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Smackdown: Babyfaces behaving badly
By DAVE HILLHOUSE -- SLAM! Wrestling


On the last show before the Royal Rumble, wrestlers ranging from top-tier contenders to after-thought pretenders have their sights set on winning the 40-man elimination match. Meanwhile, challengers to the heavyweight titles, Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler, prepare to get their hands on their respective opponents, The Miz and Edge, by, well, getting their hands on them in a tag team match.

Vickie Guerrero welcomes us to tonight’s episode, coming from Cincinnati, OH. She informs us that Teddy Long is not here, due to the mysterious attack on the GM last week, but Randy Orton’s music interrupts her before she can say much else. Orton takes a moment to make fun of Guerrero’s hair before vowing a victory on Sunday. With the crowd eagerly chanting RKO and that shifty look in Orton’s eye, Dolph Ziggler sees where things are going and comes to the ring to defend his girlfriend. He demands respect from Orton, but receives an RKO instead.

Match #1 – Lay-Cool (Michelle McCool & Layla) vs. Kaitlyn and Kelly Kelly

Lay-Cool hits the ramp first, but they are attacked from behind by their opponents before reaching the ring. Kelly Kelly seems to be ignorant of the irony found in her apparent enjoyment of beating people up. Tsk, tsk – what would Drew McIntyre think? All four finally get to the ring for the bell. Kaitlyn has McCool seemingly under control, but Layla grabs Kaitlyn’s foot from the outside and McCool follows through with a kick to the head to gain the win.

Winners via pinfall: Lay-Cool

Match #2 – Drew McIntyre vs. JTG

After the break, Kelly has stuck around at ringside to watch McIntyre take on JTG. What is she feeling for him now? Her emotions are almost unreadable. JTG opens by kicking McIntyre to the floor, where the Scotsman responds with a hard clothesline – leaving Kelly shaking her head. Back in the ring, JTG’s offense consists mostly of pinning attempts, whereas McIntyre keeps hitting hard clotheslines, and even pulls out The Honkytonk Man’s Shake, Rattle & Roll neckbreaker (minus the shaking and rattling). As JTG attempts another pin via backslide, McIntyre niftily escapes while holding on to JTG’s arm to set up the Future Shock DDT. He drives JTG solidly into the mat and Str8 Back to Brooklyn for the win.

Winner via pinfall: Drew McIntyre

Kelly enters the ring, her blank expression continuing to mask her intentions, but McIntyre walks out without glancing back at her. Elsewhere, Todd Grisham hopes to get an interview with Cody Rhodes, but Rhodes refuses to face the camera. He blames Rey Mysterio for his broken nose, deviated septum, the doctor’s orders he received to not compete in the Royal Rumble, and for the need for reconstructive plastic surgery. Continuing last week’s tenuous connection to the Joker, he quotes a line from Batman Begins about how what he does will define him – sort of. The quotation didn’t really make sense in this context.

Match #3 – Alberto Del Rio vs. 39 Wrestlers

Del Rio promises that he won’t talk about his destiny to win the Rumble tonight, but that he will prove he will do it. He has invited 39 wrestlers to come to the ring every thirty seconds – and he will toss them all out. First up is Seth Allen, a local competitor who is quickly tossed. As Del Rio tangles with his second opponent, Mike Stevens, Kane’s music and pyro announce to Del Rio that this won’t be as easy as he’d like. As Kane and Del Rio duke it out, Kofi Kingston rushes the ring and pushes both of them over the top rope. Del Rio and Kane both take exception to this and re-enter the ring, and down comes Rey Mysterio to even the numbers. Proving her worth as interim GM, Vickie Guerrero sees the four wrestlers in the ring, does the math, and makes a tag match, thereby crushing the dreams of the 34 other wrestlers waiting backstage to challenge Del Rio.

Match Result: No Contest

Match #4 – Kofi Kingston (C) & Rey Mysterio vs. Alberto Del Rio & Kane

Mysterio and Kofi look sizeably outmatched in the opening moments, but they take advantage of an argument between forced partners Kane and Del Rio to deliver simultaneous attacks to their opponents on the floor. For the duration of the match, though, it is Kane and Del Rio that are operating like a championship-calibre team, relentlessly double-teaming Mysterio and Kingston in turn. In time, though, high-flying attacks knock Del Rio down and Kane out to the floor, leaving Del Rio with nobody to tag. Del Rio calls out his partner, to which Kane responds by decking him and walking away from the match. Del Rio is left alone to suffer the 619 and Trouble in Paradise and take the loss.

Winners via pinfall: Rey Mysterio & Kofi Kingston

Big Show comes to the ring to vent his issues with The Corre – Wade Barret, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, and Ezekial Jackson. He says that he is a target due to his size, but that The Corre made him angry and, in our second super-hero reference of the night, they won’t like him when he’s angry. The Corre comes to the ring to see if he really will turn all green, and Big Show dares any of them to take him on one-on-one. Heath Slater, of all people, take up the challenge and rushes into the ring.

Match #5 – Big Show vs. Heath Slater

Slater actually succeeds in bringing Big Show down to one knee by attacking his leg, but he still suffers a hard chop from the only slightly-shorter Big Show. Soon afterward, a choke-slam puts Slater away.

Winner via pinfall: Big Show

The rest of The Corre rushes in, with all of them falling down at the hands of Big Show – until Jackson knocks the giant down once again with his clothesline. Before the customary beat-down can begin, a host of wrestlers from Raw and Smackdown come to Big Show’s defence and chase The Corre from the ring.

Out comes The Miz with Alex Riley (to the tune of, once again, great trumpeting from Michael Cole) in preparation for his match. He talks a little bit about The Truman Doctrine, and claims it has as much relevance as Orton’s bullying of Vickie Guerrero and laying out of Dolph Ziggler. He then awaits the match.

Match #5 – Rated RKO (Edge (C) & Randy Orton) vs. The Miz (C) and Dolph Ziggler (w/ Alex Riley)

Orton starts things off with Ziggler, much to The Viper’s chagrin as he wanted The Miz. In fact, Orton gets caught chasing The Miz around the ring, only to run right into a boot from Ziggler. Orton responds with a towering Lou Thesz press. Moments later, Orton gets his wish as it’s him and The Miz in the ring, with The Miz down and Orton in preparation for the RKO. As he pounds the mat in anticipation, it’s clearly a good time for a commercial. When we return from the break, Orton is down but gets the tag to Edge (we learn that Ziggler broke up the RKO while we were gone). As Alex Riley jumps up on the apron to stop Edge from delivering the Spear, everyone ends up in on the action. When the dust settles, Ziggler attempts a Zig-Zag on Edge, but the champ dodges it and counters with the Spear for the win.

Winners via pinfall: Rated RKO

Vickie Guerrero, understandably upset by the beating of her boyfriend, grabs a microphone and makes a ruling that the Spear is forthwith an illegal move. If Edge uses that move on Sunday, he loses the match and the title. Edge doesn’t seem to be too concerned – maybe he appreciates the circle of justice coming around as his then-girlfriend Vickie once banned The Undertaker’s Hell’s Gate while he feuded with Edge. Nonetheless, Edge decides to make the most of his last chance before the Rumble to use the Spear, delivering three to Ziggler for good measure.

Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and couldn’t help but notice the touches of grey in Big Show’s stubble. Finally, the big guy can say he has something in common with me.