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Monday, March 31, 2008

WWE WrestleMania XXIV: SmackDown! smack downed RAW

Animalistic bulldozing
By: Michael Dinan
March 30, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla. – Before tonight, Umaga’s inscrutable rants reflected the savagery of his own manic destruction in the ring. A powerful, sadistic and deceptively quick warrior who had rarely been pinned down and was never truly dominated in the ring, the Samoan Bulldozer spoke more directly with his tattooed body. He let out primitive screams and unleashed a brutality that struck fear in his fellow WWE Superstars and assured Raw GM William Regal that his brand would come out victorious in battle for show supremacy with SmackDown’s Batista at WrestleMania XXIV.

That was before tonight. Now here’s a word Umaga may not want to get used to, courtesy of Batista: “Manhandled.”

In a stunning battle for brand bragging rights between two of WWE’s most ferocious Superstars, The Animal dropped Umaga with a devastating Batista Bomb before 70,000 screaming fans at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. The Batista Bomb on Umaga stunned onlookers, who had never seen the Samoan monster manhandled like that in his two years in WWE. The Animal’s impressive victory gave bragging rights to SmackDown’s fans and Superstars, long annoyed by Raw’s flagship status within WWE.

After nearly pinning Batista twice on the strength of nerve holds early in the match, momentum shifted swiftly and irretrievably for Umaga. With his back to a seemingly dazed Batista, the Samoan Bulldozer played to the ecstatic crowd and signaled for his signature Samoan Spike. But The Animal held off the deadly finishing move and swiftly countered with a spine buster and clinching Batista Bomb.

Could Batista’s thrashing of Umaga be the sign of renewed focus and determination in The Animal? It’s no secret that Batista wants to hold the World Heavyweight Championship again and perhaps his victory could persuade SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero, who had had difficulties in the past because of his rivalry with her lover, Edge.

Though hesitant at first, Guerrero one month ago granted Batista’s request to face the 348-pound Umaga in the high-profile match at WrestleMania. Batista never underestimated the Samoan Bulldozer, assailing Umaga until the Raw monster ran out of gas.

It isn’t clear where Batista’s convincing victory will take him next. But one thing is certain: He unleashed an Animalistic fury on Umaga tonight that he will never forget and has put WWE on notice.

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