The opening contest is one of those bouts; John Cena v JBL, a former Wrestlemania main-event showcase opens the show three years later. This is actually a good thing; the fans boo JBL loudly and are (pretty much) solidly behind John Cena, so they are fired up from the opening bell and rarely let it dip throughout the show. A great opener can set the tone for the show or it can be a false dawn (I’m looking at you December to Dismember)… in this case, it was the former.
Running Time: 164mins (excluding extras)
- John Cena v JBL
- WWE Tag Team Championship Match – John Morrison & The Mix v Kane & CM Punk
- Shawn Michaels v Chris Jericho
- Todd Grisham Interviews Mickie James
- Triple Threat Match for the WWE Women’s Championship – Mickie James v Beth Phoenix v Melina
- Batista Threatens Shawn Michaels
- World Heavyweight Championship Match – Undertaker v Edge
- Randy Orton Talks of Reclaiming His Title
- Jeff Hardy v MVP
- Steel Cage Match for the WWE Championship – Triple H v Randy Orton
- Home Video Exclusive – Todd Grisham Interviews Jeff Hardy
- Chase for the Gold (Smackdown – May 9th, 2008)
Judgment Day: When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and He will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at His right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”… “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
Then He will say to those at His left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me” … “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matthew 25:31-36, 40-43, 45-46 NRSV)
WWE Judgment Day: When the sins of the wicked come back to haunt them, with no place to hide and no quarter to be given. What they have wrought on others will be wrought on them tenfold. Mistreat their brother and the wrath of the Lord McMahon will strike them down where they stand… and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse will carry their souls to the bowels of Hell.
Inside a structure of steel, the ultimate prize will be decided, and only one man can escape into the glory of the people. For the other, the pain of defeat will linger forever more. The Age of Orton or The King of Kings; Triple H or Randy Orton, who will reach the Promised Land of the WWE Championship… and who will fall into the depths of despair?
The most feared of the Horseman is Death; a being incarnate in the form of The Undertaker here in WWE. Can Edge, the embodiment of cunning and deviousness, overcome his impending doom and reclaim the World Heavyweight Championship? With the Deadman’s Judgment chokehold being banned by Vickie Guerrero and the title vacated, the wrath of Death will have to be weathered… if that is even possible.
Judgment Day is here… make peace with your maker while you can.
Judgment Day is a PPV that is rarely a contender for PPV of the Year awards, but it’s usually a solid enough affair. This year’s was one of the best editions of the monthly super-show. The main matches on the card were JBL v John Cena, Triple H v Randy Orton for the WWE Title and Undertaker v Edge for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship.
The main story of the opening match is Cena’s strength. Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross remind us all through the contest just how strong “The Marine” is and his various feats of strength (which, to be fair, are impressive). Cena rams his shoulder into the ringpost early on and the rest of the match follows the sound gameplan of JBL working over the arm and shoulder region.
It’s unusual to see Bradshaw work a more technical style (well, technical by his standards), but it is a nice change. Cena uses his overwhelming power to escape from more than one of these holds and the fans raise the roof every time he does, giving the match a great atmosphere, even if it is, for the most part, a glorified 15-min squash by JBL.
The finish is nicely done, the fans almost burst an ear drum with their reaction to it and the show is one for one in regards to good matches.
Our first title match is up next as Miz & Morrison defend the straps against Kane and CM Punk. Mike Adamle is on commentary, which feels like a looooong time ago, alongside Tazz. MizMo (as they will be referred to by no-one) get a good pop from the fans as they make their entrances, Punk gets a better one and Kane (the ECW Champion at the time) gets a nice reaction too.
The first thing I notice is that WWE are introducing championship matches while all the competing wrestlers are in the ring. I’ve always preferred this way of doing things as it makes title bouts seem that little more important than the rest of the card.
Punk and Miz (a seriously underrated wrestler) start the match, but Kane gets tagged in pretty quickly, as does Morrison. The match then flows along nicely, with some sweet double-teams from both tandems (as well as Miz taking a chokeslam on the floor). At under 8mins in length, the fight doesn’t really have the time to get going, so suffers a little because of it.
The “is Shawn Michaels really hurt or not” storyline was confusing on many levels. If Shawn was faking the knee injury to lull Batista into a false sense of security and then land the Sweet Chin Music, that would be one thing, but to keep it going for weeks after the match, convince Jericho that he actually is hurt… and then to come round and say that he isn’t hurt, has been faking and then superkick Jericho for believing him was convoluted and senseless.
It should have made Michaels a heel (although it did lead to the masterful heel-turn on behalf of the former Y2J) and herald a return to the early-90s HBK. Instead, Jericho turned heel because of the fans cheering a lying, cheating, deceitful “worm” like Shawn Michaels. The reason this doesn’t quite work (although, as said above, the aftermath of the turn does redeem the angle) is that a heel has to believe that he’s right… but he shouldn’t actually be right.
The one bonus is that it led to this, the first match of, arguably, the feud of 2008. Michaels and Jericho have never had a bad match (with their Wrestlemania XIX encounter being a personal favourite); this is no exception.
Both men put in their all for almost sixteen minutes, with near falls, close calls and stiff shots being exchanged throughout. With both men also having submission finishers, HBK using the Trailer Hitch (he hasn’t actually given it a name of his own as of yet) there is an aspect to this one that was missing from previous matches between the two; submission attempts and counters. The Crippler Crossface even gets an impromptu airing as well.
The tension in the closing minutes is palpable, with near falls and near-taps galore. All in all, it’s almost another show-stealing performance from the inspiration and the inspired.
I’d pity any match that had to follow on from HBK v Y2J, regardless of who was competing in it, but the three females vying for the WWE Women’s Title did themselves proud with a sterling effort that delivered well above expectations. The highlight, as anyone who watched the bout first time around, is the frankly amazing double-backbreaker rack that Beth Phoenix applies to both Melina and Mickie James (who had her pre-match interview interrupted by JBL).
I may be in the minority, but I really think Beth is one hot lady (as well as bloody violent – her attack on Melina backstage is shown during her entrance). Add in Melina and Mickie James and you have one of the best-looking, from a purely aesthetic standpoint, triple-threats you’ll ever see.
Mickie is super-over with the fans and the three ladies work their boots off to give a good outing. The fans really pop for the double-rack (as they should; it really was impressive) and give it a well-deserved standing ovation. A great effort considering they only had 5mins to work with.
The recap of the Edge/Undertaker feud brings us up to speed on what’s been going on and why the title has been vacated. Vickie Guerrero and Edge really are fantastic heels, and never more so is this apparent than when the night of the Championship Chase on Smackdown.
Undertaker’s chokehold has been banned under a bogus ruling from the General Manager, so the storyline of the match has been set in stone; Edge feels he only lost to ‘Taker due to cheating and that, under a fair set of rules, he can defeat Undertaker.
Charles Robinson (the man who set a sprinting record at Wrestlemania) is the referee for the match (a situation that leads to its own storyline) and looks absolutely tiny compared to the two wrestlers. The crowd are positively abuzz when Undertaker makes his entrance (still one of the best entrances in the history of wrestling) and stay “at eleven” from bell-to-bell.
While not on a par with their previous outings at ‘Mania and Backlash, as well as their future outings at One Night Stand and Summerslam, but even being the weakest out of those five matches still lift it above pretty much every other match WWE has put out this year.
The action is superb, with Edge once again showing he can hang with a legend when it matters. With Mick Foley in the midst of his short commentary stint, the match is given an extra, um, edge (Foley is superb at getting the importance of certain aspects of the match, and wrestling in general, across without losing focus).
Obviously, due to it being their third match in as many months, there is some repetition, but there is also some logical progression (countering moves that were hit in previous bouts, etc) to keep the fan interest at a high. The finish, infuriating as it was at the time, made sense in the bigger picture (was there a more over heel that Vickie Guerrero at this point in time? The heat she generates when she comes out after the bell is as hot as anyone in history) and led to more great matches.
The fact that both men can, for the third month in a row, have a barnstormer of a contest, is a testament to the talent of Undertaker, Edge and the agents backstage. The longest match of the night so far (sixteen-and-a-half minutes) has also been the best match of the night so far.
Again, like Mickie James, Beth Phoenix and Melina, I didn’t envy Jeff Hardy and MVP in having to follow a great bout like the World Heavyweight Championship match. Even worse for them is that, unlike the ladies, where, rightly or wrongly, expectations aren’t as high, Jeff Hardy v MVP doesn’t fall under that bracket. Jeff and MVP have a mildly disappointing outing, with, for whatever reason, the action not flowing as well as it can (and has) between the two.
MVP starts things by coming out and asking why he hasn’t been booked on the card. He issues a challenge to anyone who wishes to “expel him from this ring”. Matt Hardy, MVP’s nemesis, comes out in street clothes and, since he has already proven that he’s better than MVP, he has someone else in mind.
The fans, knowing that it’s Jeff, get excited… and then proceed to blow the roof off the building when the man himself appears on the stage. I have to say, as much as I didn’t like it at first; Jeff’s new music suits him really well and is a fantastic tune.
The bout is kept short (just under 10mins), but this was during that brief period where the Whisper in the Wind was his main finisher, so the ending is a little more low-key than when he used/uses the Swanton Bomb. Again, Mick adds a lot to the match with his unique style of commentary. It’s a pity he left to go to TNA, as I feel he could have become as good an announcer as JBL was.
To close the show, Randy Orton (who’s new music, like Jeff Hardy’s, has grown on me since this PPV took place) and Triple H (who gets a monster ovation upon his entrance) clash inside a steel cage for the WWE Title. Steel cage matches, more specifically, their aura, have been diminished with ever more extreme gimmick matches (HIAC, Elimination Chamber, TLC, etc) coming to the fore, but, to me, a great cage match can still excite.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t a great cage match. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but Triple H v Randy Orton inside a cage for the WWE Title needs to be more than good. Similar to Edge and Undertaker, this is third PPV in a row that HHH and RKO have clashed for the WWE Championship. Unlike Undertaker and Edge, this is the first one-on-one match in that run.
Fought under the standard cage match strategy of ramming the opponent into the steel, wrestler A climbing a little bit until wrestler B pulls him down (then it’s reversed), Wrestler A climbs a little more until Wrestler B pulls him down again (then it’s reversed) until Wrestler A is almost out until Wrestler B miraculously pulls him back in (and then it’s reversed) interspersed with brawling and mugging to the fans.
It’s not the fault of the wrestlers, as most stipulation matches follow a pre-set formula with the occasional twist, but it does detract a little from the enjoyment of the match. One interesting moment is when Triple H attempts a Pedigree from the top rope; a move that would have brought things full-circle (Hunter uses the Pedigree, CM Punk used it from the top in the indies and then Triple H almost brought that version into WWE to close the circle).
The finish, as well executed as it is, was predictable from the moment the sequence is set up, but the fans seemed happy with Triple H retaining the title and continue to bury the Age of Orton. One month later, Orton’s era was well and truly done for courtesy of a broken collarbone; an injury that is still keeping him out to this day.
Triple H v Randy Orton may have closed the show with the longest match of the card (21mins21secs), but the main-event belonged to The Undertaker and Edge for the third month in a row.
There are two extras on the disc. The first is a short interview with Jeff Hardy after his match with MVP. He talks about being back in WWE after his suspension and the fire that claimed both his house and his dog. It’s short (33secs), but it’s inoffensive at the same time.
The second extra is a complete and utter joke. Not the content itself, but the fact that the ENTIRE extra (a recap of the Championship Chase from Smackdown) is already in the main feature. I believe it may be a first, but I cannot work out who thought it would be a good idea to have part of the original show as an extra.
It smacks of complacency and a general feeling of having to put something, anything, on the disc to pad it out. Even if it was just the Battle Royal part or even the closing minutes of it, that would have been something, but to put on a highlight reel that is part of the PPV anyway is an insult.
Judgment Day was a very good PPV, with Edge/Undertaker, Mickie/Beth/Melina, Jericho/Michaels and Cena/JBL being the stand-out matches. Triple H/Orton disappointed, as did Jeff/MVP, while the WWE Tag Title Match was decent, but forgettable.
Mick Foley on commentary added an extra dimension, with the other commentators doing an admirable job (even Adamle), while the wrestlers, for the most part, put forth a great effort on, let’s be honest, one of the lesser dates on the WWE calendar.
Not the best PPV of the year, but another solid effort by WWE (who are having a good 2008) and one that is worth watching again… but not for the extras.
Points: 7/10 (with a point deducted due to the, frankly insulting, second extra).