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Smackdown: Night of Champions comes early
By DAVE HILLHOUSE -- SLAM! Wrestling


As the WWE continues its long goodbye to Edge, tonight’s show suddenly features an old brand-centered pay-per-view aura. Both the Intercontinental and Tag Team championships are on the line, and both against recent contenders. Not enough for you? Alberto Del Rio’s retirement party for Edge has potential for good television.

Incidentally, Edge is gone from the opening credits. The WWE is still in Ol’ Blighty, so Sir Michael Cole comes out first to warm up the London, England crowd. He’s dressed in his classic King of the Ring-type attire, and has his Cole Mine decked out in Royal Family paraphernalia.

The World Heavyweight Championship belt is hanging above the ring as a reminder of what’s to come at Extreme Rules when Christian and Del Rio compete in a ladder match for the vacant title. Right now, though, Cody Rhodes comes to the ring with his hood and mask, with flashes of newspaper headlines pronouncing his grotesque disfigurement playing on the screens behind him. I want a subscription to that paper.

Rhodes claims that Mysterio wears his mask to hide many things, including a loathing for the fans. Rhodes claims that everyone is wearing a mask to hide their despair over their miserable lives. He continues to steal themes from CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society speech notes, even having assistants handing out dozens of paper bags (with a face cut out) for the shamed fans to wear.

Mysterio comes out to stop the madness and, hey, we have another Wrestlemania rematch.

Match #1 – Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes

Rhodes still seems less intent on matching Mysterio move for move as he is with delivering punishment. He stretches Mysterio out around the ringpost one moment, then kicks him back-first into another post before the break. Upon our return, the one-sided match continues until Mysterio blocks a superplex and the two exchange hard kicks – Mysterio to Rhodes’ face, and Rhodes to Mysterio in mid-air as he tries a cross-body. Moments later, Mysterio slips out of Cross Rhodes and a powerbomb attempt to roll Rhodes up tightly for a three count.

Winner via pinfall: Rey Mysterio

Rhodes immediately attacks Mysterio after the bell and the fight spills out to the floor. Mysterio gets the worst of it, suffering Cross Rhodes on the outside mats and being left to writhe with a paper bag over his head.

Back in the locker room, Justin Gabriel and Wade Barrett agree to disagree on the appropriateness of Gabriel’s actions in last week’s Battle Royal. Heath Slater and Ezekial Jackson join the conversation, with Jackson claiming to be the leader of The Corre ... but he’s only kidding. An uncomfortable silence is broken up by much manly back and chest-slapping.

Somewhere in a makeshift office, Michelle McCool and Layla are still in couples’ therapy. Although there seems to be an emotional breakthrough and peace between them, McCool attacks her former BFF and throws her as roughly as one can into a soft leather couch.

Sir Michael Cole is in the ring to replay some of his latest antics, including having Jim Ross forced to kiss Cole’s nasty looking foot. He introduces his pal Jack Swagger for what promises to be a short match.

Match #2 – Jack Swagger vs. Trent Barreta

Barreta gets in an enzuiguri kick, but Swagger catches him as he leaps off the top rope and turns it into a powerbomb. An ankle lock later, and it’s all over.

Winner via submission: Jack Swagger

Another Barbie gets drawn and quartered by the not-so-secret superstar – although maybe it was a Bratz doll. This leads into the first of the two title matches tonight.

Match #3 – Kane & Big Show vs. Justin Gabriel & Heath Slater (C) (w/ Ezekial Jackson) – for the WWE Tag Team Championship

Slater draws the short straw and starts off with Kane, though it doesn’t take long for him to tag out and bring Gabriel in for equal punishment by the challengers. The champs gain the hammer when Jackson pushes Kane off the top rope. This has Kane on the mat for a couple of minutes absorbing double-team punishment, but he gets the tag to Big Show. As Kane eliminates Gabriel and Jackson from the equation, Big Show chokeslams Slater for the victory.

Winners via pinfall and NEW WWE Tag Team Champions: Kane & Big Show

The new champs get a little time to pander while The Corre slinks away without any fuss. After the break, though, The Corre’s disintegration continues backstage. Slater accuses Jackson of failing to help them, while Jackson fires back that it was Slater who got pinned. Slater ends up shoving Gabriel to the ground. Corre merchandise must have been selling poorly, and things don’t look good or Barrett, tonight or sometime soon.

Match #4 – Drew McIntyre vs. Chris Masters

McIntyre lands the first big move by dropping Masters’ neck across the top rope, followed by a clothesline to give the Scotsman a confident air. Masters escapes an attempt at the Future Shock DDT, but McIntyre similarly ducks away from the Masterpiece. A second go at the DDT succeeds, and McIntyre gets the win and a few cheers for being close to home.

Winner via pinfall: Drew McIntyre

Match #5 – Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett (C) (w/ Ezekial Jackson) for the Intercontinental Championship

Booker T suggests that Kingston often cares too much about pleasing the crowd, and that sometimes you have to forget them and get the job done. He must be a New Jersey Devils fan. Meanwhile, Kingston achieves both objectives as he spins off the top rope into a cross body onto Barrett while outside of the ring. During the commercial break, though, Barrett takes control with an attack on the floor that culminates by throwing Kingston into the steel steps.

Barrett looks to be cruising to victory until Jackson levels Barrett by mistake while going for Kingston – or was it a mistake? Barrett orders Jackson to leave ringside, and Kingston lands his Boom Drop and nearly connects with Trouble in Paradise. Barrett ducks away, though, and soon has Kingston rolled up with a hand on the ropes for the all-powerful leverage to get the win.

Winner via pinfall and STILL Intercontinental Champion: Wade Barrett

Kingston is fuming as Barrett struts confidently back up the ramp. That brings us to the final event of the evening: Del Rio’s going away party for Edge. Ricardo Rodriguez is in the ring to announce Del Rio’s arrival as Brodus Clay awaits his mentor’s presence as well. Del Rio unveils some gifts for Edge: a grandfather clock, some tools for incontinence problems, and then he summons Lita to the ring.

”Lita” is a redhead cut from the same cloth as Clay – although that may be a wig. Del Rio produces his final gifts: a walker so he can take Lita out for a romantic stroll, and Rodriguez drives a scooter with an oxygen tank down to the ring. Edge, it seems, hasn’t officially retired yet, and he bursts onto the ramp to crash the party.

Edge criticizes Del Rio’s party-hosting for a few moments before Clay is sent to dispose of him. Christian attacks from behind with a ladder, however, laying out Del Rio before climbing up to grab the title belt to lay claim to the championship with Extreme Rules just around the bend.

Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and hasn’t seen an adult diaper in a ring since Razor Ramon and the 1-2-3 Kid squared off.