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Old 08-12-2011, 11:25 AM   #164 (permalink)
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Default Re: WWE: The Evolution Of Greed

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~Friday Night Smackdown~
March 9th, 2007
Wichita, Kansas



"...an eye for an eye... a streak for a streak."




We open cold to the arena. No opening video, no highlights of Saturday Night’s Main Event, no pyro. Just silence, apart from the general buzz of the crowd. The silence continues, until...

"WOOOOO..."

*ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA...*


The crowd goes wild as Ric Flair, rarely seen on Friday nights, makes his entrance. Flair, dressed in a sharp dark suit with a pink shirt on underneath, stops briefly under the Smackdown fist, letting out a big “Wooooo!” and soaking in the adulation of the fans, before he struts his way down the aisle...

Michael Cole: Ladies and gentlemen, this is Friday Night Smackdown. And that is ‘The Nature Boy’ Ric Flair! Hello everyone, I’m Michael Cole, alongside me are ‘JBL’ and Tazz, welcome to the show. There you see the legend, the sixteen time heavyweight champion, the incomparable Ric Flair!

Tazz: Man, what a treat it is to have ‘Naitch’ here on Friday nights! But he ain’t here for personal reasons, he’s here to call out Mr. Kennedy!

Michael Cole: It’s gonna be a big night here on Smackdown. Not only will we have this confrontation between Ric Flair and Mr. Kennedy, but there’s scheduled to be another Money in the Bank Qualifying Match tonight as Chris Benoit takes on Santino Marella. Matt Hardy is also here, he’ll take on Test, while Bryan Daneislon faces Chavo Guerrero and one half of the tag team champions Brian Kendrick goes up against Paul Burchill of The Bluebloods.

John Bradshaw Layfield: Never mind all that. Let’s talk about the highlight of the night, your truly, ‘The Wrestling Gawd’, the greatest broadcaster in sports entertainment history, yours truly, ‘JBL’ in the ring with ‘The Savage of Samoa’, the man who for my money is gonna beat The Undertaker and end the Wrestlemania streak, Umaga!

Tazz: Oh boy, I can’t wait for that. I hope ‘The Deadman’ pulls some of that magic out the playbook again and winds up in the ring. More than likely he’ll get his hands on you partner!

John Bradshaw Layfield: He better hope he don’t wind up in the ring with me, or he might wind up six feet under if I get my hands on ‘im!

Michael Cole: Well let’s set the scene here folks. It all started back at the Royal Rumble, where Flair eliminated Kennedy, only for Kennedy to return to the match and eliminate Flair. It escalated when Kennedy attacked Flair’s longtime friend Arn Anderson, only for Flair to retaliate as he gave the assist to Batista at No Way Out, costing Kennedy his chance at the World Heavyweight Championship. But last Saturday night in Madison Square Garden, it reached a whole new level as Kennedy cost Flair and Carlito the World Tag Team Championships.

John Bradshaw Layfield: And no more than Flair deserved in my opinion. He cost Kennedy at the Rumble, he cost him again at No Way Out, it was high time Kennedy got his own back.

Tazz: Just gonna ignore all the assaults Kennedy’s been responsible for are ya’? I mean Flair at the Rumble, Arn Anderson, Teddy Long? Kennedy’s done a lotta damage lately, he don’t deserve to be World Heavyweight Champion after the way he’s been actin’.

Flair clambers up the steel steps and then through the ropes, giving a quick wave to the crowd in appreciation for their support before he’s handed a microphone. The music dies, but as Flair stands in the middle of the ring, he has to wait for the chants of the crowd to die before he speaks. Flair grins, knowingly nodding his head as the crowd cheers again, before he burst out with…

Ric Flair: WOOOOO!!

"Woooo!"…

Ric Flair: Did somebody SAY… that ‘The Naitcha Boi’… was HERE tonight, in Wichita, Kansas?! WOOOOO!!

"Wooooo!"…

Ric Flair: Did somebody SAY… that the limousine ridin’, jet flyin’, kiss stealin’, wheelin' dealin' sunnova gun was HERE on Friday Night Smackdown?! WOOOOO!!

"Wooooo!"…

Ric Flair: And did somebody say that the SIX – TEEN – TIME World Heavyweight Champion was gonna call out that no good sunnova bitch Mr. Kennedy?

The crowd pops as Flair delivers the last comment with a serious intent…

Ric Flair: KENNEDY… you ain’t nothin’ but a punk as far as ‘ol Naitch’ is concerned. But there was a time Kennedy, that I actually respected you kid.

A few boos from the crowd, but Flair motions for calm…

Ric Flair: I may have respected ‘im, but I never liked ‘im. But when I looked at ‘im and saw how cocky he was, how confident, how arrogant he could be, and with the blonde hair, y’know, I gotta admit… I saw a lil’ of a younger Ric Flair in the guy. But there was one big difference between Kennedy and me… respect for this business.

Pop…

Ric Flair: You have NO RESPECT for anythin’ in this business Kennedy. You wanna be a star, you wanna be on top, you want the spotlight on you. There’s nothin’ wrong with that, ‘Naitch wants that spotlight just as much as you do. Maybe even more! Ya’ want success, that’s alright too. Nobody had more success than ‘The Nature Boy’ did. Ya’ wanted to win the Royal Rumble? Ric Flair gave one of the very best Royal Rumble performances in history. Simply put, Mr. Kennedy, you my friend… wanted to be ‘The Man’.

Another pop as Flair nods knowingly…

Ric Flair: But to be the man… you gotta beat the man!

Pop…

Ric Flair: And Kennedy, oh boy… you get it a helluva shot at the Rumble buddy. You beat ‘ol Naitch. Beat ‘im good. You took me outta the match, you kicked my ass all over ringside, you busted me open, you gave me one helluva beatin’! But you made one mistake my friend. You picked a fight… with me.

Flair stares intently into the hard corner…

Ric Flair: Not only that… but you then picked a fight with a fellow Horseman! And that brother… is unforgivable. And now it’s time for you to pay the price.

Pop…

Ric Flair: So KENNEDY… I want you to come out here, step in this ring… and show me what kinda man you really are.

The crowd buzzes in anticipation, although Kennedy makes them wait… and wait… until…

"KENNEDY…"

*TURN UP THE TREBLE…*


Finally Mr. Kennedy graces us with his presence. A strong chorus of boos greets Kennedy as he cockily makes his way down the aisle, a slightly confused look on his face as he goes…


Michael Cole: Well here he comes. Ric Flair wanted it, here comes the man who cost Flair the World Tag Team Championships last Saturday night. They’ve been goin’ back and forth for months now, but this is the first time we’ll see them face to face in this kinda situation.

John Bradshaw Layfield: He’s the fastest rising star in the WWE, the biggest can’t miss prospect in Smackdown history, a future legend of this industry… and that damn geriatric is callin’ him out?! Who the hell does Ric Flair think he is?!

Tazz: He thinks he’s a sixteen time world champion. Kennedy’s put Flair through a heck of a lot lately, it’s about time these two got in the ring, man to man.

In the ring, Kennedy heads for the corner and climbs to the second rope, taking a glance at Flair before he turns and shouts some abuse at the crowd. Dropping back down to the mat, Kennedy gives Flair a “What did you just say?” kinda look, before he shakes his head. The music dies down, and the pair stare at each other, fierce looks on both their faces…

Ric Flair: Lemme start by sayin’-

Kennedy points the palm of his hand to Flair’s face, prompting silence and confusion from ‘The Nature Boy’, but soon all becomes apparent… as Kennedy reaches to the rafter… and waits for his microphone to drop into his hands! The crowd respond with heat, while Flair laughs to himself, almost in disbelief at the arrogance of Kennedy…

Mr. Kennedy: Did I uh… did I hear your right? Did you just say… that you look at me and see a younger version of yourself?

Flair doesn’t respond, although Kennedy scratches his head in an exaggerated fashion…

Mr. Kennedy: You – you think I’m… like a younger version of you?

Kennedy laughs, shaking his head…

Mr. Kennedy: I know you’re getting’ old, I know you’re goin’ a little senile, I know I hit ya’ over the head pretty hard with that title belt last Saturday night… but are you out of your freakin’ mind?!

Kennedy again shakes his head…

Mr. Kennedy: Lemme promise you this Ric. I… am nothin’… like you.

Kennedy steps forward, aggressively pointing in Flair’s face…

Mr. Kennedy: ‘Cause you are everythin’ that’s wrong with this business!

Flair mouths “Oh really?”…

Mr. Kennedy: Yeah, yeah really. ‘Cause y’see, you are nothin’ more than some washed up has-been, tryin’ to hang on to what he used to have. Tryin’ to relive the glory years. And while you might think there’s nothin’ wrong with that, and these fans might cheer their little heads off for it, it does nothin’ but hold the next generation back. It does nothin’… but hold me back.

Heat…

Mr. Kennedy: You guys who overstay your welcome, you like to make your excuses. “Oh, I’m givin’ somethin’ back to the business”, well lemme tell ya’ brother, the damn business don’t want NOTHIN’ from ya’ anymore!

Flair rubs his chin as he soaks in Kennedy’s words…

Mr. Kennedy: You and these other has beens you call ‘legends’. They mean nothin’ to me anymore, ‘cause all they do is get in my way. Just like you got in my way at the Royal Rumble. Just like Arn Anderson got in my way. Hell, Teddy Long even got in my way. And what happened to all three of ya’? Huh, huh? I beat crap out o’ all of ya’! I put Arn Anderson in the hospital, I kicked Teddy Long’s ass so bad he ain’t been able to come back to work yet! After all that, after the beatin’ I gave you at the Rumble, you still wanna call me out, huh?

Kennedy looks at Flair quizzically…

Mr. Kennedy: You sure about that old man?

Kennedy leans in, deadly serious…

Mr. Kennedy: ‘Cause I’m warnin’ you… I didn’t even scratch the surface at the Rumble. You have made my life hell these last few months. Two times you cost me the chance to be World Heavyweight Champion. I was willin’ to wait for Wrestlemania… but I got no problem kickin’ your ass right now.

Kennedy then shrugs his shoulders, changing his expression as he backs away…

Mr. Kennedy: But if you wanna wait, I’m a nice guy. I’m willin’ to give you the chance to pack up your memories, take your respect, take your so called ‘legends’, take all that crap, and get outta my ring, and off of my show.

Flair stands firm, not budging…

Mr. Kennedy: Don’t play the hero here Ric. Don’t embarrass yourself again. You don’t belong here in this era. This is MY era. This is my time to shine, this is my moment. I don’t share the spotlight with anybody… especially not a relic like you.

Kennedy stares fiercely at Flair, a scowl on his face, but Flair just smiles to himself…

Ric Flair: Lemme tell ya’ somethin’ kid. I’m Ric Flair.

’Woooo’ from the crowd...

Ric Flair: I’ve been in this business longer than you’ve been born. You wanna ask me why I’m still here, after all these years, still steppin’ through those ropes, night after night? You wanna know why? Because I love what I do.

Nonchalantly, Kennedy scoffs, turning his head away in an ignorant show of disgust...

Ric Flair: Hey!

Kennedy turns back around... straight into a SLAP TO THE FACE! The crowd gasps as Kennedy clutches his face...

Ric Flair: Look at me when I’m talkin’ to ya’! I brought you out here, so now you’re gonna listen to what I gotta say! I... am Ric... FLAIR! I am a SIX – TEEN – TIME... WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT... WOOOO... CHAMPION!!

“Wooooo”...

Ric Flair: And the reason for that... what I owe everythin’ I got from this industry to... is the legends that paved the way for me.

Having gotten over the embarrassment of suffering a slap to the face, a seething Kennedy now listens intently...

Ric Flair: Lou Thesz, Verne Gagne, Ed Lewis, Gorgeous George, Buddy Rogers, Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, guys who paved the way for me! Every time I walked into an arena and saw them sittin’ there, every time I stepped through those ropes and saw one of them stood across from me, I paid my dues, and I gave each and every one of ‘em the respect they deserved.

Flair aggressively points at Kennedy…

Ric Flair: But you? You don’t got an ounce of respect in your whole body.

Mr. Kennedy: Ric, why you gotta-

Ric Flair: SHUT UP!!

The crowd is almost as stunned as Kennedy, whose jaw nearly hits the floor…

Ric Flair: I’m not done talkin’! You got NO RESPECT! Not for me, not for these fans, and not for this business! You have no idea how many punks have walked into this business and tried to make a name off ol’ Naitch’, no idea! And you got no idea how many times people have tried to force me into retirement. But I’m still HERE! I’m still stylin’ and – WOOOOO - profilin’, and I’ll be doin’ it ‘til the day I DIE!!

Pop…

Ric Flair: You walk into this company, and you expect everythin’ to be handed to ya’! Ya’ don’t wanna work for nothin’! I worked every day of my life to be where I am right now! The GREATEST of ‘em all! THE MAN! That’s who I am, ‘cause I earned this reputation! All you earned is the ass kickin’ of a LIFETIME from Ric – WOOOOO – Flair!

The crowd is loving how animated Flair is getting, and it only gets better as Flair takes of his suit jacket, slams it to the mat and then struts his way off the ropes to drop an elbow on the jacket…

Ric Flair: I came here TONIGHT ‘cause I’m callin’ you out! You wanna be the man? You wanna be a legend? I’ll give the biggest opportunity of a lifetime junior! It ain’t about bein’ a champion, it’s about bein’ the BEST! The VERY BEST! And until you beat the best, you ain’t worth JACK kiddo!

Flair’s eyes bulge as he continues to become animated…

Ric Flair: So how ‘bout it? You and the – WOOOOO - ‘THE NATURE BOY’, the GREATEST of all time, at the greatest show of all time! YOU… AND ME…. AT WRESTLEMANIA XXIII! How ‘bout it!?

The fans respond with a massive pop…

Ric Flair: I WANT IT! THESE PEOPLE WANT IT! Dammit…

Flair again comes off the ropes, this time dropping a knee on his jacket…

Ric Flair: THE WHOLE DAMN WORLD WANTS IT! SO LET’S GIVE IT TO ‘EM!

Flair takes the mic away from his face, shouting “C’mon!” as Kennedy ponders…

Mr. Kennedy: You want me at Wrestlemania XXIII?

Flair franticly nods his head, sweat flying everywhere…

Mr. Kennedy: You got me Ric!

A massive pop from the crowd, with Flair licking his lips at the thought of the match…

Mr. Kennedy: But I promise you this. I… WILL… end your career. I’ll be the one to finally put Ric Flair out to pasture. And maybe then… I’ll get the respect I deserve.

BOOM!

Out of nowhere Kennedy HITS FLAIR WITH HIS MICROPHONE!!

Flair crumples and hits the mat, with Kennedy pouncing, rolling Flair over to hammer him with right hands, as we see that Flair has already been busted open. Kennedy continues to rattle the fists off Flair’s forehead, before he gets back to his feet and once again grabs his microphone…


Mr. Kennedy: Or maybe… I’ll just end your damn career RIGHT NOW!

The crowd gasps as Kennedy starts wrapping the mic chord around his hand, a stark reminder of what he did to Teddy Long just two weeks ago. Kennedy lines Flair up, waiting for him to get back to his knees… to WRAP THE CHORD AROUND FLAIR’S THROAT!

The crowd boos furiously as Kennedy starts choking the life out of Ric Flair! Flair scrambles, arms flailing wildly, desperately looking for a way to escape… LOW BLOW!! Flair drills Kennedy with a nut show, causing the arrogant youngster to release his grip on the mic. Flair, blood running down his face, makes it back to his feet as Kennedy grabs at his crotch… and Flair starts landing rights and lefts to the face! Kennedy is reeling as Flair lays into him… until a big clothesline puts Kennedy over the top rope to the floor! The crowd is on there feet as Flair rips off his shirt, stood in a fighting stance, motioning, almost begging Kennedy for more!

Kennedy is furious on the outside, still suffering the pain in his groin, but he snarls and angrily stares into the ring, looking like he’s about to head back into the ring, until…

*HARD HITTIN’…*


The crowd groans as Smackdown’s Interim General Manager Jonathan Coachman barges out onto the stage…


Jonathan Coachman: Wait a minute! Hold on a damn second here! Stop this right now!

The crowd boos, with Kennedy looking almost glad of the interruption while Flair just looks like a man possessed…

Jonathan Coachman: Alright, you have your match at Wrestlemania, but that’s enough! You two aren’t gonna be brawlin’ all over my show! Mr. McMahon put names me Interim General Manager ‘cause he wants me to clean up Smackdown, and this kinda thing has to stop!

Heat…

Jonathan Coachman: Ric, you are a guest here tonight. I agreed to let you appear on Smackdown to talk things out with Mr. Kennedy, but I never signed up for blood-filled brawls! But since you seem so eager for a fight tonight, I’m gonna give you one. Tonight, it’s gonna be ‘The Nature Boy’ Ric Flair… one on one with the Number One Contender for the World Heavyweight Championship… ‘The Rated-R Superstar’… Edge!

The crowd pops for the announcement of a massive main event…

Jonathan Coachman: But you remember one thing, Ric. This is MY show now, so you’re gonna play by MY rules tonight. Clean yourself up, get outta my ring… and enjoy the show.

*HARD HITTIN’…*


And with one last smirk, ‘Coach’ turns and heads backstage, leaving Flair in the ring, still blood pouring down his face, while Kennedy is seething , his eyes locked on Flair as he backs up the aisle…


Michael Cole: God, can you believe the intensity of Ric Flair? ‘The Nature Boy’ just challenged Mr. Kennedy to a match at Wrestlemania XXIII, and Kennedy accepted!

Tazz: What a match that’s gonna be! Such a bitter rivalry, and it’s all gonna be settled in Detroit City!

John Bradshaw Layfield: Yeah but you heard what Kennedy said. He’s headin’ to Detroit to end Ric Flair’s career once and for all. He wants to go down in history as the guy that finally retired Ric Flair, and I think he’s gonna do it!

Michael Cole: And of course tonight, Flair takes on ‘The 2007 Royal Rumble Winner’ Edge. It’s Flair and Edge in our main event tonight! That, and a whole lot more when we return to Friday Night Smackdown!

*Commercial


*Video Package*

WRESTLEMANIA RECALL!

MARCH 3OTH, 2003
WRESTLEMANIA XIX


For the first time ever, two former champions of the amateur wrestling world would meet in the main event of Wrestlemania, with the WWE Championship on the line. Kurt Angle entered the match as the WWE Champion, but all the momentum was with the challenger Brock Lesnar after he won the Royal Rumble two months earlier. Angle and Lesnar battled back and forth, with Lesnar on several occasions trying for the F-5, only for Angle to counter out of it each time, including countering into an ankle lock. Lesnar escaped and finally did deliver that F-5, but instead of going for the cover, Lesnar went for what would prove to be the moment this match would be remembered for. At well over 300lbs, many were surprised when Lesnar climbed to the top rope... and the world was stunned as he then went for a shooting star press! Sadly, it never turned into quite the Wrestlemania moment Lesnar had hoped for as he landed on his head, giving him a concussion and damn near breaking his neck in the process. Lesnar sucked it up though, managing to his another F-5 that would ultimately get him the win, although both men looked groggy as they shook hands after the match in a great show of respect.

WRESTLEMANIA XXIII - 23 DAYS AND COUNTING


*End Video Package*


Back into the arena to hear…

*RAGE…*


A good amount of cheers as the Number One Contender for the Cruiserweight Championship Bryan Danielson enters the arena. Sporting a “Tap Or Snap?” t-shirt and a determined look on his face, Bryan slaps the odd hand as he makes his way towards the ring…


Michael Cole: What a great performance it was from this man, Bryan Danielson, at Saturday Night’s Main Event. It was supposed to be a Four Way Elimination Match, but after Shannon Moore was eliminated, it quickly turned into a handicap match.

Tazz: Right, I mean Chavo Guerrero and Joey Mercury, they started workin’ together to try and get Bryan outta the match. But credit to Danielson, he hung in there and now he’s goin’ to Wrestlemania baby!

John Bradshaw Layfield: I gotta admit, I may not like this kid, I might not believe the hype you two have built up around ‘im, but last Saturday night was very impressive. I still don’t think there’s a hope in hell he’s gonna beat Gregory Helms, but I was impressed.

*CHAVITO ARDIENTE…*


Pretty solid heat for the arrival of Chavo Guerrero, the man who Danielson saw off to finally win the match last Saturday. Chavo’s aunt Vickie Guerrero is by his side, offering words of encouragement as the pair head for the ring…


Michael Cole: Well Chavo may have missed out on the chance to go to Wrestlemania, but tonight’s about perhaps gettin’ a little bit of revenge. A chance for Chavo to prove a point tonight.

John Bradshaw Layfield: Chavo is a Guerrero! He don’t have to prove anythin’, the name alone speaks of this guys credentials. But at the same time, he’s a proud Guerrero, and losin’ to a geek like this guy Danielson had to hurt ‘im. Chavo’s here to just remind everybody of just how good he can be.

Tazz: Nobody’s gonna doubt Chavo’s credentials, but Bryan Danielson has been on a tear here since he got to the WWE. I just don’t think guys like Chavo and Joey Mercury can figure this guy out. And if Gregory Helms can’t figure ‘im out, we’re gonna have a new Cruiserweight Championship in about a month’s time.

Match 1:
Chavo Guerrero
w/ Vickie Guerrero vs. Bryan Danielson

An aggressive opening tie up leads to Danielson quickly twisting into a hammerlock, but Chavo breaks free of this just as fast with an elbow to the side of the head. Quickening the pace, Chavo comes off the ropes, straight into an armdrag from AmDrag. Both men are back up, and then right back down from another armdrag, but once more both men spring back to their feet. Chavo misses wildly with a right hand, leading to a backslide from Danielson... Chavo kicks out at 2, but Danielson runs him into the ropes for a rollup... Chavo hangs, and when Bryan rolls back to his feet, Chavo is already charging... textbook dropkick brings the sequence to an end! Frustrated, Chavo rolls to the outside, Vickie quickly over to speak with her nephew. Vickie tries to offer her encouragement, but Bryan doesn’t want to wait as he comes off the opposite ropes... suicide dive! Vickie screams and runs for safety as Danielson flies through the ropes, taking Chavo down and then landing a string of right hands on the floor.

Chavo gets tossed back into the ring for another near fall, before Bryan starts unloading with those educated feet of his. Forearms to the side of the head follow, before Bryan goes for the Irish whip... but Chavo reverses, only to miss with a clothesline... running leg lariat puts Chavo down! Chavo shakes his head as he sits up, but a trio of kicks land to the base of the spine, causing Chavo to cry out in pain. Guerrero heads for the corner to try escape the punishment, but the boots just keep on landing from Bryan, this time to the midsection and head. Dazed, Chavo is sent for the ride to the opposite corner, but as Danielson races in, Chavo manages to get a boot up... and follow with a stiff clothesline! Chavo hooks the leg, but only manages a 2 count, but now it’s Guerrero who starts to lay in with the stiff kicks and stomps to the body.

Looking to string some offence together, Chavo starts with a textbook Saito suplex for another near fall, before he synchs Bryan from behind, unloading with uppercuts to the side of the face. This is then transitioned into a high hammerlock as Chavo looks to target the arm. Chavo wrenches and bends the wrist behind Danielson’s head, every now and then applying extra pressure. Danielson struggles back to his feet, drilling elbows that break the hold, but Chavo instantly drives a knee to the midsection... then hooks Bryan up... sitout inverted suplex slam! Chavo plants Danielson, rolls him over into the cover... 1... 2... Danielson rolls a shoulder. Chavo now strings together a series of offense, as uppercuts land to the face, then the arm is targeted again as Bryan’s arm is wrapped around the top rope, Chavo driving his foot into the shoulder as he leans back, trying to yank the arm out of its socket. More work is applied to the arm, as a shoulderbreaker gets Chavo a 2 count, before it’s nothing but viciousness as Danielson is sent shoulder first into the ringpost.

More damage to the shoulder as elbows land on top of it, before Chavo takes Danielson up for one suplex... and a second... a third to complete the Three Amigos, much to the displeasure of the crowd. Chavo and Vickie revel in the heat the move garners, and after getting another near fall, he works into armbar, trying to hyper extend the left arm of Bryan. Danielson pumps his fist, trying to get the crowd into it, trying to fight the pain, but Chavo continues to wrench the move on tight. Danielson is in the hold for a good while, but eventually he manages to work back to his knees... and then flips over, with Chavo’s shoulders on the mat... 1... 2... Chavo kicks out, releasing the hold. Bryan tries to shake some life back into his left arm, but as Chavo charges in, he’s able to use his feet to land more kicks to the body. Bryan goes for the Irish whip, but Chavo reverses... and misses a right hand... flying forearm from Danielson! Chavo scrambles for the corner, but Bryan stays on hi, landing kicks to the chest before sending Chavo across... again Chavo reverses, although Bryan runs the ropes, backflips off the top... and then nails Chavo with a dropkick against the turnbuckle! Guerrero is stunned, but it’s about to get worse as Bryan muscles him into a seated position in the corner... and then joins him up top... TOP ROPE HURRICANRANA! Bryan sends Chavo flying, hooks the leg... 1... 2... no! Chavo kicks out!

Vickie breathes a huge sigh of relief as Chavo stays alive, but Danielson stays on him, again going to work with kicks to the chest... but he misses with one to the head, allowing Chavo to push Bryan off the ropes... where Vickie grabs his ankle! Danielson angrily stops, glaring at Vickie, before he finally turns and races at Chavo... straight into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker! Chavo plants Bryan, hooks the leg... 1... 2... NO! Danielson rolls a shoulder, Chavo can’t believe it! With Danielson still down, Chavo looks towards the corner, although he takes his time as he climbs to the top rope. Once there, Chavo again brings back memories of his Uncle Eddie as he shakes his chest to more boos, before he flies... FROG SPLASH... NO! Chavo takes too long and eats nothing but mat! Danielson now sees a chance to attack, drilling Chavo with kicks to the head as he gets back to his knees, before Danielson comes off the ropes... low angle dropkick! Daneislon nearly takes Chavo’s head off, but now it’s he who heads to the top rope... MISSILE DROPKICK CONNECTS! 1... 2... Chavo rolls a shoulder!

Both men look tried as Bryan drags Chavo up, driving a pair of uppercuts to the face before he goes for the Irish whip to the corner... Chavo counters, and then follows in... but Bryan uses the ropes to elevated himself over... no! Chavo catches him on his shoulders, working Danielson into position... DEATH VALLEY DRIVER! Out of nowhere Guerrero plants Bryan, and he doesn’t even bother to hook the leg... 1... 2... BRYAN GETS A FOOT ON THE ROPE! Chavo can’t believe it, slamming his hands off the mat in a fit of rage, while ‘JBL’ screams down his headset “What the hell’s it gonna take to put this guy away?!”, a sentiment shared by both Guerrero’s. Chavo gets in the referee’s face, demanding that it was 3, but as he’s told no, Chavo turns back to Bryan, dragging him to his feet... out of nowhere Danielson grabs Chavo’s hand, dragging him down to the mat... and working Chavo into... the LEBELL LOCK!! Danielson locks on his deadly submission move, but Chavo desperately tries to fight it, scratching, clawing for the ropes... but he has no option but to tap out! Chavo taps!!

Winner: Bryan Danielson @ 07.24


Vickie lets out a scream of frustration as Danielson puts in yet another impressive performance, building more momentum ahead of Wrestlemania. Danielson quickly gets back on his feet, selling the effects of the match put getting a rousing cheer as his hand is raised in victory. Bryan takes a few deep breaths before he exits the ring, with the commentary team putting over how much of a threat he is to Gregory Helms as we head off for a commercial.

*Commercial*


And when we return, Josh Matthews is standing by…


Josh Matthews: Welcome back to Friday Night Smackdown everybody. And please welcome my guest at this time, he is the Cruiserweight Champion… Gregory Helms.

Boos as the Cruiserweight Champion Gregory Helms steps into the frame, a angry scowl on his face. Helms is dressed in street clothes, not ready to compete tonight, while the Cruiserweight Title is strapped around his shoulder…

Josh Matthews: And Gregory, it was Saturday Night’s Main Event that we found out that at Wrestlemania it will be you defending your Cruiserweight Championship against Bryan Danielson. After yet another impressive display from the challenger earlier this evening, I was just wondering what your thoughts were regarding the challenger?

Helms now turns and scowls as Matthews…

Gregory Helms: Impressive? You think that was impressive? Tell me, how impressed were you with Bryan Danielson when he was lyin’ flat out on the mat last Saturday night after I stepped into the ring wit’ ‘im. Huh? How impressed were you then?

Matthews sheepishly looks at the ground, offering no response…

Gregory Helms: That’s what I thought. Y’see Bryan Danielson looks great when he’s takin’ on guys like Chavo Guerrero, Joey Mercury and Shannon Moore. But any time he’s ever stepped in the ring wit’ me, I’ve made him look like the piece o’ trash that he is.

Helms now turns to the camera…


Gregory Helms: He got the big introduction, he got the big welcome, but when it came down to it at No Way Out, he just didn’t have what it takes to become a champion. I ain’t worried about Bryan Danielson. All the hype, all the wins over guys who ain’t fit to lace my boots, but when it really matters, he just ain’t in my league.

Helms smirks with confidence…


Gregory Helms: I ain’t no Mexican tryin’ to live up to the family name, I ain’t no Hollywood pretty boy, and I ain’t some punk with a nose ring and a mohawk. I’m Gregory Helms, I am the Cruiserweight Champion, and at Wrestlemania I’m gonna prove to you, to Bryan Danielson and to the world, like I proved time and time again, that I am

Helms glances down at his title, then back into the camera…

Gregory Helms: The best damn cruiserweight in the world today.

And with one last smirk at the camera, and then at Josh, Helms turns and walks out of the shot, the camera lingering on Josh for a few seconds before we head elsewhere.

To the office of the Interim General Manager Jonathan Coachman, who stands in the middle of his room, talking to… Layla? It’s a rare appearance for the seldom seen 2006 Diva Search Winner, although as we enter the room she and ‘Coach’ appear to be already in conversation…


Jonathan Coachman: …y’know? I mean if Mr. McMahon can have a very beautiful assistant in Brooke Adams, then I figured I should have one too. And I can’t think of anybody better than you Layla.

Layla gives off a sultry laugh as she starts to play with Coachman’s suit jacket…

Layla: Well Mr. Coachman, as fun as that sounds, I actually wanted to talk to you about some other business today. Do you… think you have time to squeeze me in?

Layla draws herself closer, prompting Coachman’s eyes to drift down into her cleavage…

Jonathan Coachman: Oh I can always make time for you Layla. What’s on your mind?

Layla: Well y’see, lately I’ve been thinking of the best way to utilize my… talents… here on Smackdown. And I’ve been working on putting together a little tag team, that I’d love to bring here to Smackdown. Of course, I’ve had offers from Monday Night Raw, but I…

Layla playfully runs a finger down the bridge of Coachman’s nose…

Layla: Thought of you first ‘Coach’. And I was just wondering, if you could maybe give them Smackdown contracts. What d’ya think?

‘Coach’ stumbles for words like a virgin in a brothel, before he shakes his head and manages to pull himself together…

Jonathan Coachman: Absolutely! I’ll have the contracts drawn up right away!

Layla smiles seductively…


Jonathan Coachman: But uh, while you’re here, perhaps we can discuss something other than business. I mean, all work and no play…

’Coach’ slowly leans in, drawing an awkward, almost panicky look from Layla… until there’s a knock at the door. Layla looks relieved, turning her head towards the door, while Coach mutter under his breath…


Jonathan Coachman: God… come in!

The door swings open, and in walks The Full Blooded Italians, lead of course by their ‘Don’ Santino Marella. Marella is accompanied as always by Trinity, Big Vito, Nunzio and Tony Mamaluke, the men all dressed in their 30’s styled suits with fedora hats…


Santino Marella: Excuse-ah me! I hope-ah we are not-ah interrupting anything?

Layla: No! No, absolutely not. We were just finished. Thank you so much ‘Coach’, I’ll see you next week!

Layla quickly scrambles from the room, leaving ‘Coach’ clutching at air as he watches her leave…

Jonathan Coachman: Alright Santino, this better be good!

Santino Marella: Si! Mr. Coachman, I have-ah de’ business proposition for-ah you!

Jonathan Coachman: Go on.

Santino Marella: Well, it-ah comes to my attention that tonight I have-ah my Money in the Bank qualifying match with-ah Chris BonneNuit, si?

Initially ‘Coach’ looks confused, but he soon understands…


Jonathan Coachman: Oh! Oh Benoit! Chris Benoit! Yes, that’s right. Your qualifying match tonight is with Chris Benoit.

Santino Marella: Si. But you see Mr. Coachman, Santino doesn’t-ah think this is-ah very fair. After all, I am new to these-ah parts. Chris BonneNuit is a former World Heavyweight Champion. It wouldn’t be right to do-ah this match.

Jonathan Coachman: So uh… what do you propose?

Santino smiles to himself, snapping his fingers, which prompts Nunzio to reach into his jacket pocket, pulling out a brown envelope that he passes to Mamaluke…

Santino Marella: Mr. Coachman, we are-ah both the business men. So…

Who then passes it to Vito…

Santino Marella: I propose that we…

Who then passes it to Trinity…

Santino Marella: Even up-ah the odds, shall we say?

Who seductively places it in the hands of ‘Coach’. Coachman opens the envelope, and his eyes nearly bulge out of his head, before he clears his throat, glances over both shoulders to see if anyone is watching (but forgetting about the camera, obviously) and then slips the envelope into the inside pocket of his suit…

Jonathan Coachman: I’m sure we can come to some kind of arrangement. Please… take a seat.

it’s all smiles as ‘Coach’ ushers Santino and Trinity towards the leather couches, before ‘Coach’ takes one last nervous look around and we head back into the arena…

To hear…

*SLICED BREAD…*


The crowd gives a great response for the WWE Tag Team Champions The Hooligans as they race out from the back, firing up the audience. Although it’s only Brian Kendrick who is competing tonight, he’s still accompanied by Paul London, although London hangs back and walks to the ring with Ashley Massaro, allowing Kendrick to sprint to the ring by himself…


Michael Cole: What on earth was that all about?

Tazz: I think our new Interim General Manager just took a bribe from The Full Blooded Italians! So much for ‘im bein’ here to clean up Smackdown.

John Bradshaw Layfield: Now wait a damn minute! You don’t know that! You have no idea what was in that envelope or what’s gonna happen tonight. That’s slander!

Tazz: Are you kiddin’ me!?

Michael Cole; Alright, alright. Let’s not start that again. Right now, here come the WWE Tag Team Champions, although this is scheduled to only be a singles match, and it’s Brian Kendrick who’ll represent the champions.

Tazz: Yeah and the champs gotta be feelin’ pretty confident right now after that big victory over La Resistance last week to finally put that feud to bed.

John Bradshaw Layfield: They got lucky. But luck ain’t gonna help Kendrick tonight, not after Paul Burchill gets his hands on ‘im.

*VILLIAN…*


Some real solid heat as The Bluebloods stride towards the ring. Dave Taylor leads the way down the aisle, while Paul Burchill speaks straight into the ear of the always menacing Paul Burchill, with Burchill confidently nodding along to every word…


Michael Cole: What an impact this man Paul Burchill has made on The Bluebloods. London and Kendrick really had Regal and Taylor’s number, but since Burchill has arrived on the scene, it’s been hard goin’ for the champions.

John Bradshaw Layfield: That’s ‘cause Burchill is a real difference maker. You’ve got the technique and the brawling of Regal, the veteran savvy of Taylor, and now you’ve got the brute strength of Burchill. These three could possibly be the most complete unit in the WWE today.

Tazz: But the one advantage London and Kendrick have over any team they face is speed. And Kendrick better use that tonight or we could be lookin’ at another Paul Burchill victory…

Match 2:
WWE Tag Team Champion Brian Kendrick w/ Paul London and Ashley Massaro vs. Paul Burchill w/ William Regal and Dave Taylor

As the bell rings, both men stride towards each other, the difference in size between the two glaring. Burchill moves in to try grab hold of Kendrick, but Brian slips underneath, quickly back on his feet to tag Burchill with kick after kick to the thigh. Burchill backs away, but then charges in, but once again Kendrick avoids it... and then catches Burchill with an armdrag. Another armdrag puts Burchill back down again, before Kendrick grabs the arm and hits a legdrop across it. Looking to quicken the pace, Kendrick comes off the ropes, only for Burchill to bowl him over with a shoulderblock. Burchill aggressively yanks Kendrick up and starts drilling his knee into the midsection, backing Kendrick into the ropes. An Irish whip sends Kendrick across, but Burchill lowers his head... sunset flip... 1... 2... Burchill kicks out, but Kendrick is back on his feet... jumping heel kick knocks Burchill through the ropes to the outside! Burchill takes a hard landing, but Regal and Taylor are quickly over to help him back to his feet... but they don’t see Kendrick climb to the top rope... moonsault takes down all three!! The crowd pops bigtime as Kendrick takes a huge risk, but it pays off as he rolls Burchill back into the ring for a near fall.

Burchill makes it back to his knees, but Kendrick tags him with kicks to the side of the head, before he goes for an Irish whip to the corner... but Burchill reverses, only for Kendrick to jump to the second rope... and then jump at Burchill... springboard headscissors takedown! Burchill is staggered, stumbling to the ropes, but Kendrick races off the opposite side... flying crossbody... but Burchill catches him... fallaway slam! Burchill sends Kendrick flying, the momentum of the move seeing him bounce and roll under the bottom rope to the outside. In the ring, Burchill heads towards London, trying to pick a fight with him. This draws the attention of the referee, allowing Regal and Taylor to take advantage, hammer Kendrick with a flurry of boots and stomps. Taylor gets Kendrick up... and drives him spine first into the barricade! Regal then grabs Kendrick and aggressively yanks him back into the ring, with Burchill quick to lay in with more boots to the small of the back.

Burchill now targets the spine, dropping knees, forearms and right hands to Kendrick’s back, before he uses brute strength to shove Kendrick into the corner. Burchill charges, but Kendrick gets a boot up. Again Burchill charges, again Kendrick manages to get the boot into the face, and this time he comes out of the corner... into a massive clothesline! Burchill nearly takes Kendrick’s head off, hooking the leg... 1... 2... Kendrick kicks out. With Kendrick down near the corner, Burchill slides under the bottom rope, and pulls Kendrick spine first against the ringpost, applying pressure to Kendrick’s chin and foot as he pushes off against the post... applying all kinds of pressure to Kendrick’s spine! Kendrick cries in pain, but Burchill takes every second of the 5 count before he finally lets go, the camera close enough to hear Regal say “That’s it, punish ‘im!” as Burchill slides back into the ring.

A backbreaker, a diving knee drop and a vertical suplex all add damage to the back, before Burchill gets a near fall from a snap overhead belly-to-belly. Frustrated, Burchill synchs on a bodyscissors, using his legs to squeeze and apply pressure to the lower back. Kendrick tries to pry himself free, but Burchill doesn’t budge, keeping his legs wrapped tight. It takes a flurry of elbows to the face to finally free Kendrick, but as he stumbles back to his feet Burchill simply drills a knee to the back. Burchill fires Kendrick to the corner, but he once again eats a boot to the face... and Kendrick comes out of the corner with a tornado DDT! Kendrick hits the move out of desperation, as now both men are down. Both men take their time making it back up, and when Burchill makes the first move Kendrick beats him to the punch, unloading with forearms to the head before he goes for the Irish whip to the corner... Burchill reverses and charges in... but runs straight into the turnbuckle as Kendrick slides through the ropes! Burchill stumbles away while Kendrick stands on the apron... and slings up... springboard dropkick! Kendrick looks to build some momentum, but Dave Taylor quickly jumps on the apron... running forearm sends Taylor back down, but now Burchill is behind Kendrick... side suplex... Kendrick lands on his feet behind him... kick to the midsection... SLICED BREAD... NO! Burchill counters, pushing Kendrick off of him... flying over the top ropes... and landing on Regal and Taylor!

The two Bluebloods on the outside are in convenient position as Kendrick flies through the air, but as the champion picks himself up, Regal gets in his face... Kendrick rocks him with a forearm... and then one for Taylor! Kendrick jumps back onto the apron, at the same times as London runs the apron too... crossbody to Regal and Taylor... but they catch him... and drill London spine first into the ringpost! London tastes the cold steel, but as this is going on, Kendrick sticks his head through the ropes, driving his shoulder into Burchill’s midsection. He then slings up to the top rope... springboard hurricanrana... but Burchill shows great strength to block the move, pulling Kendrick back up... to then fall backwards... letting Kendrick smack face first off the top turnbuckle! Kendrick is on dream street as he stumbles backwards from the corner... JUMPING NECKBREAKER! Burchill plants Kendrick, and aggressively goes for the cover, driving his forearm into the face as the referee counts 1... 2... 3.

Winner: Paul Burchill @ 06.49

Yet another impressive victory for Paul Burchill, as despite the shenanigans at ringside, it was a perfectly clean win. Burchill aggressively pushes himself off of Kendrick, getting back to his feet, before he’s joined in the ring by Regal and Taylor, who raise Burchill’s hand high in the air. London is down on the outside being tended to by Ashley, and with Kendrick down in the ring, it’s The Blueblood who stand tall after once again laying out the tag team champion.

*Commercial*


And we return to see Kristal Marshall is ready for an interview...


Kristal Marshall: Ladies and gentlemen, my guest at this time… ‘The Rated-R Superstar’… Edge.

Big time heat as Edge enters the scene, an arrogant smirk etched on his face…

Kristal Marshall: Well Edge, it’s official. At Wrestlemania XXIII, it’s gonna be you and Batista one on one for the World Heavyweight Championship. What are your thoughts now that you exactly what you’ll face in Detroit? And also, what are your thoughts on your match with Ric Flair tonight?

Edge ponders, rubbing his chin…

Edge: My thoughts? My thoughts are pretty much the same as they’ve always been. For the moment I decided that I was gonna challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship, I’ve always had the mindset that I will become champion. The fact that it’s Batista doesn’t really matter to me. If could have been Batista, it could’ve been Mr. Kennedy, hell, it could’ve been anybody. I really don’t care anymore who I face and who I beat. But I will become World Heavyweight Champion.

Edge ponders again…

Edge: As for Ric Flair, I’ve beat his wrinkled ass enough times in the past to know he’s not a threat to me. I mean, I appreciate Jonathan Coachman givin’ me a little warm up match, but I really don’t need it. I think I showed with my performance at Saturday Night’s Main Event that I’m at the top of my game right now. Mr. Kennedy didn’t do himself any favours with his attitude durin’ out tag team match that night, but I hope he paid attention to how a real champion gets things done. And I hope he’s payin’ attention tonight too. Maybe he can pick up a few pointers ahead of his match at Wrestlemania.

Edge looks like he’s had enough and is about to leave, only for Kristal to carry on…

Kristal Marshall: Well Edge, speaking of Saturday Night’s Main Event, a lot of people have found it rather convenient that you and Batista never actually came into physical contact with each other. There’s a lot of whispers goin’ around backstage that when ‘The Animal’ said you were scared of him… he was right.

Edge angrily turns and looks at Kristal, intimidating her…


Edge: What did you say? Huh!? You think I’m scared?! HUH!? You think me, Edge, is scared of Batista!?

Kristal cowers in fear, barely able to keep the microphone in position…

Edge: WRONG! I’m not scared of anybody! If anythin’, Batista oughta be scared of ME! ‘Cause he has no idea what I can be capable of. I can strike at a seconds notice, and that’s all it’s gonna take at Wrestlemania for me to become the new World Heavyweight Champion. One spear, and it’s all over. Infact… I’m gonna prove that tonight against Ric Flair. So Dave, I hope you’re watchin’ tonight, ‘cause I intend on makin’ an example of your mentor. And I’m gonna you just a taste of what lies in-store for you at Wrestlemania.

Edge has regained his composure as he looks deep into the camera…

Edge: This year Wrestlemania goes Rated-R! And that means you’re in your title reign Dave, is about to come to an end. And there’s not a damn thing you can do about it!

Edge turns and snaps one last glare at Kristal before he leaves, the interview still shaking with fear as we fade into a video…


*Video Package*

We open to a pitch black screen, with the faint sound of a revving motor engine slowly but surely getting louder...

Narrator: The road may be long...

Slowly on the horizon we see a red convertible driving over a hill, heading towards a sunset which lights the screen...

Narrator: The journey may be treacherous...

The revs of the engine increase and get louder, with the camera closing in on shots of the side of the car...

Narrator: But you'll love every second of it!

We now skim along the rear of the car, the sun glistening on the chrome duel exhaust...

Narrator: So strap yourself in...

The car now speeds past a road sign that reads "8 MILE ROAD"...

Narrator: And get ready!

From behind we see an image of the Detroit skyline, with our car heading down a straight road towards it...

Narrator: 20 years on, Wrestlemania returns to Detroit, Michigan!

More fast paced shots of the car racing through the streets of Detroit...

Narrator: And it's going to be...

The car suddenly crashes into the screen, with the grill of the car having the official Wrestlemania 23 logo and tagline printed on it...

Narrator: The ride of your life!



"WWE WRESTLEMANIA XXIII - APRIL 1ST - LIVE ON PAY-PER-VIEW!"

*End Video Package*


After the video, we then head to the locker rooms, the scene opening on a pair of black wrestling boots on the floor. A pair of hands reaches down to tie the laces, with the camera panning up to reveal the boots belong to none other than Ric Flair. ‘The Nature Boy’ laces up his boots tight, with the camera showing us that he has a bandage across the cut on his forehead from earlier in the evening. A shadow is soon cast over him though, but as Flair looks up, it’s all smiles as we see the World Heavyweight Champion Batista standing over him…

Ric Flair: Hey! Big Dave! How ya’ doin’ champ?

The two share a handshake that quickly turns into a hug…


Batista: I’m good, I’m good. How you doin’? How’s the head?

Ric Flair: Don’t worry about that man, it’s fine. Nothin’ but a scratch. Hey, nice job Saturday night man. You really taught that punk Kennedy a thing or two. Just like I’m gonna do at Wrestlemania.

Batista smiles and nods his head in agreement…

Batista: Yeah it was a good night. Matt Hardy did a great job as my partner too.

A quick pop from inside the arena as Batista puts Hardy over…

Batista: But listen, about tonight. I know Edge and Kennedy aren’t exactly friends anymore after Edge walked out on the match Saturday night, but I got a feelin’ they’re gonna try somethin’ tonight. I ain’t got a match tonight, so I really think I oughta be there in your corner.

Flair smiles appreciatively…


Ric Flair: Listen big guy. You got your own stuff to deal with right now. You don’t need to worry about ol’ Naitch, I’ll be fine.

Batista flares his nostrils, not sure if Flair’s doing the right thing…

Ric Flair: Hey, don’t worry about it. I’ll handle it. If Kennedy wants to try somethin’, then that’s fine with me. ‘Cause I can’t wait to get my hands on ‘im again.

This time Batista smiles and nods his head…


Batista: Alright, good luck tonight. Let’s see some that old Flair magic tonight.

Once again the pair shake hands…


Ric Flair: You got it big guy. Now get outta here! Enjoy that night off.

Batista turns and heads for the exit, leaving Flair behind to finish his preparations as we head back into the arena for…

"OH YEAH..."

*LIVE FOR THE MOMENT...*


A great ovation as Matt Hardy bounces out into the arena, instantly pumping out the crowd. Hardy stops under the Smackdown fist to flash the ‘Version-1’ sign before he heads for the ring, slapping every hand he can as he goes…


Michael Cole: Here comes the man who will challenge the United States Champion Finlay at Wrestlemania. Matt Hardy has always been known as a tag team specialist, always been known as a man who kinda hung around the lower reaches of the card. But 2007 has seen a more focused, a more determined Hardy, capable of takin’ it to the next level.

Tazz: Oh absolutely. Matt Hardy is a changed man as of late, he’s looking to push his career up a notch. He had a good showin’ durin’ the Royal Rumble, he has a great night at No Way Out, followed it up with another good performance last Saturday night. This guy’s got all kinds of momentum headin’ into Wrestlemania.

John Bradshaw Layfield: Yeah but the big question is can he cut it with the big boys? Can he take that next step. I’ve yet to be convinced.

*THIS IS A TEST (EXTREME REMIX)...*


Boos as Test makes his first appearance in a while, but he still manages to draw some decent heat for himself as he snarls and throws trash talk at the ringside fans…


Michael Cole: When Test is on his game, he can be a very dangerous competitor. He’s another guy who had a strong start to 2007, but consecutive defeats to Chris Benoit and then Batista got Test off track. He’ll look to get back to winnin’ ways tonight.

John Bradshaw Layfield: He’s a big powerhouse, a guy who can do some real damage once he gets goin’. This is a teal test for Matt Hardy tonight.

Tazz: Yeah nice pun man. Let’s hope this match is better than those jokes o' yours...

Match 3:
Matt Hardy
vs. Test

Hardy looks confident as the two tie up, and we quickly takes Test down with a headlock takedown. Hardy wrenches on a grounded chinlock, but Test quickly muscles his way back up, pushing Matt off the ropes… and then running him over with a shoulderblock. Test quickens the pace by coming off the ropes, but Hardy lays down to avoid him… then catches Test with a hiptoss as he comes back across. Matt quickly comes off the ropes for a snap legdrop, getting the first near fall of the match, causing a flustered Test to head for the corner and call for time as he tries to regroup. Hardy obliges, giving Test plenty of space to come out of the corner, the two once again tying up. This time it’s Test who works the standing side headlock, but Hardy is able to shove Test into the ropes… who looks for the running big boot… baseball slide from Hardy avoids it… and then he takes Test down with a Russian legsweep for another near fall. Test angrily rolls from the ring, frustrated at how the early exchanges have gone, so much so that he kicks out at the steel steps. Matt is willing to wait though, as he grabs the top rope… plancha onto Test! Hardy flies through the air, getting the crowd fired up again as he takes Test down.

Hardy takes the fight to Test on the outside, smashing him face first off the announce desk. However, when Hardy moves to get Test back inside, Test out of sheer desperation drives Matt spine first into the side of the ring, allowing him a chance to recover as Hardy slumps to the floor. A few clubbing forearms connect with the back, before Test rolls Hardy back into the ring. A hard scoop slam puts Hardy down, with a big elbow dropped across the throat getting Test a 2 count. Looking to do further damage, Test sends Matt to the corner with a hard Irish whip, but he charges right into a boot to the face. Hardy then springs to the second rope… double axe handle! Hardy takes Test down, hooks the leg… 1… 2… Test kicks out. Favouring his back slightly, Matt pulls Test up, unloading with right hands, before he sends Test to the corner. Matt follows in… clothesline… and then the bulldog… but Test pushes him off, into the ropes… and then running straight into a massive boot to the face! Test damn near takes Matt’s head off, and he drops into the cover… 1… 2… Hardy rolls a shoulder. It’s at this stage of the match that we quickly cut backstage to see the United States Champion Finlay stood infront of a TV set, watching the match from the interview area, his title across his shoulder as he sternly watches Hardy in action.

‘The Impact Player’ now mounts Hardy, hammering him with well placed right hands to the top of the forehead. Hardy crawls for the ropes, where Test uses his weight to choke Matt against the middle rope, the ref berating Test for taking so long to break the choke. Leaving Matt in place, Test comes off the opposite ropes… and again drives all his weight across Matt’s back, choking him once more. Hardy coughs and splutters, barely kicking out of Test’s pinfall attempt. More fists to the face land, before Matt is sent to the corner… no, Hardy reverses and follows in… but Test avoids the contact, letting Matt hit the corner… and then he flattens Hardy with a falling clothesline! Here’s the cover, 1… 2… Matt rolls a shoulder, much to Test’s annoyance. Test now looks for a few power moves to try soften Matt up, connecting on a backbreaker, a full nelson slam and then a gutwrench suplex, all three moves getting Test 2 counts. Frustrations grows for Test, but now Hardy shows his fight, striking Test with right hands that back ‘The Impact Player’ to the ropes. Hardy goes for an Irish whip… which Test reverses… into a bearhug!

Test elevates Matt, squeezing around his waist, applying pressure to the spine in an attempt to make Hardy submit. Hardy tries to break free, but Test simply squeezes harder, applying more pressure, shaking Matt from side to side as he wrenches the hold on tight. Slowly but surely, Matt starts to fade, his head and arms dropping as the pain of the hold takes over. Test continues to wrench, shaking Matt, wanting him to submit, but the crowd start to cheer, with Hardy feeding off the volume in the arena. Test tries to fight against it, continuing to wrench Matt, but Hardy shows signs of life as he starts to fight free… elbow to the side of the head… and another… and a third breaks the hold… but Test fires back with a knee to the midsection… and then synchs Matt in… GUTWRENCH POWERBOMB… NO! Matt rolls all the way over, landing on his feet behind Test… and spinning him around for the SIDE EFFECT! Hardy nails the side effect, but both men are down on impact, the referee starting his count. He makes it to 6 before either man shows signs of life, but they both stumble back up… Hardy slugs a right hand… Test fires back… Hardy again… again Test hits back… Hardy tags him… and again… and a third straight from Matt gives him the momentum, backing Test to the ropes, allowing Matt to go for the Irish whip… Test reverses… but Hardy runs under his clothesline… flying forearm from Hardy!

Hardy has a bounce in his step as he gets back on his feet, slugging right after right that drives Test to the corner. An Irish whip sends him across… Matt follows in for the clothesline… then out of the corner with the bulldog! Test is down, but Hardy is already heading for the corner, roaring to the crowd as he stands on the second rope… diving legdrop connects! 1… 2… Test rolls a shoulder! Although disappointed, Hardy presses on, again slugging rights and lefts to the body, before he launches Test to the corner… no, Test reverses… but runs into a boot to the face. Hardy quickly pushes himself onto the second rope… elbow drop across the back of Test’s head! Matt has all the momentum as he jumps back up, roaring to the crowd, waiting for Test to rise. Test stumbles to his feet… kick… TWIST OF FATE… NO! Test twists free, then drills Matt with a kick to the gut… before he hooks him up… PUMPHANDLE SLAM! Test rattles off the big impact move, falling into the lateral press… 1… 2… NO! Hardy rolls his shoulder! Test is enraged, furiously shouting at the referee, demanding the 3 count, but he gets no joy as the referee confirms it was only 2. Seeking to finally put Hardy away, Test yanks him to his feet, then synchs him in… and poses for the crowd to a round of boos before he makes his move… GUTWRENCH POWERBOMB... NO!! Again Hardy is able to carry the momentum through, landing on his feet behind Test, turning him around… kick… TWIST OF FATE!! Hardy gets all of it, and he quickly crawls into the cover… 1… 2… 3!

Winner: Matt Hardy @ 08.47

A great win for Hardy, solidifying his recent run of victories. Hardy stumbles back to his feet, selling the effects of the match, before his hand is raised by the referee to another pop. The shot then cuts back to Finlay, still stood infront of the monitor, but now a much more angry look on his face. Finlay seethes, twirling his shillelagh in his hand, clearly not impressed with Hardy’s win… so he smashes the monitor with his shillelagh! The monitor crashes to the floor, electrical sparks flying everywhere, before Finlay then starts trashing the surrounding area. The backstage area now looks a total mess thanks to Finlay, with the United States Champion having one last look at the damage he’s done before he walks off and we head into commercial.

*Commercial*


We're back, and John Bradshaw Layfield: is already in the ring, his music just about coming to and end. 'JBL' wears a broad smile on his face, adjusting his tie and cowboy hat as he waits for silence...


John Bradshaw Layfield: Ladies and gentlemen, once again, I, your Wrestling Gawd, is here to prove my I'm the not only the greatest wrestler who ever lived, but that I have seamlessly transitioned into the greatest broadcast journalist who ever lived.

The crowd boo, but 'JBL' laps it up like cheers...

John Bradshaw Layfield: Thank you, thank you. It was three weeks ago, that the world was left in shock. The world was stunned as the man thought to be unbreakable... was broken. 'The Phenom', The Undertaker, a man who for over 15 years has used fear and mind games to control his opponents... ran into a man... no, a monster... who is truly fearless. 'The Deadman' ran into 'The Savage of Samoa'... Umaga.

The crowd remains relatively silent as 'JBL' smiles...

John Bradshaw Layfield: He has never been pinned, he has never been forced to submit. He made his debut eleven months ago, he started bulldozin' the competition, and he hasn't been stopped since. And at No Way Out... he did this.

*Video Package*

HIGHLIGHTS FROM NO WAY OUT


Booker is somehow able to crawl on his belly to the centre of the ring, with ‘Taker standing over him... and DRAWING A THUMB ACROSS HIS THROAT! The crowd erupts again as they sense the end is nigh! Booker somehow gets back to his knees... then back to his feet. Stood behind him, Undi waits for Booker to turn towards him. Booker looks out on his feet, barely able to move as he turns around... and ‘Taker scoops him up... TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER!!!

As ‘Taker labours to shift the deadweight King, a commotion is heard from the crowd. The noise level grows, but ‘Taker doesn’t notice, continuing to roll Booker to the casket. The commotion soon turns to a mix of cheers and gasps of shock, with the camera finally revealing to us...

THAT UMAGA IS IN THE RING!!!

Having raced through the crowd, ‘The Samoan Savage’ is stood behind an unsuspecting Undertaker! The crowd is going ape shit, and it soon dawns on Undertaker that something’s going on. ‘Taker senses a presence behind him, standing up and turning around... UMAGA RUNS THROUGH UNDERTAKER WITH A MASSIVE BODYBLOCK!! Caught off guard, Undertaker is powerless as Umaga hammers him! Stumbling back to his feet, ‘Taker tries to swing rights and lefts, but he’s stunned by the appearance of Umaga... who takes Undertaker up FOR A SAMOAN DROP!! Umaga plants ‘Taker with ease, with Armando Estrada now joining his monster at ringside, conducting traffic. Estrada motions for ‘Taker to be brought to his feet, which Umaga obliges with... before letting out a massive native yell... SAMOAN SPIKE!!!

Estrada slaps his hands off the casket lid, with Umaga nodding his understanding. The crowd is confused, thinking how can Umaga place ‘Taker in the casket with the lid closed. They’re about to find out, as Umaga drags the now lifeless ‘Deadman’ up... and GOES FOR A SWINGING SIDE SLAM... OVER THE TOP ROPE... AND STRAIGHT THROUGH THE CASKET LID!!!

Michael Cole: What the- what the hell is goin' on!?

John Bradshaw Layfield: Have you ever seen The Undertaker man handled like that?

Suddenly the LIGHTS GO OUT...

*GONG...*

*DRUIDS MARCH...*


Once more the druids head down to the ring, six of them in two columns of three. Mist engulfs the aisle, drifting around Umaga and Estrada, while an eerie blue haze illuminates the pair. The druids march down the aisle, one column passing on either side of Umaga. Estrada looks spooked, but 'The Samoan Bulldozer' never changes his expression for a second, continuing to snarl as the druids drift on past him.

Michael Cole: This is one of the most surreal things I've ever seen. In all my years of broadcast journalism... I've never seen anything like this.

Slowly the druids reach into the ring, pulling the lifeless body of The Undertaker towards the ropes. Once there, the druids reach down and hoist 'The Deadman' up onto their shoulders in almost a crucifix position. Slowly the druids begin to carry 'Taker back up the aisle, the crowd once again stunned into a hushed silence...

John Bradshaw Layfield: The Undertaker... is bein' carried from this arena. 'The Demon of Death Valley' has been left broken, limp, lifeless, by 'The Savage from Samoa'.

Tazz: Where are they takin' him? I mean... {Echoing} is this the last time we're gonna see The Undertaker?


*End Video Package*


John Bradshaw Layfield: Ladies and gentlemen... 'The Samoan Bulldozer'... UMAGAAAAAA!!!

*VIRTUAL VOODOO...*


Filthy heat for Umaga, who grunts and snarls his way down the aisle, with Armando Alejandro Estrada following from behind, putting his monster over to the ringside crowd as he does. Umaga screams and slaps his hands off the steel steps before he clambers up them and into the ring, where Estrada and Layfield share a hearty handshake. Umaga continues to snarl, intimidating even 'JBL', but Estrada motions for calm from 'Mags as 'JBL' once again adjusts his tie...


John Bradshaw Layfield: Alright. Umaga... Mr. Estrada... welcome. I just showed the video from No Way Out, where this man decimated The Undertaker. But quite frankly, that was just one moment of many I could've shown. It's been nearly a year since you brought Umaga to the WWE, and it has been a year of flawless dominance. Nobody on Monday Night Raw could touch 'im, nobody even came close to beatin' 'im. He ran through the competition on Raw, but you Mr. Estrada... I know you had a much bigger target in sight.

Estrada nods, shouting "Si!"...


John Bradshaw Layfield: You had The Undertaker and his famous Wrestlemania Streak in your sights. Usually The Undertaker stalks his Wrestlemania prey with a long series of mind games and sneak attacks. Simply put, The Undertaker is nothin' more than a coward!

Big heat for that comment, but Estrada simply nods in agreement...

John Bradshaw Layfield: But not you, and not Umaga. Instead you walked into the belly of the beast, you interrupted The Undertaker's signature match... and you tossed his broken body into a casket. It was a dominance of The Undertaker that I've never seen before. And at Saturday Night's Main Event, Paul Bearer was dispatched to the ring to accept your challenge. But just like I said, The Undertaker showed his true colours, as Bearer was nothin' more than a distraction for a trademark sneak attack from 'The Deadman'.

Estrada scrunches up his face as he reluctantly nods...

John Bradshaw Layfield: But the match is set, and Umaga will go after the Wrestlemania streak. It stands at 14-0... but I don't think it's gonna hit 15.

Estrada smiles broadly, moving closer to speak into the mic in Layfield's hand...

Armando Alejandro Estrada: Si. Senor Layfield, ju' are a very smart man. Ju' know a good deal when ju' see one. Ju' know perro that Umaga is de' most dominant force de' WWE has ever known! And deep down inside... De' Undertaker knows 'dis too! Haha!

Heat...

Armando Alejandro Estrada: 'Dat's why at Saturday Night's Main Event, De' Undertaker had to... como se dice... SNEAK into de' ring! He had to turn out de' lights amigo! Ju' came to de' ring after Umaga just got finished beatin' up jour brother Kane! Undertaker... ju' made de' biggest mistake of your career perro! Ju' see, 'dis man... ju' can't play de' mind games with him. Dey' don't work on Umaga! We don't play games. For ju' 'Deadman', playtime... is over!

'JBL' smirks, loving what he's hearing...

Armando Alejandro Estrada: We were... como se dice... bored with de' competition on Raw. We wanted de' big challenge. We want... de' streak!

In the background, Umaga's head snaps to attention at the mere mention of it...

Armando Alejandro Estrada: Ju’ see, de’ people in de’ WWE like to give De’ Undertaker de’ big build. Guys like Michael Cole and Tazz, ‘dey give de’ Undertaker ‘dis… como se dice… mystique! ‘Dis – ‘dis aura! ‘Dey like to pretend ‘dat ‘dere precious Undertaker is… invincible! And while ‘dese people may believe it… but not me… not ‘ju Senor Layfield… and not Umaga do. Haha!

Layfield laughs as the crowd responds with heat…

Armando Alejandro Estrada: Ju’ can dress in black all you want amigo, you can cut de’ lights, you can ring ‘dat stupid gong all night long perro! It doesn’t matter what mind games ju’ play, ‘cos ‘dey don’t effect ‘dis monster! We ain’t afraid of things ‘dat go bump in ‘de night amigo! And we ain’t afraid of ju’! But ju’ Undertaker…

Estrada points at the nearest camera…


Armando Alejandro Estrada: Ju’ better fear Umaga.

A huge smirks crosses Estrada’s face…


Armando Alejandro Estrada: ‘Cause ju’ my friend… have just found ‘de one man who is truly… fearless. He is a savage! He doesn’t fear ‘de mind games… ‘cause he knows no fear. ‘Ju can’t scare a monster Undertaker! ‘Dere is nothing ‘dat can effect him, nothing! Undertaker, ‘ju are finally gonna face ‘de one man who truly is… invincible. ‘Dere is no aura, ‘dere is no mystique, ‘dere is nothin’ but… como se dice… FACTS!

Umaga continues to snarl, pacing the ring in the background, poised to strike…

Armando Alejandro Estrada: Undertaker... ju' came to Saturday Night's Main Event... and when ju' accepted our challenge... ju' just ended the streak amigo. Ju' want a piece of 'dis man... 'dis beast... 'dis MONSTER?! Ju' got it!

Estrada stares hard into the camera, snapping his sunglasses from his face...

Armando Alejandro Estrada: Wrestlemania XXIII... de' biggest streak in professional sports... DIES. And so... does De' Undertaker! HAHA!

It's all smiles between Estrada and 'JBL', the two once again going for a handshake...

THE LIGHTS IN THE ARENA GO OUT!

A buzz rings across the arena, the fans anticipating an appearance from 'The Deadman'... but instead it's silence... until a rumble of thunder rings out... and a BOLT OF LIGHTNING STRIKES THE RING!

Just enough light returns to the arena so we can see the ring, with 'JBL' and Estrada huddled together, cowering in fear... but Umaga is stood square in the middle, ready for a fight! Umaga snarls and yells in his native tongue, wanting The Undertaker...

Only for The Undertaker and Paul Bearer to appear on the tron! A fucking huge cheer greets the sight of the pair, with Bearer and 'The Deadman' stood in a dark room, a flickering light illuminating them and the urn in Bearer's hand...


The Undertaker: There comes a time in a man's life... when he must look within himself... deep down into his soul... and face his demons.

No reaction from 'The Samoan Bulldozer', who continues to snarl at the tron...


The Undertaker: Umaga... your own personal demon... is the pursuit of my Wrestlemania streak. You seek the path to glory? You seek what you believe to be your destiny?

Bearer shakes his head knowingly...

The Undertaker: Your fate does not lie at Wrestlemania XXIII. Your fate... lies in the depths of hell.

A massive pop in the arena...

The Undertaker: At No Way Out, you unleashed the creatures of the night. You opened the gates of hell, bringing forth a force… that you do not understand.

Estrada and Layfield continue to cower together, while Umaga’s eyes have yet to leave the screen…

The Undertaker: Umaga, heed this warning. You are but a mere mortal. Despite your determination... despite your belief... and despite your power... you will fall like the mortals who have came before you.

A long pause from 'Taker...

The Undertaker: At Wrestlemania XXIII... it will be ...an eye for an eye... a streak for a streak. And you Umaga shall REST... IN... PEACE!!

*GRAVEYARD SYMPHONY...*


Another huge pop from the crowd as 'Taker rolls his eyes to the back of his head. The lights flicker again and the tron goes black, but Umaga hasn't moved an inch the whole time, just staring at the tron, snarling, growling, but more importantly, perhaps he's proven that mind games... don't phase this beast?

*Commercial*


We return to hear...

*WHATEVER...*


A great response as Chris Benoit makes his entrance, limping slightly as he shows the effects of the brutal Belfast Brawl he was involved in at Saturday Night's Main Event...


Michael Cole: What an incredible effort this man gave last Saturday night in pursuit of the United States Championship. The first ever Belfast Brawl, and Benoit and Finlay left it all in the ring, but it was the champion Finlay who retained the gold.

Tazz: Lemme tell ya', I was in ECW for a long time, I saw my share of tough as hell matches over the years. But that was just unbelievable between those two on Saturday night. Finlay has the night of tonight, and quite frankly, I'm amazed Benoit is even able to compete right now.

John Bradshaw Layfield: A Money in the Bank spot is on the line! That's enough to motivate anybody, no matter how much pain they're in.

*LA VITTORIA E MIA...*


Not much of a reaction, but a few boos nonetheless as Santino Marella steps out ready to compete. The rest of The Full Blooded Italians join him, with Big Vito, Nunzio and Tony Mamaluke also head slowly down the ramp, also dressed to compete. Trinity is on Marella's arm, and she smirks as she and Santino smile at Benoit...


Tony Chimel: Ladies and gentlemen, I have just been informed, that by order of the Interim General Manager Jonathan Coachman, this match, will now be... a Four-on-One Handicap Match!

Michael Cole: Are you kiddin' me?!

Benoit turns and looks at Chimel and the referee, wondering what the hell is going on...

Tazz: Still think that wasn't a bribe 'JBL'?

John Bradshaw Layfield: If it was, it's genius on the part of The F.B.I.! Santino just guaranteed 'imself a Money in the Bank spot!

Match 4: Four-on-One Handicap Money in the Bank Qualifying Match
The Full Blooded Italians (Santino Marella, Big Vito, Nunzio and Tony Mamaluke)
w/ Trinity vs. Chris Benoit

Benoit can only shake his head in disbelief as he looks across the ring at four opponents, although it’s the muscle of the group, Big Vito, who gets things under way. A hard collar-and-elbow tie up sees Benoit work into a standing side headlock, but Vito fires him off the ropes... and then knocks Benoit down with a shoulderblock. Vito goes for an elbowdrop, but Benoit rolls to safety, seeing Vito hit the mat. Kicks to the midsection land from Benoit, before Benoit goes for the Irish whip to the corner... Vito reverses and follows in... straight into an elbow! Benoit then yanks Vito against the turnbuckle, unloading with a string of stiff chops to the chest. Kicks to the gut follow, before Benoit sends Vito for the ride... again Vito reverses, but this time Benoit avoids him with a baseball slide... Vito tries a kick, but Benoit grabs the foot... dragon screw! Benoit takes Vito down, and grabs both feet... trying to twist him into the SHARPSHOOTER... but Vito kicks Benoit away, scrambling to his corner to tag in Nunzio.

Nunzio storms the ring, but he runs straight into an armdrag, before Benoit sends him off the ropes... into a knee to the midsection, sending Nunzio over and getting Benoit a near fall. Benoit then gets Nunzio up, rocking him with a big German suplex! Benoit holds on... second German suplex! Benoit hangs on, dragging Nunzio up... looking for the third... but Vito and Mamaluke storm the ring, hammering Benoit from behind! The numbers game takes over as they beat Benoit to the mat, the referee calling for the duo to leave the ring, which they do after taking every second of the 5 count. Mamaluke now gets the tag, and he clubs Benoit from behind with more forearms, causing Benoit to crawl to the ropes. Mamaluke then uses his knee to press Benoit’s throat against the middle rope, before he pulls Benoit to the Italians’ corner and tags in Nunzio. The pair combine to send Benoit off the ropes into a double hiptoss, then link hands for a double elbow drop, getting Nunzio a 2 count. The quick tags now happen as Nunzio comes back in, he and Mamaluke hitting a double side suplex for another 2 count, while Vito enters and hits a swinging neckbreaker.

Conspicuous by his absence thus far is Marella, who instead barks orders from the apron in his own unique way, preferring to let his teammates do most of the work. Vito hits a big vertical suplex, Mamaluke hits a nasty looking tornado DDT, while Nunzio connects on a bulldog, all three getting near falls. Nunzio is in the ring, with Benoit deep in a camel clutch. Nunzio jumps up and down, driving his body into Benoit’s spine, slowly but surely wearing Benoit down. Eventually the crowd rallies, despite Trinity’s best attempts to quiet them, and Benoit struggles back to his feet, drilling elbows that break the hold, but as he comes off the ropes, Vito drives a knee into the small of the back... and Nunzio runs at him, jumping to the middle rope, grabbing Benoit... springboard single arm DDT! Nunzio drives Benoit to the mat, hooks the leg... 1... 2... Benoit rolls a shoulder!

Vito tags back in, looking for that big power move to put Benoit away... so he synchs Benoit in for the CODE OF SILENCE... NO! Benoit counters... northern lights suplex! 1... 2... Mamaluke makes the save. The referee berates Mamaluke, causing him to stay in the ring... Benoit grabs him for a release German suplex! Nunzio storms the ring... he too runs into a release German suplex! Vito is back on his feet... third German puts him down! Nunzio and Mamaluke roll to the outside, with Benoit now climbing to the rope... but before he can go for the diving headbutt, Trinity jumps up onto the apron! Benoit glares at her angrily, and the distraction is enough as Vito dives into the ropes, causing Benoit to lose his balance and crotch himself on the top rope! Vito is back on his feet, climbing to the second rope... SUPERPLEX! The numbers game is gonna cost Benoit as Vito sends him flying down, and he crawls for the cover... only for Santino to demand Vito tags him in!?

Marella is adamant, ordering Vito to tag him. Although confused, Vito obliges, bringing his boss into the match. It looks like Santino wants the glory to himself as he heads towards Benoit... but Benoit catches him with a snap overhead belly-to-belly suplex! Seeing his boss in trouble, Vito tries to storm the ring, but Benoit cuts him off, knocking Vito off the apron... and into Mamaluke and Nunzio below! With the trio down, Benoit turns back to Santino... who stumbles to his feet... into the CRIPPLER CROSSFACE! Santino’s been in the ring for a total of 10 seconds, but he’s already in the deadly submission... and he’s got no choice but to tap furiously!

Winner: Chris Benoit @ 05.29

Despite the odds, Benoit gets the win, in quite comical fashion as far as Santino is concerned. Marella is quickly dragged from the ring by Vito, and quickly consoled by his teammates, while in the ring Benoit has his hand raised in the air, and then turns towards the Wrestlemania banner hanging from the rafters, pointing at it with that toothy grin of his on his face...

Until he's blindsided! Benoit crashes to the mat, and we snap back to the hard camera to reveal that it's King Booker and Montel Vontavious Porter who have stormed the ring! The pair hammer Benoit with stomps to the body, the crowd booing profusely. Booker calls 'MVP' away, waiting for Benoit to rise... but Benoit only makes it to his knees... so Booker can strike with the Axe Kick! Benoit goes down again, with Booker adding insult to injury by treating us all to a Spin-a-Roonie. 'MVP' hasn't his his turn yet though, and he barks for Booker to pick Benoit up... then toss him in... for the Playmaker!! The partnership of Booker and 'MVP' have taken out their first member of the competition, leaving Chris Benoit down and out on the mat, the two slapping hands in congratulations for themselves as we head off to a commercial.

*Commercial*


We return to once again see The Full Blooded Italians, now walking backstage, each member grabbing and rubbing various body parts in pain, while Trinity can only shake her head in disbelief. The quintet walk along the backstage corridor, Santino looking very angry while the others look almost too scared to speak. Suddenly, Santino comes to a stop, the rest of the group falling into place behind him... as we see The Extremists are stood infront of them! Tommy Dreamer, Sabu and The Sandman step towards the group that insulted them last week, with Dreamer smiling as he goes...


Tommy Dreamer: Looks like I won't be needin' my shinebox after all, huh Santino?

Vito steps forward angrily, but Sandman lifts the Singapore cane that was resting on his shoulder, cocking it in the air, ready to strike. Vito backs down, the tension running high between the two groups...

Tommy Dreamer: We'll see ya' around.

And with that, Dreamer, Sabu and Sandman walk on, the various members of the two groups brushing shoulders as The Extremists leave, the camera staying focused on The F.B.I. who all watch on angrily before we cut elsewhere.

To see The Miz and Michelle McCool stood in the interview area. Some decent heat welcomes the appearance of the two, which Miz simply smirks through...


The Miz: So... Chris Benoit becomes the latest entrant into the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Benoit, Booker, and 'MVP'. Really?

Miz shakes his head...

The Miz: I'm sure all three of you have high hopes for goin' to Wrestlemania and grabbin' that briefcase. Well guys, I think it's time for a little reality check. 'Cause y'see, next week the final Smackdown spot in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match is up for grabs... and yours truly is gonna grab it.

McCool smirks and nods in the background...

The Miz: I mean, they're really no competition in the match. Nobody that can stop me. Benoit? The guy is so broken down he'll be lucky to even make it one rung. Booker and 'MVP'? Lemme give ya' a little warnin' fellas. If either of you two try and jump me after I qualify next week, I'll make sure neither of ya' make it to Detroit.

Miz angrily turns his head away, then back to the camera...

The Miz: I might have had a slight interest in the United States Championship, but now I'm goin' after the real prize. I am gonna win next week, and I am gonna go to my first Wrestlemania. And when I there, I'm gonna climb that ladder and become Mr. Money in the Bank. 'Cause I'm The Miz...

Miz turns to McCool, who steps forward...

Michelle McCool And he's awesome!

The Miz: And don't you dare forget that.

The two turn and smirk at each other, the camera focusing on them before we fade into a video.

*Video Package*

We open to the sound of cheerful, triumphant music, with images of Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler sat side by side, the pair commentating on a WWE event...

Narrator: They were the voices that lent themselves to some of the greatest moments in WWE history...

We now see the famous moment from King of the Ring 1998, where Mick Foley is sent flying off the top of the Hell in a Cell structure and straight through the announce desk...

Jim Ross: As Gawd is my witness, he is broken in half!

Narrator: There words and passion can bring life to even the most simplistic moments inside a WWE ring...

Lawler is now in the ring, hosting a bikini contest...

Jerry Lawler: Oh my God J.R. look! Puppies!

More footage of the two sat behind the desk, calling matches together...

Narrator: One who many claim was a man born to be an announcer...

We now cut to old school WCW footage, with a much younger Ross welcoming viewers to a show...

Narrator: The other born quite simply to be a champion...

And now even older, grainier footage of Lawler battling with Kerry Von Erich and then Terry Funk...

Narrator: But it’s perhaps together that they’ll both be most fondly remember as the greatest announce team in WWE history.

Once again we see footage of the pair sat behind the desk, this time under the glamour and glitz of a Wrestlemania...

John Cena: I don’t think it gets any better than those two workin’ together...

The triumphant music continues as we now see footage of the infamous Late Night with David Letterman episode, where Lawler sits next to Andy Kaufman...

Jerry Lawler: When he was born, his father wanted a boy, and his mother wanted a girl, and they were both satisfied!

Lawler and Kaufman continue to trade words, until Lawler rises up and slaps Kaufman right out of his chair...

Vince McMahon: He certainly always know how to create controversy for himself, and how to get people to dislike him, and I think that was one of his real strengths as a performer...

We now see Ross walking down the ramp at a WWE event...

Steve Austin: Ev’rybody knows he’s got ‘is list o’ catchphrases...

Shawn Michaels: It’s a slobberknocker!

Chris Benoit: Whipped like a government mule!

Steve Austin: Stomp a mudhole and walk it dry!

And now we see Lawler walk the ramp, crown in hand as he waves to the crowd...

Michael Cole: They play off each other so well, the chemistry between the two is unbelievable.

A classic Raw moment as Steve Austin comes flying off the zamboni and tackles Vince to the mat...

Jim Ross: Aw yeah! Austin’s got McMahon! Stone Cold!

Jerry Lawler: Oh no! Mr McMahon, are – are you alright?!

Still images of the two sat side by side...

Triple H: There’s nobody I’d rather have call one of my matches than those two.

John Cena: You listen to ‘em and you get so caught up in the energy and the emotion they bring to a match.

Another iconic Raw moment as Mr. McMahon rips off the hood, revealing himself as ‘The Higher Power’...

Vince McMahon: It’s me Austin!

Jim Ross: Aw sunnova bitch!

Jerry Lawler: What?!

Narrator: The WWE Hall of Fame is proud to welcome Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler!

We now see a split screen picture of the pair, with the Hall of Fame logo between the two. Also on the screen is the fact that Jerry Lawler will be inducted into the Hall of Fame by David Letterman, while doing the honours for Jim Ross will be ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin!

*End Video Package*


We now cut to a backstage corridor, where we see walking to the ring Ric Flair, dressed in an elaborate pink robe as he makes his way along, a confident look on his face...

Michael Cole: Our congratulations go out to both Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, two great additions to the WWE Hall of Fame. But up next, it's time for our main event. 'The Nature Boy' Ric Flair takes on 'The Rated-R Superstar' Edge, when we return to Friday Night Sma-

Cole, Flair, the cameraman, everybody come to a halt, with a beaming smile crossing Flair's face... as Arn Anderson approaches him! The crowd pops as 'Double A' strides towards his friend, the two legendary Horsemen all smiles as they go for a handshake...

Arn Anderson: Get 'im tonight.

Nothing more needs to be said as the two long time friends nod and release their grip on the shake, with Anderson giving Flair one last pat on the shoulder before Flair carries on his walk, the camera lingering on him before we fade out into the commercial.

*Commercial*


And when we return...

"WOOOOO..."

*ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA...*


Ric Flair makes his entrance to yet another tremendous pop from the crowd, with 'The Nature Boy' strutting his way down the aisle, pausing every now and then for a quick "Wooooo!"...


Michael Cole: It's not very often we get to see this man, this legend compete on Friday nights. But we've got 'im tonight, as Ric Flair is set to go one on one with Edge.

John Bradshaw Layfield: Listen, I gotta lotta respect for Ric Flair. He's one of, if not the greatest of all time. But what Mr. Kennedy said earlier tonight was right. He's past his best, he's overstayed his welcome, and I think Edge is gonna prove it tonight.

Tazz: I wouldn't be so sure about that. 2007 has seen a bit of a resurgence in Flair's career. He might just surprise you and a lotta other people right here.

Michael Cole: Well is tonight considered a test for Flair? I mean, does his performance here against Edge give us a kinda indication of whether or not he can compete with Mr. Kennedy at Wrestlemania?

Tazz: Yeah I think it might. I think it means a lot to Ric Flair too though. He wants to prove a few naysayers wrong right here, especially a guy like Kennedy.

In the ring, Flair removes his robe and hands to a stage hand, before he stretches against the ropes and takes a little jog around the ring. Flair looks confident and relaxed as he awaits the appearance of...

"YOU THINK YOU KNOW ME..."

*METALINGUS...*


A great level of heat for Edge, as 'The Rated-R Superstar' burst onto the stage, pausing underneath the Smackdown first to fire of an explosion of pyro before he makes his way down the aisle...


Michael Cole: Well speakin' of someone with somethin' to prove, a lotta people have made the point that perhaps Edge is scared of 'The Animal', Batista. And you gotta admit, it's a pretty convincing-

John Bradshaw Layfield: What the hell are you talkin' about Michael?! Scared?! He ain't scared o' Batista! If he was scared, ya' think he woulda challenged the man to a match at Wrestlemania?

Tazz: Now wait a minute, that ain't strictly true. Yes, Edge challenged for the World Heavyweight Championship, but he's done everythin' he could so far to make so it's not him and 'The Animal' one on one.

John Bradshaw Layfield: Ah that's a crock and you know it! Edge is walkin' into Wrestlemania for a match with Batista, a match he wanted. It's idiots like you Tazz, runnin' your mouth that pisses Edge off. And he's about to take it out on Ric Flair tonight, just wait and see!

Main Event:
Edge
vs. Ric Flair

The crowd is buzzing as the bell rings, with both men smiling as they circle the ring. Flair moves for the first tie in, but Edge quickly backs away, playing the waiting game as he tries to frustrate Flair early on. Flair waves Edge on, and after some more circling the pair finally tie up, Edge working into a standing side headlock, and then a takedown. Edge briefly has a chinlock locked in, but Flair kicks up his legs, wrapping them into a headscissors that he uses to get the advantage. Edge manages to roll his way free, both men back on their feet, but they pause, neither man striking first, a brief standoff ensuing. Eventually they tie up again, but Edge quickly drills a knee to the midsection, and then he clubs Flair all the way into the corner. Edge mocks Flair and the crowd by shouting “Wooooo!” before he unloads with a chop to the chest… but this only serves to snap Flair to life, as he yanks Edge into the corner and unloads with a string of stiff chops, the crowd shouting “Wooooo!” each time Flair connects. Edge covers up, but Flair is unrelenting, only stopping to send across the ring, crashing off the turnbuckle… into a big back body drop! Edge is slow to get back up, and when he does Flair goes back to work with the chops, although Edge does swing a right hand… missing wildly… atomic drop from Flair… sends Edge bouncing over the top rope to the floor!

Flair is in control, but as he heads for the ropes, Edge grabs his foot, yanking him down and then dragging him under the bottom rope. Edge stings a knife edge chop… but Flair fires back with a trio of his own, before he grabs Edge… and smashes him face first off the steel steps, with Edge doing his best Flair impression as he flops face first to the floor. Flair yanks Edge back into the ring, and as he follows in he stalks Edge, waiting for him to rise… to connect on a chop block! The crowd cheer as they see Flair start to target the knee, with a shinbreaker and then a jumping knee drop across Edge’s leg adding further damage. Flair continues to drive the knee, only stopping to get back on his feet… to then grab Edge’s foot… and twist him into… the FIGURE FOUR LEGLOCK… NO! Edge franticly kicks Flair away, sending Flair into the corner. Edge favours his knee as he heads over, and this allows Flair to snap off a right hand, then a chop… right hand… chop… right, no Edge ducks, grabs Flair from behind… inverted DDT! Edge plants Flair, finally registering some offence, but he’s slow to take advantage, favouring his knee as he gets back to a vertical base.

Edge now has his first chance to string together some offence, and he decides to take a page out of Flair’s book, grabbing the foot as Flair lies on the mat, allowing Edge to drill kicks to the back of the knee. An elbow drop across the knee causes more pain, with Edge then pulling Flair to his feet. A few right hands land, but Edge quickly fires Flair to the corner with a hard Irish whip… sending Flair crashing into the turnbuckle upside down! Flair somehow manages to land on the apron, but here comes Edge… to bodycheck Flair… right into the barricade! The crowd gasps as Flair crashes spine first into the barrier, with Edge now firmly in control as he rolls outside. With Flair in a seated position against the barricade, Edge starts laying with boots to the chest and punches to the head, before he drags Flair up… and goes for the Irish whip… knee first into the steel steps! Flair screams in agony as he lays on the floor, grabbing his knee, but Edge is finished yet, an aggressive look in his eyes as he rolls Flair into the ring, but then drags him towards the corner. With Edge controlling things from the outside, he pulls Flair in, grabs his left leg and rears back… smashing Flair’s knee off the ringpost! Once more Flair cries out in pain… and again Edge smashes the knee off the steel… and a third time! Flair is in absolute agony as he shuffles away, a sick smile crossing Edge’s face as we fade into the final commercial of the broadcast.

*Commercial*


And when we return, Flair is showing signs of life as he stands toe to toe with Edge, striking with chops… until a stiff kick to the knee puts an end to the rally. Flair collapses on the mat, with Edge now firmly in control, looking to rattle off a few moves to wear Flair down. Edge starts by sending Flair off the ropes into a flapjack, then the Edge-O-Matic, and finally he sends Flair to the corner, staggering into a big back body, each move met with ever louder cries of pain from Flair but only 2 counts for Edge. Feeling cocky, Edge starts strutting around the ring like Flair would, then he pushes Flair into the corner to unload with chops to the chest, mocking the veteran. Edge then goes back to the knee, placing Flair’s leg across the middle rope, allowing him to aim stiff kicks to the back of the leg. His confidence growing, Edge grabs the leg and with Flair standing on one foot, he pulls ‘The Nature Boy’ to the middle of the ring… and sweeps the leg, causing Flair to fall to the mat. Edge stands over Flair, left leg in his hand, and he furthers the mocking by shouting “Wooooo!” at the crowd, before he twists into the FIGURE FOUR LEGLOCK… NO! Flair reaches up… and counters with an inside cradle! 1… 2… NO!

Edge kicks out, and he quickly jumps on Flair, drilling him with right hands in an attempt to keep the veteran grounded. Edge goes back to work on the knee, driving his own knee into Flair’s leg, before he pulls Flair to a vertical base. Stood on only one foot, Edge knows he has Flair where he wants him… ENZIGUIRI! An enzuigiri from Flair! Out of nowhere Flair strikes! Both men are down now, the crowd willing them back to their feet. Edge is dazed as he gets back up, while Flair has to use the ropes to drag himself up. Leaning against them, Flair has to wait for Edge to approach… and he strikes with a chop… and another… and a third, just relentless chops that back Edge all the way across the ring to the opposite ropes. Flair goes for the Irish whip… huge back body drop! Edge crashes to the mat, but he somehow manages to crawl to the corner, although Flair is right on him, stinging chop lands, before Flair climbs to the second rope, grabs Edge by the hair… and starts raining down with right hands, the crowd counting along all the way to 10… when Flair dips down and starts biting Edge on the forehead! Edge flails his hands, but the pain only stops when Flair drops back down to the mat, one last big chop knocking Edge down, with Flair going for the cover… 1… 2… no! Edge kicks out!

Flair presses on though, as he turns his attentions back to Edge’s knee, starting with the shinbreaker and then the chop block. Edge is down, Flair has his foot in his hands… FIGURE FOUR… NO! Again Edge is able to kick Flair into the corner. Flair hits the top turnbuckle face first, stumbling back into the middle of the ring… and here comes Edge… SPEAR!! Edge hits the spear from out of nowhere! Flair is down, and Edge drapes an arm over Flair’s chest for the straightforward 1… 2… NO!! Flair rolls his shoulder! Flair stays alive! Edge can’t believe it, and neither can the crowd as they cheer wildly for the resistance of ‘The Nature Boy’! Edge runs a hand through his hair, in total disbelief, not even arguing with the referee, instead he simply looks and offers three fingers, but only gets two in return. Edge is back on his feet, and with Flair still down hurt, now is the time as Edge grabs Flair’s foot… steps over the leg… twists and drops… FIGURE FOUR LEGLOCK! The crowd boos heavily as Edge goes for the ultimate insult, trying to make Ric Flair tap out to the figure four. Flair cries out in pain, furiously shaking his head, desperate not to submit. Flair tries to scratch and claw for the ropes, but it’s no use as Edge has the hold locked in tight in the middle of the ring. Flair tries to stretch out, but in the process his shoulders hit the mat, the referee counting 1… 2… until Flair pulls himself back up. Flair is repeatedly asked if he wants to submit, but each time he yells “No!” and shakes that blonde mop of his. The crowd desperately try and encourage Flair… and it seems to be working as Flair slowly shifts the momentum, twisting, straining, trying t turn… REVERSE FIGURE FOUR! Flair has countered it!

Now all the pressure is on Edge’s knee, with ‘The Rated-R Superstar’ screaming in pain… but managing to turn Flair over again, the pain rolling into the ropes where the referee steps in to separate them. Both men stumble back to their feet, limping heavily, but it’s Flair who strikes first with a chop, and a second, and a third, before he ducks a wild Edge right hand… atomic drop finds the mark… and a big chop knocks Edge down! Now it’s Flair who looks to build some offence, snapping more chops against the ropes before he goes for the Irish whip to the corner… with Edge reverses and follows in… straight into a back elbow! Flair looks for a clothesline, but Edge ducks it, and he synchs Flair from behind… EDGECUTION! Edge plants Flair with the DDT, dropping his body on top of Flair, sure of victory as he uses his fingers to count along with the 1… 2… NO!!! Flair rolls his shoulder again! This time Edge is furious, back on feet, right in the referee’s face, almost striking the ref with a right hand before thinking better of it. Edge can’t believe that wasn’t three, but when he finally accepts the decision, he crouches in the corner, running his hands through his hair, motioning for Flair to get up. Edge demands Flair to rise, but he has to use the corner to do so. Flair is finally up… here comes Edge… SPEAR… NO! Flair counters… drop toe hold… Edge smacks face first off the middle turnbuckle! Edge stumbles back from the corner… and Flair goes for a double leg takedown… and grips Edge’s foot… twist, turns, wrenches and drops… FIGURE FOUR LEGLOCK!! This time it’s Flair, the old master, who has the move locked on! Edge screams, arms flailing, frantically trying to reach the ropes, the crowd cheering, wanting to see him tap out… until their cheers turn to boos… as Mr. Kennedy storms the ring… and starts hammering Ric Flair! The referee has no choice but to call for the DQ!

Winner: Via Disqualification, Ric Flair @ 14.56

Kennedy instantly mounts Flair, drilling him square on the forehead with stiff right after stiff right hand, before he bursts back to his feet in rage. The camera switches to Flair, and we see that the cut to his forehead that he suffered at the start of the show has once again been busted open. Kennedy now starts laying in with the boots, and soon Edge is back on his feet, he too stomping down on Flair before he then abandons the attack and heads for the outside. As Edge drops to the floor, he heads for the timekeeper's desk, pushing Tony Chimel aside, only to hear...

*I WALK ALONE...*


The arena explodes as the World Heavyweight Champion Batista races down the aisle! Edge plays it coy, staying on the outside with the chair in his hand, although in the ring Kennedy continues to hammer Flair until he sees Batista enter the ring. Kennedy charges... straight into a massive spinebuster! Batista absolutely plants Kennedy, who quickly rolls from the ring in pain, before 'The Animal' bursts to his feet, roaring to the crowd, shaking the top rope, the fans on their feet, loving every second of it...

But Edge is in the ring... chair in his hand! Edge rears back... gets ready to swing... but Batista turns early and sees him... prompting Edge to stop! Edge has been caught, chair in his hand, ready to strike... but he doesn't swing. Instead it's a tense, nervous standoff, the pair staring at each other, eyes bulging, the crowd baying for blood, with even Batista yelling "C'mon!" at Edge... who pulls the chair down... and then drops it on the mat... and casually steps through the ropes?

The crowd boos, and Batista looks confused as Edge slowly walks around the ring and backs his way up the ramp... tapping the side of his head? Edge has a big smile on his face, motioning with his thumb and index fingers and utering the words "This close!" as he backs away. Batista stands by the ropes, still breathing heavily, looking for a fight, but he's not gonna get it tonight as Edge simply continues to bak away, smirking and tapping his head as he goes...


Michael Cole: Well... Edge lives to fight another day I guess.

Tazz: Yeah but why didn’t he swing, huh? I mean, if he ain't scared, why didn't he take Batista's head off and prove a point?

John Bradshaw Layfield: 'Cause he don't need to! He's in Batista's head now! Aw, that was genius from Edge. Now he's got Batista wonderin' when he's gonna strike.

Michael Cole: What an explosive situation this is. And it's only gonna continue to grow as we head towards Wrestlemania. Goodnight everybody!

In the ring, Batista has helped Flair back to his feet, 'The Animal' checking on his mentor, with Flair nodding he's fine, while Edge continues to back away, his eyes never leaving the ring, the camera switching back and forth between champion and challenger as we fade... to... black.

*End Show*




Current Card for WWE WRESTLEMANIA XXIII :
Date: April 1st 2007

Location: Ford Field; Detroit, Michigan

WWE Championship Triple Threat Match Match:
WWE Champion Shawn Michaels vs. 'The Game' Triple H vs. 'Mr. Monday Night' Rob Van Dam

World Heavyweight Championship Match:
World Heavyweight Champion Batista vs. 2007 Royal Rumble Winner Edge

The Irresistible Force vs. The Immovable Object:
'The Real Deal' Bobby Lashley vs. John Cena

Streak vs. Streak:
'The Phenom' The Undertaker vs. 'The Samoan Bulldozer' Umaga

Past vs Future:
'The Nature Boy' Ric Flair vs. Mr. Kennedy

United States Championship Match:
United States Champion Finlay vs. Matt Hardy

Cruiserweight Championship Match:
Cruiserweight Champion Gregory Helms vs. Bryan Danielson

Women's Championship Match:
Women's Champion Mickie James vs. Beth Phoenix

Money in the Bank Ladder Match:
Entrants in Alphabetical Order:

Chris Benoit vs. King Booker vs. Montel Vontavious Porter vs. Randy Orton vs. ??? vs. ??? vs. ??? vs. ???
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Last edited by iMac : 08-12-2011 at 11:29 AM.
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