~Friday Night Smackdown~
March 23rd, 2007
"...their blood... is on your hands."
Much like last week, we start with a video of ‘The Rated-R Superstar’ Edge arriving at the arena. Although in a stark contrast to last week, this week Edge is full of smiles as he heads inside the arena. A massive smirk is etched on Edge’s face as he passes random backstage workers, many of whom stop and give Edge dirty looks, no doubt due to his actions last week. Finally Edge comes towards the two backstage workers he confronted last week, with Edge giving them both a look up and down, before he laughs to himself and shakes his head. The camera stays focused on the two workers as they watch Edge leave, both of them shaking their head, angry at Edge for the one man con-chair-to he delivered to Batista last week, but neither has anything to whisper about this week as not a single word is spoken, although the chance in attitude of the challenger is clear for all to see as we fade to black.
*End Video Package*
We forgo the usual opening and instead head straight into the arena for a cold opening. We hear nothing but the general buzz of the crowd, until…
*TURN UP THE TROUBLE…*
The quiet hush breaks into deafening heat as the always brash Mr. Kennedy
makes his entrance, a huge smirk on his face as he arrogantly cocks his head from side to side with every step. Kennedy also very loudly chews a piece of gum, and is dressed in jeans and a smart shirt, not yet ready to compete…
Last Monday night on Raw, that man Mr. Kennedy shocked the world when he assaulted Ric Flair’s youngest son Reid while Reid was at a wrestling training facility, but even more shocking than that was the fact that the man holding the camera… was Ric Flair’s eldest son David. Hello everyone, I’m Michael Cole, alongside Tazz and ‘JBL’, we are just NINE days away from Wrestlemania XXIII, where indeed Mr. Kennedy and Ric Flair will meet.
And you wanna talk about a personal, hate-fuelled match, that one between Flair and Kennedy is gonna be the very definition. Kennedy really turned up the heat on this situation last Monday night, with a disgusting, sickening, vile attack of Reid Flair. And what the hell was David Flair doin’ holdin’ that camera?
It’s the question we’ve been askin’ all week. What possessed David Flair to stand idly by as Kennedy beat up his little brother? What could Kennedy have said to convince David to act that way?
John Bradshaw Layfield:
I think maybe he told ‘im a few home truths about his old man. For years Flair’s kids have been nothin’ more than an afterthought to ‘im, and I think Kennedy knew that he could get under Flair’s skin by bringin’ his kids into this thing. And if ya’ ask me, when I saw Ric Flair walk up that ramp last Monday, tears rollin’ down his face, I knew it had worked.
Well tonight, perhaps the World Heavyweight Champion Batista can extract a certain measure of revenge as we see a rematch from No Way Out, Batista and Kennedy one on one tonight! But right now, let’s hear from the man himself, Mr. Kennedy…
The camera now shows that the ring is decked out for an interview segment. A black carpet covers the canvas, while two wooden stools sit in the middle of the ring, a microphone perched on one of them. Kennedy sits down on the chair without the mic, then cockily reaches out into the sky as his own personal microphone drops down from the ceiling. It’s cheap heat, but it works as Kennedy milks the occasion, snapping his head from side to side as he audibly chews his gum into the mic…
Last Monday night… I think all of you people learned somethin’ about just how far Mr. Kennedy is willin’ to go. I think all you people… and Ric Flair especially… found out exactly
what I’m capable of. A lot o’ people are runnin’ their mouths, sayin’ that I stooped to a whole new level. They say I made this whole situation… personal
. And to them I say… ya’ damn right I did.
Kennedy smirks and laughs to himself as the crowd throw a few boos his way…
Did I go too far? You could say that. Did I cross a line? Yeah, probably. But I did it to let Ric Flair know that this is about a whole lot more than just... respect
. 'Cause y'see, I don't respect Ric Flair. I've never
respected Ric Flair. When I was little kid growin' up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, I never cheered for Ric Flair. I never liked The Four Horsemen, hell I thought they were nothin' more than a bunch of overrated has-beens. I thought Ric Flair was nothin' back in the eighties... and I think he's less than nothin' now.
Kennedy pauses, pursing his lips amongst a smattering of boos...
But I'm gonna give Ric Flair credit for one thing. The one thing I saw him do back in the day that I thought was actually kinda good. So many guys on the roster nowadays like to say how they loved Ric Flair as a kid, how he's influenced their careers. Well, I'll give Ric one thing... the man knew how to talk. He knew how to get under the skin of his opponents. And he did it... on a lil' show he liked to call... a Flair for the Gold
A quick pop as a few of the older fans recognize where Kennedy is going...
But I'm not gonna take that format, dress myself in a ridiculous wig, strut around with a cane and hire some fat broad and mock Ric Flair, oh no. That
... would just be pathetic. Instead, I'm about to let you all in... on a lil' piece o' history. Flair for the Gold was in the past... and now yours truly gives you... the future. 'Cause tonight, is the first ever
episode... of The Open Mic
. And your host is none other than 'The Green Bay Loudmouth'... the fastest rising star in WWE history... the future of this industry... and the man who's gonna kick Ric Flair's wrinkled old ass at Wrestlemania XXIII... MMMIIISSSTTTEEERRR KEN – NAH – DAY!
Kennedy heads for the corner, climbing to the second rope of the turnbuckle, staring out into the crowd, in awe of himself as he closes his eyes, soaking in the heat being delivered, until he utters the words...
KEN – NAH – DAY!!
A few smarks join in, but it's mostly boos as Kennedy licks his lips, closing his eyes again and taking in a deep breath through his nose before he finally drops back down to the mat. Kennedy, still with his personal mic in his hands, heads for one of the wooden stools, perching himself on it...
Now, since this is my
show, I'm gonna do things a lil' differently than how ol' Ric used ta' do it. I'm not gonna sit here, push myself on the fans, try get myself over and insult my guests. Oh no. Y'see, lookin' back on Ric's career, I intend on learnin' from his mistakes. And the first edition of The Open Mic is gonna be no different. It's gonna be better than any Flair for the Gold you ever saw.
Kennedy taps a finger off his chin, exaggerating his thinking moments...
Better than any episode of Piper's Pip. Better than any King's Court, or Funeral Parlour, or even any episode of The Heartbreak Hotel. Better than Carlito's Cabanna, better than The Cutting Edge, better than any Highlight Reel, better than all of 'em! The best - damn - wrestlin' - talk show! All that's gone before is just like Ric Flair's heyday... in the past. And I intend to do what I've always done, what I've done since the first day I walked through the door on Smackdown... and that's do it better... than anybody else.
Kennedy rubs his jaw, smiling as he does, the crowd mostly silent...
actually intend on talkin' to my guest. Really listenin' to 'em, really hearin' 'em out, really appreciate and understand what they're sayin'. I mean, I don't thin you people get this. You people are on the cusp of greatness, and for a truly great
first show... you need a great
... first guest.
Kennedy again has a little chuckel to himself...
And I got an absolute beauty
of a first guest.
Kennedy now rises up from the chair, looking up the aisle...
Lemme give ya' a lil' rundown of his credentials. He is a man born into wrestling royalty. He is a former WCW World Tag Team Champion. He is a former WCW United States Champion. And he's banged BOTH Torrie Wilson and Stacy Kiebler, and that makes him a better man than any of you. And... perhaps most importantly... he makes for one helluva cameraman.
My new B.F.F. ... DAVID... FLAIR!!
There's no entrance music, instead it's nothing but loud, angry heat that welcomes David Flair into the arena. Flair cuts a lonely figure as he walks down the aisle, although as he looks into the ring he smiles broadly as he sees Kennedy giving him a loud, over the top round of applause. Flair climbs the steps and then goes through the ropes, with Kennedy standing with his arms open wide, the two sharing a totally exaggerated hug. The crowd continue t voice their disapproval, but Kennedy and Flair don't care as they milk the hug for all it's worth before the two finally separate and sit on the opposing stools...[/i]
David, David, David! Welcome... to the first ever
episode of The Open Mic! God, it's just great
to see ya' buddy!
The crowd, and no doubt everybody watching at home, see through Kennedy's faux enthusiasm, but David seems to be lapping it up...
That - that road trip o' ours. God, that was the best, weren't it?
Kennedy and Flair nod in agreement of each other...
Now, David, you were born into a wrestling family. The son of Ric Flair. That - that's gotta put a lotta pressure on you man? I mean, you had to be expected to be slappin' on figure fours as soon as you could walk. But hey, you got there eventually man. You made it to WCW, and you had a pretty... uneventful?
... career. Ya' won a few titles, you made some money, but at the end of the day, you were always
stuck in your Dad's shaddow. But it wasn't your fault David, oh no. It was Ric's fault, wasn't it?
David rubs a hand across his chin as he nods in agreement...
He was never there for you as a child. He never worked with you, he never taught you the craft. When he was out stylin' and profilin', you were stuck back in Charlotte tryin' to follow in your Dad's footsteps. Hell, you never got sent to any Harley Race Wrestlin' School, did ya' David? I mean, imagine if you had the proper training. You
... coulda been 'The New
Nature Boy'. You coulda been more succesful than your Dad ever was.
Rage starts to build in David's eyes, but the crowd boos as they realise all the sympathy Kennedy is showing is nothing but crap...
Just imagine it. 'The New Nature Boy', David Flair. But it never worked out that way. And maybe... deep down... your Dad thinks he can turn Reid... into 'The New Nature Boy'. Maybe that's why he's away at wrestlin' school, learnin' from one of the best. But... d'ya ever wonder what mighta been David? D'ya ever wonder what mighta happened had your Dad been there for you? I mean, tell us David. Tell us how ya' feel.
David stays silent for a few seconds, composing himself, before he brings the microphone to his face...
You know... all I ever wanted to do was follow in my Dad's footsteps and enter he squared circle with 'im. I wanted to impress my Dad so badly, but he was never around when I was growin' up. Infact... there were some weeks where if I wanted to see my Dad, I had to tune into TBS at 6.05 on a Saturday night just to hear his voice.
Flair lowers his head in disappointment, while again Kennedy exaggerates his response, shaking his head angrily in a rather ridiculous fashion…
If I’m honest with you Ken… there were plenty of times when I felt like I had no father.
A quiet hush comes over the audience as Flair looks off into the distance...
Y’see while my Dad was off travellin’ the world, playin’ ‘The Nature Boy’, I was stuck at home wonderin’ when I’d next shake my father’s hand. The stylin’ and profilin’, the drinkin’ champagne, the different girls in all the cities he visited, it’s all true. He’d play it up… and you people would lap it up… but there was me and mother back home, alone. How d’ya think that made me feel? ‘The Nature Boy’ was more than just a character, more than just a persona. It’s the real
Ric Flair. My role model growin’ up was a womaniser, an alcoholic, a gambler, hell, I guess I shoulda been thankful he was never around.
The odd boo, but the majority of the crowd stay silent, realising the magnitude of Flair's words...
Bur for some reason… I wasn’t thankful. I wanted my father in my life. If I needed help at school, I had nobody to turn to. Y’know, I always wanted to be on my high school wrestlin’ team. You’d think that as the son of Ric Flair, it’d be easy for me. But at tryouts… I never even made the first cut. ‘Cause growin’ up, my Dad never taught me a damn thing!
A much louder chorus of boos this time, but David presses on...
Reid on the otherhand… he had it all. My Dad… was actually there for him. Reid was an AAU National Champion. Dad paid for ‘im to go to Harley Race’s Wrestling School. What did I get? I got whipped with a leather belt by Hulk Hogan on national television. Oh sure, he got me a job with WCW. He got me a job… and then pushed me into his shadow. Y’know my happiest time at WCW? When Eric Bischoff fired my Dad. Those months when my Dad wasn’t around were some of the best days of my career. I finally… got to be my own man. I wasn’t Naitch’ Jr. anymore, I wasn’t Ric Flair’s son, I was David Flair!
Flair pulls the microphone away from his mouth, lowering his head, looking down at the canvas, but still shaking with rage. Kennedy rolls his eyes to the back of his head out of David’s sight, before he snaps back to the sarcastic, sympathetic character he’s played for most of this interview by placing a reassuring hand on Flair’s shoulder…
Now, David… that’s all great stuff. Really, very touching. But I got another question I wanna ask ya’. You’ve had some pretty well documented issues with drugs and alcohol in the past…
Flair slowly looks up at Kennedy, a fierce glare on his face…
Mr. Kennedy: But
… but I think we all know why. I mean let’s face it David… your life got pretty screwed up there for a while. You gotta be puttin’ some of the blame for that… on your Dad, right?
In a surprising turn of events, Flair actually looks at Kennedy in annoyance, rather angry with that last comment…
Actually… if there’s one thing my Dad knew how to do well… it was put me in rehab. I might hate my father for never bein’ there when I was growin’ up… I might hate my father for never treatin’ me the same way he’s treated Reid… but I’ll always be grateful that he helped me get clean.
The crowd responds with a cheer, to which Kennedy can’t help but smirk at…
Wait a minute, wait a minute… so lemme get this straight. The guy treats you like a bastard, was considered one of the best wrestlers in the world but never taught you a damn thing except thing how to get high and wasted, treated you like dirt when you finally do step into the ring with ‘im… and you’re thankful he put you in rehab?
David grits his teeth, annoyed that Kennedy doesn’t see his point…
Like I told you when you contacted me and asked if I wanted to get back at my Dad and my brother, I said I’d help you out to prove a point. But they’re still my family and-
Aw c’mon David! You’re here to tell these people how you really
feel. Your Dad was never there for ya’, he treated you like dirt, he never even taught you to wrestle, he put you in rehab ‘cause he didn’t wanna deal with ya’, hell, he was probably embarrassed by ya’, so tell these people how you REALLY feel about ‘im!
Flair shakes his head, no understanding what he’s hearing…
Why… why are you sayin’ this to me? I thought we were frie-
Friends!? You and me, we will NEVER be friends! Do you realise the crap
your Dad has put me through. He’s done ‘is best to sabotage my career, he’s hung around way too long, it’s time for your Dad to go home and retire
! You’re Dad shoulda retired about 15 years ago, he shoulda been there for ya’, he should been home helpin’ you with school, teachin’ you how to wrestle, but he was never there for ya’ ‘cause he was too busy tryin’ to hold down people like me!
Kennedy rises out of his chair, extremely animated now, talking down to David whose head has lowered once again…
What the hell’s the matter with you!? Why can’t you see that!? Why can’t you see that when Ric Flair shoulda been at home with you playin’ Daddy, he was too busy ruinin’ hundreds of young wrestlin’ careers by not takin’ his old ass home!? What’s the matter David, the drugs screw you up so bad that you can’t figure out how much of a jackass your dad is!?
The crowd “Ooooh!” as David starts shaking with rage once more, bringing his gaze up so he’s looking Kennedy dead in the eye…
Face it David, Daddy didn’t love you, and now he’s tryin’ to make up for the screw up you turned out to be with Reid, and it’s eatin’ you up inside!
The crowd pops as Flair bursts to his feet, going nose to nose with Kennedy…
C’mon, I dare ya’! Take a shot! Picture me as your Daddy, picture me as Ric Flair! Do what you’ve always wanted to do, take out all those years of frustration-
Or think of me as Reid, think about how good it felt when you saw him get his ass kicked last Monday!
LEAVE ME ALONE!
You know you wanna hit me, so why don’t you just-
Kennedy smashes his microphone of David Flair’s forehead!
Just like he did to Ric, and just like he did to Reid, Kennedy completes the trifecta by drilling David with the same microphone! The crowd shits all over Kennedy’s actions, as having drove Flair to the verge of breaking, Kennedy then sucker-punched him! Now Kennedy mounts David and starts hammering him with closed fists to the forehead, blood flying everywhere as David has been busted open! With Flair down and out, Kennedy lays down next to him, microphone back in his hand…
You listen to me you stupid son of a bitch! I… absolutely HATE… your Dad. I hate his guts! And I’m not gonna let him screw up my career… like he managed to screw up your life!
Kennedy then takes the microphone wire… and wraps it around Flair’s throat! Kennedy is choking David Flair! With blood pouring down his face, Flair is a crimson mess as he starts to choke and lose air. Kennedy is unrelenting as he continues to up the pressure, violently swinging Flair’s head from side to side… until…
*ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA...*
It’s Ric Flair
! He’s here! ‘The Nature Boy’ storms out from the back, running down to the ring as quickly as he can, taking off his suit jacket and tossing it aside… but he’s being followed down to the ring by a security team!? The crowd doesn’t understand what’s happening as the security personnel race past Flair… and then line up and the bottom of the ramp… blocking Flair from getting to the ring!
What the hell is goin’ on!?
John Bradshaw Layfield:
What are these guys doin’ out here!?
Jesus Christ, get the hell outta way! The man’s son’s in there for God’s sake!
The security guards keep Flair at bay, blocking his path to help David… so Flair storms the line, trying to break through the blockade… but the numbers overwhelm him as Flair is tackled to the floor! Kennedy sees all of this and can’t help but smile as he sees Flair desperately trying to reach out for his son, but just like on Raw, he grabs nothing but air.
The security guards now drag Flair to his feet, all eight of them straining to keep Flair in check, and somehow the ridiculous level of heat only intensifies as Jonathan Coachman races down the aisle. ‘Coach’ walks with a purpose, franticly waving and gesturing for his security squad to drag Flair backstage. Flair tries desperately to fight it, kicking, clawing, trying to break free of the shackles, but he can’t overcome the overwhelming numbers….
Hey! Hey Ric!
Kennedy supports the broken, bloody body of David Flair against his own, a sick look in his eyes…
If I can do this to your kids… just imagine what I’m gonna do to you!
And then plants David with THE MIC CHECK!
Flair is planted face first to the mat, the second his bloody skull hits the canvas, the will to fight evaporates from Ric’s body. A teary, blubbering mess, Ric Flair has just seen his oldest son tricked and then destroyed by that sick bastard Kennedy. The security team then slowly try to pull Flair away from the ring, but no more fight left to give, all Flair can do is scream over and over again…
DURING THE COMMERCIAL BREAK
The video opens backstage where a crazed and frenzied Ric Flair is being escorted from the arena by the security team who stormed the ring moments before. Smackdown’s Interim General Manager Jonathan Coachman is following from behind, encouraging and shouting at the security team…
Jonathan Coachman: GET ‘IM OUTTA HERE!
Flair continues to fight and struggle against the security team, but the numbers game proves too much as they continue to force him down a corridor…
Jonathan Coachman: You don’t come onto my show uninvited and start actin’ like that, ya’ hear me Flair!?
Flair tries to kick out at ‘Coach’, only for him to fall short by a few inches…
Ric Flair: YOU SUNNOVA BITCH! I’M GONNA KILL ‘IM!
The security continue to keep Flair at bay, now literally carrying him kicking and screaming through the backstage area…
Jonathan Coachman: Not tonight you ain’t Ric!
We now approach a door with a red luminous sign above it that reads “EXIT”, with the lead security guard kicking the door open while his colleagues drag Flair through the door…
Ric Flair: I’LL GET YOU FOR THIS ‘COACH’! I’LL GET YOU!
As the camera stops and Flair disappears out the door, along with the security team, Coachman reaches out and grabs the door handle…
Jonathan Coachman: AND STAY OUT!
And then slams the door shut behind him. Turning back towards the camera, Coachman breaths deeply, trying to regain his composure, before he calmly re-adjusts his tie and walks off, the camera staying focused on that “EXIT” sign as the video comes to an end.
*End Video Package*
And when we snap back to current time, we instantly see Josh Matthews stood, microphone in hand, looking rather worried as a very agitated Jonathan Coachman stands next to him, dabbing his forehead with an expensive looking silk handkerchief…
Uh, ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Friday Night Smackdown. As you can see, joining me at this time is the Smackdown Interim General Manager Jonathan Coachman, and ‘Coach’ you-
Alright, alright, let’s cut the formalities. I’ve got a lil’ announcement I want to make and I want each – and every – single – Smackdown and Raw superstar to hear me when I say this. Smackdown… is my show now. And if I invite
you onto my show, I expect you to behave in a certain manor. Two weeks ago I invited Ric Flair onto Smackdown and what happened? He gets into a fist fight in the middle of my ring! And then tonight, he shows up here unannounced and uninvited! And that… is just not acceptable.
Boos from inside the arena…
I mean, why couldn’t Ric act like Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas did last week? Perfect gentlemen, they turned up, they made their challenge to The Hooligans, they said what they had to say and then they left. They behaved impeccably, and that’s why they’re allowed back on the show tonight. Y’know, there’s a lotta people in this company who could learn a thing or two from The World’s Greatest Tag Team in how to behave yourself when you’re a guest on another show.
Josh rolls his eyes to the back of his head…
But I want everybody to hear me when I say that anybody
caught actin’ like Ric Flair, will be ejected from the building IMMEDIATELY, no questions asked! That old has-been showed up outta nowhere and ruined what was a perfectly legitimate interview segment, and it ain’t gonna happen again!
Matthews nods his head sheepishly…
Uh, well, thank you Mr. Coachman for enlightenin’ us all with that. Are we finished here or…?
’Coach’ gives Josh a look of disgust…
No, we’re not
finished yet. We’re finished when I say we are! ‘Cause as a matter of fact, I have another announcement I wanna make. This concerns Batista, Edge and the World Heavyweight Championship.
Pop for the mention of Smackdown’s Wrestlemania main event…
Y’see, after we went off the air last week, Batista had recovered enough to barge into my office, demanding he get his hands on Edge tonight. Now, I can’t afford to let anythin’ jeopardise my Wrestlemania main event. Batista may want to get his hands on Edge… but I can’t allow that. It just can’t happen, I refuse
to put the World Heavyweight Championship Match at risk just because Batista can’t control his emotions. Therefore…
Coachman pauses, turning to Josh with a small sneer on his face…
In the best interests of both Edge, Batista… and of course, the fans… I am hereby banning any and all physical contact between Batista and Edge on Smackdown before Wrestlemania XXIII.
Big time heat from the fans…
If Batista so much as lays a hand on one hair on Edge’s body tonight, then I will strip
him of his title and name Edge the new World Heavyweight Champion.
I didn’t wanna have to go to such lengths Josh, but to preserve the name and legacy of such a fine show like Smackdown… these actions are necessary. And now
’Coach’ quickly turns and leaves, clearly happy with the announcements he’s made tonight, while Matthews can only watch Coachman leave, shaking his head as he goes, thinking what the majority of fans will be thinking, that something is corrupt within the leadership of Smackdown right now.
Back into the arena for…
”MY NAME IS FINLAY… AND I LOVE TO FIGHT…”
A good level of heat as the United States Champion Finlay
makes his entrance, the veteran brawler accompanied to the ring by the Cruiserweight Champion Gregory Helms
. Finlay and Helms discuss strategy, obviously no hard feelings between the two after their tag team defeat to Bryan Danielson and Matt Hardy the previous week…
Are you kiddin’ me!? Jonathan Coachman has just announced that if Edge or Batista put their hands on each other before Wrestlemania, that the World Heavyweight Championship Match is gonna be cancelled, and Batista could be stripped of the title!
Somethin’ ain’t right here Cole. ‘Coach’ just pulled a fast one on Batista, and he just saved Edge’s ass in the process.
Jonathan Bradshaw Layfield:
If ya’ ask me, he’s done Batista a favour! ‘The Animal’ knows he don’t want a second night o’ Edge smashin’ his skull in with a steel chair. Mr. Coachman just done Batista a huge favour ahead of Wrestlemania.
How much is Coachman payin’ you to be his spokesman every week? I better be worth it, ‘cause you sound ridiculous, man.
Alright, easy guys. Let’s try focus on the rest of the show. Still to come tonight, Paul London and Charlie Haas go one on one, The Extremists and The Full Blooded Italians meet in six man tag team action, Chris Benoit and Kane team up to meet two of their Money in the Bank opponents in King Booker and ‘MVP’, while we have a rare Smackdown match featuring ‘The Phenom’, The Undertaker as he takes on Test. And of course, Batista and Mr. Kennedy one on one in a No Way Out rematch. But right now, Finlay is scheduled to take on Bryan Danielson, but it’s interesting to see that Gregory Helms it appears is gonna be out here in Finlay’s corner.
John Bradshaw Layfield:
I’m pretty sure that Helms is out here for a scoutin’ mission on Danielson, not that he needs it, he’s already beaten Danielson so many times. I dunno what you’re hopin’ for in that Cruiserweight Championship Match at Wrestlemania, but it’s a forgone conclusion if ya’ ask me. Helms has it in the bag.
I wouldn’t be so sure about that. But what about Finlay and Matt Hardy at Wrestlemania? I’m sure Finlay wants to send a message to Hardy tonight by showin’ off some of that ol’ Irish spirit o’ his against Danielson. This one sounds like it’s gonna be a tough as hell match up.
The crowd is on their feet as Bryan Danielson
confidently makes his way out from the back, looking as composed and focused as ever. Danielson pumps his fist and exchanges a fist bump with the man who’s walking down the aisle with him, and of course it’s Matt Hardy
who’s here to help even up the numbers…
Wrestlemania XXIII will no doubt be the biggest night in the careers of both Bryan Danielson and Matt Hardy. Hardy faces Finlay for the United States Championship, while Danielson tries to finally wrestle the Cruiserweight Championship away from Gregory Helms, but tonight, Danielson faces a big test in the shape of Finlay.
Like I keep sayin’, I’ve been nothin’ but impressed with this guy Danielson since he debuted here on Smackdown. I heard all the hype, I knew he had a big name reputation on the indie scene, and he’s lived up to that and much more here in the WWE.
John Bradshaw Layfield:
The indies are where this punk belongs in my opinion. I mean look at ‘im! He’s skinny as hell, he’s got a goofy lookin’ haircut, and hell, I still
haven’t heard a single word outta this kids mouth. He might have all you idiots on Youtube lovin’ ‘im, but he ain’t gonna be able to cut it under the bright lights o’ Wrestlemania, you mark my words.
Match 1: Non Title Match
United States Champion Finlay w/ Gregory Helms vs. Bryan Danielson w/ Matt Hardy
The referee calls for the bell, but before he gets the action underway, he’s quick to ensure that Finlay has removed that deadly shillelagh of his, all eyes on the Irishman as he carefully places his weapon in one of the corners. The two finally come together, aggressively snapping into a tie up, with Finlay gaining the upperhand as he drives Danielson into the corner. The referee steps in for the break, which the two men provide, although Finlay motions for a cheap shot only to think better of it as he steps back. Again the two tie up, this time Finlay works into a standing waistlock. Bryan tries to pry Finlay’s hands open, prompting the veteran to shove Danielson to the corner... but Bryan runs up the ropes and summersaults over the onrushing Finlay! Finlay puts on the breaks before he hits the turnbuckle, but as he heads back to the middle of the ring Bryan is already coming off the ropes... flying forearm smash! Finlay flais on the mat, and Danielson wastes no time... in going for the LEBELL LOCK! Danielson grabs the arm and tries to lock it on... but Finlay scrambles and dives for the ropes, the wily veteran showing good ring awareness as he manages to escape the early submission attempt.
Finlay flashes Bryan that toothy grin of his as he returns to his feet, the two tying up once more, with this time Danielson working into the waistlock, then using it to take Finlay down, shifting into a grounded headlock. Finlay twists free into a grounded hammerlock, which sparks a series of chain wrestling as the two counter out of each other’s holds, going from hammerlocks to headlocks to a fireman carry takedown from Finlay which Bryan transitions into a headscissors. Danielson then works this into a pinning predicament, but Finlay bridges up, both men intertwined as they rise to their feet, only for Danielson to work into a backslide... 1... 2... Finlay kicks out and is straight back on his feet... but as he charges, Danielson avoids him with a leapfrog... then takes Finlay down with a textbook dropkick! Bryan hooks the leg... 1... 2... Finlay kicks out, and he quickly then rolls to the outside. Finlay kicks the steel steps in frustration, which draws over the presence of Gregory Helms, the Cruiserweight Champion angrily shouting “What are you doin’!?” at the veteran. Finlay points a finger at Helms, warning him to watch his mouth, but this means the pair don’t see Bryan coming off the ropes... suicide dive... but Finlay pulls Helms into the line of fire... and it’s Helms who takes the brunt of the move!
Bryan flies through the air, but he takes out Helms, meaning that when he gets back on his feet... Finlay’s in perfect position to hammer him with a clothesline! Danielson hits the floor with a thud, but the veteran is unrelenting, drilling him with a string of boots to the chest, before he yanks Bryan up... and then fires him shoulder first into the steel steps! Danielson cries out in pain upon impact, but Finlay stays on him, aiming kicks to the shoulder before he tosses Bryan back into the ring for a near fall. In the corner, Finlay pummels Danielson with shots to the face and kicks to the midsection, before he drags Danielson from the corner... only to then fire him back in... shoulder first into the ringpost! Finlay now really goes to work on Danielson, hitting several kicks and elbows to the shoulder, rocking Danielson with a short arm clothesline, punishing him with clubbing forearms to the side of the head before he gets a long 2 count from a seated senton. Helms even manages to chip in with the odd cheap shot, drawing the ire of Matt Hardy, but Finlay continues the punishment as he drops Danielson with a single arm DDT for another near fall. After the kick out, Finlay goes for a shoulder clawhold, applying pressure to the injured shoulder. Finlay squeezes down on the shoulder, applying all of his weight, but Danielson does his best to fight back to his feet, eventually doing so, but Finlay desperately keeps the hold in place... only for Danielson to spin out of it... then take Finlay over with a northern lights suplex! 1... 2... Finlay kicks out, and he springs back onto the attack with a double axe handle to the damaged shoulder.
Danielson is face down on the mat in pain, prompting Finlay to start driving his knee into the arm, before he works Danielson into the grounded hammerlock. Hardy tries to rally the crowd behind Danielson, and eventually he’s able to once more struggle to his feet, although he’s unable to break the hold as Finlay ramps up the pressure... but once again Bryan is able to spin through... and take Finlay down with a side suplex! The crowd cheer as Danielson breaks free, but both men are down until Finlay gets back to his feet first, rocking Danielson into the corner with uppercuts. Finlay then goes for the Irish whip... but runs into a boot to the face! Finlay stumbles back, then Bryan rocks him with forearms to the face, then sending him off the ropes... but Bryan lowers his head and Finlay snaps it back up with a kick to the corner... but when he runs at Bryan, Danielson elevates Finlay over the top rope to the floor! Finlay has a rough landing, but Bryan isn’t letting up as he stands on the apron... and then flies at Finlay with a diving knee to the face! Finlay takes a painful bump off the barricade, but Danielson quickly yanks him back into the ring and then heads upstairs. Finlay takes an age to return to his feet, stumbling until he turns to face Bryan... missile dropkick finds it’s mark! Bryan hooks the leg... 1... 2... Finlay rolls a shoulder!
Danielson now looks to build some momentum as he hammers Finlay with uppercuts and forearms, before he puts the veteran down with a roaring elbow. Finlay crawls for the corner, prompting Danielson to head for the opposite corner and then race in... big boot smacks into Finlay’s face! Danielson punishes Finlay with another hard shot, and now he stands, waiting for Finlay to rise... so he can hook him up... TIGER SUPLEX! 1... 2... Finlay kicks out again! Danielson is fully in control now, back on his feet, briefly grabbing his shoulder in pain before he pumps his fist, ready to put Finlay away... which leads to Gregory Helms getting up on the apron! Helms calls out at Danielson, which draws the referee over to that side of the ring, but more importantly draws Danielson over too. With both opponent and referee distracted, Finlay is then free to head for the far away corner... and grab his shillelagh... NO! Matt Hardy snatches it before Finlay can grab it! Finlay is furious, as is Helms, as upon seeing this he drops down to the floor and races over towards Matt, angrily shouting at him... so Hardy cracks Helms with the shillelagh! Helms slumps to the floor, the crowd giving a great pop, but again the referee drawn to the action outside... which means that while Danielson grabs Finlay and tries to go for CATTLE MUTTILATION, nobody sees The Little Bastard scurry out from under the ring... with a second shillelagh in his hands! The Little Bastard tosses it to Finlay... who manages to spin free of Bryan grasp... to then CRACK HIM ACROSS THE SKULL WITH THE SHILLELAGH! Danielson collapses to the mat, with Finlay discarding the evidence, the cheers of Hardy’s actions turning to groans as the referee conveniently turns in time to count the 1... 2... 3.
Winner: Finlay @ 08.15
Once again, The Little Bastard hands Finlay an assist as the veteran Irishman picks up the win. Finlay quickly tosses the second shillelagh from the ring, dropping down to the mat before he rolls under the bottom rope, just in time as Hardy slides in from the other side. Finlay snatches his title belt away from Tony Chimel, clutching it tight in his arms as he walks around the ring, he and Hardy locking eyes together. Helms barely manages to bring his head off the floor, but Finlay doesn’t care, even going as far as to step over Helms as he makes his way up the aisle. Matt tries to bring Bryan back around, and when Danielson shakes away the cobwebs, Hardy them leans against the ropes, looking up the aisle at Finlay, champion and challenger engaging in a tense stare down as we head for a commercial.
And when we return, Kristal Marshall is standing by, ready for an interview…
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome my guest at this time, he is ‘The Rated-R Superstar’… Edge!
Filthy heat as Edge steps into the frame, dressed in street clothes, that smirk looking like it hasn’t left his face all evening long. Edge gives Kristal a quick wink of the eye, much to the interviewer’s disgust, but she presses on…
And Edge, I was just wondering what your thoughts were on the announcement earlier tonight by Jonathan Coachman. If either you or Batista have any physical contact between each other on Smackdown before Wrestlemania, your championship opportunity could be cancelled… or Batista could be stripped of the World Heavyweight Championship.
Edge ponders his response, rather over dramatically emphasising the thinking process before replying with a serious amount of sarcasm…
Well, gee, lemme think here. I mean, we’re just nine days away from Wrestlemania, and Batista is pretty pissed off with me. He wants to kick my ass, he’s bayin’ for my blood, so you’d think I’d be pretty happy that he’s not allowed to lay a finger on me, right?
Kristal nods in agreement…
Kristal snaps back in surprise…
Wrong, wrong… wrong! I am absolutely furious
at this decision. I mean, forget about all that crap that Batista’s mad, Batista wants revenge, Batista’s lookin’ for Edge tonight. All that is, is empty threats. After what I did last week, I guarantee you… Batista wants nothin’ to do with me.
Kristal raises her eyebrows in surprise…
Think about it. For weeks people kept sayin’ I was scared of Batista, that I was afraid to get in the ring with him alone. Well last week, I proved everybody wrong with one – simple – move. I smashed Batista’s skull in with a one man con-chair-to, and when I did that, I proved that I’m not scared of Batista… but that Batista oughta be scared of me.
And if ya’ ask me, that little announce Jonathan Coachman made earlier this evenin’ wasn’t for my benefit… it was to protect Batista. I
had the advantage, I
had the upperhand. Batista was laid out in the middle of the ring, he was probably sufferin’ from a concussion, and it was all at my
hands. Batista’s not 100% percent tonight, there’s not a chance that is, and y’know what? I mighta just finished what I started last week… tonight.
You can deny it all you want, but deep down, you know it’s true. And deep down, Batista knows it’s true too. He’s not goin’ to ‘Coach’ and demandin’ he gets his hands on me, that’s a loada crap right there. He’s wonderin’ when I’m gonna strike next. And that’s exactly what I had planned… all along. I got inside Batista’s head… and then I caved it in with a steel chair. I… got
… to Batista. And now Batista is scared… of me.
Edge stares deep into the camera, a villainous sneer on his face…
And at Wrestlemania, nothing and nobody is gonna save you champ. That title is as good as mine Dave. I’ve already proved I’m smarter than you, and at Wrestlemania… I’m gonna prove I’m just – simply – better... than you.
Edge breaks into a broad smile, turning and once again giving Kristal a wink before he exits the scene, leaving Marshall behind to scoff and turn her nose up as we cut back into the arena.
A fantastic response for Smackdown’s resident highfliers, as the WWE Tag Team Champions The Hooligans
race out from the back. Paul London
and Brian Kendrick
stop below the Smackdown fist, slapping hands together before Ashley Massaro
sends London sprinting towards the ring…
Well, certainly strong words from Edge, but I don’t for a second seriously think that Batista would be afraid of anybody. I don’t he even knows what the word fear means.
I ain’t buyin’ it for a second. Batista ain’t scared o’ Edge, even if he’s got a steel chair in his hand. I’m tellin’ ya’, I think this move by ‘Coach’ backfire on Edge. Imagine how much aggression, how much pent up emotion there’s gonna be runnin’ through the veins of ‘The Animal’ by the time we get to Detroit.
It certainly a huge development as we close in on Wrestlemania. But right now, it’s time for some interbrand action. It was last week on Smackdown that Raw’s Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas issued the challenge to The Hooligans for a match at Wrestlemania. Last Monday on Raw, Benjamin defeated Brian Kendrick, and now it’s time for round two as Charlie Haas steps into the ring with Paul London.
John Bradshaw Layfield:
And you know me Michael, I’m a Smackdown guy through and through. At Wrestlemania, it’s champions vs. champions, and I’m rootin’ for London and Kendrick all the way!
Really!? Wow, I’m in shock. But anyway, Benjamin and Haas got a little bit creative on Raw to help Shelton get the win, but I don’t think we’ll see too much o’ that tonight. I think The Hooligans have learned a lesson last Monday, and they ain’t gonna let it happen again.
Some solid heat as the World Tag Team Champions The World’s Greatest Tag Team
head down the aisle. Charlie Haas
looks calm and focused as he leads the way, while Shelton Benjamin
brings up the rear, he doing most of the talking as he trash talks the crowd…
Tazz, we both remember these too very well. It was as a tag team here on Smackdown that Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas made their debuts here in the WWE, and they were very successful. After a few years apart, Haas and Benjamin are back together, and it’s no surprise to me they’re champions once again.
They were successful here on Smackdown a few years ago, and I really just think the focus is back for these two. They kinda went off and did their own things, but it never really clicked for ‘em. Now they’re a team again, and now they’re headin’ to Wrestlemania to prove if they can live up to their name as The World’s Greatest Tag Team.
John Bradshaw Layfield:
I gotta lotta respect for Haas and Benjamin, I think they’re an outstanding team. But they’re Raw guys, and when they step into the ring with Smackdown’s own WWE Tag Team Champions, I wanna see a victory for the blue guys.
God, you’re really getting’ into this ain’t ya’?
John Bradshaw Layfield:
Ya’ damn right I am! It’s the battle of the brands, it’s champions vs. champions, it’s for brand supremacy! Have a bit o’ pride in your workplace ya’ pair o’ ingrates!
WWE Tag Team Champion Paul London w/ Brian Kendrick and Ashley Massaro vs. World Tag Team Champion Charlie Haas w/ Shelton Benjamin
Haas and London both circle the ring as the bell sounds, before the two tie up, only for Haas to quickly work into a standing side headlock. London tries to break free, but Haas wrenches on the hold, until London is finally able to push Haas off the ropes... Haas bowls London over with a shoulderblock. Haas takes a moment to look down on London with a smirk on his face, before he turns and comes off the ropes again... London lays flat on the mat as Haas runs over him... before he springs to the air to avoid Haas again with a leapfrog... to then take Haas down with a hiptoss! Haas is back up... armdrag puts him down again, with London holding onto the arm for an armbar. Haas is quickly able to work back to his feet, where he reaches for a handful of hair, pulling both men into the corner. The ref calls for the break, which both provide... only for Haas to suckerpunch London square in the face. After a club to the back, Haas sends London off the ropes... but then lowers his head, which London sees... kick to the chest snaps Haas up... and then a dropsault puts him down! London crawls into the cover... 1... 2... Haas kicks out.
As soon as Haas kicks out, he rolls under the bottom rope to try regroup with Benjamin, the World Tag Team Champions trying to get it together as Haas is clearly flustered at this point. Haas takes his time before returning to the ring, but finally the two tie up once more, only for London to work into a standing waistlock... and then run Haas into the ropes, then down with a rollup... 1... 2... Haas kicks out, sending London into the ropes... and then off them into a textbook standing dropkick from Haas! Haas crawls into the pinfall... 1... 2... London kicks out. Haas now looks to take control of the match as he rains down on London with stiff shots to the spine and face in the corner, before he snapmares London to the mat then delivers a shoot kick to the back for another 2 count. Haas now looks to wear London down as he targets the left knee of his opponent, causing plenty of damage as he executes a dragon screw, uses the ropes to bounce up and drop several knees across London’s knee, yanks London to the corner, places the knee across the middle rope to then aim kicks to it, before he gets a near fall from a release German suplex. Haas even does the typical heel move of tossing London through the ropes to the outside and then picking a fight with Kendrick on the other side of the ring, allowing Benjamin to go for an Irish whip... knee first into the steel steps! London cries out in pain as he crashes into the steps and then flies over them, before Benjamin yanks him back into the ring, allowing Haas to get another 2 count.
More kicks, elbows and knees drop across London’s left leg, and with London grounded Haas decides to go for a surfboard, looking to apply pressure to several areas of London’s body, but in particular the knee. London cries out in pain, unable to break free, but Ashley and Kendrick start slapping the mat, hoping to get the crowd involved. The noise begins to rise, and London is able to struggle back down to the mat... with Haas’ shoulders on the canvas! 1... 2... Haas has to kick out, releasing the hold, but with both men on their feet, London starts swinging right hands... until Haas ducks one... and takes London down with a chop block! London again grimaces in pain, but Haas doesn’t let up, as he drags London to his feet and then muscles him up onto the top turnbuckle. Haas climbs to the second rope, and he hooks London up... for a TOP ROPE OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY... NO! London desperately throws right hands to the midsection... and then shoves Haas down! Haas lands on his feet, but London wastes no time in standing on the top rope... and then flying into a FLYING HEADSCISSOR TAKEDOWN! London executes the big time manoeuvre, but he can’t take advantage as both men lay on the mat, the referee giving them the count.
Haas struggles to be the first man back up, but as he swings with a right hand, London blocks it and fires back with a right of his own. Again Haas swings... again London blocks it and snaps back. A further two right hands land, backing Haas to the ropes, prompting London to go for the Irish whip... Haas reverses... and tries for an overhead belly to belly... but London lands on his feet... and catches Haas with a hurricanrana! 1... 2... Haas kicks out! Haas is dazed, staggering to his feet, but here comes London again... tornado DDT finds it’s mark! 1... 2... Haas rolls a shoulder! Haas is down and stays down... allowing London to connect on a running shooting star press! 1... 2... again Haas rolls his shoulder! Incensed by what he’s seeing, Benjamin jumps up onto the apron, shouting at London, getting in London’s face, distracting London and allowing Haas to recover. London walks towards the apron and barks for Benjamin to stand down, but Shelton isn’t moving... until Kendrick yanks him from the apron! Benjamin lands on the floor and angrily shouts at Kendrick, but Kendrick motions for Shelton to turn around... right into a slap from Ashley! The crowd roars as Benjamin is stunned, but in the ring Haas is back on his feet... and he hooks London from behind... SLEEPER HOLD... NO! London fights it... and runs to the corner... kicking off it... into SLICED BREAD! A great counter from London, and with Haas down in the perfect position, London, bad knee and all, drags himself to the top rope... 450 SPLASH!!! London pulls off his breathtaking finisher, grabbing his knee on impact but finally rolling into the cover for the 1... 2... 3!
Winner: Paul London @ 05.27
With the outside interference neutralized, London is able to pick up a convincing victory over Haas. Kendrick and Ashley quickly slide into the ring to celebrate with London, while once Benjamin is able to pick himself up, he drags Haas from the ring. Benjamin hooks Haas’ arm over his shoulder, supporting his partner’s weight as the pair back up the ramp, while in the ring Kendrick and Ashley raise London’s hand in victory, the score between the two teams evened as we get ever closer to the showdown at Wrestlemania.
APRIL 5TH, 1992
In the first half of what was billed as a double main event, reigning WWF Champion Ric Flair, competing in his first Wrestlemania, defended his title against ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, in a match that was about more than the prestige of any title... the virtue of a lady was at stake. Having lasted over an hour during the 1992 Royal Rumble to become champion, Flair then set his sights on exposing the lovely Miss Elizabeth as a former lover of the notorious womaniser, claiming that Elizabeth had been with Flair before Savage and was now considered “damaged goods”. Flair even produced a serious of photographs showing he and Elizabeth together as a couple, adding further weight o his claims. Savage and Elizabeth strongly denied there had ever been a relationship between Elizabeth and Flair, but as the match grew closer, Flair revealed that if victorious at Wrestlemania, he’d reveal centrefold photographs of Elizabeth. Flair and Savage battled back and forth, with Flair bleeding profusely from the forehead due to Savage’s assault. Ultimately, Savage would prevail thanks to a handful of tights, only for Flair’s associate Mr. Perfect to enter the ring and attack Savage. During the beatdown, Elizabeth would try to protect her husband, but Flair would subdue her... and then force a kiss on her! Disgusted, Elizabeth would respond with a slap, prompting a Savage comeback, clearing the ring of Flair and Perfect, allowing him to celebrate with his wife as the new WWF Champion.
WRESTLEMANIA XXIII - 9 DAYS AND COUNTING
*End Video Package*
We return to see The Hooligans now walking backstage, with Paul London fully selling the effects of the match with Charlie Haas as he needs the help of Brian Kendrick to limp along. Ashley Massaro is nearby, carrying both of their titles, a concerned look on her face as London grimaces through the pain…
Don’t worry man. We’ll get ya’ to the trainer’s room and he’ll fix ya’ up. You’ll be fine.
London continues to wince and groan in pain, but the pair make steady progress down the corridor they’re on… until they suddenly come to a stop. The camera pans and reveals that it’s the presence of The New Breed that’s blocking their path, as the imposing figure of Monty Brown snarls as he looks down at them. Elijah Burke and Layla are nearby, with the sultry vixen stepping forward to confront Ashley…
Ashley… nice to see you’re keeping those titles warm for us. But I can’t help but think that they’d look better in my
arms… or even around Monty and Elijah’s waists.
Layla runs a hand along Brown’s torso…
Oh Paul, have you hurt your knee? I’m sure Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas will keep that in mind for Wrestlemania. But when you two finally stop playing your little games and actually start defending those titles again… we’ll be waiting. So I hope that knee heals Paul… ‘cause we don’t want any excuses.
Ashley steps forward, getting in Layla’s face…
Why don’t you just back off Layla? You guys have been here like 5 seconds and you’re already talkin’ about facin’ Paul and Brian for the titles. They’ve been champions for over a year now. Why don’t you guys prove yourself before you start throwin’ out challenges?
Layla laughs, turning to Burke and Brown, and while Elijah smirks, Monty shows no emotion as he continues to stare down the champions…
Oh Ashley, don’t you understand? We don’t need
to prove anything. I mean, take you and me for example. We’re both WWE Diva Search winners… but I don’t need to win any silly contest to prove I’m better than you in every way possible.
Ashley snarls at Layla, the two inches away from each other…
And let’s face it, ever since you won, you’ve not exactly done anything… impressive
… now have you?
Just like you two punks. Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Hass mighta been impressed with ya’ll after beatin’ Regal and Burchill… but that don’t impress us. And it’s us you oughta be tryin’ to impress.
London takes his arm from around Kendrick’s shoulder, gingerly taking a few steps forward under his own weight…
You wanna be impressed? Then you two better pay real close attention to Wrestlemania XXIII. ‘Cause after we beat Haas and Benjamin… we’ll be waitin’ for ya’.
Burke smirks to himself…
I can’t wait.
Burke sneers as he looks down on London, with Kendrick and Brown locking eyes too, all four men looking determined not to give an inch. Layla and Ashley also stare at each other, Ashley still clutching the tag titles in her hands, the tension in the corridor continuing to build… until Layla smiles and pulls back. Running a hand across Brown’s shoulder, she turns and starts to leave…
C’mon boys. Let’s go.
We’ll be watchin’… I guarantee it.
And with those final words, Burke and Layla turn to leave, although Brown hangs back a little longer, his stare lingering on before he too heads off camera. The champions watch The New Breed go, stern faces all around as they look focused and determined, before Kendrick once again hooks London’s arm across his shoulder…
C’mon man, let’s get you some help.
And with that London and Kendrick hobble out of the shot, Ashley close by, the champions once again confronted by the new kids on the block as we head back into the arena.
*THIS IS A TEST (EXTREME REMIX)…*
The imposing figure of Test
strides down the aisle, looking cool and focused as he heads for the ring. As he walks down the aisle, Test throws some trash talk at the aisle-side fans, before he enters the ring and starts to pace it, trading words with the referee as he does…
It’s been a few weeks since we’ve seen Test, but this man is a dangerous competitor anytime he steps into the ring. We saw the way he’s pushed men like Chris Benoit and Batista to the limit over the last few months, he can certainly cause some damage to whoever he faces.
Hey, credit where credit’s due, this guy can really go. He can mix it up, he’s a big, strong guy but he’s pretty athletic too. But I dunno if I’m takin’ Test over The Undertaker, especially not with the kinda mood ‘The Deadman’ is in right now.
John Bradshaw Layfield:
2007, I’ve seen a new Test, a focused Test, a determined Test, but even though he’s pushin’ guys like Batista and Benoit to the limit, he’s not quite gettin’ it done. And that ain’t a good habit to be in when you’re steppin’ into the ring with the legendary ‘Phenom’.
In the ring, Test continues to pace, snarling as he goes… but all that changes as the lights go out in the arena, freezing Test to the spot…
The smoke starts to bellow out, the arena erupting with an enormous pop, until finally out of the mist emerges Paul Bearer
, holding his urn high in the air, leading the way down the aisle… and then out of the shadows comes The Undertaker
! Another huge cheer welcomes ‘The Deadman’ into the arena, his trademark long entrance captivating the live audience…
One of the most revered streaks in all of sports history. Time and time again, when Wrestlemania has rolled around, this man has risen to the occasion. His Wrestlemania undefeated streak currently stands at 14 – 0. Can The Undertaker overcome ‘The Samoan Bulldozer’ Umaga in nine days time to make 15 – 0?
John Bradshaw Layfield:
Ya’ look at some o’ the names The Undertaker has knocked off at Wrestlemania. Ya’ go all the way back to guys like Jimmy Snuka and Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, ya’ look at guys like Kane, Ric Flair, Triple H, Randy Orton, some o’ the biggest names in the history of this business have tried and failed to beat this man on the grandest stage of ‘em all. But in nine days time, I think the streak is over! Umaga has no weakness, he shows no fear, he’s impervious to pain, he’s like nothin’ The Undertaker has ever faced before, and that’s why I think he’s gonna snap that streak in half!
I’ll admit, Umaga is very impressive. He’s beat plenty o’ guys over the last year or so. But there’s just somethin’ about Wrestlemania season that brings out the best in ‘The Deadman’. He just seems to have this supernatural ability to up his game at any moment, and that for me is what gets him the win at Wrestlemania XXIII. But regardless o’ who wins, it’s gonna be an unbelievable match!
The Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer vs. Test
As the bell rings, Test understandably stays in his corner, not wanting to engage in contact as The Undertaker slowly stalks his way out of the opposite corner. Test then starts to circle the ring, Undertaker keeping Test infront of him, before the two come together when ‘Taker swings a right hand... but Test ducks and scurries away to the far away corner, a look of grave concern in his eyes. Slowly Undertaker cuts off the rest of the ring, forcing Test to engage in a collar and elbow tie up, with ‘Taker quickly driving his knee into the midsection. A big right hand follows, before ‘Taker shows impressive strength to scoop Test up for a slam. Undertaker comes off the ropes... and drops a big elbow for the first near fall of the match. Test kicks out and rolls away to the ropes, but ‘Taker stays on him, grabbing the left wrist and twisting Test’s arm, wrenching on it and driving his shoulder in that of Test. Another wrench of the arm, before ‘Taker then drags Test towards the corner, the crowd rising as they know what’s coming next. Undertaker pushes himself up to the top rope, waling along it... and then coming down to deliver old school!
Once more Test is forced to roll to the ropes, but again Undertaker gives him no chance to recover as he yanks Test to his feet and goes for a suplex... but Test pushes off, landing on his feet behind ‘The Deadman’... to take him down with a falling neckbreaker! Test surprises everyone as he drops ‘Taker, quickly crawling into a cover for a 2 count. Test then looks to target the neck as he drops a string of forearms down across it, before he pushes ‘The Deadman’ over to drop the elbow... and again... and a third quick-fire elbow connects, gaining Test a near fall. Test then shows impressive power as he snaps off a few high impact moves, connecting on a suplex and then a running big boot to the face for a pair of near falls, before he then looks to wear ‘Taker down with a standing camel clutch. Undertaker is on his knees as Test stands above him, hands clasped under Undertaker’s chin, slowly wearing ‘The Deadman’ down until ‘Taker is lying on the mat. ‘Taker reaches up and grabs a handful of hair, prompting Test to abandon the hold, but he does drive the point of his elbow into Undertaker’s neck, following this with a string of knees to the side of the head. Undertaker stumbles to the corner, but Test follows him in, hammering ‘The Deadman’ with big right hands to the face.
Undertaker does his best to fight back by throwing a few right hands, but Test quickly ends any rally with a series of boots to the midsection. A hard Irish whip sends ‘Taker across, with Test following in... but Undertaker avoids the clothesline! Test rattles the turnbuckle, and after taking a few seconds to recover ‘Taker charges off the ropes... running right into a falling clothesline from Test! ‘The Impact Player’ nearly takes Undertaker’s head off, and he scrambles to hook the leg... 1... 2.. Undertaker kicks out! Feeling frustrated, Test throws a flurry of wild forearms to the back of the knee as ‘Taker gets back to a knee, before he yanks ‘The Deadman’ to his feet... and then hooks him up... for a pumphandle slam... no! Undertaker lands on his feet behind Test... and slaps a hand around Test’s throat... CHOKESLAM... NO! Desperately Test drives his knee into the midsection, pushing ‘Taker off the ropes... and into a belly to belly suplex! Test takes Undertaker down, hooks the leg... 1... 2... no! Undertaker kicks out!
More frustration from Test as he berates the referee, then aggressively yanks ‘The Deadman’ into grounded reverse chinlock. Test wrenches on the neck as both men lie on the canvas, ‘The Impact Player’ looking to wear ‘The Deadman’ down enough to hit that one big move to end the match. Test continues to apply pressure, but as the crowd make their feelings known, Undertaker responds, forcing his way back to a seated position... and then back to his feet... to drive an elbow into Test’s midsection... and another... and a third causes some separation. Test fires back with a right hand to the head that causes ‘Taker to stumble back to the ropes... but he bounces off and smacks Test with a right hand! Test fires back... but Undertaker returns with a big time right hand... and another... and a third unanswered backs Test to the corner! Irish whip across... Test hits the turnbuckle hard, and here comes ‘The Deadman’... but he runs into a boot to the face! ‘Taker stumbles back, and Test charges from the corner to try take advantage... but he runs right into a goozle! Once again Undertaker has his hand around Test’s throat... CHOKESLAM... NO! Test rallies with a desperate kick to the midsection... that doubles Undertaker over... into perfect position for... the GUTWRENCH POWERBOMB!! The crowd is stunned as Test hits his finishing move, dropping to his feet, ecstatic as he hooks the leg for the 1... 2... NO!!
Undertaker kicks out, and Test can’t believe it! Head in his hands, Test’s eyes nearly bulge from his head in disbelief... and it gets worse as The Undertaker sits up! Test stumbles back to his feet, trying to catch ‘Taker as he stands up, but his right hands have no effect, and soon it’s ‘The Deadman’ who’s rattling off right after right, backing Test to the corner. Undertaker goes for the Irish whip... and follows in with the clothesline! Test staggers from the corner... and Undertaker scoops him up... SNAKE EYES! Test’s legs are like rubber as ‘Taker charges off the ropes... big boot to the face! Test is down, stunned at how Undertaker has exploded back into the match, and as he staggers back to his feet, Undertaker is waiting... to snatch him with the goozle... CHOKESLAM!! ‘The Deadman’ emphatically plants ‘The Impact Player’, but as ‘Taker glances at the crowd and then at Paul Bearer, the arena rises as they sense The Undertaker isn’t finished yet... and this is confirmed as ‘Taker draws a thumb across his throat! ‘Taker crouches, waiting for Test to rise, and after what seems like an eternity, Test somehow drags himself back up... only for ‘Taker to scoop him onto his shoulder... for the TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER!!! Test is down and out, and Undertaker places both hands across his chest for the 1... 2... 3!
Winner: The Undertaker @ 07.13
The Undertaker finally sees off Test, letting the evil sights of his tongue stuck out and eyes rolled to the back of his head linger for a few seconds after the bell before he finally releases his grip on Test and gets back to his feet. Paul Bearer scurries into the ring, holding the urn high in the air as ‘Taker holds a hand up to the sky, the crowd reacting positively to the old school mannerisms of the pair…
But the cheers quickly turn to gasps and groans as Armando Alejandro Estrada
leads the way down the aisle, franticly waving and motioning for Umaga
to get to the ring and attack The Undertaker. Estrada waves his arms and even his hat as he desperately tries to get Umaga to strike while the iron is hot, but Umaga simply snarls and pounds his way down the aisle… while in the ring The Undertaker is now back on his feet… and is charging off the ropes… OVER THE TOP ROPE SUICIDE DIVE!!
The arena goes crazy as The Undertaker flies through the air, performing his trademark death defying leap through the air to take down Umaga!
The crowd pop and marvel at the incredible athleticism of The Undertaker as he crashes down onto Umaga, both men sprawling across the concrete as they tumble to the floor. Despite just coming through a tough match with Test, Undertaker is quickly back on his feet to start unloading with clubbing right hands to the top of Umaga's head, stunning 'The Samoan Bulldozer'. Every right hand rocks Umaga, his head flinging back violently, with 'Taker then looking to target the midsection... only for Estrada to jump on The Undertaker's back! Wrapping his hands around Undertaker's neck, Estrada dangles on the back of 'The Deadman', kicking his legs in a desperate attempt to somehow stop 'Taker... but Undertaker is able to push Estrada off, landing behind 'The Deadman'... who then sends Estrada flying to the concrete with one massive right hand! Estrada flies to the floor, and now 'Taker turns back to Umaga... who runs through 'The Deadman' with a massive bodycheck!
Undertaker crashes back down to the concrete, his spine and back creating a sickening thud off the unforgiving floor. 'Mags quickly shakes away the cobwebs and mounts The Undertaker, hammering down on him with a flurry of right hands, before he returns to his feet and roars loudly through the boos of the crowd. Never one to stay down, 'The Deadman' instantly tries to pick himself up, but Umaga pounces, snapping off shots to the throat before he grabs Undertaker by the wrist... and launches him into the ringside barricade! 'Taker takes a painful looking impact, the effects of the match and the attack showing as he's forced to lean against the barricade for support. More right hadns lands before Umaga grabs 'Taker by the hair, dragging him back towards the ring, specifically the steel steps. Umaga lines Undertaker up... then looks to smash him face first off the steps... no! 'Taker blocks it, putting his foot on the steps, then he drills Umaga with an elbow to the midsection... Umaga tastes the steel!
Umaga's face smacks of the steel, snapping his head back upright... and almost instantly Undertaker snatches him in a goozle... CHOKESLAM ON THE FLOOR... NO! Umaga somehow manages to snatch both hands around Undertaker's throat... and shows amazing strenght to manhandle him... and launch him spine first into the steel steps! Undertaker crashes into the steps in a seated position, the steps rocking on impact but staying buckled in position, with Undertaker's head precariously positioned. Umaga stumbles away, trying to shake off The Undertaker's attack, but Estrada is frantic, pleading with Umaga... and 'The Savage of Samoa' quickly catches on... as he jumps up into the air and then races in... SAMOAN WRECKING BALL... AGAINST THE STEEL STEPS!!
It's an incredible collision as Umaga's smashes into Undertaker's skull, a sickening clash of flesh against steel, the top half of the steps flying of the bottom half on impact!
The crowd are stunned, a collective gasp of disbelief ringing out around the arena. Undertaker slumps to the floor, looking completely out could, and despite the pleas of Paul Bearer, his attempts to summon Undertaker with the urn are futile as 'The Deadman' lays motionless on the mats surrounding the ring. Estrada is as always Umaga's number one cheerleader, applauding his charge's efforts so far, but demanding more. Estrada motions for Umaga to pick Undertaker up, which Umaga obligies with, dragging the lifeless body of 'The Deadman' to his feet. Estrada then reaches into his top pocket, pulling out a cigar... and gripping it in both hands... AND THEN SNAPS IT IN HALF! Umaga holds Undertaker by the hair with his left hand... and then cocks that right hand in the air... before letting out a terrifying tribal scream... SAMOAN SPIKE!!
The Undertaker once again crashes to the mat, sprawled out on the floor, completely motionless, as Umaga has struck back for the actions of 'The Deadman' over the last few weeks. Estrada slaps his monster on the shoulder, delighted with what he's seen, and with Umaga standing over The Undertaker, it looks like the famous Wrestlemania streak is in more danger than ever as we head off for a commercial.
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*
Back into the arena, with the camera focused on the announce desk and the smiling faces of the announce team…
What an incredible night it.s gonna be, Wrestlemania XXIII! So much ahead of us, so much to look forward, some incredible match ups on the card. But after what we just saw before the commercial break between The Undertaker and Umaga, ‘The Deadman’ might not even make it to Wrestlemania!
Two undefeated streaks on the line, and these two just keep goin’ back and forth on each other. Umaga struck the first blow at No Way Out, The Undertaker answered back at Saturday Night’s Main Event and again last week, but here comes Umaga with perhaps the biggest statement yet just a few moments ago!
John Bradshaw Layfield:
Like I’ve said all along, Umaga has The Undertaker’s number! Twice The Undertaker has attacked Umaga after he’s had a match up, and when Umaga returns the favour, he does it in a way ‘The Phenom’ never thought possible. I thought No Way Out was a beatin’, but that
was somethin’ else. If The Undertaker makes it to Detroit, I’ll tip my hat to ‘im, but he’ll be kissin’ goodbye his Wrestlemania streak in the process.
It’s gonna be one helluva match, that’s for sure. I still can’t pick a side either way, in the past I’ve always believed that when Wrestlemania rolls around, The Undertaker is gonna emerge victorious… but this year, I’m just not that confident that he will. But another match up that saw a big development earlier tonight is gonna be between Smackdown’s Mr. Kennedy and Raw’s Ric Flair. Kennedy hosted the first ever episode of The Open Mic, and his guest was noneother than the man who helped him attack Ric’s son Reid last Monday, Ric’s other son and Reid’s big brother, David Flair.
Yeah and what a sick bastard that Kennedy turned out to be. Not only did he beat up young Reid Flair, puttin’ his Dad Ric through hell in the process, but then he tricked David and wound up kickin’ his ass earlier tonight. Thankfully Ric Flair showed up hear to save his son from serious injury, but Kennedy sunk to a low I never even knew was possible.
John Bradshaw Layfield:
Can ya’ blame ‘im!? He’s tryin’ to make Ric Flair see sense! For years Flair shunned his family, he was never there for his wives, he was never there for his kids. He shoulda retired years ago and started spenin’ time with his family, but he just can’t do it. If anythin’ Kennedy showed Flair what stayin’ in wrestlin’ past his prime has cost his family, the toll it’s taken on them. I only pray ta’ Gawd that the beatin’ lil’ Reid Flair took was not in vain, and that after Ric Flair loses at Wrestlemania, he finally sees sense, hangs up the boots and goes home to North Carolina to spend some quality time with his family.
God, you’re a real scumbag sometimes ‘JBL’. I can’t believe I just heard you say all that. You seriously condonin’ what we’ve seen outta Kennedy on Raw and earlier tonight?
John Bradshaw Layfield:
Look at the big picture here Tazz! Kennedy’s tryin’ to do the Flair family a favour! They oughta be thankin’ Kennedy ‘cause after Wrestlemania, Daddy’s finally comin’ home!
Thankin’ ‘im?! Are you kiddin’ me!?
Alright, guys! Let’s try and stay cool here. I don’t see it your way ‘JBL’, I think both the attacks on Reid and David Flair, plus the attack over a month ago on Arn Anderson have all been disgusting
acts on the part of Kennedy, and I can’t wait ‘til Wrestlemania to see Ric Flair kick his ass!
Yeah me too! Can’t wait to see ol’ Naitch’ teach that punk some respect!
Well another interbrand match up on the Wrestlemania card is the Champions vs. Champions tag team match between the WWE Tag Team Champion The Hooligans from Smackdown, and Raw’s World Tag Team Champion, The World’s Greatest Tag Team. Now ‘JB L’, here’s one thing that I do agree with you on. You were passionate earlier about how you wanted to see Smackdown’s London and Kendrick get the win for the blue brand.
John Bradshaw Layfield:
Oh absolutely. I’ve been a Smackdown guy for almost four years, this brand’s given a lot to me and I’ve gave a helluva lot back to it. When London and Kendrick step into that ring at Wrestlemania, they’re representin’ all of us, and they better not let us down!
But what about the apparent injury suffered earlier tonight by Paul London? Charlie Haas did a lotta work on London’s knee, and we saw that London had to be helped to the back by Brian Kendrick.
Well I dunno what kinda matches The Hooligans have lined up for next week on either Raw or Smackdown, but he’s got nine days to get healthy for Wrestlemania. Paul London’s a tough as nails kid, he’ll be there no matter what. And I’m rootin’ for ‘em, I wanna see the Samckdown guys prove those Raw guys that we’re the real home o’ tag team wrestlin’ here in the WWE.
Well the home of women’s wrestling here in WWE is unquestionably Monday Night Raw. And headin’ into Wrestlemania, the Women’s Champion Mickie James has had her past come back to haunt her so to speak as she takes on her longtime former friend Beth Phoenix, in what has become an incredibly personal rivalry.
Well yeah, I mean when I first saw Victoria bring Beth Phoenix back to Raw, I just figured she was just the latest diva to challenge Mickie for the title. But as the weeks and months have gone on, and more of the story’s been revealed, there’s a lotta history between Beth and Mickie. The used to be best friends, they were roommates, the trained to be wrestlers together, they even had their first matches against each other. But a freak accident meant that it was Mickie James who wound up earinin’ a WWE contract and becomin’ Women’s Champion, and if ya’ ask me, Beth’s nothin’ but jealous of Mickie for all she’s achieved.
John Bradshaw Layfield:
Well of course she’s jealous! Beth Phoenix had her hopes and dreams ruined by Mickie James! How the hell is she supposed to feel? I’ve seen the power of Beth, there ain’t a chance Mickie was gonna beat her all those years ago to earn that contract, so she had to cheat and take Beth outta the match up. Well at Wrestlemania, there ain’t gonna be nowhere for Mickie to hide. Beth is gonna get her hands on her, and she’s gonna finally get revenge for all the years and pain and sufferin’ she’s had at the hands of Mickie James.
Another big title match from Raw is the Intercontinental Title Match between the champion Kenny Dykstra and the challenger Carlito. He’s young, he’s brash, he’s cocky, call him what you will, Dykstra has had a very impressive start to his WWE singles career, he’s already the youngest Intercontinental Champion in WWE history. But he’s made a lotta mistakes lately with regards to Carlito’s girlfriend Torrie Wilson, so much so that despite repeated warnings from his mentor Randy Orton, Kenny continues to have his focus on Torrie, so much so that Orton ended their partnership last Monday night on Raw.
John Bradshaw Layfield:
And I gotta agree with the advice ‘The Legend Killer’ was givin’ ‘im. Torrie Wilson, beautiful as she may be, she’s nothin’ more than a hindrance to Carlito. She’s always tellin’ ‘im what to do, when to do it, basically she’s got his balls in her purse! It makes me sick to see it, and I don’t understand why Dykstra wants any part of her.
Yeah and the more Dykstra focuses on Torrie, the better the chance for Carlito to become champion at Wrestlemania. We saw on Raw, how Dykstra got himself caught up with Torrie, and it cost ‘im as Carlito and Jeff Hardy took advantage to get the win. I may not like Randy Orton, but he’s right on the money with this one. Dykstra’s gotta get Torrie Wilson outta his head, or we’re gonna have a new Intercontinental Champion.
Well speakin’ of Randy Orton and Jeff Hardy, they’ll be two of the eight men entered in the annual Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Orton and Hardy are joined by Raw’s CM Punk and Johnny Nitro, while Smackdown is represented by four men who’ll clash in tag team action later tonight, King Booker, Montel Vontavious Porter, Kane and Chris Benoit. Now guys, J.R. made a very good point on Raw. Half the field in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match have been World Champions before, the other half haven’t. How big of an advantage is that goin’ into this type of situation?
John Bradshaw Layfield:
Oh I think it’s a huge
advantage. Orton, Booker, Benoit and Kane, they’ve been to the top of the mountain before, they’ve climbed the ladder of success, pun intended. They know how to handle big pressure situations, and I think you’re winner’s gonna come from one of those four men, and I’m pickin’ King Booker. He dominated Smackdown durin’ 2006, and I expect to see more of the same in 2007. King Booker’s my guy to grab the briefcase, and I don’t think he’ll wait very long in cashin’ in the contract.
Well, I gotta disagree wit’ ya’ ‘JBL’, I don’t think experience is gonna be that big an advantage in this match up. To win a Money in the Bank Ladder Match, you gotta have hunger, desire, and the guys with the most hunger are the ones who’ve never been a champion before. ‘MVP’ is on the verge of a break out year, Johnny Nitro seems to be over his losin’ slump now, and CM Punk’s gonna be a main event player for years to come. But my money’s on Jeff Hardy to win it. I think he’s ready, I think he’s got the athleticism and the crazy ass mentality, he knows how to win ladder matches, and that’s why he’s my pick.
Wrestlemania XXIII could certainly be a big night for Jeff Hardy, but what about for Jeff’s brother Matt? Matt Hardy is gonna challenge for the United States Championship against the man who picked up a victory over Bryan Danielson earlier tonight, ‘The Fighting Irishman’ Finlay.
Now see here’s a situation where I think experience can play it’s part. Finlay, a tough, rugged, battle-tested veteran, a two-time United States Champion, came through one o’ the toughest matches I ever seen when he beat Chris Benoit at Saturday Night’s Main Event in the Belfast Brawl. I think those years of fightin’ can work to Finlay’s advantage at Wrestlemania. But just like I said, hunger and desire can lead men to fight like they’ve never fought before, and that’s where I think Matt has the advantage. This is his big chance, his one on one Wrestlemania shot to become United States Champion, and I’m sure he ain’t gonna let it pass ‘im by. It’s gonna be tough to pick a winner, I think it’s gonna be close, but Matt’s my pick to win.
John Bradshaw Layfield:
Y’know what? I’m about to say somethin’ that I never thought I’d ever say. But I’m gonna pick Finlay, not because he’s tough, not because he loves to fight, not because I think Matt Hardy is gonna go down as one o’ life’s biggest screw ups… but because of that Little Irish Bastard that Finlay’s got hidin’ under that ring! I’m tellin’ ya’, The Little Bastard, I can’t believe I’m sayin’ it, but he gives Finlay such an advantage. He’s so small, he’s so sneaky, he can appear at any moment, and he can be the difference maker, and I think he swings it in Finlay’s favour. You saw what an influence he had when Finlay beat Bryan Danielson earlier tonight, and I could see it happenin’ again at Wrestlemania.
I honestly don’t think that’s as crazy as you made it out to be ‘JBL’, certainly for a lotta Finlay’s victories lately, The Little Bastard has had a role to play, especially in the win over Bryan Danielson. But they’ll be no leprechauns involved when Danielson challenges Gregory Helms for the Cruiserweight Championship. Since he debuted in the WWE, Danielson has been so impressive, beatin’ numerous members of the cruiserweight division. But Gregory Helms, the champion for well over a year now, has managed to keep his distance from Danielson at every turn, and even strike when the challenger least expects it. At Wrestlemania the two finally meet one on one, and there’ll be nowhere for Helms to hide.
John Bradshaw Layfield:
And why would Helms need anywhere to hide? He already beat Danielson at No Way Out, he kicked his ass back at Saturday Night’s Main Event, what more does the guy have to do to convince you that he’s been Cruiserweight Champion for fourteen months for a reason, Cole?
If he best Danielson fair and square at Wrestlemania, with no excuses, then I’ll be on board.
Yeah, don’t hold ya’ breath waitin’ for that to happen Cole. Listen, I gotta a lotta respect for Gregory Helms, I think he’s been a great champion. But for months he did nothin’ but run ‘is mouth about how he had no competition. Well he got it in the shape o’ Bryan Danielson, and he’s done nothin’ but run away from ‘im! You can talk about how he’s been champion for over a year, that’s a heck of an achievement, but Danielson is the real deal, he’s an unbelievable threat to Helms, and at Wrestlemania, I think we’re gonna have a new Cruiserweight Champion.
You wanna talk about nowhere to run, let’s talk about the explosive situation between John Cena and Bobby Lashley. For over a month John Cena said he wanted Mr. McMahon and his son Shane in the ring with ‘im, and when Cena finally got it at Saturday Night’s Main Event, Lashley got involved, decimating Cena and handing the victory to the McMahons. Mr. McMahon has abused his power to benefit Lashley and punish Cena, but the playing field has been levelled a bit after the blockbuster announcement that at Wrestlemania XXIII, Cena and Lashley will meet with a Special Guest Referee… none other than ‘The Texas Rattlesnake’, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin!
Aw baby, I can’t wait for this one! ‘Stone Cold’ is back, appointed referee by Linda McMahon and the WWE Board of Directors, and he ain’t gonna take no crap from nobody! He’s gonna lay down the law, and Vince and Shane are gonna like it no matter what!
John Bradshaw Layfield:
I can’t believe you two are happy about this! What in the hell is Linda McMahon thinkin’ appointin’ that drunk redneck as the Special Guest Referee!? How biased can ya’ get? I was really lookin’ forward to seein’ Cena and Lashley go at it in the pureness of the battle, in the spirit of competition, two warriors fightin’ it out, but now Linda McMahon went and ruined it for everybody! It makes me sick, and I hope that after Lashley’s finished with Cena, he turns around and teaches ol’ ‘Stone Cold’ a thing or two! Hell, I might even get back in the ring and do it myself!
I’m sure we’d all love to see you get in the ring with ‘Stone Cold’! Infact, I’d pay good money to see that! But the main event as far as Monday Night Raw is concerned is the Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship. The WWE Champion Shawn Michaels defends the gold against Triple H and Rob Van Dam, and last Monday night, Van Dam learned a pretty valuable leason. ‘DTA’… don’t… trust… anybody!
And now thay Van Dam knows this for sure, he ain’t gonna make that mistake again. I’m sorry, I’m not even gonna try and be impartial here, I want my buddy ‘RVD’ to become the WWE Champion. Van Dam represents so much of the ‘ECW’ culture we all grew up in, and I wanna see Van Dam at the top of the mountain at Wrestlemania. And I think it’s gonna happen.
John, what about the change, the almost metamorphosis of Shawn Michaels over these last few months? Long gone is the Shawn Michaels that was a part of DX with Triple H, now it’s a more bizarre ‘HBK’ we’re seein’. The man almost think’s he’s God’s right hand man, so much so that he said by repeatedly attackin’ Triple H and Van Dam he’s tryin’ to save them from themselves.
John Bradshaw Layfield:
I’m not a religious man Michael, but I sure as hell know that Shawn Michaels’ faith is strong. He believes that he’s WWE Champion due to sayin’ his prayers, and he believes that that’s gonna be enough to get ‘im through Wrestlemania. Well, I know God works in mysterious ways, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Shawn Michaels pulled another miracle outta his ass on Wrestlemania Sunday. But I dunno if God’s gonna be enough with a pissed off ‘Cerebral Assasin’ stood across the ring from ‘im. It’s gonna be a great match, I can’t pick a winner!
Well I personally believe that the fire and hatred Triple H has for Shawn Michaels right now is gonna see him run through both Michaels and Van Dam to become WWE Champion. But of course, as far as Smackdown is concerned, the biggest match of the night is the World Heavyweight Championship Match. The champion, ‘The Animal’ Batista, defends the title against ‘The Rated-R Superstar’ Edge, a match that ever since Edge won the Royal Rumble and declared he was gonna challenge Batista has been eagerly anticipated by the sports entertainment world.
This is the big one right here, this is the money match! Edge, no matter what you wanna tell me ‘JBL’, is runnin’ scared of ‘The Animal’, and earlier tonight, Jonathan Coachman did ‘im a huge favour by announcin’ that from here on out ‘til Wrestlemania, there ain’t no physical contact on Smackdown between Batista and Edge. If ya’ ask me, that’s a total crock right there, as we all know Batista woulda been dyin’ to get his hands on Edge after that one man con-chair-to ‘The Animal’ suffered last week.
John Bradshaw Layfield:
Let’s think about this for a second. Jonathan Coachman, the Interim
Smackdown General Manager, he knows that to be considered for a permanent position, he’s gotta impress. He needs the Smackdown half of the Wrestlemania card to live up to expectation. ‘Coach’ has gotta protect his investment, he’s gotta protect Edge and Batista and make sure they’re ready to go in nine days time, and after what happened to Batista last week, he can’t risk somethin’ similar happenin’ to Edge. It was smart, it was quick, and it was concise. I applaud ‘Coach’ for the job he’s doin’ as General Manager, and I think it’s gonna pay off at Wrestlemania when Edge beats Batista to become the new World Heavyweight Champion.
It’s the granddaddy of ‘em all, Wrestlemania XXIII, live on pay per view from Ford Field, Detroit! The biggest Wrestlemania in history, it’s gonna be the ride of your life!
After the shill job, there’s a few second of silence before…
The arena is bathed in red as out of the darkness comes Kane
, the big man striding down to the ring, pulling on his elbow pad as he goes. Kane reaches up and steps up onto the apron, then over the top rope, before he stands in the middle of the ring to set off the flames from the corners of the ring…
It’s now time for some Money in the Bank action, as Smackdown’s four representatives in the match meet in tag team action. King Booker and ‘MVP’ set to go at it with Chris Benoit and that man, ‘The Big Red Machine’ Kane!
And we might not have picked Kane to be the winner of Money in the Bank, but it wouldn’t surprise me for a second if he did win. Last week, he fought of both
‘MVP’ and Booker when they tried to jump ‘im. The big guy’s got a lotta momentum goin’ for ‘im right now.
John Bradshaw Layfield:
One o’ the scariest guys I ever stepped into the ring with. He can intimidate you with the blink of an eye, and he might not be my pick to grab that briefcase at Wrestlemania, but he’s gotta be considered one o’ the favourites.
A terrific response as ‘The Rabid Wolverine’ Chris Benoit
confidently heads down the aisle. Cocking his head from side to side, Benoit looks calm and relaxed as he makes his entrance, quickly stepping through the ropes to salute the fans before he and Kane share brief nod of respect…
Now this is my pick right here. I think if a Smackdown guys’ gonna win Money in the Bank, it’s gonna be Chris Benoit. After putting the disappointment of losing the United States Championship to Finlay behind him, I’m sure now Benoit is lookin’ to grab that briefcase and have one final run as World Heavyweight Champion.
John Bradshaw Layfield:
I can’t argue with that choice. I just wonder, given how much punishment Benoit’s suffered over the years, all the pain, all the injuries, does he still have enough to make it through a match like Money in the Bank?
Well I remember the first Money in the Bank Ladder Match, and Chris Benoit pushed himself to the absolute limit that night. I’m expectin’ nothin’ less than that from ‘The Rabid Wolverine’ this time around too. Benoit’s gonna bring it, and he could easily walk away with that briefcase.
”ONE... TWO... YOU HEAR THE CLOCK TICKIN’...”
From out of the fold inflatable tunnel burst Montel Vontavious Porter
, as cocky and as arrogant as ever as he swaggers his way down the aisle. ‘MVP’ reaches the bottom of the aisle, but he’s not quite as cocky as he looks up and sees Kane and Benoit, as he decides to play it safe by waiting outside the ring for his partner…
One of the young, rising stars here on Friday Night Smackdown, ‘MVP’ will be competin’ in his first Wrestlemania in nine days time. What a meteoric rise it would be for ‘MVP’ if he won Money in the Bank.
This kid’s already done so much in the WWE in just one year when you think of some of the people he holds victories over. I dunno if he’s got it in ‘im to win it this year, but he’s got a big future ahead of ‘im.
John Bradshaw Layfield:
I’ll say one thing, he better be on the same page as King Booker tonight. Last week they had their problems, and it cost ‘em as Kane planted both of ‘em with a chokeslam. If I was ‘MVP’ I’d listen and I’d learn from one of the very best in King Booker.
*DEAD WHITE GUYS…*
A solid amount of boos as King Booker
and Queen Sharmell
make their entrances, the pair stopping under the Smackdown fist as Booker raises his pinky into the air while Sharmell curtseys to her King. The pair then slowly walk hand in hand down the aisle, where they’re greeted by ‘MVP’, with he and Booker and sharing a tense look before they head into the ring…
Well John, you mentioned the problems ‘MVP’ and King Booker had last week. Initially they joined up to ensure both of ‘em made it into the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, and once that was successful they decided to stick together to try and eliminate the competition. But it didn’t quite go to plan last week.
John Bradshaw Layfield;
Right, and it’s just down to the inexperience of ‘MVP’. We talked about experience playin’ it’s part at Wrestlemania, and that’s where I feel Booker has an advantage. He knows what it takes to be a champion, he knows what it takes to be successful, and if ‘MVP’ was smart he’s listen up and pay attention.
Well, we’ll see how much these two are on the same page right now. A favourite for Money in the Bank could be emerge right here. This match could go a long way to helping us find out who’s gonna grab that briefcase.
Match 4: Tag Team Match
Chris Benoit and Kane vs. Montel Vontavious Porter and King Booker w/ Queen Sharmell
‘MVP’ and Benoit start as the two legal men, the pair engaging in a collar and elbow tie up that sees ‘MVP’ back Benoit to the corner. The referee steps in and calls for the break, with ‘MVP’ provides... only for him to slap Benoit across the face! A cocky grin crosses the youngster’s face... only for Benoit to yank ‘MVP’ into the corner... to start unloading with vicious knife edge chops! After a string of chops land, ‘MVP’ stumbles away from the corner, but Benoit pins him against the ropes with headbutts and kicks to the midsection, before he fires ‘MVP’ off the ropes... knee to the midsection sends ‘MVP’ down to the mat. Benoit then grabs ‘MVP’ and drags him to his corner, reaching out to tag in Kane. ‘The Big Red Machine’ snaps ‘MVP’ with a shot to the throat, then he fires the youngster off the ropes... big boot to the face! Kane turns and charges off the ropes... low angle dropkick as ‘MVP’ sits up! Early cover, 1... 2... ‘MVP’ kicks out. Kane then helps ‘MVP’ back to his feet, but as he’s still doubled over, ‘MVP’ is able to drill a knee to Kane’s midsection. ‘MVP’ then locks on a front facelock, dragging Kane towards his corner where he tags in King Booker. Booker steps through the ropes, and with ‘MVP’ still holding Kane in place, he strikes with a well placed shot to the ribs. Kane is then pushed into a neutral corner, where Booker unloads with kicks to the gut, before going for the Irish whip... which Kane reverses... and then follows in with a clothesline!
Booker is dazed, stumbling from the corner into a scoop slam, which then allows Kane to bring Benoit back into things. Benoit takes Booker up and down with a backbreaker for a near fall, before a snap suplex earns him another near fall. Benoit then unloads with kicks to the midsection, but as he goes for the Irish whip, Booker counters... and ‘MVP’ drives his knee into Benoit’s spine! Benoit leans against the ropes in pain, but he then turns and smacks ‘MVP’ off the apron with a right hand... only to be clubbed from behind by Booker! Booker now yanks Benoit into the corner, drilling him with a combination of kicks, punches and elbows, before he sends Benoit to the opposite corner... and Benoit smacks the top turnbuckle chest first! Booker drops into the cover... 1... 2... Benoit rolls a shoulder. Booker then mounts Benoit and tags him with right after right, before working Benoit into a seated reverse chinlock. Booker wrenches on the neck, but eventually Benoit is able to work back to his feet, drilling elbows to the gut to create separation, then a headbutt finally breaks the hold... but Booker quickly fires back with a kick to the midsection... and then a scoop slam puts Benoit down. Booker comes off the ropes with a few theatrics, dropping a knee for another near fall. Booker yanks Benoit up and goes for a suplex... Benoit puts on the breaks. Booker tries again... again Benoit blocks it... and then fires back with a suplex of his own! Quickly Benoit crawls to his corner... and tags in Kane!
Kane storms the ring and knocks Booker down with a clothesline, then repeats the trick, before he fires Booker to the corner... and follows in with a clothesline! Booker staggers from the corner... into a sidewalk slam! 1... 2... Booker kicks out. Kane then climbs to the top rope, positioning himself for the flying clothesline... but in an act of desperation Booker shoves the referee into the ropes... causing Kane to have a painful landing on the top turnbuckle... and then to fall to the mat! The crowd groans as Kane writhes on the canvas, while Booker moves quickly to tag in ‘MVP’. ‘MVP’ enters and goes to work, rocking Kane with kicks and punches, before he locks on a facelock and drills Kane with knees to the side of the head. ‘MVP’ and Booker work well together as they keep Kane away from Benoit, with ‘MVP’ connecting on a German suplex while Booker comes close to victory with a Russian legsweep. After Booker hammers Kane in the corner with kicks, chops and right hands, he tags in ‘MVP’ who backs away from the corner and lines Kane up... and races in... to damn near take Kane’s head off with a running kick to the head! Kane slumps out of the corner, and ‘MVP’ hooks the leg... 1... 2... Kane kicks out! Booker checks back in, and he again goes for the seated reverse chinlock, looking to wear Kane down. Benoit tries to rally the crowd, and eventually they start making enough noise, prompting Kane to start a comeback as he fights back to his feet. A few elbows to the midsection snap Booker back, but he then pushes Kane into the ropes. Kane rebounds off... and Booker goes for the HARLEM SIDEKICK... NO! Kane ducks underneath and puts on the breaks, which sees Booker charge at him... into a tilt-a-whirl powerslam!
Both men are down, but crawling to their corner’s, Benoit and ‘MVP’ dying for the tag... here comes ‘MVP’... here comes Benoit! Benoit sprints into the ring, knocking ‘MVP’ down with a clothesline, before he grabs him and sends him off the ropes... another clothesline puts ‘MVP’ down! ‘MVP’ stumbles back up, and Benoit goes to work with the chops... ‘MVP’ swings and misses with a right hand... German suplex! Benoit hangs on tight, dragging both men back to their feet... second German suplex! Once more Benoit hangs on, yanking ‘MVP’ to a vertical base... third German completes the HAT TRICK! Benoit crawls into the cover... 1... 2... Booker dives to break it up! Booker now starts to unload with rapid rights and lefts to Benoit’s back... only for Kane to rock him with a massive boot to the face! Booker flops to the mat and rolls under the bottom rope, with Kane following him out to continue his attack. In the ring, ‘MVP’ is back on his feet, waiting for Benoit to rise... so he can hook him up... for the PLAYMAKER... NO! Benoit counters... and grabs the arm... and traps ‘MVP’ down to the mat... to then hook him into the CRIPPLER CROSSFACE!! Benoit locks it on tight, and with Booker being mauled on the outside by Kane, and the ropes so far away... ‘MVP’ has no option but to TAP OUT!!
Winners: Chris Benoit and Kane @ 08.29
Benoit grabs the win for his team, rolling off of ‘MVP’ before he gingerly gets back on his feet to have his hand raised in the air. Kane slides back into the ring, with he and Benoit sharing a handshake for the victory, while on the outside Booker and Sharmell are already heading backstage, Booker’s partnership with ‘MVP’ seemingly over as we head for a commercial.
And we return to the sight of Josh Matthews
, broad smile on his face, ready for an interview…
Ladies and gentlemen, my guest at this time… ‘The Rabid Wolverine’… Chris Benoit!
A great pop from inside the arena as Chris Benoit steps into the frame, still breathing hard and sweating heavily as he approaches Josh…
Chris, congratulations, a great victory there for you and Kane over ‘MVP’ and King Booker. With Wrestlemania just nine days away, you’ve gotta be feelin’ good about your chances of winning the Money in the Bank Ladder Match?
Benoit continues to breath hard, gathering his breath before he answers…
Y’know somethin’ Josh? Nine days time it’s Wrestlemania, and I’m headin’ into Detroit to get back to where I used to be. Four years ago I walked into Wrestlemania XX and I left as the new World Heavyweight Champion. 20 years of hard work and determination finally paid off, and I was finally a heavyweight champion here in the WWE. And I gotta be honest with you… I just don’t know how much time I got left to make another run.
A few boos from the crowd over Benoit’s hints of retirement…
I’ve always given everythin’ I’ve got to the fans each and every night. I’ve always but my body on the line to not only win titles… but to please you people too. But I think… I think it might be finally startin’ to catch up on me.
Benoit shakes his while Josh can only look on disappointed…
I don’t know how long I have left, I don’t know if I’ll make it to Wrestlemania XXIV, but I do know one thing. If… and when… I leave this business… I wanna go out at the top. And that means goin’ out as World Heavyweight Champion.
Benoit gets the crowd back on his side as they respond with a pop…
I didn’t win the Royal Rumble, I’m not gonna be challengin’ for any titles this year, but I know that the quickest way for me to get a title shot right now… is to win Money in the Bank and grab that briefcase! And that means I’ll need to put it all on the line… one – more – time.
Another pop as Benoit flashes that toothy grin of his…
So at Wrestlemania XXIII, I’m givin’ it everythin’ I got to become Mr. Money in the Bank, and when I get that briefcase… I guarantee, I won’t be wastin’ any time before I cash it in.
And a final pop as Benoit looks at Josh, gives him a hearty slap on the side of the arm and walks off, Matthews watching him leave, the smile now back on his face too as we cut away.
To see The Miz leaning against a Pepsi machine, the luminous glow of the machine giving an eerie contrast on Miz’s face compared to the darkness of the area. Michelle McCool is stood nearby, peering through the darkness, but it’s the fierce scowl on the face of Miz that takes up most of the shot…
I… am getting’ really… really
… sick and tired of the way I’m bein’ treated around here. Last week, I was set for my Money in the Bank Qualifying Match against a mystery opponent, and who does that opponent turn out to be? Kane. I mean really? Kane? Really!?
Miz bites his lip to contain his anger, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath as he tries to relax…
They like to say that Wrestlemania is like the Superbowl of sports entertainment. The Superbowl… the championship game. The end of a season. A whole summer of free agency and pre season for fans to look forward to. The chance for your team to reload, to start over again, to put the past behind you and start planning for the future. Well folks… there’s no pre season in the WWE. But as far as I’m concerned, Wrestlemania will be the end of one year… and the start of a new one. A new year, where The Miz takes no crap from anybody!
Miz leans forward off the machine, standing straight now, adjusting his tie…
I’m tired of playin’ games, I’m tired of bein’ treated like nothin’ more than a joke around here. Yes
, I was a reality TV star. Yes
, I am a big deal in Hollywood right now. And yes
, I am here to stay in the WWE. You can laugh at me, you can make fun of me, but I promise that after Wrestlemania, nobody… and I mean nobody
… is gonna laugh at me again.
Miz glances over his shoulder at McCool, who nods her head at her client…
Wrestlemania XXIII… I might not be on the card… but it’s gonna be a huge night in my career. I’m sure you’ve all read on wwe.com about the 20 Man Battle Royal that’s gonna take place before the show gets underway. Well… I’m gonna win that Battle Royal, and I’m gonna use that as a launching pad for one of the greatest years in WWE history. I’m gonna win that Battle Royal and then I’m goin’ straight to the top. By the time we hit Wrestlemania XXIV, I promise you… I’ll be on that card… and I’ll be a champion by then. ‘Cause I’m The Miz…
McCool now steps forward, placing a hand on Miz’s shoulder…
And he’s awesome.
And you better remember that.
Miz now turns to McCool, the two smirking at each other, their faces only illuminated by the glow of the Pepsi machine as we head back into the arena.
To quickly hear…
A warm welcome as The Extremists
step out from the back, the three ECW veterans looking confident ahead of their six man tag team match. Tommy Dreamer
make the more traditional entrance, while the camera scans the crowd until it finally picks out The Sandman
, who cracks a beer can over his head and then heads down the stairs through the masses…
Wow, certainly two very interesting and very differing promos there from Benoit and The Miz. Benoit talking about how the years of injuries are startin’ to add up and it might be time to call it a day, while Miz says that it’s all about to get started for him at Wrestlemania XXIII.
John Bradshaw Layfield:
I might have to rethink my Money in the Bank prediction after hearin’ that. A fully motivated Chris Benoit is capable of doin’ some crazy stuff, he might just be driven to victory off the back of it.
Yeah, especially if Benoit’s determined to go out with a bang. He might grab that briefcase and cash it in that very night!
Certainly a lotta food for thought. But right now, it’s time for six man tag team action, The Extremists takin’ on The Full Blooded Italians. A very interesting rivalry between these two teams, one that started a month ago after some pretty insulting remarks made by Santino Marella.
Santino decided to run his mouth after Sabu lost a Money in the Bank Qualifier, and I think he’s regrettin’ those comments now, especially after what happened to The F.B.I. last week.
*LA VITTORIA E MIA...*
A small level of heat as The Full Blooded Italians
head for the ring, with the three men competing tonight, Big Vito
, Tony Mamaluke
leading the way. [B}Santino Marella[/b] and Trinity
bring up the rear, the pair walking arm in arm down to the ring, with Santino dressed in traditional gangsters gear, complete with fedora hat, while Trinity looks like the typical gangster’s doll…
Well, to steal a phrase from J.R., Santino Marella may be goofier than a pet coon, but he’s certainly got the rest of The F.B.I. buyin’ what he’s sellin’. But to date, Marella’s been involved in two official matches, and so far he’s been pinned in both of ‘em, and he’s lasted less than 30 seconds of actual ring time.
John Bradshaw Layfield:
I really can’t believe that idiot is dressed like that. The smartest thing he’s done is allowing Vito, Tony and Nunzio to handle this one, otherwise the match would be over before Sandman’s even made it to the ring.
I really don’t get what kinda hold this guy has over ‘em all. I mean, I remember how he brainwashed Vito, but what’s the deal with the other three? I mean what does Trinity see in this guy?
John Bradshaw Layfield:
Maybe it’s the hat? Maybe if I go over there with my hat on I’ll get a date with her?
That or you’ll wind up the first guido from Texas…
Match 5: Six Man Tag Team Match
The Full Blooded Italians (Big Vito, Nunzio and Tony Mamaluke) w/ Santino Marella and Trinity vs. The Extremists
Dreamer and Vito are the two men who kick us off, the two going in for a collar and elbow tie up. Vito quickly drives his knee into the midsection, then smacks a forearm to the back of the neck, before shots to the head back Dreamer into a neutral corner. Vito winds up for a big right hand, but Dreamer ducks and steps from the corner, catching Vito on the rebound with a hiptoss. Vito quickly scrambles for his corner and tags in Nunzio, who charges at Dreamer... right into an armdrag! Another armdrag takes Nunzio back down, but this time Dreamer hangs on, twisting and wrenching on the arm, turning Nunzio around for a falling neckbreaker. Nunzio stumbles to the ropes, using them to pull himself up, but here comes Dreamer... Cactus clothesline takes both men to the outside! Dreamer lands on his feet as Nunzio hits the floor hard, but in the ring Mamaluke storms into the ring and confronts the referee, allowing Vito to drop down to the floor... and drill Dreamer with a stiff forearm to the spine! Vito then grabs Dreamer... and rams him back first into the side of the ring. Dreamer drops to his knees and crumples in pain, with the referee turning to see Vito walking back to his corner, simply shrugging his shoulders, while Santino helps Nunzio muscle Dreamer back under the ropes.
Nunzio brings in Mamaluke who unloads with vicious chops and kicks against the turnbuckle, before he brings Vito back in, who starts unloading with a series of boots to the midsection that drop Dreamer to the mat. After using his boot to choke Dreamer, Vito brings Dreamer to a neutral corner, then aggressively firs him across the ring and follows in with a clothesline, causing Dreamer to collapse to the mat. Nunzio comes back in, and with Vito holding Dreamer in position, Nunzio smacks him with a well placed right hand to the ribs. Dreamer stumbles away to the corner, and when Nunzio follows in, Dreamer is able to catch him off guard with a pair of right hands... only for Nunzio to drill a knee to the midsection. Nunzio then winds up for an Irish whip off the ropes... which Dreamer reverses... Nunzio goes for a running crossbody... but Dreamer catches him... fallaway slam! Nunzio crashes to the mat, and Dreamer heads for his corner... to tag in Sandman! The Sandman staggers into the ring, but he catches the on-rushing Nunzio with a big time back body drop. Mamaluke charges the ring, but Sandman avoids his attack... and drops Mamaluke with a side Russian legsweep! Mamaluke rolls from the ring, and Sandman turns back to Nunzio, rocking him with right hands before he goes for the Irish whip... that Nunzio reverses... only for Santino to reach in and grab Sandman by the foot as he comes off the ropes! Sandman puts on the breaks and reaches over the top rope to swing and miss at Marella... allowing Nunzio to sneak up from behind and dump Sandman over the top rope to the floor!
In the ring Nunzio turns and picks a fight with Sabu, distracting the ref, allowing the pack of wolves to descend on Sandman as Santino, Mamaluke and Vito hammer Sandman with a flurry of boots and stomps. Sandman is chucked back into the ring, just in time for Nunzio to dive on him, hooking the leg for a near fall. Now The F.B.I. work well together to isolate Sandman from his corner, with all three men coming close to victory as Vito takes Sandman up and down for a long vertical suplex, Mamaluke connects with a bridging northern lights suplex, while Nunzio perhaps comes closest of all as he nails a DDT. After plenty of quick tags and further punishment of Sandman, Vito is back in, snapping Sandman down with a backbreaker for another 2 count, before he Sandman back up and fires him off the ropes... and catches him with a bearhug. Vito tries to squeeze the lower spine of Sandman, looking to wear him down, but eventually Sandman is able to fight free as he strikes with a series of elbows to the side of the head. Sandman turns and comes off the ropes... straight into a snap powerslam! 1... 2... Sandman rolls a shoulder! Santino slaps the mat angrily, demanding the 3 count, but Vito quickly reaches out to tag in Nunzio. ‘The Sicilian Shooter’ immediately scrambles to the top rope, steadying himself before he goes for a flying legdrop... nobody home! Sandman rolls to safety, and now both men are crawling for their corners... here comes Mamaluke... here comes Sabu!
Sabu races into the ring and takes Mamaluke down with a low-angle dropkick to the shin, before he knocks both Vito and Nunzio to the floor with right hands. Turning back to Mamaluke, Sabu lays in with boots before he runs for the ropes... springboard corkscrew legdrop! Mamaluke is reeling, scrambling for the corner, and with Sandman down on his knees in a convenient position, Sabu charges at Mamaluke... AIR SABU! Mamaluke slumps from the corner, crashing to the mat, with Sabu now stepping through the ropes, going upstairs once more... only for Trinity to jump onto the apron... allowing Santino to shake the ropes... causing Sabu to fall down, crotching himself on the top turnbuckle! Mamaluke quickly tags in Vito, who heads for the corner, looking for a superplex... but Sabu fights him off... and shoves Vito down to the mat. Sabu then stands atop the corner... and nails a flying splash! Sabu gets it all, but the impact causes him to grab his ribs and rolls free... to tag in Dreamer! Dreamer re-enters the match, but Nunzio storms in... and gets elevated over the top rope to the floor! With all three of his men down, Santino angrily jumps up onto the apron... only for Sandman to yank him back down to the floor... and then threaten Santino with his kendo stick! Marella cowers behind Trinity, with Sandman ready to strike, while in the ring Dreamer waits for Vito to rise... to then hook him up... DREAMER DRIVER!! Dreamer plants Vito, and with his teammates down and his boss being threatened, there’s nobody left to save Vito as Dreamer gets the 1... 2... 3!
Winners: The Extremists @ 06.03
Dreamer grabs the win for his team, a well earned victory, with the leader of The Extremists quickly being joined in the ring by his partners, who help Dreamer back to his feet to celebrate the win. On the outside, Santino gathers his troops, berating them for the loss, even going as far as to slam his fedora hat off the floor before he angrily storms off for the back. Trinity quickly bends down to pick up the hat, dusting it off before she leads the chase after Marella, while in the ring Dreamer can only watch on and laugh as we head into a commercial.
And we return to see a very stern looking Batista
pounding a backstage corridor, a fierce look of focus and determination on the face of ‘The Animal’. The World Heavyweight Champion snarls as he turns a corner, obviously heading to the ring with the main event being up next… until he stops dead in his tracks. That look of focus and determination quickly turns to anger, as from off camera walks ‘The Rated-R Superstar’ Edge
. Batista clenches his fists and strains his neck, dying to get his hands on Edge, but Edge simply taunts him with a massive smirk on his face, knowing that he’s save from the hands of ‘The Animal’…
Hey Dave. How’s it goin’? How’s the head?
Edge laughs to himself, knowing full well what the answer would be, although Batista remains silent, breathing hard through his nose as the pair square up to each other…
I bet I can guess what your plan for tonight was. I bet you thought about it all week. I bet you wanted to bust into this arena, find me and take a shot at me, didn’t ya’ Dave? You thought all week long about revenge, about getting’ your hands around my neck, about smashin’ my head in with a chair, didn’t ya’ Dave!?
In a fit of anger, Batista kicks over a nearby trash can, sending it’s contents flying everywhere…
Yeah. Yeah I thought so. Y’see this crap you just kicked all over the floor Dave, y’know what that tells me? It tells me I’m inside your head. Just like I said I would be.
Edge takes his finger and points it to the side of Batista’s head, but he’s careful to never actually make any contact with ‘The Animal’…
You’re dyin’ to hit me right now, aren’t ya’? You feel all that anger, all that rage, buildin’ up inside, and you’re dyin’ to punch my face in, aren’t ya’? Well… go ahead.
Edge steps back, opening his arms wide in a sign that he’ll give Batista a free shot at him…
Hit me! I’m beggin ya’!
Batista shakes Edge off, being very careful to try and walk around Edge to avoid contact with him, but Edge quickly steps back infront of Batista. ‘The Animal’ puts on the breaks, then heads for the other side, but again Edge shuffles himself into Batista’s path, much to the annoyance of the champion…
What’s the matter Dave? Am I – am I getting’ in your way? You wanna get past me? Why don’t you just do what you always do and push me outta the way? Why don’t you just use your power to push me aside? Huh?
Batista smiles, laughing to himself, before he gets serious once again as he looks Edge dead in the eye…
At Wrestlemania… I’m gonna tear your head off… and I’m gonna enjoy doin’ it!
Not feeling quite so cocky now, Edge gulps hard, rooted to the spot as Batista very carefully steps past him, making sure to keep a distance between the two as he heads off camera. We stay focused on Edge, who purses his lips, thinking long and hard about what to do next, before he smiles to himself and quickly makes his exit while we fade into a video.
The audio fades in with the sound of galloping horse hooves, and soon the legendary guitar rift of ‘The Four Horsemen Theme’ kicks in...
Narrator: The Four Horsemen were one of the most feared and revered groups in wrestling history...
We now see footage of the original incarnation of The Four Horsemen, as Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Ole Anderson, Arn Anderson and J.J. Dillon stand in an interview set, all five men holding up four fingers..
Narrator: But for all their style and pizzazz, one man was the very backbone of the organisation...
The camera now focuses solely on Arn, who grimaces and draws a thumb across his throat...
Narrator: ‘The Enforcer’.
Shots of various wrestlers falling victim to the Double-A spinebuster...
Arn Anderson: The Four Horsemen is what’s makin’ the wrestlin’ world go round and round. Don’t ever forget that!
We now see shots of Anderson punishing his opponents alongside Ole Anderson and then Tully Blanchard in tag team action...
Narrator: He was one of the toughest men to ever enter a wrestling ring...
Cut to Anderson and Flair in the ring, both men seething with rage, motioning for an opponent to return to the ring...
Ric Flair: He could beat up anybody. I mean, without Arn Anderson, The Four Horsemen were nothin’. He allowed me to be who I was in the ring.
We now see various shots of Flair and Anderson, Flair as NWA World Heavyweight Champion while Arn holds the NWA World Television Championship...
Narrator: But even the toughest can suffer pain at the hands of an injury.
We now cut to the emotional retirement speech Arn delivered on Nitro...
Arn Anderson: But the fact it is, I got nothin’ left to give. And I want you to remember me as I was, not as I am.
A shot from an interview, where all four of The Horsemen place their hands on top of each other...
Arn Anderson: And for all you people out there, that have ever bought a ticket to see Arn Anderson wrestle, whether ya’ loved me... or ya’ hated me... you knew, that when that bell rang you got all I had that night, whether I won, whether I lost, I gave you everythin’ I had.
Anderson salutes the fans that night, while in the background Flair is close to tears...
Ric Flair: The speech on Nitro that night, for my money, is one of the highlights of his career.
Footage of some of the battles between The Rockers and The Brain Busters...
Shawn Michaels: I loved wrestlin’ Arn Anderson. It was an education each and every night I stepped into the ring with him.
More spinebusters land on various opponents...
Narrator: The WWE Hall of Fame is proud to announce it’s latest inductee...
Once more Anderson grimaces, slowly drawing a thumb across his throat...
Ric Flair: I hope that he’s remembered and held in the highest esteem and the highest level of respect given to anybody that’s been in this business, ‘cause he deserves that.
A solemn image of Anderson walking up the aisle after a match, his back to the camera, hands placed on his hips...
Arn Anderson: And other than be anythin’ but ‘The Enforcer’ in my best friend’s eyes... I’d rather walk away.
Gene Okerland: One of the all-time legends of this sport, ‘The Enforcer’...
Narrator: Arn Anderson!
We now see a picture of Arn, stony faced, four fingers held across his chest, with the Hall of Fame logo nearby. Also on the screen is the fact that Anderson will be inducted into the Hall of Fame by ‘The Nature Boy’ Ric Flair!
*End Video Package*
Back into the arena for…
*TURN UP THE TROUBLE…*
It’s main event as Mr. Kennedy
returns to the arena to an absolute barrage of heat, now doubt fuelled by his actions earlier in the evening. Kennedy has a disgusting smirk on his face as he heads for the ring, with him pausing at the bottom of the ramp to cup his ear towards the fans who are showering him with abuse. Kennedy shakes his head and waves them off, before he heads into the ring…
What an absolute piece of work this guy is. Just a disgusting act earlier tonight between Kennedy and David Flair.
I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to see a guy take a beatin’ as bad as I wanna see Batista kick Kennedy’s ass right now. I honestly couldn’t believe what I was hearin’ and seein’ earlier on, it was just… God, I can’t even speak. What a sick bastard this guy is.
John Bradshaw Layfield:
Who the hell are you talkin’ about Tazz? You can’t go around sayin’ stuff like that, you’re supposed to be an impartial commentator here!
What, impartial like you are!?
John Bradshaw Layfield:
I call it as I see it, Kennedy did what he did for the benefit of Ric Flair. You might not see it, hell Flair himself might not see it, but I
You’re absolutely outta line ‘JBL’. Kennedy looks like he’s got somethin’ to say, let’s hear from him…
Indeed in the ring Kennedy has the spotlight trained on him, his bloodstained microphone now in his hands. Kennedy brings the mic to his mouth, but he seems surprised, almost confused at something, causing him to shake his head in an exaggerated shock before he finally speaks…
Did I uh… did I hear that right?
Kennedy shakes his head in an exaggerated show of disbelief...
Arn... Anderson... is in the WWE Hall of Fame now? That broken down piece of crap
is in the Hall of Fame? A Hall of Fame that one day, yours truly is an absolute lock
to be in? I'm meant to call myself a Hall of Famer... alongside him
? Are you freakin' kiddin' me!?
Kennedy looks exhasperated, but he soon settles down and starts wagging a finger in the air...
But I'll give ol' 'Double A' one thing... he knew when to call it quits. He knew when to hang up the boots before it got embarassing. If only... if only you'd felt the same way Ric. If only you'd followed your buddy Arn into the retirment home, then poor lil' Reid and David... they'd have been spared. But alas Ric... alas... they suffered. They paid the price for your years of selfishness.
Kennedy licks his lips and chuckles to himself...
David and Reid... their blood... is on your
Kennedy flashes an evil grin as he looks at his microphone, which is literally stained with the blood of Ric Flair's children...
But at Wrestlemania... I'm gonna make sure your career comes to an end. Your time has passed Ric, and Wrestlemania XXIII shall be the dawning of a new era. One where old hasbeens like you are put out to pasture. Just like Ol' Yeller, it's time somebody put you down. And that's what I'm gonna do at Wrestlemania.
Kennedy looks the camera dead in the eye, narrowing his eyebrows as he gets serious...
I am gonna end
your career Ric. Big Van Vader, Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, hell, even your own son David, they all tried to force you into retirement, and they all failed miserably
. But I Ric... I
won't fail. I'm not talkin' stipulations, I'm not talkin' long, drawn out scenarios, I'm talkin' about beatin' you to a bloody pulp. I'm talkin' beatin' you so bad, that you cohwer in fear at the mere thought
of steppin' back through these ropes.
Kennedy now flashes a faux look of sympathy...
So enjoy these last nine days Ric. Enjoy 'em. Live 'em up. If ya' get time, spare a though for poor Reid and David. I'm sure they'd appreciate a phone call to see how their doin'. But by the time we hit Detroit... it all comes to an end for you. And it all comes to and end... at the hands of the future of this industry. MMMIIISSSTTTEEERRR KEN – NAH – DAY!
Kennedy closes his eyes, turning his head to the ceiling, and then back down to the camera, looking euphoric as he takes his time and then finally delivers...
KEN – NAH –
*I WALK ALONE...*
Kennedy is cut off as the arena responds with a thunderous ovation as the World Heavyweight Champion Batista
, strides out from the back, a furious look in his eyes as he looks down the aisle at Kennedy. Batista foregoes his usual antics of slapping his chest and firing up the crowd, as instead he simply stares at Kennedy with rage, crouches down and then in machine gun fashion sets off his massive pyro display before heading for the ring...
Well there you have it folks. Mr. Kennedy has vowed
to put Ric Flair into retirement when they clash at Wrestlemania XXIII. But tonight, in our main event, Kennedy has to deal with that
man, the World Heavyweight Champion, Batista. Kennedy and 'The Animal', a No Way Out rematch, it's comin' up when we return to Friday Night Smackdown!
Main Event: Non Title Match
World Heavyweight Champion Batista
vs. Mr. Kennedy
We return just in time to hear the bell ring, with Batista looking like a man desperate to take out his frustrations on someone, while Kennedy has a massive grin on his face, clearly delighted with how the evening has gone so far. Kennedy circles the champion for a few seconds, keeping his distance, until the two finally tie up... only for Batista to shove Kennedy to the mat. Kennedy springs back up, again into the collar and elbow tie up... and once more he’s sent flying to the canvas. A third time Kennedy locks horns with ‘The Animal’, with Batista backing Kennedy into the corner. The referee steps in to call for the break, which Batista provides... only for Kennedy to swing a cheap shot... that Batista blocks... and then snaps a right hand off Kennedy’s face! Right after right lands to Kennedy’s head and midsection, before Kennedy is fired hard to the opposite corner... and then stumbles into a big back body drop! This time Kennedy is slow to get off the mat, with Batista helping him up, scoring with more right hands to the face, then kicks to the midsection, before Batista takes Kennedy down with a suplex for the first near fall of the match. After the pin attempt, Kennedy tries to distance himself as he rolls under the bottom rope, but ‘The Animal’ quickly follows him outside, snapping Kennedy’s head back with more right hands before he smacks him face first off the barricade. Kennedy is then driven spine first into the ring, and then has his face smashed off the steel steps, the aggression and anger that currently flows through Batista’s veins towards Edge being taken out on Kennedy.
‘The Animal’ yanks Kennedy back into the ring, but as he slides under the bottom rope, Kennedy desperately drops on him with a double axe handle, then tries to stay in control as he pummels Batista with right hands and kicks. Kennedy then grabs Batista and heads for the corner, looking to drive Batista face first into the top turnbuckle... but Batista puts on the breaks, blocking it by placing his foot on the second rope... to then smack Kennedy face first off the turnbuckle! ‘The Animal’ then hammers Kennedy with a string of right hands that knock Kennedy down until he’s sitting on the canvas, Batista then driving his boot into Kennedy’s throat, choking his opponent. Batista backs off, waiting for Kennedy to pull himself up... only to then charge in with a clothesline! Kennedy looks almost out on his feet as he leans against the corner, but it’s about to get worse as Batista again lines up the Irish whip... with Kennedy crashing into the opposite corner and then collapsing face first onto the mat! Batista is in full control as he yanks Kennedy back into the corner, driving a trio of turnbuckle thrusts to the midsection before he climbs up the second rope... and starts hammering down on Kennedy with right hands! The crowd counts along as each punch lands to the forehead, all the way up to seven... until Kennedy manages to force Batista off balance... causing him to fall throat first into the top rope! Batista instantly grabs his throat, coughing and spluttering on the mat, while Kennedy leans against the turnbuckle, trying to recover and shake off the cobwebs, but as we head for a commercial, the tide appears to have turned in Kennedy’s favour.
And when we return the action is back on the arena floor as Kennedy pummels Batista against the barricade. Kennedy then grabs Batista, a sick look of vengeance in his eyes as he rears back... and smashes Batista face first off the steel steps! This time it’s Batista’s turn to taste the steel, but Kennedy quickly forces ‘The Animal’ under the ropes and hooks the leg... 1... 2... Batista kicks out. Kennedy now looks to take control, but ‘The Animal’ fights from his knees as he throws right hands to the midsection... only for Kennedy to fire back with a snap DDT! Kennedy plants Batista, and again hooks the leg... 1... 2... Batista rolls a shoulder! Kennedy now enjoys a period of control in the match, mounting Batista to hammer him with right hands, dropping him with a forward Russian legsweep, punishing ‘The Animal’ with a string of boots to the midsection against the corner, before he hammers Batista with a facewash, hooking the leg for a near fall. Kennedy stays on the attack, picking up more near falls from an inverted DDT and then a falling neckbreaker, the frustration in Kennedy growing every time Batista kicks out. Looking to further hurt ‘The Animal’, Kennedy goes for a standing camel clutch, pulling up on Batista’s chin as the champion sits on the mat. Batista tries to scratch and claw to force Kennedy’s hands free, but Kennedy hangs on tight, not letting up on his grip, but eventually Batista is able to struggle back to his feet, drilling Kennedy with elbows to the midsection in an attempt to break the hold, allowing him to then fire Kennedy off the ropes... Batista lowers his head for a back body drop... but a kick from Kennedy snaps ‘The Animal’ back up... and Kennedy strikes with a great looking enzuigiri! Batista slumps to the mat, and Kennedy shoots the half... 1... 2... Batista rolls a shoulder!
Kennedy groans in anguish as he fails to put ‘The Animal’ away, but with Batista down and hurt, Kennedy senses his chance to end the match as he waits for Batista to rise, poised and ready to strike. Batista stumbles up... and here comes Kennedy... MIC CHECK... NO!
Batista desperately throws elbows to the side of the head... then takes Kennedy down with a side suplex! Both men stay down on the canvas, but it’s no surprise to see Kennedy rise up first, looking to stay in control as he tags Batista with right hands and then goes for the Irish whip... but Batista reverses... and takes Kennedy down with a massive spinebuster! Again both men stay down, but this time it’s ‘The Animal’ who gets back up first, smacking Kennedy with right hands against the ropes before he sends Kennedy across... into a massive back body drop! Batista goes for the cover... 1... 2... Kennedy kicks out! Batista now looks to string together some offense, snapping off right hands before he sends Kennedy to the corner... and follows in with a clothesline! Kennedy is then sent off the ropes... into a big time powerslam! 1... 2... again Kennedy stays alive! Batista turns and looks at the referee, not quite believing that Kennedy kicked out, which gives Kennedy the chance to crawl to the corner to try and recover. As Batista walks in, Kennedy manages to fire back with a boot to the midsection, then a right hand to the face, before he looks to send Batista off the ropes... Kennedy swings a clothesline... but Batista runs right through... and hammers Kennedy with a SPEAR! Batista almost snaps Kennedy in half, but he roars back to his feet, shaking the ropes furiously, the arena about to come unglued as he points his thumbs up... thumbs down! Kennedy has barely moved, but soon Batista has him up... and synchs him in... ready to deliver the BATISTA BO-
"YOU THINK YOU KNOW ME..."
What the...? It’s confusion all round as Edge’s music rings out, with Batista tossing Kennedy aside to head for the side of the ring, staring up the aisle... as Edge
steps out from the back! Edge slowly paces out from the backstage are and takes a few steps down the aisle, with the eyes of ‘The Animal’ locked in on ‘The Rated-R Superstar’, the champion waving Edge into the ring, desperate to get his hands on his Wrestlemania opponent. Edge simply smirks as he slowly swaggers down the aisle, but he stops in the middle of the aisle and motions to remover his leather jacket as if he’s ready for a fight... but from behind, Kennedy reaches up and takes Batista down with a roll up... 1... 2... Kennedy has his feet on the ropes... 3!
Winner: Mr. Kennedy @ 15.08
Kennedy steals one! Kennedy takes advantage of the distraction from Edge to roll up Batista and get the win! 'The Animal' kicks out just after the three, the impact sending Kennedy flying through the ropes to the floor, but on the outside, Kennedy smirks in satisfaction of the fact that he's earned a measure of revenge for his defeat at No Way Out. In the ring, Batista bursts back to his feet, eyes wide open with rage, head in his hands as he protests to the referee. The ref can only over Batista sympathy and confirm the match is over, prompting Batista to kick the bottom rope angrily. Underneath the Smackdown fist, Edge can't help but laugh at the situation, knowing that once again he's played the mind games to his advantage, safe in the knowledge that Batista can't do anything about it...
God, can you believe that!? Batista, he was just moments away from victory until Edge stuck his nose in and cost him the match! Kennedy just beat the World Heavyweight Champion, and it's all thanks to Edge!
John Bradshaw Layfield:
And there ain't a damn thing Batista can do about it! Edge has played this perfectly, right from the get go! He said all along he was gonna play mind games, he was gonna pick 'is moment, and look how it all worked out. Edge has cost Batista a match with Kennedy, just like he's gonna cost 'im the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania!
Yeah but look in the eyes of 'The Animal' right now. He looks like he's ready to explode!
Well Batista, just like all of us, is gonna have to wait 'til Wrestlemania. What a wild night it's been, and it's only gonna get wilder next week as we host the final stop on the road to Wrestlemania! Join us next week for the final Friday Night Smackdown before Wrestlemania XXIII! Goodnight!
Batista stands by the ropes, griping them tight, shaking with rage, nostrils flaring, eyes bursting out of head, looking like he's ready to tear Edge apart, while at the top of the ramp, Edge smirks and once again taps the side of his head, feeling delighted in the way tonight's broadcast has gone for him, the camera continuing to switch back and forth between champion and challenger as we fade... to... black.
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
Special Guest Referee: Steve Austin
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
Intercontinental Championship Match:
Intercontinental Champion Kenny Dykstra vs. Carlito
Tag Team Showcase Match: Champions vs. Champions
World Tag Team Champions The World’s Greatest Tag Team vs. WWE Tag Team Champions The Hooligans
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. CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Johnny Nitro vs. Kane vs. King Booker vs. Montel Vontavious Porter vs. Randy Orton