Washington, D.C.
January 1, 2004


If Paul Heyman’s New Year’s Resolution was to continue his dominance over the doings on SmackDown!, the very first day of 2004 may have proved that Heyman’s plans are about to be ruined. On a night when several SmackDown! Superstars saw their New Year truly become a happy one, Heyman was in anything but a celebratory mood by evening’s end.

After an announcement that Hardcore Holly would meet Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble on January 25, Heyman set out to put Holly out of action long before the match by putting Holly in a match against the Big Show. The match developed when Show spoiled Rey Mysterio’s celebration at winning the Cruiserweight Championship after he opened SmackDown! by pinning Tajiri to end Tajiri’s reign as Cruiserweight Champion.

Show used the moment not to congratulate Mysterio, but to steal the spotlight for himself, and his new shirt. After Mysterio took offense to Show’s actions, the Big Show unleashed an assault on Mysterio that brought Holly to the ring in Mysterio’s defense. With the Big Show enraged at Holly’s interference, Heyman immediately set the match between Show and Holly with the hopes that Show would be able to injure Holly as he has done to so many others.

However, in what would become a common theme for Heyman, the plan did not work out. Although Show won the battle by disqualification, Holly won the war. Using a steel chair provided by Mysterio, Holly unleashed a vicious assault on the Big Show with several chair shots to the head that left Show bloodied in the middle of the ring.

And if that was not enough to spoil Heyman’s New Year celebration, both John Cena and Chris Benoit would take care of the rest. After an altercation between Cena and Heyman where Cena questioned Heyman’s manhood for not making the trip to Iraq, Heyman thought he put Cena in a situation where he stacked the deck against Cena’s aspirations at the WWE Championship. Heyman announced that Cena and a partner of his choice would face the FBI in a Handicap Match, with the stipulation that if Cena and his partner would lose, neither would enter the Rumble.

With just seconds to find a partner before the match, Cena was saved by an unlikely partner when Chris Benoit came to the ring in Cena’s defense. The two were victorious over the FBI, sending them to the Rumble and a shot to face the WWE Champion. For Benoit, this opportunity is nothing short of golden as Heyman has repeatedly vowed that Benoit would never gain another shot at the WWE Championship as long as he is the General Manager of SmackDown!. Seeing that Benoit now has a chance to get his Championship opportunity, Heyman announced to Benoit’s face that he would be the first to enter the Royal Rumble and would have to survive the challenge of 29 others in order to get his shot at the WWE Championship. However, Benoit seemed undeterred by Heyman’s actions and vowed to find a way to victory.

Speaking of the Royal Rumble, Kurt Angle returned to the ring on SmackDown! and announced that not only would he enter the Rumble with the hopes of winning it for the first time, but he would dedicate his efforts to the men and women fighting for America’s freedom. After an emotional speech where he praised the sacrifice of America’s soldiers, Angle said he would win on their behalf.

Angle also made his presence felt a short time later when it seemed that the recent tensions between Eddie and Chavo Guerrero came to a head. After losing their match to the Self-Proclaimed World’s Greatest Tag Team, Chavo declared that he had enough of the actions of his Uncle, Eddie. After slapping Eddie across the face, it appeared as if Los Guerreros were about to come to blows when Angle entered the ring to separate the two and try to restore calm to the Guerrero family. By evening’s end, it was not clear whether or not Angle’s efforts were successful.

If the first SmackDown! of 2004 is a sign of things to come, there are many exciting Thursday’s ahead this year! Rey Mysterio won the Cruiserweight Championship during the first match of the year, and it is clear that the first pay-per-view event of 2004 will be an event that can not be missed. Who else will enter the Royal Rumble on behalf of SmackDown!? How will Chris Benoit prepare for what could be the greatest challenge of his illustrious career? Are Los Guerreros finished as a tag team? How will Paul Heyman react to a tumultuous beginning to 2004? Only one way to find out … watch SmackDown! next week at 8/7 CT on UPN!

Match Results:

Rey Mysterio defeated Tajiri to win the Cruiserweight Championship

Bradshaw defeated Rhyno

Chris Benoit & John Cena defeated the FBI in a Handicap Match to earn spots in the Royal Rumble

The Big Show defeated Hardcore Holly via disqualification

The Self-Proclaimed World’s Greatest Tag Team defeated Los Guerreros