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Smackdown: Turn and face the strange
By DAVE HILLHOUSE -- SLAM! Wrestling


Changes are in the air tonight in Albany NY. Alberto Del Rio continues to take more of the spotlight of Friday night, Hornswoggle takes steps towards gaining the ability to speak, the wheels continue to fall off the Straight Edge Societyís wagon and, donít forget: Jack Swagger hosts MVPís own VIP Lounge.

Del Rio opens the show by hosting a fiesta in the ring, honouring his attack on Rey Mysterio that has, according to Del Rio, knocked Mysterio out of the WWE. He shows off a piŮata that features a Mysterio mask before smashing it with a bat. I donít know how Del Rio defines a fiesta, but a piŮata with no candy inside is a bad start. As Del Rio toasts himself, listing his great attributes, Christian interrupts to poke a little fun at the newcomerís expense. Although Del Rio seems to at first accept a challenge from Christian, he backs out of the ring leaving Christian open to an attack by Drew McIntyre. Why McIntyre? Because:

Match #1 Ė Christian vs. Drew McIntyre

Christian is clearly behind the eight-ball to start with, but gamely defends himself. After escaping a bear hug, Christian tries to get some offence rolling, but he jumps off the second rope right into a swinging backbreaker. Not long afterwards, McIntyre lands a hard gutbuster and is primed for the win, but Christian rolls him up for the surprise victory.

Winner via pinfall: Christian

Match #2 Ė Kelly Kelly vs. Michelle McCool

With Layla at the announcerís table promoting the Night of Champions match against Melina, McCool outlasts Kellyís onslaught of attacks and hits the Faith Breaker for the win.

Winner via pinfall: Michelle McCool

Somewhere backstage, Teddy Long finds Horsnwoggle receiving therapy to aid him in finding his voice. The therapist explains that numerous methods have failed, and itís time for electro-shock therapy. Mr. Swoggle, as the therapist refers to him, takes a couple shocks before planting the pads on the therapist instead.

Match #3 Ė Chris Masters vs. Dolph Ziggler (C) (w/ Vickie Guerrero) Ė Intercontinental Title Match

No notation was made as to whether this was a title match, so presumably Masters gets a shot out of the blue here. He makes a game of it, opening the match with a power display by hoisting Ziggler up over his head for a press slam. He then catches a Ziggler dropkick and slingshots the champion into the corner. He almost follows up with the Master Lock, but canít quite cinch it in. Ziggler escapes and hits his Zig Zag instead for the win.

Winner via pinfall: Dolph Ziggler

Match #4 Ė Big Show versus CM Punk and Luke Gallows (w/ Joseph Mercury)

Since Big Show already beat all three members of the SES at Summerslam, itís a little suspect to have him challenging but two of them. Serena, of course, is nowhere to be seen. Although Punk and Gallows put on a better offensive show than they did at Summerslam, Gallows falls to Big Show for the second time in as many weeks, submitting to a crossface.

Winner via submission: Big Show

After the match, CM Punkís frustrations boil over and he hits his Go To Sleep on Luke Gallows. Whatever big plans originally existed for the Straight Edge Society, itís all over now.

Itís the VIP Lounge, with special guest host Jack Swagger! Swagger has re-decorated the Lounge with Swagger memorabilia, and has his father along as the guest Ė still bound to a wheelchair and sporting a neck brace. As Swagger Sr. fondly recalls his son setting a push-up record as a child, resulting in Swagger the younger doing about 40 push-ups in the ring (though his dad was counting awfully quickly), MVP descends to interrupt. He destroys some of the set, but Swagger holds his dad between himself and MVP before a scuffle can start. Swagger Sr. is eventually tossed out of the chair and Swagger Jr. out of the ring Ė leaving dad all alone to suffer the Balliní Elbow.

Match #5 Ė Cody Rhodes vs Matt Hardy

On the way down to the ring, Rhodes lays a verbal beating on Hardy, suggesting that his grooming tips apply especially to the worn-out, former extremist. This gets Hardy all riled up and he takes charge in the opening moments of the match. A bulldog, a body slam, and a half-Boston Crab later and Hardy is in good position. Maybe Rhodesí silky smooth legs made it easy for him to escape the submission hold, though, and the Dashing One hits Cross Rhodes for the win.

Winner via pinfall: Cody Rhodes

Finishing the show is Kane with what is billed as a major announcement. Since Night of Champions is all about every title in the WWE being up for grabs, Kaneís revelation that he will face The Undertaker at the upcoming Pay-Per-View is slightly less than earth-shattering. As The Undertaker comes to the ring to face his foe, Kane retreats and promises the destruction of his brother.

Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and, if Jack Swagger, Sr. were doing the counting, could do a hundred push-ups. Maybe.