World Champion Rey Mysterio has many enviable qualities, but being a man of his word might be the one that ends up costing him the World Heavyweight Championship.
As Friday Night SmackDown began in Cincinnati this week, Rey came out to the ring and said that every day he has the World Heavyweight Championship is a gift. As he was about to share his thoughts on last week's match with Kurt Angle, Rey was interrupted by his Judgment Day opponent, United States Champion JBL.
In typical JBL fashion, the transplanted New Yorker began to degrade Rey because of his Mexican heritage, comparing the World Champion to a masked illegal immigrant. He then said that while illegals have a place in JBL's America (like mowing lawns and taking out trash), Rey doesn't deserve to be champion. When Mysterio told JBL that he'd fight anybody at any time, the United States Champion seized the opportunity, goading Rey into a match against Mark Henry. Being a man of his word, Mysterio had no choice but to face the World's Strongest Man.
The non-title match was made, and JBL sat in on commentary. Rey tried to use his quickness to avoid Henry, but the World's Strongest Man used his overwhelming size and power advantage to keep Rey down. Miraculously, Rey was able to escape Henry's attack, nailing the World's Strongest Man with a Seated Senton and a 619. However, when Rey springboarded off the ropes again, Henry was ready, catching the champion and dropping him with a World's Strongest Slam for the three count, earning a pinfall over the World Heavyweight Champion.
The victory wasn't enough for Henry, though. He tossed Rey out of the ring and dragged him up the entranceway. With his motive for attacking Kurt Angle last week still unclear, Henry appeared to try to injure Rey the same way. With Rey prone on the floor, Henry climbed up onto the stage and prepared to splash his 400-pound frame onto the World Champion. Thankfully for Rey, JBL came down and stopped the World's Strongest Man from finishing the deed, promising Henry the first chance at the World Heavyweight Championship after Judgment Day. Seizing another opportunity to hold Rey at his word, JBL told the beaten champion that next week in San Diego, he will take on the 7 foot 3, 420 pound Great Khali. San Diego is Rey's hometown, and all of his family and friends will be in attendance next week. Rey is a man of his word, but is faced with an opponent literally twice his size; will his family be watching him get slaughtered next Friday night?
Mysterio wasn't the only champion scheduled for action Friday night, as WWE Tag Team Champions MNM were set to defend their gold against Paul London & Brian Kendrick. The challengers, who hold four consecutive wins over the champions, entered the ring first. Melina then came out alone, and as she was set to do her signature entrance, she waved to the back. Instead, Mercury & Nitro came from behind, ambushing the challengers with their championships. The match never officially got underway, as MNM brutalized London & Kendrick, nailing them each with a Snapshot before walking away. I said it last week, and I'll say it again: it seems to me that MNM are scared of London & Kendrick, and will do anything to protect their championship.
Also on SmackDown, Finlay took on Chris Benoit in the final opening-round match of the King of the Ring Tournament. Both men are veterans and accomplished mat wrestlers, and the majority of the match saw them trying to out-wrestle each other. Despite being busted open, Benoit avoided a charge by Finlay late in the match, nailing him with a trio of German Suplexes. After Benoit missed a flying headbutt, Finlay grabbed his weapon of choice, the trusty shillelagh; the Rabid Wolverine was able to avoid an attack and send Finlay to the floor, and the Irishman dropped the weapon on his way out. As referee Nick Patrick turned his back to the action to dispose of the shillelagh, Finlay grabbed a chair from ringside and jammed it into Benoit's throat. He followed that up quickly with his signature Celtic Cross, getting the pin to advance in the tournament. Next week, the fighting Irishman will face a man who has never beaten him, Bobby Lashley, in the semi-finals.
King of the Ring finalist Booker T was also in action, in a rematch against Gunner Scott. Gunner defeated Booker three weeks ago, and once again the young protégé of Chris Benoit gave the 5-time WCW Champion all he could handle. In the end, it was Sharmell's interference that propelled Booker to victory; Sharmell tripped Gunner as he ran the ropes, allowing Booker to nail the Scissors Kick for the pinfall.
After the match, Booker stood on the announcers' table and said that it didn't matter whether it was Finlay or Chris Benoit, he would win the King of the Ring tournament and everyone will bow down to King Booker. Later in the night, after Finlay had defeated Benoit, Bobby Lashley came to Booker's dressing room. He took exception to the fact that Booker forgot to mention his name in the earlier post-match speech. Booker tried to brush the youngster off, telling Lashley he was no match for him, and that he's never beaten Finlay anyway. The soft-spoken Lashley simply stated that he will beat Finlay next week and then beat Booker in the finals at Judgment Day to win the tournament. To punctuate his point, Lashley finished his statement off by using Booker's signature phrase "Can you dig it, sucka?" He may be soft-spoken, but even though he's never beaten Finlay, Lashley has something to prove next week; in my estimation, the Bookerman might want to think twice about overlooking Lashley.
In addition to the King of the Ring finals, two new matches were made for Judgment Day. Rumors had swirled that Jillian challenged Melina for Judgment Day, and that match was made official. Also, Theodore Long caught up with Daivari and The Great Khali backstage, telling them that Khali had been challenged by Undertaker for a match at Judgment Day. Long handed Khali a contract, and later in the night, the match was made official. Khali later used SmackDown to show off his strength; the massive newcomer interrupted a Triple Threat Match to determine the number one contender for the Cruiserweight Championship, destroying participants Nunzio, Super Crazy of the Mexicools and Kid Kash. We know what Khali is thinking heading into Judgment Day, but you have to wonder…what state of mind is Undertaker in? Did he make the right choice? After watching Khali destroy three men on Friday night, is there any doubt in the Deadman's mind?
Tatanka's initiation onto the Lakota Tribe began this week, as he took part in the Inipi, a ceremony of purification. SmackDown cameras caught up with several Lakota tribe members, who described what the ceremony entails. The Native American warrior successfully completed the Inipi purification ritual, and next week, he will officially join the Lakota tribe.
Also, The Gymini continued to look impressive, defeateding Scotty 2 Hotty & Funaki in quick fashion.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Booker T (w/ Sharmell) defeated Gunner Scott (5:29)
- MNM (Mercury & Nitro) (w/ Melina) (c) vs. Brian Kendrick & Paul London ended in a no contest to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship
- Finlay defeated Chris Benoit in a King Of The Ring 2006 First Round Match (20:24)
- The Gymini (Jake & Jesse) (w/ Simon Dean) defeated Funaki & Scotty 2 Hotty (3:27)
- Kid Kash vs. Nunzio (w/ Vito) vs. Super Crazy ended in a no contest in a WWE Cruiserweight Title #1 Contendership Match (2:00)
- Mark Henry defeated Rey Mysterio (5:18)
- Dark Match: Rey Mysterio (c) defeated John Bradshaw Layfield and Mark Henry to retain the World Heavyweight Championship
- Smackdown #351
- [Smackdown #351 on WWE Network]