On their way to Madison Square Garden

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January 25, 2008

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- With just 48 hours until Royal Rumble, the SmackDown Superstars were upping their game in preparation for the showdown at Madison Square Garden. Among those ready to clash in the Big Apple are two of WWE's biggest athletes -- the 6-foot, 10-1/2-inch Undertaker and the 500-pound man-mountain from Harlem, N.Y., Big Daddy V.

But on Friday night, it was The Deadman who displayed his dominance. Using a submission move never seen before, Undertaker defeated V, leaving him with blood flowing from his mouth -- and requiring the World's Strongest Man, Mark Henry, to help him exit the ring. Somehow, The Phenom always finds a way to win. Will he find a similar way to defeat the 29 other men come Royal Rumble? (WATCH)

Bold statements
In addition to The Phenom, Batista -- another serious Rumble contender and former World Heavyweight Champion -- grabbed the SmackDown mic to let everyone know about his chances of being the last man standing in New York City. Making a bold prediction, the 2005 Rumble winner proclaimed, "I'm putting every competitor on notice. History is going to repeat itself."

Belfast brawl
On last week's SmackDown, Finlay was on the receiving end of The Great Khali's brutal Vise Grip, which almost crushed the Fighting Irishman's cranium. To potentially allow Finlay to get some payback, the Chairman set up a no-rules Belfast Brawl between the two. Revenge came swiftly and severely when the Chairman's illegitimate son, Hornswoggle, looked to be in danger of being slammed into the announce table by Khali. This launched Finlay into a relentless attack; using his shillelagh, fists, boot and a chair, he opened a wound on the Punjabi giant's forehead. Will Finlay be able to carry this aggression forward and use it to his advantage in the Rumble?

For Hornswoggle to survive the 30-man over-the-top rope Royal Rumble, he'll surely need Finlay at his side. But, according to the Chairman, Hornswoggle cannot trust the Fighting Irishman. In the locker room area, Mr. McMahon pulled his son aside and advised him not to trust anyone in Royal Rumble. "Your last name isn't Finlay," he said. "Your last name is McMahon, and don't you ever forget it."

A glimpse into the future?
Days before the Career Threatening Match at Royal Rumble, the verbal battle between Ric Flair and United States Champion Montel Vontavious Porter continued on SmackDown. Taking a sarcastic look into Flair's future, MVP taunted "Naitch" with what it might look like, including the "Nature Boy" playing shuffleboard in his retirement. Flair brushed off MVP's prognosticating and flatly proclaimed he is not ready to retire, "not ready to go home." All the talk will come to a head on Sunday, when Flair's fate in WWE is decided. If Flair defeats MVP, the Nature Boy carries on. Lose, and he must retire, as per the Chairman.

Divided they fall
In a Six-Person Tag Team Match, Chuck Palumbo, Jamie Noble & Michelle McCool were set to face off against The Miz, John Morrison & Layla. But, before the match could really get going, McCool's team got into trouble early. While bickering in the middle of the ring, Palumbo shoved Noble against the ropes, launching Michelle off the apron and down to the ground. With the match stopped for medical staff to check on Michelle's condition, Chuck seemed to snap, delivering a vicious beating to Noble, his own teammate. After recovering, McCool tried to intervene, only to have Palumbo ruthlessly throw her to the ground again -- this time requiring emergency medical technicians to take her out of the arena on a stretcher. Later, as Michelle was brought to a waiting ambulance, Noble apologized for how things went down. (WATCH)

Professional help
For fans wondering where Jesse and Festus have been in recent SmackDown action, Jesse offered an explanation. In an effort to help with his bizarre personalities, Festus is seeking professional help. Best friend Jesse explained there is the calm, cool and reserved Festus. And then there is the crazy, madman Festus. Which will we see when Festus gets "well"?

SmackDown in HD
On the debut of SmackDown in HD, fans saw Jimmy Wang Yang & Shannon Moore defeat Deuce & Domino in tag team action. Also, fans learned that next week, Eve -- winner of the 2007 WWE Diva Search -- will be coming to SmackDown in HD. (WATCH)

Ready to Rumble
With Royal Rumble just two days away, Rey Mysterio faced off against both Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder in a Handicap Match and got the win. Later, reigning World Heavyweight Champion Edge speared his way to victory over CM Punk, while Mysterio joined Michael Cole and Jonathan Coachman at ringside to watch it all unfold. In just two days, a sold out Madison Square Garden will be watching as the two do battle for the World Heavyweight Championship. (WATCH) Read the full story…

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