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Once, twice, three times a shocker
LAREDO, Texas -- With all apologies to Lionel Richie for modifying the title of one of his greatest hits above…it really was that kind of night on Friday Night SmackDown. In the course of two hours, our fans saw Edge relinquish the World Heavyweight Championship, The Great Khali win it in a Battle Royal, and perhaps the most epic Triple Threat Match in WWE history made for The Great American Bash.
As the show opened, General Manager Theodore Long brought Edge to the ring. The Rated-R Superstar announced to our fans that he had suffered a torn pectoral muscle the previous week, an injury that will keep him out of action for four months. Since the WWE rulebook states that all champions must defend their title once every thirty days, Long ordered Edge (who obviously can't fulfill that obligation) to surrender the gold.
"I've overcome many injuries before, and I could accept those because they happened on the field of battle. But this one didn't; I was the innocent victim of a seven-foot psychotic monster," Edge said about his injury. "But even though Kane has robbed you of the joy of seeing me in action, I left you a little something to remember me by."
With that, the Rated-R Superstar proved that his pride hadn't been damaged by unveiling a tribute video to himself. Once that ended, Edge relinquished the gold to Long, ending the Rated-R Era for now.
The General Manager moved quickly however, announcing that a 20-Man Battle Royal would be held to determine a new champion. Looking for an opportunity at gold, 17 men did their best to make it to the end (17-and-a-half if you count Hornswoggle's momentary involvement), but the final moments saw Batista, Kane and The Great Khali as the last three men standing. With Batista and Kane battling perilously close to the ropes, Khali swooped in and dumped both big men over the top rope, winning the Battle Royal to become the new World Heavyweight Champion, much to the shock of our fans in Laredo.
Immediately following the victory, Khali (through interpreter Ranjin Singh) said that people all over India were celebrating the first Indian World Heavyweight Champion in WWE history. Meanwhile, elsewhere inside the Laredo Entertainment Center, Long and Assistant GM Vickie Guerrero were forced to rework SmackDown's contributions to The Great American Bash. Long decided that Batista and Kane would meet in the main event of SmackDown, with the winner facing Khali for the title at The Bash.
It must have been an ecstatic moment for Batista, who was getting a second chance to make good on an opportunity he didn't know he would ever get; after all, thanks to his loss to Edge at Vengeance, The Animal couldn't challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship as long as the Rated-R Superstar held it. For Kane, meanwhile, it meant he had to fight to get back something he had already earned once; a doubly taxing thought when Edge made it clear that it was the Big Red Monster's own fault that he lost it in the first place.
Once again, however, The Great Khali made his presence felt. Moments after Kane nearly won a hard-fought bout with a thunderous chokeslam, Batista regained full control and looked ready to move on to The Bash. It wasn't to be, however, as Khali made his way to ringside and attacked The Animal, forcing referee Mickie Henson to call for the bell and end the match.
Kane interjected himself, helping the man he was just battling fight off the attack of the 7-foot-3 Indian powerhouse. The threat was averted, but there was one problem: because of Khali's interference, the match had been thrown out and no one had become the No. 1 contender.
Quickly, Theodore Long saved the day, making an announcement that would shake the very foundation of SmackDown for the third time that night. Long's edict said that The Great American Bash would see The Great Khali vs. Kane (the original No. 1 contender) vs. Batista (Khali's original Bash opponent) in a Triple Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Championship.
In the span of two hours, the entire SmackDown world was turned upside down and a new king ascended the SmackDown mountain. The Great Khali might have been dancing on the ceiling out of sheer excitement after winning the gold, but he must now get past the onslaught of two former World Champions at The Bash to keep the title.
One thing is for sure: Khali's Sunday night won't be anywhere near as easy as Sunday morning. Sorry, Mr. Richie.