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Old 11-28-2011, 02:43 AM   #191 (permalink)
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Default Re: WWE: The Evolution Of Greed

Like I did with Wolfy, this will be feedback for SmackDown!, but with my overall thoughts on each of the feuds on here thrown in so you actually get what I’ve been thinking as the thread has been progressing towards WrestleMania.

I like the contrast between this week and last week with Edge, with him now looking like a threat that actually isn’t scared of Batista. Their feud thus far hasn’t set the world alight, but it’s been solid enough, with last week really looking to kick it off. Hopefully you can follow up on it this week.

The big thing in this Kennedy/Flair feud obviously came on the last RAW, and like with Batista/Edge last week on SD, I like that it’s really kicked things off. I find it a little weird that you’ve had Kennedy do that to Reid now though, because I think that could have been the perfect way to goad Flair into the match earlier. Still, it does bring a personal element to the match, which you have to like. Having David seemingly on Kennedy’s side for some unbeknownst reason also adds that extra factor, which we’ll surely find out about here, or at least before WrestleMania. Kennedy showing no respect early in the segment is typical Kennedy, and something you’d expect from him, although the “No respect” thing works especially well in a feud with a guy like Ric Flair, who is a legend of the business. The one Kennedy segued into his own talk show by complimenting Flair’s was nice too, although I have to say, the name The Open Mic sounds awfully familiar. Kennedy talking up his show as being better than the rest is, again, something you’d expect from Kennedy. Not so sure about terms like “banged” and “B.F.F.” on WWE TV, even if it’s from a loudmouth like Kennedy, but David Flair was always the obvious/logical guest. The reasoning for David joining Kennedy in attacking Reid was pretty well done, with you making sure to cover both bases in that Ric was a lousy dad, and that Reid was the one who got treated right, while David was snubbed. The line about David’s happiest day in WCW being when his dad was actually fired was probably the line that summed it all up. Something I didn’t expect was the way David talked Ric up for helping him get clean, and then saying that he only joined Kennedy to prove a point, and that he and his dad are still family. It adds a certain realism to the whole thing, as the picture isn’t just black and white, with David having some conflicting emotions. It also made for the Kennedy beatdown of David, and did a good job of allowing Kennedy to explain just how much he hates Ric Flair and why. Coach playing the dick role in having Flair blocked suits him to a tee, and the effect of having Ric have to watch his second son being absolutely dismantled by Kennedy without being able to do anything about it is great. The video package of the commercial break happenings only makes it better, with the heat I wanted now well and truly in this thing. Well done.

The Coach interview afterwards here was pretty nice, providing reasoning as to why Flair was kicked out when other RAW superstars haven’t been before. I liked that you had him call the beatdown a legitimate interview segment too, further heeling it up for Coach. Not sure what to make of the announcement of no contact between Batista and Edge, but we’ll see where you go with it. It all depends on how that develops.

I guess this is a good time to comment on the two undercard singles title feuds. I’ve really liked what you’ve done with Danielson/Helms. It feels like it’s been built well, and it’ll climax perfectly with Danielson getting the win at WrestleMania, allowing Danielson to face a whole bunch of new opponents, plus feud on with Helms. Danielson is one guy I felt you’ve really gone the right way with. Finlay/Matt doesn’t quite have anything about it, although it’s solid for an undercard title match. Maybe more could be made about Matt trying to finally win that big singles title, with the veteran Finlay, who has been beating guys for years standing in his way. Some promos between these two certainly couldn’t hurt, as there should be some real feeling emotion in there, even if neither are that strong on the microphone. Onto the actual match, the time given for it was nice, and the way it was booked was good too. You made use of the outside factors well, and while Danielson lost, it was in dirty fashion, plus Helms was left laying too. Finlay and Hardy both coming out lookg strong is a plus for that match too, making for clever booking.

I really like this interview from Edge, as it screams heelishness, with him talking about Batista being scared of him now that there will be no more contact between the two of them. I’m not sure what you’re planning for the two later tonight, but hopefully you can build on this mind games stuff.

This is probably the match I’m least sold on for WrestleMania. It felt like you had a natural match between The Hooligans and The Bluebloods, although I guess things didn’t come as naturally on RAW. Still, I understand you’re rebuilding the tag division, and aside from two good tag title matches, I guess the best way to showcase the tag team division is by having the two sets of champions face off. On the actual match, it felt a little similar to the previous match with the outside interference in the final sequence, and London using his partner’s finisher was a little odd, but having London pick up a win to even up the loss on RAW works fine.

The little confrontation backstage is a good way to keep The New Breed and The Hooligans linked for post-WrestleMania tag title goodness, while I like that you played the common link between Layla and Ashley into here. I’m really liking what you’ve got for teams on the SmackDown! side of things. You’ve definitely improved the tag division here.

Undertaker/Umaga seems like a feud you’d just want to see for WrestleMania. The feud has been your basic Undertaker/monster threat WrestleMania type feud, but it really is a big match, and one I like seeing here. The Test/Undertaker match was really what you’d expect it to be, giving Undertaker a solid win over a formidable opponent, who doesn’t have anything else going on right now. The post-match brawl pretty much showed what WrestleMania is about – two heavyweight titans going at it. I didn’t like Estrada jumping on The Undertaker, as I feel that’s something a cowardly heel manager just shouldn’t do with The Undertaker, but the brawl between the two was nice, and the big statement being made from Umaga to end it maybe makes you doubt whether Undertaker will win his match. Well, not really, but it does kayfabe-wise.

Immense sell job for WrestleMania with the commentary. The effort is very much appreciated, and provided a good read. You’ve got JBL down perfectly.

Obviously the Money in the Bank match isn’t about personal feuds or anything, but I feel like you’ve put together a pretty good match here. Randy Orton is one guy who maybe seems above it, but as a whole, there’s a good mixture of guys in there who could be seen as potential winners. Obviously, the likes of Benoit, Kane and Booker aren’t really going to have any chance of winning, but there’s still enough potential there. As far as this match goes, I thought the heels maybe needed a win, as they’ve been looking weak of late, although I guess breaking off the MVP/Booker partnership is for the best.

The Benoit segment is interesting. It seems like you’re setting up to write him off, which I can’t blame you for as the Benoit incident isn’t far off in this timeline.

I’ve said before that I’m not sure about The Miz getting much of a push here as a singles guy, but I get that you’re keeping him relevant while he’s not on the WrestleMania card (which is the right move, by the way). Nice to see the twenty man battle royal get some hype too, making it seem like it means something.

A little bit surprised you’re finding time for the feud between these two stables with it being WrestleMania time, but, like with The Miz, it’s good to see you keeping them relevant, even if The FBI look like a joke with Marella. With that said, The Extremists picking up he win certainly looks for the best, as they have more credibility, and could provide filler opposition for tag titles in the future. I can’t say the same for The FBI right now.

I like you playing up the stipulation between Batista and Edge by having Edge continue to try to get in the head of Batista, but I almost feel like this should be done in a segment in the ring, because it really does feel like a big deal at this stage. That said, this was written well, and Batista getting the last word is a positive move.

Loved the little Kennedy promo match the main event, taking advantage of his pre-match bit to make him look like even more of a sadistic bastard and drive his heat up further. Kennedy’s really looking like the guy you could take to the top of this thread with promos like this, so WrestleMania is going to be very big for him.

Honestly, I feel like you’ve used this main event a bit much recently. I think it’s closed something like three shows in four weeks, which is a bit much. Still, with that said, giving Kennedy the win and allowing Edge to continue to get into the head of Batista is a good move, as not only does it give Kennedy moment, but it also sets up a great confrontation next week between Edge and Batista. I’m not usually a fan of seeing a champion being pinned, but I think it works okay here. Good way to close the show.


All in all, a strong show, as per usual. Everything seems to be building away nicely, with the final two shows now set to finish it all off before WrestleMania. Good stuff, mang.
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Old 12-05-2011, 06:11 PM   #192 (permalink)
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Default Re: WWE: The Evolution Of Greed

First of all chaps, greatly appreciate the feedback. As you all know, usually I'm good for getting it back to you. Sadly, I'll be unable to do so for the next two weeks. It's exam season, and with a full job, part time uni, plus a Wrestlemania to write, I just haven't got the time to fit you all in. For that, sincere apologies. After my last exam on the 16th, I should have a bit more time to not only write 'Mania, but to also give you all the love you deserve.

But alas, for now...

*****

~Monday Night Raw~
March 26th, 2007
Indianapolis, IN

~Smackdown Invades Raw~




The last episode of Raw and the penultimate television show before Wrestlemania sees the superstars of Smackdown join forces with their Raw counterparts for what is sure to be an explosive edition as Smackdown Invades Raw!

The Smackdown roster will be in attendance tonight with a string of Raw vs. Smackdown match ups on the card, featuring many of the competitors involved at Wrestlemania XXIII. And perhaps no match tonight is bigger than the Champion vs. Champion clash featuring WWE Champion Shawn Michaels and World Heavyweight Champion Batista. The two figureheads of the respective brands are set to collide in what is sure to be a fiercely competitive main event, with no doubt both men's opponents this Sunday watching on intently. While Batista's opponent this Sunday, Edge, is not scheduled to compete tonight, 'The Rated-R Superstar' will no doubt be keen to once again make his presence felt in Batista's match, despite the none contact ruling between the two brought in by Interim Smackdown General Manager Jonathan Coachman. For Michaels, it's a chance to give his opponents a little taste of what's in store for them this Sunday, with Michaels reiterating his desire to once again steal the show at Wrestlemania and prove once and for all why he is 'The Showstopper'.

As for Michaels' opponents this Sunday, Rob Van Dam and Triple H, both men will also be in action tonight against Smackdown opponents. For 'The Game', it's the United States Champion Finlay, the grizzled Irish veteran looking to send a message to the man he defends his title against this Sunday, Matt Hardy, with what would be considered a huge victory over Triple H. For Van Dam, the challenge could not be greater as he takes on the man of the moment, Mr. Kennedy, perhaps the most hated man in the WWE today due to his recent torment of Ric Flair. Kennedy is full of confidence right now, especially after the unparalleled success last Friday's Smackdown was for him. We'll also hear from all three men involved in the WWE Championship Triple Threat Match during tonight's broadcast, and with Wrestlemania just six days away, none of the trio will be wanting to head to Detroit off the back of a loss.

For months John Cena has been reeling from the combined forces of Mr. McMahon, his son Shane, and the always impressive Bobby Lashley. With the deck stacked against Cena so strongly, it's a testament to Cena's character that he's even made it this far. But last week, the first chink of light in the McMahon's armoury was found after Linda McMahon's announcement that the referee for the Cena/Lashley showdown will be none other than 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin. With Austin already scheduled to be in Detroit to induct Jim Ross into the WWE Hall of Fame the night before Wrestlemania, Austin will now pull double duty as he dons the stripes to finally level the playing field. Tonight, Austin will be in Indianapolis to address Cena, Lashley and Vince ahead of this Sunday, in what is sure to be a highly controversial moment.

With the Money in the Bank Ladder Match sure to be one of the highlights of this Sunday's event, all eight men are set to compete tonight in a special Eight Man Tag Team Money in the Bank Preview Match, where Raw and Smackdown will face off. This means that recent rivals Randy Orton and Jeff Hardy will team with another pair of rivals, CM Punk and Johnny Nitro, to take on the combined forces of Chris Benoit, Kane, King Booker and Montel Vontavious Porter. With the four Smackdown superstars also having their share of problems lately, chances are this one could get out of hand in a hurry. However, if one brand can keep it together long enough, we could see the emergence of an early favourite to climb the ladder of success and grab that briefcase at Wrestlemania XXIII.

All of that, plus the rematch between The Hart Legacy and The Redneck Wrecking Crew, we'll hear from Intercontinental Champion Kenny Dykstra and his Wrestlemania opponent Carlito, we'll also speak with Women's Champion Mickie James and her opponent Beth Phoenix, and the final entrant into the 2007 WWE Hall of Fame Class is revealed... and perhaps the best, has been saved for last. The final episode of Raw before Wrestlemania, you won't want to miss it!

Confirmed Matches:

Shawn Michaels vs. Batista
Rob Van Dam vs. Mr. Kennedy
Triple H vs. Finlay

CM Punk, Jeff Hardy, Johnny Nitro and Randy Orton vs. Chris Benoit, Kane, King Booker and Montel Vontavious Porter

The Redneck Wrecking Crew vs. The Hart Legacy

Plus!! We'll hear from Kenny Dykstra, Carlito, Mickie James and Beth Phoenix, and the final member of the 2007 WWE Hall of Fame Class is revealed!


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Old 12-11-2011, 09:29 PM   #193 (permalink)
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Default Re: WWE: The Evolution Of Greed

~Monday Night Raw~
March 26th, 2007
Indianapolis, IN

~Smackdown Invades Raw~



”God, what a moment! These fans are goin' nuts!"




We kick off the show by cutting straight into the arena. No music, no pyro display, just the quiet hush of anticipation and excitement that darts across the arena. The camera lingers on a wide shot of the capacity crowd, before the silence is shattered by...

*ONE OF A KIND...*


The arena erupts with a tremendous outpouring of cheers as Rob Van Dam, just six days away from perhaps the biggest match of his career, steps out onto the Raw stage. Pausing at the top of the ramp, Van Dam smiles and nods his head at the crowd, leading them through a cry of "ROB - VAN - DAM!" before he heads down to the ring. Wearing a black t-shirt over his singlet that reads "The Whole F'n Show", Van Dam takes his time as he enters the ring, savouring the moment as he stares around the arena and then steps through the ropes...


Jim Ross: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Monday Night Raw, a very special edition of Raw, where Smackdown invades Monday nights. We'll see plenty of confrontations between Raw and Smackdown superstars as the night goes on, but right now, we're gonna hear from a man who is just six days away from his first Wrestlemania main event, 'Mr. Monday Night' Rob Van Dam!

Jerry Lawler: Six days J.R.! Wrestlemania XXIII is just six days away, there's excitement in the air, there's tension in the locker room, and if you ask me, there's a real buzz of excitement and anticipation when Rob Van Dam enters an arena.

Jim Ross: Well certainly Van Dam is a big favourite with these fans. This Sunday, we're headin' into Van Dam's home state of Michigan, where after such a long, illustrious career, Van Dam finally gets the chance to compete for the WWE Championship on the grandest stage of 'em all. I've known Rob a long time, he's one of the most exciting competitors I've ever seen, he's had a career full o' highlights and breath-taking moments. I know 'RVD' is gonna be ready for Michaels and Triple H this Sunday in Detroit, but can he finally grab the richest prize in sports entertainment with the whole world watching? Well folks, the Smackdown roster is here tonight, as is the Smackdown announce team. Let's hear from Michael Cole, Tazz and 'JBL'. Welcome to Raw fellas!

The camera now switches to the Smackdown announce desk, which is at ringside alongside the Raw desk. A beaming smile is on Cole's face, while a smirk crosses Layfield's mug and Tazz looks all business behind those dark shades of his...

Michael Cole: Thanks J.R., great to be here! We'll see ya' this Friday on Smackdown for the return trip! But tonight, this is Monday Night Raw, a Raw on which Smackdown is invading, and that means a series of great matchups are in store tonight featuring Raw and Smackdown talent.

John Bradshaw Layfield: Your damn right Michael! The final week before Wrestlemania, the last Raw before the biggest Wrestlemania in history and Friday Night Smackdown is here to be a part of it!

Michael Cole: And obviously there you see 'Mr. Monday Night' Rob Van Dam, a man who is one third of the WWE Championship Match at Wrestlemania XXIII, he is scheduled to compete with Smackdown's Mr. Kennedy, a man who has quite frankly tortured the family of Ric Flair over the last week, both physically and mentally.

Tazz: My man 'RVD', he's gettin' ready for the biggest night of his life, and I hope he kicks the hell outta Kennedy tonight! But that ain't all Cole, also tonight, the United States Champion Finlay goes one on one with 'The Game' Triple H, while the World Heavyweight Champion Batista takes on the WWE Champion Shawn Michaels. What a set of matches that's gonna be!

Michael Cole: All that, and so much more! It's gonna be an unbelievable night folks, but right now, let's hand it over to Van Dam...

In the ring, Van Dam uses his hand to motion for a bit of calm, although the crowd remain vocal with thier "RVD! RVD! RVD!" chant...

Rob Van Dam: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Again Van Dam motions for silence, and after pausing, eventually the chants die down...

Rob Van Dam: Indianapolis, Indiana...

Only for the crowd to again erupt with a big cheer as Van Dam draws the cheap pop...

Rob Van Dam: I'm pretty sure you all know that it's Wrestlemania week! For me, and a lotta the guys back in that locker room, this Sunday... is the biggest night of our careers. I might be showin' my age a little bit here, but it was way back in 1990 that I made my debut in this business. It's taken me seventeen years, but this Sunday, finally, I get the chance to be in a Wrestlemania main event. And when I do it...

Van Dam pauses, shaking his head, almost in disbelief at what awaits him this weekend...

Rob Van Dam: I get to challenge for the richest prize in all of professional wrestling. The WWE... Championship.

Solid pop from the fans, with Van Dam nodding in agreement with them...


Rob Van Dam: But to do it... to become champion... I gotta take on two of the best. Two of the greatest we've ever had. Two... former friends. Shawn Michaels and Triple H. I mean yeah, when you look at their careers and compare 'em to mine... it ain't pretty. They... they kick my ass when it comes to accomplishments and Wrestlemania main events. I gotta hold my hands up and admit it... to this point, they've... had better careers than me.

Van Dam shakes his head ruefully...


Rob Van Dam: But y'know what? This Sunday... I'm gonna prove that for all their titles, for all their achievements, for all their success... they're not better than me.

Pop...

Rob Van Dam: Shawn Michaels, every Wrestlemania, that dude brings it like nobody else can. Triple H? Well... I think he's been on the receivin' end of a few favours throughout his career. But ya' can't fault the guy for he's accomplished. But lemme tell everybody in this arena, that this business, for both of 'em... it doesn't mean as much to them as it does me. This Sunday, it means more to me than it ever could for either of 'em. Triple H and Shawn Michaels might love this business... but Rob Van Dam will always love it more.

Another pop...


Rob Van Dam: It's love for this business that lead me to a bingo hall in Philadelphia to try get the big break I wanted. It was love for this business that I scratched and clawed and put my body on the line in some of the most insane matches ever, all to impress you people. It's love for this business that finally brought me to the WWE, and it's love for the business that's gonna lead me to the WWE Championship this Sunday.

Again the crowd respond positively, with Van Dam pausing for their cheers...

Rob Van Dam: And last week? Last week, I learned a lil' lesson from 'The Game'. DTA... don't trust anybody. I'm not sayin' I trusted Triple H... but I did trust 'im to do things the right way. But given how things have gone down between the two of us since Saturday Night's Main Event... I shouldn't really be that surprised. Well guess what, Hunter?

Van Dam stares deep into the hard camera...


Rob Van Dam: I got the message loud... and clear. You got me last week dude, but this Sunday... there's gonna be no chance of a repeat bro'. You wanna get my attention? You wanna get one over on me? You wanna piss me off? Way to go man... job done. You took the most laid back guy in this industry... and you just made 'im real mad, six days away from the biggest night of his life!

Pop...


Rob Van Dam: And Shawn? Wrestlemania... that's you're night dude. You are 'Mr. Wrestlemania', and nobody's ever gonna take that away from ya'. Each and every year, you go out there and you look to steal the show. Well this year... I'm gonna be the one stealin' the show.

The camera zooms in on Van Dam's serious demeanour...

Rob Van Dam: For all your great Wrestlemania matches, and all your great Wrestlemania moments, I promise ya' dude, you're never gonna have one as good as this Sunday.

Van Dam now turns to look up the ramp, as if he's staring straight at both of his opponents...

Rob Van Dam: Hunter, Shawn... believe it or not, I do actually respect you. I think you're both great wrestlers. But this Sunday... I'm gonna be better.

Pop...

Rob Van Dam: This Sunday, this has gotta be my night. This has gotta be the big chance I finally take. For you Shawn, and for you Hunter, it's just another Wrestlemania. Another nice payday, another chance to hold the WWE Championship, another main event. But for you... it's the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity I've been fightin' for my entire career. And now I've finally got it...

Van Dam turns, looking into a camera on the apron, allowing us to fully appreciate the focus in his eyes...

Rob Van Dam: I'm not gonna mess it up. I'm walkin' into Detroit, Michigan, my home state, and I promise everybody, that come Sunday night, the WWE Championship is goin' home with me!

Another pop...

Rob Van Dam: I'm not the biggest, I'm not the strongest. But drive, focus, determination, passion... those are things you can't measure. Those are things you're Father-in-law can't buy for ya'. Those are things you develop when you're bustin' your ass every night for a company like ECW.

Van Dam purses his lips, looking extremely focused...

Rob Van Dam: But those are the things that's gonna lead me to the WWE Championship. I might not be the perfect corporate champion. I might not make the cover of WWE Magazine all that often. But the heart it takes to win at Wrestlemania... you're not gonna find that behind some Armani suit. You're gonna find it right here.

Van Dam vigorously thumps his chest...

Rob Van Dam: I'm not arrogant, I'm not takin' anythin' for granted. But I know where I've been, and I know where I'm goin'. I know in the past I've maybe been guilty of talkin' about deservin' opportunities. Hell, my opponent tonight, Mr. Kennedy, he's been guilty of that a lot lately too. But I've realised somethin'. To get where I wanna be, to become champion, I've gotta go out and deliver. And this Sunday... I'm gonna do exactly that.

Pop...


Rob Van Dam: So Shawn Michaels, Triple H... let's do it guys. Let's put on a heck of a match, let's have a helluva fight, let's steal the show. But when it's all said and done, there's only gonna one guy those fans remember. And his name... is Rob... VAN... DAM!!

And with a show of determination, Van Dam lets the mic drop to the mat with a thud as his music rings out once more. Staring hard into the camera, Van Dam looks focused beyond belief before he finally snaps back to his usual self, heading for the second rope to once again perform his thumb taunt, the crowd cheering along...

Jim Ross: Well what a way to kick off Monday Night Raw. Rob Van Dam has the biggest opportunity of his storied career this Sunday, and he seems more determined that I've ever seen 'im before to get the job done. Can Van Dam achieve the ultimate dream? Can he defeat Shawn Michaels and Triple H this Sunday at Wrestlemania XXIII, and in the process become the new WWE Champion?

John Bradshaw Layfield: I've never thought much o' the guy before, I've always felt he's nothin' more than a high flier who's a danger to 'imself. But lemme tell ya', that guy's gonna deliver the performance of a lifetime this Sunday. The big question is... is it gonna be enough to get past 'The Game' and 'The Showstopper'?

Jerry Lawler: Well if ya' ask me, I think this is the biggest opportunity of his career, and he better take it. You don't wanna be here on Raw knowin' you had a shot at the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania and you couldn't take it.

Michael Cole: Michaels, Triple H and Van Dam, six days away at Wrestlemania XXIII! But tonight, Van Dam is scheduled to go one on one with Mr. Kennedy! Join us when we return to Monday Night Raw!

As the commentators have been speaking, Van Dam has made his way to the top of the ramp, stopping on the stage to turn to the crowd, the camera focusing on the broad smile on his face as we head off to a commercial.

*Commercial*


And when we return, it's straight to the office of 'The Chairman of the Board' Mr. McMahon, who stands alongside his son Shane McMahon, the pair looking decidedly unhappy. Brooke Adams, Mr. McMahon's Executive Assistant stands in the background, a clipboard in her hand. Brooke shares the tension of her boss as she nervously chews on a pen, but all eyes are on the scowl on Vince's face as he sighs heavily...


Mr. McMahon: Austin. 'Stone - Cold' - Steve - Austin. That vindictive bitch!

Shane flashes his Dad a look of annoyance, at which Vince returns with an understanding nod...

Mr. McMahon: Sorry. But c'mon Shane, be reasonable here. The bitch is tryin' to ruin me! She's tryin' to ruin Lashley's chances this Sunday! I mean Austin... he hates me. He hates my guts! There's no chance in hell he's gonna be impartial this Sunday!

Exasperated by the situation, Vince aggressively scratches the back of his head, searching for the answer...


Mr. McMahon: I mean, I pleaded with your Mother to try get her to change her mind. I tried to speak to the Board of Directors, MY Board of Directors, I tried to get an emergency vote to solve all this, and they wouldn't even listen to me!

Vince runs a hand across his chin, then turns to look at Brooke...

Mr. McMahon: Brooke... did you hear anythin'? Is he here? Is Austin here tonight?

Brooke Adams: Yes, Mr. McMahon. He's - he's here.

Vince scrunches up his face and reluctantly nods his head, throwing up his arms almost in defeat...


Mr. McMahon: Well... I might as well go talk to him, hear what he has to say. Hell, I might as well try and convince him to see things our way.

Shane, with a slight look of excitement on his face, places a hand on his Father's shoulder...

Shane McMahon: Wait a minute, wait a minute... that's not a bad idea. Let's talk to him. You and him, in the ring, face to face.

Vince looks furious at his Son's suggestion...

Mr. McMahon: Are you outta your damn mind!? He's hit me with the stunner last week, and now you want me to get in the ring alone with him!?

Shane shakes his head quickly...


Shane McMahon: Dad, think about it! You and Austin, alone in the ring. Face to face, man to man, no John Cena or Mom involved. Just the two of ya'. Maybe you make him an offer? Maybe you try and convince him? Or maybe... if words don't work... we find another way to convince him?

A devilish smirk crosses Vince's face as the light bulb goes off inside his head...

Mr. McMahon: Brooke? Where's Bobby right now?

Brooke Adams: He's not here yet Mr. McMahon, he said he had somethin' to take care of before he arrived tonight.

Mr. McMahon: Well when he gets here you tell him to come see me right away. I need to discuss somethin' with him.

Brooke nods and makes a note on the piece of paper on her clipboard, only to be interrupted as Vince says...

Mr. McMahon: And one more thing. Get me my wife Linda on the phone. I've got somethin' I know she'll wanna hear first.

Adams nods and continues writing, while Vince turns to Shane, slowly smiling at each other, feeling a lot more comfortable than they did a few moments ago as we cut back into the arena.

To hear...

*THIS FIRE BURNS...*


A great pop welcomes the arrival of The Straight Edge Saints to the arena, with CM Punk leading Nick Dinsmore and Kelly Kelly out onto the stage. Punk stops at the top of the ramp, tapping an imaginary watch on his wrist, holding it to his ear, then to Kelly's, before he yells out "It's clobberin' time!" and the trio head for the ring...


Jim Ross: What a way to kick things off tonight, a preview of the Money in the Bank Ladder Match as all competitors team up for tag team action. And speakin' of Money in the Bank, what a way to cap off a tremendous year it would be for CM Punk if he managed to grab the Money in the Bank briefcase.

Tazz: Y'know J.R., I was there the night CM Punk made his WWE debut back on ECW, and this kid has just continued to impress me. I'd love to see a young guy like Punk grab that briefcase. Wrestlemania is a night when careers are made and broken, and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if CM Punk emerged as one of the stars of ths show.

*PAPARAZZI...*


Some solid heat as the red carpet is rolled out, and walking out arm in arm come Johnny Nitro and Melina, the light bulbs flashing as the photographers snap off a few pictures of the pair. Chris Masters is also there, a more serious look on his face, but he too poses for the cameras as he flexes his muscles before the trio head down the ramp...


Michael Cole: Well he certainly hasn't had the best of years so far in 2007, but a victory over Nick Dinsmore landed Nitro a spot in Money in the Bank. And it seems that lately Nitro and Masters have had a few issues with The Straight Edge Saints.

John Bradshaw Layfield: Well wouldn't you have issues with those two? I mean they don't drink, they don't smoke, they don't do drugs, hell, they don't do anythin'! Can you imagine a night out with those two and that dumb blonde that hangs around with 'em!? God, I'd be more borin' that listenin' Joey Styles call a show by 'imself!

Tazz: Yeah, nice 'JBL'. Take a shot at the guy who's suspended and ain't here to defend 'imself. Real classy.

John Bradshaw Layfield: One o' the best decisions Mr. McMahon ever made was suspendin' his ass! I hope he makes it permanent and I never have to listen to that pencil-necked geek ever again!

"HEY!..."

*BURN IN MY LIGHT...*


Some really strong boos for Randy Orton, who for the first time in several months is heading for the ring by himself, riding solo after his partnership with Kenny Dykstra came to an emphatic end last week. Orton enters the ring and scowls at both his partners tonight, before he heads for the corner to produce his trademark 'Legend Killer' pose...


Jim Ross: I've always felt this guy has the skills to be one of the very best the industry has ever seen. He's certainly got all the physical tools, but more often than not, attitude and temper has let Randy Orton down.

Jerry Lawler: Oh absolutely. We've saw in recent weeks how each time Jeff Hardy's gotten the better of Orton that's he's lost his cool. You have to wonder whether or not under the bright lights of Wrestlemania this guy can keep it together.

Tazz: I think you gotta wonder if he's even gonna be able to work together with his team mates tonight? Can Orton work alongside guys like Punk, Nitro, and especially Jeff Hardy?

*LOADED...*


And the loudest response thus far is saved for Jeff Hardy, who bounces out onto the stage, rocks his head to the beat of the music and pumps up the fans before he races for the ring. As Hardy slides under the bottom rope, Orton is right there to greet him, the two going nose to nose for a few seconds before Jeff heads to the corner to salute the fans...


Michael Cole: I'd say that answers your question Tazz! Well, over on Smackdown we of course have Jeff's brother Matt, who's just six days away from the biggest opportunity of his career as he takes on Finlay for the United States Championship. But let's talk about how big an opportunity this Sunday is for Jeff. He's a multiple time Intercontinental Champion, but he's never held the big one, and grabbin' the Money in the Bank briefcase could be his ticket there.

John Bradshaw Layfield: I've always felt that Matt and Jeff have a ton o' talent, but quite frankly, they're both screw ups! They've wasted every chance given to 'em in the past, and that's gonna happen for both of 'em again this Sunday. Wrestlemania XXIII ain't gonna be a good night for The Hardy Boyz, just you wait and see.

*DEAD WHITE GUYS...*


And here comes the first of the Smackdown competitors, and in an interesting move it's the duo of King Booker and Montel Vontavious Porter who emerge together. Booker stops at the top of the ramp to hold his pinky high in the air as Queen Sharmell gives her King a warm round of applause, while 'MVP' scoffs and waves Booker off, heading for the ring...


Michael Cole: Well I gotta tell ya', I'm surprised to see these two come out together as a unit. King Booker and 'MVP' formed a partnership about a month ago intent on removin' the competition, but all they done is argue with each other, and it's cost 'em on several occasions.

Tazz: Two weeks ago they tried to jump Kane and wound up gettin' chokeslammed for it, last Friday night they lost to Kane and Chris Benoit. I don't see this partnership lastin' much longer.

John Bradshaw Layfield: That's just a few small issues, they'll be fine. King Booker is the most regal man in all of the WWE Kingdom. He's the greatest guy to ever wear a crown!

Jerry Lawler: And you're the biggest jackass to ever wear a cowboy hat!

John Bradshaw Layfield: Hey! That ain't any kinda way to talk to J.R.! He's gonna be a Hall of Famer someday! You better watch your damn mouth Lawler!

*BOOM!...*

*SLOW CHEMICAL...*


A good response as Kane is the next man out, a maniacal grin on his face as he heads down the ramp, tugging on his left elbow pad before he yanks himself up onto the apron and steps over the top rope, setting off another shot of pyro...


Jim Ross: Here's a guy I consider to be a real threat this Sunday. He's crazier than a pet coon, he seems impervious to pain at times, and if anybody can climb the ladder to success, it's that man Kane.

Tazz: A threat is right. Just a mean, scary guy is Kane. I can see 'The Big Red Machine' doin' some serious damage this Sunday, especially if he gets that ladder in his hands.

*WHATEVER...*


And our final competitor gets the biggest welcome so far as Chris Benoit makes his return to Monday Night Raw. Benoit quickly walks down the ramp, cocking his head from side to side as he goes, his eyes firmly fixated on the ring until he takes a long look at the briefcase that hangs from the rafters...


Michael Cole: What a strong interview Chris Benoit gave last Friday night on Smackdown. Benoit said that perhaps the years of pain and injuries were finally takin' their toll on him, and he honestly didn't know how much longer he had left in the WWE. What a way for Chris Benoit to potentially go out if he could grab that briefcase and then cash it in to become champion once more.

Jerry Lawler: He's never shown fear in his life, he's always been tough as they come. But I just wonder, that if he's not got long left, could Benoit do somethin' absolutely crazy this Sunday? God knows what this guy could do if he's that determined to become Mr. Money in the Bank!

Match 1: Eight Man Tag Team Money in the Bank Preview Match
CM Punk
, Jeff Hardy, Johnny Nitro and Randy Orton w/ Chris Masters, Kelly Kelly, Melina and Nick Dinsmore vs. Chris Benoit, Kane, King Booker and Montel Vontavious Porter w/ Queen Sharmell

Tensions are high on both sides of the ring, as heels and faces feel uncomfortable having to team with each other. In the Raw corner, Punk and Nitro quickly stand down, but Orton and Jeff share a long stare at each other before Orton finally heads for the apron. Across from them, the Smackdown team pick Booker as their opener, the pair engaging in a collar and elbow tie up. The two jockey for position, until Booker is able to back Jeff into the corner. The ref steps in for the break, and both men appear to give it, only for Booker to snap off a stiff boot to the midsection, following with a had forearm to the back. More boots land, causing Jeff to slump to the canvas, but he’s soon back up as Booker goes for the Irish whip... Jeff reverses, sending Booker crashing into the turnbuckle... stumbling back out into a back body drop! Hardy takes control as he locks Booker into a headlock, reaching out to tag in Nitro. Nitro enters the ring and tags Booker with a few right hands, before he goes for an Irish whip... which Booker reverses... only to miss with a clothesline... Nitro connects with a leg lariat! From his knees Nitro crawls to tag in Punk, and with Booker still down, Punk slingshots onto the top rope... and enters with a springboard elbow drop! Punk goes for the cover... 1... 2... Booker kicks out. Both men are back on their feet, but Punk stays in control as he unloads with kicks to the thighs, but out of desperation Booker drills a knee to the midsection, quickly tagging in ‘MVP’.

‘MVP’ races into the ring, only to run straight into an armdrag. ‘MVP’ bursts back to his feet, only fro Punk to nail him with a kick to the side of the head, sending ‘MVP’ stumbling to the corner. Punk charges in... step up knee to the face connects... and Punk hangs on for a bulldog... but as they come out of the corner, ‘MVP’ pushes Punk away. Punk puts on the breaks, turns and runs at ‘MVP’... straight into a snap overhead belly to belly! Just like that ‘MVP’ takes control for his team, and after briefly hammering down on Punk with right hands and boots, ‘MVP’ tags in Kane. Kane steps over the top rope and starts his attack with a series of shots to the throat, before he scoops Punk up and slams him to the mat. Punk sits up, just as Kane comes off the ropes... low angle dropkick connects, with Kane hooking the leg... 1... 2... Punk rolls a shoulder. Benoit now gets the tag, and he unloads with stinging chops to the chest in the corner, following with boots to the gut. Benoit picks up the intensity of the match as he rocks Punk with headbutts and a backbreaker, with Benoit gaining a near fall. With both men back on their feet, Punk fires back with chops of his own to the chest, with he and Benoit trading loud, stinging chops, until Punk smacks Benoit with a kick to the side of the head, allowing him to go for the Irish whip... but Benoit reverses... and as Punk hits the ropes, Booker low bridges him, letting Punk crash over the top rope to the floor!

Booker drops down off the apron, making out that’s trying to help Punk back to his feet, but when Jeff Hardy enters the ring to protest, Booker and ‘MVP’ work quickly to reach under the ring... bringing out a ladder! The two on/off partners hold the ladder together... and drive it into Punk’s body! Punk cries out in pain, but ‘MVP’ moves to quickly roll Punk back into the ring, with Booker back on the apron yelling for Benoit to go for the cover... but Benoit, who saw it all unfold, reacts angrily, getting in Booker’s face. The crowd pops as it looks like the partners are about to turn on each other... only for Booker to instead tag himself in and dive to hook the leg... 1... 2... Punk kicks out! For the next few minutes, Booker and ‘MVP’ exclusively work on Punk, keeping Punk away from his partners and not tagging in Benoit or Kane. Booker connects on a sidewalk slam and a Russian legsweep, while ‘MVP’ does damage with a release German suplex and the ballin’ elbow for near falls. Booker is back in, and he has Punk locked in a grounded chinlock, but as the crowd rally, Punk battles back to his feet, hitting elbows to the midsection that causes some separation, only for Booker to answer straight back with a forearm to the spine. Booker comes off the ropes... HARLEM SIDEKICK... NO! Punk ducks underneath it... step up enzuigiri! Booker slumps to the mat, and now Punk is crawling to his corner... diving to tag in... Randy Orton?

It looks like an accident, but Orton is indeed the legal man, just as Booker tags in ‘MVP’. ‘MVP’ charges at Orton, missing with a clothesline... Orton hits the inverted headlock backbreaker! Benoit, seeing his team has lost the momentum, races into the ring... straight into a snap powerslam! Nitro enters the ring and tries to take a few cheap shots at Benoit, but here comes Kane... clothesline that takes both Kane and Nitro over the top rope! Kane is back on his feet first, tagging Nitro, only for Masters to get involved as he rocks Kane from behind with a double axe handle. The referee doesn’t see Nitro and Masters go to work on Kane, as all hell has broken loose in the ring, with Orton rocking ‘MVP’ with right hands... but ‘MVP’ manages a thumb to the eye, allowing him to tag in Booker. Booker steps through the ropes, kicks Orton in the midsection, doubling him over... and then comes off the ropes... SCISSORS KICK... NO! Orton stands up in time... another snap powerslam! On the outside Benoit has saw the attack on Kane, rolling to the floor, he tagging Nitro with right hands while Nick Dinsmore goes after Masters. With those four brawling, and Kane picking himself back up, it’s a cluster at ringside... which ends as CM Punk flies off the top rope to take them all down! Back in the ring, Orton actually the crowd behind him as he waits for Booker to rise, but here comes ‘MVP’ from the blindside... RKO! Orton catches ‘MVP’ with the RKO, and now he has his sights set on the legal man King Booker... only for Jeff Hardy to tag him from behind! Jeff enters the ring and calls for the two to put their hostilities aside for the moment, but as the two talk Booker rise... but walks into a kick... TWIST OF FATE! Hardy plants Booker with – RKO??!! Orton drops Jeff with the RKO!! Staring down at Jeff, Orton smirks as he gets a measure of revenge on Hardy! A cold, callous look in his eyes, Orton drops to the his knees and then rolls from the ring, and with Jeff down all the recovering Booker has to do is crawl over, drape an arm across Jeff’s chest to get the 1... 2... 3.

Winners: Chris Benoit, Kane, King Booker and Montel Vontavious Porter @ 08.12

Randy Orton has just cost his team the match by laying out Jeff Hardy! The crowd boos Orton loudly as he strides up the ramp, not giving a damn about anybody, while in the ring Sharmell races into an embrace with Booker, the two delighted with the good luck Booker has just had. Bodies are strewn in and around the ring, and as Orton heads off backstage, the only man left standing is King Booker, who points to the briefcase hanging high in the sky as we head for a commercial.

*Commercial*


*Video Package*

WRESTLEMANIA RECALL!

APRIL 2ND, 2006
WRESTLEMANIA XXII


A blood filled feud between employee and boss finally came to a head at Wrestlemania XXIII as Mr. McMahon and Shawn Michaels met in a No Holds Barred Match. A feud that first started with a flippant comment over the Montreal Screwjob would soon escalate into one of the most vicious rivalries in years, despite the presence of a group of male cheerleaders. In the lead up to the big show, Vince and his son Shane has brutalized Michaels, attacking him on several occasions including robbing Michaels during the Royal Rumble. Shane and Michaels would meet during Saturday Night's Main Event, but it was the senior McMahon that Shawn wanted to get his hands on, and when he finally got the chance, Michaels delivered yet another show-stealing Wrestlemania moment. Overcoming the odds, Michaels recovered from a 5-on-1 assault from The Spirit Squad, a run in from Shane armed with a kendo stick and a brutal beatdown from Vince to place 'The Chairman of the Board' on a table with a steel trash can, then climb a 16 foot ladder, before he soars through the air with an elbow to drive Vince through the wood. As the crowd went wild for Michaels' attack, 'HBK' would go on to tune up the band, smacking Vince with the sweet chin music to grab the victory, delivering yet another Wrestlemania classic, although this feud was far from over.

WRESTLEMANIA XXIII - 6 DAYS AND COUNTING


*End Video Package*


And we return to see the ever chirpy Maria standing by, ready for an interview...

Maria: Hi! I'm Maria! And I'd like you all to welcome my guest at this time... the challenger for the Women's Championship this Sunday at Wrestlemania... Beth Phoenix!

Heat rings out from inside the arena as both Beth Phoenix and her friend Victoria enter the frame. Both divas have stern looks on their face, intimidating Maria as she retreats into herself, with Victoria in particular doing her best to intimidate the interviewer...

Maria: Uh - Beth, in six days time you compete in your first Wrestlemania against your former best friend Mickie James for the Women's Championship. What are your thoughts ahead of this Sunday?

Having been staring off into the distance, Beth now snaps her attention towards Maria...

Beth Phoenix: My thoughts? Y'know Maria, I just can't help but think about the fact that me and Mickie are former friends. I mean, picture this. Me and Mickie, best friends, two competitors having a fair fight, the chance to compete with my best friend for the Women's Championship at my very first Wrestlemania. Sounds like a fairytale, doesn't it Maria?

Perking up, Maria smiles and enthusiastically nods her head...

Beth Phoenix: Well fairytales don't come true when you've got Mickie James as your best friend!

Beth steps forward, shouting in Maria's face, causing that smile to vanish...

Beth Phoenix: Mickie ruined my chance at joinin' WWE all those years ago. And now that after all the pain, all the suffering, all the hard work I've been through to finally make it here, I'm not gonna give her the satisfaction of ruining my dreams all over again.

Heat...


Beth Phoenix: I'm finally here now Mickie, and guess what? I'm here to stay.

Beth turns to look at Victoria, the two friends smiling and nodding at each other...

Beth Phoenix: I'm here to stay, and I'm gonna make you suffer what I suffered when you cost me the chance to be a WWE diva. I don't just want to beat you for that title Mickie, I want you to feel the same pain I did all those years ago. I want you to shed the same tears I did all those years ago, but I want it to happen with the whole world watching.

Beth now turns back to Maria...


Beth Phoenix: This Sunday, for me, Wrestlemania is about so much more than just the Women's Championship. It's about pay back. It's about revenge. It's about... redemption.

And now looks at the camera...

Beth Phoenix: Mickie, I'm gonna take your title. And if I get the chance... I'm gonna break your hand... and then I'm gonna break your pretty - little - face!

Beth stares hard into the camera, before she turns and gives Maria one last fleeting smirk, then nods at Victoria and turns to leave. Victoria stares at Maria for a few seconds longer, the intimidating growl lingering before she too exits the scene, leaving Maria to cower, puffing out her cheeks and shaking her head, worried about Mickie James' chances this Sunday as we head back into the arena.

To hear...

*HART BEAT...*


The crowd gives a positive response for The Hart Legacy, as the trio of newcomers confidently head for the ring. Natalya Niedhart leads the way, doing her best to big up her team to the fans, while Tyson Kidd and Harry Smith make sure to slap as many hands at ringside as they can...


Jim Ross: These three young superstars have made quite the impact since debuting in the WWE, with Smith and Kidd picking up impressive victories over The Highlands and then The Redneck Wrecking Crew. But Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch didn't take too kindly to what they felt was a lack of respect from the newcomers.

John Bradshaw Layfield: Ya' earn your stripes in this business, and these kids ain't been in the door two minutes and already they're runnin' their mouths! Most teams take years to build up a reputation, yet these punks think a win over two guys in skirts means they're made. It don't work like that, and Cade 'n' Murdoch are the team to teach 'em that lesson, the hard way.

Tazz: Yeah but if anythin' it was Cade 'n' Murdoch who disrespected the Harts. I mean they beat 'em up after the match, they interrupted 'em durin' an interview. If ya' ask me, these kids earned the respect of Cade 'n' Murdoch when they beat 'em, and The Crew oughta start showin' it.

*SWEET 'N' SOUR...*


After appearing on the show the last few weeks, the level of heat has risen as The Redneck Wrecking Crew stride down the ramp in no-nonsense fashion. Trevor Murdoch leads the way, pointing and throwing some trash talk towards the ring, while Lance Cade brings up the rear, a confident swagger taking him down the ramp...


Jim Ross: They're tougher than a two dollar steak, and last week they got right in the face of Smith and Kidd when they interrupted an interview The Hart Legacy were takin' part in. Cade and Murdoch demand respect, but they don't seem to want to show any.

Michael Cole: Well they've been tag team champions in the past, and they wanna be back in the title hunt real soon. And perhaps that was where the frustration towards Smith and Kidd came from, they wanna be back challenging, yet they lost to a team in only their second match in the WWE.

Jerry Lawler: That's no excuse Michael. These two are just plain mean and nasty jerks if ya' ask me. They might be tough, but they've got no class, and if they're not willin' to show The Hart Legacy any respect, I don't see why they should get any in return. This oughta be a real interestin' contest.

Match 2: Tag Team Match
The Redneck Wrecking Crew
vs. The Hart Legacy w/ Natalya Niedhart

Kidd and Cade start us off, and when the two tie up Cade quickly gains the upper hand, rocking Kidd with right hands and elbows to the side. The shots knock Kidd down, only for Cade to drag him up and then plant Tyson with a scoop slam. Cade comes off the ropes... but Kidd rolls to avoid the elbow drop! Tyson now unloads with kicks and right hands, before he sends Cade off the ropes... and avoids him with a leapfrog... to then take him down with an armdrag! Cade is back up... right into another armdrag! Murdoch storms the ring... he runs into an armdrag too! Cade, the legal man, rolls to the outside, while Murdoch stumbles towards Smith... who tags him with a right hand, spinning Murdoch back towards Kidd... who comes off the ropes for a tilt-a-whirl headscissors! Murdoch stumbles back to his feet, and here comes Kidd... springboard crossbody! Kidd knocks Murdoch and bursts back to his feet, but as he attacks he doesn’t see Cade slip back into the ring... to smash Tyson from behind with a clothesline to the back of the head! Kidd smacks face first off the canvas, with Cade pouncing, hammering Kidd with a string of boots to the chest before he tags in Murdoch.

Murdoch goes to work with a series of power moves, bowling Kidd over with shoulderblocks, taking him up and down with a backbreaker before getting a near fall from a full nelson slam. Cade also goes to work on Kidd as The Crew work hard to keep Tyson away from Smith, with Cade sending Kidd high into the air with a big back body drop, before he continues his attack with a long vertical suplex. The rednecks show their experience factor as when Cade goes to the corner to pick a fight with Smith, Murdoch sneaks in and uses his boot pressed against Tyson’s throat in the corner to choke him, with Murdoch dropping back out of the ring just as the referee turns. Quick tags are made as the assault of Tyson continues, with The Crew combining for a nice double team move as Murdoch lifts Cade high into the air... to drop him with an elevated legdrop! Cade hooks the leg... 1... 2... Smith darts into the ring to make the save. Murdoch tags back in, and after landing a string of forearms to the lower back, he fires Kidd hard to the corner. Murdoch then lines him up from across the ring, building up a head of steam as he charges in... right into Kidd’s boot! Murdoch staggers back, then charges again... another boot to the face, with Tyson then quickly pushing himself onto the second rope... flying crossbody... countered into a powerslam! Murdoch gets all of it, not even bothering to hook the leg for the 1... 2... Kidd rolls a shoulder!

Cade and Murdoch are incensed, with Murdoch demanding a quicker count, before he relents and tags in Cade. Cade enters the ring and helps Kidd back to his feet... Tyson counters with a roll up out of nowhere! 1... 2... Cade kicks out, and both men are quickly back on their feet... Cade swings and misses with a clothesline... Kidd connects with a jumping roundhouse kick! Both men are down, and Kidd is crawling for his corner... to tag Harry Smith! Smith shows great agility for a man his size as he slingshots into the ring, gaining momentum as he lands on his feet and runs through Cade with a clothesline. Smith then grabs Cade, firing him off the ropes... huge back body drop! Murdoch storms the ring, but Smith sees him coming, catching him with a boot that doubles Murdoch over before he comes off the ropes... big boot to the side of the head! The force of the kick causes Murdoch to roll under the bottom rope, landing right next to Natalya. Murdoch gets back on his feet, and just like last week he starts exchanging words with Natalya... but here comes Kidd off the apron... diving hurricanrana... no! Murdoch hangs on... and counters with a powerbomb on the floor! The crowd gasps as Kidd takes a brutal landing, but while all this was happening, Smith continues his attack on Cade, synching him in... and taking him up... for the long DELAYED VERTICAL SUPLEX... only for Murdoch to then slide in the ring... and catch Smith with a chop block! Smith’s knee gives out, causing he and Cade to fall... with Cade landing on top of Smith! 1... 2... Cade has a handful of tights... 3!

Winners: The Redneck Wrecking Crew @ 04.27

Cade hangs on long enough to get the win, the force of Smith's kick out sending him rolling under the bottom rope to the floor. In the ring, Kidd is back in to check on his partner, as is Natalya, while on the outside Murdoch races around the ring to help Cade back to his feet. Smith explains the situation to his partner, angrily smacking his hands off the top rope, but it's all smiles as Cade and Murdoch back up the ramp, with Murdoch pointing back at the ring and shouting "Now ya'll better respect us!" as we cut to a commercial.

*Commercial*


Back from commercial to the sight of the smiling Todd Grisham, microphone in hand...


Todd Grisham: Welcome back to Monday Night Raw everybody. And please welcome my guest at this time, he is the challenger to the Intercontinental Championship this Sunday at Wrestlemania... Carlito!

A good pop from inside the arena as Carlito and Torrie Wilson come into the shot, the two walking with their arms linked together, while with his free hand 'Lito nonchalantly tosses an apple up and down...

Todd Grisham: And Carlito, Wrestlemania XXIII is just six days away, the time is nearly upon us, and that means you one on one with Kenny Dykstra, the Intercontinental Championship on the line. How are you feeling ahead of what has to be considered a huge opportunity for you?

Carlito ponders for a moment, a brief smile as he nods his head in agreement...

Carlito: Ju'know Todd, Carlito feels real, real excited about 'dis Sunday man. Carlito has waited a long time to be Intercontinental Champion again, and at Wrestlemania XXIII, Carlito becomes a champion again. And Carlito's gonna teach 'dat punk Dykstra a lesson when he does it!

Pop...


Todd Grisham: Well Carlito, I'm sure given what's been said between yourself and Kenny Dykstra over the last month or so with regards to your girlfriend Torrie, you can't wait to get your hands on the Intercontinental Champion.

Carlito breaths hard through his nose, nodding his head, this time with a much more aggressive look on his face...

Carlito: Man, ju' better believe it! Kenny Dykstra, not only did he insult Carlito, he insulted Carlito's girl man. 'Dat's not cool! Carlito thinks Kenny's got a lotta talent, really impressin' Carlito in the ring. But dat kid's got a real bad attitude. He thinks he such a man that he can take Carlito's girl?

Carlito scoffs...


Carlito: 'Dat ain't gonna happen. Torrie don't want no little kid like Dykstra. She wants a real man, like Carlito. Right baby?

Torrie blushes as 'Lito playfully gives her a little punch on the chin...


Carlito: And 'dis Sunday, Carlito gonna be the man to teach this punk a lesson. 'Ju don't talk trash about another guy's girl... especially not Carlito's girl. Carlito ain't gonna let 'dat fly man, and 'dis Sunday, ju' gonna pay 'de price!

Pop...


Carlito: And 'dat price is gonna be... 'jur Intercontinental Championship. Now 'dat... 'dat's cool!

A final pop rings out as 'Lito takes a big bite out of his apple, turning to look at Torrie, Raw's number one couple all smiles before they walk off, leaving the camera to linger on Grisham for a few seconds before we fade into a video.


*Video Package*

A slow, sombre violin string is heard as we open to a darkened room, a glimmer of light peaking through the shadows, just barely illuminating the stoic figure of Triple H, sat on a steel folding chair wrapping his hands in white tape. The camera focuses on the fists of 'The Game', the tape passing over his knuckles in slow motion, until he applies that final strip, punching his right hand into his left, specks of water flying into the air as he does...

Triple H: Y'know, there's a reason why they call me 'The Cerebral Assassin'.

We now see Triple H rise out of the chair, slowly walking through the shadows and into the darkness...

Triple H: I'm one of the most calculated superstars in WWE history. Everything I do, I plan to the minute detail.

We now cut to a gym, 'The Game' working out hard as he performs a series of leg presses and squats...

Triple H: I'm a ten time World Champion. You don't get there through favouritism. You don't get there through family. You get there by workin' your ass off. I don't wait for opportunities... I go out and grab 'em.

And now Triple H starts going to work on the bench press, firing out an impressive set of reps...

Triple H: You gotta push yourself to the absolute limit. You gotta take your body further than it's ever been before. I know Shawn Michaels and Rob Van Dam are gonna be ready... but they're not gonna be as ready as me.

We now see Triple H sparring in the ring, taking over some no-name wrestler with a series of power moves...

Triple H: I've been to the top of the mountain before. I've main evented Wrestlemanias, I know what it takes to win on the biggest stage.

We now see brief, flashing highlights of previous Wrestlemania matches as 'The Game' knocks down Chris Benoit at Wrestlemania XX, Batista at Wrestlemania XXI and John Cena at Wrestlemania XXII...

Triple H: Rob, I'm not gonna lie to ya'... I don't like you. I don't like you... but I do respect you. But this isn't your time Rob. You got in this match through the back door, you got in my way of gettin' my hands on Shawn. And at Wrestlemania, I'm takin' you out, and I'm takin' you out early. You ain't a rookie, you're not some kid... but you're not in my league either. As for Shawn Michaels...

Cries of pain and howls of agony are heard as Triple H now stretches out the indistinguishable wrestler in the dimly lit wrestling ring...

Triple H: I don't just want your title Shawn. I want... blood. You took a friendship... and you shattered it. And ever since, you've dodged me, you've avoided me, but you've only delayed the inevitable. Payback's a bitch Shawn, and it's time I cashed in. It might not be personal with Van Dam, but with you Shawn... it's about as personal as it gets.

More shots of high impact moves, with Triple H connecting with the spinning spinebuster and then the pedigree...

Triple H: I'm more prepared for a fight than I've ever been. I know what Shawn and Rob are gonna do before they've even thought of it. I want back that WWE Championship. I wanna break Shawn Michaels in half. Call me greedy, but I'm more determined than ever to make sure I get what I want. I am the best in the world at what I do, and this Sunday, Rob, Shawn...

We now see 'The Game' stood on the second rope in the corner, flexing his arms, muscles bursting out of his skin, with the camera zooming in...

Triple H: It's time to play the game.

*End Video Package*


Back into the arena for a few seconds of silence until...

"BEHOLD THE KING... THE KING OF KINGS..."

*THE GAME...*


The arena absolutely unloads with an incredible pop as Triple H steps out from the back, stopping at the entrance way on the top of the ramp. 'The Game' holds his ground for a few seconds, letting the buzz of the crowd grow, before he spits out a spray of water and then strides down to the ring with a purpose...


Jim Ross: This arena is on it's feet for 'The Game', Triple H! He is focused, he is determined, and he is ready for a showdown this Sunday in Detroit, Michigan! One third of the first ever Wrestlemania WWE Championship Triple Threat Match, and Triple H is ready to become an eleven time heavyweight champion!

John Bradshaw Layfield: I can't hear a damn thing! These people are goin' nuts for Triple H! But he better not just be thinkin' about Shawn Michaels and Rob Van Dam, he better be thinkin' about the man he's gonna face tonight.

Jerry Lawler: Oh don't worry about that 'JBL'. Triple H is ready! But we all know how much 'The Game' is lookin' forward to finally gettin' his hands on Shawn Michaels this Sunday, and I know he's got somethin' in store too for 'RVD'. I can't wait for that match, it's gonna be incredible!

"MY NAME IS FINLAY... AND I LOVE TO FIGHT..."

*LAMBEG...*


A good ammount of boos welcomes the United States Champion Finlay into the arena, the Smackdown superstar looking very confident as he heads down the ramp, threatening the odd fan with his shillelagh before pointing it at Triple H in the ring...


Michael Cole: Well all know how tough Triple H can be, but here comes one of the few men in the WWE who could claim to be even tougher. 'The Fighting Irishman' Finlay, the current United States Champion, he could make a huge statement ahead of his title defence against Matt Hardy this Sunday by pickin' up a win over 'The Game'.

Tazz: Ya' gotta think Matt Hardy's gonna be watchin' this backstage, and he might see a few things that surprise him tonight. Finlay can go with anybody, he can mix it up with the very best of 'em. Matt Hardy's gonna find out exactly what he's got comin' this Sunday in this match right now.

Match 3: Non Title Match
United States Champion Finlay vs. Triple H

The two well known hardmen step forward as the bell rings, exchanging words, the crowd noise building as they stare each other down. Eventually the pair tie up, and after a few seconds jockeying for position, Triple H takes Finlay down with a headlock takedown. Finlay works back to a vertical base, and then backs ‘The Game’ to the ropes, where he fires him across... but Triple H bowls Finlay over with a shoulderblock! ‘The Game’ now turns and comes off the ropes, only for Finlay to go for a hiptoss... Triple H blocks it... and then hammers Finlay with a clothesline! Early cover... 1... 2... Finlay kicks out. Both men are quickly back up... but again ‘The Game’ takes control with the headlock takedown, hanging on for a grounded headlock. Trips locks the hold on tight, but eventually Finlay is able to force both men up, allowing him to back ‘The Game’ into the corner. The referee calls for the break, with Triple H releasing... only for Finlay to take advantage by driving a series of shoulders to the midsection. Vicious knees to the side of the head follow, before Finlay fires Triple H across... only to run into a boot to the face. Now ‘The Game’ comes out of the corner swinging, rocking right after right, snapping Finlay’s head back, before he looks for the Irish whip off the ropes... but Finlay reverses... only to then lower his head... facebreaker knee smash! Finlay stumbles back to the ropes... and a clothesline knocks him over the top rope to the floor!

Finlay crashes to the floor below, and he takes his time recovering, which prompts ‘The Game’ to head for the side of the ring... but Finlay reaches in and grabs his ankle, pulling Triple H down and then under the ropes... but Trips connects on the first right hand! Finlay stumbles away, but ‘The Game’ grabs him... and smashes him face first off the announce desk! Finlay drops to a knee to try shake it off, but there’s not let up as first Triple H drives him spine first into the ring apron, and then takes Finlay up onto his shoulders... to drive Finlay face first into the ringpost... no! Finlay drops down the back and shoves Triple H towards the post... ‘The Game’ puts on the breaks, stopping himself for running face first into the post... but as he turns Finlay spears him spine first into the steel! Triple H crumples to the floor in pain, but Finlay moves quickly to roll him back into the ring, hooking the leg for a near fall. Now Finlay looks to target the spine as he snapmares ‘The Game’ to the mat and delivers a stiff kick to the back, repeatedly drives his knee to the small of the back, then rolls Triple H over for a running senton to the spine. After a near fall, Finlay locks on a bodyscissors, squeezing on the waist of ‘The Game’ in an attempt to apply pressure to the spine.

Finlay squeezes, causing ‘The Game’ to grimace in pain, which turn to groans when Finlay reaches up to grab the ropes, giving him some extra leverage to the hold. The crowd do their best to get Trips back into the match, and eventually he starts to strike with elbows to the face, causing some separation. Finlay is back on his feet first, and he hammers down on ‘The Game’ with a right hand to the face... Triple H fires back from his knees! Again Finlay strikes... again ‘The Game’ replies, back on his feet now as he connects on three right hands in a row. Trips comes off the ropes... but runs into a big time clothesline! Finlay crawls into the cover... 1... 2... Triple H rolls a shoulder, and with Finlay firmly in control, it’s rather appropriate that we quickly cut backstage to see his opponent at Wrestlemania this Sunday, Matt Hardy watching on, a determined if not slightly worried look on his face. Back to the ring, and after Finlay drills a few forearms to the spine, he rears back and aggressively fires ‘The Game’ to the corner, Triple H crying out as he hits the turnbuckle hard and slumps to his knees. Boots to the chest follow, before Finlay goes for a suplex... Triple H blocks. Finlay tries again... again ‘The Game’ blocks... and then responds with a suplex of his own! Both men are down, but eventually they struggle back up, with Finlay throwing a right hand... Triple H snaps him back, time and time again, until he goes for the Irish whip... Finlay reverses, but again he lowers his head... and Triple H synchs him in... PEDIGREE... NO! Finlay counters, reaching down, taking ‘The Game’ onto his shoulders... ROLLING HILLS! Finlay hits a great counter, hooks the leg tight for the 1... 2... NO!

After the kick out, Finlay protests to the referee, which allows Trips to crawl to the corner to recover. Slowly ‘The Game’ pulls himself up, but here comes Finlay looking for a spear against the turnbuckle... but he runs into a boot to the face! Finlay stumbles back, but charges once more... another boot to the face! Again Finlay staggers away, but he charges for the third time... running into a massive spinning spinebuster! Both men stay down for an age, the ref’s count reaching eight before either can drag themselves up. Finlay swings a right... ‘The Game’ blocks and fires back with a right of his own. Again Finlay swings... again Trips beats him to the punch, and then tags Finlay with three rights in a row. Triple H goes for the Irish whip... but Finlay reverses... only to miss with a clothesline... running knee strike! Trips drops into the cover... 1... 2... Finlay rolls a shoulder! ‘The Game’ now waits for Finlay to rise... kick... PEDIGREE... NO! Again Finlay counters... this time with a massive back body drop! Triple H crashes and burns, crawling to the corner, but Finlay is right on him as he goes for the Irish whip... but Triple H reverses... and follows in with a clothesline... no! Finlay dives to safety, seeing ‘The Game’ hits the turnbuckle... and this allows Finlay to hook him up... CELTIC CROSS... NO! Triple H manages to fight back to his feet... and he spins Finlay around... kick... PEDIGREE!! Triple H emphatically plants Finlay, and he hooks the leg for the 1... 2... 3!

Winner: Triple H @ 10.28

A stiff match ends with Triple H picking up a hard fought victory. 'The Game' gingerly rolls free of Finlay, taking a few moments to sell Finlay's attacks as he lies on the mat, but he's soon able to pick himself up to have his hand raised by the referee. Trips then heads for the corner, pulling himself up onto the second rope, where he points towards the Wrestlemania XXIII banner hanging from the rafters, motioning with his hands that this Sunday, he'll have a championship around his waist, the crowd still going wild as we head for a commercial.

*Commercial*


And when we return...

*NO CHANCE IN HELL...*


Tremendous heat as 'The Chairman of the Board' Mr. McMahon swaggers out onto the stage. Pausing briefly, McMahon surveys the landscape, basking in his creation, before he employs that trademark strut of his to carry him down the ramp...


Jim Ross: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Monday Night Raw. There you see perhaps the most evil mind professional wrestlin' has ever seen. The man who will lead Bobby Lashley into Wrestlemania XXIII for a showdown with John Cena. But tonight, from what we understand, Mr. McMahon is set to walk into that ring, alone I might add, and call out 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin.

Tazz: Yeah and, ya' gotta ask... has he lost his freakin' mind!?

Jerry Lawler: Oh believe me, Mr. McMahon knows what he's doin' here. He's got somethin' up his sleeve, you can count on it. But this Sunday, he's gonna be watchin' from the sidelines as Lashley and Cena go at it, and thanks to Austin being the Special Guest Referee this Sunday, I don't think McMahon is gonna be able to have quite the influence he's like to have on that match.

In the ring, Vince asks for and receives a microphone, returning to the centre of the ring with a rather eerie booming smile on his face...

Mr. McMahon: Alright, alright. Cut the music.

Vince's music eventually dies down, although the crowd continue to boo, prompting McMahon to wait for them to settle down...

Mr. McMahon: Indianapolis, Indiana... can you feel it!?

Strangely Vince goes for the cheap pop, but it seems to work as the crowd responds positively...


Mr. McMahon: It's Wrestlemania season! And that of course means that in just six days time, John Cena-

A strong pop from the crowd cuts Vince off, much to McMahon's annoyance. Vince pauses, shaking his head, before he continues...

Mr. McMahon: If you'll let me finish. In six days time, John Cena faces without doubt, the - biggest - threat he's ever faced in his life. He takes on the irresistible force. He takes on 'The Real Deal'. My representative at Wrestlemania XXIII... BOBBY... LASHLEY!

Heat...

Mr. McMahon: And of course, the reason that Cena finds himself in this predicament, is that for months, John Cena put his hands on me. He assaulted me. He insulted me. He questioned my authority. Simply put, he crossed the boss. And nobody... and I mean nobody... crosses the boss and gets away with it.

More heat, at which Vince simply smirks...


Mr. McMahon: And ever since Saturday Night's Main Event, ever since Bobby Lashley ripped through the canvas at Madison Square Garden and destroyed Cena, quite frankly John Cena has been runnin' scared of Lashley. Cena's been on the run, he's been tryin' to avoid Lashley at every opportunity, but this Sunday, there's nowhere left for Cena to run to. This Sunday John, you're gonna met 'The Dominator', and you're gonna suffer, and dammit, I'm gonna enjoy it!

Heat again...

Mr. McMahon: At least, that's how I had it all planned out, until two weeks ago on Raw, when my wife Linda McMahon announce that (Makes air quotes) "in the interests of fairness", there was goin' to be a Special Guest Referee for that match. And of course, last week as we all found out, the man she was referring to was... 'Stone Cold'... STEVE AUSTIN!!

Massive pop from the fans, with Vince sighing deeply and shaking his head...

Mr. McMahon: Yeah, yeah. You all loved that one, didn't ya'? I don't know how John Cena can show up this Sunday with any kinda dignity left given the fact that such a biased referee has been appointed. I dunno how he can step into that ring on Sunday and try exude any kind of class. 'Cause quite frankly, the fact that John Cena approached my wife, cried his eyes out, and wound up with Steve Austin as a hand picked referee, says to me that he knows he can't beat Lashley without any help. He can't beat Lashley one on one, and that's a fact.

Major heat for the sheer hypocrisy Vince is displaying...

Mr. McMahon: And that's why I'm here tonight, stood in this very ring... alone, I might add... to try and get a few guarantees. I wanna know just how much favouritism Mr. Austin plans on showing this Sunday. And, if possible, I'd like to try and persuade him to call it... right - down - the middle.

A few boos, but it's mostly silence from the crowd as Vince now turns to look up the ramp...


Mr. McMahon: So Steve, I know you're back there. I want you to come down to this ring, I want you to face me like a man, and I want you to-

*GLASS SHATTERS...*


For the second time in as many weeks, the WWE faithful go ape-shit crazy as Steve Austin roars into the arena on the back of his 4x4 kart. Stopping at the top of the ramp, Austin revs his engine loudly, before he races down the ramp and then circles the ring. Austin finally comes to an end at the base of the ramp, climbing off the kart and then up the stairs into the ring. Austin steps through the ropes and heads for the opposite corner, stopping as he crosses paths with Vince to flip him the bird, before he jumps up to the second rope to salute the crowd. Austin then drops down and asks for a microphone, being handed one, before he heads for the middle of the ring to go toe to toe with McMahon...


Mr. McMahon: Steve! Steve, how are ya'? Great to see ya'! Just like old times, huh? Y'know, you, me, stood here in the middle of a WWE ring. You remember those happy days, right?

Austin gives Vince a look of confusion, crossing up his face, scratching his head, slowly bringing the microphone to his mouth to say...


Steve Austin: What?

WHAT?!

Steve Austin: Did you just ask 'Stone Cold' about tha' good ol' days?

WHAT?!

Steve Austin: Tha' days when ol' 'Stone Cold' would open a can o' whoop ass on you, ya' sorry sunnova bitch, each and ev'ry night?!

WHAT?!

Steve Austin: Tha' bottom line son, is that they weren't no good ol' days for you, they were good ol' days for 'Stone Cold'. And I know I drank a lotta beer over the years, my memory ain't as good as it oughta be, but I sure as hell remember that when you and me got in this ring together, I drank some beer and I kicked your ass! Now somebody gimme a damn beer!

Austin holds a hand in the air, calling for a beer, and sure enough, to very quickly are launched into the ring, Austin catching both one handed, before he snaps one open and places it on the mat, then snaps open the other and takes a big gulp of it. Vince tries his best to call for calm, motioning with his hands for Austin to settle down...


Mr. McMahon: Well Steve, they may not have been the best of nights for me professionally, but they were certainly good days for business. And that's why I asked you out here tonight Steve. I'm not here to fight, I'm not here to drink beer with you, I'm here to discuss business. In specific, your role in the Bobby Lashley/John Cena match this Sunday.

Austin nods his head, indicating that he's willing to listen...

Mr. McMahon: Now Steve, let's be honest here... you don't like me.

Steve Austin: I hate yer' sorry ass!

The crowd pop, with Vince laughing to himself...


Mr. McMahon: Alright. You hate me. That's fine. I don't need you to like me Steve. But what I do need... is for you to call that match fairly this Sunday. Y'see, I want Lashley to hurt John Cena. I wanna see Cena suffer. I wanna see Cena humiliated with the whole world watchin'. And for that to happen, I need you to put whatever issues you may have me aside, and call the match right down the middle. And to make sure that happens, I have a few proposals I'd like to make to you Steve.

Cautiously, Vince reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out a few sheets of paper, keeping one eye on Austin as he unfolds the paper and starts reading its contents...

Mr. McMahon: Now, as I understand it, you have a movie coming out in a couple of months time, called The Condemned.Should you call the match this Sunday right down the line... or maybe even in my favour... I can promise you Steve, that The Condemned will receive the full support and backing of the WWE. I'm talking trailers promoting the movie, a countdown to its release date, interviews with you and the other stars, exclusive footage live on Raw, the works. How's that sound Steve?

Austin stares at Vince with a blank expression on his face...

Mr. McMahon: Alright. Alright, how about this? How about a live, three hour special edition of Monday Night Raw entitled 'Stone Cold Appreciation Night'? A look back at the life and career of 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin. We'll show some of your greatest matches, some of your best moments, we'll let you make a few matches, hell, I'll even let ya' step back in the ring for a match with any current member of the WWE roster. What d'ya think of that Steve?

Once more Austin simply stares at Vince with that blank expression, causing a few laughs from the crowd, and frustration from McMahon...

Mr. McMahon: Dammit Austin! Alright. Alright. How about this? How about this Saturday night, 24 hours before Wrestlemania, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, the final member of the 2007 WWE Hall of Fame Class? How about that!?

The crowd responds with a huge pop for that prospect, and it appears that even Austin is thinking it over as he slowly sips on his beer, a look of deep thought on his face. McMahon tries to encourage the crowd to make some noise, hoping their cheers helps Austin see things his way, while Austin now strokes his chin, clearly considering the offer...


Mr. McMahon: C'mon Steve! You know it makes sense! Steve Austin... WWE Hall of Famer! I mean, listen to these people! They wanna see it happen! Don't disappoint the fans Steve! Call things my way! Call the match in my favour, and I can make all of that happen!

And now a mixed response from the fans, realising that for them to see Austin in the Hall of Fame he'd need to see things from Vince's point of view. Austin looks to the crowd, who respond with a louder mixed reaction, and indeed Austin appears to be listening to them as he takes his time, pondering his options, until he finally brings the mic to his mouth...


Steve Austin: Well hell, that's quite tha' offer Vince. Can I have a moment to consider it?

Mr. McMahon: Of course.

Austin again strikes his chin, a look of deep thought on his face, before he brings hsi head up, ready to answer... only to then shake it off, suggesting he needs more time...


Steve Austin: If ya' wanna see 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin's movie The Condemned promoted on Monday Night Raw gimme a hell yeah!

HELL YEAH!

Steve Austin: If ya' wanna see a special Monday Night Raw called 'Stone Cold Appreciation Night', gimme a hell yeah!

HELL YEAH!

Steve Austin: If ya' wanna see 'Stone Cold' in tha' WWE Hall of Fame, gimme a hell yeah!

HELL YEAH!

Steve Austin: And if ya' wanna see 'Stone Cold' walk into Wrestlemania XXIII this Sunday and call tha' match in Bobby Lashley's favour, gimme a hell yeah.

Major heat, at which Austin shakes his head. McMahon hears the boos too, and does his best to motion for the crowd to quiet down...

Mr. McMahon: Don't listen to these people Steve. These people are nothin' but selfish, arrogant-

Steve Austin: Shut up.

Vince is taken aback, stunned at first, but soon a look of anger engulfs his face...

Mr. McMahon: What the hell did you just-

Steve Austin: I said... shut up.

The crowd pops, while Vince displays that trademark gulp of his...

Steve Austin: Did you just try an' bribe 'Stone Cold'?

WHAT!?

Steve Austin: Ya' think yer' lil' offer is gonna make 'Stone Cold' call tha' match your way?

WHAT!?

Steve Austin: Well ya' can take yer' movie promotion, ya' can take yer' 'Stone Cold Appreciation Night', and ya' can take yer' WWE Hall of Fame, and you can kiss my ass!

A thunderous pop from the crowd, while Vince fumes, his face turning red with rage...


Steve Austin: There ain't nothin' you can say son that's gonna make 'Stone Cold' call this match anythin' other than right down tha' line. There two guys goin' into Detroit, Michigan, two unbelievable athletes, and they're gonna get it on. John Cena, he's one helluva fighter. He's one helluva competitor. He's tha' face of this company right now, and he's a guy 'Stone Cold' has a lotta respect for. Hell, if he came down ta' this ring right now, 'Stone Cold' would give 'im a beer and say best o' luck for this Sunday. But that don't mean 'Stone Cold' likes 'im.

Austin now begins pacing the ring, picking up the second beer he left on the mat...


Steve Austin: Bobby Lashley? Hell, he's a damn freak o' nature! He's got a mean streak a mile long, he can do some incredible things in tha' ring. He might be tha' closest thing ta' tha' ultimate fightin' machine yer' ever gonna see. He looks unstoppable, he looks like he could tear John Cena a new asshole. 'Stone Cold' has a lotta respect for 'im. But that don't mean 'Stone Cold' likes 'im.

Vince stares at Austin, sensing his words have gone un-noticed tonight...

Steve Austin: Hell Vince, 'Stone Cold' don't like anybody! Ya' oughta know that by now son! But tha' fact o' tha' matter is, this Sunday at Wrestlemania XXIII, in Detroit, Michigan, tha' irresistible force is gonna meet tha' immovable object. And ol' 'Stone Cold' is gonna be right in tha' middle of it, waitin' ta' call that one, two, three. I don't give a rat's ass if it's John Cena's shoulders on tha' mat, or if it's Bobby Lashley's. I'll count 'em down, I'll raise tha' winner's hand, and that's tha' bottom line, 'cause 'Stone Cold' said so!

Vince smirks to himself, nodding his head ruefully...

Steve Austin: It's gonna be an unbelievable match, on an unbelievable night, and there ain't nobody that's gonna stick their nose in that match.

Austin steps forward, getting right in Vince's face...

Steve Austin: Especially you, ya' rat bastard!

Another big pop, with Austin quickly stepping back to take another sip from his beer can...


Mr. McMahon: Well Steve... it pains me to hear you say that. It really does. Y'see, I made a genuine, honest attempt to try and reason with you tonight. Those offers I made, those proposals... they were legit. I really wanted you to do the right thing for once Steve, and see things my way. I really hoped it wouldn't have to come to this. But...

All of a sudden, a commotion is heard from the crowd...

Mr. McMahon: I'm afraid you've left me no other choice.

And soon the reason becomes apparent... Bobby Lashley is in the ring! Austin is oblivious, staring straight at McMahon, but soon the crowd alerts him to turn around... LASHLEY RUNS THROUGH AUSTIN WITH A SPEAR!!

Lashley rips through Austin with a thunderous spear, the crowd unloading with a barrage of heat. Austin lies in a heap on the canvas, clutching his ribs, rolling in pain, while Lashley stands on Austin, an evil snarl on his face...


Mr. McMahon: Yeah, I really didn't wanna have to do this Austin! But you've left me no choice! If you're not gonna play ball with me and Bobby... we're just gonna have to take you outta the equation. Bobby... let's open up a can o' whoop ass!

Lashley nods, knowing what he has to do as he reaches down and grabs Austin, dragging 'The Texas Rattlesnake' back to his feet. Lashley holds Austin in position, while Vince winds up... and delivers a stiff slap across Austin's face! The crowd gasps as Vince gloats over the situation he's found himself in, knowing there's not a damn thing Austin can do to touch him right now...

Mr. McMahon: Hey! Hey... throw me one of those beers. Get me a beer in here right now, dammit!

And right on cue, a beer can is launched into the ring, with Vince taking care to catch it with two hands. Lashley delivers a pair of clubbing forearms to the side of Austin's head, while Vince snaps open the can... holds it up in the air... and then pours some of the liquid into his mouth. But instead of swallowing, McMahon holds it in mouth... then puffs out his cheeks... MCMAHON'S GONNA SPIT BEER IN AUSTIN'S FACE! Vince pauses, letting the tension build, before he rears his head back and...

*MY TIME IS NOW...*


The arena erupts once more, and Vince damn near chokes on the bear, coughing, spluttering and spitting it all over his shirt as John Cena races down to the ring! Lashley sees Cena coming, tossing Austin aside, and he stands and waits as Cena slides under the bottom rope... CENA AND LASHLEY START TRADING RIGHT HANDS!! The crowd is going wild as Cena and Lashley battle in the middle of the ring, each thunderous right being returned with ever more force than before... until Lashley ends the sequence with a knee to the midsection! Lashley quickly moves to club Cena twice on the spine, backing Cena to the ropes, prompting Lashley to go for an Irish whip... but Cena explodes off the opposite ropes... FLYING SHOULDERBLOCK! Cena flies through the air to take Lashley down, with Lashley quickly rolling from the ring... allowing Cena to turn his attentions to Vince! McMahon's eyes bulge as he sees Cena has him in his sights... but just as Cena moves to grab McMahon, Vince scurries under the bottom rope, quickly racing around the ring to meet up with Lashley.

Cena kicks the ropes in anger, raging that he once again wasn't able to get his hands on either Vince or Lashley, but he leans over the ropes and stares down the pair, shouting at them "THIS SUNDAY, WE END THIS!", causing Vince to gulp once more. Cena then turns back to the ring... RIGHT INTO A STUNNER FROM AUSTIN!!

STUNNER! STUNNER! AUSTIN HITS CENA WITH THE STUNNER! The crowd lets rip with a huge, mixed response, with Austin flipping Cena the bird, then doing the same to Lashley and McMahon! Cena is down and out, while ever so slowly, Vince and Lashley back up the ramp, nursing their wounds, but at the same time, the smile on Vince's face is impossible to miss as he realises that maybe, just maybe, he's got things going his way...


Jim Ross: Good Gawd almighty! 'Stone Cold' just laid out John Cena!

Tazz: God, what a moment! These fans are goin' nuts!

In the ring, Austin continues to ask for and receive beers, chugging down can after can as he heads for each corner of the ring, saluting the fans from every angle. On the ramp, McMahon and Lashley have backed to the top of it, just as Austin decides to get two more beers before he exits the ring. Lashley and Vince have since disappeared backstage, and by the time Austin has made it to the top of the ramp, Cena has begun to stir. Austin stops at the top of the ramp, smacking together the last two cans of beer, chugging them down his throat, while Cena manages to prop himself up onto his elbows, looking up at Austin. 'Stone Cold' takes one last look at the ring, the camera switching between Austin and Cena, with Cena looking furious as he shakes his head, annoyed that by saving Austin he got a stunner for his troubles. Cena stays down, rubbing the back of his neck, while on the ramp Austin salutes the crowd one last time, making it clear that he'll show no favouritism this Sunday as we go off to another commercial.

*Commercial*


And we return to see The World's Greatest Tag Team standing by, ready to cut a promo. Shelton Benjamin stands rubbing his hands, a broad smirk on his face, while standing slightly behind him is Charlie Haas, his arms folded across his chest, the World Tag Team Champions looking confident ahead of this Sunday...


Shelton Benjamin: So... it's Wrestlemania time. Time for The World's Greatest Tag Team to prove once and for all... that it ain't just a name. That it ain't just somethin' we say 'cause it sounds good. It's somethin' that we've always known... and it's about time that you people realised that. And y'all gonna find it out this Sunday.

Haas now steps forward...

Charlie Haas: Y'see we've been in this business a long time. We've been to Wrestlemania, hell, we've defended championships at Wrestlemania before. We may have went our separate ways, but there was always somethin' that kept drawin' us back together. And now look at us. We're the World Tag Team Champions again, but more important than that... we're still The World's Greatest Tag Team.

Benjamin nods in agreement with his partner...

Shelton Benjamin: But now we're back on top, we realised somethin'... there's ain't nobody in our league. There ain't nobody good enough to compete wit' us. There ain't no competition anymore. But for some reason, a lotta people keep throwin' the same name at us. They keep mentionin'... the WWE Tag Team Champions... The Hooligans.

Haas turns up his nose at the mention of London and Kendrick...


Shelton Benjamin: And that's why he had to challenge 'em to a match at Wrestlemania. We don't need to find out... we already know. But we need to prove to you people, that once and for all... we're the best. Brian Kendrick and Paul London? They might be the longest reigning champions in Smackdown history, a record we used to hold, but to get there... they ain't be nobody. They ain't nothin'... but paper champions.

Benjamin glances at the title that hangs across his shoulder...

Charlie Haas: So this Sunday, we give the WWE tag team division the shot in the arm it needs. We made this challenge 'cause we wanted to be impressed. But since nobody impressed us... we're just gonna have to settle for beatin' you two. But when we beat you, you better bring everythin' you've got. We'll drag this tag team division back to relevance, the only way we know how... by puttin' on one helluva match. It's our aim to make these titles worth somethin' once again...

Shelton Benjamin: And there ain't no stoppin' us now.

The pair turn to look at each other, nodding confidently, before they turn back to the camera, a lingering stare straight down the lens from both men before we cut elsewhere.

To see that the smile has returned to the face of Maria as she's ready to conduct another interview...


Maria: Hi! It's me, Maria, again! And please welcome my guest at this time, she is the WWE Women's Champion... Mickie... James!

A pretty decent pop for Mickie James as she enters the frame. James has her championship slung over her left shoulder, and she looks all business as a baseball cap is pulled down low over her eyes, but she still has time to give Maria a quick smile...


Maria: Mickie, earlier tonight we heard from your opponent in six days time, Beth Phoenix, and she said that your Women's Championship Match this Sunday was about so much more than just a title. It was about was she called... redemption. What are your thoughts on that?

James pauses, biting her lip for a few seconds as she ponders her response...

Mickie James: God, has it really come to this Beth? We used to be so close, and now... let's just say redemption is all I'm thinkin' about too. Y'know, I can say it time and time again. What happened to Beth all those years ago... it really was a complete accident. But I guess some people just don't wanna listen. Some people just wanna believe whatver sounds good in their head.

Mickie shakes her head disappointingly...

Mickie James: If you'd said to me three years ago that one day, Mickie James would be defending the WWE Women's Championship against Beth Phoenix, I wouldn't have believed you. Back then, that sounded like a total dream come true! If you told me that all the pain, all the hard work, all the years of sacrifice would mean that me and my best friend would one day be at Wrestlemania fightin' for the Women's Title, I... I don't think I can even describe what I'd be feeling. But...

The champion reluctantly shrugs her shoulders...


Mickie James: That dream, kinda turned into a bit of a nightmare along the way. I said sorry to Beth about a thousand times for what happened to her. I never wanted it that way, I never wanted this title that way. But now I'm here, I'm livin' my dream... and I'm gonna do all I can to make sure it lasts a little bit longer.

James now looks down the camera, more focused and determined...

Mickie James: But Beth... it's time for you to wake up and smell the coffee!

Pop...

Mickie James: I've felt guilty for long enough, I've lived with the grief long enough. This Sunday, I'm gonna beat you, and when I do, you're gonna have no excuses. We might have been good friends Beth... but we'll make better enemies. And this Sunday, I'll prove that when they offered me that WWE contract all those years ago... they made the right choice.

Mickie continues to look down the camera, determination mixed with sorrow that it's come this far between her and Beth, but as the champion finally leaves, the camera switches to Maria, who simply watches Mickie go with a look of awe on her face before we cut back to ringside.

And it's to the announce desk we go, to hear from the commentary team...


Jim Ross: Well it's certainly gonna be quite the moment when Mickie James and Beth Phoenix finally meet. Such a personal, long-standing rivalry between the two former best friends, it could turn out to be one of the most hard hittin' divas matches we've ever seen.

Tazz: God no doubt about it. Beth Phoenix, she's got all the power, but Mickie, she's quick as hell and she's been a great champion. Really lookin' forward to that one.

Michael Cole: But folks, we're all of course also looking forward to Saturday night, the night before Wrestlemania XXIII, to see the 2007 Hall of Fame Ceremony. It's an incredible class so far, and it's about to get one member bigger. And despite Mr. McMahon's offer earlier tonight, it won't be 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin.

John Bradshaw Layfield: 'The American Dream' Dusty Rhodes, 'Mr. Perfect' Curt Hennig, Owen Hart, my two colleagues here, Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler, Mr. T's headin' for the celebrity wing, and of course 'The Enforcer' Arn Anderson. What a class so far!

Jerry Lawler: And it's about to get a whole lot better, as perhaps we've saved the very best name of this year's class for last. He's always been a little on the extreme side, he's always been a bit bizarre, but he entertained with some of the most iconic moments in WWE history...

*Video Package*

We burst into the video with the screech of tyres, until a loud crash is heard, with the song ‘Wreck’ takes over...

Narrator: A man of many personas, our final inductee entertained fans around the world in whatever guise he chose...

We see quick fire shots of Mick Foley in his various guises, starting with Dude Love, then Cactus Jack, then Mankind...

Narrator: Be it as Cactus Jack, Dude Love or Mankind, he always pushed the limits and gave new meaning to the word attitude.

We cut to the iconic footage from King of the Ring ’98, where The Undertaker launches Mankind off the top of the Hell in a Cell, crashing through the announce desk below...

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

Narrator: But Mick Foley had more in his locker than high risk stunts.

We now see footage from the infamous ‘Rock – This Is Your Life!” segment from 1999...

Mankind: It’s your six grade teacher... your high school football coach... your high school sweetheart!

The Rock: You wanna serve The Rock a great big piece o’ that poontang pie?

And now we relive the time that Mankind paid Mr. McMahon a visit in the hospital...

Mr. McMahon: I keep tellin’ you I don’t want any damn visitors!

Mankind: It’s Mr. Socko!

And now it’s back to the action as we see footage from No Way Out 2000 and the hellacious Hell in a Cell Match between Cactus Jack and Triple H...

Narrator: But behind all the laughs was one of the most extreme superstars in WWE history.

Foley smashes his barbed wire baseball bat off the skull of ‘The Game’, before Foley is back dropped onto the roof of the cell, it giving way as Foley crashes all the way to the mat below...

Triple H: That series of matches with Mick are the absolute toughest of my career. I’ve never been the same since then.

We fast forward to Wrestlemania XXII, to see Edge fly through the ropes, spearing Foley off the apron and onto a burning table...

Joey Styles: Oh my Gaaawwwwwwddddd!

Edge: The guy’s an absolute lunatic. I’ve never experienced pain like I did durin’ my match with Mick Foley. I couldn’t even begin to describe what he put me through.

We now rewind to 1996, where Mankind challenges Shawn Michaels for the WWF Championship, flying off the apron with an elbow drop to the concrete and then Mankind sat on the apron, stabbing his leg with a pen...

Shawn Michaels: Just unbelievable. He had such a unique character, so edgy for that time. He’d talk to himself, he’d pull his hair out, he’d play with a rat... just so different to anythin’ else anybody was doin’ at that time.

Backlash 2004, where Randy Orton goes for an RKO, only for Foley to counter, launching Orton into a pile of thumb tacks on the canvas...

Randy Orton: One of the best matches of my career. I’ve heard ‘im say he thought it was pretty special too, so I’m glad I gave ‘im as good as I got when it came to the hardcore stuff.

Grainy footage of Foley diving off the roof of his parent’s house transitions into Foley as holding the WWF Championship for the first time in 1999...

Mick Foley: At the risk of not soundin’ very cool, I’d like to dedicate this match to my two little people at home and say... big Daddy-o did it!

A cavalcade of superstars are subjected to various incarnations of the mandible claw...

Narrator: The WWE Hall of Fame is proud to announce its latest inductee...

Back to that night on Raw in early ’99, where Foley celebrates in the ring and we hear the call Michael Cole made that night...

Michael Cole: You can’t measure guts, heart and determination. He may not be the most talented, he may not be the best looking, but he is the champion!

And finally, that sick, bloody, toothless smile that Mankind flashed during the Hell in a Cell Match with The Undertaker......

Triple H: He pushed himself further, and risked his life more times than anybody else, just to entertain the fans. And that’s why he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

Narrator: Mick Foley!

Mick Foley: Have a nice day!

We now see a picture of Mick, broad smile on his face with one thumb up, with the Hall of Fame logo nearby. Also on the screen is the fact that Foley will be inducted into the Hall of Fame by The Rock!

*End Video Package*


And back into the arena, where the crowd are on their feet in a tremendous show of respect, a booming "FOLEY! FOLEY! FOLEY!" chant ringing out around the stands. The camera darts back and forth, and the commentary team stay silent, allowing us to soak in the level of appreciation being shown to 'The Hardcore Legend'...

Jim Ross: What a night it's gonna be! 'Mrs. Foley's Baby Boy', Mick Foley, is the final member of the 2007 WWE Hall of Fame Class!

Tazz: What an honour for Mick Foley that is! I got a lotta respect for Mick Foley, he was a big part of the early days of ECW, and he more than deserves that spot in the WWE Hall of Fame. Congratulations Mick!

Michael Cole: I'm sure we all feel the same way. Wrestlemania weekend is almost upon us, it's gonna be a very important time in the life of Mick Foley, but it's also a time of huge importance to another ECW alumni. Rob Van Dam competes in his first ever Wrestlemania main event, as he challenges-

"KENNEDY..."

*TURN UP THE TROUBLE...*


The arena erupts with a boisterous outpouring of heat as Friday Night Smackdown's own Mr. Kennedy, perhaps the most hated man in the WWE at this point in time, steps out onto the Raw stage. Pausing at the top of the ramp, Kennedy smirks at the crowd, liking his lips at the prospect of addressing them as he swaggers down to the ring. Wearing an all black tracksuit that reads "KK" across the back, Kennedy takes his time entering the ring, his eyes narrowed in a show of focus just days away from the biggest match of his career...


Jim Ross: Well... uh... that is Mr. Kennedy, the man scheduled to compete against Rob Van Dam next. We were supposed to go to commercial here folks, but Kennedy has jumped the gun a lil' bit here.

Jerry Lawler: Have you ever seen anybody act as arrogant as this guy does? I know he's talented, I know he can talk a good fight, but he really likes to show it to you, doesn't he?

John Bradshaw Layfield: Well why not? The guy's had an incredible career to this point, and it's only gonna get better. Hell, just think, we could be lookin' at our World Heavyweight Champion right now if it wasn't for Ric Flair. The guy's been held back, but that's what drives him, that's what fuels his desire to win, and that's what's gonna lead 'im to victory this Sunday.

Michael Cole: But can that lead him to victory tonight? This is such an interestin' match up featuring possibly the two men with the most to prove this Sunday. This match could really let us see who's ready to take that next big step at Wrestlemania.

The lights are dimmed, a long spotlight dropping on Kennedy as he races his hand up to the heavens... and of course, down from the rafters drops that trademark microphone of his. The glare of the spotlight is just enough so that when the camera zooms in we see the dried in blood still stained on it, the blood of three male members of the Flair family. Kennedy brings the mic close to his mouth, breathing hard through his nose, loudly chewing gum, his obnoxious noises proving an effective heat gatherer before he finally speaks...

Mr. Kennedy: In six... days... time... yours truly turns the final page... ends the final chapter... writes the final words... in the story that has been Ric Flair's long career.

Kennedy pauses, smiling as he runs a hand across his chin...

Mr. Kennedy: Now, let's put that word long in a little bit of perspective here. Y'see, Ric Flair... ol' Naitch... he made his wrestling debut way back in December 1972. Me? I wasn't even born yet. He won his first championship in February 1975. I still wasn't alive yet. Since before I even existed, Ric Flair has been a major player in this industry. We know all about the countless titles, the countless women, the countless times you abandoned your children to head out on the road, we've heard it all these last few weeks. I know exactly how successful your career's been... but Ric, all good things must come to and end.

Heat from the crowd...

Mr. Kennedy: And this Sunday, I personally will make sure your career ends... once - and - for all.

More heat, at which Kennedy wags a finger...

Mr. Kennedy: Oh no. No, no, no. It's time the torch was finally passed to the man who is without doubt, unequivocally the future of this business. Just like those days so long ago that the torch was passed to you Ric. Lemme take you all on another lil' history lesson. 1978. The original 'Nature Boy' Buddy Rogers. You were the young, brash, cocky, arrogant upstart and he was the veteran clinging on the little bit of career he had left. Sound familiar?

Kennedy rolls his eyes and shakes his head...


Mr. Kennedy: Buddy Rogers passed the torch to you Ric. And as they say, the rest... is history. You went on to win all those championships, you rode the limousines, you flew in those jets, you stole all those kisses... but much more importantly than that... you held down an entire generation of wrestlers. Buddy Rogers stepped aside and let you have your moment. He did the right thing... for this business.

Kennedy briefly smirks to himself...

Mr. Kennedy: But not you Ric. Oh no. You just could never let go, could ya'? You've had countless chances to ride that limousine o' yours off into the sunset, but ya' just couldn't do it. You might think these people respect you Ric... but they don't. Not deep down inside. Deep down inside, they are dyin' to see you leave the ring and never come back. They're pleadin', cryin' out for a saviour, a man to lead them forward, a man to lead them into the next generation of this business, and that man has arrived! They don't need you Ric, but whether you people want to admit it or not, the fact of the matter is that you people... need me.

Heat...

Mr. Kennedy: You need a new hero. You're just too damn up your own asses to realise it. Just like Ric Flair was too ignorant to know when to call it a day. But I will not be held down anymore. I won't let a washed up has-been like Ric Flair take away my chance at advancement ever again.

Kennedy now begins to pace the ring...

Mr. Kennedy: It started at the Royal Rumble, when you tossed me over that top rope. The split - second my feet hit the floor, it all became clear to me. I had to get you outta the way once and for all. I didn't want to Ric... well, not at first. But now?

Kennedy over exaggerates an apologetic shrug of the shoulders...


Mr. Kennedy: Now I can't wait to leave you layin' in the middle of that ring, in a pool of your own blood, lookin' up at the lights, beaten, brokin', battered and bruised... to the point that you realise that you NEVER wanna step into a wrestlin' ring ever again. I am gonna embarrass and humiliate you in front of the entire world, and when I finally put you to bed, when I finally end your fairytale career, my career is headin' straight to tha' top!

Kennedy points to the rafters as the crowd respond with heat...

Mr. Kennedy: You can boo, you people can hold out hope, but lemme tell ya', I don't make idle threats. I don't make empty promises. I have destroyed everythin' Flair holds dear. I started at the Royal Rumble when I beat him to within an inch of his life. I came so - damn - close to breakin' his buddy Arn Anderson's neck. I cost 'im the tag team titles, I beat up not one, but two of his sons, and this Sunday... it's your turn Ric.

Having heard enough, the crowd respond with a passionate "NATURE BOY! NATURE BOY!" chant...

Mr. Kennedy: Oh yeah! Yeah! Let 'im hear it! Listen to this crowd Ric! Listen to 'em! Savour it! Soak it in! 'Cause I guaran - damn - tee you are NEVER gonna hear this again! This Sunday, it's over for you Ric! OVER!

Kennedy grits his teeth, pacing the ring angrily as the crowd do their best to drown him out. Eventually though Kennedy comes to a stop, nodding his head, eyes narrowed once more as he waits for the crowd to die down...

Mr. Kennedy: You people... you people are just as big a part of the problem. Why do you have this need to keep chanting that relics name? You people just don't know what's good for ya'. Well lemme give you a little heads up. This Sunday, you are gonna witness the first step to my first heavyweight championship. Sixteen times. That's a pretty big number. But seventeen? That's where I'm gonna be one day. And the first step towards that is this Sunday in Detroit.

Kennedy winces as he utters that last line, shaking his head ruefully...


Mr. Kennedy: But the fact it's not me takin' on Batista this Sunday for the World Heavyweight Championship... it eats me up inside. It drives me insane, it gives me nightmares, it has consumed me for months now, but y'know what else? It feeds me. It nourishes my drive. It keeps me tickin' over. It has pushed me further than I ever knew I could go, you Ric, have driven me to depths I never thought imaginable. I am obsessed with beating you this Sunday, I have to beat Ric Flair, I have to beat 'The Nature Boy'.

Kennedy closes his eyes as he finishes his words, almost in a state of euphoria...

Mr. Kennedy: Reid Flair is in a hospital somewhere. David Flair oughta be in a mental institute after what I put him through. And after this Sunday... Daddy's comin' home kids!

Kennedy's eyes bulge as he exaggerates his actions...


Mr. Kennedy: So dig out your videos, your DVDs, you old programmes and magazines, and take a good... long... look at 'em. Reminisce. Cherish the good times you used to have with Ric Flair. 'Cause after this Sunday, they'll be absolutely worthless. 'Cause stood right in front of you, before your very eyes, you are lookin' at the future of this business.

Kennedy briefly opens wide his arms in a "Take a good look at me" pose...

Mr. Kennedy: And not only are you gonna get to see that this Sunday... but you're gonna get to see it tonight when I take on Rob Van Dam.

Big time pop for the mention of 'RVD', but Kennedy shakes it off...

Mr. Kennedy: You're gonna get the whole - damn - show from me. You're gonna find out exactly what I've got lined up for this Sunday. You'll see it all, high flyin', technical grappling, brawling, you'll see that I am the total package. You people can hate me, I don't give a crap. But you're gonna realise that Mr. Kennedy is exactly what he says he is.

Kennedy points his finger at the camera to emphasize his point...

Mr. Kennedy: A future WWE Champion, the definition of greatness. Young? Brash? Cocky? Ya' damn right he is! But arrogant? (Kennedy shakes his head) No, no. Not this guy. 'Cause he knows he was born to be a champion. Simply put, he is here to be the man. But like Ric Flair likes to say... "To be the man, you gotta beat the man."... and this Sunday, that's exactly what he's gonna do. 'Cause he is none other than... MMMIIISSSTTTEEERRR... KENNEDY!

Kennedy then heads for the corner, climbing to the second turnbuckle, where he stands... and waits. Taking a deep breath in through his nose, ala The Rock back in the day, Kennedy soaks in the heat of the crowd, before he ever so slowly brings the mic back to his lips, his eyes piercing the camera as he utters the name...

Mr. Kennedy: (Softly) Kennedy.

And with a show of arrogance, Kennedy simply flicks his microphone towards the ceiling as his music rings out once more. Staying on the second rope, Kennedy surveys the masses in the arena, before he starts pointing to himself, screaming to the crowd "This Sunday... it all ends!", before he finally drops back down to the ring, the camera once again catching the ice cold look of Kennedy's eyes as he paces the ring...


Jim Ross: Well, there ya' have it folks. Young Mr. Kennedy, who despite his recent actions, has certainly been on a meteoric rise over the last year. Can Kennedy deliver on his promise? Can he defeat Ric Flair this Sunday at Wrestlemania XXIII, and in the process drive the final dagger into the heart of Flair's legendary career?

John Bradshaw Layfield: The stars are alignin', and this Sunday, we're gonna witness the dawnin' of a new era. Kennedy has served his time, he's paid his dues, and by becomin' the man to finally put the legendary Ric Flair on the shelf once and for all, he's gonna head straight for icon status.

Jerry Lawler: Well if ya' ask me, I hope Ric Flair kicks this punk's ass this Sunday! I love watchin' Ric Flair, I think he's one of the very best to ever step through those ropes, and I think this Sunday is gonna be another one of those legendary performances from Flair, where he gets the job done one more time!

Michael Cole: Flair and Kennedy, six days away at Wrestlemania XXIII! But tonight, Kennedy is scheduled to go one on one with Rob Van Dam! Join us when we return to Monday Night Raw!

*Commercial*


*Video Package*

That same slow, sombre violin string opens the video, with us looking down a dark corridor. The camera cuts back and forth, zooming left and right, until we settle on the image of Rob Van Dam performing his split-legged stretch, his head bowed down looking at the concrete floor. In slow motion Van Dam brings his head up, ducking to the right to further the stretch, and then switching it to the left before his voice speaks over the images...

Rob Van Dam: I know I'm not like, the typical WWE poster boy. I never got handed the chances or the opportunities that Shawn Michaels and Triple H did. Everythin' I have, I owe to what I learned bustin' my ass in that bingo hall back in Philly.

We cut to rapid fire shots of Van Dam flying through the air back in his ECW days, crashing through bodies and tables...

Rob Van Dam: Last summer, I thought I had it all figured out.

We now cut to images of Van Dam from June 2006 during his reign as both WWE and ECW Champion...

Rob Van Dam: But then it all fell apart, and I had to start all over again. I had to work my way back to the top from the very bottom of the ladder. But maybe I had to take a step back to take two steps forward.

Back to the corridor, where having finished his stretch, Van Dam pushes himself up into a handstand, then swings his legs through, landing on his feet and walking off into the shadows...

Rob Van Dam: But hey, I'm puttin' a lot on the line this Sunday. Triple H and Shawn Michaels were right, I've never main evented a Wrestlemania. I've never had that championship match on the biggest stage. This Sunday's about more than just a title for me. It's about my legacy dude. It's about my whole reputation. It's about my very future in this business. What happens if I don't make it there, if I don't take this chance? That's not somethin' I wanna even consider, it just can't happen.

We cut to what appears to be a martial arts dojo, with Van Dam laying into a heavy punch bag with a series of roundhouse kicks...

Rob Van Dam: This is my shot, and I've gotta take it. Failure is not an option.

Cut now to the peaceful image of a zen garden, where Van Dam sits in quiet contemplation in some sort of yoga stretch...

Rob Van Dam: Believe it or not, I got a ton of respect for both my opponents this Sunday. I mean Shawn Michaels, he's been a real inspiration at times of my career. Do I think he's a total jackass for the way he won the title? Absolutely. But you can't deny the fact that he's been involved in some unbelievable Wrestlemania moments, this Sunday no doubt's gonna be another one. He wants to steal the show? I'll get 'im there, don't worry about that. But it's MY performance people are gonna remember.

Back into the dojo, where Van Dam performs his trademark Van Dam lift, performing that split legged stretch while at the same time firing out a series of reps by lifting a dumbbell from the floor to his waist...

Rob Van Dam: As for Triple H, I got a long history with the guy. We've been at it plenty of times before for championships, and he's always came out on top. It can't happen that way again, I just can't let it. We've all got demons and things we need to rid ourselves on before we can move on with our lives, and he's a big one of mine. I finally managed to beat 'im on Raw to get this chance, and I gotta do it again at Wrestlemania XXIII to prove once and for all I'm in his league.

Back to the zen garden, where stood on the grass Van Dam glides through the air in a series of slow motion jumping roundhouse kicks...

Rob Van Dam: They call me a lotta things. 'Mr. Monday Night', 'Mr. ECW', for a while I was 'Mr. Money in the Bank'. But it's time people started puttin' Rob Van Dam together with 'Mr. WWE'. And what better place to do it than back in my home state of Michigan. All those people in Detroit, they're gonna be screaming 'R - V - D' and I'm not gonna let 'em down.

And finally we head to the same dimly lit ring from earlier, where stands along 'RVD', stood on the second rope in the corner, performing his signature thumb movement in slow motion...

Rob Van Dam: I'm 'The Whole F'n Show', and this Sunday I'm gonna prove that isn't a gimmick. It's the real deal.

*End Video Package*


Back into the arena for a few seconds of silence...

Until...

*ONE OF A KIND…*


The crowd bursts to life as Rob Van Dam walks out onto the stage. Stopping at the top of the ramp, Van Dam holds his arms out stretched, before he leads the crowd with his thumb taunt in a rendition of "ROB - VAN - DAM!" and then heads for the ring...


Jim Ross: We heard from 'im earlier, we know exactly what thsi Sunday means for Rob Van Dam. For Van Dam and Kennedy, Wrestlemania XXIII is about takin' the opportunity to push their careers to a higher level. But who's gonna head into Wrestlemania with a ton o' momentum after this one?

Tazz: I know the eyes are on the prize this Sunday for both these guys, but can you imagine what defeat here right now could do for both these guys? I mean, Kennedy might snap if he loses here tonight.

Jerry Lawler: I think this is an important match for both these guys. Nobody wants to to go into Wrestlemania on the back of a loss. Van Dam looks loose, he looks confident, and I think a win here over Mr. Kennedy could really set him up for success this Sunday.

Match 4:
Rob Van Dam
vs. Mr. Kennedy

The bell rings, with Van Dam bouncing on the spot, clearly keen to get the action started. Kennedy, as you’d expect, prefers to run his mouth though, as he squares up to Van Dam is heard over the camera saying “This is my time!”, to which Van Dam rolls his eyes and looks away... so Kennedy slaps Van Dam across the face! Van Dam rubs his chin in anger, while Kennedy smirks in his face... Van Dam answers with a stiff right hand! Kennedy fires back, and a brief slugfest breaks out, until Kennedy goes for a boot to the midsection... which Van Dam catches... step-over spinning wheel kick... no! Kennedy blocks it, shoving ‘RVD’ off the ropes... and then puts Van Dam down with a shoulderblock. Kennedy goes for an elbowdrop... ‘RVD’ rolls to safety, and he’s quickly back on his feet... rolling thunder... no! Kennedy rolls away, but Van Dam sees him, landing on his feet, a natural ending to the opening exchange as both men look at each other from across the ring. The two now hook up for the more traditional tie up, with Kennedy working into a side headlock and then into a hammerlock. Van Dam counters with a headlock and then a hammerlock of his own. Kennedy tries to swing an elbow, but Van Dam ducks underneath and stays in control with a standing waistlock. Kennedy reaches up for a headlock, with Van Dam quickly shoving him off the ropes... again Kennedy howls ‘RVD’ over with a shoulderblock. Kennedy looks to up the pace as he comes off the ropes, although Van Dam lays down as Kennedy runs over... and then avoids Kennedy with a leapfrog... before he catches Kennedy on the rebound with a monkey flip! Kennedy is dazzled as he crawls to the corner, with Van Dam staying on the attack, hitting a pair of shoulder thrusts before he backflips out... then charges in for a final shoulder to the midsection!

Van Dam now looks to fire Kennedy across, but Kennedy reverses... only for Van Dam to jump to the second rope... springboard super kick! Kennedy is down near the ropes, and here comes Van Dam... ROLLING THUNDER! Van Dam gets all of it, and he hooks the leg... 1... 2... Kennedy kicks out, and he wisely rolls to the outside to try and regroup. Kennedy stands with hands on hips near the ring, and here comes ‘RVD’... baseball slide sends Kennedy crashing into the barricade! Van Dam rolls outside, tagging Kennedy with a pair of rights before he takes Kennedy up with a suplex... only to drop Kennedy gut first across the barricade! Van Dam quickly leaps back onto the apron, pausing to lead the crowd in a chant of “R – V – D!” before he launches for the diving legdrop... but Kennedy pulls himself to safety... and Van Dam flies into the barricade! The crowd groans as ‘RVD’ takes a nasty bump, with Kennedy grinning as he avoided the attack. Van Dam crawls on his knees, clutching his spine, but as he stumbles back to his knees, Kennedy lines him up from behind... and shoves ‘RVD’ shoulder first into the steel ring post! Van Dam groans in pain as he smacks into the steel, with Kennedy pouncing as he hammers ‘RVD’ with boots to the shoulder. Kennedy rolls Van Dam back into the ring, but he keeps him near the corner, grabbing the arm, pulling Van Dam’s shoulder against the post, trying to yank the arm out of its socket before he has to release due to the ref’s 5 count.

Van Dam rolls away, but when Kennedy slides back into the ring he naturally targets the arm, aiming kicks and stomps to the arm, dropping a leg across it, driving his knee into it, then taking Van Dam to the corner to wrap the arm around the ropes, pulling down across the top rope to apply pressure. With Van Dam against the turnbuckle, Kennedy hammers him with right hands that cause ‘RVD’ to slump to the canvas, before Kennedy then drives his boot into Van Dam’s face. With ‘RVD’ in a perilous condition, Kennedy turns and races off the ropes... to absolutely drill Van Dam with a boot to the side of the head! ‘RVD’ looks out of it, and Kennedy drags him to the centre of the ring to hook the leg... 1... 2... Van Dam rolls a shoulder! Quickly Kennedy goes back to target the arm, starting with a single arm DDT, transitioning this into an seated armbar, pressing his knee into Van Dam’s back as he pulls on the arm. Kennedy yanks back on the arm to up the pressure, adding to this as he drives his elbow into the top of Van Dam’s shoulder. Eventually Van Dam is able to struggle back to his feet, but Kennedy hangs on to the arm, prompting Van Dam to drill him with right hands to try create separation... but Kennedy shoves him shoulder first into the turnbuckle. Kennedy shakes away the shots and then charges in... straight into an elbow to the face. Kennedy stumbles back, then charges again... this time into a boot to the face! Van Dam bursts from the corner... clothesline puts Kennedy down! Kennedy is back up... another clothesline knocks him down! Van dam comes off the ropes... rolling wheel kick! Despite favouring the left arm, Van Dam looks to build momentum as he goes for the Irish whip... but Kennedy hangs on, twisting Van Dam in... forward Russian legsweep... no! Van Dam grabs the top rope, and Kennedy crashes to the mat!

Van Dam now has some momentum, and for the third time he’s coming off the ropes... ROLLING THUNDER... NO! Again Kennedy rolls to safety, but Van Dam sees it, landing on his feet... but Kennedy is quickly on his feet, scooping Van Dam up... rolling fireman’s carry slam! Kennedy drives Van Dam to the mat, rolls over to hook the leg... 1... 2... ‘RVD’ kicks out! Kennedy is enraged, sure he had the match won, but the ref confirms the 2 count. Looking to now but ‘RVD’ away, Kennedy stands, stalking Van Dam, waiting for him to rise. Slowly Van Dam picks himself up, and Kennedy is waiting... hooking him up for the MIC CHECK... NO! Van Dam hits a string of elbows to the back of the head... so Kennedy swings and misses a right hand... which Van Dam ducks... bridging northern lights suplex! 1... 2... Kennedy kicks out! Both men are quickly back up, racing at each other... Van Dam avoids Kennedy with a baseball slide through his legs... and then takes Kennedy down with a hurricanrana! 1... 2... Kennedy kicks out again, and he quickly rolls out of the ring to try and stop the momentum. Van Dam reacts angrily, heading for the ropes, but the referee steps in, trying to keep Van Dam in the ring. ‘RVD’ protests, wanting to take the fight to Kennedy, but the referee stops him. On the outside, Kennedy is doubled over, trying to suck in air and recover, although a commotion can be heard from the fans... as Ric Flair is coming down the ramp... STEEL CHAIR IN HAND! Kennedy picks his head up, ready to get back in the ring, but he feels a presence from behind... FLAIR CRACKS KENNEDY WITH THE CHAIR!! The arena goes wild as Flair smacks Kennedy with a thunderous chair shot! Kennedy is out cold, with Flair yanking him up, tossing him under the bottom rope. The referee sees nothing, but Van Dam pushes past him, slinging himself up to the top rope... FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH!!! Van Dam gets all of it, clutching his ribs on impact before he flops on top of Kennedy to get the 1... 2... 3!!

Winner: Rob Van Dam @ 09.12

Van Dam wins, thanks to a huge assist from 'The Dirtiest Player in the Game'! The fans are going crazy as Van Dam rolls free of Kennedy, with Flair now slowly back his way up the ramp. Van Dam stumbles back to his feet to have his hand raised, but he soon looks up the ramp, pointing and nodding his thanks at Flair. Kennedy is still down and out, not moving, while at the top of the ramp, Flair gives one big, almighty "WOOOOO!" before he departs backstage. In the ring, Van Dam climbs to the second rope, thumbs going up and down for a final "ROB - VAN - DAM!" before he stares at the Wrestlemania banner, a broad smile on his face, while the camera takes on final look at the stationary Kennedy before we head for another break.

*Commercial*


And when we return, Todd Grisham is standing by for the final interview segment of the broadcast...


Todd Grisham: Welcome back to Raw everybody. And please welcome my guest at this time, he is the Intercontinental Champion... Kenny Dykstra.

A decent level of heat as the brash youngster Kenny Dykstra enters the shot, a mean scowl on his face. Dykstra isn't dressed to compete tonight, meaning he's rocking the smart casual look this evening of a dark shirt and jeans, with the Intercontinental Championship perched on his right shoulder...

Todd Grisham: Kenny, this Sunday you defend your Intercontinental Championship against Carlito. But Kenny, it seems lately that you're attention hasn't been on Carlito and defending your title. Many people would say that the breakdown of your partnership with Randy Orton, and the attention you've been paying Torrie Wilson lately have caused you to become distracted. How do you respond to that?

Dykstra turns and glares at Grisham, clearly unhappy with the line of questioning...


Kenny Dykstra: Distracted? No, no... I've not been distracted by anythin'. I'll give ya' the fact that the way me and Randy Orton ended our partnership wasn't exactly what I had planned, but as far as I'm concerned... I've got Carlito and Torrie Wilson exactly where I want them.

Dykstra smirks to himself...

Kenny Dykstra: Y'see, the one I learned from Randy walkin' out on our team, is that Torrie was cloudin' the issue between me and 'Lito. So Carlito, you can keep your girl. I don't care anymore. You keep fightin' for her honour, for your relationship. That doesn't concern me anymore. That slap to the face last week made it pretty clear to me that she's his girl. And he's welcome to her. But I'm still the Intercontinental Champion, and it's time Carlito started focusin' on that.

Dykstra takes a quick glance at the title on his shoulder...

Kenny Dykstra: My original plan was to kick Carlito's ass at Wrestlemania, keep my title, and in the process... take his girl. I guess I'll just have to settle for the first two.

Dykstra shrugs like it's no big deal...

Kenny Dykstra: Oh, and Torrie. When I leave your man broken and beaten in the middle of that ring... don't you come runnin' to me baby. You had your chance, and now that ship has sailed. You'll just have to settle for second place... just like Carlito.

The brash youngster has a little chuckle to himself...

Kenny Dykstra: I may not be cool like you 'Lito... but I'm a winner. I'm the youngest Intercontinental Champion in WWE history, and at my first Wrestlemania, I ain't gonna be denied. This title ain't goin' nowhere. You keep that skank 'Lito, and I'll keep this title... I realise now... which one I'd rather have.

With one last smirk, Dykstra wastes no time in leaving the scene, the camera then turning to a rather furlong looking Grisham before we cut to a video.

*Video Package*

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

Narrator: The road may be long...

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

Narrator: The journey may be treacherous...

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

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

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

Narrator: So strap yourself in...

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

Narrator: And get ready!

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

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

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

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

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

Narrator: The ride of your life!



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

*End Video Package*


Back into the arena to once again hear from the announce team, with the official Wrestlemania XXIII theme tune "Ladies and Gentlemen" by Saliva playing over the arena PA system...

Jim Ross: The time is nearly upon us. Just six days until we'll be comin' to you live from beautiful Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan for the biggest spectacle in sports entertainment history!

Jerry Lawler: It's gonna be a huge night J.R.! Twelve matches in store, with six titles on the line, and plenty of personal rivalries to be brought to a head!

Michael Cole: Of course both Raw and Smackdown will be heavily featured, and there's quite a few inter-promotional matches on the card. And perhaps one of the biggest of those is gonna be the third annual Money in the Bank Ladder Match. It was Smackdown against Raw earlier this evening, but the Raw team has a bit of trouble stayin' on the same page.

Tazz: You ain't kiddin'. Randy Orton and Jeff Hardy, two of the favourites in my mind, they wound up goin' against each other when Orton nailed Hardy with that RKO. And don't think for a second that Jeff's gonna forget that, he'll be lookin' for a piece of Orton this Sunday.

Jerry Lawler: And that could prove to be a distraction, allowing one of the other six men to clean up. And for my money, it's gonna be CM Punk. I think it's time for one of the young Raw superstars to step up, and while Johnny Nitro's an incredible athlete, it's CM Punk who I'm rootin' for.

John Bradshaw Layfield: I think you got it all wrong Jerry. I think it's experience that'll win the day. Three of the four Smackdown competitors are former World Champions, and I'm pretty sure 'MVP' is gonna get there one day. But this Sunday at Wrestlemania, I'm goin' with King Booker to grab that briefcase and get back the World Heavyweight Championship he lost at Survivor Series.

Michael Cole: It's such an open field, and I gotta go another way. I think it's either gonna go to Kane or Chris Benoit. Two veterans looking to get back to the heights the once scaled, I think your winner's gonna come from one of those two. But either way, Money in the Bank is always a spectacular match, and I'm sure this year is gonna be no different. Well Smackdown's side of the card is lookin' absolutely stacked, and one of the most highly anticipated matches is the 'Streak vs. Streak' Match between The Undertaker and Umaga.

John Bradshaw Layfield: A streak must be broken! Umaga, undefeated for almost a year, never been pinned, never been made to tap out, against the famous Wrestlemania Streak of The Undertaker. Two monsters of the ring set to meet, and it's gonna be one of the toughest matches you're ever gonna see. And I gotta admit, I think we've finally found the man capable of beatin' The Undertaker under the bright lights of Wrestlemania.

Jerry Lawler: Well, no doubt Umaga is an absolute monster. Me and J.R. sat at this desk on several occasions and just marvelled at Umaga could do in the ring. But I think he's finally met a challenge that he can't beat. I'm goin' for The Undertaker, I think 'The Streak' lives on, and Umaga's gonna rest in peace.

Jim Ross: And of course Raw can counter that with our own battle of monsters if you will. John Cena and Bobby Lashley are set to collide, with 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin as the Special Guest Referee.

Tazz: God what a match that's gonna be. Two of the biggest, strongest guys in the WWE steppin' into the ring together, and the stakes could not be higher after what we saw in the ring earlier tonight. 'Stone Cold' got called out to the ring by Mr. McMahon, and Vince tried his best to get Austin to call things in Lashley's favour, only for Lashley to attack when Austin said no.

Jerry Lawler: Right, and when John Cena raced down to the ring to make the save, he wound up eatin' a stunner from Austin! Cena and Lashley is gonna be an unbelievable encounter, 'The Irresistible Force meets The Immovable Object', and at least one thing’s for sure... Austin is gonna call it right down the middle.

Michael Cole: There's gonna be six title on the line this Sunday, and one of the most highly anticipated contests is for the United States Championship. Earlier in the broadcast we saw the champion Finlay lose a hard fougt match up with Triple H, but this Sunday Finlay takes on Matt Hardy, a man lookin' to finally break into the big time here in the WWE.

Jim Ross: I've known both Matt and Jeff Hardy a long time, it was yours truly that signed 'em to the WWE. Matt's always had a ton o' potential, but for whatever reason, he's never quite been able to put it all together. But I've spoke to Matt recently, and I know he's focused and ready for this Sunday. This is a huge opportunity for Matt, and I know he's not gonna want to let it slip away.

John Bradshaw Layfield: He might not have any choice though. He's steppin' into the ring with one of the toughest bastards to ever cross the pond, he's lookin' for a fight this Sunday. Matt's never been a brawler in my eyes, and that's where I think Finlay holds a huge advantage, and that's why I pick him to win.

Jerry Lawler: Another title match I'm lookin' forward to is the Women's Championship Match between Mickie James and Beth Phoenix. Two former friends who had a major fallin' out a few years ago. Mickie's now the Women's Champion, while Beth's now finally made it to the WWE and she's out for revenge.

Tazz: And that revenge starts with the Women's Championship... and might end with some serious damage bein' done to Mickie James.

Jim Ross: Was certainly interestin' to hear from champion and challenger earlier tonight, both had one eye on the past and one eye on the future. Mickie's been over the course before, she's won Women's Championship matches at Wrestlemania in the past, and for my money, that gives her the edge. Although I don't think anybody is gonna underestimate the sheer power we've seen from Phoenix thus far.

Michael Cole: And what about over on Smackdown the Cruiserweight Championship Match between Gregory Helms and Bryan Danielson? Helms has been champion for well over a year now, taking on all challengers and by hook or by crook, hangin' onto his title. But Wrestlemania XXIII sees the first one on one collision between Helms and Danielson, and the challenger is perhaps the biggest threat to Helms' title yet.

John Bradshaw Layfield: Are you kiddin' me!? By hook or by crook!? He's the greatest cruiserweight that ever lived, currently on the most dominant championship reign in WWE history, and you question him like that!? Gimme a break! I can't wait to see Helms wipe the floor with this Danielson punk. Helms is a what a champion is made of, he does whatever it takes to win, and this kid Danielson is nothin' more than some YouTube wannabe.

Tazz: Man show some respect 'JBL'. Bryan Danielson has made a huge impact since he got to the WWE. He came so close to winnin' the Cruiserweight Title in his very first match at No Way Out, but none of Helms' dirty tactics are gonna be able to save 'im this Sunday. Danielson's gonna make Helms tap out, I guarantee it!

Jim Ross: Certainly Bryan Danielson is a very exciting prospect here in the WWE, and perhaps one of the most exciting matches this Sunday is gonna be the interbrand match between both the World Tag Team Champions and the WWE Tag Team Champions. It's 'Champions vs. Champions', it's The World's Greatest Tag Team against The Hooligans, and it's gonna be one heck of a fast paced contest.

Tazz: It's Smackdown vs. Raw baby, battle of the brands! And I gotta admit, I'm rootin' for our guys London and Kendrick. They're the high flyers, they can take your breath away in that ring, and I think they're gonna get the job done, and shut Haas and Benjamin up, once and for all.

Jerry Lawler: And even though it's Raw vs. Smackdown... I really hope you're right Tazz. I hate the way Haas and Benjamin have been runnin' their mouths, I wanna see them put in their place. So far, all I've heard is talk from the so-called World's Greatest Tag Team, but London and Kendrick have been deliverin' as champions for a long time now, and I hope they deliver again this Sunday.

Michael Cole: And of course, the final interbrand match up at Wrestlemania needs no introduction. Ric Flair and Mr. Kennedy, 'Past vs. Future'.

Jim Ross: Ric Flair is, and forever will be, one of the very best to ever lace up a pair of wrestlin' boots. He's one of the all time greats, a sure-fire Hall of Famer. And I think that after what Kennedy has put Flair's family through these last few weeks, it's time Flair took Kennedy for a trip to the wood shed. I think Ric Flair has at least on great performance left in 'im, and I think we're gonna see just that this Sunday.

John Bradshaw Layfield: Listen, I love Ric Flair. I'd been a fan of him since for as long as I can remember. And that's why not only do I think he will lost this Sunday, I think he has to lose. Flair's been around so long, think how many career could've been so much greater has Flair stepped aside when his time was up. He's hung around too long, and he's in danger of holdin' back the career of the biggest can't miss prospect in WWE history. I think Wrestlemania XXIII is gonna be the makin' of Mr. Kennedy... and then end of Ric Flair.

Michael Cole: Well another young man considered to be part of the WWE's future is the Intercontinental Champion Kenny Dykstra. The title is on the line as Dykstra defends against Carlito, but lately the issue between these two has included not only the title, but Carlito's girlfriend Torrie Wilson.

Jerry Lawler: And I heard the smartest thing I've ever heard out of Dykstra's mouth when he said he was finally givin' up the chase on Torrie. Finally Kenny seems ready to get back to focusin' on the actual stuff goin' on inside the ring.

Tazz: Yeah but after all that Dykstra's said to Torrie, Carlito ain't gonna forget so easily. He's gotta feel like he owes Kenny a real beatin', and I think it's gonna happen this Sunday. Torrie may not be on Kenny's mind anymore, but Carlito's gotta be thinkin' that if he wins the title, he restores the honour in his girl.

Michael Cole: And of course, as far as we here from Smackdown are concerned, the main event is the World Heavyweight Championship clash. The champion, 'The Animal' Batista, defending against the challenger, the 2007 Royal Rumble Winner, Edge.

John Bradshaw Layfield: Batista, protected by Jonathan Coachman's no contact rule between the two-

Tazz: Gimme a break!

John Bradshaw Layfield: But at Wrestlemania, all that protection goes right out the window. Edge is in Batista's head, he's hurt 'The Animal', Batista oughta count himself lucky 'Coach' is savin' his ass. But this Sunday, Edge is gonna get his hands on Batista, and he's gonna become the new World Heavyweight Champion. It's Edge's time to shine at the grandaddy of 'em all!

Tazz: You bein' serious here 'JBL'? Listen, we all know exactly why 'Coach' brought in that no contact rule, it was to stop Batista kickin' Edge's ass so much that Edge don't even make it to 'Mania. Edge crossed a line when he smacked Batista with that one man con-chair-to, and the only reason he's not in the hospital right now is thanks to 'Coach'. I know Batista can't wait to finally get Edge one on one in the ring, and when he does, Edge's title hopes are gonna go up in smoke.

Jim Ross: It's certainly a highly anticipated contest, Edge and Batista, one on one for the World Heavyweight Championship! But let's switch it up to the Raw main event, a Triple Threat Match for the richest prize in sports entertainment. Rob Van Dam and Triple H are the challengers for Shawn Michaels' WWE Championship.

Jerry Lawler: Oh baby, I can't wait for this one! So many stories in this one, not just about the title. What about the bitter hatred between Michaels and Triple H? What about the rivalry that's sprung up over the last month or so between Triple H and 'RVD'? Will that hatred fuel Triple H's drive to another championship? Will Rob Van Dam, in his first Wrestlemania main event, take the biggest chance he's ever been given and grab the title? Or will Shawn Michaels' faith be enough to deliver him to greatness, and help him retain his title and steal the show one more time in the process? There's so much goin' on between these three, and the WWE Championship's gonna be on the line for the first time ever at Wrestlemania in a Triple Threat Match!

Jim Ross: You absolutely don't wanna miss it folks! Wrestlemania XXIII, from Detroit, Michigan, live on pay per view! It's the biggest night in WWE history, and it's goin' to be, the ride of your life! But as we said, the WWE Championship is gonna be on the line in a Triple Threat Match. We've heard from both challengers, Triple H and Rob Van Dam, but right now let's hear from the champion, Shawn Michaels, on what Wrestlemania XXIII means to him.

*Video Package*

A slow, stoic piano chord plays out, the picture nothing more than a bright vision of white. The camera slowly pans from left to right, until the bright white is shattered by the dark image of the WWE Champion Shawn Michaels. As has become the custom in recent months, Michaels is dressed all in black, a black cowboy hat pulled down low over his eyes, a smart black shirt on his torso. Michaels has a good level of stubble on his face, but he looks a man at peace with himself as he has his eyes closed, perhaps in a moment of prayer...

Shawn Michaels: I've rode at this rodeo before. The lights, the drama, the action of Wrestlemania. It does strange things to a man. For those with ice water runnin' through their veins, it doesn't phase 'em. But for those who can't quite cut it... it can ruin their careers.

A whoosh is heard as Michaels slowly opens his eyes...

Shawn Michaels: But me? It's a night where I rise to the occasion, each - and ev'ry - time. And why is that you ask?

Michaels now turns and walks off, leaving the screen to return to that blinding white light...

Shawn Michaels: Is it my skill? Is it my intestinal fortitude? No. It's 'cause Wrestlemania... sets my mind at ease.

We now cut to classic moment from past Michaels Wrestlemania performances, starting with his iconic entrance at Wrestlemania XII to his big splash with the ladder onto Razor Ramon at Wrestlemania X...

Shawn Michaels: I've done it time and time again. I've stolen shows, I've jumped into spotlights, I've main evented on the grandest stage. Each time Wrestlemania rolls around, there's one thing you can take to the bank. No matter who the opponent, no matter the situation, Shawn Michaels WILL be the shinin' light at the end of the evenin'. And it's not arrogance that leads me to think that way. It's not over confidence.

And now it's more recent images, such as clips of the titanic battle with Chris Jericho at Wrestlemania XIX and as Michaels mercifully finishes off Mr. McMahon at Wrestlemania XXII...

Shawn Michaels: It's faith, pure and simple.

We now head to that dimly lit ring from previous videos, were Michaels snaps off a string of knife edge chops to some no name rookie's chest, howls of pain heard as each chop smacks into skin...

Shawn Michaels: I've been blessed with a gift. A gift to excite the masses. I preach to the world with my actions in the ring. I try my best to excite the fans, to help them, to make their miserable lives just that little bit better. But Rob and Hunter? They don't want to be helped. They don't want to see what their sins have done to them... 'cause they don't want to believe. I faced up to my past, I became a better person, a better human being, and guess what? I got my smile back.

A quick pan back to Michaels face, eyes closed, deep in thought...

Shawn Michaels: Hunter... my old friend. A man who's tried to break my spirit in the past. A man who tried to break my back. A man who stood in my way and held me back in my pursuit of happiness. Until that fateful night when I smacked that steel chair off his skull. You wanna hurt me Hunter? You'll never hurt me. I've known pain in the past, but that's exactly what those days are... in the past. This is a new 'Aitch - Bee - Kay, better than ever.

Back to the ring, where Michaels knocks down the no-name wrestler with the sweet chin music...

Shawn Michaels: Rob... you really think you can do this don't ya'? You really think those years of panderin' to those people in Philadelphia really makes you ready to compete with me at Wrestlemania? You're not the first to think the bright lights of Wrestlemania can help you reach my level. I've heard it all before... and I've still yet to see somebody make a believer outta me. But you wanna know what Shawn Michaels believe in? I believe that Detroit, Michigan is about to see 'The Showstoppah' at his very best. And Triple H and Rob Van Dam...

And we stay in the dimly lit ring to see Michaels down on his knees, his head bowed, his arms turned towards the heavens, before he brings his head up and flashes that cold, almost robotic like stare into the camera...

Shawn Michaels: I will strike thee down. For thy name... is Shawn Michaels. Your WWE Champion, for now... and forever.

*End Video Package*


We fade back into the arena, to the sound of silence, until it's broken by...

*SEXY BOY...*


Ungodly heat for the WWE Champion, as Shawn Michaels slowly emerges from the back, dressed to compete in those black tights of his. Michaels drops to his knees, looking to the ceiling, pausing for a few seconds before he stands and continues down to the ring...


Jim Ross: Love 'im or hate 'im, you have to respect 'im. He is the WWE Champion, and he's in action when we return. It's time for our main event, Champion vs. Champion, Shawn Michaels and Batista. Join us when we return to Monday Night Raw!

*Commercial*


And when we return, Michaels is stood in the ring, slowly walking back and forth, shaking his hands in an attempt to stay loose. Michaels has a cold stared in his eyes, barely recognising anything around him, and he somehow manages to barely blink as...

*I WALK ALONE...*


One more time, Indianapolis explodes as the World Heavyweight Champion Batista explodes out onto the stage. Going from side to side, 'The Animal' slaps his chest, firing up the crowd ever more, before he squats down to set off a massive pyro display and then heads for the ring...


Michael Cole: He is the man who will defend the World Heavyweight Championship this Sunday at Wrestlemania XXIII. He is 'The Animal', Batista! And in six days time, he and Edge will meet in a showdown of epic proportions. But tonight, it's Champion vs. Champion as Batista faces off against the WWE Champion Shawn Michaels.

Jerry Lawler: And I think tonight is gonna be a huge test for Batista. Shawn Michaels may be actin' weird as hell right now, but he just seems so focused on what's ahead of him. I don't necessarily believe with what Shawn's sayin', but it's certainly not hurt him in the ring.

Tazz: Yeah, but the frustrations of 'The Animal' have been buildin' for a while now, and the fact that Edge cost him a match with Mr. Kennedy last Friday night means that Batista's hot right now. And that's bad news for 'HBK'. This one's gonna be a real good indicator of who's ready to defend their gold this Sunday.

Main Event: Non Title Champion vs. Champion Match
WWE Champion Shawn Michaels vs. World Heavyweight Champion Batista

There’s a certain sense of trepidation from Michaels as the bell rings, and it shows as he spends the first few moments of the match going in for and then backing away from tie ups. Eventually the two come together, with Michaels quickly working into a standing rear waistlock, looking for a belly to back takedown... but he can’t get the big man off his feet! Instead, Batista throws elbows to the side of the head, backing Michaels to the corner, with ‘The Animal’ racing in for a clothesline... but Michaels avoids it, and he quickly throws a string of right hands... only for Batista to forcibly push him down to the mat! Michaels is quickly back up, and this time he strikes with a series of knife edge chops... but this only angers Batista, who grabs Michaels... and yanks him into the corner! Batista unloads with right hands, then shoulder thrusts to the midsection, before he goes for the Irish whip... and follows in with the corner clothesline! Michaels stumbles forward... right into a suplex from ‘The Animal’! Batista rolls into the cover, 1... 2... Michaels kicks out. Batista briefly presses his boot against Michaels’ throat, choking ‘HBK’ against the ropes, before he once again has the WWE Champion up, firing him to the corner. Batista follows in... but runs right into a boot to the face. ‘The Animal’ staggers back... and then Michaels catches him from behind with a chop block! Batista’s knee gives way as he falls to the mat, with Michaels now driving his knee into Batista’s. Looking for some kind of kneebar, Michaels stands with Batista’s foot in his hand... only for ‘The Animal’ to kick him away to the far away ropes. Batista struggles back up, and here comes Michaels... run right into a spinebuster... no! Michaels counters in mid air... tornado DDT!

After a near fall, Michaels looks to take control of the match, targeting the knee of Batista, working on it by stomping and driving knees into it, before he places Batista’s foot on the bottom rope, then springs into the air, dropping all his weight across the left knee. More damage is done when Michaels applies a spinning toe hold, cranking and twisting, applying all kinds of pressure to the knee. Michaels keeps the hold on tight, but when he goes for another spin around, Batista is able to kick Michaels away... straight through the ropes to the outside! Michaels hits the floor below with a bump, but it takes an age for Batista to get back to his feet, using the ropes for support. ‘The Animal’ reaches down to grab Michaels... but ‘HBK’ grabs Batista's foot, yanking him down to the mat. Batista tries to fight it, but pretty soon Michaels has him in the corner, rears back... and smashes Batista’s knee off the steel ring post! Again Michaels rears back... again the knee tastes the steel, with Batista crawling away to escape anymore punishment. After a 2 count, Michaels returns to the knee, taking Batista up and down with a shin breaker, and when he sweeps the leg, Michaels drops down into a kneebar. Michaels tries to hyperextend Batista’s left knee, pulling back, applying pressure, causing ‘The Animal’ to cry out in pain.

Batista is subjected to the hold for quite a while, letting his shoulders drop to the mat on several occasions, forcing him to pull them up as the ref counts them down. A surge of power see Batista slowly drag himself towards the ropes, inching ever closer with every burst of energy... and finally Batista reaches out and grabs the bottom rope! The ref steps in to call for the break, with Michaels taking every second of the 5 count before he finally lets go. Back on his feet, Michaels again provides more stomps to the knee, before he drags ‘The Animal’ to corner. More stomps, until Michaels yanks Batista up, unloading with slow, painful, calculated chops to the chest. Michaels goes for the Irish whip across... but Batista reverses and follows in with a limp... but Michaels gets a boot up to the face, then quickly pushes himself up onto the second rope... double axe handle... no! Batista catches him on his shoulders... and drives Michaels into the corner! ‘The Animal’ starts to unload again with those turnbuckle thrusts, then he pulls Michaels to the centre of the ring, sending Michaels off the ropes... into a big boot to the face! Michaels is all over the place as Batista helps him up, rocking the WWE Champion with right hands before he swings a clothesline... Michaels ducks underneath... then takes Batista down with a chop block! Michaels moves quickly, twisting the leg... FIGURE FOUR LEGLOCK... NO! Once again Batista kicks Michaels to the corner, but the pain he’s suffered means Batista backs away to the opposite side to try recover. Michaels walks across, aiming kicks to the knee and chops to the chest, before he goes for the Irish whip across... Batista reverses and does his best to run in after... Michaels uses the ropes to elevate himself... but Batista catches him on his shoulders... running powerslam!

Both men stay down for an age, but eventually they’re back up, with Batista rocking right hands and then firing Michaels off the ropes... into a sidewalk slam! Here’s the cover... 1... 2... Michaels rolls a shoulder! Sensing a chance to build some offense, Batista snaps Michaels head back with right hands, then sends him off the ropes... Michaels ducks a clothesline... and fires back with a flying forearm! Michaels stays down... then kips up! Major heat as the arrogant Michaels shows off his athleticism, and just like that, ‘HBK’ is in the corner... and he’s tuning up the band! Michaels stomps his foot, waiting for Batista to rise, and after what feels like an eternity, ‘The Animal’ is up... here comes Michaels... SWEET CHIN – SPEAR!! SPEAR! Batista cuts Michaels off with the spear! ‘The Animal’ has it won as he crawls into the cover, hooking the near leg for the 1... 2... FOOT ON THE ROPES! Michaels somehow manages to place his foot on the ropes! The match slows way down as Batista drags Michaels up, firing him to the corner with force... and Michaels goes upside down into the turnbuckle! Michaels stumbles from the corner... into a massive SPINEBUSTER! ‘The Animal’ emphatically plants the WWE Champion, and the arena is on its feet as Batista shakes the ropes... thumbs up... thumbs down! Michaels’ fate appears to be sealed as Batista moves in, but as he goes to grab Michaels, ‘HBK’ grabs the referee by the shirt! Michaels pleads with the referee to call off Batista, but the ref assures him there’s nothing he can do. Batista stands, waiting for the referee to move aside, but as he does this, a commotion is heard from the crowd... EDGE IS IN THE RING! The crowd is buzzing but Batista is oblivious until he finally turns around... SPEAR! A spear from Edge... but what about the non contact rule? It’s a mixture of shock, heat and confusion as Edge quickly scarpers from the ring, hiding out of sight as Michaels pushes past the referee and drops into a pinfall for the easy 1... 2... 3.

Winner: Shawn Michaels @ 08.53

What the...? Edge... just speared Batista... despite the non contact rule between the two? Edge has just cost himself his chance at the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania... but he's smiling? Edge hovers around the outside of the ring, looking inside to see Batista still down, while Michaels is sat in the corner, clutching his WWE Championship tight to his chest. Edge meanwhile has started rooting around under the ring, searching for something... and he finds it as he launches a chair into the ring!


Michael Cole: What the hell is Edge doin'? Has he lost his mind!?

John Bradshaw Layfield: Don't ya' get it Michael? 'Coach' said no physical contact between Edge and Batista on Smackdown, he didn't say nothin' about Raw! Edge is a genius!

Jerry Lawler: And now what the hell's he doin' with those chairs?

Indeed after the first chair flies and crashes to the mat, Edge picks up another one, sliding under the bottom rope... he's looking for another one man con-chair-to! Batista is helpless, and Edge is poised to strike once again... until the crowd start going crazy... as here comes Triple H! 'The Game' sprints down the ramp, with the roar of the crowd causing Edge to turn around... just as Triple H slides under the bottom rope... and tackles Edge to the canvas! Triple H starts unloading with a furious flurry of left and right hands, but soon Michaels is back into things, and he starts hammering 'The Game', drawing boos from the crowd. Michaels does enough to save Edge for the moment, with 'The Rated-R Superstar' able to roll free, he and Michaels now drilling 'The Game' with kicks and stomps... until the crowd goes nuts again... as here comes Rob Van Dam!!

Van Dam races down to the ring, steel chair in hand, which in motion he launches into the air... and then jumps up onto the apron... Edge catches the chair... but here comes Van Dam... SPRINGBOARD VAN TERMINATOR!! Van Dam flies through the air to kick the chair into Edge's face, instantly taking the fight to 'The Rated-R Superstar'... and now Batista is back on his feet... and he charges at Shawn Michaels! Batista knocks Michaels down to the mat, letting rip with a barrage of right hands, while Van Dam and Edge continue to go at it... until Triple H takes the fight to Van Dam and Edge! All hell has broken loose as the five men involved in world championship matches this Sunday are having a free for all in the middle of the ring!


Michael Cole: These people are goin' crazy here! It's absolute pandemonium right now! Michaels, Van Dam, Edge, Batista and 'The Game'! It's mayhem in the middle of the ring!

Jim Ross: And what does this mean for this Sunday!? Michaels and Batista defend their titles, who's gonna leave Detroit as a champion!? I promise ya' folks, you want wanna miss it! The biggest night in WWE history, the ride of your life, and this chaos is what you've got in store live on pay per view! Championships, streaks, careers! They're all on the line at Wrestlemania XXIII! Good night!

The arena is still going wild as a posse of security guards, agents and referees have hit the ring and the surrounding area, but there's nothing they can do to separate the five men, the final image of Monday Night Raw is that of absolute carnage, a mass brawl that looks like it could go all night as for the last time on the Road to Wrestlemania we fade... to... black.

*End Show*




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

Location: Ford Field; Detroit, Michigan

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

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

The Irresistible Force vs. The Immovable Object:
'The Real Deal' Bobby Lashley vs. John Cena
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
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Last edited by iMac : 12-11-2011 at 09:38 PM.
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Old 12-14-2011, 09:02 AM   #194 (permalink)
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Raw feedback


Good choice in opening a go home show with one of the competitors for the main event Sunday. Van Dam’s not the easiest to write but I thought you did a good enough job here. Had to go the whole working his way up from the bottom to this point route and I think it worked, you displayed his passion and how much it means to him well. Enjoyed the section about Triple H and the whole DTA thing with Van Dam getting the message now, good stuff and on the whole this promo certainly added to Van Dam’s story ahead of this Sunday.

Solid stuff with Vince here. Him and Austin confrontation should be nice. You pull off the paranoid Vince well.

Figured these guys would all go at it at some point before Mania so good choice doing it tonight to showcase them all. Must say I liked the team selections also with them being mixed up, not just faces vs. heels. The match itself was well written with tension between the participants throughout and the ending showed exactly that, good stuff as it makes Orton look like a dick as usual and gives Booker a nice win heading into Sunday. Really can’t call that match at the minute which is a good thing!

Good intense interview here with Beth, again hyping Sunday very well.

Solid tag match here and glad to see these two teams having something to do amidst the Wrestlemania season, Hopefully this keeps going in the coming weeks, certainly a good feud in the making.

Carlito’s not one to talk about bad attitudes now! Decent interview from him and again, just hypes their match at Mania well.

Great job here with the Trips video package. Loved it and thought the whole gym thing and training was a nice touch. The words from the Game were also spot on and certainly got me hyped for Mania.

Completely what I expected here between Trips and Finlay. A no nonsense, hard hitting affair and you knew both men would bring it. Trips had to win so obviously the right call but a good match nonetheless as have been all the contests so far.

Good stuff from Vince here about Cena whining to Linda and her picking Austin as Cena knows he can’t beat Lashley fair, I liked that way of looking at it. Vince offering Austin all kinds of bribes was amusing, can’t see him ever giving in and doing that in real life but I liked it personally. Glad to see Austin saying he will call it out how he sees it, still don’t see that meaning Lashley stands a chance but at least we know he has those intentions in mind. Great choice in Lashley attacking Austin as that really throws another spanner in the works, Cena making the save had to happen as much as I didn’t want it to. Cena getting the upper hand surprised the hell out of me but the ending did all the more, Stunner to Cena? I like it and I’d be all for it happening at Mania again, though can’t see it whatsoever. Good segment on the whole.

Pleased to hear from the WGTT as I feel this match has gone a little un noticed. Solid interview and it at least hypes Sunday slightly, no doubting it’ll be a great match.

Good interview from Mickie here and this Women’s title match is heating up quite a bit here ahead of Sunday, good job.

Foley in the Hall of Fame= Win.

Fantastic Kennedy prom here, he really is the highlight of this thread for me imac, his character is just great, you write him so well. I loved the part about how not being in the title match eats him up but yet it feeds him also, excellent stuff and the whole ‘Daddy’s comin’ home’ line was great as well. Really excited to see this match at Mania and I hope you give the win to Kennedy.

Another superb video package, this time Van Dam and it just continues to build the hype for Mania. I’m sure HBK’s will do the same.



Another good contest here, continuing with the trend of the evening and Van Dam picks up a needed win. Pleased to see you didn’t derail any of Kennedy’s momentum too with the Flair interference and again that just adds fuel to the fire ahead of Sunday. Well worked segment here.

Decent interview here with Dykstra and I liked that he’s turned serious here and how it’s all about the title now. No more focusing on Torrie. I think she may well play a big role come Mania, perhaps even siding with Dykstra but this was a decent interview in terms of making this all about the title.

Great rundown of the Mania card, gonna be a treat.

This was my absolute favourite of the three videos. Your Michaels character is absolutely tremendous and the way you talked about faith here and the end line was superb. Really can’t wait for this one now.

Yet another good match to finish things off and again you made both men come out of this looking strong. Michaels picks up a big victory and Batista is only beaten by the Edge interference. Pandemonium to close the show is always a good route to go and these five going at it was a nice close to a nice show.

On the whole, it’s almost here now and this show was a very good one as per usual. My only criticism would be that yes it was a good go home show but for a Wrestlemania go home show, could’ve maybe done with one or two more really high profile things going down. Some really good matches throughout though and everything furthered very nicely. The video packages for the triple threat participants were great and that match has me ready and raring to go. The Kennedy promo was fantastic also and the close to the show was nicely done. Hopefully Smackdown delivers also, good job.
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Old 12-17-2011, 01:39 PM   #195 (permalink)
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Default Re: WWE: The Evolution Of Greed

Been lazy and unmotivated this week, but here we go...

619s Feedback For iMac's Monday Night RAW


Having the entire broadcast crew, with Smackdown and all is a real nice touch. And plus it gets you a little bit of practice for doing it for the big show, I would suppose. Kicking off with Van Dam makes sense, making his heartfelt address. Van Dam isn’t the strongest guy on the stick, but he came across as really looking for his moment here. He really was tapping into an emotional side we don’t normally see from him, which is partially because Van Dam isn’t really the kind of guy who shows much emotion, if any at all at times. This got pretty repetitive at a point, and as such, began to drag a bit at the end. Still, it’s very much understood what this was trying to do, so it got the point across. Plus, it gives you some really good soundbites for the video package for this. Wink wink. Hint hint.

Pretty straightforward here with the McMahon bunch, but I was a tad confused. I could’ve sworn it was Shane who got Stunnered last week, not Vince…? Unless I read that wrong last week. Regardless, Vinnie Mac never stops plotting. We’ll see what he’s up to.

These big tag team matches are always sort of pains in the ass to deal with, considering the personalities involved, but the focus seemed to be on MVP/Booker and Hardy/Orton, which I guess makes sense. And judging from the finish, whatever was going on with Orton and Hardy eons ago is still in the cards. I don’t know if you’ll feature these guys on Smackdown (it’d be a tad stupid not to, tbh), but right now the MITB match really is up in the air, no pun intended. It really is unpredictable, but given the situation, I’m gonna sit on Orton for this one. Let’s see if I’m proven wrong. Or I’m just incredibly near-sighted.

6 FUCKIN’ DAYS…!!11!!11!

You’ve done an excellent job with the James/Phoenix build as I’ve mentioned before, to the point where it feels a great deal more than just a match to get the Women’s title on the card. Phoenix getting another chance to air her sentiments is great, but I’d actually prefer if she just was silent and went about crushing Mickie. But that would make her seem crazy, and I just love the crazy. And I see you’re a sane man, so I’ll deal with the way you’re doing it <3

Nice quick tag contest here, giving the newcomers some instant direction and the Wrecking Crew, I suppose. Of course the heels have to win here to drive the whole thing and of course, such in dirty fashion. Another great team to keep tabs on post-Mania.

RAW’s number one couple? Aren’t they the only couple? Oh yeah, there’s Punk and Kelly I guess. Carlito seems too happy at the moment. Something gonna happen to ruin that…

Awesome package to hype The Game here, really giving some Wrestlemania mystique to the whole thing, which it does really need. The outcome of this match really wasn’t in doubt, but the main concern here I don’t think was Trips winning, but keeping Finlay strong in a pretty obvious loss. Finlay looked like Finlay here, and as such, didn’t look too weak at all. I was kind of hoping Finlay would introduce an injury that may carry over into Sunday, but I guess not. I don’t expect this to be the last time we see Trips tonight.

What a way to show no favoritism, huh? Didn’t see that one coming at all. Stoney seemed very much in character here, as did Vince. Lash and Cena tearing into each other is nothing new, but it was nice to see them on the show doing it again. But again, didn’t see the Cena Stunner coming at all really, but this match is still up in the air for me. I can see Stoney callin’ it down the middle, but I can’t see him counting to three for Bobby Lashley, either. Still, it was a great way to symbolize that the Rattlesnake really is here to do his job.

WGTT. Stop talking and wrestle.

I’m really into this Phoenix/James feud, honestly. Smart booking here in getting both sides of the story on the same accord.

FOLEY!!! Give me Wrestlemania segments as Mankind, Jack, and Dude Love and I’ll be a more than happy camper.

Kennedy’s been great for the whole duration of this thread, but like RVD’s address, I felt like this dragged on a little bit. It got to a certain point where we got what he was talking about, but he just kept going. Still, got the point he was trying to make, and I’m more than certain Kennedy will find a way to end Flair. I’m just really curious as to how. And should Flair win Sunday, it sure won’t be clean. But Kennedy has too much momentum right now to simply be stopped.

Van Dam’s package was pretty sweet too, but with it, I feel like Van Dam coming out at the start of the show and speaking feels a tad more pointless now. Not saying it was completely, but I thought the package did a better job of displaying RVD’s emotion than his somewhat forced opening. Another solid match here, where one is certain Van Dam was going over, but again, Kennedy didn’t look weak at all. In regards to the Flair interference, I liked it in that it showed a subtle, but bold, difference in some of the Wrestlemania matches. In regards to Flair/Kennedy, everyone knows they pretty much hate each other’s guts and want each other dead. The contrast in that between Hardy/Finlay was well shown even if it wasn’t intended, with Matt simply watching Finlay from a distance and measuring him, simply being champion v. challenger. Really thought that was nice, even if it wasn’t accented or picked up on.

I have this sneaking feeling Wilson will screw Carlito over and join with Kenny at the big show. It’s yanking at me. It’d make things interesting for sure.

Michaels’ package should’ve have a more religious feel to it, but I still very much thought it captured the essence of Shawn Michaels. Also, would’ve maybe had this match have been hyped up a little more. I mean this is champion v. champion less than a week before the big show. Would’ve hoped for a little more build, but I understand with ‘mania being so close and all that mashugana. Interesting that Michaels’ demeanor is more offensive than defensive here, going right in after Batista. Perhaps he truly has no fear because he has God on his side…? More than figured Edge would show up, but great way to loophole the Smackdown rule. Not sure if that was the exact quote from Teddy himself, but hey, its convenient here. And fucking hell, it all breaks loose. I enjoy anarchic situations, no secret there, but this one was really fun. Plus it more than sets up another match of some sorts between everybody on Smackdown. One giant way to end the show.


Overall, a very well done take-home RAW. Every feud got it’s exposure and time or whathaveyou. Not the biggest fan of promo-heavy shows, but it was necessary this go ‘round and all. Didn’t really have any gripes beyond those things and maybe Van Dam/Kennedy getting a little carried away on the mike. Even though I liked the loophole with Edge, I still hope there’s something more than that paper-thin loophole coming on Smackdown. You’ve got exactly two weeks from the time I’m posting this feedback to get that show up before the end of the year. DO IT. Or not. Just saying.
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Old 12-17-2011, 02:03 PM   #196 (permalink)
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Default Re: WWE: The Evolution Of Greed

~Friday Night Smackdown~
March 30th, 2007
Grand Rapids, Michigan

~Raw Invades Smackdown~





Wrestlemania XXIII is just 48 hours away and once again both brands will be in attendance for Friday Night Smackdown as it's Raw's turn to invade Smackdown!

After the actions of Edge during last Monday night's Raw, where despite the non-contact rule put in place by Interim Smackdown General Manager Jonathan Coachman, a seething Batista will no doubt be desperate to get his hands on 'The Rated-R Superstar'. However, with 'Coach' confirming that he was powerless to action against due to a legal technicality, the non-contact rule will be fully in force tonight as champion and challenger meet in the ring for one final showdown during an episode of 'The Cutting Edge'. Edge will of course be the host, with Batista his guest, and no doubt both men will be looking to score that final psychological edge ahead of their World Heavyweight Championship clash this Sunday at Wrestlemania.

Much like when Smackdown appeared on Raw, a series of inter-brand matches have been announced for tonight, with perhaps none bigger than John Cena taking on an opponent handpicked for him by Mr. McMahon... none other than the afore mentioned Edge. After spending much of 2006 battling over the WWE Championship, Edge and Cena will meet once again, with McMahon no doubt looking for 'The Rated-R Superstar' to soften Cena up ahead of his match with Bobby Lashley this Sunday. And speaking of the titanic Cena/Lashley match, the referee for that one, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, will once again be in attendance this evening. Having laid out Cena with the Stone Cold stunner on Raw, Austin has perhaps once and for all laid to rest any doubts over impartiality during the match, although it will be interesting to hear what Austin has to say with the match now so close.

After the recent anguish Mr. Kennedy has put Ric Flair through recently, nobody would deny that Flair was fully entitled to crack a steel chair of Kennedy's skull as he did last Monday night. While Kennedy has already said he won't be in attendance tonight as has already headed to Detroit to prepare for Wrestlemania, Flair will be here on Smackdown tonight for one final address of the situation that has developed between he and Kennedy the last few months. No doubt Flair will be focused and determined to extract revenge this Sunday, but tonight promises to be an emotional evening for Flair as he shares his thoughts ahead of one of the most personal matches in WWE history.

All eight men scheduled to compete in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match met in tag team action last Monday on Raw, with Randy Orton turning on his Raw colleague Jeff Hardy to give Smackdown the win. Tonight, much like this Sunday, it's every man for himself as the eight participants will compete in a Money in the Bank Preview Battle Royal. All eight will be looking to grab the win tonight, showing that they deserve to be considered the favourite to climb the ladder and grab the briefcase. Another four men looking to establish themselves as favourites for this Sunday will be the Kenny Dykstra, Finlay, Carlito and Matt Hardy, and the quartet will get that chance when they face off in tag team action. Intercontinental Champion Dykstra and United States Champion Finlay will team up to battle Hardy and Carlito, just days ahead of their respective title opportunities. We'll also hear from Hardy during the broadcast after he sat down with Michael Cole earlier in the week for an interview.

Also scheduled for an interview are Paul Bearer and Armando Alejandro Estrada, the respective managers of The Undertaker and Umaga. With the two monsters set to met with both their respective undefeated streaks on the line, the pair will join their handlers in the ring with Tazz for an exchange that could go a long way into giving a look inside the mind of two of the most dominant superstars in Smackdown history.

All this, plus Bryan Danielson takes on Joey Mercury ahead of his Cruiserweight Championship Match with Gregory Helms, and Raw's Redneck Wrecking Crew take on Smackdown's WWE Tag Team Champions, The Hooligans, with Raw's World Tag Team Champions The World's Greatest Tag Team no doubt watching on. It’s the final stop before Wrestlemania, with an explosive night guaranteed as Raw Invades Smackdown just 48 hours away from Wrestlemania XXIII!!

Confirmed Matches:

Edge vs. John Cena

Edge hosts an edition of 'The Cutting Edge' with guest Batista!

Eight Man Money in the Bank Preview Battle Royal
Finlay and Kenny Dykstra vs. Matt Hardy and Carlito

None Title Match: The Hooligans vs. The Redneck Wrecking Crew
Joey Mercury vs. Bryan Danielson

Plus! We'll hear from 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, Ric Flair, Matt Hardy, Paul Bearer and Armando Alejandro Estrada!

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Old 12-19-2011, 07:23 PM   #197 (permalink)
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Default Re: WWE: The Evolution Of Greed

~Friday Night Smackdown~
March 30th, 2007
Grand Rapids, Michigan

~Raw Invades Smackdown~



"This Sunday... you're gonna TAP... OR SNAP!"




We open with a brief highlights package from the previous episode of Raw, starting with a quick-fire rundown of some of he more nerve touching words Mr. Kennedy had for Ric Flair. Fast forward to the match between Kennedy and Rob Van Dam, where Flair races down to the ring and absolutely unleashes with a brutal steel chair shot to Kennedy's skull, handing the win to Van Dam after the frog splash. We now hear a compilation of the verbal exchange between Mr. McMahon and 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, before we then see Bobby Lashley attack Austin, prompting John Cena to make the save... only for Austin to turn around and stun Cena! We then cut to the main event, where Shawn Michaels battles Batista, only for Edge to come through the crowd and spear Batista, despite the no-contact stipulation between the two that exists on Smackdown. After Michaels gets the win, Edge starts launching chairs into the ring, looking for a one man con-chair-to, only for Triple H to head for the ring to save his buddy... which of course draws out Van Dam, Raw and this video package ending in absolute chaos between the five men who will compete for world championships this Sunday.

We now see the traditional opening Smackdown video, before we head into the arena to hear the excitement of the crowd. A massive pyro display welcomes us to the show, and after a quick scan of the fans, we settle on the Smackdown announce desk...


Michael Cole: We are just 48 hours away from the showcase of the immortals! Detroit, Michigan is primed and ready, but tonight, Grand Rapids plays host to the final stop of the road to Wrestlemania, Friday Night Smackdown! Hello everyone, I'm Michael Cole, alongside me as always are 'JBL' and Tazz, and guys, what a night we have in store!

Tazz: Aw, baby! Wrestlemania is so close, there's excitement in the air, hell, there's excitement at this announce desk! I can't wait for tonight's show!

Michael Cole: And what a show we have lined up, after Smackdown invaded Raw last Monday, tonight Raw returns the favour by invading Smackdown! And of the back of that, what an incredible match up we have lined up. John Cena, the man scheduled to take on Bobby Lashley this Sunday, is in action against the challenger to the World Heavyweight Championship, 'The Rated-R Superstar' Edge. One of the most storied rivalries of 2006 revisited tonight!

John Bradshaw Layfield: That's gonna be a helluva match, a great way for both guys to tune up for Wrestlemania. And what better way for Edge to kick off the greatest weekend of his life than by beatin' John Cena? Edge beats Cena tonight, then he beats Batista this Sunday to become the new World Heavyweight Champion.

Michael Cole: Well that remains to be seen, but also lined up tonight, after their Eight Man Tag Team Match on Raw, the Money in the Bank competitors collide once more in an Eight Man Battle Royal, the WWE Tag Team Champions The Hooligans take on The Redneck Wrecking Crew, Bryan Danielson goes one on one with Joey Mercury, and of course, in one of the most highly anticipated showdowns I can ever remember, Edge will host a special edition of 'The Cutting Edge', and his guest? His opponent this Sunday, 'The Animal', Batista.

Tazz: Oh that's gonna be off the charts! Despite Edge attackin' Batista on Raw, the non-contact rule is in effect tonight, and I can only imagine what's gonna happen when Edge and Batista get in the ring together. And hey, somethin' you forgot to mention Cole, but yours truly is gonna step into that ring to conduct an interview with both Paul Bearer and Armando Alejandro Estrada. I'm gonna get the opinions of the manages of The Undertaker and Umaga, just 48 hours away from Wrestlemania.

John Bradshaw Layfield: I hope you were payin' attention to my interview with Estrada a few weeks ago. That was broadcast journalism at its finest, and you can only dream of reachin' that tonight 'Shortstack'.

Michael Cole: Well as we said, Raw has invaded Smackdown tonight, so allow me to introduce the future Hall of Famers, Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler.

The shot now cuts to see Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler sat at an adjacent announce desk, both men looking pleased to be on Smackdown turf...

Jim Ross: Thank you Michael, great to be here tonight with you fellas! A huge night is in store for the WWE superstars, but perhaps none bigger than for Ric Flair, who is scheduled to be here for final address to Mr. Kennedy ahead of their match this Sunday.

Jerry Lawler: After all that's went down between Flair and Kennedy these last few months, I can't wait to hear what Ric has to say. We saw how angry he was last Friday after Kennedy assaulted Ric's son David, he got a lil' bit retribution on Raw with that steel chair shot, but I know Ric's gonna have a lot to say to young Mr. Kennedy tonight.

Jim Ross: I can't wait to hear from Flair, on what could be, if Kennedy gets his way this Sunday, one of Flair's last appearances in the WWE. It's gonna be an unbelievable night folks, the last stop on the Road to Wrestlemania!

A few seconds of silence...

Until...

"OH YEAH..."

*LIVE FOR THE MOMENT...*


With the crowd still hot, it's a tremendous welcome for Matt Hardy as the number one contender to the United States Championship bounds into the arena. Throwing his "V-1" hand gesture into the air, Hardy looks confident as he heads down the aisle...


Jim Ross: But we're kickin' things off with perhaps the man who's career is either gonna be made or broken this Sunday. For years Matt Hardy has chased that big Wrestlemania moment, he's chased that success in the singles ranks. This Sunday, Matt finally gets that chance as he takes on Finlay for the United States Championship.

Michael Cole: Well J.R., earlier in the week I had the chance to sit down and conduct an interview with Matt to try and get an understandin' for the emotions he's goin' through right now. We’ll see footage of that interview later tonight, but from what I heard, Matt is confident and he's realises that this is the biggest chance of his career, and that if he blows it... he might not get another one.

John Bradshaw Layfield: And I think that's exactly what's gonna happen. The guy's a screw up, his brother's a screw up, and he's gonna crack under pressure this Sunday. He ain't got what it takes to hold a title as prestigious as the United States Championship, and I look forward to seein' 'im lose at Wrestlemania.

“I SPIT IN ‘DA FACE OF PEOPLE WHO DON’T WANT TO BE COOL…”

*COOL…*


And another warm welcome as the challenger to the Intercontinental Championship Carlito is back on familiar Smackdown territory. 'Lito casually tosses an apple up into the air with one hand, while the other hand tightly grips the hand of Torrie Wilson, the couple smiling to the crowd as they head for the ring...


Jerry Lawler: Oh gosh, here comes Carlito and Torrie Wilson! Look at Torrie, doesn't she look great tonight?

Tazz: She looks a million bucks. But speakin' of Torrie, a lotta of the issue between Carlito and Kenny Dykstra centred around Torrie, but last Monday, we heard Dykstra say she wasn't a factor anymore, it was all about the Intercontinental Championship. That's gotta be a relief for 'Lito and Torrie now that we can concentrate on the in-ring stuff.

John Bradshaw Layfield: How the hell does anybody concentrate on what's happenin' in the ring when Torrie Wilson's stood outside it? I'd have lost ever match if she was in my corner!

Jim Ross: I'm sure Carlito is glad of that, although you can't help but wonder who sincere young Kenny was given the months he's spent tryin' to win Torrie over.

”MY NAME IS FINLAY… AND I LOVE TO FIGHT…”

*LAMBEG…*


A strong outpouring of heat for the United States Champion Finlay, the tough Irishman sharply making his way down the aisle. As always, Finlay has that menacing shillelagh in his hands, pointing up at the ring as he waits at the bottom of the ramp for his partner...


Michael Cole: Finlay put in a very impressive performance but ultimately came up short against Triple H on Raw, a match that Matt Hardy was watching closely. I gotta admit, I was impressed wit how far Finlay pushed 'The Game', and you gotta wonder what was goin' through Hardy's mind as he watched on.

Jerry Lawler: I'm sure Matt picked up a few pointers that could help him win this Sunday. Finlay may be tough, but I don't think Matt can approach the match with any fear. He's gotta be ready to go straight from the bell.

John Bradshaw Layfield: I think fear is exactly what was goin' through Hardy's mind. He saw how Finlay dominated Triple H and realised that's what's in store for him this Sunday. He might even get a taste of it tonight, Hardy's confidence could be shattered after this one's over.

*PURE CONTROL...*


And a good level of heat as the Intercontinental Champion Kenny Dykstra heads down the aisle. The cocky youngster has a slight on smirk on his face as he shakes his head at the ringside fans, he and Finlay sharing a quick nod of agreement before they enter the ring...


Jim Ross: He's an incredible young athlete, one of the most gifted young superstars in a generation. But unfortunately for Kenny, despite the best efforts of his former mentor Randy Orton, he's had his mind on Torrie Wilson rather than defending the Intercontinental Championship.

Tazz: Yeah but Kenny said he's put Torrie outta his mind, and now he's got his focus set on where it needs to be. And if ya' ask me, that's the smartest thing Kenny's said in months.

Jerry Lawler: Yeah, but I'm still not convinced. I still think Kenny's gonna try and use Torrie as a way of distracting Carlito, and I guess we might find out if that's the case in this match right now.

Match 1: Tag Team Match
United States Champion Finlay and Intercontinental Champion Kenny Dykstra vs. Matt Hardy and Carlito w/ Torrie Wilson

Carlito steps forward to start the match for his team, looking for an early chance to get his hands on Dykstra, but instead it’s Finlay who’ll kick things off for the heel side. The pair circle the ring, but when ‘Lito comes close to Dykstra’s corner, he takes a few seconds to point at shout some abuse at the champion. This allows Finlay to step in, drilling Carlito with a boot to the midsection. Stiff right hands and uppercuts back ‘Lito into the ropes, where Finlay goes for the Irish whip... but Carlito ducks underneath the clothesline... and then puts on the breaks... to take Finlay down with a textbook hurricanrana! ‘Lito takes Finlay down, but once again his focus turns to Dykstra as he tries to take a shot at the youngster in the corner. Dykstra drops down to the floor to avoid the contact, and again by the time ‘Lito turns,. Finlay is right there to drill him with a boot to the midsection, then grab a handful of afro to smash the back of Carlito’s head into the canvas. Dykstra now gladly receives the tag, and after a few stomps to the chest he lines ‘Lito up for an elbow drop... but ‘Lito rolls to safety... and tags in Matt Hardy! Hardy enters to a strong cheer, running through Dykstra with a string of clothesline before he fires Dykstra off the ropes... into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker! Matt goes for the cover... 1... 2... Dykstra kicks out. Hardy then yanks Dykstra into the corner, tagging him with right after right that forces Kenny down into a seated position on the mat. Hardy grabs both legs, while Kenny grabs the top rope, meaning Hardy yanks him up into the air... and then uses this to take Dykstra down with a sitout powerbomb! Here’s the cover... 1... 2... Dykstra barely kicks out.

Hardy looks to build some momentum as he again rocks Dykstra with right hands, but when he goes for the Irish whip, Dykstra reverses... allowing Finlay to drive a knee into Hardys spine. Hardy puts on the breaks... and sends Finlay flying from the apron with a stiff right hand! But when he turns back to the ring... Dykstra damn near takes his head off with a great running dropkick! Here’s the cover... 1... 2... Hardy kicks out. The heels now enjoy a period of dominance as they isolate Hardy from Carlito, working to do damage to Hardy’s rib area. Finlay takes Matt up and down with a stiff backbreaker, Dykstra drives repeated knees to the midsection, then holds Hardy open as Finlay comes off the second rope with a well placed double axe handle. Quick tags follow, with Dykstra in to drop an elbow across the small of the back, before he then locks Matt in a seated reverse chinlock, driving the knee into the spine while pulling back on the chin. Mat is able ti struggle back to his feet, where he drives several elbows, finally breaking the hold. A big right hand staggers Dykstra, then Hardy charges off the ropes... straight into a jumping reverse elbow from Dykstra! Kenny gets all of it, crawls over to hook the leg... 1... 2... Hardy rolls a shoulder! Finlay now works on a sustained period of attack as he hits the running seated senton to a face down Matt, then repeatedly drives his shoulder into Hardy’s gut against the corner, and comes close to victory after a double underhook suplex. From the cover, Finlay locks on a chinlock, wrenching on the neck in an attempt to wear Hardy down. Eventually the crowd rallies behind Matt, and he battles back to his feet, drilling elbows to the midsection to finally break the hold, only for Finlay to shove Matt to the corner and then follow in... Hardy uses the ropes to elevate himself... but Finlay catches him on his shoulders... and then he pulls Matt away from the corner... for the ROLLING HILLS! Finlay plants Hardy, rolls him over to hook the leg for the 1... 2... Hardy rolls a shoulder!

Finlay is enraged, getting in the referee’s face, demanding the three count, but when it’s confirmed to only be two, he turns and tags in Dykstra. Kenny enters and then takes Matt up and down with a scoop slam, putting Matt in perfect position as Kenny climbs to the top rope, steadies himself then flies... SKY HIGH LEGDROP... NO! Hardy rolls to safety, seeing Dykstra crash to the mat! Both men are down now, with Matt slowly crawling to his corner. Dykstra rolls over and tags in Finlay... just as Matt tags in Carlito! ‘Lito slingshots over the top rope and runs through Finlay with a clothesline, and then puts him down with another, before he goes for the Irish whip... which Finlay reverses... so ‘Lito jumps to the middle rope... springboard back elbow! Finlay is down and here comes Carlito off the ropes... big time jumping legdrop! ‘Lito hooks the leg... 1... 2...Dykstra races in to break the count. Dykstra is quick to head back to his corner, with Finlay able to crawl over and tag him in. Dykstra enters the ring and grabs ‘Lito, looking to twist him into a falling neckbreaker... but ‘Lito spins all the way through... flowing DDT! Carlito plants Dykstra, but here comes Finlay to attack Carlito before he can make the cover. This prompts Torrie to get up on the apron, protesting for the referee to do something to get Finlay out of the ring... only for Hardy to take upon himself to sort things as he clotheslines Finlay over the top rope! Both men go over and hit the floor hard, while in the ring Finlay’s attack has allowed Kenny to regain control as he swings a right hand... but ‘Lito ducks it... only for ‘Lito to then shove Dykstra towards the ropes... Kenny puts on the breaks just in time! Dykstra nearly ran straight into Torrie, but he stops himself, standing face to face with Torrie... to then plant a kiss on her face! Torrie looks disgusted as she quickly wipes her mouth, but here comes Carlito... Dykstra side steps... and this time it’s ‘Lito who has to put on the breaks! Carlito stops himself knocking down Torrie, but he quickly shouts for her to get off the apron... allowing Kenny to drop him from behind with a jumping necbkbreaker! With Torrie back on the floor and ‘Lito down in the ring, Dykstra heads for the top rope... SKY HIGH LEG DROP!! This time Dykstra gets all of it, hooks the leg... 1... 2... 3!

Winners: Finlay and Kenny Dykstra @ 07.49

And despite Kenny's words claiming Torrie was no longer an issue, she was certainly an issue here as she became heavily involved in the finish of the match. Dykstra quickly rolls from the ring, snatching his title from Tony Chimel's hands, before he crosses paths with Torrie, taking a good, long, hard stare at her, before he arrogantly blows a kiss in her direction. Dykstra laughs as he heads around to the base of the aisle, where he's joined by Finlay, the veteran giving the youngster a quick pat on the back, while Torrie slides into the ring to join Matt as the pair check on Carlito. Torrie holds Carlito's head in her arms, trying to bring him back around, while Hardy rises to his feet and heads for the ropes, leaning against them as he stares angrily up the aisle at Dykstra and Finlay, the camera darting back and forth between the ring and the entrance way as we head to a commercial.

*Commercial*


*Video Package*

WRESTLEMANIA RECALL!

APRIL 1ST, 1990
WRESTLEMANIA VI


For the first time in WWF history, Wrestlemania emanated from outside the United States as Toronto's SkyDome played host to Wrestlemania VI. In another first, it was Champion vs. Champion with both the WWF Championship and the Intercontinental Championship on the line as Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior met in a match dubbed as 'The Ultimate Challenge'. Having been champion for most of the '80s, with several Wrestlemania main event victories in that time period, Hogan was considered the favourite to retain his title. However, Warrior had captivated audiences over the previous few years with his high tempo style and outrageous backstage promos, meaning this one was a tough match to call. Although neither man would be capable of combining to produce a technical classic, the raucous Toronto crowd was captivated by the emotion and drama of the occasion, with both men playing their parts to perfection. Hogan, the battle-weary veteran seemed to have managed to hang on to his title as he came off the ropes looking for that trademark atomic legdrop of his, only for the young Warrior to burst to life, rolling to safety to then come off the ropes to hit the big splash to get the 3 count. The capacity crowd was stunned by the outcome, few daring to believe that the immortal Hulk Hogan could actually lost at Wrestlemania. Once the result of the contest had settled in, Hogan snatched the belt from Howard Finkel, and in a truly symbolic moment, Hogan literally passed the torch as he presented Warrior the title, and then the new champion to the world. After the two embraced, Hogan departed the arena, leaving Warrior behind to bask in the glory of his first WWF Championship victory.

WRESTLEMANIA XXIII - 2 DAYS AND COUNTING


*End Video Package*


We return to the sight of the parking lot of the arena, brightly lit by the lights of the underside of the concourse of the building. Slowly, a dark limo enters the frame from the right, pulling up infront of the camera and a nearby entrance. The driver's door swings open, out stepping a smartly dressed driver who makes for the nearest passenger door... only for Jonathan Coachman to come bursting into the frame, shooing the driver away...

Jonathan Coachman: Excuse me, I'll have handle this.

'Coach' reaches down, pulling on the handle, the door swinging open... and out steps Mr. McMahon! A strong chorus of boos rings out inside the arena, which intensifies as first Shane McMahon and then finally Bobby Lashley follow Vince out onto the tarmac, all three dressed in sharp suits...

Jonathan Coachman: Mr. McMahon! Mr. McMahon, Mr. Lashley, welcome to Smackdown! Just terrific to have you here Sir, really terrific.

Vince looks uneasy with Coachman's enthusiasm, but he agrees to the handshake offered to him...

Mr. McMahon: Thank you 'Coach'. So... how ya' been handlin' things here on Friday nights?

'Coach' sheepishly looks away...

Jonathan Coachman: Well, y'know, I had a few issues with a certain World Heavyweight Champion a few weeks ago, but I'm pretty sure I've got him under control now.

Mr. McMahon: Good. Alright, let's get this over with. Now... you're sure he's here tonight, right? I mean you've had security on all the exits? You've checked the backstage area? You've had confirmation, somebody has seen him here tonight, right?

Coachman smiles reassuringly...


Jonathan Coachman: Mr. McMahon, trust me. He's... here tonight. I saw him with my own eyes.

For the first time tonight, Vince flashes a smile...

Mr. McMahon: Good. Good. Shane, Bobby... let's go.

'Coach' stands aside to let Vince lead the way, with he and Shane quickly following, will bringing up the rear is the lone, hulking figure of Bobby Lashley, a stern, ominous look on his face as he steps forward, his body engulfing the screen, causing the shot to fade to black.

Which means it's back into the arena for...

*RAGE...*


A great response as Bryan Danielson makes his entrance. Danielson looks as stern faced and confident as ever, but he still takes time to give a few fist pumps to the crowd as he heads down the aisle...


Michael Cole: Well, they're here. The McMahons and Bobby Lashley are in the building, and that can only be bad news as far as John Cena is concerned.

Jerry Lawler: And I have to assume that Vince and 'Coach' were talkin' about 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin. From what we understand, Austin is indeed here tonight, and is scheduled to speak to us all regarding his role in this Sunday's Wrestlemania. And at first, after 'Stone Cold' hit Cena with the stunner last Monday on Raw, I'm sure John Cena wished Austin wasn't here. But now that The McMahons and Lashley are here... I'm not so sure.

Michael Cole: Well certainly it's ominous news for Cena ahead of his match with Edge tonight, but up first, Bryan Danielson warms up for Wrestlemania with a match right here with Joey Mercury. And you gotta admit, it's never easy to get a good read on this guy. He always looks extremely focused, he doesn't say much, but you have to think he's confident in his abilities given what we've seen of him so far.

Tazz: He's impressed the heck outta me. I knew this kid had a ton o' talent, and he came in with a big reputation, but he's lived up to it so far in my eyes. And I think this Sunday at Wrestlemania, he's gonna be the man to finally end Gregory Helms' reign as Cruiserweight Champion.

*PAPARAZZI...*


Not a huge reaction for the seldom seen Joey Mercury, who hasn't been seen much since Saturday Night's Main Event for weeks ago. Mercury swaggers down to the ring, showing off his impressive physique as he goes, before he shakes off his fur coat and slides under the bottom rope...


Jim Ross: Joey Mercury has had a very mixed 2007 thus far. Having ended a very bloody, very personal rivalry with Matt Hardy on the losing end, Mercury has re-established himself in the cruiserweight division, but he came up short to Danielson at Saturday Night's Main Event.

John Bradshaw Layfield: Yeah but a win right here for Mercury puts him right back in the hunt. And I wouldn't put it past 'im. He's no Gregory Helms, but I'm just waitin' for the cracks to appear in Danielson's armour. He lost last week to Finlay, he's obviously feelin' the pressure right now, and Mercury's in a great spot to take advantage of that.

Match 2:
Bryan Danielson
vs. Joey Mercury

Off the initial tie up, Danielson quickly works into a standing waistlock, which he then uses for a waistlock takedown. Mercury tries to fight back to his feet, but Danielson works hard to keep mercury grounded, prompting Mercury to search for an escape by grabbing the arm and twisting through into a grounded hammerlock. Bryan fights back to his feet, reaching up to snap Mercury over with a snapmare, and then delivering a stiff shoot kick to the base of the spine. Danielson turns and comes off the ropes, but Mercury drops face first to the mat as Bryan runs over him, then looks to avoid Danielson again with a leapfrog... but Danielson puts on the breaks, and when Mercury lands Bryan snatches him from behind... bridging German suplex! 1... 2... Mercury kicks out. Bryan springs back to his feet and starts unloading with those educated feet, stinging Mercury with kicks to the chest, then to the thighs as Mercury rises, backing Mercury to the corner. More kicks land, this time to the side of the head, before Danielson takes a few steps back then charges in... corner elbow smash connects! Looking to quicken the pace, Danielson goes for the Irish whip, only for Mercury to counter... Danielson runs up the turnbuckles, then comes off the top with a moonsault. Landing on his feet, Danielson avoids Mercury, and when Mercury turns from the corner Bryan is already coming off the ropes... flying forearm smash! Bryan goes for the cover, 1... 2... Mercury kicks out, and he quickly rolls to the outside.

Mercury drops to a knee to try and recover, which means by the time he brings himself back up, he doesn’t see that Bryan is already coming off the ropes... suicide dive! Danielson flies through the ropes and crashes into Mercury, sending Joey backwards into the barricade! The crowd responds with a good pop as Bryan bursts back to his feet, tossing Mercury back under the bottom rope. Danielson then hauls himself up onto the apron, but in an act of desperation Mercury reaches up and grabs Bryan’s wrist, then drops down, pulling Danielson’s shoulder across the top rope! Bryan collapses onto the apron, writhing in pain as he rolls back into the ring, but Mercury is quick to pounce, stomping down on the shoulder and then using the ropes to spring into the air, dropping a knee down across the left arm. Two more times the knee is dropped across the arm, before Mercury hauls Danielson up, and after a few kicks to the gut, Bryan is sent for the ride... straight into a textbook dropkick! Mercury crawls into the lateral press... 1... 2... Danielson rolls a shoulder. Mercury quickly then moves into a seated armbar, pulling the arm across his knee as he looks to do more damage. Danielson strains to break free, but Mercury works hard to keep the hold locked in, until finally Bryan is able to struggle abck to his feet. Mercury hangs on, working the hold into a hammerlock, but Danielson hits elbows to the side of the head, releasing the grip. Bryan turns, but swings and misses with a wild right hand... northern lights suplex! 1... 2... Danielson kicks out!

Going back to the arm, Mercury throws everything he can at it, using fists, boots and elbows to force Bryan into the corner. There, Mercury muscles Danielson up to the top rope, then climbs up join him. Mercury hooks Danielson up... and looks for a superplex... no! Danielson blocks it, then strikes with right hands to the midsection... before he pushes Mercury back down to the mat! Danielson then perches himself on the top rope, waiting for Mercury to stumble up... missile dropkick! Bryan gets all of it, but he lands on his bad arm, instantly clutching it upon impact with the canvas. Both men stay down, but finally it’s Danielson who rises first, catching Mercury as he gets back to his knees with more kicks to the chest, but when he goes for a big kick to the head, Mercury ducks underneath, then springs back to his feet... hangman’s neckbreaker! Mercury drops Danielson, hooks the leg for the 1... 2...no! Danielson rolls a shoulder, much to Mercury’s disbelief! After exchanging words with the referee, Mercury drags Danielson to his feet, then looks to hook him up... DOUBLE UNDERHOOK DDT... NO! Danielson flicks his foot up, catching Mercury square on the nose with his heel. Mercury backs off, then races back in... but Bryan is ready... snap overhead belly-to-belly suplex! Mercury flies then crashes to the mat, but Danielson is already off and running... leg lariat takes Mercury down! Bryan crawls into the cover... 1... 2... this time it’s Mercury who rolls the shoulder! Looking for a way to finally finish off the match, Bryan drags Mercury to his feet... but gets caught with an inside cradle... 1... 2... Danielson kicks out, and then both men race back to their feet... Mercury swings and misses with a right hand, allowing Danielson to hook him up from behind... DRAGON SUPLEX! Mercury’s head slams off the mat, and Danielson holds on to bridge into the pin for the 1... 2... 3!

Winner: Bryan Danielson @ 05.21

A good showing for Danielson as he makes quick work of Mercury. Danielson rolls free of Mercury and gingerly stands up, his hand raised by the referee, but there's no time for Danielson to celebrate as...

"LISTEN..."

*IT'S TIME...*


All eyes dart to the entrance way as the entrance music of the Cruiserweight Champion Gregory Helms sounds out. Helms slowly makes his way out from the back, dressed in street clothes, with a microphone already in his hand...


Gregory Helms: Bryan, Bryan, Bryan... congratulations man. Way to go. Great win man. Really, just great. Great... but just not good enough. Not good enough... to beat me.

Helms continues to head down the aisle, flashing arrogant scowls at the ringside fans as he goes...


Gregory Helms: These people might cheer for ya', you might impress 'em... but you don't impress me. Nothin' you've ever done, since your days back wrestlin' in high school gyms to the match you just had, nothin' you've done has ever impressed me. Heck, I just don't understand it. How tha' hell did you get this reputation? How tha' hell do all these idiots think you're better than me?

Cheap heat...

Gregory Helms: 'Cause you're not! You've never been better than me! And ya' never will be!

Helms now climbs the steel steps and enters the ring...

Gregory Helms: Y'see Bryan, I don't think I'm better than you... I know I am. When I say I'm the best damn cruiserweight in the world today, I ain't talkin' out my ass. I really mean it. And I don't need ta' prove it ta' anybody... but I'm gonna prove it this Sunday... 'cause I want to.

Helms smirks square in Danielson's face, but Bryan remains as stoic as ever...

Gregory Helms: I wanna prove that when Teddy Long brought ya' here, he made tha' single biggest mistake o' his career. I wanna prove that despite all tha' hype, all tha' publicity, all tha' buzz that you got, the best cruiserweight in the world was already here, and he was already Cruiserweight Champion!

Helms looks at Danielson, who offers no response, and shakes his head...

Gregory Helms: And lemme guess. You ain't got nothin' ta' say ta' that?

Danielson continues staring at Helms, who shrugs his shoulders...


Gregory Helms: Just like every other night you've been in this company, you ain't got a damn word ta' say, do ya'? Ya' think this whole silent thing impresses anybody? Ya' think these people wanna have a damn mute as their Cruiserweight Champion? Hell no! They wan' a champion who talks loud and backs it up in the ring. I speak for each and ev'ry one o' these people when I say, you ain't as good as you think you are, and nobody's buyin' this whole silent rage thing you got goin' on.

Helms scoffs, laughing in Danielson's face...


Gregory Helms: And lemme tell ya', you ain't gonna go nowhere in this business if you can't-

Danielson snatches the microphone from Helms' hand! The crowd breaks out with a massive pop as Helms' jaw nearly hits the floor. Danielson grips the microphone tight, gritting his teeth, his face turning red as his body begins to shake with rage. The noise level of the fans rises as slowly Danielson brings the mic to his mouth, holding it in position before he finally utters the words...


Bryan Danielson: This Sunday... you're gonna TAP... OR SNAP!

BANG! Danielson drills Helms with a vicious forearm square on the jaw! Helms stumbles backwards, taken completely off guard, and now Danielson is on the attack, rocking Helms with stiff as hell elbows to the side of the head, before he synchs Helms in... and tries to go for the CATTLE MUTTILATION... NO!

Much to the displeasure of the crowd, Helms manages to break free, scrambling through the ropes to the safety of the floor. The crowd boos the cowardice antics of the champion, but Helms doesn't give a shit as he looks like a man who's just escaped with his life. Helms gasps as he sits on the concrete, while in the ring Danielson stands defiant, looking like a coiled spring ready to recoil in just two days time...


Michael Cole: So close! That's how close Danielson was to lockin' on one of his deadly submission moves. All it takes it a split second and Danielson is gonna have Helms in a world of trouble. Who's gonna leave Wrestlemania XXIII the WWE Cruiserweight Champion?

Tazz: These people are lovin' Bryan Danielson right now! It's too close to call, but one of these two is leavin' Detroit the Cruiserweight Champion, and I can't wait to see it!

*Commercial*


And when we return, we see Josh Matthews standing by, ready for an interview...


Josh Matthews: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Friday Night Smackdown. And I'd like you all to welcome my guest at this time, he is the man who is just 48 hours away from an epic showdown with Bobby Lashley... John Cena!

A great pop as John Cena enters the scene, giving Matthews a quick tap on the shoulder. There's no smile from Cena who looks all business, his cap pulled down low over his brow as he initially looks off camera...

Josh Matthews: John, later in the broadcast you step into the ring with a man you know every well, 'The Rated-R Superstar' Edge. But before we discuss Edge, I wanna ask you about the events that took place on Raw last Monday night. We all watched as Bobby Lashley attacked 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, and you John decided to come to Austin's aid... only to taste the Stone Cold stunner as a thank you. Your thoughts on that, please?

Cena stars at Matthews, a slight look of anger in his eyes...


John Cena: Y'know I... I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. Steve Austin's always been a guy who stood alone, he never wanted any help in anythin' he did. And I respect that. But I saw a man about to take a beatin' from Bobby Lashley, and I ain't about to stand back and let that happen. I didn't go down to that ring to save Austin's ass 'cause I was tryin' to score points with the referee. I did it... 'cause it was the right thing to do.

Cena ruefully shakes his head, but there's no signs of regret in his eyes...

John Cena: I did the right thing, I saved Austin's ass... and it cost me. But that's fine. I can take it. I guess now there's no doubt about how the match is gonna be called. No questions asked, it's gonna be right down the middle, no favouritism shown either way, and that's the way I want it to be. I don't want any excuses, I don't want anybody questionin' the outcome. Cena and Lashley, one on one, win or lose, it's gonna go down the way it oughta be.

Cena pauses, locking his jaw briefly as he ponders his thoughts...

John Cena: You didn't have to get into this fight Lashley. This started between me and Vince, he dragged Shane into it, and now he's gotten you involved. Lashley, you're a helluva competitor, a helluva fighter, but you sold out, you chased the damn dollar, and this Sunday, you're gonna pay the price!

Pop from inside the arena...

John Cena: The time for talkin' is over. This Sunday, it's time to fight! Tonight... it's time to fight! Hell, every night from here on out, I'm gonna be fightin' for somethin', 'cause this is all I got! I don't do this for money, I don't do this for fame, I don't do this to kiss my bosses ass! I do this 'cause I love to wrestle. I do this 'cause I love to fight, and that's what this Sunday is gonna be. Hustle, loyalty, respect, ya' ain't got none of it Lashley! I refuse to live my life knowin' I didn't fight for what I believe in, and that ain't gonna happen at the grandaddy of 'em all!

And another, louder, pop from the crowd, with Cena pausing to regain his composure...


John Cena: As for tonight and Edge... lemme just say I had a few words with Dave Batista earlier tonight. We talked a bit, shoot the breeze, traded a few stories... and then the subject came to Edge. Me and Edge had plenty o' battles last summer. And when Batista talked about how much he wanted to tear Edge apart... all those memories came floodin' back to me. So tonight, I'm gonna do my buddy Batista a favour and give a little taste of what he's got comin' to 'im this Sunday. And Vinny, Shane, Bobby, I know you're here, and I hope you're watchin'... 'cause what I do to Edge... is exactly what I'm gonna do this Sunday.

Another pop as Cena, intense look in his eyes, lets his stare at the camera linger for a while before he gives Matthews another quick tap on the shoulder and leaves, with Matthews watching Cena go, a look of awe in his eyes before we cut back into the arena.

To see that Tazz is already stood in the ring, microphone in his hand...


Tazz: Alright, it's Wrestlemania season baby! And I know that Grand Rapids, Michigan has gotta be feelin' plenty excited right now!

Cheap pop...

Tazz: And this Sunday at Wrestlemania XXIII, one of, if not the most highly anticipated matches is simply entitled... Streak vs. Streak.

A solid pop as the crowd buzz with anticipation...


Tazz: The Undertaker. 'The Phenom' of the WWE. 14 and 0 at Wrestlemania. One of the most famous streaks in all of professional sports. Umaga. 'The Samoan Bulldozer'. On April 3rd, 2006, this savage made his WWE debut. And since that date, nearly an entire callender year, he remains undefeated. He has never been pinned, he had never been forced to submit, simply put, he's been unstoppable. Two undefeated streaks on the line, but at Wrestlemania, there has to be a winner, and one of those streaks, must be broken. So right now, I'm gonna bring both The Undertaker and Umaga down to this ring, and I'm gonna try get a few words with both their managers, Paul Bearer and Armando Alejandro Estrada.

Tazz now turns and motions towards the entrance way...


Tazz: So up first, I wanna welcome... 'The Samoan Bulldozer'... Umaga!

But before 'Mags makes his entrance, we cut to a video...

*Video Package*

We open with dark, ominous music, mirroring the darkness of the footage on display. Slow, clunky, harsh sounding violin strings ring out, with us opening to footage of the monstrous figure that is Umaga in the ring, holding the then Eugene with one hand while he drills him with the Samoan spike with the other...

Jim Ross: He is a monster of immeasurable proportions.

We now see the savage pressed against the corner of the ring, rearing back, then bouncing into the air, before he races across and snaps back the neck of Rob Van Dam with the Samoan wrecking ball...

Jerry Lawler: He's never been pinned, and he's never been forced to submit. An undefeated streak that has lasted close to a year!

Umaga stood on the second rope, bouncing up and down before flying through the air to crash down onto CM Punk with the Umagabomb...

Tazz: The guy’s a freak of nature.

The hulking physique of Bobby Lashley is scooped up with ease for a Samoan drop...

Jerry Lawler: I've never seen anythin' like him. The power, the fury of this man... it's scary.

And once again we see Umaga charging across the ring, this time hitting the Samoan wrecking ball to the prone body of Chris Benoit, his head violently snapping back against the bottom turnbuckle...

Armando Alejandro Estrada: Who can give us a challenge amigos?

Joey Styles: Who on earth could stop this monster's path of destruction?

We now cut to No Way Out, where both the music and the footage come to a shuddering stop, then continue in slow motion. The camera is zoomed in tight on The Undertaker, who slowly turns to see Umaga stood in the ring behind him... and then Umaga runs through 'Taker with a massive bodyblock...

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

Umaga has the limp body of Undertaker in his arms, hoisting him up into the air... for a SWINGING SIDE SLAM... OVER THE TOP ROPE... AND STRAIGHT THROUGH THE CASKET LID!!!

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

And we now see Smackdown last week, where Umaga hits the Samoan wrecking ball to Undertaker... AGAINST THE STEEL STEPS!

Armando Alejandro Estrada: When ju' accepted our challenge... ju' just ended the streak amigo.

We now fly from slow motion to fast forward, as rapid footage flashes by of Umaga rocking Carlito with a vicious savate kick before he drops John Cena with a thunderous Samoan spike...

John Bradshaw Layfield: Come Wrestlemania, the lights are gonna be on, ain't nothin' gonna go bump in the night, and The Undertaker is goin' down!

And finally we end with the camera tight on the face of Umaga, the savage letting out a blood-curdling scream in his native tounge, the image lingering on the ferocity of 'The Samoan Bulldozer' before we fade to black.

*End Video Package*


Straight back into the arena to hear...

*VIRTUAL VOODOO...*


Pure filthy heat as Armando Alejandro Estrada leads the way, briefly stopping to turn and welcome Umaga into the arena. 'The Samoan Bulldozer' snarls and roars at the fans, with Estrada gushing over how dominant his monster looks like now, encouraging the fans to cheer as the pair head for the ring...


Michael Cole: If you didn't already know, I think that video just about confirms it. Ever since he made his debut in the WWE, Umaga has been unstoppable, targetting some of the biggest stars in the WWE, and dominating them with ease. Can he do the same to The Undertaker this Sunday, snapping the famous Wrestlemania streak in the process?

Jerry Lawler: Y'know, I never thought it would ever be possible. I just always assumed that The Undertaker, year on year, he'd find a way to get it done. But this year... I just don't know.

John Bradshaw Layfield: It's time you people face up to the reality of the situation here. The streak? It's over! Done! Finished! Nobody can stop Umaga, it's just not possible! I'm really lookin' forward to seein' The Undertaker put in his place with the whole world watchin'!

Estrada is first to step through the ropes, and then he then sits on the second rope to hold it open, with Umaga stepping through. The snarling beast heads straight for Tazz, intimidating the commentator, with Tazz briefly stepping back, using his hands to motion that he wants no trouble with 'The Samoan Bulldozer'. Estrada quickly moves to calm the situation, bringing 'Mags back to the centre of the ring, allowing Tazz to again look up the aisle...


Tazz: Alright. Estrada, Umaga, thanks for bein' here tonight. Bur right now, lemme bring out your opponent this Sunday. For fourteen Wrestlemanias, nobody could beat this man. He's beaten champions, giants, legends of this business. He's 'The Phenom', 'The Demon of Death Valley'... he is... The Undertaker!

And just like Umaga, it's off to a video package we go...


*Video Package*

A lone bell tolls upon the sound of a storm, raindrops being heard falling on a dark screen. The ominous sound of footsteps is heard, until the video finally fades in with grainy footage from Wrestlemania VII where Paul Bearer leads The Undertaker down the aisle. We then cut to the ring to see Jimmy Snuka flying of the ropes, only to be caught by 'Taker and then twisted into a devastating tombstone piledriver...

Gorilla Monsoon: Tombstone city!

Bobby Heenan: I can't believe it!

The sound of rain and footsteps continues, while the shot now heads to Wrestlemania XII, where 'The Deadman' scoops Diesel up with ease, planting him head first into the mat...

Jerry Lawler: It's like he can feed off a higher power. I mean, how d'ya keep this guy down?

Now to Wrestlemania X-Seven, where in the corner Triple H hammers down with right hands, until 'Taker forces him up into the air and then crashing down with a thunderous last ride...

Jim Ross: The Undertaker is 9-0 at Wrestlemania!

Wrestlemania XX for the second Wrestlemania clash with Kane, who suffers a tombstone piledriver, 'The Deadman' then crossing his arms across his chest and then staring straight down the camera...

Jerry Lawler: There's no mercy in that face. No mercy from The Undertaker.

We now head to Wrestlemania XXI where Randy Orton shocks everybody by scooping Udnertaker up for a tombstone... only for 'The Phenom' to counter, reversing the move into a tombstone of his own...

Tazz: Ya' just can't keep this guy down. Nothin' can stop The Undertaker at Wrestlemania.

The sound of footsteps intensifies through the rain, suggesting they're coming ever closer as we see footage from Wrestlemania XXII where after planting Mark Henry with an unbelievable tombstone piledriver, Undertaker rolls him into a casket and leads a squad of druids in wheeling the casket away...

Michael Cole: The Undertaker is 14 and 0!

We fade away from the footage to see the man himself, The Undertaker walking through the rain with a purpose, and although we only see shots of his trademark hat and long, leather trenchcoat, we also rather ominously see the glint of a shovel perched against his shoulder...

John Bradshaw Layfield: If ya' ask me, I think we've finally found the first man who truly scares 'The Deadman'.

'Taker drudges on, kicking up dirt and soil as he goes, with us now being made very much aware that we're in a graveyard. Through the weeds and grass we see a string of tombstones, with such names as 'Jimmy Snuka', 'Ric Flair', 'Kane', 'Randy Orton' and 'Mark Henry' etched onto them...

Paul Bearer: ESTRADA... your monster, your beast... he CAN'T BEAT MY UNDERTAKER!

Digging is heard, with the shovel seen going up and down, tossing dirt free from a freshly dug grave. Atop the grave stands another tombstone, with the camera slowly, every so slowly, pearing up from the ground, through the rain, up the stone to reveal the name etched onto it... 'Umaga'.

Michael Cole: {Echoing} Can anybody beat this man at Wrestlemania?

And finally the camera snaps back to see The Undertaker turn his head towards the frame, eyes rolled to the back of his head, rain drops flickering off the rim of his hat through the darkness, an eerie image as we fade to black.

*End Video Package*


And now back into the arena to hear...

*GONG...*

*GRAVEYARD SYMPHONY...*


The arena goes wild as Paul Bearer leads The Undertaker down the aisle, the urn a beacon shining through the darkness as Bearer holds it up high. As usual, it's the slowest entrance possible as The Undertaker takes his time heading for the ring...


Jim Ross: I've been in this business a long time. I've never seen such a compettitor as this man, The Undertaker. For years he has ruled Wrestlemania, but perhaps this year he faces his biggest ever challenge in Umaga.

Michael Cole: And you look at the list of names The Undertaker has beat at Wrestlemania, an impressive collection, a Hall of Fame worthy accomplishment. Will Umaga be the next name on the list, or will the streak be shattered this Sunday?

Slowly Undertaker climbs the steel steps, raising his arms high into the air to restore the light into the arena. Stepping through the ropes, Bearer and The Undertaker head for the centre of the ring, where Umaga snarls as he stares them down, while 'Taker chooses to remain in the background, his eyes narrowed as he looks as cold blooded as ever...

Tazz: Alright, let's get this started. I'm gonna start with Umaga's representative, Armando Alejandro Estrada. Now, Mr. Estrada, we all remember back at No Way Out where you and Umaga hit the ring, blindisded The Undertaker and wound up drillin' him through that casket. And I guess my first questions gotta be... why? Why did Umaga attack The Undertaker? Why did you make the challenge for the match at Wrestlemania?

Estrada smiles smugly, rubbing his chin before he finally speaks...

Armando Alejandro Estrada: Ju' wanna know why perro? Is very simpke. Ju' see, Umaga has been undefeated in 'dis company for almost a whole year. 'Dat means for one whole year 'dis beast, 'dis monster has beat everybody he stepped into 'da ring with. He ran through the entire Raw roster. But... we don't get no title shots. And why, amigo? Why is 'dis? 'Cause not only does Umaga scare each and every WWE superstar. He scares the WWE to it's core.

The camera darts between a shot of Umaga, his eyes piercing a whole through The Undertaker, to then see 'The Deadman' staring into the distance with a strong sense of focus in his eyes...

Armando Alejandro Estrada: 'De people in 'de office, 'de people in charge, 'dey know what 'dis man is capable of, and 'dey don't like it! Even Senor McMahon himself is scared of 'dis man! He didn't want us to hurt his precious Bobby Lashley, but he did want us to hurt John Cena. But since he offered no title shots... we needed to be compensated in some other way. And 'dis is what brought us to No Way Out.

Estrada pauses while the crowd emitts a hushed buzz...

Armando Alejandro Estrada: Ju' see, Senor McMahon, he is a very smart business man. Just like me, haha! He knew he needs to keep us... como se dice... sweet. So when he couldn't offer us a title shot... he gave us somethin' worth more than any title. Championships can wait amigo, 'cause 'dere will only ever be one... who can end 'de streak. And 'dat one... is Umaga.

Estrada points towards his monster, emphasising his point...

Armando Alejandro Estrada: When 'ju beat everybody the WWE can offer, 'dere can only be one challenge left. 'De Undertaker at Wrestlemania. 'Ju people like to call it 'de most famous streak in professional sports. No perro, no. 'De fact 'dat Umaga is still undefeated is more worthy of 'dat title. And 'dat is how it's gonna stay after Wrestlemania. We want 'de big challenge... and now we have 'da biggest of them all. And we won't fail Undertaker. 'Jour streak is... como se dice... HISTORY!

Estrada snaps his head forward in Undertaker's direction before he reins himself in, taking a moment to calm himself...

Tazz: Alright. So Estrada, lemme ask ya'. I get why ya' wanted to face The Undertaker. Ya' felt held back, and this is a chance for Umaga to prove 'imself by knockin' off 'The Deadman' at Wrestlemania. But tell me... we all know the names of the guys who have tried and failed in the past. It's an impressive list of guys. What makes Umaga any different? What's this guy got that's gonna make 'im beat The Undertaker and end the streak?

Estrada has a little laugh to himself before he answers...


Armando Alejandro Estrada: Think about what 'De Undertaker did in 'de past to his opponents. He scared 'dem. He turned out 'de lights, he played 'de mind games. 'De people 'dat have tried and failed to beat 'De Undertaker in 'de past, 'dey were already beat by 'de time 'dey got to Wrestlemania. 'Dey already lost 'de match... because 'de lost 'deir edge. Mentally... 'dey were already defeated. 'Dey lost before 'dey stepped through 'de ropes... 'cause 'ju played 'de mind games with 'dem, amigo.

Estrada smriks as he slowly taps the side of his head...

Armando Alejandro Estrada: But not with Umaga. 'Ju see, 'de mind games... 'dey don't work on 'dis man. Ju' turn out 'de lights, 'ju make 'de lightning strike 'de ring... nothing. Nothing 'ju can do Undertaker can effect Umaga. And now... now 'ju realise 'dis, don't 'ju perro?

Estrada turns to look at Undertaker, drawing the eye of 'The Deadman'...

Armando Alejandro Estrada: Ju' realise 'dis now... and it scares ju'. It scares 'ju 'cause 'ju know you have no edge over us. Every year, Wrestlemania, ju' enter 'dat arena, ju' step through 'dose ropes, and jour opponent... he's runnin' scared. But 'dis year...

Estrada steps forward, pointing at Undertaker...

Armando Alejandro Estrada: It's ju' who is running scared... of Umaga.

Estrada broadly smirks in Undertaker's face, although there's not even a flicker of response from 'The Deadman'...

Armando Alejandro Estrada: For 'de streak to live, ju' can't play games. Ju' need... to be better 'dan Umaga. And 'dat... 'dat won't happen.

Estrada chuckles as he takes a few steps back...


Armando Alejandro Estrada: At Wrestlemania XXIII, live from Detroit, Michigan, 'de entire world will witness history. 'Cause 'de streak...

Estrada reaches into his top pocket, pulling out a cigar which he holds at either end, snapping it in half just as he shouts...

Armando Alejandro Estrada: IS OVER!

The cigar crumbles, with Estrada laughing as he washes his hands of it, letting it float to the mat. Sensing Estrada has had his say, Tazz now turns towards Bearer and The Undertaker...

Tazz: Thank you, Armando Estrada. Paul Bearer, you're up man. For years you managed The Undertaker. Infact, you managed him to plenty of those 14 Wrestlemania wins. So I'm gonna shoot at ya' straight here Paul. Can The Undertaker beat Umaga? Can The Undertaker make it 15-0?

Tazz points the microphone under Bearer's face, with Bearer taking one last glance over his shoulder at The Undertaker before begining...

Paul Bearer: Oh yes Tazz... oh yes. For you see, all men are created simply as that... men. Mere mortals. Umaga here may be an impressive specimen. He may be a savage. He may be a wild, untamed beast. But... at tha' end of tha' day... he is still only... a man. And that is where lies his greatest weakness when compared to my Undertaker.

Umaga continues to snarl, but Bearer presses on...

Paul Bearer: You and your monster... you've never been to tha' darkside, have you Mr. Estrada? You've never felt the forces of evil, you've never heard tha' howls of tha' creatures of the night. For Umaga may have been perceived to be a dominant force here in tha' WWE, but that's 'cause he's never encountered a force as strong as my Undertaker. For years we have flirtered with evil. We have drawn strenght from the darkness of the soul. And you Umaga... your soul is tha' next one to be taken.

Pop...

Paul Bearer: For years men have challenged my Undertaker to a match at Wrestlemania. And time and time again, they've been defeated. But not only have those defeats hurt their pride... they've all been shaken to their very core. Nobody enters tha' ring with my Undertaker at Wrestlemania and leaves it tha' same. The physical scars may hell... but tha' mental scars of defeat... will haunt you Umaga for tha' rest of your days.

The camera cuts to Estrada, the smug look of confidence wiped from his face...

Paul Bearer: You may claim this monster is unaffected by mind games, but believe me Mr. Estrada... we don't need mind games.

Big pop...


Paul Bearer: This Sunday, Umaga's undefeated streak will finally meet it's maker. You see my Undertaker as tha' ultimate challenge, but your attack at No Way Out... simply sealed your doom. For at Wrestlemania XXIII, vengeance shall be felt... and you Umaga... will rest... in... PEACE!

The crowd utter the words along with Bearer before breaking out into another strong pop. Showing no fear, Umaga takes a few steps forward, putting himself nose to nose with Paul Bearer... which of course draws forward The Undertaker! Just like that, the two are face to face, neither man showing any fear, neither man giving an inch...


Tazz: Whoa, whoa... easy there fellas. Let's just-

Estrada snatches the mic from Tazz's hand...


Armando Alejandro Estrada: Excussemay! Mr. Bearer, please... I can't believe what I'm hearin' perro. Ju' think... ju' really think 'dat 'De Undertaker can beat Umaga? When are ju' gonna realise amigo, 'dat your Undertaker has never faced anyone like Umaga? 'Ju can't beat him. He is... como se dice... UNSTOPPABLE!

Bearer laughs to himself, shaking his head as he motions for the microphone to be handed to him, while 'Taker and Umaga continue to stand face to face...


Paul Bearer: Mr. Estrada... my dear, niave, Mr. Estrada, you have no idea of tha' fate that awaits you, do you? This isn't just another match on a Wrestlemania Sunday. This... is Tha' Undertaker.

Pop...

Paul Bearer: At No Way Out, you left him beaten, battered and broken. But... you also left him... with life. A life that you can never end. A flame that you can never extinguish. Tha' sands of time for your judgment are slowly runnin' away. You think you have tha' power? You'll never have tha' power of tha' darkside.

Still Umaga and 'Taker stare each other down, although Umaga is now decidedly more aggitated...

Paul Bearer: Tha' shining light that was Umaga's future... has just become a dim flicker. No Way Out marked tha' beginning of the end, and this Sunday... the door slams shut on Umaga's undefeated streak.

Reacting angrily to the crowd's pop, Estrada rips off his sunglasses and steps forward as if he's about to strike Bearer... only for The Undertaker to snap his head round, freezing Estrada to the spot! Undertaker stares a hole through Estrada who's too scared to move... but with his head turned to the side, Undertaker doesn't see Umaga makes his move... as he hammers 'Taker with a big right hand! The fight is on!

Umaga naturally gains the early upperhand, landing clubbing shots to the side of the head... but soon Undertaker is striking back with shots of his own! Umaga is rocked backwards, each blow landing putting him further on the back foot, with 'Taker then looking for an Irish whip... which Umaga reverses... straight into a SAMOAN DROP! The crowd is stunned, gasping in amazement as Umaga turns the tide, taking Undertaker down... but 'Taker sits up! A massive pop heralds the recovery of 'The Phenom', with both men quickly back on their feet trading shots once more, although now the crowd boos heavily... as a string of security guards race down the aisle!

Quickly flying into the ring, the guards immediately try to create a barrier between the two men, although it takes Bearer and Estrada to pull their charges away before order is finally restored. Creating a human chain across the ring, the guards manage to separate the pair... until both men simultaneously go at each other again! The fight is back on! Security personnel flop to the mat as Undertaker and Umaga start going at once more, neither man backing down despite the brutality of the shots being landed...


Michael Cole: All hell has broken loose between Umaga and The Undertaker! Which streak will be broken? Wrestlemania holds all the answers!

Still the fight rages on, showing no signs of stopping, but it's over for us as we head to a commercial... or do we? As just as Cole signals for us to leave, we instead quickly head backstage to see somebody strapped to a stretcher. Our mystery man has a brace around his neck and an air mask over his face, but the camera is able to peer through the paramedics and focus for just enough to see that... is that Steve Austin?

Paramedic: C'mon, let's go! Let's get 'im outta here! We gotta get 'im to a hospital!

Jim Ross: Is that - is that 'Stone Cold'?

Confusion reigns for the announce team as the stretcher Austin is on is placed into the back of the ambulance, the doule doors then being slammed shut, before the blare of the siren rings out and the ambulance drives off...

Michael Cole: That - that was Steve Austin.

Tazz: Well what the hell happened to 'im?

Who knows, huh? And it doesn't seem we're gonna find out right now, as we finally do fade into that commercial.

*Commercial*


And when we return, the silence is shattered by...

*MY TIME IS NOW...*


A loud, boisterous pop heralds the arrival of John Cena to tonight's broadcast. Bounding out onto the stage, Cena takes a long, hard look at the crowd, smiling in response to the cheers coming from the majority of the fans, before he gives them all a salute and then races down the aisle and slides into the ring...


Michael Cole: It's been over 18 months, but tonight, John Cena makes his return to Friday Night Smackdown! And he steps into the ring with one of his fiercest rivals, a rivalry that captivated audiences for much of 2006. It's Cena and Edge, one on one, with Wrestlemania XXIII just days away!

Jerry Lawler: I sat at ringside on many a night and watched Cena and Edge go at it. Such an intense rivalry, some of the most brutal matches you'll ever see, but I think that could easily be surpassed by what we're gonna see between Cena and Lashley this Sunday.

John Bradshaw Layfield: Cena better not be thinkin' about Lashley right now though. He better keep his mind on Edge. 'The Ultimate Opportunist', Edge has been on a roll lately, until 'Coach' saved Batista's ass by orderin' a non contact rule between the two on Friday nights. Cena better be focused tonight, or he's gonna head into Wrestlemania with a loss under his belt.

Jim Ross: But what about what we just saw before the break? What the hell happened to 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin that caused him to be takin' out of this arena in the back of an ambulance?

Tazz: Well we've been tryin' to find out, but so far... we got nothin'. Nobody knows what happened, except that Austin was found out cold backstage. What the hell's that gonna mean for Cena's match with Lashley this Sunday? Right now, we ain't got a referee!

“YOU THINK YOU KNOW ME...”

*METALINGUS...*


Loud boos rain down from the rafters as Edge confidently strides out from the back. Stopping under the Smackdown fist, Edge pumps both fists into the air, setting off a burst of pyro, before he makes his way down the aisle...


Jim Ross: 'The Rated-R Superstar' looks extremely confident right now. Edge has had all the momentum over the World Heavyweight Champion Batista goin' back to the night Edge hit the champion with a devastating one man con-chair-to. Can Edge keep that momentum goin' here tonight against John Cena?

Tazz: Yeah and we all saw what Edge did on Raw. He found a loop hole in tha non contact rule that allowed 'im to spear Batista durin' his match with Shawn Michaels. I can't wait for that showdown later tonight! Imagine what's gonna be said between 'The Animal' and 'The Rated-R Superstar'.

Jerry Lawler: It's gonna be a huge moment for sure. But I know the kinda mood John Cena's in right now, this one's gonna be a hard hittin' affair. Edge might not be his usual loud mouth self durin' 'The Cutting Edge' tonight after this one.

Match 3:
Edge
vs. John Cena

As the two come together for a collar and elbow tie up, both men jockey for position until the power of Cena allows him to back Edge into the corner, only for Edge at the last second to use the momentum to twist Cena into the turnbuckle. The ref calls for the break, with Edge backing off to then swing a right... which Cena ducks, allowing him to then unload on Edge in the corner with punches to the face and gut. A hard Irish whip sends Edge across, and when he stumbles from the corner Cena aim a boot to the midsection... and then takes Edge up and down with the protoplex! Cena hooks the leg for the early cover, but Edge kicks out quickly. Grabbing a handful of hair, Cena rams Edge face first off the top turnbuckle, before he again fires Edge across the ring. Cena charges in... but Edge side steps, letting Cena hit chest first off the turnbuckle, and when he stumbles back, Edge is already coming off the ropes flying forearm to the back of the head. Edge moves quickly to take advantage, stomping down on Cena, then dragging him up to tag him with right hands before a standing dropkick puts Cena down for the 2 count. Again Edge helps Cena back to his feet, but this time Cena comes up swinging, knocking Edge to the ropes with a string of right hands before going for the Irish whip... but Cena lowers his head... and Edge scores a kick to the chest! Cena drops to the canvas near the ropes, rolling to the apron but managing to stay off the floor. Edge moves in... but Cena drills a shoulder to the midsection... then comes back into the ring with a slingshot sunset flip! 1... 2... Edge kicks out.

Both men burst back to their feet, with Edge swinging a clothesline that Cena ducks under, then keeps on running to come off the ropes... flying shoulder block! Cena knocks Edge down, then comes off the ropes to repeat the trick... but Edge dives face first to the mat... leaving Cena to crash and burn as he falls to the canvas! Not wasting a second, Edge pounces, driving his knee repeatedly into Cena’s chest, before driving the knee into Cena’s throat. Edge drags Cena up, but once more Cena shows great fight as he drills a boot to the gut, then a few right hands, before he turns and charges off the ropes... into a rolling wheel kick from Edge! Edge crawls into the cover... 1... 2... Cena rolls a shoulder! Edge can’t quite believe it, saying as much to the referee, before he turns his attentions back to Cena by locking on a seated reverses chinlock, looking to apply pressure and wear Cena down. Edge wrenches on the neck, upping the pressure, keeping Cena grounded and taking all the momentum out of the match. Eventually though, Cena is able to struggle back to his feet, but Edge keeps his arms wrapped tight around Cena’s neck... so Cena simply reaches down... and hoists Edge up onto his shoulders... FU... NO! Edge is able to drop down to the canvas behind Cena... and then take him down with a backslide... 1... 2... Cena kicks out, and both burst back to their feet... Edge drills Cena with a big boot to the face! Cena slumps to the mat, and then Edge flops on top of him... 1... 2... again Cena rolls the shoulder!

Frustration grows in Edge as he his move like a Russian legsweep and a bulldog, but Cena hangs on time after time. Once again it’s back to the chinlock, with Edge upping the pressure as he looks to wear Cena down. Edge has the hold on for quite some time, but the crowd rallies behind Cena, and again he battles back to his feet. Edge’s grip is tight, but Cena does his best to break free by drilling elbows to the midsection... but Edge refuses to release the hold... so Cena takes him up and down with the Protobomb! Cena pulls out a brilliant counter, but both men stay down for now. Slowly they begin to rise, and when both men make it back to their feet, a slugfest breaks out, with Cena firing back at every right hand Edge throws, until Cena fires off three in a row, then drills boot to the midsection. Edge doubles over, and Cena charges off the ropes... running one handed bulldog! Now Cena looks to build momentum, as he waits for Edge to rise to come off the ropes... flying shoulder block! Edge is back up... another flaying shoulder block! Edge stumbles back up... Cena hits a second protobomb! Edge is down smack in the centre of the ring, and with the crowd going wild, Cena peers down on him... “You can’t see me!”... then comes off the ropes... FIVE KNUCKLE SHUFFLE! Cena connects, and now he’s back on his feet, waiting for Edge to rise... to then hoist him up onto his shoulders... FU... NO!! Edge hits a flurry of elbows to the side of the head, dropping down to the mat and pushing Cena away. Cena stumbles to the corner, and then stumbles back out... here comes Edge... SPEAR... NO!! Cena sees Edge coming, and takes him down with a drop toe hold... then steps, twists and drops... into the STFU!!! Cena has it locked in! Wrenching back on Edge’s neck, Cena desperately tries to make Edge submit, but Edge is hanging in there, straining, desperately trying to reach the ropes... until Cena lets go of the hold... as Shane McMahon is up on the apron! Shane distracts Cena, prompting Cena to let go of Edge and race for the ropes... to swing at Shane... but McMahon drops back down to the floor to avoid it! The crowd is buzzing though, frantically shouting for Cena to turn around, and when he does... Bobby Lashley runs through Cena with a spear!

Winner: Via Disqualification, John Cena @ 11.14

First the distraction by Shane, and now the spear from Lashley, and Cena is down and out. Bringing himself around, Edge quickly rolls from the ring and waves off the situation, not wanting any part of Lashley when he's on such a tear. Ripping off his suit jacket and then ripping open the shirt underneath, Lashley looks a man possessed as he mounts Cena and starts hammering him with right hands. Soon Shane picks himself up off the floor and enters the ring, laying into Cena with a few cheap stomps from his expensive loafers, and then the pair and joined by none other than Mr. McMahon himself. Stepping through the ropes with a beaming smile on his face, McMahon dips his hand through the ropes, asking for a microphone...


Mr. McMahon: John! Nobody left to save ya', huh Cena? No Austin, no Linda, nobody! Nothin' you can do about it! I bet you thought you had it all figured out, huh? Austin as your handpicked referee? He'll be lucky if he's even woken up by this time we get to Wrestlemania!

Vince then knowingly nods towards Shane, which prompts the younger McMahon to head outside...

Mr. McMahon: It didn't have to be this way Cena. I warned you months ago not to cross me. I gave you plenty of opportunities to apologise for your actions. But you're just too damn proud to do that, aren't ya'? Well y'know somethin' Cena? I value greed over pride.

As his father speaks, Shane pushes Tony Chimel aside, grabbing the steel chair he previously sat on and heading back into the ring...

Mr. McMahon: Bobby Lashley knows all about greed. He knows that if he provides a service... he'll be rewarded. And he knows that if... sorry, when he beats you this Sunday... his career's gonna skyrocket!

Lashley finally relents from pounding Cena with right hands, standing back on his feet, although he's quickly crouching back down as he and Shane drag the lifeless body of Cena back to a vertical base. When there, Vince and Lashley trade places, with Vince handing Lashley the chair while he and Shane hold Cena in position...

Mr. McMahon: Let 'im have it Bobby! Trust me, you're gonna enj-

Cena drills Lashley with a kick to the midsection, and now he's unloading with elbows to the side of the McMahon's heads! Vince releases his grip first, flopping to the mat, while Shane foolishly hangs on... allowing Cena to drag him in and hoist him up... FU!! FU TO SHANE!! Cena emphatically plants Shane, but here comes Vince... Cena scoops him up onto his shoulders with ease... FU... NO! Lashley cracks the steel chair across Cena's spine! Cena tried to mount a recovery, but Lashley regained himself just in time to save his boss. Vince drops down to the canvas, and with Cena grimacing in pain, Lashley has all night to line him up... FOR A SICKENING STEEL CHAIR SHOT TO THE SKULL!!!

Cena's eyes roll to the back of his head on impact, the force causing him to collapse to the mat, looking out cold. Lashley helps Vince back up, before the camera catches a sight of Cena and we see that he's been busted open by the ferocity of the chair shot. Lashley once again mounts Cena, hammering him square on the forehead with well placed right hands, and by now Vince has helped Shane back on his feet and regained the microphone...


Mr. McMahon: You - you sunnova bitch Cena! We're - we're gonna destroy you this Sunday!

Lashley now kneels beside Cena, holding the dead weight of Cena's skull up off the canvas, blood pouring down Cena's face...


Mr. McMahon: You don't have Austin! You don't have anybody! This Sunday... you've got NO CHANCE IN HELLLLLLL!!

And mercifully it's over as Lashley allows Cena's head to slump back down to the mat. Returning to his feet, Lashley looks at the blood on his hands, laughing, a look of sheer evil on his face, and with Vince and Shane loving every second of it... LASHLEY WIPES CENA'S BLOOD ACROSS HIS CHEST!

A disgusting act, but one in which the trio in the ring revel in, as with Lashley stood in the middle, Vince and Shane each raise one of Lashley's hands high in the air, an eerie scene reminiscent of Saturday Night's Main Event, the crowd tonight, just like that night, booing loudly as we head off to a commercial.

*Commercial*


And it's straight back into the arena to hear...

"WOOOOO..."

*ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA...*


A warm, incredibly respectful cheer greets 'The Nature Boy' Ric Flair back to Smackdown, just one week after he was ejected from the show. Flair wears a sharp suit, obviously not ready to compete tonight, and with a sombre yet determined look on his face...


Jim Ross: Welcome back folks. It was nearly two weeks ago on Raw that Mr. Kennedy carired out his heinous attack of Ric Flair's youngest son Reid, and somehow Kennedy had roped Ric's other son David in as an accomplice. But it all became clear last week on Smackdown, that Kennedy had set David up.

Tazz: Yeah and then David took a beatin' just like Reid did. I'll be honest with ya', I'm amazed that Ric Flair showed up on Raw last Monday, I'm amazed he's here tonight, and I'm amazed he's gonna compete this Sunday. After all he and his family's been through these last few weeks, nobody woulda blamed Ric if he called off the match.

John Bradshaw Layfield: He'd never call of this match. He needs this match to feed his over sized ego!

Jerry Lawler: You are just unbelievable sometimes...

In the ring, Flair is handed a microphone, pausing in the centre of the ring as he waits for the crowd to die down. A strong sense of injustice resides in the eyes of 'The Nature Boy', although for the most part he keeps his head down and his eyes trained on the canvas...

Ric Flair: I've uh... I've done a lotta things in my life that I'm not proud of. All the things Kennedy talked about, the drinking, the gambling, the women, it's all true. I was never gonna be a candidate for 'Dad of the Year'. I realised that a long time ago. As for my professional career? Heck, I did a lotta things I wasn't proud of in the ring too. I cheated, I roughed people up, I took every short cut I could find. 'The Dirtiest Player in the Game'? You bet your ass I earned that nickname, brother.

The crowd, unsure how to respond, sit mainly in silence, while Flair purses his lips and presses on...

Ric Flair: But there was one thing I learned real early one in my career. You could beat a man to a bloody pulp, you could insult 'im, you could damn near kill 'im inside this ring. But there was one thing was always way outta bounds. One thing that you never messed with. One thing that was always taboo. And that... was family.

Flair solemnly rubs his jaw, considering his words carefully...

Ric Flair: You had a difference with somebody, ya' settled it in the arena. But at the end o' the night, when that guy got in his rental car and went home to his wife and kids, you knew they were off limits. Ya' never insulted a man's wife... and you sure as hell never beat up a man's kids. There was a code of honour between men. Wrestlin' is, was, and forever will be a business. You kept business as business, ya' never made it personal. But Kennedy... you crossed the line brother. And now it's more personal than ever.

Flair briefly lifts his head to look into the silent eyes of the crowd, before lowering it once again...

Ric Flair: This all started 'cause I eliminated you from Royal Rumble. That's all it was. You can try justify your actions by sayin' I hung around too long, I held young guys down, I didn't put enough people over...

A few cheers from the smarks in the crowd, although Flair quickly presses on...

Ric Flair: But when it all breaks down, you just couldn't live with the fact that at the Royal Rumble, you couldn't live up to your own damn hype!

The first positive response as the crowd give a small pop, and despite his head still looking down, Flair becomes a bit more animated...

Ric Flair: You claimed you were the future. You said ya' had it in the bag! Wrestlemania, Mr. Kennedy, world title shot, it was a done deal! I've spent a lotta time in hospital beds sat next to my children this last week, and I've played that elimination over and over in my head near 1000 times. Each and every time I see myself, I toss you over the top rope, you hit the floor, and I think to myself... was it worth it? Did I do the right thing? Was it worth it for my family to suffer the way they have? Was it worth it for my children to wind up in hospital beds? The answer each and every time... was no.

Slightly confused, a mixed response is the crowd's reaction...

Ric Flair: But when I think about what you did to my family Kennedy... it's made me more determined to win a match than I've ever been in my whole entire life.

Pop...


Ric Flair: You wanna force me into the retirement home? You wanna prove I'm washed up? You wanna tarnish my legacy? That ain't nothin' compared to what I wanna do to you. Kennedy...

And with a look of pure, unadulterated hate, Flair stares straight down the hard camera...

Ric Flair: I wanna f*BEEP*ing kill you.

Thank goodness we're on a taped show, eh?

"Ladies and gentlemen, we apologise for that remark..."

The crowd "Oooooh"'s and gives a massive cheer once they've recovered from the shock, but Flair, the rage building inside of him, continues...


Ric Flair: You've pushed me way past my limit pal. You started this war, and this Sunday, I'm gonna finish it! Every - inch - of my - body wants to hurt you! Every fibre of my bein' wants to cause you PAIN! I don't care if I wind up in jail for what I'm gonna do to you! I'l make my peace with my children, and I'll make my peace with God, but if I gotta go deeper than the depths you've sunk to, if that's the only way I can make peace with myself, then that's what I'm gonna do!

Flair is now going wild, his face burning bright red with anger as he starts pacing the ring...


Ric Flair: Dammit, I'm a legend of this business! I've fought my whole life, earned the respect of my peers, just be called that! You've done nothin' your whole PUNK ASS CAREER! NOTHIN'! And if I can't beat you, then I got nothin' left either! I need to beat you Kennedy. You've beat up me... you've beat up my best friend... you've beat up my two sons... and now you gotta pay the price! And you're gonna pay in cold blood!

Flair rips off his suit jacket, tossing it to the canvas...


Ric Flair: I wanna choke you with my bare hands, just like you choked Arn Anderson! I wanna make you bleed, just like you made me bleed! I wanna make you scream in pain, beg for mercy, just like you made my kids!

The crowd cheers, but Flair is too caught up in the moment to notice...

Ric Flair: But more than that... I wanna shut that mouth o' yours once and for all.

Flair once again stares down the hard camera, a look in his eyes as if Kennedy's standing three feet away from him...


Ric Flair: This Sunday, I'm givin' you everythin' I got. The performance of a lifetime. A career defining moment, not for you... but for me. I'll leave it all in that ring this Sunday, and I promise ya' this... when it's all said and done... you're gonna respect me Kennedy, whether ya' like it or not. 'Cause diamonds are forever... and so... is Ric Flair.

"WOOOOO..."

*ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA...*


With a thud the microphone his the canvas, and after giving one of the most emotionally charged promos of his career, Flair simply picks up his jacket and heads for the ropes. No wooing, no bravado, just the cold hearted look of a man with the single vision of doing as much damage to his opponent as is physically possible. Heading back up the aisle, Flair blanks most of the crowd, simply walking towards backstage, the camera focused on him from behind as we see Flair disappear backstage, just as we fade into a commercial.

*Commercial*


*Video Package*

We burst into the video with the screech of tyres, until a loud crash is heard, with the song ‘Wreck’ takes over...

Narrator: A man of many personas, our final inductee entertained fans around the world in whatever guise he chose...

We see quick fire shots of Mick Foley in his various guises, starting with Dude Love, then Cactus Jack, then Mankind..

Narrator: Be it as Cactus Jack, Dude Love or Mankind, he always pushed the limits and gave new meaning to the word attitude.

We cut to the iconic footage from King of the Ring ’98, where The Undertaker launches Mankind off the top of the Hell in a Cell, crashing through the announce desk below...

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

Narrator: But Mick Foley had more in his locker than high risk stunts.

We now see footage from the infamous ‘Rock – This Is Your Life!” segment from 1999...

Mankind: It’s your six grade teacher... your high school football coach... your high school sweetheart!

The Rock: You wanna serve The Rock a great big piece o’ that poontang pie?

And now we relive the time that Mankind paid Mr. McMahon a visit in the hospital...

Mr. McMahon: I keep tellin’ you I don’t want any damn visitors!

Mankind: It’s Mr. Socko!

And now it’s back to the action as we see footage from No Way Out 2000 and the hellacious Hell in a Cell Match between Cactus Jack and Triple H...

Narrator: But behind all the laughs was one of the most extreme superstars in WWE history.

Foley smashes his barbed wire baseball bat off the skull of ‘The Game’, before Foley is back dropped onto the roof of the cell, it giving way as Foley crashes all the way to the mat below...

Triple H: That series of matches with Mick are the absolute toughest of my career. I’ve never been the same since then.

We fast forward to Wrestlemania XXII, to see Edge fly through the ropes, spearing Foley off the apron and onto a burning table...

Joey Styles: Oh my Gaaawwwwwwddddd!

Edge: The guy’s an absolute lunatic. I’ve never experienced pain like I did durin’ my match with Mick Foley. I couldn’t even begin to describe what he put me through.

We now rewind to 1996, where Mankind challenges Shawn Michaels for the WWF Championship, flying off the apron with an elbow drop to the concrete and then Mankind sat on the apron, stabbing his leg with a pen...

Shawn Michaels: Just unbelievable. He had such a unique character, so edgy for that time. He’d talk to himself, he’d pull his hair out, he’d play with a rat... just so different to anythin’ else anybody was doin’ at that time.

Backlash 2004, where Randy Orton goes for an RKO, only for Foley to counter, launching Orton into a pile of thumb tacks on the canvas...

Randy Orton: One of the best matches of my career. I’ve heard ‘im say he thought it was pretty special too, so I’m glad I gave ‘im as good as I got when it came to the hardcore stuff.

Grainy footage of Foley diving off the roof of his parent’s house transitions into Foley as holding the WWF Championship for the first time in 1999...

Mick Foley: At the risk of not soundin’ very cool, I’d like to dedicate this match to my two little people at home and say... big Daddy-o did it!

A cavalcade of superstars are subjected to various incarnations of the mandible claw...

Narrator: The WWE Hall of Fame is proud to announce its latest inductee...

Back to that night on Raw in early ’99, where Foley celebrates in the ring and we hear the call Michael Cole made that night...

Michael Cole: You can’t measure guts, heart and determination. He may not be the most talented, he may not be the best looking, but he is the champion!

And finally, that sick, bloody, toothless smile that Mankind flashed during the Hell in a Cell Match with The Undertaker......

Triple H: He pushed himself further, and risked his life more times than anybody else, just to entertain the fans. And that’s why he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

Narrator: Mick Foley!

Mick Foley: Have a nice day!

We now see a picture of Mick, broad smile on his face with one thumb up, with the Hall of Fame logo nearby. Also on the screen is the fact that Foley will be inducted into the Hall of Fame by The Rock!

*End Video Package*


And we're back to the sound of The Redneck Wrecking Crew's music blaring out as Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch are already in the ring, awaiting the arrival of...

*SLICED BREAD...*


A good reception as the WWE Tag Team Champions The Hooligans emerge. Brian Kendrick bounces out into the arena full of energy, although Paul London is a little more reserved. The reason soon becomes clear as when Ashley Massaro sends her troops sprinting down the aisle, Kendrick flies towards the ring, while London limps and is laboured in making it down the aisle...


Michael Cole: Yes folks, congratulations once again to Mick Foley, a more than worthy addition to the 2007 WWE Hall of Fame Class. And there you see the WWE Tag Team Champions, Smackdown's own London and Kendrick, scheduled to take on Raw's Cade and Murdoch. But as you can see, Paul London, perhaps a little bit hobbled as he makes his way down to the ring.

Jim Ross: Well it was last Friday night during a victory over Charlie Hass where London damaged his knee. Haas spent a good portion of the match targeting the knee, looking to lock on the Haas of Pain, but ultimately London prevailed.

Jerry Lawler: Yeah I hope it doesn't affect London and Kendrick's chances this Sunday. I think there's a chance the match between The Hooligans and The World's Greatest Tag Team could steal the show at Wrestlemania.

John Bradshaw Layfield: It better not affect their chances. He's got a bum knee, but he's representin' Smackdown this Sunday. Nobody let's down my show. They ain't just fightin' for themselves this Sunday, they're representin' this show! I ain't seein' Smackdown let down by these two, that ain't gonna happen.

Match 4: Non Title Match
WWE Tag Team Champions The Hooligans w/ Ashley Massaro vs. The Redneck Wrecking Crew

Looking to get a quick start to the game, and to perhaps prove a point to their opponents this Sunday, London and Kendrick burst into action by taking the fight to both Cade and Murdoch, a four man brawl quickly breaking out. It backfires briefly though as Kendrick is overpowered and yanked through the ropes by Murdoch, while London takes a boot to the gut and then a clubbing shot to the back, before Card takes him up and down with a scoop slam. Cade then backs off to the ropes and goes for a big elbow drop... London rolls to safety! With Cade down London springs back to his feet and lines Cade up, but seeing this, Murdoch storms the ring... so London goes for a moonsault... catching Murdoch with a dropkick... then landing perfectly on top of Cade! London hits the textbook dropsault, hooks the leg for the early 1... 2... Cade kicks out. With his partner still back in the corner, London has to press on, going for an Irish whip, then limping as Cade reverses... only for Murdoch to reach in from the floor and grab London’s foot... seeing him crash to the canvas! Upon impact, London instantly grabs at his knee, obviously hitting the mat kneecap first, with London writhing in pain. Cade sees this and instantly goes to work with stomps to the knee, before he takes London up and down with a shinbreaker and then levels him with a clothesline.

After a near fall, Murdoch gets the tag, with Cade lifting his partner up in the air for a high angle legdrop, leading to another near fall. Murdoch now goes to work on the knee, aiming stomps to the back of it, elbows across it, before he drags London up, only to drop him with a chop block. It’s at this point that we then cut backstage to see The Hooligans’ opponents this Sunday Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin stood infront of a monitor, taking in all the action. Back to the match, and Cade comes back in to smack the knee with a stiff kick, then place London’s foot on the bottom rope before bouncing up to drop all his weight across the knee. Cade repeats the trick, then yanks London into the corner, where he hangs that left knee up across the middle rope and delivers a stiff kick to the back of it. Another knee connects, before Cade goes for the Irish whip across and follows in... but London gets a boot up into the face! Cade stumbles back, shakes it off then tries again... this time he runs into a back elbow. Cade stumbles away again, tagging in Murdoch, who enters with a head of steam and races at London... who dives to safety, letting Murdoch crash chest first into the turnbuckle! London then reaches out and dives for his corner... tagging in Kendrick! Kendrick waits for Murdoch to approach before he slingshots onto the top rope... to enter the match with a springboard crossbody! A huge pick up of pace happens as Kendrick looks to make an impact on the match, racing off the ropes for a flying forearm, then with both men back up he drops Murdoch with a jumping back elbow, and then once again Murdoch is quickly up and down thanks to a standing dropkick.

Kendrick looks to build momentum as he goes for an Irish whip, but Murdoch reverses... only to lower his head, allowing Kendrick to snap it back up with a kick to the chest... then take Murdoch down with a hurricanrana! 1... 2... Cade storms the ring to break things up, but here comes London... Cade catches him and takes him up for the sitout powerbomb... but London counters with a tornado DDT! Cade is planted and rolls from the ring, meaning it’s all Murdoch and Kendrick. Kendrick attacks with kicks to the thighs, then goes for the Irish whip to the corner... but again Murdoch reverses. Kendrick hits the turnbuckle hard, then follows in... straight into a boot to the face! Kendrick grabs Murdoch by the neck, runs him from the corner then back in... to hit SLICED BREAD! Kendrick plants Murdoch, then reaches up to tag in London, who instantly drags himself to the top rope... 450 SPLASH!! London gets all of it, but he again grabs his knee on impact, but still has enough left to crawl into the cover to get the 1... 2... 3!

Winners: The Hooligans @ 04.42

Despite the victory, London is in bad shape as he rolls free of Murdoch, again grabbing at that knee. Kendrick is quickly over to check on London, and Ashley is soon in the ring to help Kendrick get back on his feet. London limps noticeably, having to be held upright by Kendrick and Ashley, neither man particularly celebrating as they're handed their titles. We quickly cut backstage again to see Haas and Benjamin stood infront of the TV set, broad smiles now crossing their faces as they watch London and Kendrick slowly and painfully exit the ring, with perhaps a clear opening to victory in the sights of the World's Greatest Tag Team.

*Commercial*


And we return to the smiling faces of the Smackdown announce desk...


Michael Cole: Welcome back folks, this Sunday, Wrestlemania XXIII, it's gonna be an unbelievable night. A huge night in the careers of many WWE superstars, but perhaps none more so than for the challenger of the United States Championship, Matt Hardy. No doubt about it, this Sunday is the biggest opportunity of Matt's career, and earlier this week, I sat down with Matt to get his thoughts on his opportunity.

*Video Package*

We cut to a studio, presumably in Stanford, Connecticut, where sat opposite each other in nearby chairs are Michael Cole and Matt Hardy. Cole wears a suit and has a clipboard in his hand, while Hardy wears a smart casual suit and jeans. Hardy looks tense yet confident, a spark in his eyes as both men look at the camera...

Michael Cole: Welcome everybody. I'm sat here with the Number One Contender to the United States Championship, the man who will challenge Finlay for the gold this Sunday at Wrestlemania XXIII, Matt Hardy. Matt, thanks for takin' the time to sit down and talk with us.

Matt Hardy: Glad to be here, Michael.

Cole glances down at the clipboard, pausing for a few seconds before kicking off the interview...

Michael Cole: Matt, this Sunday, Wrestlemania XXIII, marks a huge night in your career. The chance you've been waiting for your entire career, the chance of a lifetime if you will. As I said, you challenge Finlay for the United States Championship. A chance for you to finally break out as a singles competitor here in the WWE. I know that for you, the chance to compete for a singles championship at a Wrestlemania has been a long time coming.

Hardy takes his time in responding, nodding his head before he finally answers...

Matt Hardy: Yeah, it's been quite a run Michael. I mean, when you're part of such a great tag time like The Hardy Boyz for so long, it's hard to break out on your own at first. I mean, me and my brother Jeff, we stopped teamin' together on a regular basis back in 2001. And here we are now in 2007, still talkin' about me takin' the next step.

Michael Cole: You talked about your team with your brother Jeff. The Hardy Boyz will no doubt go down in history as one of the most innovative and exciting teams the WWE has ever seen. You two had your share of great Wrestlemania moments together. Any moment in particular that stands out for you?

Again Hardy pauses, thinking, rubbing his jaw and smiling as he reminisces...

Matt Hardy: Well they say you never forget your first time. That'd be Wrestlemania 2000. Me and Jeff, Edge and Christian, and The Dudley Boyz in a three way ladder match. Almost 20,000 people in the Arrowhead Pond. We didn't win the tag titles that night, but it was just an incredible experience to be there that night. You hear the crowd, you get that rush inside, it made me realise what it was all about. It was about challengin' for championships on the biggest stage of 'em all. And right then and there, I knew I had to get back their on my own someday. I just didn't think it would take this long.

Cole nods reluctantly as Hardy reflects on what might have been...

Michael Cole: You mentioned Wrestlemania 2000 and the classic Triangle Ladder Match, but you and Jeff, The Dudleys and Edge and Christian were all back again the following year to do battle in a TLC Match. And you two again challenged for the titles the year after that too. Three straight years The Hardy Boyz failed to become tag team champions at Wrestlemania. That had to hurt. But then finally, at Wrestlemania XIX you walked into Seattle as the Cruiserweight Champion and beat Rey Mysterio to retain the title. But that title reign wasn't without controversy.

Hardy smiles and laughs to himself...

Matt Hardy: Well... what can I say? After so many years of goin' into Wrestlemania and comin' up short as a tag team, I wanted to finally leave Wrestlemania a champion in my own right. Alright, people mocked me for havin' to lose weight to compete in the cruiserweight division, but lemme tell ya' somethin'. You have no idea how proud I was to be Cruiserweight Champion. A prestigious title, held by so many great wrestlers. You look at some o' the names who came before me, Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, they all went on and one day became World Champion. So if I had to cut back on the food I ate to finally kick start my singles career, then that was a sacrifice I was willin' to make. But I'm proud of what I accomplished as Cruiserweight Champion, and I'm proud o' that match I had with Rey. That title run will always mean a lot to me... but I always had my eyes set on a bigger prize.

Hardy takes a quick swig from a water bottle...

Matt Hardy: I always wanted to take that next step. But... after I finally lost the title to Rey, my career... and my life... kinda got a lil' bit outta hand.

Michael Cole: And by that you mean the situation with Edge and your former girlfriend Lita?

Hardy nods, a look of concern and anger on his face...

Matt Hardy: After I lost the Cruiserweight Championship, I just... I dunno what happened to me. For a long time I couldn't beat anybody. Heck, I spent most of my time wrestlin' on Velocity or Sunday Night Heat. Then I hurt my knee... I lost my girl to my friend... and then I got fired. My life was a mess. I went from my first Wrestlemania as a singles star, defending my title, to bein' out the door, on my own. My life really hit rock bottom for a while.

Michael Cole: But then came redemption. The call of the fans was too loud to ignore and you were re-hired, eventually found a home here on Smackdown, and started to put your career back on track.

A smile crosses Hardy's lips, suggesting he's a man at peace with his past...

Matt Hardy: Yeah. I settled in here on Smackdown, started winnin' a few matches. Made it back to Wrestlemania to compete in last years Money in the Bank Ladder Match. It took me a while to get goin', but 2006 was a much better year, both personally and professionally. And 2007's got off to a pretty good start too.

Cole nods in agreement with that assessment of the year so far...

Michael Cole: Absolutely. You brought your problems with Joey Mercury to an end with a good victory, you had a very impressive showing in the Royal Rumble Match, you earned the right to face Finlay at No Way Out, then a month ago Batista handpicked you to be his partner as he faced Edge and Mr. Kennedy at Saturday Night's Main Event. It seems people are finally sittin' up takin' notice of Matt Hardy.

Matt Hardy: I'd like to think so. But you forgot to mention somethin' Michael. I also challenged Kenny Dykstra for the Intercontinental Title at Raw: Night of Champions. Obviously I came up a lil' short that night, but I think there and then I let everybody know my intentions. I pushed Dykstra all the way that night, and he had use to a steal chair to beat me, just like he did to beat my brother Jeff. I came real close to winnin' that night, and I think a lotta people realised that.

Cole quickly jumps in, looking for a fast segue...

Michael Cole: Well with that defeat in mind Matt, does that add fuel to the fire for this Sunday? You came close, but didn't quite get there. Can you use that as motivation against Finlay?

Matt Hardy: Oh, without a doubt. I know what it's like to lose big matches like that. That has to go down as an opportunity missed. I feel like I'm ready to be a champion, like I'm ready to hold gold. I thought Night of Champions was gonna be my night, but I let the issues between Dykstra and my brother get to me. Ultimately, it became a distraction. But I need to learn from that and not let anythin' that's happened between me and Finlay this last month or so distract me at Wrestlemania.

Michael Cole: Well as we mentioned, you've had some success at Wrestlemania in the past, but for the majority it's been disappointment. What makes you believe this Sunday is gonna be any different?

Taking another sip of water, Hardy thinks long and hard...

Matt Hardy: I guess it's the fear of failure. I guess it's the fear of never fully livin' up to my potential. I've earned a chance to finally make it to where I wanna go in my career. I have dreams, I have aspirations. I've been the Cruiserweight Champion, I've held the tag titles, I've competed in Royal Rumbles and Money in the Banks, but I want more. I need more.

Hardy pauses, running a hand through his hair...

Matt Hardy: I hear it when people talk about me. They say I'll choke under the bright lights, I'll never make it, I'll be considered a big deal in this business. Hell, you sit next to 'JBL' on commentary every week, you hear what he says. What was it at Saturday Night's Main Event? That I "...hadn't done a damn thing as a singles wrestler..."? I can't have that anymore Michael, that's not who I wanna be, that's not how I wanna be remembered. Since I came back to the WWE, I've been in the ring with Kane, Edge, King Booker, 'JBL', and I've lost to all of 'em! I can't keep losin' the big matches, I can't keep passin' up the big opportunities when they come along. When you ask people to name a great Matt Hardy match, they pick one o' the Ladder Matches or the TLC Matches, there's nothin' that defines me as a singles wrestler. And that needs to change this Sunday. This Sunday, I gotta get the job done.

Hardy sits forward in his chair...

Matt Hardy: I just gotta beat Finlay.

Hardy sits back, allowing us to linger on the seriousness of that statement...

Michael Cole: Well we know how important this Sunday is to you Matt, so let's talk about your opponent, Finlay. 'The Belfast Brawler' has always been considered one of the toughest men in the WWE, and he proved that again with his battling victory over Chris Benoit at Saturday Night's Main Event. Make no mistake about it, this Sunday is gonna be a real fight, one that perhaps you're not considered the favourite to win.

Matt Hardy: And I wouldn't expect it any other way. Finlay's the champion, he's the veteran, he's got the pedigree that a two-time United States Champion should have. He brings the fight each and every night, Wrestlemania XXIII, I expect nothin' less. Nobody else might believe I can win, and I'm OK with that. But I believe in myself, and I believe I can compete with Finlay. If he wants a technical wrestlin' match, he'll get it. If he wants a fight, I'll give 'im one. I've got a few things that I feel I can do better than him, I think I'm a bit quicker, I think I can use the aerial attack better than him, and I think I can use those to my advantage.

Once more Hardy sits forward, his fire and determination clear for all to see...

Matt Hardy: I've been written off in the past, and I'm pretty damn sure I'll be written off again someday. But there's too much ridin' on this for me. I have to do it, I just HAVE to. Finlay can beat the hell outta me, he can take me to within an inch of my life, but I will fight 'til I got nothin' left. Y'know, we've talked a bit about my career here, and there's one thing I wanna make perfectly clear. Incase you, or any fans, or Finlay didn't know it by know, I'll spell it for ya'... Matt Hardy... will - not - die. And I plan on provin' that at Wrestlemania by becomin' the new WWE United States Champion.

Relaxing, Matt sits back in his chair, taking another sip of water, while Cole smiles and nods his head...

Michael Cole: Matt Hardy, thank you very much for your time. Best of luck to you this Sunday at Wrestlemania.

The two men now stand and shake hands, the camera lingering briefly on the hand shake before we fade away.


*End Video Package*


To the backstage area, where Kristal Marshall is standing by infront of a TV set, the end of the footage from Matt's interview playing out. Stood next to her is the United States Champion Finlay, his back currently to the camera as he stares at the monitor, clearly having watched along with the rest of us...

Kristal Marshall: I'm here with the United States Champion Finlay. Uh... Finlay, I was just wonderin', after seein' that interview with Matt Hardy, do you have any response to those comments?

Slowly Finlay turns around, a stern look on his face as he twirls his shillelagh in his hands...


Finlay: Matt Hardy won't die huh?

Finlay flashes that toothy smirk...

Finlay: That sounds like a challenge to me.

And with an evil glint in those Irish eyes, Finlay quickly turns and walks off, leaving a concerned looking Kristal behind, obviously affected by the cold, yet sharp words of the United States Champion.

Back into the arena for...

"HEY!..."

*BURN IN MY LIGHT...*


The boos quickly sound out as Randy Orton is the first of the Money in the Bank competitors to make his entrance. Orton pauses briefly under the Smackdown fist, taking a disgusted look as his surroundings before he heads for the ring...


Jim Ross: It was great to hear from Matt Hardy, I really like that kid's chances of becomin' United States Champion this Sunday. Although Finlay certainly sounded like he's not gonna give up his gold without a fight.

Tazz: Oh no way. Finlay's gonna do what he does best, he's gonna smack Hardy around if he gets a hold of 'im. Matt's gotta wrestle smart at Wrestlemania.

Michael Cole: But right now it's time for another Money in the Bank preview. On Raw we saw an Eight Man Tag Team Match, and tonight it's an Eight Man Battle Royal. And there you see Randy Orton, who RKO'd his partner Jeff Hardy last Monday, costing Team Raw the victory.

Jerry Lawler: Well Jeff Hardy looked like he things in hand for Raw until Orton turned his back on his partner and laid Jeff out. I'm sure those are gonna settle their differences sooner or later, maybe even this Sunday.

*DEAD WHITE GUYS...*


And now the first Smackdown entrant, as King Booker steps out, with Queen Sharmell on his arm. Booker raises a pinkie high in the air while his queen curtseys, the two then making their way down the aisle...


John Bradshaw Layfield: And here comes the guy who won that match for Team Smackdown last Monday. One of the favourites to grab the briefcase, a very experienced pro who knows how to get the job done.

Michael Cole: Well King Booker certainly did take advantage last Monday, can he grab another win tonight? Join us when we return to find out!

*Commercial*


And we return to see Johnny Nitro, CM Punk and Montel Vontavious Porter have already made their entrances, while the music of Kane is still playing out, the big man only recently having entered the fray. Kane fires off an eruption of pyro before he menacingly stalks the ring, the other competitors showing him plenty of respect.

*LOADED...*


A great welcome for Jeff Hardy as he bounds out from the back, working himself into a frenzy before he races down the aisle...


Jim Ross: We know what this Sunday means for Jeff's brother Matt, but it's a big night too for the younger Hardy brother. Jeff Hardy, one of four men in the Money in the Bank Ladder match yet to be a heavyweight champion, but that could all change if he grabs that briefcase.

Tazz: And that's why I think Jeff's a real strong contender to win. He's hungry, he wants to literally climb the ladder of success, and Money in the Bank is the best chance he's ever had of becomin' world champion.

Michael Cole: There have been two previous Money in the Bank Ladder Matches, and both times the winner has gone to become champion. Both Edge and Rob Van Dam won their first WWE Championships after cashing in Money in the Bank, and it could happen again for Jeff Hardy.

*WHATEVER...*


The biggest pop of all the competitors is reserved for Chris Benoit, 'The Rabid Wolverine' walking to the ring with a purpose as he cocks his head from side to side...


Michael Cole: But what about the chances of Chris Benoit? Last week, Benoit was very open when he admitted he didn't know how much longer he had left in the WWE. Years of puttin' his body on the line have added up, and Benoit wants to grab that briefcase for one last run at bein' champion.

John Bradshaw Layfield: One of the toughest we've ever seen, one of the best in-ring technicians I've ever worked with. But I think those shots to the head have left Benoit a little punch drunk. He ain't gonna win this Sunday, his body can't take the strain of a match like Money in the Bank.

Jerry Lawler: I wouldn't be so sure about that 'JBL'. Chris Benoit has battled pain and injuries for a many years. If he's determined and he's focused, he's a major contender to win. Don't count out Chris Benoit, it'll cost ya'.

Match 5: Eight Man Money in the Bank Preview Battle Royal
Chris Benoit
vs. CM Punk w/ Nick Dinsmore and Kelly Kelly vs. Jeff Hardy vs.Johnny Nitro w/ Chris Masters and Melina vs. Kane vs. King Booker w/ Queen Sharmell VS. Montel Vontavious Porter vs. Randy Orton

As the bell rings, each man takes his time in getting involved, a certain feeling out period as everyone cagily moves around the ring. The only man showing any interest in an early fight is Kane, who stands tall near the ropes. Everybody else soon realises this, attentions turning towards Kane, which the other seven inching towards him... until Johnny Nitro goes first and charges at Kane... right into a big boot to the face! Here comes ‘MVP’... thrust to the throat knocks him down! Punk tries... another big boot to the face! Kane is dominating, but it all comes to an end as Booker and Orton attack at the same time, pummelling Kane with stiff punches to the back and head that back him into the corner. Across the ring, Benoit tags Jeff with a boot to the midsection, and the match takes a semblance of order as the superstars start to pair off. Punk and Nitro continue their rivalry by trading shots with each other by the ropes, while ‘MVP’ goes over to help Orton and Booker with Kane. The trio try to muscle Kane over the top rope, but Kane shows great power by fighting his way free, hitting anything that moves with boots, kicks, elbows and punches, allowing him to leave the corner. He grabs Orton and sends him for the ride... right into a sidewalk slam! Benoit and Hardy now leave each other to target ‘MVP’ and Booker respectively, while Kane yanks Orton into the corner and does some damage with elbows to the side of the head. The match settles into a period of normality, with both Jeff and Punk coming dangerously close to elimination as they teeter over the top rope, while Booker is also almost eliminated as Kane muscles him over the top rope, only for Booker to land on the apron. The action continues like this until we get our first elimination, as when Johnny Nitro has Kane near the ropes, trying to eliminate him, he backs off and charges in... right into a goozle! Kane slaps his hand around Nitro’s throat, then turns... and shoves him over the top rope to the floor!

Elimination #1 – Johnny Nitro by Kane

CM Punk’s recent nemesis Nitro is gone, but he doesn’t go quietly, as Nitro instantly gets back on his feet and jumps back on the apron to start shouting at Punk. Punk barks back at Nitro to get out of here, and soon Punk’s partner Nick Dinsmore obliges... yanking Nitro off the apron! Nitro hits face first off the apron and smacks off the floor, but almost immediately Dinsmore is clobbered from behind Chris Masters. As all this is going on, Punk watches it from the ring, which means he doesn’t see King Booker sneak up from behind... to dump Punk over the top rope to the floor!

Elimination #2 – CM Punk by King Booker

Punk is gone, hitting the floor right next to Dinsmore and Nitro, and of course Masters sees this as a chance to take cheap shots at Punk. But soon Dinsmore is back on his feet, as is Punk and Nitro... and an all out brawl breaks out at ringside! Punk, Dinsmore, Nitro and Masters trade wild shots, tackle each other to the floor and generally beat the hell out of each other, all eyes drawn to the action on the floor instead of the action in the ring. Eventually we get a series of agents and referees down to break it out, but it’s no use as the four rivals battle all the way up the aisle and then backstage. Back to the ring, and with six men left, the pairing off continues, with now Jeff and Orton finding themselves to pick back up their recent problems, while Kane rocks ‘MVP’ with big uppercuts in the corner and across the ring Benoit is unloading with chops to Booker’s chest. Jeff smacks Orton with shots to the head, Kane takes ‘MVP’ up and down with a scoop slam and then comes off the ropes for a low-angle dropkick, while Booker has turned the tide as he tries to force Benoit out. Kane comes to Benoit’s aid as he grabs Booker and punishes him with shots to the throat, while Benoit then takes over on ‘MVP’. Orton and Jeff continue to battle back and forth, but the third elimination comes across the ring, as having briefly shaken off Benoit, ‘MVP’ and Booker look to combine to eliminate Kane. Kane again fights from the corner, just throwing every body part he can to break free, but ‘MVP’ drills him with an elbow to the head. ‘MVP’ backs away, then charges in... boot to the face... no! Kane avoids it, seeing ‘MVP’ straddle himself across the top rope! Kane instantly strikes with a shot to the throat, which knocks ‘MVP’ over the top rope, but he lands on the apron. Kane then looks to line ‘MVP’ up, but Booker blindsides Kane. ‘MVP’ thinks he’s save... but here comes Benoit... to send ‘MVP’ flying off the apron to the floor!

Elimination #3 – Montel Vontavious Porter by Chris Benoit

Benoit tries to take a few seconds to recover, but he’s immediately smacked in the face by Orton. On the far side of the ring, Jeff starts trading shots with Booker, while Kane is down on the canvas. Jeff and Booker become the focus of the match as Booker tries to force Jeff over the top in the corner, but Jeff wraps arms and legs around the top rope to hang on in there. Giving up on this, Booker decides to do damage with boots to the midsection and chops to the chest, before he goes for the Irish whip across the ring... but Jeff runs to the top rope... and explodes off it with the whisper in the wind! Jeff takes out Booker... but he stumbles back up right into a massive boot to the face from Kane! Jeff looks out cold as he collapses to the canvas, with Kane dragging him up and to the rope to try eliminate him. Orton and Benoit continue to trade shots, with Booker joining Orton in an attempt to eliminate Benoit. Benoit fights to stay in the match, and as he shows no signs of budging, Orton gives up and heads for the other skirmish between Kane and Hardy... but instead of ding what may would think and take a shot at Jeff, Orton instead actually helps Hardy in an attempt to eliminate Kane. Orton and Jeff knuckle down and try muscle Kane over, and eventually through teamwork they get the big teetering. With Benoit not going anywhere, Booker sees what’s happening across the ring and decides to throw his weight into the effort to eliminate Kane. Kane does his best to hang on, but slowly and surely he’s on his way out, but Kane desperately struggles to hang in there... until Benoit races across the ring, hitting the pile hard... and the extra burst of power sees Kane eventually topple to the floor!

Elimination #4 – Kane by Chris Benoit, Jeff Hardy, King Booker and Randy Orton

A great showing of teamwork finally eliminates Kane, but as the four drop to recover, Orton grabs hold of Jeff... and tosses him over the top rope... but Jeff skins the cat and holds on, his legs dangling just inches from the floor... only for Orton to drill him with a knee to the back of the head, sending Jeff crashing to the floor!

Elimination #5 – Jeff Hardy by Randy Orton

A smug smirk crosses Orton’s face as he gets yet another one over Jeff Hardy, with Jeff angrily slapping the floor, looking to get back into the ring to get at Orton, but the referees usher him away. We’re down to three, with Booker doing most of the early damage to Benoit while Orton hangs back, willing to let Booker have his way with Benoit right now. Booker unloads with chops to the chest, only for Benoit to turn the tide, yanking Booker into the corner to then sting Booker’s chest with chops... only for Orton to club Benoit from behind. Orton and Booker now go through a period of togetherness as they look to wear Orton down, starting with both men combining to take Benoit up and down with a double suplex. Orton then works his way around Benoit’s body with the Orton stomp, before Booker comes off the ropes to drop a knee. The pair pretty much have their way with Benoit, with Booker dropping Benoit with a sidewalk slam, which leads to Orton connecting on the rope hung DDT. Thinking they have Benoit there for the taking, Booker and Orton call to dump Benoit over... but as hard as they try, Benoit wraps himself around the top rope, refusing to budge. Benoit finally drops back down to the mat, where Booker and Orton unload with boots to the chest, before Booker calls for Orton lift Benoit up. Orton obliges, holding Benoit in position, while Booker comes off the ropes... HARLEM SIDEKICK... TO ORTON! Benoit dives to safety and Booker winds up drilling Orton! Booker can’t believe, peering down at Orton as he lies near the ropes, yelling at him... meaning he doesn’t see Benoit come up from behind... to dump Booker over the top rope to the floor!

Elimination #6 – King Booker by Chris Benoit

Booker smacks the floor hard, almost in disbelief that he’s been eliminated, while Sharmell stomps her feet like a baby at her man being dumped out of the ring by Benoit. We’re down to two, Benoit and Orton, but as Benoit leans against the ropes to recover, Orton pounces, clubbing him from behind with forearms to the back of the head. Orton just unloads with wild forearms to the back of the head, which sees Benoit slump to the mat. A wild look crosses Orton’s eyes, before he drops down to the mat, pounding his fists off the canvas, a sick smile on his face as he waits for Benoit to rise. Orton has all day to line Benoit up, and eventually Benoit somehow makes it back to his feet... here comes Orton... RKO... NO! Mid move Benoit pushes Orton towards the ropes... but Orton puts the breaks on saving himself, before he turns... and Benoit races at him... CLOTHESLINE... PUTS ORTON OVER THE TOP ROPE... AND DOWN TO THE FLOOR!!!

Elimination #7 – Randy Orton by Chris Benoit

Winner: Chris Benoit @ 13.37

The crowd goes wild as Benoit pulls off the win, with Orton sat on the floor, a huge look of shock on his face as victory slips from his grasp. Benoit takes a few seconds to recover, but he's soon stood on the second rope, pointing high into the sky at the Wrestlemania XXIII banner hanging from the rafters, letting everybody know that he's a major player in this Sunday' Money in the Bank Ladder Match.

*Commercial*


*Video Package*

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

Narrator: The road may be long...

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

Narrator: The journey may be treacherous...

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

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

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

Narrator: So strap yourself in...

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

Narrator: And get ready!

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

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

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

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

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

Narrator: The ride of your life!



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

*End Video Package*


Michael Cole: Yes folks, it's just two short days away. Wrestlemania XXIII, live from Detroit, Michigan, what an incredible night it's gonna be. As you've witnessed already tonight, so many rivalries are set to come to a head, championships will be decided, and of course, the Money in the Bank briefcase is up for grabs.

John Bradshaw Layfield: Somebody's future is quite literally hangin' in the balance. Whoever grabs that briefcase has pretty darn well guaranteed themselves that at some point over the next 12 months, they're gonna be world champion. I keep goin' back and forth, I can never make up my mind, but right now I'm thinkin' the favourite, the man I'm pickin' to win, is King Booker.

Michael Cole: It's a great field of competitors in the match up, alongside Booker. You go from the cocky, arrogant upstarts like 'MVP' and Randy Orton, to the young, hungry highfliers like Jeff Hardy, CM Punk and Johnny Nitro, to the hard hitting veterans like Kane and the man who won the Money in the Bank Battle Royal earlier tonight, Chris Benoit.

Jerry Lawler: And for me, Chris Benoit is now the guy I'm goin' with. So determined to make it back to the top o' the mountain, so determined that if he does have to hang it up soon, he's goin' out with a bang by becomin' champion. And I think this Sunday is where he gets his opportunity to make that happen.

Jim Ross: It was certainly a huge development when Benoit won the Battle Royal, one of many developments tonight, perhaps none quite as damming as the vile assault of John Cena at the hands of Bobby Lashley. Cena was forced to compete tonight against Edge, and just when Cena looked like he had the match won, Lashley and the McMahons made their move. And of course, we saw 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin carried outta this arena in the back of an ambulance! Somethin' ain't right about all this, and it all spells bad news for Cena.

Tazz: And now I got serious doubts about whether or not John Cena's even gonna make it to Wrestlemania. That was a real sick shot he took to the skull from that steel chair. Cena's a tough guy, never backs down from a fight, but even if he does make it... I don't like his chances right now.

John Bradshaw Layfield: What chances? He never had a chance before tonight, and he's got even less of a chance now. Lashley is on a tear right now, he's hammered Cena every time they've been in the ring together. Add to the fact that is looks like Steve Austin ain't gonna be able to be the Special Guest Referee, hell, Cena could bring a damn army, it ain't gonna matter. Lashley is gonna destroy John Cena, and me and Mr. McMahon in particular are gonna be lovin' it!

Michael Cole: I'm sure you'll be there with the champagne and cigars to celebrate John. I don't see any way that John Cena can be 100% healthy by the time we get to Detroit, but I've no doubt he'll be there and give it all he's got. Another match up that could see someone bein' less than 100% is the Tag Team Showcase. It's Champions vs. Champions as Raw's The World's Greatest Tag Team take on The Hooligans from Smackdown, although we saw Paul London limping heavily as he left the arena tonight.

Jerry Lawler: It started last week when Charlie Haas did the damage to London's knee, it got worse tonight as Cade and Murdoch targeted that very same knee. London's a gutsy kid, but so much of he and Brian Kendrick's offense is based on that fast paced, high flyin' style that this injury has gotta effect their chances.

Tazz: And Haas and Benjamin are the two exact guys to take advantage of it. They're plenty smart in the ring, they know how to pick apart an opponent's weakness. I'm rootin' for the Smackdown guys all the way, but right now, I can't see past a Raw victory in that one.

Jim Ross: That's one interbrand match up at Wrestlemania XXIII, the other is of course the very personal situation involving Mr. Kennedy and Ric Flair. Kennedy has performed some absolutely disgusting acts towards Flair's family in recent weeks, leading to an emotional Flair deliverin' one of, if not the most chilling interviews of his career.

Tazz: God, no doubt. Ric Flair... I've never seen 'im like that. Just so focused, determined on causin' Kennedy pain and embarrassment this Sunday. Flair sounded almost deranged at times, and that ain't good for Kennedy.

John Bradshaw Layfield: Well it's about damn time that Flair's senile old brain finally cracked! He lost it tonight, he's lost his cool, and he's given even more of an advantage to Kennedy. Now Kennedy knows he's driven Flair to the edge, and this Sunday, he's gonna push 'im over it!

Michael Cole: I think it's pretty disgusting how happy you are with Kennedy's actions as of last, but we'll move on. Strong words tonight from Ric Flair, but also strong words shared between former friends, now enemies Mickie James and Beth Phoenix. The Women's Championship is on the line in a match that is three years in makin' as far as both divas are concerned.

Jerry Lawler: Those two just wanna rip each other apart this Sunday! So much history between the two of 'em, they both dreamed of bein' at Wrestlemania, but I bet they never dreamed it would be against each other as such bitter enemies.

Jim Ross: Experience and quickness favours the champion, although power and strength is the challengers advantage. Too close to call, they know each other so well, but both are driven by a sense of revenge, and it promises to be one of the most explosive Women's Championship Match in Wrestlemania history. And speakin' of explosive, an explosion is in store this Sunday when The Undertaker and Umaga collide.

John Bradshaw Layfield: This is the one I wanna see! Streak vs. Streak! Undertaker, he's never lost at Wrestlemania. Umaga, he's never lost [i]period/I]! I listened to what Paul Bearer and Armando Alejandro Estrada had to say, and I gotta agree with Estrada. Undertaker for years tormented his opponents with psychological warfare. The Undertaker's opponents were already beat before they even made it Wrestlemania. Well not this year, not Umaga. 'The Samoan Bulldozer' can't be phased, he can't be psyched out, and that means he's gonna end the streak, I guarantee it!

Tazz: Lemme tell ya', when I was in that ring with The Undertaker, I got chills man. I don't care who you are, if you got blood runnin' through your veins, that guy scares you. Estrada can talk about how immune to The Undertaker's mind games Umaga is, but when we get to Wrestlemania and Umaga is face to face with 'The Deadman', he's gonna feel what I felt tonight. I'm pickin' Undertaker to run that streak to 15-0.

Jim Ross: Was certainly an eerie moment earlier tonight when Umaga and The Undertaker were stood across each other in the ring. We kicked off tonight's show with a tag team match, the United States Champion Finlay and the Intercontinental Champion Kenny Dykstra combinin' to beat Matt Hardy and Carlito, but it wasn't without controversy.

Jerry Lawler: Well we heard last Monday on Raw from Dykstra that whatever infatuation he had with Torrie Wilson was behind him and he was solely concentratin' on hangin' onto his title. But that certainly wasn't the case earlier this evenin' after an altercation between Torrie, Carlito and Kenny cost Hardy and Carlito the match.

Michael Cole: Certainly Kenny has managed to get under the skin of Carlito and Torrie, so much so that 'Lito is startin' to make mistakes. If we're gonna have a new Intercontinental Champion, Carlito's gotta get his head on straight and focus on the task at hand. And one man who sounded deadly focused was Matt Hardy. I interviewed Matt earlier in the week, and despite that defeat earlier this evening, I believe that Matt has what it takes to beat Finlay and become the new United States Champion.

John Bradshaw Layfield: When are you gonna realise Michael that this guy is nothin' but a screw up? He said 'imself durin' that interview, he messed up big in the past and he's gonna mess up big again. I've never been so sure of a victory in my entire life that Finlay's gonna retain his title. Hardy might get the sympathy vote, but Finlay don't show no mercy to anybody! At Wrestlemania, Matt Hardy's dreams are shattered once and for all!

Jerry Lawler: I don't think so 'JBL'. I think it's finally Matt's time to shine. He's been around the block, but only recently has he started to put it all together. He's havin' a great 2007, and I think that continues at Wrestlemania when he wins the prestigious United States Championship for the very first time.

Jim Ross: Another man lookin' to win a title for the first time is Bryan Danielson. Danielson has really impressed a lotta people with his hard hittin' style since he arrived in the WWE, and he'll challenge Gregory Helms for the Cruiserweight Championship.

Tazz: And this has potential to be a real hard knocks affair. Helms has been a great champion, but he's been pretty sneaky and managed to hang onto that title by hook or by crook. Well I think his luck runs out this Sunday when it's finally Helms and Danielson one and one, and I'm rootin' for Danielson to get the job done.

Jerry Lawler: Well obviously Helms has the edge with regards to experience and championship pedigree. But that hard hittin', submission based attack of Danielson has seen him beat a lotta people since he debuted on Smackdown, and I think that's gonna continue at Wrestlemania and we get a new Cruiserweight Champion.

Jim Ross: And what about, as far as we here on Raw are concerned, the main event for the WWE Championship. A Triple Threat Match featurin' the WWE Champion Shawn Michaels and the challengers Triple H and Rob Van Dam. All three men were involved in matches last Monday on Raw, all three picked up victories, but who will leave Wrestlemania XXIII with the richest prize in sports entertainment?

John Bradshaw Layfield: I have to believe Shawn Michaels has what it takes to stay champion. I think Triple H is too much of a loose cannon right now, while Rob Van Dam has never main evented a Wrestlemania. I think the pressure gets to Van Dam and he cracks, I think 'The Game' looses his cool, and Michaels proves why he is Mr. Wrestlemania and remains WWE Champion.

Jerry Lawler: I think we'll have a new champion, I just can't decide who. I think Shawn Michaels has absolutely lost his mind, he might steal the show, but he'll have his title taken away from 'im. I just don't know who to go for. Part of me thinks Triple H, part of me think Van Dam. Either way, no matter who wins, it's gonna be an incredible match, one I can't wait to see!

Michael Cole: And finally, the one we here at Smackdown all wanna see, the World Heavyweight Championship Match. The champion, 'The Animal' Batista, defends the gold against the 2007 Royal Rumble Winner Edge. I honestly can't pick a winner, I'm gonna have to wait 'til after I hear from the two on 'The Cutting Edge' tonight before makin' my decision.

Tazz: Well I got a pick for ya', I'm pickin' Batista. So much anger, so much frustration, so much pent up aggression due to the no contact rule, and it's all about to be unleashed on Edge this Sunday. Batista to retain is my prediction, and I think I'm gonna be proved right by 'The Animal'.

John Bradshaw Layfield: And I don't think you could be more wrong. Edge has been absolutely brilliant since he chose to face Batista. He's gotten in the champion's head, he's toyed with Batista's emotions, and when the time was right, he punished 'The Animal'! It's been brilliant to watch Edge evolve into the most dangerous threat to Batista's title he's ever seen, and I think Edge goes all the way and makes Wrestlemania rated-r!

Jim Ross: It's gonna be the biggest night in WWE history! Wrestlemania XXIII, live only on pay per view from Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan! You won't wanna miss it folks, it's gonna be the ride of your life!

A few second silence until...

"YOU THINK YOU KNOW ME..."

*METALLINGUS...*


For the second time tonight, the crowd gives off a tremendous level of heat as Edge makes his entrance. Now dressed in jeans and a checked shirt on top of a t-shirt, Edge gingerly walks down the aisle, a dark pair of shades over his eyes, but nothing can hide the broad smirk on Edge's face...


Michael Cole: Earlier tonight he faced John Cena. But this Sunday it's 'The Animal' Batista and the World Heavyweight Championship. Edge hosts a very special edition of 'The Cutting Edge' with the World Heavyweight Champion, and that's up next when we return to Friday Night Smackdown!

*Commercial*


Edge's music is still playing when we return, and the ring is decked out with a black carpet across it, Edge's logo looking impressive in the middle of the ring. Edge sits on a black director's chair, with an empty chair just across from him, a microphone already placed on it. As the music finally dies, Edge waits for the buzz of the crowd to come to and end before he starts to speak...


Edge: In just 48 hours we take this crazy show of ours and head to Detroit for Wrestlemania XXIII. And that means we're just two days away from the most historic night in WWE history. Sure, there'll be plenty of action, plenty of drama, plenty of great Wrestlemania moments. But the biggest moment, without a shadow of a doubt... is gonna be the moment when the referee's hand strikes the mat for the three count, and I am announced as the new World Heavyweight Champion.

Some brief heat, but Edge doesn't give it time to grow...

Edge: But to become a champion, of course I need to beat the current champion. And that man is my guest tonight... the World Heavyweight Champion... Batista.

*I WALK ALONE...*


The roof nearly blows off the arena as Batista races out from the back. Going back and forth to both sides of the aisle, 'The Animal' eventually settles into a crouch and sets off a burst of pyro before he heads for the ring. When he gets there, Edge doesn’t move an inch, knowing he's protected by the non contact rule here on Smackdown. Batitsta stops, taking a long, hard look at Edge, before he then heads for the corner to salute the crowd. Eventually Batista drops back down to the canvas, heading for the empty chair, snatching up the microphone from it...


Edge: Dave, welcome to 'The Cutting Edge'. Now, before we get started, I just wanna remind you of the non contact rule that Jonathan Coachman put into effect here on Smackdown. This little talk can't become physical. You lay one hand on me, you might as well hand on the World Heavyweight Championship while you're at it. It's not the way I ever dreamed of becomin' champion, but I'll take it. But I just wanna warn you and remind you of that fact, understand?

Batista doesn't respond, barely flickering as he stares a whole through Edge...


Edge: I'll take that as a yes. Well Dave, I'd like to welcome you to 'The Cutting Edge'. Obviously these past few months or so, a lot's been said between us, a lot's went down. We've traded words back and forth, we were in a match together at Saturday Night's Main Event, I nearly caved your head in with a one man con-chair-to, but yet here you are on my show just two days away from our match at Wrestlemania XXIII. Now, people might think that inviting you onto my show, being sat in the same ring with you so close to our match might be a pretty stupid move, but I've got news for those people. For weeks I've been sayin' I'm inside your head Dave, and by inviting you onto my show, I'm proving that one more time. I realise I'm supposed to be afraid of you, after all, you're Batista. You're the World Heavyweight Champion. But I... am not... afraid of you, Dave.

Heat from the crowd, but Batista remains unmoved...

Edge: And I'd like to think I proved that when I smashed your skull in between a pair of steel chairs. I'm not afraid of you, and to tell ya' the truth, I'm really lookin' forward to our match at Wrestlemania. I dunno, I just - I just feel so safe in the knowledge that I've really pissed you off these last few weeks. I've gotten inside your head, under your skin, and that's all good news for me. 'Cause when we finally meet for our match, you're not gonna be thinkin' straight. You're gonna want to hurt to me. But me? I'm gonna wrestle you Batista. I'm gonna use that aggression and power against you, I'm gonna turn it all back and you, and I'm gonna beat you by out-smarting you.

Edge taps the side of his head and smiles...

Edge: That's not to say I think you're stupid or anythin' like that, oh no. Infact, you and me, we're not that dissimilar. We've actually got a lot in common. I mean, let's think about it. You and me, for both of us, our most important night in the WWE came back at Wrestlemania XXI. That night you beat Triple H to become World Heavyweight Champion for the first time, and I grabbed the Money in the Bank briefcase that led me to becoming WWE Champion for the first time. But that... that really struck a chord with me. I'm not ashamed to admit it, but I'm a little bit jealous that you won your first title at Wrestlemania, while I didn't cash my briefcase in 'til New Year's Revolution. That kinda stings a little bit, especially since it's you who's the guy I need to beat to get my Wrestlemania moment.

Batista smirks at the cheap insult...

Edge: And quite frankly Dave, you don't deserve to be sharing my spotlight this Sunday. I'm the Royal Rumble winner, just like you were back in 2005. You were 'The Animal', you were runnin' wild, you were dominant, everyone knew you were gonna smash Triple H and become champion, and what have I had to put up with? I've had to hear that I'm scared, that I don't wanna be in the same ring as you, that you're gonna unleash at Wrestlemania and I've got no chance of beatin' you. Where is my big build, huh? Where's my highlight reel? Heck, there's plenty o' footage. Plenty of good stuff, especially the times I kick your ass, Dave.

Batista stands up, catching Edge off guard, but 'The Animal' then calmly removes the jacket he was wearing...

Edge: Hey! Hey... easy there big guy. We don't want you gettin' in any trouble.

Edge breathes a sigh of relief as Batista places the jacket on the back of his chair...

Edge: Yeah. Yeah, that's right. You just sit back down. You don't wanna be-

Batista: Shut up.

Big pop....


Batista: You've had your say, now I'm gonna have mine. That's usually how these things work, right? You wanna know why people think you're scared Edge? You wanna know why people haven't given you the big win? It's 'cause to get to this point, you have taken every shortcut, every cheap shot, every advantage you could find. I mean, let's go back to the Royal Rumble. You entered Number 30, and you waited 'til you saw both Triple H and The Undertaker by the ropes to make your move. Then you turned your back on Randy Orton and ran all the way to Smackdown before he could do anythin' about it. Then you at No Way Out, you tried to hand Mr. Kennedy the World Heavyweight Championship so you had an easier ride at Wrestlemania. And then... you smashed my skull in with a pair of steel chairs.

Edge nods, beaming with pride for his actions...

Batista: You tried to take me outta the match, you tried to win the title by forfeit. You talk all this crap about wantin' to have a big Wrestlemania moment, but you don't give a damn. You'd be happy if I slapped you across the face and you got the title right now, wouldn't ya'?

Edge shrugs, but the look in his eyes suggests he'd actually love for that to happen...

Batista: Well I'm not gonna do that Edge. I'm not gonna give you the satisfaction. I owe you one helluva an ass kickin' pal. And I'm gonna follow through on that this Sunday. Wrestlemania XXIII, I'm gonna hear that bell ring, the non contact rule is over, and I'm gonna run right through you!

Angrily, Edge rises to his feet, pacing the ring and aggressively running his hands through his hair...


Edge: Forfeit? Forfeit? Oh yeah, yeah, yeah you'd like that too wouldn't ya'? I'd give you an excuse, give you a reason to get right back in the title picture. I mean, what was last time you dropped the belt? You had a bad shoulder or somethin' like that? Some weak ass, lame excuse 'cause you knew your days as champion were numbered. You'd love somethin' like that to come around again this time. You need somethin' to spare you 'cause you know I'm better than you.

With Batista still in his seat, Edge steps towards him, slightly towering over the champion...

Edge: I mean don't get me wrong, you really look the part Dave. You got a very impressive look, but at the end of the day, you're nothin' more than an over-muscled meathead. You're nothin' but power. You can't compete with me when it comes to actual wrestlin' ability. This Sunday, you're steppin' into the ring with the best. The - very - best in the business today.

Heat...

Edge: You're not scared Dave? You better be. Scared of me... and scared that your title reign is comin' to an end.

More heat...

Edge: This is gonna be my Wrestlemania. When it's all over, I'll finally get the praise I deserve, and that title is gonna be wrapped around my waist. Maybe then I'll get the big video package, the highlight reel of me beatin' you in the middle of the ring. You're not better than me Dave, you'll never be better than me. This Sunday I become World Heavyweight Champion, not because of short cuts, not because of cheap shots, but because I'm just - better - than you!

Edge rather forcibly points in Batista's face, with 'The Animal' now once again rising from his chair to confront Edge. The crowd pops and Edge takes a few steps back, desperate to keep a sense of distance between the two...

Batista: Listen Edge. In this business, you're measured by two things. Championships... and respect. And right now, I'm the champion... and nobody respects you.

Edge shakes his head as if to say "That's not true"...


Batista: There's a lotta people in the back, and a lotta fans who wanna see you get what's comin' to ya'. And I'm not gonna let 'em down. All the short cuts, all the cheap shots, all the sneak attacks, it all comes back to bite you on the ass eventually, and for you it's gonna bite this Sunday. With the whole world watchin', I'm gonna be fightin' for everybody who's sick and tired of you takin' the easy way out.

Pop...

Batista: And when I beat you, I promise... there's gonna be no excuses. I'm gonna retain my World Heavyweight Championship... and there's not gonna be a damn thing you can do about!

Another pop, with Edge shrugging nonchalantly...

Edge: Well... I guess that all that's left to say is... good luck... you're gonna need it.

In a surprising move, Edge offers Batista a handshake, but 'The Animal' is wise to Edge's attempt to get him to break the non contact rule as he laughs off the handshake...

Batista: Nice try. It ain't gonna work. You got me once... you're not gonna get me again.

Batista steps forward, closing the gap slightly, holding his title high in the air between the two men...

Batista: This Sunday, it's all about this. Just you and me, alone in the ring... but it's not gonna end as well as tonight has for you. It's time... to unleash 'The Animal'.

Batista and Edge step forward again, going nose to nose but neither man dare touches the other. Fists are clenched, teeth are gritted, with both men straining to his each other, dying to get their match underway, but they have to make do with a tense, dramatic standoff, the crowd loudly urging them on...


Michael Cole: Oh my! This - this is about ready to erupt! Batista and Edge, one on one for the World Heavyweight Championship! We're nearly there folks, it's nearly Wrestlemania XXIII! Don't you dare miss it, live on pay per view! We'll see ya' Sunday live in Detroit. Goodnight!

As close as they can be without touching, champion and challenger are nose to nose, both men looking primed and ready for war, with Batista holding the title right in Edge's face, and this is the last image we see before Wrestlemania as we fade... to... black.

*End Show*




Current Card for WWE SATURDAY NIGHT'S MAIN EVENT :
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
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Old 12-21-2011, 05:19 AM   #198 (permalink)
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Expected a promo to open the show, perhaps even the Cutting Edge but actually quite pleased to have a match kick things off and a pretty big one at that. Champions vs. Challengers is always nice, especially just before a PPV. Some nice action throughout but the real story here is Torrie and I was starting to lean towards her turning at Mania but after this I’m not so sure. Hard one to call and wouldn’t surprise me if she did/didn’t now. Good start to the show now and you had the right team win.

Classic Coach sucking up here. Nothing too unexpected but pleased to see they’re still on their toes about Austin.

Some more good action here and of course Danielson had to get the win ahead of Sunday’s big one. Helms was spot on throughout afterwards and Danielson does talk!! Pretty nice one liner there and although he tried to get Helms here, I was pleased he didn’t as it’s gonna make it that much sweeter at Mania.

Really good interview with Cena here, you had him nailed on. The whole helping Austin because it ‘was the right thing to do’ is such a Cena move. The passionate little hustle, loyalty, repsect passage was well done also and I liked how you had him mention his past rivalry with Edge ahead of the match, should be a gooden.

Your video packages on Raw for the WWE title match were excellent and I can say the same here about Umaga and Undertaker. Really good job and just gets you hyped ahead of the big showdown. Onto the interview itself and I thought Estrada was brilliant throughout, the way he said that the WWE themselves were scared of his monster and how championships can wait as there can only be one man who ends the streak, I thought they were great lines. Bearer was on the money as well, much shorter but perhaps more to the point and I liked the ‘you’ve never been to the dark side have you Mr.Estrada?’ I can just imagine Bearer, his podgy little self questioning Estrada in that evil manner. I liked that nobody ended the segment with the upper hand as I think this is one that you’ve gotta have the fans split on come Mania, yes Taker will get the win I’m sure but you wanna have the feeling that both men can get it done and I think you accomplished that well here so close to it now. Good job with this.

Wow. Stone Cold taken out? That certainly throws a spanner in the works come Mania. Lets hope he makes it.

Cena/Edge was good for how long it got and the finish was as to be expected really. The aftermath was great. McMahon’s little talk about greed was well written and the attack from Lashley was great, he really does look a beast and I was pleased you had Cena show some fight and not just be taken down. Him getting to Shane and Vince was pleasing for me and I’m sure he’ll get the win come Mania, I just hope Lashley looks an animal in defeat.

Excellent stuff from Flair here. You could feel the emotion throughout and I liked the way he mentioned the past and how they never used to cross that line back in the day, makes it seem like such an even biggger dick move from Kennedy in this whole thing. I wanna f*BEEP*ing kill you was a little bit unexpected but I guess it suits Flair and it suits this situation so I got no issue with that. Really powerful stuff at the end and the closing line just finished it off and set it up for Sunday perfectly. This is one of the matches that has me hooked the most as it’s been such a great feud, cannot wait for this one.

Standard victory for the Hooliganz. Maybe woulda liked to see a run in from WGTT but can live with them just being shown on watching on. I know this isn’t very personal between the two teams but it coulda been slightly more intense I feel.

Top notch interview with Hardy here. You could really feel, much like Flair earlier, you could really feel how much this means to Hardy at Mania and how much of a struggle he’s had in recent years to break through the glass ceiling. The mentioning of his past at Mania and the TLC match, the Triangle Ladder match were nice references also. Particularly enjoyed the paragraph where you had him mention how people talk about him choking and how he’s never done anything on his own in the business. You could feel how much he wants to change that. Great stuff and I fully expect Hardy to get his moment Sunday.

Haha, classic Finaly afterwards. Short and sweet, crystal clear. Perfect.

Pretty unique little idea here with a Battle Royal. I’m not gonna read too much into it as I really can’t call MITB come Sunday. Benoit winning here I would guess rules him out but never say never. Good little momentum builder for him though. My pick at the minute would probably be Orton but I’m torn still.

Great rundown of the Mania card again. Thrilled it’s finally here, both personally and for you.

Cutting Edge time and Edge was on song here. Liked how you had him say he’s gonna outsmart Batista come Sunday and the reference to Mania 21 being a defining night for both of them was nice. The whole hype thing was well brought up I felt, Edge asking where his build has been like Batista’s at 21, it’s good because in a way he’s right, no doubt about it. Tista didn’t have an awful lot to come back with really but Edge kicked it up a notch again here, bringing up Batista’s injury and forfeiting the championship was a nice little line. ‘This is gonna be my Wrestlemania. Maybe then I’ll get my big video package, the highlight reel of me beating you in the middle of the ring’. Great line again and you do feel it from Edge throughout. Ending the segment with a face to face confrontation was the right call and certainly just made you think, these guys are gonna tear each other apart Sunday. Only complaint woulda been you could’ve ended the actual promo with a bit stronger line and preferably from Edge as he, not surprisingly, outshone Batista throughout this. Good segment though on the whole.

On the whole, another excellent show and can’t wait for Mania. Hopefully you have it up by the end of the year, if so that’d be great for everyone in the section I think. I thought you pretty much nailed everything here almost perfectly. The interviews from Flair, Hardy, the Cutting Edge were all very well done. The Taker/Umaga segment was excellent along with the video packages and the in ring action throughout the night was good. Only small complaints would be no Kennedy and no little piece on the WWE title match, surprised me a little as it was an interbrand show for the night like Raw was. Great job again and bring on Mania.
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Old 12-23-2011, 10:43 PM   #199 (permalink)
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A quick note I’ve noticed in your JBL banter in expressing his dislike for the Hardy clan. Didn’t seem JBL-ish to me here. You’ve pretty much had his ‘I like them, but in this scenario they might not do it’ to a tee, but in the commentary to open things JBL pretty much sounded like he was never a fan of the Hardyz. However, as I’m sure you’re aware, JBL has always been a fan of the Hardyz. Calling both Jeff and Matt screw-ups is a bit pushing it. Maybe saying ‘they’ll both screw up’ would’ve been fine, but what was said came across as not liking them and modern-day Michael Cole sort of annoying. Probably nitpicking there, but just thought it should be noted.

Very nice match that saw Hardy showcased a bit, but obviously was more about Carlito and Dykstra. I’m still sticking to my guns and saying Torrie turns on Carlito in two days, this maybe adding fuel to whichever fire you want. Interesting at Dykstra really blatantly going back on his word and pretty much forcing Wilson to be involved somehow. If Carlito were smart, come Sunday, he actually wouldn’t have Wilson anywhere near the ring after this.

Two days!!

Nice display of Danielson here, not really like Mercury had a chance. The Helms bit was a nice bit of lampshading in the aspect that we haven’t heard Danielson talk, with it not being his forte, but I remember you’re a sucker or catchphrases. So this will do, I suppose. A very nice way of showing the differences in character here in Helms running his mouth about Danielson not running his mouth, and of course Danielson’s short and simple response and all-fight attitude displayed afterward. Smart booking here in finally letting Danielson get his shot in at Helms in a driving way, seeing as how Helms has been driving this feud from a distance.

Pretty standard Cena promo here, not a whole lot to write home about. Glad the ‘sold out’ principle returned to play, though. Was hoping you’d play with that a little more during this.

The video packages you’ve added to the shows this week have been a very nice touch, although I will say I could have thought they were better if they were more career perspective than Wrestlemania perspective. What I mean is I felt they might’ve been better if they focused on the individual moreso than what they’re gonna do at Wrestlemania. The packages were still nicely well done, it’s just introducing Umaga in Taker’s package didn’t quite feel right. I felt the same way during RVD’s package on RAW. The segment itself was well done, though I’m not sure how to feel about Estrada saying ‘Taker’s streak is more important than any title. Though we know it to be true, I’m not sure if pointing that out on-screen is a great idea in regards to how the actual titles look. Still, it did its job and build all the tension it could before ‘Taker and ‘Mags went at it, which is always fun. The only gripe I had about this is I almost would’ve preferred it in ‘Taker himself talked and not Bearer. And of course this gives you great soundbites to use if you wanna write out the whole video package for this at ‘Mania.

Woh, hello Steve. Goodbye Steve…?

Both Cena and Edge looking strong here, but that wasn’t the actual focus. Was waiting for the McMahon mass beatdown before the actual match, but this was very brutal. Figures McMahon destroyed Austin, which leaves all kinds of questions come Sunday. I’m taking a shot and saying Shane’ll referee before Austin comes back mid-match and doing it. But that’s Sunday. This was pretty freakin’ brutal, although Lashley wiping Cena’s blood on his chest seemed a tad…odd? I think that’s the word. It displayed something sick, but felt a tad off. I’ll live with it though.

This was more smart booking in giving the guy who hasn’t controlled the feud the reigns to do so. Flair sounded very passionate here, not to mention Flair needed to speak his piece perhaps more than anyone on the ‘mania card. Great ending line with the whole ‘diamonds are forever’, great ending buzzer.

Very much liked this one if for no other reason that you introduced the prospect of an injury going into Sunday. Wasn’t the most exciting match ever, but it did its job in introducing that small regard.

Very interesting segment from Matthew. No doubt he’s probably got the most doubt behind him in any competitor on the card, and I think this was a very effective way of going about this for a fan favorite. Not only that, but it gave more depth to this midcard feud, but most importantly gave a big emotional layer to it. I’m more than certain Hardy is going over, but again good props on this.

For some reason, I feel like all the extra stable members in the battle royal were a little unnecessary. Seems to have made a bigger cluster than was necessary, even though they were included. That aside, a pretty solid way to get everyone a bit of momentum before the cluster, Benoit winning feels like a good choice. Still holding onto Orton, though.

There’s a running theme I’ve noticed tonight about an emphasis on wrestling. Not so much wrestling as in matches on the show, but just the idea. Danielson is made of it, Cena mentioned it, and now here, regardless of how psychotic Edge is, even he mentions it. This was great from both sides, although there was a bit at the end with Edge making some very…er…IWC-esque comments regarding muscleheads and wrestling ability. Other than that, very solid way to end the night and the build, putting everything in their final places.


Overall, I’m sure this is kinda pointless feedback in regards to Wrestlemania since most of its already done, but felt like it should’ve been done anyway. Still, a very solid take-home show leaves a good bit of things up in the air. Some excellent last minute inclusions and depths were explored that I think will help the entire show and this section is really looking forward to this thing. Or at least I am. I’m guessing you’ll post the official preview and stuff later, so I won’t make predictions, but still, good luck on ‘Mania and what remains of it and hope you remember to have fun with it. We’ll all be waiting
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Default Re: WWE: The Evolution Of Greed

First of all, Happy New Year WF BTB Section. Hope you all have a prosperous 2012. Second, thank you to cp954 and 619IDH. You guys rock and I'm total slacker for not getting back to you both. Once I have Wrestlemania posted, predictions/reviews for what you guys have posted are a guarantee, especially World Ablaze when it goes up. And thirdly, a quick status report. Eight of the eleven matches you see below are written. All the videos, commentary, talking and coding are done though, so all it takes is me getting my ass in gear and finishing the show. I'm pretty stoked with it thus far, hopefully you all will too. There are still another two posts to come after this one, a News, Notes and Spoilers set 3 hours before the show, then the afore mentioned wwe.com Preview Show, set 1 hour before the show. So that means we're still a week/ten days away from Wrestlemania. But the end is in sight.

Anyway, predictions are now open. So yeah, if you wanna make some, feel free. If you wanna wait for the Spoilers post, do so at your own risk. Thanks, and see you all in a few days or so.



~WWE WRESTLEMANIA XXIII~
April 1st 2007
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

The most prestigious prize in all of professional wrestling, the WWE Championship. And for the first time in Wrestlemania history, the title will be defended under triple threat rules. But tonight, for all three participants, Triple H, Rob Van Dam and the champion, Shawn Michaels, this match is about more than just the richest prize the business has to offer. It was two months ago that Michaels emerged victorious in another Triple Threat Match, seeing off then champion John Cena and then best friend Triple H to become a four time WWE Champion. However, that night, Michaels gained more than just a championship. Since Raw: Night of Champions, Michaels has undergone a transformation, shedding any allegiance to his former D-Generation X colleague Triple H and any feelings he once had towards the fans of the WWE. Indeed, Michaels has instead dedicated his title reign to the believe that he has been brought to the pinnacle of the sport through the strength of his faith. Always a phenomenal competitor, guaranteed to steal the show each and every Wrestlemania, Michaels has vowed to do so again this year. However, the deranged attitude Michaels has shown recently has transpired to an arrogance that Michaels is on a mission from God, to deliver another trademark Wrestlemania performance, to drag Van Dam and 'The Game' to the match of their careers, and most importantly of all, to retaining the WWE Championship. But is faith and talent enough given the determination that exists in Triple H and Van Dam?

For 'The Game', the title comes with the desire for revenge after the betrayal of him by Michaels. To become champion, Michaels turned on his long-time partner, cracking a steel chair over his skull, pinning Triple H to grab the title. For months 'The Game' has sought retribution, a chance to settle the score, however the only opportunity possible for Triple H to grab that chance was to win the Number One Contender's Tournament Final at Saturday Night's Main Event. In Madison Square Garden one month ago, Triple H and Van Dam squared off, with not many giving 'Mr. Monday Night' much of a chance. However, Van Dam was more than a match for 'The Game', until a controversial ending robbed him of his Wrestlemania main event dream. Van Dam regained the chance to challenge for the title by winning a rematch the following Monday on Raw, but whatever respect existed between he and his fellow challenger quickly evaporated as the pair started battling not only Michaels, but each other. It's been a wild last few weeks between the three, and each man has had his share of success over his opponents, but tonight, the WWE Championship is on the line. Revenge, redemption, the chance to fulfil a dream, the chance to steal the show and the richest prize in professional wrestling are all up for grabs as Shawn Michaels, Triple H and Rob Van Dam meet for the first WWE Championship Triple Threat Match in Wrestlemania history.




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

Ever since he won the 2007 Royal Rumble, it seems like Edge has been constantly running scared from one thing or another. It started when he walked out on Rated-RKO partner Randy Orton at Raw: Night of Champions, handing the World Tag Team Championships to Ric Flair and Carlito. With Orton trying to hunt Edge down, it was that night that Edge chose to walk out on Raw, appearing on the following episode of Smackdown to declare his intentions of challenging for the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania, regardless of who the champion may be. But that soon turned out to be false as ahead of Batista's title defence against Mr. Kennedy at No Way Out, Edge and Kennedy came to some form of agreement where Edge would help Kennedy win, ensuring the two would meet at Wrestlemania. It all seemed to be going to plan after Edge hit Batista with a spear, allowing Kennedy to pick up what looked like an easy win... until Ric Flair and Arn Anderson decided No Way Out was their night to get a little payback on Kennedy for his actions towards them. Batista would take advantage, putting Kennedy away, setting the scene for Wrestlemania. It was Batista and Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship.

But it seemed that the second the referee's hand struck the three count on Kennedy's challenge, the rumours and whispers started. The popular consensus was that the reason that Edge wanted to face Kennedy at Wrestlemania was simple... Edge was scared of 'The Animal'. Batista even confronted Edge, saying as much, but Edge claimed it was mind games, that he was trying to get inside the head of the champion. More credence was added to Batista's theory as when 'The Animal' teamed with Matt Hardy to take on Edge and Kennedy at Saturday Night's Main Event, the Wrestlemania opponents never came into physical contact with each other once, with Edge once again walking out on a tag team match to save himself falling into the clutches of 'The Animal'. The rumours grew stronger and the whispers grew louder, until Edge finally snapped, subjecting Batista to a hideous one man con-chair-to. Since then, a non-contact ruling from Smackdown Interim General Manager Jonathan Coachman has stopped Batista getting his hands on Edge, but at Wrestlemania XXIII, the pair will finally meet, with Edge determined to prove he's as good as he says he is, while Batista looks to defend the title he spent most of 2006 chasing, and in the process, prove that no amount of mind games can effect 'The Animal'.




The Irresistible Force vs. The Immovable Object:
'The Real Deal' Bobby Lashley vs. John Cena
Special Guest Referee: Steve Austin


It seems that at every turn, the evil 'Chairman of the Board' Mr. McMahon has remained one step ahead of John Cena. From Shane McMahon assaulting Cena, costing him the WWE Championship in the process, to bribing Umaga, Edge, Johnny Nitro, Chris Masters and Melina to attacking Cena and doing the McMahons dirty work, to the shocking attack of Cena at the hands of Bobby Lashley at Saturday Night's Main Event, Vince has always had a trick up his sleeve. Cena of course battled valiantly, never ducking a challenge and fighting the combined forces of Vince, Shane and Lashley at every opportunity. However, with every passing week, somehow, someway, 'The Evil Empire' would find a way to come out on top. It seemed that much like the WWE fan base, WWE C.E.O. Linda McMahon had grown tired of Vince abusing his power and sought a way to even the score... the naming of 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin as referee for the match. With Austin vowing to call the match straight down the middle, showing no favouritism, a renewed sense of optimism emerged around Cena and his supporters. Indeed, many were now excited at the prospect of Austin donning the stripes, feeling he would counter the threat of any McMahon influence, allowing Cena and Lashley to battle to prove who was the better man. But with the shocking images we saw from last Friday's Smackdown of Austin being loaded into the back of ambulance, doubts remain as to whether or not Austin will even make it to Detroit. Cena will always bring the fight, his spirit and determination is never in doubt. But having chased the money and joined the corporate regime, will the price of the dollar be enough for Mr. McMahon to lead Bobby Lashley to victory... and in the process crush the spirit of John Cena once and for all?



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

14-0. That's where the legendary Undertaker Wrestlemania Streak currently stands. Fourteen times 'The Deadman' has walked into Wrestlemania, and fourteen times he's emerged victorious. Some of the biggest and best names in WWE history have tried to knock off The Undertaker on the biggest stage in sports entertainment, but each has failed. One common theme seems to be that before the match has even started, The Undertaker has already won the mental game with his opponents, meaning that the physical battle became all that easier. But tonight, perhaps we've finally found the one man impervious to the mind games of The Undertaker. 'The Samoan Bulldozer' Umaga, a man who for 364 days has never been pinned and never been made to submit. He remains one of the most awe-inspiring forces the WWE has ever seen, a wild savage that only one man can control, Armando Alejandro Estrada. And after running roughshod over most of the WWE roster, Estrada has trained the sights of his monster on the perhaps the biggest prize in wrestling history... 'The Streak'. Ever since he shocked the world by appearing at No Way Out to slam The Undertaker straight through the casket lid, Umaga has inflicted pain on several members of the Smackdown roster. But at Saturday Night's Main Event, Paul Bearer returned to the WWE, bringing a rejuvenated Undertaker with him, the pair determined to keep their streak alive, killing Umaga's in the process. Something's gotta give, it's "Streak vs. Streak", somebody is going to suffer their first loss at Wrestlemania XXIII, but will it be 'The Phenom', The Undertaker? Or will it be 'The Samoan Bulldozer' Umaga?



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

It seemed all so routine. The Royal Rumble Match, a match Mr. Kennedy vowed to win, but when he entered the match as Entrant No. 1, that prediction seemed so far away. But yet, over thirty minutes later, Kennedy was still in the match... until Ric Flair entered the ring. 'The Nature Boy', looking to relive the glory years, eliminated Kennedy from the match to the delight of the crowd that evening. However for Kennedy, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Feeling he had been over-looked and held back, Kennedy went on a rampage, eliminating Flair and badly beating him, leaving the sixteen time world champion a broken and bloody mess. Further attacks would follow, with Flair's friend Arn Anderson and Smackdown General Manager Teddy Long suffering at Kennedy's hands. Kennedy would go onto earn a title shot at No Way Out, and thanks to his agreement with Edge, it looked as if Kennedy had the title won... only for Flair and Anderson to cost Kennedy, helping Batista to win, while infuriating 'The Green Bay Loudmouth'. Time and time again Kennedy challenged Flair to a match, although Flair chose to remain focused on defending the World Tag Team Championships with Carlito. So at Saturday Night's Main Event, Kennedy sought to remove the gold from the situation, costing Flair and 'Lito the titles. Since then, Flair has accepted the challenge, only for Kennedy to assault both of Flair's sons in despicable displays. Kennedy has vowed to beat Flair into retirement tonight, but 'The Nature Boy' is determined to give yet another legendary performance, teaching Kennedy a huge lesson in respect in the process.



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

For years Matt Hardy has been considered a tag team specialist who never could quite cut it as a singles competitor. While brother Jeff flourished, winning three Intercontinental Championships, Matt had struggled, a lone Cruiserweight Championship reign to his name. Tonight represents the biggest oportunity in Matt's career, finally the chance to compete for a singles title at Wrestlemania. But he couldn't have asked for a tougher opponent than the grizzled veteran Finlay. The current holder of the prestigious United States Champion, 'The Belfast Brawler' has spent decades proving his credentials across the world with some of the hardest hitting offence the wrestling world has seen. Indeed, his brutal series of match with Chris Benoit, including their effort at No Way Out where Finlay won the gold, show that the veteran can still rumble with the best of them. Although, it does seem that for most of his matches lately, Finlay has had the luck of the Irish on his side in the shape of The Little Bastard. The leprechaun has interfered in more matches than anyone can remember these last few months, proving a valuable ally to Finlay despite his diminutive nature. But surely with Matt proclaiming that failure is not an option tonight, even Finlay and his trusty shillelagh can't hold Hardy back any longer? For Matt to finally take the next big step and elevate his career, he'll not only need to show a tough streak seldom seen before, he'll also have to have eyes in his back looking for the threat of that damn leprechaun. As for Finlay, he clearly has the experience and toughness advantage, but will that be enough to stop the impressive run Hardy has been on in 2007?



Intercontinental Championship Match:
Intercontinental Champion Kenny Dykstra vs. Carlito

A rivalry that started over a simple backstage confrontation has escalated to a title match at Wrestlemania, where not only a title, but the pride of a lady are on stake as these two do battle. Dykstra and Carlito had came into contact during tag team matches and a Carlito effort against Randy Orton, but it wasn't until Dykstra started making advances towards Carlito's girlfriend Torrie Wilson that these two really came to blows. With a brash arrogance, the young, good-looking Intercontinental Champion repeatedly poked fun at 'Lito and Wilson's relationship, claiming that Torrie was slumming it by being with Carlito. Naturally, both Carlito and Torrie were furious, however when Carlito sought to extract revenge in the shape of a one man con-chair-to, Torrie responded with shock and disgust. Having witnessed first-hand Kenny deliver the same treatment to Jeff Hardy before the Royal Rumble, Torrie couldn't believe 'Lito would stoop to Dykstra's level. Ultimately, Carlito thought better of it, listening to the words of his girlfriend, but it was clear that the presence of Dykstra was taking its toll on their relationship. Ultimately tonight's match was set, with Dykstra and Carlito continuing to battle back and forth, but recently the young champion has shown a confusing difference of opinion. After claiming that he was now focused on the title and not the girl, Dykstra then involved Torrie in a tag team match last Friday night on Smackdown, helping him get the win. Tonight, Carlito will no doubt look to keep Torrie out of the equation, allowing to focus on becoming Intercontinental Champion again... but you can't help but feel that despite his recent words, Dykstra will find some way to use his opinions of Torrie against the challenger.



Tag Team Showcase Match: Champions vs. Champions
World Tag Team Champions The World’s Greatest Tag Team vs. WWE Tag Team Champions The Hooligans

For Brian Kendrick and Paul London, the last year has seen them take on every tag team Smackdown has to offer, with the WWE Tag Team Champions emerging victorious in every title defence. No matter who the opponent, The Hooligans have rose to the occasion, often proving breath-taking performances to retain their gold. Over on Raw, Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas are just one month into their latest title reign, but have declared their intentions to once again be recognised as the very best the WWE has to offer. Indeed, for Haas and Benjamin, The World's Greatest Tag Team isn't just a name, it's a status they are determined to reach once again. And to do so, Haas and Benjamin laid down the challenge to their counterparts from Smackdown for a Champions vs. Champions showdown to prove who the best team in the WWE is today. Both teams have looked impressive in recent weeks, but a recent knee injury to London may have jeopardised the Smackdown representatives chances. Regardless of any injury, London and Kendrick will no doubt look to prove their credentials, while for Haas and Benjamin, the chance to once again sit atop the mountain awaits them, a chance they seem more determined than ever to take.



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

If you asked Cruiserweight Champion Gregory Helms before the Royal Rumble, he'd have told you there was no more competition for him to face. In his year plus reign, Helms had beaten everybody put infront of him, his dominant displays rendering the cruiserweight division void of a credible challenger. Helms grew cocky, proclaiming himself the greatest cruiserweight in history, belittling his opponents at every opportunity. However, Smackdown General Manager Teddy Long sought to change that, scouring the world for talent, searching for that one man to shut Helms up. That man... was Bryan Danielson. Danielson exploded into the WWE, making a beeline for Helms and almost winning the Cruiserweight Title in his WWE debut, the Cruiserweight Championship Gauntlet at No Way Out. Ultimately, Helms would prevail that night, but Danielson has earned his one on one opportunity tonight, looking to be the man to finally end Helms' championship reign. Helms is no doubt a great champion, using a blend of skill and craft to win by hook or by crook, but Danielson is a world renowned competitor, determined to take his chance on the big stage. Will Helms' title reign continue to re-write the records books? Or will Danielson be the man to put the most arrogant Cruiserweight Champion firmly in his place?



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

A match nearly two years in the making as these former best friends are set to collide with the Women's Championship on the line. When Beth Phoenix returned to Raw and confronted Mickie James, everybody assumed it was simply a new comer stating her intentions. Little did we know that a long-running saga was about to be revealed, with best friends now enemies set to bring to a head one of the most bitter rivalries ever seen in women's wrestling history. Two years ago two would be WWE divas trained hard and shared an apartment with each other. They were best friends chasing the same dream. For Mickie James and Beth Phoenix, two years ago, the two of them facing for the Women's Championship at Wrestlemania was the stuff of fairy tales. However, at Wrestlemania XXIII, it's nothing but a nightmare for the champion. When the WWE offered one divas contract to the two women, a match was of course scheduled to see who would earn it. Sadly, an injury to Phoenix at the hands of Mickie during a training bout would mean James would become a WWE diva by default. Despite her best efforts, James would lost touch with Phoenix, but wound up eventually becoming Trish Stratus' best friend and then Women's Champion. For Phoenix, the bitterness and resentment grew, until Phoenix arrived on Raw a few months ago determined for revenge. Phoenix has looked impressive during her short run, but James has always been a champion capable of defying the odds... but can she defy the odds and beat a stronger, more powerful diva... who just so happens to know Mickie's entire arsenal inside and out?



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


It's a mix of experience and youthfulness that makes up the field of this year's Money in the Bank Ladder Match, with half the field trying to get back to champion status, while the other half seek that first taste of the big time. Chris Benoit, Kane, King Booker and Randy Orton have all been world champions in the past, and all four feel grabbing the briefcase is their quickest way back to that status. For Benoit, all recent talk of retirement this summer has been put aside as he seeks one last run as champion. For much of 2006, King Booker reigned supreme on Smackdown as World Heavyweight Champion, with control of the Smackdown kingdom once again on the mind of 'The King'. Kane and Randy Orton haven't been champions for a few years now, but both have been came close in recent years, feeling that the briefcase could put them over the top and help them reclaim their past glories. All four have been to the top of the mountain, all four have that big fight experience, but will that be enough to see off the youthful exuberance of our other four competitors?

For CM Punk, Jeff Hardy, Johnny Nitro and Montel Vontavious Porter, tonight represents the biggest chance of their careers thus far. Indeed, tonight will prove to be a first Wrestlemania appearance for Punk, Nitro and 'MVP'. Punk and Nitro have had their problems with each other and their respective tag team partners in recent weeks, the conflict including Nick Dinsmore and Chris Masters no doubt capable of spilling over into tonight's contest. The same could be said of the recent feud between Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton, the two having several problems with each other in recent months. 'MVP' is no doubt the least experienced of the group, having only made his WWE debut six months ago, but the youngster has impressed fans and pundits alike with his confident style. All four men have the potential to be major players in the WWE, and tonight could be the night they take the first step to greatness... or will it be a veteran presence that leaves Wrestlemania XXIII as the new 'Mr. Money in the Bank'?


---------

Prediction Template:

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


Bonus Points:
What will be the match order?
How many championships will change hands?
Who will take the fall in the Triple Threat Match?
Will there be any surprise appearances? If yes, then by who? Hall of Fame inductees don't count btw.
What will be the longest match?
What will be the shortest match?
How many pinfalls/submissions/other finishes will there be?

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WWE: The Evolution Of Greed
2007 King of the Ring Has Been Posted!!!



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