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Smackdown: Firing on all cylinders
By DAVE HILLHOUSE -- SLAM! Wrestling


Don’t look now, but a match-heavy Smackdown is doing its best to make women’s wrestling relevant and to keep all the storylines popping on the way to SummerSlam. Lexington, KY bears witness to what shouldn’t be so unusual: a really interesting show.

Match #1 – Sheamus vs. The Great Khali (w/ Jinder Mahal)

Sheamus tries to run and gun for a few moments, but soon finds himself chopped and booted to the mat. However, Sheamus has a shiny new weapon: crowd support. The fans charge the Celtic Warrior up and he runs at Khali for the Brogue Kick –- but Khali stops him with a big chop. The Vice Grip nearly puts Sheamus out, but he powers out and connects with a second Brogue Kick attempt for the win.

Winner via pinfall: Sheamus

Match #2 – Natalya vs. AJ

Good friends, better enemies? A handshake precedes a friendly competition that features a lot of fast-paced, even-handed reversals before Natalya locks in the Sharpshooter for the win.

Winner via submission: Natalya

Afterwards, Natalya turns on her protégé and beats her all over the ring, finishing with a snap suplex on the floor. She grabs a mic, and tells Beth Phoenix that she’s on her side, declaring war on “perky little princesses”. I’ll be damned if the Divas division hasn’t just become interesting, even though it’s just the Kharma story in a new package.

After the break, Matt Striker asks Randy Orton about his upcoming No-Holds Barred match against World Heavyweight Champion Christian. Orton has nothing interesting to say.

Match #3 – Tyson Kidd vs. Daniel Bryan

Wade Barrett joins the commentating team as Bryan’s new music heralds his arrival. Bryan takes the first advantage by dropkicking Kidd off the apron to the floor, then diving through the ropes to tackle him. Kidd fights back, though, driving Bryan’s knee into the ringpost, then focusing a lengthy sequence of attacks on the same knee. Bryan escapes a Half-Boston Crab and responds with his Guillotine Choke for the win.

Winner via submission: Daniel Bryan

After the break, Zack Ryder, Assistant to General Manager Teddy Long, is ready to address the crowd when Intercontinental Champion Ezekial Jackson stops him short as he struts to the ring. Jackson wants to know why he was in a handicap match last week, but the interruptions continue when those handicap match opponents, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, walk towards the ring. Rhodes has the mic and challenges Jackson on DiBiase’s behalf. However, Teddy Long has the last word and mixes things up with this match-up:

Match #4 – Ezekial Jackson vs. Zack Ryder

Jackson delivers an airplane-spinning side-slam, which looks fun, but Ryder fights back with a driving foot to Jackson’s head. The champ catches Ryder’s follow-up cross-body, starting instead the body slam barrage to set up the Torture Rack and the win.

Winner via submission: Ezekial Jackson

Backstage, Long is happily watching the outcome of the match in his office, when a mysterious, hidden saxophonist plays a tune for NXT vet Aksana to introduce herself to the GM. She gets Teddy Long’s private number and leaves him a little breathless.

Match #5 – Mark Henry vs. Vladimir Kozlov

Former unstoppable monster Kozlov joins fellow former unstoppable monster The Great Khali in the loser’s column after a World’s Strongest Slam.

Winner via pinfall: Mark Henry

Kozlov also joins Big Show and Kane in the Broken Ankle Club as Henry drops his frame on the chair wrapped around Kozlov’s leg. Sheamus chases him from the ring, and then, after the break, tells Todd Grisham that Henry is a beast for wanting to end his opponent’s careers. Jamie Noble is watching from somewhere, appreciating the irony.

Match #6 – JTG & The New Nexus (Michael McGillicutty & David Otunga) vs. Trent Barreta & Jimmy & Jey Uso

Someone tell the graphics team that “Uso’s” shouldn’t have an apostrophe. Jimmy opens the match trapped in the opponents’ corner for a lengthy time, before Barreta gets the big tag to virtually no reaction from the crowd. Things start falling apart as ringside fights break out while Barreta misses a moonsault, then McGillicutty and Otunga put him away with the old Demolition elbow finisher.

Winners via pinfall: JTG & The New Nexus

Backstage, Johnny Curtis announces that his debut is all set for next week. Elsewhere, Striker gets similarly uninteresting words from Christian about the No-Holds Barred stipulation, but at least R-Truth pops in to deliver some interesting babble.

Match #7 – Randy Orton & John Morrison vs. Christian & R-Truth

Orton gives Truth an opening beating, making sure that Christian is catching the show. Morrison and Truth end up in the ring together, and the former friends continue their angry feud as Morrison drives his knee into Truth’s head twice. Christian steps in to interfere, but Orton chases him out of the ring and into the crowd. Returning from the break, Truth smacks Morrison silly, tagging in Christian who continues the hurting with a neckbreaker, this time for Orton’s benefit.

Truth re-enters but suffers Morrison’s leaping side-slam, giving both teams a chance to tag and giving us a short-lived SummerSlam preview. All four wrestlers end up in the mix, but it ends with Orton dropping his leveraged-DDT on Christian. The RKO, though, goes to R-Truth, giving the champ a window to bring Orton down with the Kill Switch for the win.

Winners via pinfall: Christian & R-Truth

Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and would like to ridicule Mr. H for uttering the phrase “skinny fat ass” on Raw last week.