The Smackdown Ramble: July 20th, 2007

-So the WHC curse has struck again, and Edge is on the sidelines for an indefinite amount of time, probably until Survivor Series at least. One guy going down injured shouldn’t lead to the whole show collapsing, but unfortunately, when you stack the deck on one show at the expense of the other, these things have a way of biting you on the backside. I’m gutted as I’m a big fan of Edge and felt he was carrying this show brilliantly, and I was enjoying a title reign that showed no sign of stopping any time soon. Unlucky Adam, hope you’re back sooner rather than later.

Obviously, they were left in a bit of a hole with their star guy having to leave the scene, but they dug part of it themselves by completely decimating Smackdown during the draft. Even so, any one of Batista, Kane, Finlay or Matt Hardy would have been a much better choice, but I guess they must see something in Khali that I for the life of me simply can’t. More on that later, though.

One final thing before we start – I’m sure they’re pleased they moved Kennedy and Booker from Smackdown to go and feud with Super Crazy and Jerry Lawler.

-With Michael Cole and JBL, TAPED! from Laredo, Texas.

-We start off with GM Theodore Long in the ring. Edge has been told he will not be able to compete for the next 30 days, so therefore, due to the very rarely referred to by-laws of the WWE, Edge will have to vacate the World Heavyweight title. 1) It’s not been 30 days yet, so you can’t enforce that rule until it’s actually happened, and 2) Since when have they adhered to that 30 day rule anyway? Anyway, Edge comes out, pyro-less and sombre. The spotlight falls on him and he goes through his list of injuries since he came into the WWE it is quite a long list, unfortunately. He’s out for four monthsas a result of Kane’s attack during the Mardi Gras segment last week. I knew that was a stupid idea. I really hope that’s just an estimate, by the way. Smackdown can’t afford to have him out for that long. Edge then introduces a tribute video, set to ‘Simply The Best’. Once that’s done, the lights come back on and Long says this is too much drama for him and everyone else. He announces a 20 man battle royal tonight for the title. Have they even got 20 guys to put in a battle royal? I hate battle royals anyway, but I hate them even more so when they’re for a title. Just devalues it a bit when you don’t have a pinfall or submission to win it, in my opinion. Edge says he doesn’t want to give the title back and berates his rough treatment from the fans. Long says Edge needs to do the right thing for the company, for the title, and for himself. Edge guarantees he’ll become a four time champ when he returns, and then gives Long the belt. Edge was really convincing here, although part of it is probably real emotion.

-Moments ago, Edge vacated the World Heavyweight Championship.

-Backstage, Mark Henry is lifting something. In the locker room, Chris Masters is stretching. Elsewhere, Eugene is being retarded. And Kane is pacing around looking menacing. He should be feeling GUILTY for injuring Edge, damnit. They’ll all be in the battle royal tonight, anyway.

-Torrie Wilson vs. Victoria

Vickie trash talks to start, but gets kicked and a schoolgirl gets two for Torrie. Torrie throws Victoria outside and hits a Lou Thesz Press off the apron. Torrrie misses an elbow drop though, and Victoria stomps away at her. They exchange punches for a while, but Torrie gets a small package for two. More punches, and Torrie gets a sunset flip for two. Sleeper by Vickie, and she hairtosses Torrie. JBL and Cole ignore the match and talk about the battle royal the whole time, by the way. Swinging neckbreaker gets two for Torrie, but she runs into a knee in the corner. Vickie gets the Widow’s Peak for the three at 4:38. *1/4 Very punch orientated. I’m not really sure what they can do with Victoria on Smackdown.

-Backstage, Matt Hardy, Deuce, Domino, Jimmy Wang Yang and Batista cross each other’s paths.

-Rey Mysterio is coming back soon. Not soon enough to win a battle royal for the World Heavyweight Championship, I’m guessing.

-World Heavyweight Championship: 20 Man Over The Top Rope Battle Royal

Batista, MVP, Finlay, Khali and Kane are the only guys to get a televised entrance. It’s typical battle royal chaos to start, with MVP/Hardy and Batista/Khali amongst the notable pairs to square off. Henry eliminates both the Majors (Elimination ‘#1 and #2) at 1:30, and Khali throws Shannon Moore (#3) at 1:51 and Funaki (#4) at 1:57 as we go to a break (about four minutes long, I might add). We’re back, and it seems we missed nothing during the break. Henry and Khali destroy everyone in their path, leading to the inevitable big man battle royal showdown. It never materialises however, as Kane and Batista take them both on. Everyone teams up to eliminate Henry (#5) at 7:20. It’s all kicks and punches, as you‘d imagine if you’ve ever seen a battle royal with this many men in the ring at one time. Deuce and Domino try to eliminate Batista, but he’s not budging. Matt and MVP fight, but Khali is a most unwelcome interruption and no-sells all their offence, before chopping them down. Can someone be eliminated now? This is getting a bit boring. And, almost as if he was listening to my request, Batista eliminates Deuce (#6) at 11:08, Domino (#7) at 11:09, and Dave Taylor (#8) at 11:13. Good old Batista. Kane punches Khali and then squares off with Batista, but Noble is the Hurricane to their Austin and HHH (see Royal Rumble 2002). Kane and Batista toss Noble (#9) at 11:51, and Eugene (#10) suffers the same fate at 12:08. Chavo hits a crossbody on Batista, probably the first move that wasn’t punch, kick or chop of the match. Matt Side Effects MVP, as we go to another break.

Back from a very short break, and Dykstra (#11) is eliminated by Masters at 14:39. Khali is just walking around chopping/headbutting people. MVP misses a boot in the corner, and Matt tosses him at 15:41 (#12). Masters puts Yang in the Masterlock, which Chavo breaks up. Yang returns the favour for Chavo, and they team up to eliminate Masters (#13) in 16:32. The alliance is short lived though, as Yang hurricanranas Chavo (#14) out at 16:44. Hardy bulldogs Finlay, as Khali yep, chops Kane. Matt tries to get rid of Finlay, but to no avail. As a reference, Yang, Khali, Kane, Batista, Hardy and Finlay are left. Kane and Batista try and get rid of Khali, but that doesn’t work. Hornswoggle pops up from under the ring and eliminates an apron bound Yang (#15) at 18:32. Overhand chop by Khali on Matt, and Hardy (#16) gets booted over the top rope at 18:58. Finlay has disappeared for reasons unknown. A Khali overhand chop knocks down Batista, and the same happens to Kane. I might just use the copy/paste function for Khali’s matches from now on. I mean, geez, what a moveset. Finlay has the shillaleigh and works over Khali with it (which, amazingly, Khali sells), but he walks into a chokeslam from Kane, who walks into a spear from Batista. Batista tosses Finlay (#17) at 20:15. Kane and Batista fight it out in the corner with right hands, with Kane taking the advantage. Kane tries to get him over the top, but Batista resists and fights back with elbows. Batista tries to eliminate Kane by lifting him up over the top, but Khali manages to throw Kane (#18) over at 21:36, and Batista (#19) just one second later, and The Great Khali is your NEW World Heavyweight Champion after 21:37 of pulsating, enthralling action. Runjin Singh is here to celebrate with Khali. Batista is pissed and kicks the steel steps in frustration, echoing the sentiments of nearly every fan worldwide. JBL says if you wonder why Smackdown is the best show on television, this is the reason. Without a hint of sarcasm, too. The booking was flat out awful to begin with, and the match wasn’t much better, either. *1/2

-Long presents Khali with the World Title, and Khali holds it up to the camera, albeit upside down. Fool. But remember boys and girls, WWE doesn’t push guys based solely on their appearance, oh no, not one bit. Even if Khali can only (just about) do a chop, a boot, a punch and a chokeslam.

-Moments ago, The Great Khali won the World Heavyweight Championship.

-Backstage, Khali blows us away with his incredible mic skills that would leave Jericho or Rock standing in amazement. I jest, of course. Runjin translates and tells us that Indians are celebrating from New York to New Delhi. Tonight marks the greatest chapter ever written in WWE. Must be one of those books with a really, really dull beginning.

-Backstage, Vickie is stressing over Khali’s opponent for the Bash. Long makes Kane vs. Batista, in a number one contender’s match, for tonight.

-Matt Hardy vs. Kenny Dykstra

Lock up begins things, as we see MVP is watching backstage. Dykstra gets a cradle for a one count. Side headlock takeover by Hardy, but Dykstra takes over with some knees to the gut. He misses a couple of elbow drops, and gets tossed to the floor, where a baseball slide by Matt knocks him down. Back inside, Dykstra gets a forearm to the face for two. Cole asks if Dykstra reminds JBL of Matt a few years ago. Erm, nope – Dykstra is generic and bland, Hardy wasn’t. Matt fights out of a headlock, but gets dropkicked down for two. A couple of clotheslines also get two for Kenny. Dykstra goes to a sleeper, and a drop toe hold into the second rope continues the attack. Cover gets two. Matt fights out of a chinlock and clotheslines Dykstra down. Corner clothesline and bulldog get two for Matt. Yodelling elbow, but Dykstra blocks the Side Effect and goes up top. He gets crotched though. Hardy finishes with a Twist of Fate off the top for the win at 8:13. This was fine. **

-Chuck Palumbo likes bikes. Oh my, this is just above Michelle McCool in the ‘pointless vignettes’ stakes.

-Backstage, MVP is interviewed by Random Interviewer Dude. MVP is insulted by the insinuation that Matt Hardy has the advantage going into the Bash. He’s better than Hardy and all the Smackdown fans. Well, they’re diminishing with every second, so that shouldn’t be too difficult.

-Cole and JBL do the GAB card:

-MVP vs. Matt
-Umaga vs. Jeff
-Cena vs. Lashley
-Dusty vs. Orton
-Candice vs. Melina
Nitro Morrison vs. Punk
-Batista/Kane vs. Khali

-Kane vs. Batista

Winner gets Khali at the Bash. Kane gets a shoulderblock straight away for two, cue the staredown. Batista retaliates with a clothesline. They fight in the corner, and Kane attacks with a chomp and a foot choke. I heard Vince had banned all chokes after recent events. Scoop slam gets two for Kane. Batista fights out of a sleeper with a side suplex, and he knees Kane in the gut, before applying a bodyscissors. He’s looking a bit on the big side, is Kane. Kane gets out of it and reverse elbows Batista down, and a big boot knocks Batista to the floor as we go to a break. Back from the break, and Kane goes up for the clothesline, but Batista slams him off. Batista Bomb is blocked, and Kane gets a sidewalk slam for two. Flying clothesline misses, and Batista gets a spinebuster. A spear is blocked with a kick to the face, and Kane chokeslams him for two. Batista gets out the back of a Tombstone, but gets clotheslined outside. Kane meets the steps though, and Batista gets a shoulderblock off the top for two. The new World champ runs in and attacks Batista, and it’s a disqualification at 10:24. I should point out the crowd is absolutely SILENT here. Kane and Batista clothesline him over the top to finish the physical proceedings. Typical power match between these two. *1/2

-Long comes out afterwards, and makes Khali vs. Kane vs. Batista for the Bash in a triple threat match. Oh my, shock of the century. Big staredown between the three men finishes.

The Inside Pulse
Apologies if the cynic in me was running wild throughout this review, but when you’ve got The Great friggin’ Khali as your World Champion, it’s difficult to try and look for the positives. Edge’s injury is incredibly unfortunate and comes at a time when they were looking to build the whole brand around him, but there were better alternatives than sticking the title on Khali, as I mentioned earlier. It just disproves the flimsy theory that they don’t push guys on size or appearance. This guy is barely competent in the ring.

The Smackdown brand as a whole is really weak right now. Hopefully they’ll give the belt to Batista at the Bash, because he’s the only remotely credible candidate (despite losing his last seven championship matches – go figure) to carry the ball. I don’t think they’ll take it off Khali this soon, though. I can see them stretching out the Khali/Batista feud to SummerSlam. Gotta keep them money matches for the big four PPVs!

My predictions for the Bash (winners in bold):

Cena vs. Lashley
Khali vs. Kane vs. Batista
Morrison vs. Punk
-Dusty vs. Orton
Umaga vs. Jeff
MVP vs. Matt
Candice vs. Melina

I’m off for a weekend break anyway (I had it planned before Khali won the belt, don’t worry – it hasn’t affected me that much!), although given the British weather, I am more likely to have to swim there than drive. It’s really bad at the moment, even by our standards.

Take care boys and girls, and I’ll see you back here next week. Will Khali still be champion come then? Guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens at the Bash.

Or hope for the World Heavyweight Championship curse to strike again; one of the two.

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