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Smackdown: Minor bumps in the road
By DAVE HILLHOUSE -- SLAM! Wrestling


You know which road: the one to Wrestlemania. Tonight, from Columbus, OH, Edge and Alberto Del Rio are forced by Teddy Long to get creative when it comes to attacking one another. Also, The Undertaker has some trash-talking to get off his chest, and The Corre has a chance to add to their gold haul.

Starting things off, World Heavyweight Champion Edge is backstage with Smackdown General Manager Teddy Long, arguing the finer points of the classic stipulation that neither he nor his Wrestlemania opponent Alberto Del Rio are allowed to lay hands on one another, lest they be banned from the big event in Atlanta. Edge, for the record, is not pleased.

Match #1 – Rey Mysterio vs. M Punk

Will CM Punk still harbour resentment over having his head shaved by Mysterio last year? It seems that both wrestlers have moved on and have bigger fish to fry than one another. Mysterio sets Punk up for a 619 right off the bat, but Punk counters with a swift kick to the gut. Mysterio counters with a kick of his own to Punk’s skull. Punk takes it outside and drops Mysterio on the security barrier, then returns to the ring and scores a number of near-falls. Mysterio fights back big-time, though, drop-kicking Punk as he leaps off the top rope for an attack. The fight spills outside again, but the match ends shortly after Mysterio drops Punk with a moonsault off the ropes – as Cody Rhodes charges Mysterio from behind and runs him into the ring-post.

Winner via disqualification: Rey Mysterio

The assault by Rhodes continues, as the (former?) Dashing One rams his mask repeatedly into Mysterio, then lifts his pant leg to expose a knee brace before running it hard into his nemesis, lying slumped in the corner. Rhodes walks away, leaving medics to attend to Mysterio. Backstage, Christian tries to talk Edge out of his match with Drew McIntyre to give his arm a chance to heal; Edge will have none of it, and will also be in Christian’s corner for his own match against Del Rio later on.

Match #2 – Edge (C) vs. Drew McIntyre

McIntyre pulls his ponytail out on the way to the ring -- which, I think, is a wrestling equivalent to the gloves coming off. Edge is all kicks and fury early on, but McIntyre gets a boot on Edge’s injured arm and takes control from there. McIntyre looks like he’s going to try a version of The Undertaker’s Old School on Edge, but the champ throws him to the canvas. His arm is too sore to land his DDT, but he powers out of McIntyre’s Future Shock edition and ties McIntyre up in his Edgecution for the win.

Winner via submission: Edge

After the victory announcement, Edge gets his crazy eyes and drops McIntyre with a Spear for good measure. After the break, a number of people weigh in on The Undertaker’s match against Triple H, and the list is a who’s who: John Cena, Big Show, Arn Anderson, Randy Orton, Ricky Steamboat, Steve Austin, Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross, Booker T, Harley Race, Chris Jericho, and Dusty Rhodes. None of them had much to say, but it is an impressive list.

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

Lay-Cool are targeting Snooki with their antics, slippers and Snooki-patented dancing included. Layla, wearing only socks, defeats Mendes with the Layout.

Winners via pinfall: Lay-Cool

Match #4 – Wade Barrett (w/ Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater, & Ezekial Jackson) vs. Kofi Kingston – for the Intercontinental Championship(C)

Kingston is about to climb the ropes to pander, but decides not to turn his back on The Corre. As the match opens up, Kingston is able to dodge Barrett’s power strikes; he’s also trying to stay on the other side of the ring, away from The Corre’s position on the outside. Barrett finally catches him, though, trapping him in the ropes and driving his boot into the back of the champ’s head. Barrett steps away from his game, though, and misses an elbow drop off the top rope. This lets Kingston back in contention with a cross-body off the top and a Boom Drop. After a quick distraction by The Corre members, though, Kingston charges with Trouble in Paradise into the waiting arms of Barrett for Wasteland.

Winner via pinfall and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Wade Barrett

After the bell, Gabriel drops his 450 Splash on Kingston before The Corre poses for a celebratory moment, with three of four members now holding titles. Backstage, it’s Del Rio’s turn to argue Long’s ruling, but the GM stands his ground again. Del Rio is left speechless, but not winkless.

Next up, The Undertaker steps out to respond to Triple H’s last address. Now, bless The Undertaker for trying something different, but someone has to tell him that his new music just kills his entrance. Taker says that he hears uncertainty in Triple H’s voice, and that after Wrestlemania, he will simply be a number: 19.

Match #5 – Jack Swagger vs. R-Truth

R-Truth’s entrance rap turns into a duet, as Michael Cole plays Scott Ian to Truth’s Chuck D. This is a slower-paced match than normal, and it’s more important for the commentary than the wrestling. R-Truth seems to over-shoot a dive onto Swagger on the floor, letting Swagger bring him back in for the ankle lock and victory.

Winner via submission: Jack Swagger

Swagger refuses to break the hold after the match and, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s out from the Cole Mine Michael goes. Cole comes into the ring and continues to lay the bad mouth on Truth. Cole gets into a “What’s up” – “You Suck” banter with the crowd to wrap it up.

Match #6 – Christian (w/ Edge) vs. Alberto Del (w/ Brodus Clay & Ricardo Rodriguez)

A week after their cage match, these two face off in a standard match with no stipulations. It starts off simply enough, but Christian delivers a huge back-drop to Del Rio as he was charging into the corner, sending him over the top rope to the floor, and Christian follows with a cross-body . After the break, Del Rio utilizes another trip to the floor to ram Christian’s arm into the steel steps. After Del Rio wears him down in preparation for the cross arm-breaker, both wrestlers miss moves (Christian another cross-body, and Del Rio his rope-climbing kick) in attempts to settle the match.

Christian recovers first and drives Del Rio down with a DDT, but Rodriguez gets his meal-ticket’s foot on the ropes to stop the pin. Edge dashes towards Rodriguez to chase him away, but Clay nails him from behind. In the ring, Del Rio slips out of the Kill Switch and clamps on the cross arm-breaker, but Christian can reach the ropes and the hold is broken. On the outside, Edge spears Clay and starts beating him with a chair. That catches Del Rio’s eye, and he falls prey to the Kill Switch – and the World Heavyweight Championship challenger is on a losing streak one week from Wrestlemania.

Winner via pinfall: Christian

Crazy-eyed Edge slinks into the ring with the chair and raises it to smash down on Del Rio. Christian grabs the chair and stops him, reminding the forgetful Edge of Teddy Long’s decree. Christian is no dummy, though, and realizes that there’s no stipulation on him and he bashes Del Rio with the chair himself. Edge gets perilously close to Del Rio to tell him that it’s all over at Wrestlemania.

Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and wasn’t clapping when Christian tried to make me do it.