Creating the Ultimate Opportunity?

Creating the Ultimate Opportunity?
BOSTON -- General Manager Vickie Guerrero's return to SmackDown Friday night certainly made a tremendous impact -- one that was felt by all three of the Triple Threat Match combatants heading into Armageddon this Sunday. World Heavyweight Champion Batista and Undertaker suffered the brunt of that emphatic impact, however, while the apple of Vickie's eye, Edge, appears to have positioned himself for a golden "ultimate opportunity" at the pay-per-view.

For a moment, Edge must have thought it was raining on the ramp inside Boston's BankNorth Garden, for he was showered with boos from the moment he came out and urged our fans to warmly welcome back the love of his life. Wheeled out in a chair by her none-too-happy Assistant GM, Theodore Long, an obviously-pained Vickie kept one hand close to her neck brace while Edge selectively recalled her "vicious attack" at the hands of an understandably frustrated Undertaker three weeks before. (That Undertaker Tombstoned Vickie only because her lover escaped his grasp had conveniently been removed from the Rated-R Superstar's account of the facts.)

Despite weakly expressing injuries to her neck and back -- plus being "mentally scarred" and "emotionally distraught" -- Vickie's tone hardened as she resumed her General Manager duties with a startling proclamation: With the World Heavyweight Title hanging in the balance this Sunday, all Triple Threat Match participants would see ring action on SmackDown. That included Edge, whose face took on a look of apprehension over her decision -- until he discovered that his opponent was Funaki. Though a competitor through and through, the former Cruiserweight Champion was ultimately no match for a spear from the Ultimate Opportunist. (WATCH)

Vickie, clapping and blowing kisses to her lover from the ramp area, urged fans to applaud Edge's "hard-fought" victory, then focused her undivided attention toward his Armageddon adversaries with a pair of startling match-ups: "Batista will go one-on-one with Kane in a Last Man Standing Match," she announced, prompting a collective gasp from our fans, "and The Undertaker will take on both Mark Henry and Big Daddy V in a Handicap Match."

Certainly, our fans may question if amore has made Vickie Guerrero a somewhat-biased General Manager. Batista and Undertaker, on the other hand, were in no position to question anything after Friday night. In fact, after The Animal's Last Man Standing contest with the Big Red Machine, it's a wonder that he's in any shape to stand, much less defend his championship at Armageddon. With the sole objective of incapacitating an opponent to the point that they can no longer stand and answer a referee's 10-count, Kane unleashed a veritable onslaught that would have toppled almost anyone else.

But Batista isn't "anyone else." Somehow enduring chokeslams, steel chairs and ring steps on the outside floor, The Animal again demonstrated his unconquerable intensity, forged from months of persevering in hellacious stipulation matches. Fighting his way out of a chokeslam on the ring stairs that would have guaranteed Kane top contender status, Batista flattened the 7-foot behemoth with a spinebuster onto the SmackDown announcers' table.

Even then, victory was nearly stolen away when out of nowhere, Edge surprised Batista with a spear that folded the champion in half. It was all The Animal could do to struggle back to his feet just before the referee counted 10, while Kane remained motionless across the announcers' table. Though victorious, Batista couldn't even savor the moment of being the Last Man Standing; again the vindictive Rated-R Superstar attacked, laying him out with a chair across the base of his spine, and leaving our fans to worry over what kind of shape Batista will be in come Armageddon. (WATCH)

Content with the punishment he had inflicted on The Animal, Edge smiled all the way back to Vickie Guerrero's office, where he was greeted with congratulations and kisses from the General Manager. Neither Theodore Long nor our fans seemed impressed by the cooing couple's behavior, especially once the evening's Handicap Match got underway. Under Matt Striker's direction, the ECW tandem of "Henry-V" has been more noteworthy and remarkable than any Shakespearean effort of a similar name. And on SmackDown Friday night, they'd show The Phenom precisely why, mounting a well-planned offensive fueled by their combined 900 pounds of rage.

But The Phenom has spent a lifetime -- and beyond -- overcoming such insurmountable obstacles. Inexplicably surviving every kick, punch, Samoan Drop or life-squeezing bearhug the half-ton tandem could muster, Undertaker fired back equally potent responses. Even those legions supporting The Deadman couldn't believe it when he stunned V long enough to catch Henry off-guard and chokeslam him for the Extreme-ly improbable victory.

Unfortunately, neither could the furious V nor Henry, who "congratulated" Undertaker with a despicable double-teaming after the match. Dropping 900 pounds of elbows and splashes across their foe's sternum over and over, it's little wonder that even Undertaker, the man who cannot be destroyed, looked almost lifeless on the canvas. It's certainly no wonder that, after the carnage, the Ultimate Opportunist would come out to the ring, just so he could gloat over Undertaker's prone form. (WATCH)

Adding insult to injury, a smiling Edge got down on one knee and mocked Undertaker's signature pose. Our fans jeered at his vile gesture, but there was more to it than that. They were jeering that on SmackDown Friday night, the Ultimate Opportunist played both Batista and Undertaker. They were also jeering at the possibility that if he does so again mere hours from now, at Armageddon, it could net him the ultimate prize.

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