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Instant messaging toward Cyber Sunday
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The messages sent on SmackDown Friday night were far more powerful than John "Bradshaw" Layfield's shameless lobbying for you to elect him as the guest referee for "Batista-Undertaker IV" at Cyber Sunday. The Phenom conveyed a very physical communication that he wouldn't stand for any biased officiating in the World Heavyweight Title Match. Moments later, The Animal directed an even more substantial missive to Undertaker, informing him that he won't back down from The Deadman who beat him for the title at WrestleMania 23.
Just when we thought this reborn rivalry between the World Heavyweight Champion and his challenger couldn't intensify any further, JBL has found a way. It's beyond our mortal comprehension why the self-professed "Wrestling God" would antagonize these two already incensed behemoths. You'd think he would have learned after his confrontational interview with Batista two weeks ago, during which he called the champion a coward and accused him of fearing The Deadman. That particular comment earned him an enraged Animal-powered spear that made us simultaneously cheer and cringe.
One can call JBL many things -- the nicest being "longest reigning WWE Champion in SmackDown history," "SmackDown color commentator," "incredibly successful businessman" or "potential Cyber Sunday guest official." Just don't include "classically conditioned" among those labels. A classically conditioned individual would have known not to stir things up even more, and incur Undertaker's wrath in the process, this past Friday.
Coming down to the ring, The Phenom certainly didn't look like a man who could be swayed by an evening of relentless campaigning for you to go to WWE.com and "Vote for JBL!" He clearly wasn't impressed by the banners, T-shirts and buttons stating the same directive; the "Friends of JBL" paid advertisement endorsing "a great American for a greater America"; or the commentator's smear campaign over electoral opponents "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Mick Foley. Instead, Undertaker remained deathly silent while his self-absorbed "interviewer" rambled on.
"You know good and well that I'm going to make sure you win that World Heavyweight Championship against Batista," JBL declared, "so it's good for you to come out here and pledge allegiance to me."
The Phenom still wouldn't budge as JBL tried handing him one of his "Vote for JBL" T-shirts, prompting a sterner edict from the SmackDown commentator. "I'm not asking." Undertaker then removed his long coat and hat, but when he still wouldn't take the T-shirt, an incensed JBL reminded him, "I don't know if you get this or not…. Batista may have never beaten you, but I've beaten your ass before…more than once! I may be just a referee, but remember this: I am still a Wrestling G—!"
Before he could finish, sports-entertainment's so-called deity fell from grace -- and nearly through the canvas, courtesy a devastating chokelsam. Without uttering a sound, Undertaker had definitively stated that he doesn't need any help against the World Heavyweight Champion -- regardless of whether you choose Austin, Foley or JBL to referee Sunday's match.
Yet even as The Phenom took the latest step toward his quest for a sixth World Championship, perhaps he should have first taken another glance toward the back, from where an unwavering Batista made his way to the ring. Earlier that night, even before nearly Batista Bombing unfortunate opponent Jamie Noble into paste, The Animal reminded interviewer Anastacia Rose that he didn't care who officiated at Cyber Sunday, so long as they stayed out of his way. As for JBL's prior allegations -- allegations that since he hadn't been able to defeat Undertaker in a trilogy of classic confrontations, perhaps deep down, he knew he couldn't beat him -- Batista responded, "For the last time… I am not afraid of The Undertaker. And true, I have never beaten him…but there's a first time for everything."
Well, for the first time since their final confrontation in May -- a SmackDown Steel Cage Match that ended in a second consecutive draw -- Batista and Undertaker stood and stared each other down inside one ring. Neither man said anything, though you might not have been able to hear them even if they had; the fans in Kansas City were on their collective feet, their competitive cheers of "Batista" and "Undertaker" quickly nearing a fever pitch.
Then, like an explosion of lightning, The Animal struck, spearing The Phenom to the mat.
To see Undertaker knocked off his feet so quickly was in itself a spectacular sight, especially when you consider that it wasn't exactly a surprise attack. Though crowd reaction was decidedly mixed, all instantly understood the message behind the champion's spear. He may have lost his World Heavyweight Title to Undertaker once before, at WrestleMania 23, but he won't let that intimidate him when he defends his gold against The Phenom again at Cyber Sunday. And he sure as hell won't make it easy.