Inaugural duress

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May 18, 2007

BALTIMORE -- Met by a torrent of audible discontent from Baltimore fans, new World Heavyweight Champion Edge came to SmackDown with a primary focus: to gloat and bask in controversy. The Rated-R Superstar, however, did not account for his inaugural address to be crashed by a focused, angry Animal, just days before their high-stakes championship encounter at Judgment Day. (WATCH)

"That title belongs to me," Batista affirmed as he stared directly into his foe's calculative eyes. "I'm sorry, but Sunday, I'm going to be needing it back."

As announced earlier this week on WWE.com, these two warriors will meet this Sunday for the very championship many believe Batista was robbed of last week in Pittsburgh. With just a handful of carefully chosen words, The Animal certainly made a last impression on the gold bearing Rated-R Superstar as the two stood face-to-face for the first time since Edge's now infamous deeds. Batista's words clearly resonated within the complex psyche of the champion, as a chagrined Edge cowered from the ring, leaving the confident Animal standing in the SmackDown ring he's called home for some time now.

Prior to the interruption from his confident Judgment Day opponent, Edge stood in the spotlight of the 1st Mariner Arena and retold his personal account of triumph -- his ascent to the top of sports-entertainment. Though Batista ultimately doused the celebratory parade of the Rated-R Superstar and shared words the champion would have much difficulty swallowing, Edge still managed to be as insulting, offensive and scandalous as ever on SmackDown.

Reliving his achievement one week earlier, the renegade champion cited being the only man in history to take titles from both John Cena and Undertaker, arguably the greatest legend in WWE history. The Rated-R Superstar also boldly declared that he did in three seconds what Batista couldn't do in three months: defeat The Deadman.

Albeit riddled in controversy, the Rated-R Superstar's championship snare was of unbelievable plotting and brewing, paired of course, with perfectly timed execution. It is unquestionable that the new World Heavyweight Champion is the ultimate opportunist. However, the title as well as the Money in the Bank opportunity Edge essentially stole from Mr. Kennedy could prove to be a matter of fate for the Rated-R Superstar. Could he regret this play of a finely contrived hand when he meets a wrathful and driven Batista on Sunday?

After The Animal took The Phenom to a second straight draw at the conclusion of an extraordinarily physical Steel Cage Match last week, Edge capitalized on Batista's efforts (and Mark Henry's as well) to seize the gold from Undertaker. Many in the WWE locker room say that Batista should have been had the opportunity to face The Deadman to settle their unmatched rivalry once and for all. Instead, one of the greatest competitive rivalries in recent SmackDown history was ended curtailed indecisively at the hands of the Rated-R Superstar.

As he alluded to on Friday night, Batista will have his chance to unleash a ravenous zeal upon the individual that thieved the World Heavyweight Championship. Will Edge, the self-proclaimed master of mental chess, have yet another plan in the works to retain his prize? What more does The Animal have to say about this championship contest? Check back with WWE.com on Saturday for an exclusive interview with Batista, as he talks in-depth about Judgment Day and Edge.

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