Next stop: Detroit
The Road to WrestleMania made its final stop on SmackDown, two days away from the biggest WWE event of the year - WrestleMania 23.
Just 48 hours before their epic encounter this Sunday in Detroit, the World Heavyweight Champion Batista and Undertaker were face-to-face in the ring. General Manager Theodore Long tried his best to maintain order during the "biggest interview in sports-entertainment history," but the tension that has been building between The Animal and The Phenom exploded in front of WWE fans in Grand Rapids, Mich. -- erupting into a brawl between the champion and the challenger to his title.
As much as security and officials tried, they could not stop the intense fight between the two men. Batista looked to gain an edge heading into WrestleMania, as he delivered a Spinebuster to Undertaker. The Deadman rose up as the confrontation between these two men had gone past the point of tension, steamrolling right into a violent conflict. Sunday, Undertaker puts his undefeated WrestleMania streak on the line against Batista's World Heavyweight Championship when these two men collide for the richest prize in the business.
As Michael Cole stated, "the man who will special guest referee the Battle of the Billionaires at WrestleMania does what he wants, when he wants. Stone Cold is the law."
As JBL found out, and as the dueling billionaires may find out on Sunday, The Rattlesnake can strike when he feels like it. At WrestleMania, nobody is safe from Stone Cold or the Stunner -- not Mr. McMahon, Umaga, or even Donald Trump.
Also on SmackDown, the eight men in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match at WrestleMania were scheduled to be in action, but former Money in the Bank winner Edge refused to compete against Matt Hardy, instead introducing his replacement -- The Great Khali.
Khali looked to disassemble Matt Hardy, but he was distracted when Kane's music sounded. The Big Red Monster's sinister laugh filled the arena, and he warned, "Khali -- two days". These two behemoths will square off this Sunday at WrestleMania 23, and both are looking to lay claim to being the monster of WWE.
While Edge avoided competition, CM Punk made the most of his opportunity when he defeated and shocked King Booker in an upset victory. The straightedge Superstar will look to score another upset this Sunday at WrestleMania.
In a Raw rematch, Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton went one-on-one, with each man looking for any advantage heading into Sunday. Orton is looking to regain the form he had when he became the youngest World Champion in WWE history, and Hardy is aiming to get to the top of WWE.
Orton was poised for the victory until his so-called friend Edge interfered, allowing Hardy to get the victory. If Orton is to be successful at WrestleMania this Sunday, he will, as Michael Cole said, "need to get Edge out of his head."
Another SmackDown Superstar who gained momentum heading into WrestleMania's Money in the Bank was Finlay. The Irishman defeated Mr. Kennedy in singles competition, but not before Hornswoggle delivered an unforgettable "Lepre-ton Bomb" to Kennedy. Who will ascend the ladder this Sunday at WrestleMania and become Money in the Bank?
MVP's final match before WrestleMania was against Ethiopian Champion -- Viko Batomango. MVP took the opportunity during this match to mock Chris Benoit's trademark suplexes before picking up the victory. In preparation for his match against Benoit for the United States Championship, Porter has faced competition that some would say is less than spectacular. Will the cocky Superstar be hurt by this approach?
Sunday at Ford Field, will MVP's laid back approach to this match hurt him against the Rabid Wolverine or will he be "ballin'" his way to gold?
Ashley, Torrie Wilson, Candice Michelle, Maria & Mickie James defeated Women's Champion Melina, Kristal, Jillian, Michelle McCool & Victoria in the first ever 5-on-5 Diva Match in SmackDown history. Ashley challenges Melina for the championship Sunday at WrestleMania, and the ring will be surrounded by Divas in a Lumberjill Match. Will Ashley end Melina's reign or will the jealousy of the Women's Champion propel her to victory?
Finally, General Manager Theodore Long has planned a romantic rendezvous with SmackDown Diva Kristal. As JBL pointed out, "all we need now is Julie McCoy and we'll have the Love Boat." The relationship between Diva and GM seems to be heating up on Friday nights.
The wait is over - all roads lead to this Sunday -- April 1, Detroit's Ford Field, when WWE presents WrestleMania 23 live and only on pay-per-view.