The Rumbling of foul play
OMAHA, Neb. - With just two days before the 22nd Royal Rumble and an announcement that someone tampered with the pyrotechnics display responsible for leaving WWE Champion Jeff Hardy "battered, bruised and burned" one week ago, the unexpected engulfed every aspect of SmackDown.
Interview with WWE Champion Jeff Hardy (WATCH)
In an exclusive pre-taped interview with Jim Ross, Jeff Hardy rejected any suggestion that his pyrotechnics "accident" (WATCH) was an accident at all, nor was his hit and run and his hotel stairwell attack. Hardy placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of his Royal Rumble opponent Edge, (match preview) before vowing that he will be at the pay-per-view to defend his championship against the Ultimate Opportunist.
Vladimir Kozlov & Big Show def. Triple H (Handicap Match) (WATCH | PHOTOS)
Just two days before their participation in the Royal Rumble Match (match preview), Vickie Guerrero placed Triple H in a match against the undefeated Vladimir Kozlov. However, she neglected to mention until long after the match was underway that the Moscow Mauler would have a tag team partner in Big Show, making it a Handicap Match. As The Game attempted to hit the Pedigree, Big Show smashed him in the back of the head, opening the door for Vladimir Kozlov to hurl The King of Kings to the canvas for the victory.
Edge def. Matt Hardy (No Disqualification Match) (WATCH | PHOTOS)
Although Edge denied involvement in Jeff Hardy's pyrotechnics "accident," - informing the WWE Universe he didn't need to do such things to beat him - Matt Hardy charged in to attack the Rated-R Superstar and chase him into the crowd. (PHOTOS) SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero then informed her husband that she was putting him into a No Disqualification Match with Hardy later on SmackDown. After a brutal match that employed everything from trash cans to kendo sticks, Matt's own Rumble opponent - ECW Champion Jack Swagger (match preview) -- and Royal Rumble Match participant Mark Henry interfered, attacking Hardy before the Ultimate Opportunist triumphed over him with the spear.
Undertaker def. United States Champion Shelton Benjamin (Non-Title) (PHOTOS)
Despite Benjamin's never wavering spirit in a grueling match against The Phenom, Undertaker once again exhibited the darkness of defeat onto one of his 29 Royal Rumble opponents, locking the Gold Standard into the dreaded fury of Hell's Gate. Although The Deadman's submission hold continues to spread its menace across SmackDown, will it prove to be any help at all as Undertaker looks to win the Royal Rumble Match this Sunday? (match preview)
The Great Khali def. Chavo Guerrero (PHOTOS)
After refuting insinuations that he is nothing more than Vickie Guerrero's "go-fer," Chavo Guerrero failed to defend his family's name against The Great Khali, who reigned supreme over the self-proclaimed Mexican Warrior with the Punjabi Plunge.
Michelle McCool & Natalya def. Nikki and Brie Bella (DQ) (Divas Tag Team Match) (PHOTOS)
Over the past several weeks, Michelle McCool has laid siege on any Diva she has felt was "jealous" of her. But this week, while Michelle was teaming with Natalya against the Bella Twins - with new Divas Champion Maryse sitting ringside as a guest commentator (injury article) - Maria charged in to attack McCool, dishing out some payback on the former Divas Champion both inside and outside the ring. Only when Natalya got involved did Michelle take control, viciously slamming Maria into the barrier and leaving with a smile.
World Tag Team Champions The Miz & John Morrison def. WWE Tag Team Champions Carlito & Primo (Non-Title Tag Team Match) (PHOTOS)
In a Champion vs. Champion Tag Team Match, after Primo was exiled from the ring, Carlito hit the Backstabber on the Shaman of Sexy. However, before he realized that Miz had been tagged into the match and was in fact the legal man, the self-proclaimed "Chick Magnet" rolled him up for the quick victory.