SmackDown 2007: Episode 1 (5th January) – Beat the Clock begins

So as we are in the middle of a nationwide lockdown I, like many others, am BORED!!! So I’ve come up with an idea to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. The WWE Network allows for me and all others who subscribe to go back and watch any WWE show from the past, and revisit some old favourites. As a kid one of my times watching was across the year 2007, in particular my weekly routine of watching Friday Night SmackDown on Sky Sports at 10pm on a Friday. So to keep me occupied during this really odd time in our lives, I will be going back and watching every single edition of SmackDown from the peak year of watching, and writing down my thoughts on each show that 11/12 year old me loved… if 24 year old me will like it all just as much who knows… so… lets hope it holds up well today… or at least its something I can laugh at. I know it gets good around May time and the mania match that year was huge, so fingers crossed the rest of the show holds up. Anyway… here is my first in this series as I look back at the first Friday Night SmackDown of the year 2007!

As the opening video for the show played I was reminded how much of a BANGER the old theme song for the show was; ‘Rise Up’ by Saliva if anyone is interested.

SmackDown GM Teddy Long kicked off the show in the ring. He announced there would be a 16 man ‘Beat The Clock Challenge’ taking place over the next two weeks to determine who would go on to the Royal Rumble to challenge Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship. It was emphasised that the matches and the bracket for the challenge would be randomly selected. Long then welcomed out Batista, who got a big reaction from the live crowd, then came out (Michael Cole, before he became almost intolerable, and JBL, before he became almost intolerable,  are the commentators for SmackDown in this era by the way). Batista comes out and basically says he loves the idea, that he doesn’t wanna be a paper champion and that he’s fought hard for this title and he will keep fighting to keep it. (Sidenote; if you don’t think the World Heavyweight Championship is the most beautiful belt in wrestling history then you are wrong!).

Teddy Long then welcomes out the first man in the beat the clock challenge… KANE! I for one LOVED this version of Kane, big bald badass with that unreal good theme song by Finger Eleven which may well be one of the best theme songs ever. His opponent Chavo Guerrero then came out, not exactly looking pleased at the prospect of having to face the Big Red Machine…

Kane defeated Chavo Guerrero in a Beat the Clock challenge match 

Kane battered Chavo all over the place as Guerrero tried to get some quick pin attempts only to lack the power everytime, with another time Kane launching Chavo off him and out of the ring after Guerrero went for a pin. Kane hit a big standing leg drop for a nearfall, and then tried for a Chokeslam but Chavo managed to roll out the ring. After Kane had caught up with him he beat on him a little before Chavo retreated back into the ring before he stopped on Kane. Shortly after they were back outside where Chavo managed to get Kane down long enough to then get back in the ring as the ref started counting for the count out. Kane though got back in the ring at 9&1/2 of course… Chavo stomps away again at Kane as he got back into the ring, followed by a dropkick to his back before another nearfall with his feet on the ropes, only to be caught by referee Charles Robinson. Guerrero then locked in a form of triangle submission on Kane, before he was powered up and Kane hit an electric chair. There was later a fun spot where Chavo reversed a suplex into a DDT for a close nearfall. Kane though immediately sat up after, hit the big boot, some punches to Chavo in the corner, two running clotheslines, before Kane then went to top rope, hit the big flying clothesline for a 2 count, he then tried again for a chokeslam but Chavo kicked his way out of trouble. Soon after came the finish as Chavo managed to get Kane on the ring floor before heading to the top looking for the Frog Splash, only for Kane to climb up after him and try a superplex before being kicked down, Chavo came off the top looking for the splash… only for Kane to catch him by the throat and finally hit the big Chokeslam for the 1, 2, 3. Kane wins in 7.53 to set the pace. This was a fine, TV opener between two veterans, and given how short it was it was decent.

A vignette played featuring candles and a scantily-clad dressed french speaking woman called “Maryse”… welcoming us back to Friday Night SmackDown.

Paul London vs Brian Kendrick ended when the time expired in a Beat the Clock challenge match 

Playing off the ‘randomly selected’ nature of the matches in the beat the clock challenge that was emphasised earlier in the show, here we had a match between the SmackDown Tag Team Champions. These two as a team were something else, two cruiserweight highflyers who could grapple as well, a heck of a team maybe a few years before an era that would’ve suited them down to the ground. During this one Batista was shown watching on backstage. The crowd was kinda dead for this match, mainly because I think everyone knew that this was going to a draw. They went, unsurprisingly, at a million miles an hour, we had lots of counter moves and tonnes more nearfalls for both guys. The match wasn’t bad but the lack of heat killed it, infront of a crowd in 2020 maybe it;d be different but I personally didn’t care much for the match, mainly cause these two guys were a million miles away from potentially facing the world champion. One thing that annoyed me is when London had a HEADLOCK in with 50 seconds left…??? … anyway the clock did indeed tick down to 0 and so Kane was still in the lead. After the bell Ashley Massaro, who was the valet of the team at the time and I think she may have even been dating London at the time, but she came out after the match to check on both guys. They both shook hands and embraced so these tag champs were still friends after. They mention on commentary that Ashley would be on the cover of Playboy just before that years upcoming WrestleMania.

After the break we had JBL in the ring. He cut a heel promo on what happened to MVP at Armageddon (the most recent PPV). JBL said he was the brightest star in wrestling they had, and he said seeing MVP’s perfection caused the fans to look and see how pathetic they themselves were and because of that they wanted him destroyed. He said Teddy Long potentially destroyed the brightest light SmackDown had ever seen. He eventually cut to footage of Kane lowering MVP’s back into the fire during their INFERNO MATCH. JBL eventually welcomed out MVP who limped to the ring and had his ring gear top pulled down so you could see the markings on his back left by the fire. MVP thanks JBL for representing him the last couple of weeks. He says he was in hospital in bed due to his burns and that he’s had 24 hour medical attendance (he was speaking in a much lower tone of voice), he had people dress and feed and bathe him, he can’t even go bathroom alone… the live crowd were less than sympathetic… He said he was Teddy Long make the Beat the clock sprint and that he thought he had to stop feeling sorry, and that the pain and suffering he felt would pale in comparison to pain and suffering that he would have to tolerate if he allowed himself to stop him fulfilling his destiny and become World Heavyweight Champion. He went in more on Teddy Long and said he’ll win the challenge and win the title at the rumble, before slowly making his way out of the ring as JBL put over MVP’s bravery on commentary. This was a fine promo to be fair, but the crowd didn’t care too much it seemed. 

Queen Sharmell was in the ring… she tells everyone to rise as she puts over the arrival of KING BOOKER “all hail king booker” over and over again as the crowd boos as King Booker comes out… I low key loved this gimmick… anyway his opponent was the then Cruiserweight Champion Gregory Helms (they mentioned he was the longest reigning champion in sports entertainment)… I’m gonna predict booker wins in about 6 minutes…

King Booker with Queen Sharmell defeated Gregory Helms in a Beat the Clock challenge match 

This was a heel vs heel match… Booker chopped Helms, and later his a power slam as we again saw Batista watching on… Booker got a nearfall about a minute in… Helms did manage to get some strikes in before the King came back with a big spinebuster for a 2… a big kick from Booker got another two count… and then the bulk of the match was Booker battering Helms, before the much smaller guy would get the odd strike back in before being overpowered once again. Cole and JBL even began to question why Booker is taking his time… later after the ref had his back tunred Sharmell got in on Helms that allowed Booker to then finally hit his Scissors Kick for the win. King Booker now takes the lead with the new time of 6.24 to beat.  

As if that wasn’t bad enough for Helms, once King Booker had made his way towards the back the music of the BOOGEYMAN played… he then came from under the ring and attacked Helms. He hit some form of sit-out Chokeslam move which looked kind of cool to be fair… and then he did his gimmick with the worms… as you do…

Next was a video package on Batista. It looked back at his WWE career from his time in Evolution, with Triple H doing a promo over the top of the footage that put over The Animal… it then told the story of how Batista went on to challenge his former leader after winning the royal rumble, and eventually beating him for the world title at WrestleMania. Batista would then come to SmackDown as part of the draft lottery, but would be attacked by Mark Henry in a steel cage match and his injuries would put him out of action and force him to vacate the world heavyweight title. We were told once this video package ended that the second part of it would air on next week’s show and tell the story of how Batista came back and tried to get his title back.

This video package was outstanding and did a great job of putting over the WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION as a huge babyface and a super cool, tough guy. What an alien concept….

Ashley defeated Jillian 

Ashley made her entrance… they keep promoting SmackDown as where you can see “the sexiest women on television” … as Jillian made her entrance they showed an inset video where she says she’ll rip her pretty little face apart (speaking of Ashley). This “match” consisted of all the hair pulling, horrid bumps and all the bad stuff you’d associate with women’s wrestling of this time. Ashley got the win with… I don’t even know what, some form of roll up I think… in about three minutes of my life I’m never getting back…

Another sexy Maryse vignette. She talks English now and she’s in a bath.

when we came back to the action…

JIMMY WANG YANG vs Tatanka ended when the time expired in a Beat the Clock challenge match 

This was another match where as hard as both guys tried, absolutely nobody cared about it (me included) because it was a certainty that neither guy was winning and going on to face Batista. They both tried hard as I said and the wrestling was technically fine, but there was next to no heat from the crowd at times. Jimmy Wang Yang hit a crossbody off top for a two with 1.20 left… Yang has cowboy tights over jeans as his gear, and one had now come off the jeans completely… Tatanka tried for multiple pins with 40 seconds left… JBL puts over how Tatanka was undefeated for over 2 years in the late 90s … this was in 2007… and of course the time expired. Towards the end Jimmy Wang Yang hit a moonsault to a standing Tatanka to take him down and he went for the pin as the clock with zero. Tatanka jumped Yang after the bell and laid him out. I don’t recall Tatanka being around for much longer after this.

The ‘Raw rebound’ for this week was John Cena vs KEVIN FEDERLINE in a no DQ match… Umaga interfered to allow KFed to pin the then WWE CHAMPION… Later that show Cena faced Jonathan Coachman, Johnny Nitro, Umaga and his managed Ermando Estrada in a handicap match. We saw Cena use a chair to batter everyone before going again at KFed who was doing commentary. Cena stood tall at the end of course…

And you thought this SmackDown was odd…

Kristal did a backstage interview with Vickie Guerrero. 2 weeks ago she hit Benoit with the US title belt that inadvertently cost Chavo the match. She was wearing a neck brace, and was shown being shoved down by Chavo after the match. Kristal asked asks how Vickie was holding up. Vickie says not good… that she was getting her career going but now she can’t move on. She says people like Benoit and the fans have turned their back on her, and now her own nephew has turned his back on her and walked out on her. She says she can’t handle this anymore and she feels lost… she basically says she’s lost her focus and faith in humanity and cries on Kristal’s shoulder, and says she feels confused…

I already can’t wait for what’s to come later in this year on SmackDown with Vickie…

They recap the beat the clock stuff so far…

Mr Kennedy defeated Chris Benoit in a Beat the Clock challenge match 

Mr Kennedy comes out for the last beat the clock match of the night… he does his own announcing gimmick… (he had a last ride match vs Undertaker at Armageddon). He went on to say he IS sports entertainment… He then did his announcing gimmick of announcing his own name. His opponent was the then US Champion Chris Benoit, whom won the title from Kennedy the previous October. The story of this match was that it went 50/50 for most of it, the key spots being when Kennedy missed a Kenton Bomb as Benoit got his knees up, Benoit hitting SEVEN german suplexes before heading to the top rope only to miss his flying headbutt when Kennedy moved out the way. Kennedy then removed the turnbuckle pad in the corner with the ref’s back turned. (They also mentioned on commentary during the match that Kennedy had beaten 5 former world champions in the year 2006, which is kinda cool and reminding people of that was a good way of putting him over)… Anyway… after thus Benoit would go on to try for the Crossface only for Kennedy to get to the ropes. Then Kennedy did this spot they’d done a few times in the match already where Kennedy would irish whip Benoit into one of the ring corner turnbuckles at a really hard pace… but of course this time he launched Benoit into the corner with the now exposed turnbuckle… and then after was able to pin Benoit for the finish. The new time to beat was 5.07. As is stood at the end of this show it was Mr Kennedy heading to the Royal Rumble to face Batista. This again was, for a tv match that went a few minutes, perfectly fine as a match between two solid in-ring guys.

Kennedy of course announced himself as the winner of the match after, and the man who just beat the damn clock and soon to be… but before he could finish Teddy Long came out and told Kennedy he wasn’t the number 1 contender yet and that the beat the clock challenge would continue next week, and that we still have four matches to go… and in those matches would be the likes of MVP, Matt Hardy, Finlay and The Undertaker! (I like how he advertises names for next weeks show at the end of this weeks. Cool, simple but effective way to get people to tune in next week)… Kennedy then grabbed the mic anyway and says… Kennedy…

And that was the show. Not the most glamorous show but a fine show for what it was, the first of a build to the royal rumble PPV. Trust me people it gets more exciting in the next few weeks, just by the sort of people and things that were going on at that time. But I hope you who read this find it fun enough, and if anything just know that it’s helping me not go insane whilst we are all grounded.


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