McIntyre runs him into the ring post, though, brings him back inside, and hits the Future Shock DDT for the win and entry into the Money in the Bank Ladder match.

Winner via pinfall: Drew McIntyre

This was a scrappy, chippy, and emotionally-charged fight. Even though it would have been nice to have had Kingston able to gain or lose something from the outcome, it was still one of the best matches on Smackdown in a while. Somewhere backstage, CM Punk and Luke Gallows are headed to the ring to address the video shown by Serena last week. Along the way, Punk walks by an exercising Rosa Mendes, who is now identified as the random “Jumping Jacker” from last week – or Jumping Jill, I suppose.

After the break, Alberto Del Rio brings us a new segment to tell us how proud he is of his intelligence. But never mind that – Colonel Sanders is his butler! In the ring, CM Punk stands quietly by as Luke Gallows calls out Serena and dresses her down for her transgression in the bar. Serena begs for forgiveness, and even though Gallows assures her she won’t get it, Punk chastises Gallows and forgives Serena. Gallows walks away from the ring in clear disapproval.

Match #4 – “Dashing” Cody Rhodes vs. JTG

In a short match that neither slows nor advances either of these wrestlers’ momentum or character development, Rhodes comes away with the win.

Winner via pinfall: Cody Rhodes

Josh Matthews is backstage to interview Kelly Kelly, but the whole thing falls apart as Layla arrives to taunt the redundant Diva, while Michelle McCool blindsides her - and Kelly is left laid out on the floor. Elsewhere, Big Show is really torn up about how Swagger abused his friend Mysterio and promises to make Swagger suffer.

Match #5 – Big Show vs. Jack Swagger

Swagger inevitably starts diving towards Big Show’s ankle from the get-go, but Big Show gets his paws on the All-American American and slams him, corners him, then chops the swagger right out of him. Big Show does his choo-choo train right into Swagger in the corner, then follows up with a shoulder-block that quite literally flips Swagger over backwards. Finally, though, it happens: Swagger gets to Big Show’s ankle. After running Big Show’s leg into the post, the fight spills to the outside. As both men are counted out, Swagger attacks Big Show's ankle at the top of the ramp, leaving Big Show down and out once again.

Match result: Double count-out.

As Swagger walks backstage feeling awfully good about himself, he’s cornered by Kane, P.I. who has now focused his investigation on the man who was World Champion at the time of the Undertaker’s injury. Swagger, though, looking terrified, assures Kane that he has an alibi and will reveal it next week. Kane, showing his rookie stripes as an investigator, grants Swagger one week to provide his alibi.

Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and just noticed this week that the transitional graphics between segments on Smackdown look like they have Doctor Octopus’ mechanical arms swinging around. Really – look for it.