SmackDown Report – July 27, 2007 from Fresno, California (taped July 24)

Clips from the Great American Bash start tonight’s show and among the various clips we watch Khali capture the title. Following that, it’s announced that “Khali’s Indian Celebration” will take place tonight to mark the occasion. After the credits, the crowd is overwhelmed by the appearance of Batista to open the show.

Batista vs Deuce
As the match gets underway, Batista riles up both Deuce and his ringside partner, Domino, by flirting with their sidekick, Cherry. In response to Deuce flirting with Cherry, Batista takes over by flexing the pecs and biceps, winking, and mimicking a telephone call and he has Cherry flirting back with him, much to the dismay of both Domino and Deuce. Deuce, charged up, removes Batista from the ring and begins working on him with punches and kicks. Batista battles off the ropes with punches and misses a shoulder in the corner, hitting the ringpost. Deuce takes him down and gets a modified armbar on him. Batista flips him over, but Deuce kicks him in the midsection and snap mares him over. Deuce is full of himself at this point, playing the crowd, even giving Batista a thumbs down. Deuce goes into the ropes, but Batista rolls out of the way and quickly spears him. Deuce tries to unload but Batista throws him off several times and then clotheslines him down, smashing him into the corner and shoulder-blocking him in the midsection. Another whip and Batista almost takes Deuce’s boot, but Deuce quickly lifts the other boot and smacks Batista in the head. He rushed Batista from the corner, but Batista sidewalks slams him, then uses the stunned Deuce to topple the interfering Domino off the apron. A Batista Bomb and Deuce is out for the count.
Winner: Batista

Batista is a great way to start the show and he didn’t disappoint. The crowd is always over the top with him, from the moment he appears right up to the point where he just stands in the ring, post-match, smiling at the crowd.

We see a clip of Hornswoggle winning the Cruiserweight Championship at the GAB and an interview with Jamie Noble, the man Hornswoggle pinned to get the title. Another in a series of Michelle McCool “Lovin’ Life” videos airs before we return for the next match.

Hornswoggle vs Jamie Noble for the Cruiserweight Championship
Not much to report on this. A lot of running around the ring and no wrestling and we end up with Hornswoggle retaining the title by count out.
Winner: Hornswoggle by count out. He retains the belt.

A video of John Cena defeating Bobby Lashley at the GAB is shown, advertising an encore presentation of the PPV. Following that we see a clip of Rey Mysterio submitting in the “I Quit” match against Chavo Guerrero – a preview for the next match and a reminder that Mysterio is soon returning.

Chavo Guerrero vs Eugene
A very long match, much longer than the matches that Eugene is usually involved in. Eugene’s leg is injured during the beginning of the match and Chavo spends most of the match working on it. Eugene, however, manages to come back, even with the injury, and do his signature moves – resisting head slams to the corner and “hulking out,” stopping Chavo with punches and then getting him woozy with an airplane spin. He gets a near fall but Chavo come back and delivers a really beautiful dropkick that leads into a brainbuster. A frogsplash and Guerrero gets the pin.
Winner: Chavo Guerrero

Backstage we see Ric Flair trying to coach Matt Hardy in delivering his trademark “WOOOO!” and strut. Hardy gives it a try, but he can’t carry it off. The script calls for the two of them to strut off camera, grinning. Embarrassing for Hardy.

A promo for the Jesse and Festus tag team that is soon to debut, airs. I’m not seeing the value in repeating the promotion for what looks like a losing gimmick.

MVP & Chris Masters vs Ric Flair & Matt Hardy
MVP, the US Champion, arrives to almost no response from the crowd. His tag team partner, Chris Masters, arrives to a big reaction, the growing heat from the crowd recognizing his worthy heel status. Matt Hardy’s entrance is, of course, a big pop, being the face that the WWE is pushing right now. Flair receives the same kind of response and we are ready for the match. Hardy and Flair respond to each other as tag partners but MVP shows little interest in his own tag partner, even though Masters clearly tries to work with him. Hardy and Masters start it off and Masters backs him into the corner, going for a punch but Hardy ducks out of the way. Masters turns and plays Hardy with a great expression, jovially scoffing at what Hardy thinks was a great defense. Masters is a great actor in the ring, both offensively and defensively. Hardy goes for a side headlock and Masters lifts him for a release but no luck. Masters breaks the hold, whipping Hardy across the ring and dropping him with a huge shoulder block. Hardy is thrown into the corner and Masters meets an elbow as he rushes in. Masters shakes it off and a standing clothesline by Masters take Hardy’s boots right out from under him. Masters tags in MVP. A few punches and kicks and Hardy finds himself in the wrong corner, taking a few shots from Masters outside the ring. A snap mare and Hardy kicks out of a pin attempt by MVP. Hardy gets out and tags in Flair, who goes into his trademark chopping. literally taking the US champ off his feet with one and hitting Masters with one as he’s on the apron, which Masters absorbs with little reaction. MVP is whipped to the ropes and a huge back bodydrop by Flair has Flair strutting around the ring in celebration. Flair goes for a Figure Four but MVP escapes and retreats outside the ring when Hardy enters to double team them.

We are treated to a commercial break during this, something I’ll never understand. We are told that Ric Flair and Matt Hardy dominated MVP and Chris Masters during the commercial break, but we aren’t privileged enough to see for ourselves. Flair has MVP in a modified Boston Crab and then he drops into an ankle lock. MVP reaches the ropes to release the hold and Flair tags in Hardy. A head slam to the corner and Hardy punches MVP tagging Flair back in. Flair chops MVP, reducing the US champ to rubber and then drops him with a right hand. Flair drags him up but a thumb to the eye gives MVP the upper hand. Flair chops him again and MVP retreats bringing Masters in. Flair tries to chop Masters in similar fashion but Masters answers them all with punches, absorbing the chops and he muscles Flair into the corner. After softening Flair up and leaving him sitting on the mat, Masters tags MVP in again, who slams Flair’s head into the corner, whips him across the ring and goes for a huge running boot to the head. A pause and Flair timbers to the mat, face first. One of Flair’s signature moves that always gets a big reaction. A chuckling Masters throws his hands up in celebration outside the ring. MVP has Flair on the mat, going for a submission style move but Flair is able to get up and MVP works on the arm. They back into Masters’ and MVP’s corner and Masters is tagged in. Midsection shots and a punch drop Flair. Masters is all boundless energy and he goes for a pin, getting a two-count. A flying leg drop by Masters thunders across Flair’s body and Flair retreats to the corner, climbing to his feet. He and Masters trade chops and punches again, Masters once again winning the exchange and absorbing Flair’s trademark chops. A whip to the ropes and Masters scoops up the running Flair and delivers a big powerslam. Masters drags Flair up, backing him into the corner. Flair goes for more chops but Masters absorbs them again, coming back at him until Flair uses a kick to the midsection to escape and bring in Hardy. Great action up to this point and then it becomes somewhat contrived as Hardy is allowed to “hulk up,” a bit of wrestling stageplay that works as comic relief for someone like Eugene, but just seems unlikely in a “real” setting. Too bad, because it was believable up until this point. Masters offsets Hardy’s “hulking” with a reverse whip to the corner but Hardy comes at him with two running clotheslines and a bulldog out of the corner. MVP is knocked from the apron but comes back and climbs up as Hardy pulls out another in a series of surprise “Twist of Fate” moves. MVP, on the apron and easily able to enter the ring and stop the count, abandons his tag partner, throwing his hands up as if to say “screw him” allowing Hardy to get the pin.
Winners: Ric Flair & Matt Hardy

After the match, we get a lot of grief from MVP about how Flair and Hardy didn’t pin him, they pinned his partner. MVP claims Hardy can’t beat him at anything and Hardy challenges him to another match for the US title. “There is nuthin’ you can beat me doing! Nothing on this planet you can beat me doing!” shouts MVP. Hardy offers up a challenge that he’ll beat MVP at anything, leaving us wondering what this challenge will bring in the future. Hardy isn’t too good on the microphone; they should leave most of the talking to MVP during the feud these two are having.

Mark Henry vs Joey Blaylock
Henry squashes a jobber. Nothing much to this encounter. Henry takes the microphone and introduces himself to the crowd. A chorus of boos is his reward. He claims that no one can beat “the world’s strongest man.” More post-match torment for Blaylock as Henry gorilla presses him and throws him from the ring.
Winner: Mark Henry

Clips from the last RAW are shown, many of them setting up matches for SummerSlam, ending with Randy Orton RKO-ing John Cena to become the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship. It’s a spectacular moment, and one of the few that bears repeating. Orton’s delivery of this move is almost as riveting as his dropkicks. If this match takes place, SummerSlam could be worth purchasing.

Backstage, Teddy Long asks Ron Simmons to be his best man. Response? “Damn!” Well, at least the backstage stuff isn’t about death anymore. A profile of Edge’s reaction to his injury and his feelings about giving up the title are shown.

Kane vs Dave Taylor
Dave Taylor starts by slapping Kane. He tries a few uppercuts but a boot from Kane fells him and then he’s turned to rubber in the corner. Kane snap-mares him out and goes for a back body drop but Taylor delivers a series of uppercuts to stop him. Taylor locks him up with some potential submission moves but Kane breaks out. Taylor works Kane over in the corner but Kane turns it around, whips him out to the opposite corner and avalanches him. – twice. Taylor is rubber and a sidewalk slam leaves him on the mat. Kane goes high and takes Taylor off his feet with a flying clothesline. The chokeslam and Kane gets the pin.
Winner: Kane

Backstage we go again and Jimmy Wang Yang, listening to his iPod, runs into a scantily-clad Torrie Wilson, who asks him if her shorts are “too short.” “Be honest,” she says. You can guess Wang Yang’s response. “Yee-haw!”

Jimmy Wang Yang & Torrie Wilson vs Kenny Dykstra & Victoria – mixed tag match
The girls get out of control before the match starts but they are held back as Dykstra and Wang Yang start the match. Dykstra has Wang Yang off his feet and under control with some very impressive wrestling. Wang Yang tries to escape with some quick moves but Dykstra keeps him under control until Wang Yang surprises him with a drop kick. Torrie and Victoria enter and Torrie takes charge with some pretty good wrestling moves. Victoria ends all that with some boots to the midsection and presses her into a spinning bodyslam. More boots and Victoria plays to the crowd for some added effect – something she does really well. She gets Torrie in a surfboard submission move but Torrie escapes with some expert jiggling and tries to reverse it. Doesn’t work but she’s able to deliver a neckbreaker and both women are on the mat. Dykstra circles around outside the ring and removes Wang Yang from any potential tag and then he tags in himself to face Torrie. Big heat from the crowd and he wastes some time taunting her until Torrie kicks him. Wang Yang is back on the apron and he ascends the top turnbuckle during this, flying off on Dykstra and going for a pin, but Victoria breaks it up. Torrie takes Victoria outside the ring and Wang Yang backflips off the top corner and pins Dykstra. A little post match two-stepping by the team of Torrie Wilson and Jimmy Wang Yang wrap this up.
Winner: Jimmy Wang Yang & Torrie Wilson

Next up, and what will be “huge,” according the announcers, is the Great Khali’s “Indian Celebration.” It wasn’t very “huge” at all and several of the women weren’t even Indian. A small group of people enter, dancing somewhat badly, until they get to the ring. The Great Khali is then introduced and he proceeds to the ring. The translator incorrectly pointed out that the Great Khali, during the previous week’s Battle Royal, “tossed nineteen other wrestling superstars over the top ropes.” Actually, many of the wrestlers were not tossed by Khali. Khali is compared to many other famous Indians and the translator informs us that Khali is the greatest world champion of all time. It’s only been one week, so I don’t know how he knows this. The celebrants dance until the good time (for them – the fans are almost silent during all this) is interrupted by Batista. Huge response for Batista. Everyone beats a hasty retreat, wisely, except Khali and his translator. Batista enters the ring to protests by the translator. “Why are you here?” he asks Batista. Batista offers up a challenge to Khali. “If you’re so great, you’ll accept my challenge!” Batista tells him. Khali declines, and Batista attacks. Khali tries to chokeslam him, but Batista takes him off his feet with a powerful spear and Khali rolls out of the ring. The crowd is no longer dead, as you can imagine. The show ends with Batista in the ring, amid the remains of the “Indian Celebration” and Khali and his translator, protesting, work their way to the back.

Seven weeks into the new roster and we do get seven matches during the two-hour show, but only two of them really gave us the kind of entertainment that can hold a crowd’s attention. The highlights were, of course, Batista opening the show in a match against Deuce and closing it with his challenge to the new champion, the Great Khali. The other highlight was the match between the team of MVP and Chris Masters going against the team of Ric Flair and Matt Hardy, that is, until the cliched ending by Hardy took the thunder out of what was a really great match. The focus was intended to be on MVP and Matt Hardy, but Chris Masters and Ric Flair actually dominated the match and gave us the better show. Low points? The rest of the program, with the ties for the lowest moment between the Hornswoggle Cruiserweight “match” and the Indian fiasco. Less comedy, less “events” and more wrestling, giving more people a chance to shine and the SmackDown ratings will continue to improve.