Shooting stars

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January 26, 2007

The Superstars of SmackDown looked to make statements before heading into the 20th annual Royal Rumble in two days on pay-per-view.

World Heavyweight Champion Batista, who will defend his title this Sunday against Mr. Kennedy, kicked off the show in a champion vs. champion match. He faced the "Longest Reigning Champion in the history of SmackDown," Cruiserweight Champion Gregory Helms. The Animal looked sharp, picking up the victory as he steam rolls into the Royal Rumble showdown.

Later in the night, Kennedy told WWE fans, "this Sunday, I will defeat Batista and become World Heavyweight Champion. I am the fastest rising Superstar in the history of WWE." Batista stormed the ring and demanded that Kennedy hit him again (as he did last week on SmackDown). As the challenger for the World Heavyweight Championship looked to deliver, Undertaker appeared in the ring behind Kennedy. When The Phenom attempted to blast him with a boot, Kennedy ducked and ran up the aisle, and Undertaker inadvertently nailed Batista.

Mr. Kennedy was able to duck and run this time, but at the Royal Rumble, there is no place to hide as he goes one-on-one with Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship.

As announced on WWE.com, the competitors in the Six-Man Over-the-Top Challenge were in single action against each other on SmackDown.

United States Champion Chris Benoit, the 2004 Royal Rumble winner faced off against The Miz, who will make his Royal Rumble debut this Sunday. In 2004, Chris Benoit entered #1 and outlasted every other Superstar en route to his victory. Miz's Royal Rumble experience will be chronicled all day Sunday on WWE.com. On this night, the Miz put forth a valiant effort before he tapped out to the Crossface.

Showing that the Royal Rumble truly is every man for himself, King Booker and Finlay were in action against each other. These former allies will both be part of the 30-man-over-the-top match in 48 hours and both Superstars looked for momentum heading toward Sunday.

MVP tried to back out of his match with the man who burned him at Armageddon in an Inferno Match -- Kane. General Manager Theodore Long told Porter, "you have no choice. You fight Kane or you lose your spot in the Royal Rumble."

With all that is at stake at the Royal Rumble, the first-time participant MVP headed to the ring, where a grinning Kane awaited. MVP must have known SmackDown's General Manager was going to make him wrestle, because the first chance he had, MVP grabbed a gas can from beneath the ring, looking to administer revenge on Kane.

The Big Red Monster rose up before MVP could attack, and chased off the cocky Porter. Will MVP find himself staring across the ring this Sunday at Kane, the most dominant man in Royal Rumble history?

The Six-Man Over-the-Top Challenge was supposed to be a warm-up to the Royal Rumble, but it turned out to be a prelude to darkness, as Undertaker arrived and destroyed the competition, making a statement for all of SmackDown, Raw and ECW to see.

Joey Mercury, Johnny Nitro and Melina reformed MNM and took on the WWE Tag Team Champions Paul London, Brian Kendrick and Ashley in a Mixed Tag Team Match.

MNM were the last team to hold the titles that London and Kendrick have held for over eight months. Melina caused a distraction, and MNM were victorious heading into their match with The Hardys this Sunday.

Finally, Deuce and Domino were once again impressive in victory. Since debuting last week, the tag team has consecutive wins on SmackDown, as they look to ascend the ladder of the SmackDown tag division.

The Royal Rumble is just two days away, and the Superstars of Raw and SmackDown, as well as the first time participants of ECW, look to make history by winning the most star-studded Royal Rumble Match of all time. Who will make history and win the opportunity to main event WrestleMania? Will Batista successfully defend his World Heavyweight Championship?

Tune in this Sunday at 8/7 CT on pay-per-view for the 20th Royal Rumble.

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