Animal on the prowl

Animal on the prowl

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Over the past few weeks, The Great Khali and his destructive Vise Grip seemed to have Batista's number. But after seeing The Animal's attack draw the World Heavyweight Champion's blood on SmackDown Friday night, it's possible that Batista may have turned the tide just days before they meet at SummerSlam.

48 hours before his match with Khali at the Biggest Party of the Summer, Batista had to take on Finlay in SmackDown's main event. While the two men are certainly no strangers to each other -- Batista & Kane just defeated Finlay & Khali on Saturday Night's Main Event -- The Animal had to be careful not to look past the dangerous fighting Irishman.

Early on, it looked as if Batista was fully focused, dominating Finlay in the early going. But once The Great Khali and translator Ranjin Singh made their way to ringside, the tone of the match changed drastically. The Animal split his attention between his SmackDown opponent and his SummerSlam foe, allowing Finlay to take control and brutalize Batista with his hard-hitting offense.

At one point, Khali made a move toward The Animal while he and Finlay battled on the floor; Batista chased him off with a steel chair, but the distraction proved fruitful as Finlay was able to bash his opponent and regain control. Moments later, however, Batista struck back, and as he went for a Batista Bomb on the Celtic combatant, Khali decided to attack once again.

The World Heavyweight Champion climbed to the apron, prompting Batista to go after him. Ever the opportunist, Finlay tried to nail The Animal with his trusty shillelagh; while the fighting Irishman was unsuccessful, Batista's momentary shift in focus allowed Khali to regroup and clobber him with a mighty overhand chop.

At that point, it looked like Batista was about to suffer the same fate that had befallen him over the last two weeks. Instead, The Animal used his formidable strength to block Khali's Vise Grip; after a timely strike and a thunderous spear, it was then Batista's turn to be on the prowl.

The Animal mounted Khali, landing punches with a fury that was perhaps more intense than ever seen from him. Finlay tried to pull him off, but a spinebuster silenced him quickly, and The Animal went right back to his Punjabi prey. Even after Khali pushed him away and tried to escape, Batista followed him to the floor and continued his relentless assault.

Finally, after a few moments of Batista battering the World Heavyweight Champion, referees and officials were able to pull The Animal off his wounded prey. When Khali finally struggled to his feet, it became visible that Batista had busted the World Heavyweight Champion open, something that only one (dead)man had ever done to him in his WWE career.

Just 48 hours before SummerSlam, Batista looked like an Animal possessed as he stared down The Great Khali with an intense fire in his eyes. It's said that he who laughs last, laughs best; come SummerSlam, however, will The Animal smile through a nice Punjabi dinner, or will it be Khali who once again laughs his way to the bank?

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