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Race against time
The first edition of Friday Night SmackDown of the new year played host to the Beat the Clock Sprint. General Manager Theodore Long began the night by telling WWE fans in attendance that the match-ups would all be random with the eventual winner facing the World Heavyweight Champion at Royal Rumble. As he explained, the winner of the Beat the Clock Sprint would be the Superstar that wins their match in the fastest time.
World Heavyweight Champion Batista was welcomed to the ring by Long. The Animal smiled and explained how much he was looking forward to the challenge. "I love it. I want to be in the ring with the best. I will keep fighting as hard as I can to keep my title."
The first match in the Beat the Clock Sprint was Kane vs. Chavo Guerrero. Kane defeated Chavo, and set the pace for the night at 7 minutes 53 seconds.
The next match pitted one-half of the WWE Tag Team Champions Paul London against his tag team partner and fellow champion Brian Kendrick. The two Superstars high-octane, fast-paced styles left the crowd in amazement, but were not enough to beat the time set by Kane.
On a mission to regain the championship he lost at Survivor Series, King Booker defeated Gregory Helms in 6 minutes 24 seconds to establish the new time to beat. After the match, Boogeyman continued his stalking of Helms, and the Cruiserweight Champion was laid out and wormed.
Jimmy Wang Yang nearly beat Tatanka and the time set by King Booker, but as the referee counted the pin, the buzzer sounded. As Yang stood in disbelief, Tatanka delivered a vicious assault from behind, leaving the resident redneck in the middle of the ring.
In the final match of the night in the Beat the Clock Sprint, Mr. Kennedy battled United States Champion Chris Benoit, the man who defeated him for the title. Kennedy took advantage of an exposed turnbuckle, and pinned Benoit at 5 minutes 7 seconds to secure the top time in the Beat the Clock Sprint.
Montel Vontavious Porter made his first appearance since Armageddon, still showing the effects of burns received in the Inferno Match. MVP questioned General Manager Theodore Long, asking, "Do you realize what you took from me?"
The young Superstar explained, "the pain and suffering I have been enduring would pale in comparison to the pain and suffering I would have tolerated if I allowed you to stop me from fulfilling my destiny in becoming World Heavyweight Champion." Next week, Porter will get his opportunity, as he has been announced to take part in the Beat the Clock Sprint.
Jillian took on Ashley, but not before she revealed her plans to disfigure her. Since Ashley was named cover girl for Playboy's April issue, Jillian has become insanely jealous of the attention Ashley has been receiving. On this edition of SmackDown, Ashley would once again get the upper hand, defeating Jillian.
Former Diva search finalist Maryse surprised WWE fans as a video of the sultry beauty speaking French was shown. What does the appearance by Maryse mean for SmackDown?
Finally, an extremely emotional Vickie Guerrero expressed her sadness to Kristal over her current situation. "Things are rough for me right now. Chris Benoit turned his back on me and my own nephew (Chavo) turned his back on me," she said. Vickie is still nursing an injured neck caused by Benoit, and she told fans how lost she feels.
Next week on SmackDown, four more Superstars will look to establish the winning time for the Beat the Clock Sprint: Matt Hardy, Finlay, MVP and Undertaker. Will these World Heavyweight Champion hopefuls be able to beat the time Mr. Kennedy has set and move on to Royal Rumble to challenge Batista?