WWE FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN
-The show opened with Booker T, Sharmell, Chris Benoit, and G.M. Teddy Long addressing Booker’s injury backstage. Booker said he should win the U.S. Title by forfeit. “The rules are, if a man can’t continue, you go to the scorecard,” said Booker. I don’t recall that rule. Long said no way, and he was considering giving Benoit the win. Booker offered a solution – a substitute. Benoit said it was okay with him. Long said the best of seven series would continue and his pick won, Booker would get the U.S. Title, but if Benoit won, he’d be one win closer. This is probably the best way to handle Booker’s injury in the midst of the best of seven series.
-The Smackdown opening aired, then Michael Cole and Tazz introduced the show.
1 — JBL (w/Jillian Hall) vs. MATT “My Day Will Come” HARDY
Before the match, clips aired of JBL beating up Hardy at Armageddon. It didn’t erase the memory of JBL getting his ass kicked by Good Santa in 12 seconds two weeks ago on Raw. JBL said his opponent doesn’t matter. “You get in my face, you get destroyed,” he said. “Welcome to my show.” Hardy then came out. He favored the back of his neck after he threw his arm into the air during his intro. In the absence of Matt Facts, we’ll add a Tazz Fact to this match: Tazz says he arrived at Smackdown in a Ford Taurus Limousine. At 3:30 Hardy avoided a big boot and kicked JBL and then hit a bulldog for one of his first offensive moves of the match. JBL immediately took Hardy down with a shoulder tackle, then removed the turnbuckle pad. Hardy blocked JBL and rammed JBL into it instead. Hardy then dove off the second rope and hit a legdrop for a two count. JBL took over immediately. As JBL pounded Hardy with forearms, Boogeyman came out with worms crawling out of his mouth. JBL hit Hardy with a Clothesline from Hell. JBL got scared of Boogeyman and used Jillian as a human shield. Then he fled from the ring, giving Hardy the countout win. Once there was ample distance between himself and Boogeyman, JBL bravely stood in front of Jillian.
WINNER: Hardy via countout at 5:30.
STAR RATING: * — I can see JBL being one of the few WWE Smackdown roster members able to have an entertaining feud with Boogeyman. He’s just that versatile.
-Backstage, Sharmell said there aren’t many people in WWE they can trust to be a substitute. Orlando Jordan offered to wrestle in place of Booker. Booker and Sharmell blew him off. Sharmell pointed out he doesn’t exactly have a stellar record against Benoit. “You can’t even stand in my man’s shoes, let alone stand in the ring for him. Why don’t you just tap on out of here right now before I really get loud,” she said. Jordan said he’d remember this. Booker told him to “tap his ass on out of here.”
2 — SUPER CRAZY & JUVENTUD vs. JAMES & CHAD DICK
Michael Cole asked Tazz if he thought the Dicks’ entrance rivalled Melinas, then seconds later he was able to come up with the name of a famous tap dancer when Tazz struggled to name someone. If those two statements don’t challenge his masculinity with much of WWE’s viewing audience, I don’t know what would. Later, Tazz said: “There are Dicks popping up all over the place.”
WINNERS: The Mexicools after a Super Crazy moonsault at 3:55.
STAR RATING: *1/4 — Okay action, as you’d expect from these four.
-They showed a somber looking Randy Orton backstage. Booker T walked in and said he had a proposition for him. He said he had a problem because he can’t wrestle Chris Benoit due to his injury. He said he could choose a substitute, and his choice is him “because you can get the job done, man.” Orton asked why Booker thinks he’d want to do him a favor. Booker said, “As bad as I hurt, I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes. Look at you, man. You’re supposed to be the future of this business, the Legend Killer. Do you want to go out like that?” He said everybody is talking about how Undertaker kicked he and his father around in that cage. He asked if he wants to end the year that way. Orton said he is right. “Benoit is mine,” said Orton.
-Clips aired of recent interaction between Batista and Melina. Then Melina walked out, on the verge of tears, without her usual verve. She stood at a podium, next to her lawyer, and began to cry. She said what she had to say was of an adult nature and difficult for her. “As a role model for young women, she has no choice but to summon the courage to do what is right, not just for me but for all of the other women who have been in this position. The truth is I was recently the victim of a sexual predator… I told Batista to stop, and he didn’t.” This play on (or mockery of) press conferences from women who have claimed to have been raped went on for several minutes – too long. “There is a side of Batista you all don’t know about, a man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, regardless of who he hurts,” she said. “Well, this time Batista has gone too far. Batista, my body is my temple. My body is not yours for the taking. You had no right to do what you did to me. Every time I close my eyes, I am haunted by that image of Batista and his smirk. It is an image I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I’m scarred.” She said she is officially suing Mr. David Batista for sexual harassment. As she left the ring, Cole and Tazz sold it as if they just heard major news. They showed no skepticism toward her claim or belief in Batista. Cole, especially, as the babyface lead announcer should take the character of Melina into consideration compared to Batista, and at least offer up some semblance of skepticism. He should say something about how he suspects she’s using the real life trauma women have gone through to her advantage to try to torment Batista.
3 — CHRIS BENOIT vs. RANDY ORTON – Best of Seven Series
Booker and Sharmell came to ringside to offer commentary. When Benoit came out, he stared at Booker. Sharmell snapped, “My man is hurt. He needs to back off!” Her delivery is so awesome.
Booker talked about a Benoit suplex as “being made famous by Bret Hart.” The banter with Booker, Sharmell, Tazz, and Cole kept things interesting when the match itself began pretty slowly with mostly mat-based exchanges. Benoit applied the Crossface at 12:30. Orton reached the bottom rope to force a break. Benoit then dove through the ropes onto Orton at ringside. With both men down, they cut to the second break of the match.,
Benoit went for a shoulder tackle, but Orton moved. Benoit went shoulder-first into the ringpost. Benoit came back a minute later with an enzuigiri. Orton fought back with some near falls. Benoit went for a diving headbutt off the top rope, but Orton moved. Booker predicted an RKO was about to lead to victory, but Benoit blocked it and went for a Crossface. He took Orton to the mat. Sharmell entered the ring and whacked Benoit with the crutch for the DQ. Booker played dumb, hilariously stating, “Oh, a fan just came out of the audience. Wait, uh, that’s Sharmell. What did you do that for?” Orton gave Benoit an RKO after the match, leaving Benoit lying in the ring.
WINNER: Benoit at 19:30.
STAR RATING: **1/2 — What it lacked in excitement it made up for in solid execution, so it ended up average in the end. Not a particularly spirited effort from either, though.
-Funaki interviewed Kid Kash on a stage, reminiscent of the old WWF Superstars interview set. Funaki, after urging from Kash, called him the greatest Cruiserweight Champion ever. Tazz said he is undefeated, after all. Cole said, disgustedly, “He’s only been champ for, like, 11 days.” Kash showed great personality right away, although he seemed a touch nervous, too. He said Juventud means Mexican Salamander. “Is there anyone around here who isn’t boring?” he asked. He said, “It’s a new Cruiserweight Era, the era of the Notorious K-I-D. Get it? Got it? Good!” He then smacked Funaki and gave him a brainbuster suplex on the stage. “What the hell is wrong with this guy,” said Cole. Not even close to Kash’s best performance, but it’s a glimpse of what he can do. Any opportunity WWE gives a cruiserweight champ to have some personality development time is a victory.
-A vignette aired for the pending return of “Finlay” (Fit Finlay), whose been working behind the scenes in WWE as a road agent. He talked about his family’s history in Ireland. “Some people call me a fighting Irish bastard. Not to my face.” He then smiled.
-Backstage, Josh Matthews said he was trying to get a reaction from Batista on the sexual harassment allegation.
4 — BOBBY LASHLEY vs. SYLVAIN
Before the match, Sylvain said he had a suggested New Year’s Resolution for everyone – to better appreciate his brilliance. Sylvain attacked Lashley as he entered the ring. Lashley fought back quickly. After a series of shoulder jams in the corner and a clothesline in another, Sylvain bailed out to ringside. When he returned Lashley dominated again, so he walked out to get counted out on purpose. He claimed Lashley bit him.
WINNER: Lashley at 1:33 via countout.
STAR RATING: n/a
-Matthews interviewed Batista backstage, asking for a response. He said he wasn’t worried about it because he had a big match coming up for the tag titles. He didn’t seem phased by the accusation.
5 — BATISTA & REY MYSTERIO vs. MNM (w/Melina)
Melina reacted with hysterical fear to Batista’s presence. Rey hit a Bronco Buster on both members of MNM. He then scored a two count on Mercury after a springboard splash. They cut to a break without a particularly orchestrated break in the match.
Rey took a nasty bump onto the ring apron and to the floor after Nitro kicked him in the middle of a springboard attempt. Nitro then worked on Rey’s knee. MNM isolated Rey for several minutes. Batista got the hot-tag at 13:00. Batista went nuts slamming MNM, showing fire, and shaking the ropes. Cole predicted victory so quickly that you knew it wasn’t over yet, and sure enough, as Batista set up the Batista Bomb on Mercury, Nitro intervened. Batista then slammed Mercury, but his feet KO’d the ref. Batista went to check on the ref. Mercury jumped on Batista’s back. Batista easily flipped him over his shoulder to the mat. Batista then nailed Mercury with a clothesline. Mark Henry then returned and attacked Batista from behind. There’s Smackdown’s WrestleMania 22 Dream Match. Henry signed a long-term, guaranteed, multi-million dollar deal with WWE even before he had learned to wrestle, and Vince McMahon has been trying to make good on that investment ever since. Henry powerslammed Batista and then left the ring. “Has Batista met his match?” asked Tazz. The ref came to and counted Mercury pinning Batista. Melina reluctantly celebrated with her men, still showing fear of being anywhere near Batista. Then she let out a smile and raised Henry’s arm. Now the Melina-Batista feud has a heel singles wrestler to add to the mix. That’s a good thing, assuming entertaining matches aren’t your thing.
WINNERS: MNM at 15:27.