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SmackDown rivals clash for U.S. gold

Just one night before representing the SmackDown brand in a grueling six-man encounter at Saturday Night's Main Event, Bobby Lashley defends his United States Championship against Finlay tonight on SmackDown.

On Saturday, the all-star team of World Champion Rey Mysterio, U.S. Champion Lashley, and the returning Batista collide with Mark Henry, King Booker, and Lashley's opponent tonight, Finlay. But before Lashley can make it to SNME, the U.S. Champion will clash with a man he has met many times before in Finlay. Both Superstars have what some could consider a consistent rivalry dating back to February at No Way Out. 

It was at No Way Out that the fighting Irishman interfered in Lashley's match with John Bradshaw Layfield, assisting JBL in serving Lashley his first loss in a WWE ring. Since then, Lashley and Finlay have crossed paths time and time again in one-on-one contests, tag team battles, and even at WrestleMania 22 in the Inter-Promotional Money in the Bank Ladder Match. 

"I am the one who cost [Lashley] his winning streak; I'm the one who caused every bit of downfall in his career," Finlay said. "Tonight, I'm going to take his head off."

These two men have clashed through count-outs, double-disqualifications and even other Superstar Lumberjacks, but their rivalry still thrives. One of the most notable confrontations between the two was on the March 16 edition of SmackDown, where Lashley and Finlay brawled from the ring to the parking lot and Lashley used his uncanny strength to turn over a parked car, nearly crushing Finlay beneath it.

Finlay continued to be an emerald green thorn in the side of Lashley at Judgment Day when one shillelagh shot from Finlay cost Lashley the King of the Ring finals match against Booker T. Since then, Finlay has aligned himself with King Booker, Queen Sharmell and William Regal, becoming a member of the royal Court. Finlay has also been joined by Little Bastard, who has helped Finlay earn a number of impressive victories over the last several weeks. 

"There is no love lost in this match," admitted Lashley. "Instead of coming in with any kind of strategies, tonight I'm just coming to fight." 

Lashley has been on a tremendous winning streak as of late, including a victory last week over Cruiserweight Champion Gregory Helms. Just two weeks ago, Lashley was also successful against his nemesis King Booker in a Steel Cage Match with Finlay and the Court at ringside. But without 15 feet of steel to keep out any obstacles and external interference in his championship defense on SmackDown, Lashley must come to Minneapolis prepared for anything.

"[Finlay] loves to fight. I want to fight…that's what it's going to be," said an intense Lashley. "The best man is going to win."

At the Great American Bash, Lashley is scheduled to defend the U.S. Championship against Finlay and William Regal in a high-stakes Triple Threat Match. Given what lies ahead of the young champion, the question becomes: will Lashley walk into Indianapolis on July 23 as the United States Champion? Tune in to SmackDown tonight at 8/7 CT on UPN to find out.

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