This is the 18th edition of Fantasy Friday Night SmackDown.
For those who are not up to date yet, check out the 17th episode here.
For those further behind, I will post a full list of episodes at the end of the article to help those who missed a week.
Check out the latest Raw here.
A general apology to everyone reading who has been waiting for this episode. There have been many conflicts on my side along with the installation of a new second GM for SmackDown. He will be introduced along with some of his work on Sunday.
Also, there will be voting details at the end of the show that pertain to the next Fantasy PPV for those who have not yet voted.
Now, on to the show.
The intro rolls, then we are treated to a promos package highlighting the Elimination Chamber.
Similar to this, beginning with a strong sell on WrestleMania being next. Then we are shown the structure itself and the carnage it can cause.
After that, brief clips are shown to highlight each man going into the chamber and their promo work/in ring work that shows their intensity going into the Chamber.
We are left with a straight shot of the Elimination Chamber, rotating around it. Green Day then plays.
We begin the show as pyros flash, and we are greeted by the commentators.
Matthews: "Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another exciting edition of Friday Night SmackDown as we get set for this Sunday where the WWE Championship will be defended inside of the confines of the Elimination Chamber."
Striker: "A sadistic structure, Josh. One that has destroyed bodies, shortened careers and broken spirits. All for that one chance at gold."
Dolph Ziggler comes out with his new theme "Here to Show the World." He gets a good positive reaction which causes him to make faces at the crowd in surprise as if unsure why they are cheering. He enters the ring and is given a mic.
Ziggler: "Look, last week, I did it. With all my injuries and my issue, I defeated John Cena. With that, I qualified to fight inside the brutal Elimination Chamber. It was a revelation, a turning point in my entire career. I finally pulled it all together. No fainting, no cheap tricks. Just me standing above John Cena.
"Right now, I'm on the top of the world. I don't know what's gotten into you guys, but I can't really waste my breath taunting anyone tonight. You want to cheer, cheer. Just know that on Sunday, I will begin my first true road to WrestleMania. I mean I've already beaten one half of the main event. What does that say about my direction?"
CM Punk comes out before Ziggler can say another word with a microphone in hand.
Punk: "Congratulations, Dolph, really, I mean that. It's not often anybody beats John Cena, and you did it when it mattered most. But are you really ready? You sure those injuries aren't still nagging, because I've been in three Chamber matches and nobody wants to wrestle in one injured."
Ziggler: "Thanks for the public service announcement, officer. Now, did you want something?"
The Miz breaks up the talking as he comes out with his own mic as well.
Miz: "As always Punk is out here, finding somebody to prattle on with. Really, Punk? Really? How about you actually get in a ring and wrestle? Seems more and more you are becoming a special exclusive product for pay-per-views only. You too good for these fans? I mean, you aren't really a self-righteous prick, are you?"
Punk: "Miz, shut the hell up. Honestly, you are complaining about me wrestling? Who has beaten who the last, well, every time we have faced?"
Miz: "That... that doesn't-"
Jeff Hardy comes out to break up the talking as he makes his way quickly toward the ring, grabs a microphone, and gets inside.
Hardy: "Last week, talking. This week, more talking. You guys just don't stop. You do know that the winner isn't decided by who's the best debater, right?"
Miz: "You've got a lot of guts coming out here after what you pulled last week."
Hardy: "What? Putting you down in a fair fight? Guess it happens.-"
Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks interrupt proceedings as they come out with Hawkins holding a microphone.
Hawkins: "You know? I agree with Jeff. DO you know who has the most momentum going into Sunday? The ones that have had to climb the furthest in a short amount of time, Hawkins and Reks. You know what we did differently than every one of you? We wrestled, and we dominated every time.
"We were left lying on the mat, bloody messes. We aren't one and one do far in our return. And we certainly have never lost back to back title matches. Why? Because all we did was win. And on Sunday, while you all try to talk, Reks and I will eliminating you one by one."
Michael Cole is out now with a microphone.
Cole: "Look, you guys want to prove yourselves? Well, tonight is your chance. Every one of you will get an opportunity to go into the night with bragging rights or the worst possible handicap. There will be a triple threat tag team match tonight. Each of you will be paired randomly with one of the other members in the Chamber.
"The team that fails to work together and loses? They must start the Elimination Chamber match. The winners? They get the honor of handicapping their opponents and proving that they deserve to be inside the chamber."
All the men in the ring look around not sure who they will be stuck with wrestling with. We cut to commercial break.
We return with Zack Ryder coming to the ring. He looks ready and focused.
His opponent, Justin Gabriel, is out quickly behind him.
The men stare down about ready to wrestle when Christian hits the entrance ramp. He soaks up his time heading down the ring and over to the announce table, showing off his Cruiserweight Championship to anyone who cares to look.
As the match begins, Christian slowly puts on his headset.
Matthews: "We are joined here, apparently, on commentary by Christian."
Christian: "Correction, Josh, you are joined by a World Champion, a living legend, a veteran who knows more about being inside those ropes than these two in the ring know about good ring attire. Seriously, I've never seen so many ridiculously bright colors in my life."
Matthews: "Well, I'm sorry about that 'mistake.'"
Christian: "Maybe you should just stop talking now before you hurt yourself by racking your brain dry of smart things to say. I want to watch my supposed opponent at No Way Out compete here tonight."
Ryder has Gabriel in a headlock in the ring trying to keep him down. Gabriel battles out by getting to his feet and getting a stiff back kick to the gut. Gabriel then runs off the ropes and hits a discus elbow drop. He then hits a springboard moonsault and covers for two.
Gabriel then goes to the apron and goes for a flying crossbody which Ryder catches with a dropkick in midair. Ryder then takes advantage by a full cross-legged stepover facelock. He wrenches back at Gabriel's neck as he inches toward the ropes.
Gabriel makes it, and Ryder backs off. The two lock up when Gabriel is up and Gabriel gains the advantage following an STO. Gabriel snaps on a Koji Clutch which Ryder tries to get out of by getting to his feet. When he does get to his feet, he slams Gabriel to the mat, forcing Gabriel to release the hold.
Matthews: "Hard shot by Ryder."
Christian: "Yeah, it was okay."
Matthews: "What is your problem with Ryder? You won't give him any credit."
Christian: "Well, let's see. He barged in on me doing something for the better of the whole division. Attacked me. Stole my title and refused to give it back. I had to call the authorities, who promptly got my personal belongings back to me. They didn't arrest this thief, though, at all. Not much to like."
As Gabriel rises, Ryder goes for a swinging neckbreaker, which Gabriel blocks. Gabriel whips Ryder into the corner and runs at him, only to take double high knees to the face. As Gabriel tries to recover, Ryder goes to the top rope.
Before Ryder can do anything though, Gabriel is up, and the two are battling on the top rope. Ryder gets his feet up for a potential superplex, but Gabriel gets up as well. They both are balancing just barely as Gabriel hits a huge enzuigiri kick.
Ryder goes crashing to the floor outside while Gabriel crashes back to the mat inside. Gabriel gets up, and, as Ryder tries to rise, Gabriel launches himself off the top rope for a suicide senton bomb. Both men are out on the outside as we cut to commercial break.
When we return, Gabriel has Ryder in a headlock. Ryder rises, and the two battle back and forth with shots. Gabriel lands a strong kick to the chest, dazing Ryder so that Gabriel can bounce of the ropes for a running crossbody. Though Ryder catches him for a flapjack.
Gabriel is resting in the corner from the shot, so Ryder goes for the Broski Boot. However, Gabriel ducks out of the way causing Ryder to go crashing into the corner. When both men are up, Ryder comes charging at him only for Gabriel to hit a Blue Thunder Driver.
From there, he goes to the top rope for the 450, but Ryder catches him while he is still on top and grabs him launching Gabriel off the top with an over-the-shoulder arm drag. Ryder then hits a flying crossbody and covers for two.
Striker: "These two friends are testing each other to the fullest. I know that the two made a mutual agreement backstage to give it their all, but wow."
Christian: "I'm certainly in awe of this young talent. They will be the future. I could see many of them being champions once I give over the title to the company. I mean they are good, but not that good."
Matthews: "Christian, can you tell you anything about what you have seen in this match from Zack Ryder that could help or hurt him going up against you on Sunday?"
Christian: "Many little things, he lets his opponent have too much slack, room to move around. He showboats too much. He just gives away too much to chance. I'm a calculator. I analyze everything. You give me time. You lose. Of course, everyone loses to me, so unless he is a master of his craft, it doesn't matter what faults help or hinder this guy. He'll still lose."
Matthews: "Did you just call him this guy?"
Christian: "Yeah, I'm not good with names. What was it again? Brett something? Maybe something about Majors? Who knows? Doesn't matter what his name is. He's still a rookie in my book."
Matthews: "His name is Zack Ryder, and he has been here almost six years."
Christian: "Really? What's he been doing all that time? I haven't seen him."
Striker: "Can we please get back to the action?"
Christian: "Sorry, Striker, I forgot. You don't like talking about wrestling being that you, well, attempted a career here."
Gabriel has Ryder up on his shoulders and hits a Hurricane DDT. He covers for a very close count near three. Gabriel doesn't let him faze him as he pulls Ryder up and tries to hit a Russian legsweep. Ryder battles out with big elbows to the head and hits a hangman's neckbreaker. He covers for two and a half.
He waits in the corner as Gabriel rises and goes for the Rough Ryder. Gabriel ducks out the way and hits a spinning heel kick as Ryder turns around, sending him to the mat. Gabriel goes to the top rope again for the 450, and he jumps.
Ryder rolls out of the way, causing Gabriel to smack against the mat. Ryder then comes in hits a slowly standing Gabriel with the Rough Ryder and covers for three.
Tony Chimel: "The winner of this match, Zack Ryder." (Time of contest: 15:02)
Ryder and Gabriel shake hands, and Ryder says something to Gabriel, who nods. Christian is getting up from the announce table as Ryder goes outside and stares him down. Christian holds the title up and walks right past Ryder with a smirk. We cut to commercial break.
We return to the sound of Sin Cara Azul's entrance music as both Sin Caras come to the ring.
Azul and Negro each do their jumps into the ring one at a time. Negro then calls for someone to give him a mic. He gets it.
Negro: "¡Eh! ¿Lo que corresponde a todos? ¿No hay respuesta? ¿No lo entiendes? Oh, I forgot, you stupid Americanos don't even know your own lengua. I don't even know why I waste my breath. Honestly, why are we even out here? Oh, you probably want to know why we reached una comprensión. Well, why don't I let him tell you?"
(Given the mic) Azul: "En una época, nosotros lucharon por la máscara, pero ahora nos encontramos como hermanos, porque él lo ha querido."
(Given the mic) Negro: "What? You didn't get that? Well, let me put it in simpler terms. We found a common ground after some backstage coercion. Now, we have realized thanks to one man that we can work best as a team. But why did we attack that man Richie Steamboat?"
(Given the mic) Azul: "Porque él nos pidió. Porque le debemos."
(Given the mic) Negro: "We owed a man a debt, and we pay back our debts. But why did we attack the tag team champions?"
(Given the mic) Azul: "Porque nosotros somos los maestros."
(Given the mic) Negro: "Because we are Los Maestros. Now that la explicación is over with, we want the tag team titles. We want to be recognized as the greatest tag team in the world."
The Fortunate Americans come out suddenly to interrupt the two with Jimmy Uso holding a microphone.
Uso: "Wow, wow, wow, let's calm down here, muchachos. I mean you didn't think bugging in line was that easy, did you? These two behind me don't appreciate being pushed. Now, we barely understood a word you said, but I know when somebody is trying to take a spot away from me.
"The Fortunate Americans have a score to settle with the champions. You have nothing."
Negro: "Sorry, I don't really understand. Didn't you like three times to the champions."
Uso: "Look, you want to prove that you deserve a title shot? Well, beat these two."
Swagger and DiBiase get down into the ring, and the two teams stare down. Azul and Swagger start, but we need to cut to commercial break.
We return with DiBiase in control of Azul. He has him in an abdominal stretch and is moving toward Swagger. Swagger tags in and hits a hard kick to the gut. Swagger then pulls Azul forward and hits a German suplex for a two count.
Matthews: "Ladies and gentlemen, it has been confirmed that this match is a No. 1 contenders match, and the winner will face Air Boom on Sunday for the tag team titles."
Striker: "That seems a bit sudden, doesn't it? This new team of the two Sin Caras is fresh off the scene, and their first match is a No. 1 contenders match."
Matthews: "Well, we don't make decisions here, and someone has to face Air Boom on Sunday."
Striker: "Well, it still feels wrong. Give the Fortunate Americans one more shot completely before giving new rookies golden chances."
Matthews: "You're probably right, Matt, but what can we do? We have no conception of what goes through the mind of Michael Cole on a day-to-day basis."
Striker: "Nor would we want to."
Swagger goes for an Ankle Lock on Azul, but Azul gets an enzuigiri off that sends Swagger to the mat so that Azul can tag in Negro. Negro does a selection of quick high-flying moves sending Swagger to the mat while hitting a dropkick to send DiBiase to the floor below.
Negro hits a huracanrana on Swagger and goes to the top rope. Negro hits a senton bomb and covers, but DiBiase runs in and breaks up the cover. Azul runs in to try and take DiBiase out of the ring, but DiBiase catches him and hits a huge sitout spinebuster, causing Azul to need to roll to the outside.
DiBiase follows and beats down on Azul, throwing him into the barricade and then hitting a half nelson backbreaker. He goes to his corner as Swagger inches his way over and tags in DiBiase.
DiBiase goes on the attack against Negro. He hits clubbing blows to the neck and back. He hits a series of fist drops with a final one leading to a cover for two. DiBiase goes to the top rope for a diving double foot stomp, but Negro rolls out of the way as DiBiase lands.
Negro runs at DiBiase to take a dropkick. DiBiase then snatches him up and goes for Dream Street. Azul interferes though and breaks up the attempt. As the referee tries to warn Azul to get out of the ring, Negro hits an Argentine backbreaker rack spun into a Samoan drop.
He then goes to the top rope with DiBiase cutting him off and crotching him on the top. DiBiase goes to get to Swagger, but Swagger is down on the floor from a shot from Azul. DiBiase gets up and yells at Swagger to get up on the apron. He barely listens. Negro comes from behind and rolls up DiBiase for three.
Tony Chimel: "The winners of this match and new number one contenders to the tag team championships, Sin Cara Negro and Azul, Los Maestros." (Time of contest: 9:36)
The frustrated DiBiase rolls out of the ring to see Swagger walking up the ramp with Swagger. They completely ignore DiBiase who yells at them to listen to him. We cut to commercial break.
We return backstage where we first see Jeff Hardy, He is getting ready when his partner Tyler Reks comes into the frame and taps him on the shoulder.
Reks: "I just thought I'd come to tell you that I'm your tag team partner for tonight."
Hardy: "That's great. You done?"
Reks: "Do you know who you're talking to? I come in here to be a tag team partner as much as I loathe the idea of tagging with someone... like you. I wanted to get on the same page because I am not losing tonight which means you aren't, either."
Hardy: "Look, I am the greatest tag team partner you ever had. I have three times as much tag team experience in the WWE as you do experience in a ring at all. Trust me, you won't lose."
Reks: "Haha, you really believe that? You've barely been back at all yet. You don't even know what's around you. While you've been gone, all the talent has become better and certainly more disciplined than you."
Hardy: "You want to win? Listen to me. We keep frequent tags. You always follow my lead no matter what I ask. You never tag yourself in. Got it? Good."
Hardy walks right past Reks and leaves. We cut to the ring.
Lights go out, and Dean Ambrose makes his usual entrance. He is getting a slightly negative reaction now. Still partially in the dark, he walks around the ring and grabs a microphone. Then gets in the ring. The lights stay partially lowered as he talks cross-legged in the middle of the ring.
Ambrose: "A wise man once said, 'Revenge is like a rolling stone, which, when a man hath forced up a hill, will return upon him with a greater violence, and break those bones whose sinews gave it motion.' Daniel Bryan, have you ever even considered what you have done by challenging me?
"I never attacked you out of rage. Every motion, every action, was predetermined. A way to call out the man known as CM Punk once again. For 'I swiftly become their savior, from the world that is the ocean of death and transmigration, whose thoughts are set on Me'. I am a humble servant, coming to bring greater salvation to this intrepid 'Universe'.
"Yet you attack me. You attempt to make a fool of me, but no. No, I will not stand for it. For I understand the soul. I understand what makes a man tick. I don't need long before you yourself will be giving up without a fight. Why? Because you will understand. I will make you understand.
"It all seems fuzzy right now. You just see me like every other 'bad guy' in the back, but it's not so black and white. You see, I am the definition of grey. I don't conform to your idealized happy-go-lucky buddy, but I am not your enemy, Daniel.
"But if you must see me as such remember 'our enemy is by tradition our savior, in preventing us from superficiality'. I'll I'm trying to do is help you all. You were a tool, and I was the worker needing his fresh hammer to set a new nail in place. You'll soon see it. I don't need to explain it. You already know what I can do even if you don't even realize it."
Daniel Bryan's music hits, and he comes out to a good reaction with a microphone. Kurt Angle is by his side.
Bryan: "Ambrose, I'm not buying what you're selling. Can you really tell me that everything you do, every person you hurt is merely a tool to you? Are you inhuman?"
Ambrose: "Oh, the agony. Gods above, I won't sit here and listen to your drivel. You'll understand on Sunday. You'll understand that you need to be in a cage for there to be no way out."
Ambrose drops the mic, and the lights go out. When they turn back on, he is gone. An annoyed Bryan makes his way to the ring as he gets ready to face Cody Rhodes, and we go to commercial break.
As we return, Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes comes out to a loud negative reaction.
Striker: "Cody Rhodes..."
Matthews: "Let me ask you, Matt, are you ready to face Cody on Sunday?"
Striker: "I shouldn't even be wrestling. I enjoy my lot here behind the table. I don't have a problem with Cody. His problem with me is merely in his head just like his reasoning for still having that mask."
Rhodes and Bryan lock up as the bell rings and go at it. Rhodes quickly gets the advantage with a takedown and grounds Bryan. He holds onto a headlock rotating Bryan around in his grip. When Bryan gets to his feet finally, he elbows his way out of the move.
Bryan bounces of the ropes only to meet a high knee to the midsection by Rhodes that sends Bryan over the leg and crashing to the mat. Rhodes hits a knee drop and then covers: ..1..... kick out.
Rhodes backs away and grabs a rising Bryan for a Russian legsweep. Instead, Bryan counters out and hits a discus elbow smash. As Rhodes tries to rise, Bryan hits him with a dragon screw. Bryan then goes to the top rope, but Rhodes is up. Rhodes meets Bryan on the ropes and tries to take him down.
Rhodes hits a series of fists to the head, and then he goes for a superplex. Bryan battles out and then gets in a roundhouse kick leveling Rhodes and sending him crashing to the floor. Bryan then hits a diving headbutt and covers: ..1......2.... kick out.
Rhodes sits up, and Bryan hits him with a series of kicks to the head and chest followed by a big snap from the final one to the head. Bryan covers again: ..1......2........ kick out.
Bryan checks with the referee about the count then relaxes himself to keep going. Angle can be seen at ringside watching.
Matthews: "This is the first time we have seen Kurt Angle come down to ringside to watch one of Daniel Bryan's matches. Most of the time he stays at the top of the ramp."
Striker: "It is a sign of respect. These two had an amazing war at the Royal Rumble. When Daniel won, it must have made Angle realize that he was looking at a true competitor not just a rookie to be taught."
Matthews: "So I expect you think Daniel Bryan is ready to wrestle in the main event of WrestleMania then?"
Striker: "Well, first he has to get through the enigma known as Dean Ambrose. We don't know what Ambrose can do or will do on Sunday. I would be worried about him, but, if Bryan makes it through that night, then yes he deserves to fight in the main event at WrestleMania."
Rhodes whips Bryan into the corner, but Bryan does a backflip and lands behind Rhodes. With Rhodes still looking forward, Bryan gets Rhodes in position for a dragon suplex. Rhodes rolls through though and hits a Disaster Kick to Bryan. Rhodes covers: ...1...2....kick out.
Rhodes can't believe it, and he pulls Bryan up to his feet into position for Cross Rhodes. Bryan rolls through into a guillotine choke. Rhodes struggles to get anywhere, but he eventually gets to the ropes and tries to dump Bryan over them. Bryan holds on though.
With Bryan draped over the ropes, the referee counts to have the hold broken. Bryan lets go at four and lands on the apron. Bryan sees the opportunity as Rhodes is groggy and goes for a springboard move. However, while just going over the ropes, Rhodes catches Bryan with a dropkick sending him crashing to the outside.
Bryan is in pain on the outside as we go to commercial break.
When we return, Rhodes is working over a downed Bryan. He has slapped on a figure-four leglock. Bryan eventually gets himself flipped over so that the pressure of the move is on both men's legs causing Rhodes to break the hold.
Both men rise, though Bryan is much slower than Rhodes who grabs Bryan and pulls him in for a wheelbarrow slam. Rhodes covers: ...1..........2.......... kick out.
The close count causes Rhodes to start arguing with the referee. While he is doing so, Bryan comes from behind and rolls him up in a schoolboy: ...1..........2............ kick out.
Bryan also checks with the referee, but he doesn't complain. Instead, he goes right back to work as he takes Rhodes up and hits three successive belly-to-belly suplexes. The third hits Rhodes close enough that he can roll out of the ring.
He is outside by the barricade when Bryan comes flying at him with a suicide dive, sending Rhodes into the barricade. When Rhodes gets back to his feet, Bryan is flying at him again this time with a jumping high knee from the apron.
Bryan then rolls Rhodes back into the ring, and he covers: ....1..........2...... kick out. Bryan looks relatively frustrated at the count, and he makes that known to the referee, but he then goes to the top rope. Bryan goes for a front missile dropkick, but Rhodes rolls out of the way sending Bryan crashing to the mat.
Rhodes taunts Bryan on the mat before he picks him up and hits an Alabama slam. Rhodes immediately goes to the top rope and hits a moonsault. He covers: ....1...........2........... kick out.
Rhodes can't believe it. He is livid. He is freaking out in the ring as Bryan inches over to the ropes. Rhodes looks over at the announce table outside and sees Striker smiling. He starts yelling at Striker "what are you smiling about?"
Striker holds up his hands in defense saying "nothing, Cody", but Rhodes gets out of the ring and walks over to Striker. He pushes at him several time yelling at him "why aren't you smiling now, announcer?"
When Striker gets to his feet, Rhodes punches him hard in the face sending Striker down to the floor.
Rhodes gets back in the ring, and he is met by Daniel Bryan who knocks him down with a running big boot. Daniel Bryan then goes to the top rope and hits a missile dropkick.
Rhodes tries to rise but he is met by a running leg lariat. Bryan pumps up the crowd, but he turns around into a sudden Disaster Kick. Rhodes covers: ....1................2................... kick out.
Rhodes shakes it off and waits for Bryan to rise. As he does, he sees an angry Striker get up on the apron. Rhodes yells at him, and then he grabs a rising Bryan while still looking at Striker. Bryan though trips Rhodes and locks in the LeBell Lock. After about 10 seconds, Rhodes taps.
Tony Chimel: "The winner of this match, Mr. Money in the Bank, Daniel Bryan." (Time of contest: 16:19)
Bryan has his hand raised as a livid and hurt Rhodes rolls to the outside. He goes over to Striker and starts yelling at him for costing him the match. Striker turns away, but Rhodes grabs him. As Striker turns back around, he clocks Cody in the jaw. Striker then hits an inverted overdrive for good measure.
Striker then slowly walks back to the announce table and puts back on his headset. The crowd is cheering as Rhodes pulls himself up and grabs his title. He walks off as Bryan and Angle are still in the ring. Rhodes looks to be at his wit's end as he slowly walks off and we cut to backstage.
We see Miz backstage. He is looking angrily to his right as he looks at his partner who the camera moves out to show, Curt Hawkins.
Hawkins: "Do you have a problem?"
Miz: "Of all the partners, I got the weakest link of them all. At least your partner is a monster. You? You aren't good enough to be standing by my side right now let alone tagging with me in a match. I am a former WWE Champion.
"I carried my tag team partners to multiple tag team title reigns. What have you done? Sit back and complain about not getting opportunities. Brag about your one accomplishment?"
Hawkins: "Look, Miz, you didn't have all those accolades one time in your career. You were given an opportunity, and you seized it. That's what I'm doing now. And honestly, I'm better than you ever were."
Miz: "No, you're not taking my road. I made my opportunities. You took four years to do nothing. I took five to make history. And don't you ever call yourself my better."
Hawkins: "Sorry, I seem to have struck a chord where I didn't mean to. Look, tonight, we win. Then we can forget about all of this. Never have to team together again, and you can go right back to losing. I will go back to winning and no issues."
Miz: "You better win because if you lose me this match, I swear you won't make it to that Elimination Chamber. Trust me, it's in your best interest not to mess with me and lose. Got that?"
Hawkins: "No worries, soon, you'll forget we ever crossed paths."
The two walk off in separate directions as we cut to commercial break.
We return, and John Cena is backstage with Michael Cole in his office.
Cena: "What do you mean I'm not on the card? Do you understand how important I am to your company? This is ridiculous. Put me in the Elimination Chamber or put me in a match against the winner one on one."
Cole: "What? What are you talking about, John? That's not fair and not right for the business. Why would you of all people suggest something like that?"
Cena: "It's been done to me. Do you know how many times I have walked out of a pay-per-view with the World Championship after winning the Elimination Chamber? Never. Not once, and I have won three.
"Why was it right then? I need that title. You don't understand. Let me face Ziggler again. He knows he can't beat me twice. Give me anything. I will walk into WrestleMania as champion."
Cole: "I can't allow that, John. You've lost your opportunities. Now, you have to face the fact that your next pay-per-view match will be against the Rock at WrestleMania."
Cena: "Grow some balls, Michael, and make a gutsy decision for once in your life. You know that my involvement in the pay-per-view will make for higher buy rates. My presence is raising ratings as we speak. Are you scared Triple H won't like it?"
Cole: "Get out of my office. Now, before I fire you."
Cena: "I'm untouchable. Didn't they tell you. In fact, right now, I'm going to leave. Get in the ring and demand a match tonight. I won't exit the ring until I have been given my match. On Sunday, I will do the exact same. I will ruin everything you have tried to establish around me by simply refusing to play along."
Cena walks away with a grin on his face. Cole looks worried as the camera flashes to ringside.
John Cena makes his way down to the ring ranting off at the crowd. They are booing him fairly loudly.
Cena: "You know why you all came here today? To watch me. That isn't ego. It's a fact. Now, imagine me being left off the card. Imagine it again on a Sunday at a pay-per-view. Everybody would miss what they came for. Company crumbles all because of Michael Cole.
"But praise be, I'm here. I will not take no for an answer. I will stay here until you people get your match. Because I care. So I'm waiting, Michael. Give the people what they came to see."
He waits for a little while then goes to grab a steel chair. When he does, Cole comes running out.
Cole: "Wait, John, I've found you an opponent. Just please calm down."
Trent Barreta comes out, and he is being pulled out and down the ramp by Cole. He looks nervous and anxious not really to wrestle. Cole calls for his music to start and almost shoves him down the entrance ramp.
Striker: "Trent looks like he is being sent to be slaughtered by a pack of wild dogs."
Matthews: "I wouldn't be surprised if Cole grabbed him while Cole was running to the entrance area. Probably threatened to have him fired or something."
Striker: "Well, I have heard that Trent has been training non-stop since his match with Christian for the Cruiserweight Championship a month back. Maybe it will help him here. ...or not."
These last words come as Barreta meets Cena in the center of the ring and is towered over by the much larger man. The bell rings, and the two circle each other. Barreta tries to lock up but gets shoved down and back. He tries again with the same result.
Barreta comes in with a series of kicks, but Cena grabs his legs and hits a quick spinebuster. Barreta get up, and Cena tries to grab him. Barreta blocks it and goes for a huracanrana, which Cena blocks using the positioning to throw Barreta up onto his shoulders and hit an AA!
But he doesn't cover. Instead, he waits for Barreta to rise, saying "this is for you" to the crowd. He hits two running leaping shoulder blocks then a spinning side powerslam. He does the Five Knuckle Shuffle and hits the AA.
Instead of covering, he asks the crowd "one more time?" When they boo, he waits and hits the same sequence. When he does the Five Knuckle Shuffle, he taunts the crowd instead then when he goes down for the fist drop Barreta counters into a small package for two and a half.
An aggravated Cena gets up trips Barreta and latches on the STF, to which Barreta quickly taps out.
Tony Chimel: "The winner of this match, John Cena." (Time of contest: 2:00)
Cena still has the STF locked in even though the match is over. Security comes down to pull Cena off, but he lets go with a smile. He raises his hands and backs away from the scene and gets out of the ring.
He heads toward the entrance ramp and meets Cole there. He smiles and points to the entrance screen showing the name No Way Out. We cut to commercial break.
We return with Death Rey making her way to the ring. She is tailed by Kharma. Rey grabs a microphone as she gets into the ring.
Rey: "I'm going to do something bold right now, and call out every SmackDown Diva on the roster. Every single one of you get out here now. I will wait."
After a time, every one of the women of the SmackDown roster are out. Maryse, Eve, Tamina, AJ, Natalya, and Gail Kim stand side by side on the top of the entrance ramp.
Rey: "Good. Now, most of you I have beaten. The wins have been decisive. Only one of you really made me feel challenged. Now, I have spoken with Kharma here a while, and we have decided to try to help one Diva become a wrestler.
"Natalya, you proved something to me last week. That you are a true wrestler. You lost because everyone loses to me, but you gave me something none of the others gave me: competition. Now, before I finish my run through the Divas, I am asking you to join us. Stop playing with the girls and wrestle with the professionals."
Natalya looks spectacle at the top of the ramp, and she doesn't move.
Rey: "No answer yet? That's fine. By next week, I want my answer. I will have basically beaten everyone by that time, so we will be moving on with or without you. Understand?"
Rey drops the mic and walks away with Kharma in tow. They make their way directly up the ramp toward the Divas and go right through them. They leave and a conflicted Natalya looks on worried as we cut to commercial break.
We return with CM Punk backstage. He is talking with Dolph Ziggler.
Punk: "Look, for better or worse, I respect you as a competitor, and we need to win this."
Ziggler: "Look, Punk, I haven't changed that much. I'm still not a big fan, but I appreciate that you respect me. Also, I respect you as a champion even if you look like a hobo and have the worst catchphrases ever. We aren't losing tonight. Even though I've never been in a Chamber match, I don't want to go first."
Punk: "Good, we survive tonight then you and I can settle it in the ring at No Way Out."
Ziggler: "Believe me when I say, I'm ready. We win tonight regardless. One step at a times. Always been my focus."
The two walk out of the locker room, and they are heading for the ring as the match is starting now.
Once they are all in the ring, each team gets in a separate corner, leaving the upper left corner open (facing the entrance ramp). After Miz and Hawkins both refuse to get into the ring, the match is started by Hardy and Punk.
Striker: "This should be an interesting work. With only two men allowed in the ring at a time, will stars focus upon tagging their random partner or go for the two possibilities in a different corner? In the end, all that matters is that they don't lose."
Punk is pulling out a series of kicks to the chest of Hardy then fires off a roundhouse kick which Hardy ducks. Punk grabs hold of Hardy's leg only to be hit by a mule kick sending him to the mat. Hardy smiles and motions for Punk to fight him. Punk comes in with a right hand. Hardy hits with one of his own.
They exchange blows with Hardy suddenly hitting a kick to the chest and then a sitout inverted suplex slam. He covers: ..1......2.... kick out.
Hardy sees his partner Reks motioning for the tag, but he brushes him off. Hardy goes to the top rope of the corner that is empty and goes for a plancha. Punk rolls through the impact into a cover: ..1......2...... kick out. Punk immediately transitions into a Koji clutch which has Hardy in pain.
Hardy tries to move toward the ropes while inching himself toward the corner of his partner Reks. Hardy finally makes it close enough for him to throw his weight forward with his arm shooting out to tag in Reks. Reks comes in and stomps on Punk before he can rise then lifts him up and hits an elevated gourdbuster.
Reks doesn't even waste time covering though and keeps on the attack. He lands with a series of stomps then bounces off the ropes for a jumping leg drop. He then goes to the top rope. Punk is up only to be met by a diving crossbody. Reks covers: ...1........2...... kick out.
Reks picks Punk up and then bounces off the ropes to hit a groggy Punk with a shoulder block, but Punk retains his senses enough duck under and hit a scoop powerslam though the force of the move on such a large opponent seems to tweak Punk's arm.
He decides to tag in Ziggler to take a break. Ziggler comes in and levels a rising Reks with a leg drop bulldog. He then covers: ...1.............2....... kick out.
Ziggler then smiles to the crowd and applies a headlock. As he does so, he moves into a headstand. He keeps the hold on keeping his balance with the move then comes down with his back to Reks' back and wrenches at the head of Reks. He keeps the move until Hawkins runs in to break up the hold.
Ziggler looks over at Hawkins who bolts out of the ring. When Ziggler turns back around, he is taken out by a huge running clothesline. Reks covers: ...1..............2....... kick out. After the kick out, Reks gains control, and we go to commercial break.
We return, and Hardy is in control with Ziggler in the only empty corner. Hardy hits him with the Hardyac Arrest and covers: ...1............2..... kick out.
Hardy looks over at his competitors as he hits a sitout jawbreaker and then goes to the top rope. He is ready for a Swanton Bomb, but Ziggler catches him and trips him up. Hardy gets crotched on the top rope, and Ziggler makes his way toward a corner. He gets to the corner of Miz and Hawkins.
Ziggler slaps Miz on the side to tag him in. As Ziggler rolls out of the ring, an annoyed Miz gets in. He looks over at the still stuck Hardy and looks ready to fight. Then he tags Hawkins in and goes outside again. Hawkins gets in and argues with Miz. As he does, Hardy comes from behind with a roll up: ...1.........2......... kick out.
As both men get up, Hardy hits a Whisper in the Wind then tags in Reks. Reks gets into the ring and looks a little conflicted. He's not sure what to do with his own tag team partner as his opponent. Reks helps Hawkins to his feet and tells him to tag in Miz.
Hawkins feels offended that Reks won't fight him and defiantly disagrees. Reks turns away, and Hawkins rolls up Reks: ...1.........2...... kick out.
Both men get up, and Reks looks a bit annoyed. Hawkins holds up his hands as if saying no offense meant. Reks grabs him and whips him right into Hawkins' own corner. Miz though gets off the apron so no tag is made. Reks is still conflicted, and instead of doing anything he waits.
Hawkins gets up, and the two stare down. Hawkins pushes the bigger man. Reks turns away with Hawkins pushing again. This time, Reks answers back with a big boot. He then drags Hawkins into the corner of Punk and Ziggler and yells at one to tag in. Punk obliges.
Hawkins is slow to get out of the ring as Punk gets in and immediately goes after Reks with punches. Reks takes a few and backs into the corner. Punk then goes for a step-up high knee in the corner. Reks catches him and throws Punk clear over the top rope to the floor below.
Reks then goes outside and grabs Punk. He runs Punk straight into the steel post, and Punk is wincing in pain. Reks then gets him up in the air and lets him go onto the barricade. Reks gets in the ring and tags in Hardy.
As Punk is trying to rise next to the barricade, Hardy comes running at him with clothesline right into the barricade. Both are slow to rise, but Hardy gets up with enough time to get both men into the ring. Hardy then covers: ....1............2........... Punk gets his foot on the rope.
Hardy looks around and then waits for Punk to rise. On the outside, Hawkins and Miz are having a war of words. Miz shrugs him off with Hawkins pulling him around and hitting a twisting flipping leg hook belly-to-back suplex on the floor below. Hawkins then gets back on the apron.
As Hardy tries to hit the Twist of Fate, Punk throws him forward launching Hardy into Hawkins' corner who tags in. Hawkins gets in and hits a series of kicks to Punk before hitting a twisting delayed scoop slam. He covers: ....1...............2....... kick out.
Hawkins hits a couple of fist drops on Punk before going for a spinning spinebuster. Punk reverses it into a DDT sending Hawkins to the mat. Punk then inches toward his corner.
Right as he is getting close though, Miz comes from behind and pulls Ziggler off the apron with Ziggler's head bouncing off the apron. Miz immediately transitions into the Skull Crushing Finale on the floor.
With nowhere to go, Punk turns around into Hawkins who hits the Taste of Pain. He then backs up looking to head to the top rope. He goes into Reks' corner though who tags himself in. Hawkins looks surprised as Reks points at him to leave the ring. Reks then hits Punk with the Burning Hammer and covers: ....1..............2..................3.
Tony Chimel: "The winners of this match, the team of Jeff Hardy and Tyler Reks. Per the order of General Manager Michael Cole, CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler will be the first two men to start in the Elimination Chamber match this Sunday." (Time of contest: 15:59)
Punk is out on the mat with Ziggler out on the floor outside. Neither man is moving much. The others still standing look at each other warily.
Hawkins and Reks stare down with Hawkins looking confused and Reks looking angry. Hardy watches both. Miz walks off up the ramp looking contented. The show ends.
And that's the end.
Tune in tomorrow (hopefully) as SmackDown presents its exclusive PPV No Way Out. Then as always check out SmackDown, which should be up by Friday night at 7:00.
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