PITTSBURGH -- With Armageddon -- and the fate of the World Heavyweight Championship -- just hours away, surely Batista, Undertaker and Edge must have thought about the significance of where tonight's Triple Threat Match is taking place. After all, it was in Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena last May when SmackDown history was made by all three Superstars -- and a Rated-R champion was crowned.
It was originally a night where the World Heavyweight Title was supposed to be decided within the merciless walls of a 15-foot-high steel cage. In the third of their already-classic series of matches this year, then-champion Undertaker and Batista took each other to their absolute physical limits on SmackDown. For The Animal, it was a chance to reclaim that which he had lost to The Phenom at WrestleMania 23 just over a month before. For Undertaker, it was an opportunity to cement his dominance over Batista.
Unfortunately, after what seemed like an eternity of brutality, both The Phenom and The Animal, beaten and barely able to stand, somehow managed to escape the cage at the exact same moment, ending the contest in a controversial draw -- precisely the same result as their fierce Last Man Standing Match at Backlash weeks before. Since the title couldn't change hands in a draw, Undertaker retained the gold -- or so everyone would think.
No sooner had a dejected Batista left the ring area than Mark Henry, returning to SmackDown after several long months out with an injury, came down and savagely attacked The Phenom. Too battered and bloodied from the hellacious Steel Cage contest, Undertaker was unable to fend off a vile assault from the World's Strongest Man. Henry would leave him a broken mess in the center of the ring -- and allow Edge to come down and claim the "ultimate opportunity."
Just 24 hours after shrewdly coaxing Mr. Kennedy into defending the Money in the Bank opportunity and seizing it on Raw, Edge had defected to SmackDown at the most opportune moment. Making the most of cashing in his Money in the Bank guarantee for a title match "any time, any place, anywhere," Edge stood as the newly crowned bearer of SmackDown's richest prize.
After an injury forced him to relinquish the World Heavyweight Title last July, Edge has returned to the Mellon Arena tonight with another "ultimate opportunity" awaiting him at Armageddon. But even though he has the love of his life -- SmackDown General Manager -- by his side, this time the Rated-R Superstar will find both a Phenom and a champion Animal who are both ready for anything he can throw at them.
Batista has clearly established himself as a worthy World Champion over the past several months since winning the title from The Great Khali at Unforgiven, then defeating Undertaker for the first time at Cyber Sunday. The Phenom, on the other hand, may have vengeance against Edge on his mind, but he has always had the World Heavyweight Title in his sights. Claiming the gold from The Animal would certainly be enough to sate his unearthly need to vent his wrath on Edge -- at least for a time.
No matter what happens tonight at Armageddon, one thing is certain: History will be made at the Mellon Arena for the second time in a year. Whom history will favor, however, is the question that is on everyone's minds.