Smackdown spoilers from Houston

 Smackdown/ECW Tapings
June 24, 2008
Toyota Center
Houston, Texas
Pre-Show Notes:  There were a lot of children/kids in the audience, much like when Smackdown/ECW was here in early February, with many wearing Rey gear along with Cena stuff.  Belts were still being bought and lines for souvenirs were very brisk, at least in the two stands I walked by. 
As we were finding our seats, they were playing the WM 24 video, and when it got to Ric Flair, the place erupted with "Whoo's."  The taping was scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m., and by 6:25, I'd guess there were 9-10,000 people there.  As usual, Houston is a late arriving crowd, made even more late by an Astros-Rangers game that drew over 40,000 fans despite the Astros being in last place.  The place looked like it would sell out, since the upper decks were all filled up, with lower deck seats not filled in to start. 
Our crowd is very mixed tonight, but Hispanics are slightly in the majority in the section/s around where our tickets were.  From crowd shots on the big screen, the mix seemed intact.
At 6:35, Tony Chimel welcomes us to the tapings. 
Possible Dark Match:  Tommy Dreamer d. Kevin Thorn in 5:47
-There were "Tommy" chants interspersed throughout the match.  Basic solid back-and-forth action, culminating with Dreamer missing a second rope elbowdrop.  Thorn sets him up for a move, and Dreamer counters with the DDT for the win.  Dreamer gets a nice reaction both in ring entrance and in winning. 
Tazz and Adamle enter to Tazz's music
ECW Opening/Tribute to the Troops recap video
Teddy Long comes out to start the show.  The opening video showed the three weeks of money giveaways with the closing angle from Monday night.  According to Teddy, Vince's health remains a private matter, but the show must go on.  Long introduces Matt Hardy to the crowd to a huge pop with more than one "Hardy" chant.  and then CM Punk comes to the ring with full intro and "CM Punk" chant as his tag partner for the firest match.
ECW match 1:  Matt Hardy-CM Punk d. Miz-John Morrison in 8:57
-Punk plays your face in peril to set up the hot tag to Hardy.  Miz trips Hardy to try to win, but Hornswoggle comes out from under the ring to distract Miz.  He came out twice, so not sure if the first time was for a mistake.  Hardy gets the win by beating Morrison with the twist of fate. 
ECW match 2: Kofi Kingston d. Shelton Benjamin in an Extreme Rules match in 8:15
-Kofi is beginning to gain momentum.  Comparing his presence, push and pop to February's show one can easily see he is more cheered, and his moves and mannerisms are easy to follow for kids to get behind.  Kofi starts off hot with a drop kick, and a plancha.  Benjamin takes over with out of the ring offense.  Shelton throws two trashcans and a chair in the ring.  He hits Kofi with can shots to the ribs, and suplexes him on the chair.  Shelton scores with a reverse bearhug.  He hits one stinger splach, but the other is met with a trashcan lid shot by Kofi.  Kofi with a few more lid shots.  Kofi reverses a powerbomb into a huracanrana into a trashcan in the turnbuckle.  He hits the buzzaw for the win. 
They run down the Night of Champions card.
Kane is laughing backstage.
ECW match 3:  Mike Knox d. Evan Bourne in 3:27
-Knox is grizzly...not in a good way.  There is some back-and-forth here between him and the former Matt Sydal, and Knox eventually settles into a modified abdominal stretch.  Bourne responds with kicks and clips to Knox's knee and also nails a nice second-rope dropkick.  Knox finishes him off with reversing an attempted move into a backbreaker, and straight into the Knox Out for the win.
Mark Henry is backstage walking to the ring.
Big Show comes out to do commentary for the Kane v. Mark Henry match. 
ECW match 4:  Mark Henry d. Kane in 3:24
-Kane scores with a dropkick and an enziguri.  I was just waiting for him to do a huracanrana so Adamle could call it a Kane-zigurl, drop-kane, and a hura-kane-rana.  Kane was solid.  Henry though scores the clean pin with the slam.  Weird finish to the ECW show as Kane sits up, and stares at Show; as Show leaves to go backstage. 
The WWE Pop Culture video plays as we transition to Smackdown.
For some reason, the ring crew has a rough time in changing the ropes, as Mick Foley comes out to a decent reaction while they are still changing the ropes.
By this point, I'd guess-timate 11,500 to 12,000 fans there.  There is only one lower bowl section not filled completely, while all the upper bowls are full.  There is no JR to start the show.  They are still putting up the top rope, so they play a Raw flashback entitled "Slaphappy" with a few of the more memorable slaps from the last 15 years of Raw to cover for the dead air space in waiting for the ring to be ready.
Segment One:
-Vickie Guerrero greets us with a backstage promo.  She sympathizes with the McMahon's and Vince's accident.  She has quite unique heat, as Houston boos her vociferously.  She wants to focus on the positives, such as the great draft Smackdown has.  She introduces us to the new voice of Smackdown, Jim Ross.
Ross comes out to his Oklahoma U theme song.  Then, just after JR sits down, Motorhead plays through the arena.  The Game is actually going to appear on Smackdown.  Fans are popping very hard, and the pop increases once they see HHH come to the ring.  He is not dressed to wrestle.  He grabs a microphone and begins his first promo on Smackdown.  He talks about what a difference a few days make.  A few days ago, Vince was a crazy old man giving away money and he was ripping up Raw.  Now, well Vince is still crazy but won't be giving away money, and now on Smackdown.  It doesn't matter where you watch it, or if you watch Raw or Smackdown, you are part of the WWE universe.  He sees some familiar faces though.  He notes Mick Foley's superior dress and hygiene.  Foley responds with a thumbs-up.  HHH then puts over JR very strong, much to my surprise.  He calls JR the best announcer in the history of the business and wants him on SD with HHH to call his matches.  He then turns his attention to his match with Cena, repeating the line from Monday about until you beat him, you are nothing.
AltarBridge intterupts HHH mid-sentence as Edge makes his way down the ring.  Edge is receiving massive heel heat.  Edge notes that "this is special," having the two main champions in the ring together at the same time.  HHH states that his ego is "much bigger" than Edge's making a size reference to other things besides ego.  Edge holds his own and actually trumps HHH stating his record against both Cena and Batista compared to HHH's.  Edge was great here, and HHH was good also.  Batista's music plays to a nice pop.  Edge feigns being ready for a fight, so HHH throws him over the top rope.  Edge gets up just in time to be speared near the ringside mat by Batista.  Batista and HHH end the segment with posing with the respective title belts.
During the posing, the graphics on the screen show that Batista will take on Umaga, Edge will face Matt Hardy, and Rey Mysterio will make his final Smackdown appearance tonight.
Segment Two:
Kane-Big Show  d. MVP-Mark Henry in 5:34
-Kane and Show go nose-to-nose during MVP's entrance.  MVP had good heat, and he and Kane start the match.  Kane tags Show, so MVP tags Henry.  This sets up Henry v. Show spots.  Eventually MVP gets in when Henry takes over on Kane.  Kane makes a comeback, only for MVP to bail.  Henry throws him back into the ring to eat a Kane chokeslam for the win.  Post-match, Kane and Show have a semi-staredown.
Backstage, Vickie is talking with her wedding assistant when Edge comes in to complain about Batista stealing his belt.  Vickie re-assures him that he is smart and will get his belt back. 
During the break, Foley looks for the Smackdown Sign of the Night.  His wit is seen here, as he comically reacts to many signs.
Segment Three:
They play an extended Umaga video to promote him as a nearly unstoppable monster.
Finlay-Hornswoggle d Hawkins-Ryder in 2:32
-Finlay and Hornswoggle get a decent pop, but no where near the February levels.  Decent back-and-forth with Finlay working the whole match until the finish, which sees Hornswoggle get the tadpole splash on one of them for the win.  Finlay and Hornswoggle have a ring-to-ramp staredown with Miz and Morisson during the post-match to build for Night of Champions. 
Segment Four:
Edge d. Matt Hardy in 10:22
-This was easily the best worked match of the night.  Edge gave Matt a ton of offense in between stalling spots that were channeling Larry Zybszko.  Hardy on offense in the early going.  He hits Edge with a clothesline from the ring apron to the floor.  Edge takes over with kicks and out-of-the ring offense.  Edge settles into a chinlock, and the "Hardy" chants erupt.  Hardy makes a comeback and hits a side effect for a near fall.  Lots of near falls in the end that the crowd bought each time.  Hardy with a DDT for a near fall, but misses with a moonsault.  Edge set up for the spear, which fans thought it would be it...and Hardy moved.  Edge tries to run Hardy into the ref after numerous attempts at the Twist of Fate.  Hardy comes up short of the ref, but eats the spear for the three count.  Edge made Matt look strong in defeat. 
Segment Five: 
They play an extended Jeff Hardy highlight video, and announce he debuts on Smackdown next week.  They recap the NOC card, and Mark Henry has been added to the ECW title match to make it a three-way. 
Maryse-Victoria-Natalya d. Cherry-Michelle McCool-Kelly Kelly in 6:13
-Kelly has a good pop, and the other Divas get good reactions.  This wasn't bad.  I don't think they missed a spot, even the surfboard Natalya puts on McCool.  Cherry gets the hot tag and eventually the match gets everyone involved.  Cherry is on the second turnbuckle in the corner punching Maryse when Natalya gives her a modified throat drop from the apron, which leads to Maryse rolling Cherry up for the win.
Segment Six:
Vladimir Kozlov d. Domino in 2:45
-Domino came out first.  Mr. Kennedy's music plays, and the crowd responds, only to see that he returns next week.  Out comes Kozlov.  No music still for him.  Kozlov channels the spirit of Brock Lesnar with an overhead belly-to-belly, and picks up the win with a shoulder into Domino's ribs as Domino jumps off the top rope.
Segment Seven:
Rey Mysterio comes out to a huge ovation.  He has a nice send off in English and Spanish, talking about his dreams when he came six years ago.  The tag titles, cruiserweight titles, and the World title all came to him, and now, he is going to start chasing dreams on Raw.  After he is done, Batista comes out with the World title.  I'm not sure if this is taped or not, but Batista tells Rey that "wherever you go I'll be there to back you up."  They leave after a while of posing to the crowd
Segment Eight:
Batista d. Umaga by disqualification in 7:10
-Honestly, this match was better than WM 24.  Umaga builds heat with a nerve hold, and works on Batista's head with headbutts and punches.  Batista makes a comeback and hits a spinebuster.  He begins motioning for the Batista Bomb when the Edge-heads, Chavo, and Edge attack Batista and get the title back into Edge's hand.  They lay Batista out for the corner butt splash, and Umaga starts ascending the ropes for a splash.  HHH runs out to save Batista, and the two clean house, with Hawkins and Ryder eating a spear and pedigree simultaneously.  The show ends with the two former Evolution members standing in the ring motioning for their foes to come back and fight. 
-HHH shakes hands with the ringside fans, including JR and Foley while Batista stands in the ring.  Batista takes the microphone, and starts to talk about how much he loves SD.  At first he didn't, but he has grown to love it.  He was concerned when Rey was drafted, but felt better when HHH was drafted.  He knows that Smackdown is in good hands with the Game and encourages the fans to cheer for HHH.  HHH states the same for Batista, knowing that he will tear it up on Raw.  Hunter leaves as Batista shakes hands to close the show.
Jason Hess

Who is the strongest of these Hall of Fame candidates?


What do you believe is the second most popular promotion right now in the U.S?