As reported on WWE.com earlier this week, General Manager Theodore Long is determined to bring a throng of fresh, young Superstars to the SmackDown brand by relaunching the New Talent Initiative (NTI).
At the close of 2005, Long's NTI brought in a host of new dominant Superstars including United States Champion Finlay, Mr. Kennedy, the Boogeyman and Bobby Lashley. Just as it did last year, the face of Friday nights has changed substantially in less than two weeks' time as a number of brand new stars have made their impressive WWE debuts.
Just weeks ago, the ominous athlete Sylvester Terkay arrived on SmackDown along with his associate Elijah Burke. Terkay, a 320-pound bully, thrashed and pummeled Matt Hardy to earn a strong victory in his first match in a WWE ring.
A three-time All-American and NCAA Champion, Terkay is not only a decorated amateur wrestler, but is also proficient in Mixed Martial Arts and the Muy Thai fighting style. This deadly combination makes Terkay a rare hybrid grappler.
Presenting Terkay weeks ago, the skilled, natural athlete Elijah Burke demonstrated that he's not just in Terkay's corner to talk, but also to fight. Last week on SmackDown, it appeared that Terkay was prepared to wrestle but Burke and Terkay switched roles; Burke fought as his 6-foot-6-inch partner looked on from the corner.
Hitting a variety of quick, high-impact maneuvers, Burke made his opponent submit just as Terkay forced Hardy to tap out the week before. The bully Terkay then assaulted Burke's defeated opponent after the match, sending a message to all SmackDown competitors. That message is very clear: Burke and Terkay may very well be the most dangerous pair to ever be in a WWE ring.
School may be out for summer recess, but former teacher Michelle McCool unveiled two new athletic stars, K.C. James and Idol Stevens. Introduced by McCool as her teacher's pets, James and Stevens were successful against SmackDown veterans Scotty 2 Hotty and Funaki in their debut match. Working together with frequent and aggressive double-team tactics, the newcomers dominated Funaki and the master of the Worm as WWE Tag Team Champions Brian Kendrick and Paul London looked on from the locker room area. Kendrick and London have to believe that the NTI may put their championship reign at serious risk.
Finally, a jive, smooth-talking young talent by the name of Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP) has also touched ground on SmackDown. Last week, the suave MVP introduced himself to Theodore Long and talked about potentially inking a deal that would bring Porter to SmackDown. The brash Porter then abruptly handed his cell phone to Long so that the General Manager could speak with MVP's agent. Long was nearly floored by the agent's suggested compensation -- a presumably large amount of money. Is Long willing to pay to make SmackDown the top brand in WWE?
What new competitors will we see on SmackDown in the coming weeks? Will Long completely alter the face of SmackDown?
Tune in every Friday night at 8/7 CT on UPN to find out.