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Chair Shots: Live report from WWE Smackdown tapings in Baltimore *Spoilers*

I attended last night's Smackdown tapings in Baltimore, taking advantage of my "status" as a professional professional wrestling writer (not a typo) and got floor access for the show, so I was able to get some pretty good photos. Special thanks to Advocate Editor Kathryn Leiter, who let me borrow their camera to take photos, which you can view at left.

While I missed the dark matches and Superstars tapings, the episode of Smackdown they recorded blew me away and I'm looking forward to watching it on television because there were three really excellent matches. Here's my rundown of the show, which will air this Friday on SyFy. If you don't want spoilers, stop reading now.

Teddy Long opened the show, announcing John Laurinaitis had been fired so Mick Foley was in charge. I assumed Foley would be out next, but it was actually the Big Show to great heat from the crowd. I've seen Big Show live before, but never that close. He truly is huge. He cut a promo, similar to what he did on Monday, saying he was no longer beholden to Laurinaitis and that he was moving on from John Cena. The crowd didn't get it, as they chanted for Cena -- Baltimore is a very pro-Cena crowd, in my opinion, and a mark-heavy crowd in general, which is awesome because it adds a great atmosphere to the show -- but Big Show said he was moving on and was going to be a participant in the Money in the Bank ladder match, win it and take the WWE Championship. So I guess he's the first official entrant in next month's MITB match.

Brodus Clay came out to interrupt Show to a nice pop. Clay isn't as tall as the Big Show, but I think he might be just as big. The two brawled until David Otunga sneaked down and chop blocked Clay's knee again. Big Show kicked him a few times, then hit him with the WMD before walking out. Otunga got back in the ring to talk some trash, which I'm not sure was for on-camera or not.

This was a good opening segment. It made sense that Clay, who was made "Smackdown exclusive" by Laurinaitis, would take advantage of Show being there and trying to get some revenge. Anyone else smelling a Cena-Clay vs. Show-Otunga match sooner than later?

Ryback was up next and he squashed two jobbers billed from -- where else? -- Pittsburgh. One was wearing black tights and one yellow. Nice touch. I didn't catch what they said in their promo, as I was making my way up from the floor to my seat. Typical Ryback squash, but it's notable that the entire arena was chanting "Feed Me More" with Ryback after the match was over. Not many Goldberg chants during the match. This guy is way over with the marks.

Vickie Guerrero and Mick Foley did some interacting backstage. Vickie announced she would be the GM of Raw and Smackdown next week. I think she told Foley that she'd make him her assistant when she got the permanent job. Khali showed up for some reason and danced with Foley. I didn't hear the audio that well, so I have no idea why this happened. It was the last we saw of Khali, thank goodness.

Up next was Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian in a nontitle match, which Del Rio won with the cross arm-breaker. Lots of great action in this one and some really close near-falls. I don't know what they are going to do with Del Rio going forward, but with a clean win over Christian, I'd think an Intercontinental Championship feud might be in order, especially if he's not going to get another title shot against Sheamus. Cody Rhodes ran out and attacked Christian post-match, so I guess their feud isn't over either. This was my favorite match of the night until the main event.

The top-of-the hour match was Kane vs. Daniel Bryan. The crowd was still hot for this despite it being two heels fighting each other. Lots of "Yes!" chants, which I saw a lot of little kids doing who then booed Bryan during the match. The "Yes!" chant is just fun. Lots of "No!" chants too. I think the crowd was generally in favor of Kane, though.

AJ was the guest time keeper by the way, which is important to know in this match. Bryan locked Kane into the Yes! Lock and as Kane was reaching for the ropes (and missing, which made it look like he might be tapping out) AJ rang the bell. Bryan got up to celebrate, but the referee waved it off. A chokeslam later and Kane is your winner. AJ skipped to the back with a smile on her face, apparently proud of her work.

This Bryan-AJ-Kane thing is really interesting. I'm not sure if CM Punk still fits into the program or not. I'm also not sure if Kane is making a full-fledged face turn or what, but AJ siding with him seems to be making him get some more cheers.

Foley hit the ring for the first time, and got a few cheap pops (he apparently screwed up his line, or the crowd didn't pop loud enough, but he did his bit over again) then he was interrupted by my boy Heath Slater. The One Man Rock Band complained about his treatment on Monday, and Foley introduced his opponent, Zack Ryder. It was a pretty quick match that Ryder won in short order. Foley and Ryder celebrated by flashing the "L.I." sign. Two Long Island boys celebrating in Baltimore, when they were in Long Island last night? Talk about a missed opportunity.

Backstage, Damien Sandow confronted Ryder and Foley in a later segment. He talked some trash about both of them, and it looks like Sandow's first feud might be with Ryder. Sandow told Ryder's he's been an ignoramus for years. He talked like Ryder's been over since 2007 or something, rather than, I don't know, last fall. Who's the ignoramus now?

The Prime Time Players beat the Usos after a distraction from AW. AW wore one of those headpiece microphones during the match, and his words of encouragement could be heard over the PA system in the arena. Kind of like a modern day Jimmy Hart, he just didn't talk as much as the Mouth of the South. AW also had a pretty good rap to introduce the PTPers. I think this could be very good pairing.

Epico and Primo jumped the PTPers in a backstage segment, which got a pretty good pop, so it seems like those two are going to be babyfaces. There was a smattering of Rosa chants. As there should be.

Before the main event, they did a couple dark segments. Santino came out to pick a "sign of the night." He showed a few on the TitanTron, then found a woman with an "I heart Santino" sign, complete in Santino T-shirt and Cobra on her arm. They let her into the ring, which Santino kept asking camera and security if they were OK with that. She had to be a plant. She was extremely tall, in my opinion. They "kissed" Cobras, then she planted a huge kiss on Santino, smearing her lipstick all over his and her face. Santino fell on his back while referees checked on him. It was kind of funny.

Then my man Jack Swagger came out and cut a promo. He mainly vented about how it was a joke he wasn't on Smackdown and Dolph Ziggler was in the main event. He had a funny line where he talked about being Captain of Team Comb-Over and talked about how great his hair was. I think called it a blond waterfall riding lighting, which he realized didn't make any sense, but then said, "Yeah, that's what I said!" to a ton of boos. Honestly, I think he got the most heat of anyone except maybe Big Show.

Suddenly, it was time to play the Game. If you've read any recent Smackdown taping reports or been to a live show, you know what's going to happen here. Triple H came out, got in the ring and Pedigreed Swagger to a huge pop. I thought it was funny while Triple H was coming to the ring, Swagger started yelling toward Michael Cole, while Cole laughed and made the ankle lock motion. I couldn't hear what was said, but I'm pretty sure Swagger said something like, "I helped you once, you help me!" I was surprised they went that far for a dark segment. It was a nice touch.

The teaser for the main event pitting Dolph Ziggler against Sheamus called it a No Way Out rematch, but I'm not sure if the title was actually on the line. Obviously, that means Sheamus won. The match was excellent though, and far surpassed what they did at No Way Out. Two very memorable spots saw Sheamus catch Ziggler diving off the apron and tossing him in a fallaway slam into the ringside barrier right in front of me. The second came a bit later, while they were again brawling on the floor. and Ziggler hit the Famouser off the steps, driving Sheamus into the floor. Ziggler wriggled his way out of White Noise, but ate a Brogue Kick out of nowhere for the finish. It was a great match that the crowd was really into.

There were some "Let's Go Ziggler" chants, but Sheamus was the clear favorite of the crowd.

The dark match main event was Cena vs. Otunga and Big Show. It was supposed to be Show and Laurinaitis, but Foley announced because he was fired, he wouldn't be participating. The match itself wasn't that great. Show beat up Cena for a while, then tagged in Otunga, who put him in a lot of rest holds. Cena eventually made his comeback, hitting his signature moves on Otunga before Big Show got in the ring. He went to deck Cena with the WMD, but hit Otunga instead, and Cena dropped Show with an Attitude Adjustment, then covered Otunga to win.

Cena stayed on the match recovering as "People Power" hit and Laurinaitis, who apparently was there all along, came to the ring with a steel chair. A couple of female fans standing nearby me were freaking out, telling Cena to get up and look out. Cena took two chair shots, but dodged the third and hit the AA on Laurinaitis to send the crowd home happy.

All in all, one of the better tapings I've been to. Being so close to the action obviously heightened my experience, but I think this will come across on television as a very good show as well. If you went, let me know what you thought of the show by posting a comment below, or on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/cctchairshots

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