Ready, set, sprint

Ready, set, sprint

On 2006's year-end "Best of SmackDown," General Manager Theodore Long made an announcement that sent shockwaves through the sports-entertainment world. In an effort to start the new year with a bang, Long detailed plans for the first-ever SmackDown Beat the Clock Sprint. The competition, which will crown a new No. 1 contender for Batista's title at the Royal Rumble, starts this Friday.

The rules of the Beat the Clock Sprint are simple. Each member of the SmackDown roster is entered into a random drawing for the right to compete in a singles match, where they will try to score a pinfall as quickly as possible. The person who records the quickest victory will earn the right to face Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship at the Royal Rumble.

Most of the roster views the Beat the Clock Sprint as a golden opportunity, a chance to do battle for the richest prize in the industry.

However, Former World Heavyweight Champion King Booker sees the exciting contest as an opportunity for Theodore Long to keep him away from "his" title.

"This Sprint is nothing more than a ploy," said an irritated King. "It is a ploy by that turncoat Theodore Long to keep the title away from King Booker. It is another chance for Long to keep the greatest ruler and champion of all time from his rightful position on top of the SmackDown kingdom."

Two men who have been on a major roll as of late, WWE Tag Team Champions Paul London and Brian Kendrick, told that the SmackDown Beat the Clock Sprint is a major opportunity to further their careers. The tag team specialists believe that if they are selected to participate, they may enter the competition with an advantage.

"I'm pretty darn excited about the idea," said Kendrick. "I'm very interested in being a part of it. Paul and I both wrestle at a fast pace, so I think the format actually caters to our strengths."

Paul London agreed with his partner's statements, and revealed to a new training method that he believes could propel him to success.

"It's definitely a chance for me to make good on all the conditioning I did over the holidays," said London. "I chased down cheetahs, and raced horses…on foot. Those are the kinds of things we do over the holidays in Texas. But seriously, it's a great opportunity, and it won't be easy. Since you don't know your opponent, there is no way to prepare."

Nobody has been guaranteed a spot in the Beat the Clock Sprint, but one SmackDown Superstar, Cruiserweight Champion Gregory Helms, believes he is entitled to participate.

"This is the opportunity I've been waiting for, and I deserve it," said the conceited Helms. "As the longest reigning champion in all of WWE, it's a no-brainer that I should be involved. The Beat the Clock Sprint is tailor-made for Gregory Helms, because I am the fastest man in this industry."

One cocky competitor told that his selection to compete in the SmackDown Beat the Clock Sprint is a forgone conclusion. That confident character is Mr. Kennedy, and he believes the Animal is firmly in his sights.

"I feel bad for everyone else that's going to be a part of this," said Kennedy. "They should just call it quits now, because I will be the one to beat the clock on Friday night. At the Royal Rumble, Batista and his World Heavyweight Championship are mine."

Will Mr. Kennedy even be chosen to participate in the Beat the Clock Sprint? And, if so, will he set the fastest time? Or, will someone else set the pace and earn their ticket to the Royal Rumble? Tune in on Friday night for the first-ever SmackDown Beat the Clock Sprint to find out. 

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