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That's not what friends are for
WICHITA, Kan. -- Even Dionne Warwick wouldn't keep smiling or shining if she were Matt Hardy right now.
Before Friday Night SmackDown, Hardy and tag team partner MVP were WWE Tag Team Champions and -- according to the Ballin' Superstar at least -- good friends. By the end of the night, however, the gold was gone, and any beliefs about their relationship being a positive one was shattered -- just like poor Hardy's left knee might be.
Hardy's rough night started when he was MVP's guest in the VIP Lounge. While MVP "lamented" that he and his partner would be Survivor Series opponents, Hardy had a much different agenda. Calling out the United States Champion for ducking him, Matt issued a challenge to his "friend" and partner:
"You're dodging me, and I want to become United States Champion," Hardy accused. "So let's do it right now, right here tonight!"
When MVP balked at taking on his friend, Hardy quickly dismissed that notion. "We're not friends. We never have been, and we never will be!" he exclaimed. "This is about the United States Championship, and I want it!"
MVP had a different idea, instead informing Hardy that they had a scheduled WWE Tag Team Championship defense. ECW Superstars John Morrison & The Miz then strode to the ring; although Survivor Series opponents themselves -- both will face ECW Champion CM Punk in a Triple Threat Match -- Miz & Morrison looked focused on claiming SmackDown gold first.
Soon enough, they would do so, but not without a little controversy. Early in the match, MVP appeared to tweak his ankle, immediately tagging out to Hardy. He would not re-enter the bout after that, instead leaving Hardy to do the legwork. Unfortunately for the champs, the ECW duo did a little "leg work" of their own, punishing Hardy's left knee. Matt fought them off, but when he went for a Twist of Fate on The Miz, Morrison snuck in with a vicious chop block to drop Hardy. Miz then made the cover, and two new WWE Tag Team Champions were crowned.
MVP quickly checked on his partner, but before the new champions could leave ringside, the Ballin' Superstar immediately cashed in his and Hardy's rematch clause. While it looked like just another moment of bravado from a perhaps embarrassed MVP -- which was extra-questionable due to both he and Hardy being injured --, the truth was soon revealed.
Once again, MVP and Miz began the rematch, and once again, MVP tweaked his ankle. Without a second thought, he immediately tagged in Hardy, leaving his partner to the ECW-branded wolves while he recuperated on the outside. A valiant Hardy tried his best -- living up to his motto that he will not die -- but enough was eventually enough, as Morrison forced Hardy to tap out to a brutal leg submission before further damage was done.
A frustrated MVP once again checked on his partner, even helping him up and raising his arm. But in that moment, four months of facades came crashing down in one fell swoop, as the U.S. Champion savagely kicked Hardy's injured left knee.
From there, SmackDown's "odd couple" was a team no more. MVP viciously attacked Hardy's knee, putting an exclamation point on his assault by wedging Hardy's leg in between the ring post and steel stairs and kicking them together like a clamp. After finally dropping Hardy knee-first onto said stairs, MVP squatted down and gave his former partner an update on their friendship.
"I've been waiting four months to do this, and it's because I'm better than you!" the U.S. Champion shouted. "I've always been better than you and I always will be!"
As the cocky MVP left ringside -- perhaps to a bigger selection of jeers than he's ever heard -- officials came out to check on the severely injured Hardy. Immediately, questions were raised by Michael Cole and JBL on commentary about how this will affect Hardy's scheduled participation in Survivor Series. He has four partners -- brother Jeff, Triple H, Kane and Rey Mysterio -- to support him in this Sunday's Traditional Survivor Series Match, but how can he possibly stand on his own, especially if his former partner is there on the opposing side ready to further harm him?
Perhaps the bigger question is what made MVP snap? Has this partnership with Hardy been exactly what Matt suspected -- a way to keep them busy so Hardy doesn't challenge for the U.S. Title? Did MVP see an unexpected escape clause once Hardy got injured, and did he utilize it to the fullest in an attempt to rid himself of Matt's challenge once and for all?
Only MVP knows the answers to those questions, but what the SmackDown faithful do know is this: John Morrison & The Miz are now the WWE Tag Team Champions -- as well as the first Superstars to cash in on the SmackDown/ECW working agreement and claim gold on their adopted brand -- and the days of Matt Hardy & MVP being an odd couple are officially dead.