Miami, Florida hosted tonight's WWE SmackDown broadcast, in the lead-up to July 26's Night of Champions pay-per-view.
Jeff Hardy, who will challenge CM Punk for the World Heavyweight Championship at Night of Champions, went to the ring to start the show, but in the midst of his promo and video clips catching the audience up on their growing feud, the champion arrived to interrupt. Punk, in the middle of a conversion to a heel, went personal with Hardy, mocking him for not failing a drug test in a year, and saying they should get started on his "Hall of Fame" speech. Finally having heard enough, Hardy got physical, but from the look in Punk's eyes, this was not the end for the evening.
Trouble continues for the World Champion
Returning from the break, the World Champion was back in action as CM Punk was set to meet John Morrison in a rematch from their outstanding match a couple of weeks ago, and once again the crowd was not disappointed. Both competitors are blue chippers, and while Punk tried to use a ground game to nullify the explosive offense of Morrison, the match was puncuated with counters and reversals throughout, including Morrison defeating the champ for the second time in a row in non-title action! In a telling gesture, Punk refused Morrison's handshake following the match. It is time to consider a title shot for Morrison after Night of Champions.
R-Truth, who has been seeing his gimmick undergo fine-tuning by WWE creative recently, had no better luck this week out, as his opponent, Kane, was back on SmackDown with a vengeance. While R-Truth rallied on more than one occasion, he just could not get in gear, and fell victim to a three-count after the big man countered an aerial move with a big boot.
In a match spun off from the previous night's WWE Superstars, The Hart Dynasty met Cryme Tyme and Eve Torres in a mixed 6-man tag match. Nothing remarkable about this match, which is roughly the same thing you can say about almost any mixed 6-man tag. The Hart Dynasty wins after Natalya pins Eve.
After a video screen confrontation between WWE Unified Tag Team Champion Chris Jericho and his now-former partner Edge to set up a series of matches between them down the road, Jericho teamed with Dolph Ziggler (whom I believe Jericho is going to pick as his new championship partner) to square off with Intercontinental Champion Rey Mysterio and Jeff Hardy. Hardy and Jericho would start out, with Hardy maintaining an edge until Jericho dropkicked him from the ring.
The Champ makes a statement
Returning from the break, it was Ziggler wearing down Hardy, as they began isolating Hardy and pouring on the abuse. Mysterio would get the hot tag, cleaning house until an excellent blind tag nearly led to a win for Jericho and the brash newcomer. As action spilled to the ringside area, Hardy and Punk would stare down, with Punk then launching Jericho into Hardy, crashing him into the ring steps and forcing the ref to throw out the match! Jericho was not done with Hardy however, throwing him back into the ring for a codebreaker followed by a long Walls of Jericho. CM Punk watched briefly before exiting, and the show closed with Hardy in the ring trying to recover.
As Night of Champions approaches, it is becoming more and more clear that CM Punk enjoys the respect of the fans, but he enjoys the World Heavyweight title even more, and that passion could led to major problems for Jeff Hardy.