MVP def. United States Champion Chris Benoit (2-out-of-3 Falls Match; new champion)

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May 20, 2007

ST. LOUIS -- After months of contending, SmackDown's "Franchise Playa" is no longer pretending. At Judgment Day Sunday night, MVP got the proverbial monkey off his back, pinning Chris Benoit twice consecutively to win the United States Championship.

Disregard the numbers — specifically, the scant 13 percent of AT&T Mobile voters who thought MVP would win a title at Judgment Day. Also forget that Benoit's left knee had been injured on SmackDown less than 48 hours prior, thanks in large part to a grueling match against Finlay, a surprise run-in by Porter and a shillelagh assault by the fighting Irishman. Heading into Sunday night, all our fans could remember was that MVP seemingly had the upper hand against Benoit both at WrestleMania 23 and at Backlash, and both times he came up just short of capturing championship bling.

Locker room sources suggested that the highest paid free agent in sports-entertainment might not have the intestinal investment to prevent Benoit from "three-peating" at Judgment Day. But on SmackDown Friday night, the hotshot Superstar promised Michael Cole that he would overcome the politics and doubting "playa-haters"— by defeating Benoit twice in one evening.

SmackDown color commentator JBL saw something in MVP that most critics couldn't — or simply chose not to. He noted during Porter's two previous losses that he had upped his game plan with each encounter, successfully countering the maneuvers of one of WWE's most technical ring competitors. The advance scouting would finally pay off dividends Sunday night, as MVP utilized every counter he could muster, and capitalized on every opportunity to further damage the wounded Benoit's knee.

Benoit fought with the heart of a champion, and he'll never make excuses about his injury. At the end of the night, however, MVP's "A" game would ultimately produce two successive, clean pinfalls — an unbelievable accomplishment, considering the opponent — an elusive title, and the right to claim that the future of sports-entertainment is now "ballin'."

"I told you so," MVP arrogantly told following the match. Then he took his ball — the United States Championship — and went home.

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