And Batista makes three
CINCINNATI -- The math didn't seem to add up right with regards to SmackDown's two main events last Friday night. When all was said and done, the only number that made any sense was three -- which is precisely what SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long settled on. As a result, at Unforgiven, The Great Khali will put his World Heavyweight Title on the line in a Triple Threat Match, against Batista and -- hopefully -- Rey Mysterio.
So how did this "new math" come about in Cincinnati's U.S. Bank Arena? It started with a Saturday Night's Main Event tag rematch, in which Batista & Kane squared off against Khali & Finlay. The Fighting Irishman had deprived both the Big Red Monster and The Animal from advancing to the Championship Competition's final round a week prior, only to fall short himself against the returning Rey Mysterio. But that wouldn't stop either Superstar from taking their frustrations out on Finlay, or the Punjabi Goliath against whom Mysterio will play modern-day David at the pay-per-view one week from Sunday.
For the majority of the tag contest, it seemed that the Irishman and the World Heavyweight Champion were in complete control, double-teaming Kane inside the ring while keeping Batista at bay on the outside. Yet when Finlay tried taking advantage of a distracted referee and using his shillelagh on Kane, The Animal struck swift and fierce, almost spearing the Celtic combatant in half. Khali stepped over the top rope to intervene, only to be met with a twin-powered flurry of punches and clothesline that sent him hurtling all the way to the outside floor. Kane then caught the still-reeling Finlay with a canvas-denting chokeslam, giving himself and Batista the hard-fought victory.
Later inside the squared circle, it was Chavo Guerrero who introduced the second half of the integral Unforgiven equation. After informing our fans how the steel chair in his hand represented a piece of Rey Mysterio's past -- meaning their previous "I Quit" encounter last October, during which Chavo's repeated chair smashes shattered the masked Superstar's left knee, forcing him out of SmackDown action for nearly a year -- Guerrero emphasized that the steel would also symbolize a piece of his archrival's future.
"Rey…I am going to smash your hopes and dreams of becoming the World Champion at Unforgiven," he said, even before Mysterio made his way down to the ring. "There will be no gold championship in your future, Rey. Only cold, hard steel."
Our fans wondered why Mysterio would accept Chavo's challenge with only nine days to go before his World Heavyweight Title opportunity against The Great Khali. Some questioned if a sense of machismo had gotten the better of him; others, however, believed that the Sultan of the 619 wanted personal redemption. Despite beating Chavo at SummerSlam only two weeks prior, Rey needed to know deep down that he could force Guerrero to voice the two humiliating words that signaled victory in an "I Quit" Match -- the two words that Mysterio himself had been made to utter last year.
Both Superstars proved relentless throughout this incredible match, each delivering a ring assault that made our fans recoil on their couches at home, and cringe in the seats of the U.S. Bank Arena. Each also relied on the steel chair like a tag partner to power much of their offense, though it was Mysterio who wielded it last. And when a chair to the skull left Chavo tangled upside-down across the top turnbuckle, Rey turned his quest for redemption into a night of personal reckoning.
In what felt like an inverted sense of déjà vu, the masked high-flyer unloaded more than a half-dozen chair blasts across the overturned Chavo's left knee -- the same knee that Mysterio had surgically repaired 10 months ago. Yet unlike the outcome from that "I Quit" Match, this time it was Guerrero who dangled and clutched at his knee in agony, leaving him no option but to scream those words of surrender into the microphone. At this juncture, it would be irresponsible to speculate how badly the knee was damaged; judging from how fast officials aided Chavo out of the ring, however, the chances of a swift recovery do not look promising.
Rey Mysterio should have been allowed to bask in this moment of triumph. Instead, The Great Khali suddenly lumbered toward the squared circle, and confronted his vulnerable, visibly battle-weary Unforgiven challenger. Despite Mysterio's efforts to launch an aerial assault against the giant, a massive size 18EEEE boot to the face immediately grounded him. The valiant Superstar then struggled to his feet…only to find his entire head trapped in the Khali Vise Grip.
Actually locking his long fingers together around Rey's skull, the 7-foot-3 champion squeezed, forcing blood to spew from Mysterio's mouth almost as quickly as the air Khali had squashed from a basketball several weeks back. In this instance, however, the result was nearly too graphic even to describe in words, while our fans could only sit and watch, shocked and horrified.
Thankfully, one man refused to stand idle and witness the unfolding tragedy any longer. Batista raced down and attacked the Punjabi colossus, driving him out of the ring with a spear that would break any normal individual in two. The Animal would not rage long, though; as officials and EMTs rushed to aid the fallen Mysterio, Batista's ire changed to genuine concern -- concern over how much damage his friend had suffered while trapped in Khali's monstrous clutches, and if any of that damage was permanent.
Concern was the last thing on the mind of the champion giant and his translator, Ranjin Singh, as they exited from the U.S. Bank Arena; if anything, they actually looked pleased at what Khali had done to Mysterio only moments before. That is, until an incensed Theodore Long confronted the pair about what they may have taken away from Unforgiven, then made a huge addition to The Great Khali's World Heavyweight Title defense at the pay-per-view.
"If Rey Mysterio can make it to Unforgiven, he won't be alone," the SmackDown GM declared. "He'll have the help of another man: Batista, as the match is now going to be a Triple-Threat Match!"
Long left a visibly upset Singh to translate the message for the Punjabi colossus, though he needn't have bothered; judging from The Great Khali's vehement roars of protest, he already figured out what was said. But come one week from Sunday, the World Heavyweight Champion may come across a two-fold problem that even his great size and power can't solve.