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Smackdown: Del Rio looks to disarm the champ
By DAVE HILLHOUSE -- SLAM! Wrestling


Tonight, World Heavyweight Champion Edge will sit across from his challenger, Alberto Del Rio, and they will sign the official contract for their Wrestlemania match. Also, The Undertaker hopes to break the law of diminishing returns and excite the crowd with his first appearance on Smackdown in many months. All of this from the awesome city of Cleveland, OH - really.

The champion comes out first, and Edge is working the crowd like has signs for the crowd’s response. Tonight, he says is the official contract signing (cheers) for his match against Alberto Del Rio (boos) at Wrestlemania (cheers). Before he gets to that, though, he has the urge to sing once again for the recently departed Vickie Guerrero. In what should be a face turn, Drew McIntyre runs in and stops Edge from giving us more of his awful singing. After Edge tosses him from the ring, Smackdown GM Teddy Long appears to make a match with Edge and McIntyre ... right now.

Match #1 – Drew McIntyre vs. Edge (C)

Edge seems to have momentum on his side, but McIntyre zeroes in on Edge’s taped arm – still suffering the effects of Del Rio cross arm-breaker. McIntyre kicks Edge right in the head, sending him outside where McIntyre runs his arm into the announcer’s table, but Edge gets some life by back-dropping McIntyre on the outside floor. Back in the ring, Edge runs the ropes and delivers a Spear out of the blue – but he picks McIntyre up before the count of three. With a crazed look in his eyes, the champ twists McIntyre up in his Edgecator and forces McIntyre to tap out.

Winner via submission: Edge

After a commercial break, and a chance for Michael Cole to promote his Wrestlemania match with Jerry Lawler, Rey Mysterio’s music erupts and the crowd goes wild. Mysterio comes out - in a suit? Wait a minute ... it’s Cody Rhodes sporting Mysterio’s mask. He removes it to show he still has the face-guard on. Rhodes reveals that he convinced his father Dusty to help out, and how good it felt to inflict the punishment he did upon Mysterio. He makes his official challenge to Mysterio for Wrestlemania, vowing that he will un-mask him again.

Kane is backstage, thinking deep thoughts, when The Corre surrounds him – and Wade Barrett, Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater, and Ezekial Jackson remind him that they were a big help when Kane defeated The Undertaker last year. Kane, for his part, denies that he needed them.

Match #2 – Vladimir Kozlov & Santino Marella vs. Justin Gabriel and Heat Slater (C) (w/ Wade Barrett & Ezekial Jackson) – WWE Tag Team Championship Match.

Kovlov is more than ready to overpower both of his opponents, but Barrett interferes to allow Slater to take charge. Slater can’t keep Kozlov from making the tag, though, and soon Santino is breaking out The Cobra. Barrett and Jackson get up on the apron, allowing Slater to attack Santino from behind and score the pin.

Winners via pinfall and STILL WWE Tag Team Champions: Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater

After a recap of Triple H’s promo from the previous Raw, The Undertaker enters to his new, sittin’ on the porch, whittlin’ wood, takin’ it easy theme music. He gives credit to Triple H as a great champion, but says that Triple H will find out what 18 other men have learned at Wrestlemania – that he is the last outlaw. Technically, it’s only 16 other men, but I wouldn’t have interrupted the Deadman to point that out.

Match #3 – Beth Phoenix & Rosa Mendes vs. Lay-Cool (Michelle McCool & Layla)

McCool goes up against Phoenix first, but fast tags create a revolving door of combatants. At one point, as McCool enters, Mendes shoves Layla into her partner, and McCool shoves Layla right back. They put their problems aside, though, as Phoenix has Layla ready for the Glam-Slam, and McCool runs in with her big ol’ boot to Mendes’ head and allows Layla to pick up the win.

Winner via pinfall: Lay-Cool

Match #4 – Big Show vs. Kane

The former tag champion partners show no signs of having a sentimental reunion, and both are soon felled by a double-clothesline. As both are on the mat, The Corre arrives and Barrett slides a chair into the ring. Kane immediately attacks Big Show and the ref calls for the bell.

Winner via disqualification: Big Show

The Corre enters the ring and attacks Big Show, but moments later, Gabriel is knocked down by Kane and the same chair. The Corre vacates the ring, looking as confused as the crowd.

Match #5 – Jack Swagger vs. JTG

Swagger strides down to the ring, now accompanied by Miz-like adoration from Michael Cole. Cole gets into the ring, promotes Swagger, disses Cleveland, and ends up talking for longer than Swagger takes to dismantle JTG. Two Swagger-bombs and an ankle lock send JTG packing.

Winner via submission: Jack Swagger

Last up tonight, Edge is on his way to the ring for the contract signing when he espies Alberto Del Rio’s portrait artist with a rendition of the challenger for the World Championship. Edge grabs a brush and adds a huge moustache and unibrow to Del Rio’s likeness. In the ring, Del Rio stands by patriotically as Ricardo Rodriguez brings back memories of Nikolai Volkoff with his version of the Mexican national anthem.

With the hijinks over for now, Edge and Del Rio sit down for the signing. Del Rio delivers his autograph with his customary wink, and Edge signs his copy to make it all official. Teddy Long can sense the ensuing chaos in the ring and takes off, leaving Edge at the mercy of a double-team and a focused attack on Edge’s arm (and an accidental bloody nose for the champ). Christian, who was announced as returning next week, drops by early to save his buddy Edge again. Is Captain Charisma going to figure into Wrestlemania in some way?

Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and thinks that Rhodes vs. Mysterio is the first interesting Wrestlemania match (unofficially) announced thus far.