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How do, compadres, it's SmackDown time and we're in the jolly old quaint tea-drinking rainy la-de-da England, where I live! Yay. Tonight should be BITCHEN, as we have Chris Jericho vs the Undertaker (for the first time, apparently) and also Dolph Ziggler is challenging John Morrison for the Intercontinental strap. Oh, and there's a contract signing between Batista and Rey. Blah. We're underway with a match pretty soon.

CM Punk vs R-Truth

Punk of course got "punked" (hahahahaha kill me) by Scott Armstrong last week. Punk gets on the mic before Truth appears for some cheap foreigner-insulting heel heat. This actually turns into a decent promo even if he's basically just saying British people are reprobates. Which we are. Punk and Truth are on opposite teams at Survivor Series, part of what is actually a very interesting inter-brand match (Kofi, MVP, Mark Henry, R-Truth and Christian vs Orton, DiBiase, Rhodes, CM Punk and William Regal). I likes the sound of that. Truth gets on the mic and rips on Punk and his manly unshaven chest. He says he's here to shut Punk up. Truth's great on the stick when he wants to be. Anyway, the match!

Punk starts with a shove, but Truth just decks him with punches, kicks and stuff like that. Truth looks to do his corner-jump/cartwheel thing but Punk catches him and looks for the GTS, but Truth escapes and hits a seriously nice corkscrew leg lariat for one. Punk then swiftly gets backdropped over and out as we hit an ad break. When we come back, Truth has Punk in an armbar. Punk has apparently filed a complaint against Scott Armstrong, so he isn't the ref here. Punk fights his way out but gets clocked with a forearm. Truth climbs to the top but is roughly kicked in the leg and brought down. Punk brings many stomps and leg holds as Striker once again compares him to Johnny Cash (?!). Chop block gets two. The crowd is rather quiet, only really getting into it when Truth is rallying, which he isn't doing yet. Punk works over Truth's leg for quite a while, slapping on a nice grapevine/bridged chinlock thing I don't know the name of. Punk goes for a springboard somethingorother but Truth dropkicks him in the gut. Truth rallies briefly, getting two from a clothesline. Back suplex gets two also. Truth misses a scissor kick by a mile and gets kicked in the leg again. Punk signals the GTS and hoists Truth up, Truth wriggles out and goes for a sunset flip but Punk sits on him, grabbing the ropes and getting the three.
Winner: CM Punk
Rating: **1/2

Rather sluggish match which seemed 20 minutes longer than it was. Crowd are very here-and-there, too. The promos were better than the actual bout.

Mickie James has a match next. Backstage, Layla attempts to 'bully' her into "leaving" in a very annoying way and basically spells out that she's gonna interfere in the match. Backstage stuff with Divas = always, always dreadful. Here's the match.

Mickie James vs Natalya

Natalya got the jobber entrance. She starts off by slapping Mickie around a little, and doing a little 'yeah baby' Jim Neidhart thing. Mickie cartwheels out of a wristlock and mounts a rally, hitting a nice low dropkick as Natalya bails. Mickie follows to the outside and Natalya shoves her into the steps. Back in the ring she covers Mickie for two. Natalya puts Mickie in a surfboard but almost pins herself doing it. I have to say, both of these gals look good here, they're really trying hard. It's predictable Diva fare to be sure, but good. The match proceeds in an evenly matched, quiet, workmanlike manner until... Michelle McCool and Layla stride down the ramp holding some of Mickie's clothes. What. Mickie hits a top rope plancha for two. McCool and Layla cut up the clothes. Bitches. Natalya clocks Mickie in the back of the neck with a clothesline then slaps on a Sharpshooter, and Mickie taps.
Winner: Natalya
Rating: **1/2

Sort of alright considering it's Diva stuff. Crowd didn't care. Ho-hum. So, Raw has not only a new theme tune (by Nickelback, hahahaahaaahaaaaa fuck you) but their best guest host so far, in Roddy Piper. And a potentially confusing triple threat tag team match. Okay. Josh Matthews talks to John Morrison who does a rather flat promo putting himself over. The crowd goes 'yay' anyway. Here's another match!

Drew McIntyre vs Finlay

McIntyre actually gets a decent wave of boos. These two are also on opposing inter-brand teams at Survivor Series (Morrison, Shelton Benjamin, Finlay, Evan Bourne and Matt Hardy vs Miz, Ziggler, Jack Swagger, Sheamus and McIntyre), again, looks promising. McIntyre says Finlay's not worthy, but he's had a change of heart and he'll actually let Finlay into the ring this week. There's an ad break before Finlay even comes out. Wow, McIntyre is undefeated? I guess so. He's had six 'brawls' and only three proper matches since he (re)debuted. Finlay comes out to a nice pop, and when the bell rings Finlay takes charge immediately with a lot of stiff strikes and a nice kick, but McIntyre responds with a boot of his own which takes Finlay outside. McIntyre follows and goes on the attack with general stompery, and a wristlock. Finlay fights back with more potatoes and clobbers McIntyre out again. They brawl outside for a moment before returning again to the ring. They exchange stiff shots and the bell rings, with this apparently being a double DQ. Lame. After the bell, Finlay goes for the shillelagh but gets booted in the face. McIntyre takes the stick and clobbers Finlay with it to sign off.
Winner: nobody
Rating: **

Why couldn't they have a proper match? That looked good for a moment before it devolved into a brawl. They're capable of so much more than that. Oh, McIntyre has returned to the ring and stands over the downed Finlay for a moment before cracking him again with the shillelagh. I guess that's that. A few minutes later, Finlay is STILL down and out, being 'tended to' by about six referees. They sell the beatdown he took but we're thankfully spared the stretcher treatment, and Finlay leaves on his feet. An ad b
reak follows.

Ah, excitement! Contract signing time! A slightly hoarse Matt Striker is our emcee, as it were, and he does a decent job of shilling the match. Mysterio is out first, to a good pop. He's in street clothes, which makes him look slightly less tiny than normal. Batista gets some nice boos. We get the inevitable replay from Bragging Rights, and eventually Teest is in the ring too. It's your classic contract signing setup, folks! Rey looks hysterically small sat in that leather chair. I've never quite understood why some contracts have to be signed in the ring, and some don't. And has a contract signing ever gone smoothly? Ever? It's kind of hackneyed, isn't it. Batista signs the contract. Then Rey signs it too. Wow. But DAVE brought something else. He presents Rey with a second contract saying that he can't legally be held responsible for what he does to Rey at Survivor Series. Rey refuses to sign it. Batista threatens him. Rey picks up the pen. Then Rey signs it. He says Batista will be the one who gets embarrassed at Survivor Series, then he flips the table over onto DAVE, and strolls out. Dave stands in the ring like a lummox, summoning the uniquely British "who are ya!" chant (roughly translated as "ha ha, you suck"). JoMo takes on DolZig which will be (hopefully) more interesting than Rey Mysterio holding a pen.

John Morrison vs Dolph Ziggler, Intercontinental Championship match

Dolph's got a nice new silver waistcoat with zebra-print lining. He certainly looks ready. Morrison gets a very impressive pop indeed, and is decked out all in gold. This is PPV-quality stuff right here, and the match hasn't even begun. Yeah, I'm pumped. Hope this gets some decent time. They start at a high pace, exchanging quick holds, with Ziggler taking an early powder, but darting back in with a forearm and some stomps. Morrison quickly takes over with a breakdancinglegdrop for two. This is a very fast-paced match. Morrison goes up top but Ziggler crotches him, kicks him and covers him for two. Gutbuster gets Ziggler two as we go to an abrupt ad break. Oh great. When we return, Morrison is fighting out of a bearhug with some punches. He whips ziggler into the corner and goes for some sort of flying thing but Ziggler ducks and Morrison eats the dirt, getting covered for two. Rolling neck snap gets Ziggler another two. Stomps. Ziggler hasn't been screaming all that much recently. He delivers a bunch of elbows but only screams for one of them. Body scissors. Bodyslam gets Ziggler yet another two. This has been a Ziggler showcase so far. Ziggler taunts but gets slapped in the face, and the two exchange 'boo' and 'yay' punches.Morrison flips out of a German suplex attempt and hits a forearm, a clothesline and a leg lariat, for two. Morrison goes for a move I don't know the name of but Ziggler just rams his face into the mat for two, before pounding on Morrison's head. Ziggler catches a kick but Morrison rolls through with a 'Pele kick', leaving Ziggler in position for Starship Pain. He rolls out of the way though, and Morrison lands on his feet. Ziggler trips him into a rollup but the ref spots his feet on the ropes. Ziggler complains to to the ref and eats a magnificent Chuck kick, getting covered for a long two. They fight on the apron and end up ascending the ropes, exchanging punches until both
 guys lose their balance and fall off to the outside. They both get counted out. Wonderful.
Winner: -
Rating: ***

A double countout?! What the fuck kind of idea is that?! It was a good match until that abrupt, stupid finish. Ziggler looked like he was gonna take it. Frustrating booking. And now, because twice is never enough, here's a Beth Phoenix squash match.

Beth Phoenix vs Lisa Taylor

Yeah. Same old same old, but this time with a sort-of-interesting tree of woe/neckbreaker combo. Glam Slam finishes it.
Winner: Beth Phoenix
Rating: **

Boring, really. I hope that's the last of these silly squashes. The crowd doesn't care and we already know Beth's a badass. What purpose this serves is lost on me. Josh Matthews talks to Chris Jericho in the dressing room for the usual hypocrites/plebians/parasites stuff. Aha! Next week, in an attempt to gloss over that frustrating half-match, John Morrison will face Dolph Ziggler in a two-out-of-three falls match for the IC title. That should at least get more than seven goddamn minutes. Main event time al
ready? Okay.

Chris Jericho vs The Undertaker

FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!. This is actually true. They have faced each other before, years back, as part of tag matches, and they've actually teamed together a couple of times too. But one-on-one? This is the first one, folks. Jericho's out first, naturally. It takes two and a half minutes from the first 'bong' to the point where Taker's music fades out. Not as slow as you think. I guess he used to be slower. Anyway, they start off in speedy mode, with lots of punches from Jericho doing not much, and lots of  punches from Taker causing Jericho to beg him off. I should mention Taker's hair. He looks pretty normal this week, though his eyebrows seem to have disappeared. His hair is very greasy. Striker says "the cranial creepiness of the Undertaker!", probably not referring to his hair. Taker clotheslines Jericho over and out, before doing his apron routine (punches, legdrop). Taker then works on Jericho's arm for some reason, getting a quick one-count in the middle of a series of moves stemming largely from a wristlock. Taker goes for Old School (when was the last time he hit that?), but Jericho springs up and flips Taker off the top to the mat as we hit an ad break. When we return, they're both on the mat and Jericho is screaming "c'mon Undertaker" a lot and punching him in the face. Jericho hits a dropkick off the second rope for two. Undertaker finds himself in a sleeper which he fights out of, but he gets kneed in the stomach and booted to the outside. Jericho whips Taker in to the barricade and rolls him back in. I have to say, Taker's selling has really improved. Unless he's really genuinely fucked. Jericho dominates for a few minutes. They trade 'boo'-'yay' punches, and Taker mounts his comeback, hitting a corner charge and Snake Eyes but getting planted with a quick dropkick for two. More punches from Jericho. Taker goes for a chokeslam, but Jericho fights out. Jericho comes off the ropes
 straight into a big boot. Taker misses a corner charge and Jericho dominates some more, punching taker whilst stood on the second rope. Man, Taker looks kind of like a bitch here. Ah, but Taker lifts Jericho up for the Last Ride - which Jericho again escapes before hitting a Codebreaker - for two. Jericho mimics Taker's throat-slashing move, before lifting Taker up for a Tombstone. Okaaay. Taker reverses it, but Jericho escapes AGAIN, and scores with a chop block before actually HITTING the fuckin' Lionsault, but before he can go for a cover, Taker sits up, making a noise like a gorilla (I'm not kidding, it was very funny). He goes for a chokeslam but Jericho rolls out and manages to snare Taker in the Walls. Taker manages to twist round and turn it into Hell's Gate and Jericho taps immediately.
Winner: The Undertaker
Rating: ***

Interesting, nicely paced match. It didn't present Undertaker as a superhuman - he actually looked pretty weak out there at certain moments. Jericho escaped nearly all of Taker's big moves, which was sort of surprising. Big Show lumbers out after the bell, and he and Jericho assault Taker. Show hits a chokeslam and a legdrop, and they do the Walls/Colossal Clutch combo - before KANE comes to the rescue! Half-hearted face turn ahoy! Show bails, and Kane boots Jericho in the face. We then for some reason cut to Vince, "backstage", on the phone to Teddy Long. He makes Kane & Undertaker vs Jericho & Show for next week. The Brothers of Destruction stand in a red-lit ring, JeriShow look a bit scared, end show.

YES: Decent show I guess. Main event was good. No bullshit segments to speak of. Watchable.

NO: Ziggler/Morrison was potentially fantastic but frustratingly short. I guess they have to get one more match out of the feud before Survivor Series but still... Also, getting a little bored of Beth Phoenix squash matches and I really wish Drew McIntyre could have a proper actual match with an actual finish. Punk and R-Truth were uncharacteristically slow, too.

WHAT?: Taker's gorilla noise, by gawd.

So that's that, next week's show is very promising indeedydoodah. I'm Ian Sparke, and red wine does not go with vanilla ice cream one tiny goddamn bit. Ugh.

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November 2006


by Sean Carless

With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).