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Smackdown in Philadelphia







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Smackdown: Give and take
By DAVE HILLHOUSE -- SLAM! Wrestling


Remember the plan? Daniel Bryan is going to hold on to his Money in the Bank contract until Wrestlemania? Well, maybe it was all a swerve ... and maybe one good swerve deserves another. Smackdown is in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and there are definitely sharp curves ahead.

World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry doesn’t speed to the ring on the best of days, and tonight he inches gingerly down the ramp with the aid of a crutch. He delivers an ironic speech about how wrong it was of Big Show to deliberately injure him, and how he has not been medically cleared to compete tonight.

By comparison, Big Show practically sprints to the ring to share his thoughts. He has no sympathy for Henry, and agitates the champ until Henry fires back that he won’t get another title match. Big Show retorts with a knock-out punch, walking away leaving Henry face down and out of it.

Just when trainers were likely having a meeting backstage to determine how to get Henry out of the ring, the familiar strains of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries blasts the arena. Bryan rushes to the ring with an official, hands over the briefcase, turns Henry over like a beached whale, and pins him!

Your NEW World Heavyweight Championship: Daniel Bryan!

And yet, every party needs a pooper, and that’s why Teddy Long is next in the ring. He says that since Henry wasn’t medically cleared for competition, the match wasn’t official. Long returns the title to Henry and the briefcase to Bryan, but he also enters Bryan in a Fatal 4-Way match for tonight, with the winner to face Henry on a live Smackdown this coming Tuesday.

Match #1 – Justin Gabriel vs. Hunico

Hunico starts simply with headlocks and arm wringers, and a nice Samoan Drop. Gabriel weathers the storm and responds with a second-rope moonsault, but can’t execute a follow-up side-suplex off the top turnbuckle. Hunico knocks him down and finishes the match with his Senton Bomb.

Winner via pinfall: Hunico

Match #2 – Beth Phoenix & Natalya vs. AJ & Kaitlyn

Alicia Fox joins the commentary team for a re-match from last week when, to remind you, Kaitlyn was unimpressed with AJ’s performance. This week isn’t much better, as AJ is rag-dolled around by Natalya and submits to the Sharpshooter. Phoenix, for the record, never entered the match.

Winner via submission: Beth Phoenix & Natalya

Kaitlyn gives AJ a little grief and walks out on her, leaving Natalya the chance to pretzel AJ into that vicious Sharpshooter again. Fox enters the ring to AJ’s defense while Phoenix and Natalya walk away.

After the break, there’s a promo featuring someone burning Kane’s old mask. Hmmm. Next, Teddy Long is in his office, on the phone promoting the live Smackdown to be hosted by Mick Foley. He is rudely interrupted by Aksana, but just as they get to the topic of mistletoe, they are rudely interrupted by an angry Mark Henry. He gets angrier when Long tells him he’ll be defending his title in a steel cage next week.

Elsewhere, Sheamus finds Zack Ryder playing a video game (you can guess which one), and despite their differences in discussing recreational activities, they find common ground in wanting to take out Guerrero’s Guys.

Match #3 – Jack Swagger & Dolph Ziggler (w/ Vickie Guerrero) vs. Sheamus & Zack Ryder

Swagger hoists Sheamus up for a takedown with ease, but Sheamus ties Swagger up in the ropes and potatoes him with forearms. After the break, Swagger takes charge by hitting Sheamus high and low, but Sheamus blocks the Swagger Bomb and tags out.

Ryder launches his Broski Boot on Swagger, but Guerrero distracts the ref to allow a double-team on Ryder. Swagger and Ziggler use frequent tags to hold a lengthy advantage, but Swagger infuriates Ryder by hoisting him onto the turnbuckles and slapping him. Ryder retorts with a tornado DDT and tags in Sheamus for a house-cleaning. After Sheamus decimates the competition, Ryder gets in with a blind tag and beats Ziggler with the Rough Ryder.

Winners via pinfall: Sheamus & Zack Ryder

Backstage, Daniel Bryan is insensitively talking about his failed championship bid to AJ while she struggles with her back pain. After trading a little bad mouth with Wade Barrett as he’s passing by, Bryan gets a peck on the cheek from AJ.

Match #4 – Ted DiBiase vs. Heath Slater

DiBiase, looking like he’s coming a little late to the Movember party, gets a half-Punjabi, half-English message on the big screen from Jinder Mahal asing why he’s associating with the common people. Slater takes advantage by attacking DiBiase from behind – and soon afterwards he counters DiBiase’s sneaky running clothesline! Someone watched the tapes! Still, Slater can’t follow up and heads to Dream Street soon enough.

Winner via pinfall: Ted DiBiase

Backstage, Matt Striker gets words from Cody Rhodes about why he threw water in Booker T’s face on Raw. Rhodes simply says he can do anything he wants.

Match #5 – Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Wade Barrett – Fatal 4-Way to be #1 Contender

There’s a revolving door happening with some fighting in the ring, and some on the floor. Bryan takes the first lengthy leave of absence, rolling out to the floor after a double-team beatdown at the hands of Barrett and Orton. Orton suffers the same fate, but Bryan returns with a vengeance – although Rhodes and Barrett bring him down with a Doomsday Device. Barrett goes for the pin, but Rhodes breaks it up and throws his erstwhile partner into the ringpost.

Back from break, though, it’s everyone in the ring again as all but Rhodes are starting to show fatigue. After Bryan tosses Rhodes to the floor and dives out after him, Orton goes postal on Barrett, then launches Rhodes off the top rope with a superplex. Orton clears the ring of Barrett and Rhodes, drops Bryan with a leveraged DDT, and awaits a chance for an RKO. Barrett pulls Orton to the floor, though, and Rhodes scrambles in to cover Bryan. Mr. Money in the Bank turns the cover into a LeBell Lock and Rhodes taps out.

Winner via submission and #1 Contender: Daniel Bryan

Rhodes doesn’t take kindly to the ending, attacking Bryan from behind until Orton makes the save with an RKO. Orton leaves the ring and Bryan is left to celebrate his impending title match.

Dave Hillhouse really can’t tell how much of Booker T’s commentary is character, and how much is legitimate nonsense.