Running the numbers

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March 14, 2008

CHICAGO -- Al Capone was one of the most famous gangsters in Chicago history, and was allegedly the man responsible for the most notorious gangland massacre of all-time in 1929. On Friday Night SmackDown, World Heavyweight Champion Edge and his Rated-R Entourage channeled "Scarface" by carrying out their own "Chi-Town Massacre" on Ric Flair & Shawn Michaels -- one that could've been much worse if not for a Deadman.

Originally, Flair was set to face Edge, Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder in a 3-on-1 Steel Cage Handicap Match. However, on Raw, HBK let the world know that he would be coming to SmackDown to watch Flair's back; Michaels wanted to ensure that the "Nature Boy" was at 100 percent heading into their battle at WrestleMania XXIV, and claimed that if Edge was a true champion, he'd have no problem making it a 3-on-2 match.

Earlier in the week, GM Vickie Guerrero had a rare moment of benevolence and  sanctioned Michaels to become Flair's partner, making it 3-on-2. But moments before the match started, she played an ace up her sleeve -- her nephew, Chavo Guerrero. Vickie inserted the ECW Champion into the match, making it a 4-on-2 advantage for the Rated-R entourage.

As the match got underway, Michaels & Flair sensed the need to neutralize their now-bigger disadvantage and tried to keep Chavo out of the cage. Eventually though, the numbers game caught up with them; the "Mexican Warrior" managed to enter the structure, and what ensued was akin to a "public assassination," as Michael Cole noted on commentary.

Even two of the biggest legends in sports-entertainment were no match for four top-flight WWE Superstars, as Edge and company methodically picked them apart. They even tied HBK in the ropes, forcing him to watch as his friend and WrestleMania opponent was systematically decimated by the fearsome foursome. Michaels took several spears from the World Heavyweight Champion, the "Nature Boy" was rendered a bloody mess, and all seemed bleak for them. Edge and his army didn't even seem interested in winning the match, instead more preoccupied with perhaps ending their opponents' careers.

But things are darkest before the dawn, and Michaels & Flair were able to make a comeback. Sure, it took a few low blows and some cage chicanery, but nothing that the "Dirtiest Player in the Game" hadn't pulled out of his playbook before. The pair even got simultaneous Figure-Four Leglocks on Edge & Hawkins, but Chavo managed to cut that off with a dual frog splash. This gave the Ultimate Opportunist a window to escape, and he crawled for the door in an attempt to finally end the carnage.

That's when things got really dark. As in lights out.

Undertaker's familiar gong was heard, and the Allstate Arena went pitch black. When the lights returned, The Phenom stood behind his WrestleMania XXIV opponent, and when Edge turned, he wrapped his hand around the champion's throat. Hawkins & Ryder instantly attacked, giving the Rated-R Superstar another chance to flee, but The Deadman fought them off with a devastating double chokeslam.

The Phenom then quickly caught Edge as he attempted to scramble over the cage. It looked like Edge was finally in for a beating of his own, but this time, Chavo Guerrero sprung to his defense. The Phenom quelled that rebellion with a vicious Tombstone on the ECW Champion, but unfortunately, Chavo's interference gave Edge a third chance to escape -- and it was the proverbial charm.

The World Heavyweight Champion barely managed to avoid The Phenom's grip, sliding over the top of the cage and dropping to the floor to earn victory for his team. No matter that the rest of his team lay in the ring as casualties of war; Edge had accomplished two very important things: He won the match, and he once again avoided the clutches of The Deadman.

The master plan seemed to work to fruition … or did it? As Edge and Undertaker stared down in the closing moments of SmackDown, the look on the champion's face went from one of elation to one of possible doubt as The Phenom signaled for his execution.

For the last few weeks, Edge has managed to foil every opportunity Undertaker has had to get a hold of him. But there are only two certainties in life: Death and taxes. Al Capone couldn't avoid the IRS forever, and the World Heavyweight Champion can't evade The Deadman for much longer. The two will go one-on-one on March 30, with Edge's most prized possession -- and Undertaker's incredible WrestleMania winning streak -- hanging in the balance.

The Rated-R Superstar may think he's an "Untouchable" right now, but if he's not careful, it could be Undertaker who says hello to his "little friend" -- the World Heavyweight Title -- come WrestleMania XXIV.

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