SmackDown goes gold
HOUSTON -- SmackDown hit the stage with a new look -- and a new sound -- after the 2008 WWE Draft sent the likes of WWE Champion Triple H and Hall of Fame commentator Jim Ross to the blue brand. Still, the night featured a familiar sight: Batista hoisting the World Heavyweight Championship in front of the WWE Universe.
Arguably the Draft pick who made the most waves on Monday's edition of Raw, Triple H kicked off the evening with a formal introduction. It didn't take long for World Heavyweight Champion Edge to stir up some trouble, perhaps already playing mind games with The Game. It took even less time for Batista to rush to ringside and spear the title holder after The King of Kings cast him from the squared circle. The Animal grabbed Edge's gold and raised it alongside SmackDown's newest Superstar.
That image would be similar after the main event match between Batista and Umaga. The contest wouldn't reach a conclusion before Edge, Chavo Guerrero, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder all joined in to tame the Animal.
Triple H returned Batista's favor from earlier that night, climbing into the ring and knocking the Samoan Bulldozer from the top of the turnbuckle for an earth-shattering fall. Between The Game and Batista, the squared circle was cleared out in a matter of seconds, leaving the WWE Champion and the hopeful World Heavyweight Champion to celebrate.
Edge's night wasn't completely unsuccessful, however. The Ultimate Opportunist took on new ECW Superstar United States Champion Matt Hardy in a non-title Champion vs. Champion bout. Making good on his nickname, Edge seized the opportunity when Hardy was distracted. The United States Champion was left immobile after a devastating spear, allowing Hardy only to wait for the inevitable pin.
Hawkins & Ryder were also involved earlier in the evening. The duo took on the father-son pair of Finlay & Hornswoggle. The Irishmen proved to be too much for the Rated-R enthusiasts, as Hornswoggle capitalized and pinned Hawkins for the win. WWE Tag Team Champions The Miz & John Morrison came to ringside, but it wasn't to congratulate the pair on their win. The two tag teams will go to battle at Night of Champions, Finlay & Hornswoggle hoping to find gold at the end of the rainbow and Miz & Morrison hoping to protect theirs.
The WWE Universe got another Night of Champions preview when ECW Champion Kane & Big Show faced Mark Henry & Montel Vontavious Porter in tag team action. The three giants involved are all set to fight for the ECW Title in a Triple Threat Match at the pay-per-view, but it's not hard to tell they are chomping at the bit. At the conclusion of the contest, MVP tried walking back to the locker room after struggling in the ring. Henry wouldn't have any of it, though, and he took his partner and tossed him back into the squared circle. The Ballin' Superstar became the victim of a vicious chokeslam and a pin, courtesy of the Big Red Machine.
Six other competitors wanting a title taste fought it out on Friday night, as well. Maryse, Victoria & Natalya shined against Michelle McCool, Kelly Kelly & Cherry. SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero has yet to make a decision about who will take on Natalya in the first ever Diva Championship Match. If Friday served as advantageous for anyone, Maryse offered up a fine performance on her way to pinning Cherry to earn her team the victory.
Rounding out the night, Vladimir Kozlov continued his dominating career, making an example of Domino in one-on-one action.
Make sure to catch Sunday's action to find out if Batista will soon hold the World Heavyweight Champion. Watch Night of Champions, Sunday at 8/7 CT, only on pay-per-view.