Gaining Momentum

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March 24, 2006

Gaining momentum for WrestleMania 22 was the name of the game as Friday Night SmackDown emanated from Memphis.

While not in action, Randy Orton played an instrumental in both of his WrestleMania opponents' losses. As the night began, Orton came out using Rey Mysterio's entranceway. The Legend Killer reviewed what happened at the end of his match at Saturday Night's Main Event, saying that Mysterio and Kurt Angle were jealous of him and that he would become World Heavyweight Champion at WrestleMania 22.

Mysterio was in action first, taking on Finlay. The Irishman dominated most of the match, using his size advantage and sheer brute force to pound Mysterio down. Rey made a comeback and got Finlay in position for a 619; Finlay escaped, and as Rey tried a plancha, Finlay caught him in the ring apron and pounded him on the floor. As the match neared conclusion, Rey made another comeback and finally hit the 619 on Finlay. As Rey set up for the West Coast Pop, Finlay went for his shillelagh; this drew the referee's attention, and as Rey sprung off the ropes, Orton rolled in to the ring and caught Rey in mid-air with an RKO. Finlay then covered a weakened Mysterio for the easy victory.

In the main event, current champion Kurt Angle met Mark Henry in a non-title rematch from the Royal Rumble. Even without Daivari at ringside, Henry dominated the majority of the match, working Angle's back and ribs. Angle came back and gave the World's Strongest Man a German suplex, but stopped to yell at referee Jim Korderas instead of capitalizing. This allowed Henry to hit a massive avalanche, sandwiching Angle and Korderas in the corner. He missed a subsequent splash attempt, however, allowing Angle to apply the Ankle Lock.

Orton then ran in and nailed Angle from behind, setting him up for an RKO. However, this brought Mysterio out for revenge, and he attempted to hit Randy with a West Coast Pop. Orton moved, and Rey nailed Angle instead. As Orton rolled out of the ring, Henry tossed Rey to the floor and hit a splash on Angle for the surprising victory. Rey tried to explain the situation to Angle after the match, but Angle shoved Mysterio instead. Rey retaliated by nailing the champion with a 619, and the three WrestleMania opponents stared each other down as the show came to a close.

Also this week, Lashley punched his ticket for WrestleMania, winning a Last Chance Battle Royal to earn the final spot in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. 20 men began the Battle Royal, and the final four were Lashley, Tatanka and MNM. Tatanka & Lashley teamed up to take it to the WWE Tag Team Champions, but the Native American made the mistake of charging Nitro while he was on the ropes; Nitro ducked and pulled the ropes down, sending Tatanka to the floor and leaving Lashley alone with the champions.

MNM then proceeded to double team Lashley mercilessly; they were able to hit the Snapshot on the powerhouse, but couldn't get Lashley over the top rope. Lashley escaped their assault, but charged into the corner and hit the ringpost. In the end, Mercury held Lashley for a Nitro superkick, but Lashley ducked and he hit his partner instead. Lashley then hoisted Mercury up in a gorilla press and tossed him into Nitro, who was against the ropes. The WWE Tag Team Champions tumbled over the top rope together, giving Lashley the victory to send him to WrestleMania.

Chris Benoit also sent a message to JBL just nine days before they meet at WrestleMania 22. JBL said he would take out Benoit himself, but wasn't cleared to wrestle; instead, he sent William Regal in to battle the United States Champion in a non-title match. Benoit and Regal did some back and forth mat wrestling early until Benoit sent Regal to the floor. The Rabid Wolverine then missed a baseball slide, allowing Regal to suplex him on the floor, then deliver a vicious kick that sent Benoit's head into the ringpost. Back inside the ring, Regal worked over Benoit with various submission moves, but the champion was able to eventually escape a chicken wing by nailing Regal with a Dragon suplex. The champion then applied the Crippler Crossface, and Regal tapped out immediately. Following the match, Benoit stared down JBL & Jillian, who were watching the match from atop their limousine in the entrance aisle.

Finally, another WrestleMania 22 match was altered when General Manager Theodore Long called out Booker T & Sharmell to sign the contract for Booker's match against Boogeyman. Long told Booker that doctors had found nothing wrong with him after Saturday Night's Main Event, and that he would wrestle on April 2. Booker complained to Long, telling him that he wouldn't wrestle the Boogeyman; Long responded by saying that he would give Booker a partner of the GM's choosing to compensate for his "injuries", but that he would fire Booker if he did not sign the contract. Booker finally relented, telling Long that it didn't matter who his partner was, he was coming to get Boogeyman at WrestleMania. With that, the General Manager revealed that at WrestleMania, Boogeyman would wrestle the team of Booker T and…Sharmell. Husband and wife stood in the ring mortified as Long returned to the back, but with the contract now signed, Booker & Sharmell will have to face their fears on April 2.

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