The SmarK Rant for WWE Judgment Day 2008
– Live from Omaha, Nebraska.
– Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler and such.
John Cena v. JBL
Well that’s not what I would have expected as the opener. When was the last time Cena even opened a show? Wrestlemania XX? A sign at ringside notes that "JBL = EPIC FAIL~!" which might be the geekiest wrestling sign I’ve ever seen. The HD presentation is still driving me a little nuts because they compose for 4×3 and just add "wings" onto the side, so it’s not truly widescreen, but I guess most of the audience is just watching on a standard TV anyway. JBL gives a clean break in the corner to start, then grabs a headlock, but Cena takes him down for the STFU early. JBL makes the ropes and gets a cheapshot to the arm to take over, then sends Cena into the post and wraps the arm around it. Neckbreaker and he hooks a top wristlock, then tries for a cross-armbreaker. Well we know that John likes his UFC, but I don’t think submission expert is the direction to go with him. Cena powers out of the armlock but hurts his arm in the process, and JBL stomps him down in the corner and gets two. Cena slugs back with some girly-ass punches, but comes out of the corner with a clothesline and shoulderblock to come back. Flip neckbreaker and Cena goes up, but misses the flying legdrop. JBL, the wrestling god, stomps on him to capitalize. Time to go back to commentary, John.
They fight for a suplex on the apron and Cena fights him off, so JBL shoulderblocks him into the railing and rams his back into the apron. Back in, that gets two. Sloppy elbowdrop gets two. And now it’s time for the bearhug to really annoy me. And then he switches to the bodyscissors as this match goes nowhere slowly. Look, the formula with JBL is pretty simple: Blood and lots of stiff shots with weapons. This is playing the exact opposite from his strong points and as good as Cena has become, he’s only human. JBL goes to a full nelson, but Cena reverses to the FU, so JBL goes low. Now that’s the spirit! But alas, it’s back to the bodyscissors again as I wonder why they’d want to expose a guy they seem to love so much. Cena finally escapes with a half-spinebuster and they slug it out. Cena misses the blind charge and JBL puts him down with the big boot…and he drops elbows on Cena’s back rather than going for the kill. Short clothesline and JBL stomps away some more, but the FU finishes out of nowhere at 15:04. Much like the sign says, this match = EPIC FAIL. It moved at two speeds: Slow and molasses. I have no idea what they were going for, but this obviously wasn’t it. **
Smackdown (ECW?) World tag team titles: The Miz & John Morrison v. Kane & CM Punk.
Say what you will about Morrison’s progression as a worker, but he has the hair of a future World champion and that’s one-third of the formula for success in the WWE. Punk takes Miz down with a hiptoss for two and the faces double-team him in the corner. Kane hangs Miz with a neckbreaker submission, but runs into an elbow in the corner. Over to the champions’ corner, but Kane slams Morrison and gets a low dropkick for two. Punk comes in with a slingshot kneedrop for two. Punk wraps him up with a Tarantula type thing, then slides in with a sunset flip for two into the Anaconda Vice. Which is now a mere resthold having been killed dead. The champs double-team him with a gutbuster and Miz switches to a facelock, but Punk gets a high kick and it’s back to Kane again. Corner clothesline and sideslam set up the flying clothesline, but Miz makes the blind tag to Morrison, who comes in with a neckbreaker. John pounds away on the mat and Miz comes in with a corner clothesline, followed by a Shining Wizard from Morrison for two. Miz pounds him down, but walks into a big boot, and it’s hot tag Punk, although I suspect it’s just the middle one. Punk puts them both down with spinkicks and powerslams Morrison for two. Knee in the corner into a bulldog gets two. He hits Miz with a pescado and springboards back in onto Morrison with a bodypress for two, but MIz breaks up the GTS. Punk gets rid of him and Kane gets the chokeslam on the floor, but Morrison finishes Punk clean with the neckbreaker at 7:10. Boy, this is quite the push that Punk is getting from his Wrestlemania win, isn’t it? I don’t know why they booked it and I don’t know what purpose was served, but it was OK for a short TV match, I guess. **
Chris Jericho v. Shawn Michaels
I guess this is non-title. Shawn teases the leg injury to start and they go right into a pinfall reversal sequence to trade some near-falls, then fight for the backslide before reversing each others’ bodypress attempt to put Jericho on top for two. Shawn with the inverted figure-four, but Jericho makes the ropes. Jericho goes for the leg, so Shawn bitchslaps him and now it’s on. Shawn starts acting all heelish by hiding in the corner to hide, then grabs the headlock, so Jericho elbows out and stomps him in the corner. Shawn, however, grabs the arm and holds an armbar while hanging upside-down, then takes him down with a nasty armbreaker. Oh, I like these matches where it’s face v. face and it starts getting all nasty and mean because they want to win so much. THAT’S wrestling!
Jericho sends Shawn into the corner with a Flair Flip and stomps him down, but can’t get a superplex. Shawn sets up on top, but Jericho tries his suplex again and Shawn blocks with a front suplex, then follows with the flying elbow…which hits the knee. OUCH. Now that’s unique! Normally you just move to escape that, not put the knees up. Jericho starts working on the ribs and gets a backdrop suplex, leading to the abdominal stretch. Gorilla is up there bitching about it now, I bet. If Jericho is haunted by a mysterious voice telling him to hook that other leg, that’s why. Gutbuster gets two. Shawn gets sent into the corners, but Shawn blocks the bulldog attempt by sending him into the ropes and comes back with chops. Flying forearm, but the kip-up hurts the ribs, so Jericho POUNCES with the Walls of Jericho. Shawn makes the ropes, however, so Jericho stomps him down and follows to the apron…where he walks into a superkick. Oh, snap! Jericho’s ramrod-stiff sell to the floor was a thing of beauty.
Shawn doesn’t want the countout and drags Jericho back into the ring, where he gets two. Shawn follows with the flying elbow, but they’re BOTH hurt by it. This sets up the superkick, but Jericho collapses twice to mess up Shawn’s timing. And indeed, he was faking, as Shawn gets fed up and moves in…right into the Codebreaker. Awesome. That gets two. Shawn reverses a suplex into the crossface (what is WITH that move on WWE PPV lately?) and Jericho WANTS to tap, but ends up grabbing the ropes instead. Another try is reversed by Jericho into the suplex he originally wanted, and he drops Shawn on the top rope to set up the Lionsault, but Shawn puts up the knees…which is what Jericho wanted! He hooks the Walls, but Shawn reverses to the pin at 15:54. Now this is more like it, a masterpiece of two guys being total pricks to each other in the name of WINNING. Jericho offers a handshake and if someone turns on the other I’m adding another 1/4*. Both guys flinch, but no turn is evident. Darn. ****1/4 Shawn’s still got the goods and I’m glad to see Jericho more like his old self again.
Meanwhile, JBL interrupts an interview with Mickie James because no one should be answering questions about John Cena other than him.
WWE Women’s title: Mickie James v. Melina v. Beth Phoenix
I really like the in-ring introductions, although I hold no illusions about it lasting more than one show before they forget again. Melina boots Beth out to start, but Mickie rolls her up for two. Bet pulls Mickie out to break that up and boots her down, then goes after Melina in the ring. I really dislike the glamming up of Mickie, as her tomboy charm was part of her appeal and she’s turning into just another piece of eye candy. Plus she looks like Cheri Oteri now and it’s creeping me out. Phoenix tries to hook Melina in a submission hold on the mat, but Mickie rolls her up for two and takes Melina down with a flying headscissors. She chokes Beth down pretty blatantly, but Melina breaks it up with a neckbreaker. Melina and Phoenix slug it out, and then Melina goes after Mickie instead, but James takes her down with a kick and goes up. Melina trips her up and tries a superplex, but Beth brings Melina down with an electric chair, and Mickie gets a Thesz Press on Beth for two, reversed for two. Mickie hits a seated dropkick and goes up, but Melina follows her up and chokes away. Beth then catches BOTH of them in a backbreaker, which is the most awesome thing ever. Sadly she can’t hold it for long, but still, holy shit. Beth chokes Mickie out again, but Melina breaks it up, and Mickie DDTs Melina for the pin at 4:40. Short and fun, about what you can ask from these things. **1/2 Carrying both girls in a body vice backbreaker was the spot of the show thus far, though.
Meanwhile, Batista confronts Shawn in the dressing room and promises to hurt him for lying about his injury. Well, he can’t say he didn’t warn him.
Smackdown World title: Undertaker v. Edge
Guess it’s a six-match show, then. I remember back in 1989 when Summerslam 89 only had nine announced and I felt REALLY ripped off. I don’t get why they’d vacate the belt and then just do the same match they’ve been running for the past two months. A good long match here with a clean finish pretty much makes it an automatic thumbs up, I’d say. Taker slugs Edge down to start and tosses him, then sends him into the post and back into the ring. He starts working on the arm and rams the shoulder into the corner, and it’s an early ropewalk, which Edge blocks. Edge stomps him down, but Taker yanks him into the railing. Edge whips Taker into the stairs in turn, and follows with a baseball slide to send UT into the railing right back. Back in, they exchange headbutts, but Taker charges and crotches himself on the top rope as a result. That gets two for Edge. They slug it out and Edge kicks the leg out from under his leg to win that, then wraps the leg around the post. Back in, Undertaker tries to trap him in the Googlyplatypus, but Edge makes the ropes. He goes up for his own ropewalk, but Taker brings him down and slugs away, then comes back with the flying clothesline. Corner clotheslines follow and set up the chokeslam, and he does it into the top turnbuckle and follows with the big boot for two. I wonder why no one thought of that spot before now? Old school hits this time and he goes for the tombstone, but Edge reverses to the Edge-o-Matic and undoes the turnbuckle while his buddies distract the ref. Last Ride is reversed into the DDT for two. Edge goes for the spear to finish, but misses and hits the post, and Undertaker powerbombs him into the turnbuckle for two. He’s all about that turnbuckle tonight. Snake Eyes is countered by Edge and rams the back into the STEEL turnbuckle and slugs away in the corner, but UT gets his Snake Eyes to escape. Taker sets up for something, but Edge hits him with the spear for two. They slug it out again and Taker hits the chokeslam out of that, and it gets two as the crowd is rocking and it’s got that big match feel going. Taker boots him out of the ring and clotheslines him into the crowd, and Undertaker beats the count back in at 16:16 to win the title…but Vickie is out to protest. Oh, it’s one of THOSE things, I see. And indeed, she clarifies that Undertaker is not champion because you have to win by pinfall or submission. So the program continues, I guess. The mega-screwjob finish just when it was getting good wasn’t appreciated, but they were having a hell of a match up until then. ***1/2
MVP is out to protest being left off the show and he wants ANYONE to come out and face him to fill time.
MVP v. Jeff Hardy
MVP attacks to start and gets a rollup for two, then takes him down for two. Jeff slides under, but MVP grabs the leg, so Jeff mule kicks him out of the ring. Back in, MVP shoots in with a takedown and gets two, then wrestles him over for two. Jeff switches to a hammerlock to escape, then dodges the charging MVP to put him on the floor. He tries a baseball slide, but MVP grabs the legs to block and yanks him to the floor and rams Jeff’s arm into the stairs. Back in, that gets two. MVP goes to work on the arm with a kneedrop that gets two, and he holds the armbar and cuts off a comeback by using the hair. He pounds on the arm and follows with a hammerlock slam for two, then hooks a top wristlock until Jeff fights up. Jeff tries to alley-oop out of the corner, but the arm gives out and he falls on his face, which is a nice touch you don’t see often. MVP stays on it with an armbar takedown for two and drops another knee on the arm, and that gets two. He throws a mean high kick to the arm and drops him with a faceplant out of a fireman’s carry, and the running boot puts Jeff on the floor. MVP follows and rams the shoulder into the railing, and back in for two. MVP hammers on the arm and they slug it out, but MVP puts him down with a knee to the head. Playmaker is blocked by Jeff, however, and he fights up again and slugs MVP down. Corner clothesline sets up a mule kick in the corner, and Hardy goes up and whiffs on the swanton. MVP slugs away in the corner and sets up for the running kick, but Jeff takes him into the turnbuckles and hits the moonsault press for the pin at 9:45. Nothing wrong with this one, and it was nice to see Jeff was sober enough to sell the arm for the whole match. ***1/4
RAW World title, cage match: HHH v. Randy Orton
Orton dives for the door to start, but HHH pulls him back in and they slug it out in the corner. Orton tries to use the knee, but HHH is the MASTER and gets a high knee to send him into the corner. The punching continues and Orton tastes the cold unforgiving steel, but puts HHH down with punches again. HHH with a neckbreaker for two and he pounds away on the mat, then follows with a kneedrop for two. Orton fires back with a catapult into the cage and starts ramming HHH’s head into the cage, then drags him into the ring with a DDT for two. He slugs HHH down for two, and it’s time for the CHINLOCK OF DEATH. Well it wouldn’t be Orton without it. HHH slugs back, but Orton powerslams him for two. Orton uses the Garvin Stomp ’08 for two, but HHH goes to the leg and clips him twice. And now it’s figure-four time. Orton makes the ropes and tries to sneak in with the RKO, but HHH tries to reverse to the Pedigree and Orton backdrops out of it. He crawls out the door, but HHH hauls him in again, and they fight for that. Orton grabs a chair while he’s out there, but HHH blocks it with a facecrusher for two. Orton uses a ballcrusher, however, and that proves more effective. DDT on the chair gets two. Orton sets up for the RKO on the chair, but HHH sends him into the cage to block and takes him down with a drop toehold into the chair for two. Orton wakes up first and climbs the cage, but HHH follows him up and rams him into the top of the cage to bring him down. They fight on the top rope and HHH goes down first, so Orton goes over the top. HHH hauls him back in and they fight it out up there again, where HHH tries a Pedigree from the top, but no go. Orton rams him into the cage to bring him down again and gets over the top, but HHH pops up again and somehow hauls him back in by the neck. Hey, whatever works. Back in again, but Orton elbows him down again and he’s back up top again, so HHH finally just yanks him down onto the top rope to get him on the mat again. Orton recovers and charges for the RKO, but HHH catches him with the spinebuster and sets up for the Pedigree. Orton counters out, but misses his big kick and HHH puts him down with a chairshot and KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes at 21:08 to retain. Slow start, but I actually enjoyed the teases of escaping the cage and the drama they built with it. Still, these guys just don’t have that main event chemistry no matter how many times they run this same match, and I’m hoping this ends it. ***1/2
Hell of a show, in fact. Easy thumbs up and well worth the replay, as the three matches that needed to deliver, delivered, and there was a good Hardy v. MVP bonus match thrown in there as well. All good, nothing bad means Scott is a happy reviewer.