Lashley reigns supreme

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June 30, 2006

United States Champion Bobby Lashley continued his meteoric rise to success on SmackDown with a huge win over King Booker in his first ever Steel Cage Match Friday night. Lashley and King Booker have been at each other's throats ever since the King of the Ring Tournament, and as of late, King Booker's Court has inserted themselves into the rivalry as well. After two straight weeks of having to contend with William Regal and Finlay as well as King Booker himself, General Manager Theodore Long decided to give Lashley an opportunity against his arch nemesis inside a steel cage to make sure that there would be no interference.

Heading into SmackDown, it was still unknown whether Long's decision would indeed work to Lashley's favor. After all, King Booker is a veteran of Steel Cage Matches, while this marked Lashley's first encounter inside the unforgiving structure. To make matters even more interesting, Lashley's United States Championship was on the line. Early on, it looked as if, King Booker's experience would pay off, as he had one leg out the cage door. But Lashley's freakish strength allowed him to pull the King back in by his other leg, and the match continued.

King Booker tried to ground Lashley by focusing on his previously injured knee -- which was due largely in part to an attack by Regal, Finlay and the King -- but Lashley was able to endure the punishment. However, even though they were locked out of the cage, Regal and Finlay still made their presence felt. As Lashley began to take control, he tried to climb over the cage, but Finlay and Regal were there, wielding a shillelagh and steel chair respectively, to send Lashley back into the ring. An enraged Lashley was able to knock them off the apron, but in the meantime, King Booker was trying to make his own escape. Lashley utilized his impressive agility to hop op on the other side of the cage and caught King Booker as he had one leg draped over the cage. The two battled momentarily on the top turnbuckle before Lashley tossed King Booker back into the ring.

With Regal and Finlay just getting back to their feet, and with King Booker down on the mat, Lashley was able to climb out of the cage and land on the floor to successfully defend his United States Championship. It seems that no matter what is in Lashley's way, he finds a way to overcome it. What is the next step for the young powerhouse? Most likely, it will be whatever he wants it to be.

While one Champion was celebrating at the end of SmackDown, another was down and out as the show kicked off. One week after being tricked into a disqualification loss thanks to World Champion Rey Mysterio and Chavo Guerrero, Mark Henry was back on his Path of Destruction.

"Last week I had Rey Mysterio right where I wanted him. I should be the World Champion," said Henry while addressing the Roanoke, Va. crowd. "I had him whipped. I had him beat. I had him crawling at my feet."

But before Henry could get much further he was interrupted by the retired Chavo Guerrero. Chavo said that he knew that Henry wanted him to come out of retirement so they could have a match, but that wasn't going to happen. Responding to Henry calling all of the Guerreros parasites, Chavo said that the Guerrero name was bulletproof.

"I spit on the Guerrero name. I spit on you. And if your Uncle Eddie were alive, I'd spit on him, too," said Henry.

Needless to say, Chavo stormed the ring upon hearing the inflammatory comments from the World's Strongest Man. But Chavo was following his heart and not his brain. After a couple of hard punches, Henry was able to catch Chavo with the World's Strongest Slam. That was just the beginning of what Henry was ready to unleash.

The World's Strongest Man followed that with a second-rope splash, and he went back up for one more. But before he could connect, World Champion Rey Mysterio rushed to the arena, trying to help Chavo.  When Mysterio hit the ring, however, Henry landed on the World Champion instead. Henry continued to pour it on and rammed Rey back-first into the apron and kicked his head against the ring post. The World's Strongest Man returned his attention to Chavo and slammed him back-first into the ring post twice before putting him in a bone-crunching back breaker. Mark Henry destroyed everything in his path, and it doesn't look like anyone can stop him.

The Cruiserweight Championship was also on the line Friday night as Gregory Helms defended the gold against Super Crazy. Just last week, Super Crazy and then-partner Psicosis had an opportunity at tag team gold, but the Mexicools imploded and the two came to blows. Unfortunately for Super Crazy, the same thing happened again during his singles match against Helms. Crazy had Helms locked in a submission maneuver, but Psicosis stormed the ring from out of nowhere and assaulted his former partner, resulting in a no-contest. Both Superstars were out for blood, and it seems like it may only be a matter of time before these two have to settle things one-on-one.

Mr. Kennedy continued his impressive win streak since returning to SmackDown a few weeks ago with a big win over Gunner Scott. Kennedy continued to unleash a new, more aggressive attack. After brutalizing Scott, and taunting him along the way, Kennedy capped things off with a picture-perfect Ken-ton Bomb for the victory. But before he could finish his closing announcement as the victor, he was interrupted by The Great Khali's music. As the monster made his way to the ring, Kennedy did the wise thing and fled the scene to fight another day. Scott was not as lucky.

The Great Khali hoisted Scott up with ease and sent him crashing down to the mat with a two-handed chokeselam. To add insult to injury, The Great Khali was instructed by Daivari to put Scott into a bodybag, eerily reminiscient of some of Undertaker's past actions. Daivari then laid out a challenge to Undertaker for a Punjabi Prison Match at The Great American Bash. No one is really sure what a match of this nature entails, but Undertaker is normally not one to back down to a challenge. Will Undertaker answer the call, or will he continue to rest in peace?

In addition to trying to help King Booker defeat Lashley in the main event, Finlay was also in singles action Friday night on SmackDown against Matt Hardy. Finlay debuted back in Januaray in a match against Hardy and was disqualified for using excessive force and not breaking the ref's five-count. So, Hardy definitely had a score to settle. Finlay tried to use his shillelagh, but Hardy caught him and tried to use the weapon as well. The referee stepped in, and as he retrieved Finlay's weapon, the fighting Irishman caught Hardy and dropped him on an exposed steel turnbuckle. One Celtic Cross later, and Finlay was the victor. Finlay's friend Little Bastard was also at ringside and even tossed JBL a cold Guiness to enjoy during the match.

The Toughest Man ever to wear a dress, Vito, also continued his winning ways. Vito used his alternative lifestyle to his advantage against the paranoid Simon Dean. Obviously uncomfortable with Vito's unorthodox ring attire, Dean kept trying to cover up his opponent. In the end, Vito locked in a vicious arm bar, as Simon's head was positioned up Vito's dress, forcing the fitness guru to tap out. Vito's armbar was surely painful, but it was probably nothing compared to the mental anguish that Dean will endure every time he thinks of that fateful Friday night in Roanoke.

The Pitbulls, Kid Kash and Jamie Noble, also made their SmackDown debut. The duo showed that they are one of the most aggressive tag teams to join SmackDown in quite some time. They punched, kicked and slapped their opponents around the ring mercilessly. When they finally dished out enough punishment, they finished their opponents off with a tag team maneuver that resembled the Doomsday Device, which was utilized by the legendary Legion of Doom. Will the Pitbulls be able to become legends in their own right? Only time will tell.

Last year's Diva Search winner Ashley was interviewed by Kristal to give her thoughts on the this year's contest. Ashley said that above all else, the contest is about having fun. She mentioned that she was stoked when Kristal made the top-10, but the SmackDown interviewer did not look pleased. Apparently offended by the comment, Kristal responded by saying, "I finished fourth, bitch." Apparently the Diva Search Contest is not all about fun and games.

And the ambassador of Quebec, Sylvan, showcased the exciting nightlife of Montreal and invited all of the SmackDown fans to visit his hometown.

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