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Cutting corners

Cutting corners

CLEVELAND -- World Heavyweight Champion Edge made the most of the 3-on-1 Handicap Match against WrestleMania XXIV opponent Undertaker, ducking The Phenom in the battle until an opportune moment for a perfectly timed spear.

For most of the match, Edge's partners, Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder, tried to wear The Phenom down, allowing the "master manipulator" to choose his battles after avoiding being tagged early in the contest. The victory by the Ultimate Opportunist only served to back up his bravado earlier in the night, when Edge claimed that he and his "minions" would defeat Undertaker.

As Edge and The Phenom head toward their WrestleMania showdown for the World Heavyweight Championship, the battle for momentum continued on SmackDown. After weeks of The Deadman destroying anyone in his path to get to Edge, including Hawkins & Ryder last week, the Rated-R Superstar finally fired back, this time physically. Undertaker tried as he could to force the World Heavyweight Champion to face him in the ring, hungry for the head of the champion, but Edge had other plans. The win in the 3-on-1 Handicap Match for Edge also sent a clear message to another Superstar who may suffer the same fate next week -- 16-time World Champion Ric Flair.

Earlier in the night, Edge welcomed Flair to "The Cutting Edge," where he told "Naitch" that WrestleMania XXIV "is shaping up to be the most depressing event in WWE history." The Rated-R Superstar then explained that he believed two legacies would come to an end in the Citrus Bowl -- Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania, and Flair's 35-year legendary career.

Never one to back down from a challenge, the "Nature Boy" assured Edge and our fans, "I will beat Shawn Michaels, and will wrestle well beyond WrestleMania." The 2008 Hall of Fame inductee then voiced his disgust about Edge's "sham of a relationship" with SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero, angering both the champion and his lover.

The World Heavyweight Champion took exception to Flair's scathing comments, and Edge told "Naitch" to pay close attention to the 3-on-1 Handicap Match against The Deadman -- because next week on SmackDown, Flair will face the same odds. Still, Vickie wasn't satisfied, and informed Flair that Friday on SmackDown, he would face the Ultimate Opportunist, Hawkins & Ryder -- all three men -- inside a steel cage.

A stern warning followed from the Rated-R Superstar: "We won't jeopardize your career, Ric, just your physical well-being." Edge then mocked Flair with his own "Woooooo," and the "Dirtiest Player in the Game" responded by slapping the champion across the face, much to the delight of our fans in Cleveland and Assistant General Manager Theodore Long, who grinned while standing by.

Friday on SmackDown, Ric Flair will have the odds stacked against him, with just more than two weeks before he puts his legacy on the line at WrestleMania XXIV in a Career Threatening Match against HBK. As Flair prepares for his WrestleMania experience, the World Heavyweight Champion will hope to continue building momentum for his title defense in Orlando, Fla., at the expense of the Nature Boy, inside a 15-foot high steel cage.

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