Stolen Thunder

Several SmackDown Superstars found a pot of gold at the end of their rainbow, but it was Randy Orton who truly shined on the St. Patrick's Day edition of Friday Night SmackDown.

Prior to the scheduled main event Six-Man Tag Team Match, Orton sat down for a three-way interview with his two WrestleMania opponents, World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle & Rey Mysterio. Orton used the time to berate both men, telling Angle he was a paper champion and calling Rey a charity case. The question was raised whether they could co-exist as a team, and while Angle & Mysterio professed to have each other's backs, Orton merely ducked the question, saying only that he would dominate.

In the main event, the WrestleMania opponents met WWE Tag Team Champions MNM & Mark Henry. Early in the match, Angle kept MNM off guard, but the champions took control by working Angle's still injured ribs. Angle managed to tag Mysterio, who came in and cleaned house on MNM before running into Henry. Henry dominated his smaller opponent, and Melina & Daivari even got involved to help their team.

As the match neared conclusion, Orton still had not tagged into the match. After Henry missed a splash on Mysterio, Rey was able to tag Angle. The World Heavyweight Champion cleaned house on MNM, tossing them around at will with German suplexes. Angle then hit an Angle Slam on Mercury, but Henry broke up the pinfall. He was rewarded with an Angle Slam of his own, and the World Heavyweight Champion tagged in Mysterio. Mysterio came in and nailed Mercury with the 619, but Orton finally made a blind tag as he did so. Orton then tossed Mysterio over the top rope, and with Angle fighting Henry outside the ring, the Legend Killer made the easy cover on Mercury for the victory. As the remaining members of his team stared Orton down after the match, the question was once again raised if they could co-exist at Saturday Night's Main Event.

Also this week, two of SmackDown's three spots were filled for the Money in the Bank Ladder Match at WrestleMania 22. In the first qualifier, Finlay & Lashley met in a Lumberjack Match. While the two could not keep their rivalry in the ring the last few weeks, the SmackDown lumberjacks made sure there was a winner this week. After Lashley dominated the early going, Orlando Jordan held his leg as he attempted a spear, allowing Finlay to attack and spear Lashley into the post. Several of the lumberjacks then took turns attacking Lashley every time Finlay tossed him to the outside. Lashley would make a comeback and toss Finlay over the top rope out to his friends, inciting a brawl. After Lashley took out several of the lumberjacks, Sylvan came into the ring with a chair. Lashley cut him off, spearing the chair back into Sylvan, but the distraction allowed Finlay to grab his shillelagh. With the referee tending to Sylvan, Finlay nailed Lashley with the shillelagh, getting the pin to advance to WrestleMania.

In the other qualifier, Matt Hardy took on Road Warrior Animal. Hardy attacked Animal as the bell rang, but Animal clipped Hardy's knee to take control. Animal worked the knee for most of the match before Hardy made a comeback, hitting him with two Side Effects. As they fought in the corner, Hardy accidentally caught referee Charles Robinson with an elbow. This allowed Animal to knock Hardy out with brass knuckles and get the pinfall. However, as Robinson raised Animal's hand, the knucks fell out of from underneat his arm, where he had hidden them following the match; Robinson saw this and reversed his decision, disqualifying Animal and sending Hardy on to WrestleMania.

Another WrestleMania rivalry was intensified when Chris Benoit met Orlando Jordan. JBL sat in on commentary for the match, bringing a cooler with him as a nod to his Beer Drinking Contest at Saturday Night's Main Event. Late in the match, Benoit hit Jordan with a trio of German Suplexes and locked in the Sharpshooter. Jordan tapped out, but as Benoit celebrated the victory, JBL ran into the ring and nailed Benoit with the cooler, knocking him out.

On the eve of Booker T and Boogeyman's clash at Saturday Night's Main Event, the bizarre one Booker and Sharmell another visit this week. Sharmell was scared to accompany Booker to the ring for his match, so Booker eased her fears by giving her a beekeeper's suit to wear. After Booker dispatched his opponent quickly, the Boogeyman's music played. Booker & Sharmell looked around in fear, finally hiding under the ring. They soon crawled back out screaming, as the bizarre one himself appeared from under the ring as well. Booker & Sharmell ran to the back terrified as Boogeyman gave chase, stopping along the way to feast on some worms.

Also, Paul Burchill & Kristal defeated William Regal & Jillian in a Mixed Tag Team Match when Burchill pinned Regal.

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