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Judgment Day Judged, and More...
May 16, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Judgment Day PPV Preview

I said I'd find a way to trick you folks into thinking Sunday's Judgment Day is worth checking out, and I do not intend to shirk my duties...

Left to figure out how back-to-back weeks of the strongest free TV we've seen all year (tell me the 4/28 and 5/5 RAWs have been eclipsed at any other point so far in the '03) managed to equal a PPV with a nearly nonexistent interest level for most fans, my mind flashed back to May 2001.  Going into Judgment Day that year, most fans were very frustrated with the Fed for putting a shitty-looking PPV just two months removed from one of the biggest and best shows ever (WM17) and two months removed from a huge industry shake up (WWF purchase of WCW).  The company was spinning it's wheels with Judgment Day 2001.  The same accusation is being flung at this year's May PPV.

Well, you want a reason to throw down $35 on Sunday?  How about this:  in 2001, the Fed put together a surprisingly strong show that featured the unexpected break out of Chris Benoit as a major star (a superb best of three falls match with Kurt Angle, which he lost, AND a role as Jericho's mystery partner, in which he won a shot at the tag titles held by HHH/Austin).  Then they followed up with a month or two long Wrestling Renaissance.  Benoit and Jericho ascended to the top-level babyface spots that had been (ever so frustratingly to the smarks) been held by Undertaker and Kane prior to Judgment Day.  The week immediately after the PPV had two match of the year candidates on free TV.  Benoit got pushed into a WWF Title feud against champ Austin.  The "WCW inVasion" was looming.  Things really started to get interesting.

Of course, by July, Benoit was out with an injury, the Wrestling Renaissance was a thing of the past, and the Fed was already showing signs of massively bungling the inVasion angle.  But let's forget that, and focus on the "nobody expected anything from Judgment Day, but it wound up being the starting point to some really cool stuff" vibe.  Because that's exactly what I could see coming out of this year's installment of the Judgment Day PPV.

Will the show, in and of itself, be a blow-away affair?  I doubt it.  But I honestly don't think that HHH/Nash will suck as bad as everybody seems to think, and there are matches with either in-ring promise or storyline potential elsewhere on the card.  And then you factor in some other things: the return of the IC Title will be a huge boon for RAW, basically opening up a secondary batch of potential feuds and angles in coming weeks.  This will be good for any number of guys like Jericho, Booker, RVD, Kane, Christian, maybe even Goldberg.  On SD!, we've got Kurt coming back, Show being dismissed from main event duties, Ultimo Dragon debuting, and you might scoff, but this one-legged Tenacious Z kid is gonna knock your socks off (I don't know if he's got long-term cache, but trust me, he'll be the flavor of at least two or three months).

Whether by annual design, or merely be scheduling necessity, Judgment Day looks to again be the Turnaround Event for WWE.  Things don't look so hot heading in, but could really heat up once we're on the other side of things.  With that in mind, let's look at the supposedly unappealing as-announced six-match card:

TRIPLE H vs. KEVIN NASH (World Title Match)

This is probably the only real iteration of a Clique feud that has not happened somewhere at some point in the past.  HHH could barely lay claim to mid-card status when last Nash frolicked in a then-WWF ring, so they never really crossed paths.  Today, Nash is considered by most smarks to be comically broken down, while HHH is in his prime as a main eventer (although equally despised for perceived backstage abuses).

OK, so that explains the vitriolic hatred of this match as the RAW title match...  but it doesn't underscore the reasons why this match may be better than the sum of its parts.  You see, the Cliquesters have a way of busting ass when they work against each other.  Nash, (unfairly, I say) abhorred as terrible worker, had his best matches ever against Shawn Michaels.  Now, with Michaels in a cursory role in this feud, I expect every bit the same effort from Nash as he takes on HHH.

I've made the case for why I don't see Nash falling to DUDZilla-like levels before, and I won't repeat my arguments.  Hey, if he sucks, he sucks, and I'll be the first to admit it.  But I would love for people to go into this match with an open mind and grant that there are ways to be an entertaining performer even if you aren't under six-foot and named "Benoit."

Storyline-wise, the genesis of this feud came when Nash tried to reconcile Michaels and HHH, to reform their alliance from the past.  After a few weeks of playing go-between, Nash was forced to pick a side when it became clear that neither Michaels nor HHH wanted anything to do with the other.  HHH further forced Nash's hand by attacking him with a sledgehammer.  Nash, thus, sided strongly with Michaels; the two teamed together (with Booker T) against Nash, Flair, and Jericho last month on PPV, a match that ended with HHH pinning Nash following another sledgehammer attack.

My Prediction:  I may be a Nash Apologist in many ways, but this is not his time.  HHH retains, and by summer should move on to a title feud with Goldberg (who SHOULD win the title, so he can move on to feud with Jericho).  Nash and Michaels go off an form a tag team and help revitalize those ranks.

BROCK LESNAR vs. BIG SHOW (Stretcher Match for the WWE Title)

A re-hash?  Yes.  The potential for slow-as-molasses pacing?  You bet.  The utterly wrong choice for a title feud for Lesnar?  Well, that's debatable.

You see, the Fed honestly had no way of knowing how John Cena would catch on.  But just because he's increasingly over with each passing week doesn't mean they should have given him a title rematch this month.  Heel turning Benoit or doing a face/face feud with him challenging Lesnar?  Sounds good, but then you'd only get pissy when Benoit got booked to lose.  And remember, Kurt's coming back sooner rather than later, and I believe strongly in his ability to stay a heel, so calling for Benoit to turn is tantamount to calling for him to remain second or third on the depth chart.

No, this is a reasonable match and a reasonable feud.  Show's value these days comes from putting him in situations where he seems unbeatable.  Last fall, they promoted the first Lesnar/Angle feud by saying Lesnar couldn't hit any of his big moves on Show; well, he did, anyway, but the point was, the drama of whether Lesnar could hit the F-5 made that first feud marketable.  This time around, they used Rey Mysterio as a Louisville Slugger to set up the Stretcher Match gimmick.  And the angle this time: Show can't POSSIBLY fit on a stretcher, so Lesnar again is the massive underdog.  Logical enough.

Remember, against all smark wisdom, Show WON that first match and the title last fall.  Now, with Paul Heyman (unfortunately) out of the picture, this third iteration comes with Show and Lesnar tied at one match apiece.  So call it the Rubber Match... in a feud that I'd guess a lot of fans would just like to have be finished.

The match stipulation does open things up a bit, so this could eclipse their past in-ring showings.  Basically, it's anything goes until you can strap your opponent to a stretcher and wheel him out of the arena.  Erin did a great job of outlining just how this match could steal the show, actually.  I won't repeat her arguments, I just hope she's right.  I fear, even with the hints dropped lately (like Steph's pep talk and the "Match so brutal we haven't had one on 17 years" talk), that this will fall short of being the Match of the Night: I've seen Show in Hardcore Title feuds, and I know that ultra-violence in slow motion just isn't quite the same thing.

My Prediction:  we'll see Rey Mysterio get involved, as the wide open Stretcher Match stips seem to encourage no end of extra curricular activity.  And that should be enough to turn the tide in Lesnar's favor.  He'll retain and move on to something new; Show/Mysterio (and maybe Dragon?) will be paired up for the next month or two.


This was the feud of the decade in the 80s.  And after WCW comically tried to promote it as the "Match of the Decade" in the late 90s, we stand on the brink of another chapter in yet a THIRD decade of the ongoing Hogan/Piper storyline.

There's too much backstory here to really do it justice, so we'll just focus on the present day:  Hogan got sent home by Vince McMahon so he could rot ("out of sight, out of mind" was Vince's thought process, and he wanted fans to forget all about Hulkamania).  Mr. America debuted a month later, and was obviously Hogan under a blue mask.  Vince wants somebody to unmask Mr. America and Piper is his man.

Will this be anything resembling a good wrestling match?  Hell no.  But for your consideration:  Sean O'Haire will be in Piper's corner, and it stands to reason that Mr. America would bring some back-up of his own.  Look for the Artist Formerly Known as Tenacious Z to second Hogan on Sunday.  And with all due respect to Erin and her more sane and rational thoughts on what could steal the show, I think that this could result in Judgment Day's signature, unforgettable moment.  A one-legged guy once again dragged into the fray... only this time, he hits an Asai Moonsault or something?  I figure that'd pop the crowd, big time.

My Prediction:  the one bit of 20-year-old backstory that you need to know is that Piper's telling the truth when he says Hogan's never really beaten him.  Hogan got all manner of DQ and count-out wins over Piper, and beat any number of wins over Piper's tag partners, but he's never gotten Piper via pinfall or submission.  I don't think it's time for the end game with regards to Mr. America (which should involve some sort of double-mask or non-Hogan-person under the mask or something convoluted), but I also don't think Piper will do a clean job.  Look for a no contest or a DQ win for Mr. America.


Last fall, Eric Bischoff eliminated the IC Title... it was the final step in a process of "unifying" all the RAW brand titles into the "World Title."  The Hardcore and Euro titles had previous been unified into the IC belt, and in the fall, the IC Title held by Kane was unified with the World Title when HHH defeated him.  Since October, the IC Title has been dormant.

But new RAW GM (and former IC titleholder) Steve Austin, thinks that's stupid.  And he's right.  The company which had introduced a ridiculous abundance of titles went too far when it eliminated the IC belt. This should help give direction and focus to the mid card and upper mid-card wrestlers looking to break through to the next level.

Sadly, the Fed bungled this a bit in recent weeks.  After announcing the battle royal was open to former IC champs on the RAW brand, they did practically ZERO storytelling.  An all-too-brief tease between tag champs (and both former IC champs) RVD and Kane was the only attempt to build up any interest in the personalities in this match.

The announced roster for this match is only 8 wrestlers:  Chris Jericho, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Kane, Christian, Test, Lance Storm, and Goldust.  Booker is still a bit of a question mark, though, as he missed weekend house shows and this week's RAW due to illness (thought to be pneumonia, and enough to keep him hospitalized for two days).  However, the Fed has been sure to leave the door open for other participants.  Shawn Michaels WAS on the list of competitors on Monday, but was missing when JR and King hyped matches last night on SmackDown.  Chief Morley (as Val Venis) held the IC title, and if he could be re-instated in time would be a good guy to have involved.  Also: Billy Gunn is ready to return, and since his ambiguously gay partner has found other things to do on SD!, he might fit better on RAW going after a singles belt.  You never know if the Fed might bring back a name or two from the past, too, (or if William Regal might be cleared in time to wrestle in this thing).

My Prediction:  without even knowing the full line-up, it's insane to try to pick a winner.  But I'll try... I'd say Booker was the best choice to win the belt, but not knowing if he'll be able to work or not, I'll pick Jericho.  Anything that can help shine the spotlight on the guy is a good thing, in my own damned opinion, and plus, if Booker can't work on Sunday, he and Jericho could do a quick (and GOOD) feud for the new belt to really establish it and get the strap over to Booker by the June PPV.

TEAM ANGLE vs. LOS GUERRERO (Ladder Match for the WWE Tag Titles)

Well, this match isn't actually going to happen.  But since the Fed was pretending it would as recently as last night's SD!, we'll play along and at least list it this way.

In reality, though, Chavo Guerrero suffered a torn tricep this week while taping a match for Velocity, and will miss as much as six months following surgery.  And though there is never a good time for a serious injury, this particular timing could not have been any worse: this storyline has been built up over the past 5 months, and all signs pointed to this being the night Eddie and Chavo got their belts back.  Now the title win and the Los Guerreros tag team are probably both back-burnered.

Without Chavo, the five-months worth of backstory becomes meaningless and our focus must shift to who, if anyone, will fill in as Eddie's partner.  Though one option might be to have Team Angle play hardball and somehow force Eddie to wrestle the match alone, I'd guess that they'd let somebody fill in.  Given the Ladder Match gimmick and the fact that this is the only real match on the show for the Workrate Enthusiast, you can only really consider Cruisers or exemplary workers for the substitute.

Rey Mysterio was already announced as being "a couple weeks away" from returning on last night's SD!, so I guess he'd be out.  Plus, he's got an issue to settle with Big Show, anyway, so going after the tag titles might muddle his agenda.  Chris Benoit in this slot would result in a stellar match, but how do you explain his teaming with Eddie again after their partnership last year imploded so violently?  Plus, Benoit might have other things on his plate.

Those would be the two most sensible choices, but each has drawbacks... which led me to posit something a bit bizarre:  how about Ultimo Dragon?  He supposed to be at the PPV on Sunday, and though I'd heard it was just to do a meet and greet (his debut would come at TV tapings a week or two later), you might as well put the guy to use now that you've got an opening.  The rumors are that Dragon was slated to join in with Rey and the Big Show, maybe even form a full time team with Rey, but that could be put on hold long enough for Dragon to team up with Eddie for a bit, don't you think?  It'd be a cool way to intro him, too: Eddie says his nephew is out, so he scoured the globe and brought in his old nemesis from Japan and Mexico, Ultimo Dragon, to be his partner.  Because nothing is more important to him than beating Team Angle.  Then Team Angle can still eek out a win, and Dragon can go on to other things while Eddie is in the clear for a singles feud with the returning Kurt Angle.  It's genius I tells ya!

My Prediction: the Fed will not actually use Dragon as Eddie's partner, but whoever they put in will be good enough to make this the stand-out match of the night.  Now that Los Guerreros are a dead issue, I expect Team Angle will walk away with the gold again.


We've done Trish vs. Jazz and Trish vs. Victoria already... and until Lita gets back, my guess is that Trish will remain the only really marketable babyface in the women's division.  So to keep things fresh, we've thrown Jackie into the mix and turned this into a four-way match for the title.

There's nothing here that's fresh, really, and just by going the four-way dance route, we're not gonna suddenly spice this up at all.  But the work, all around, should be solid-to-good.  The women's match on RAW was really fun, but without the hardcore elements, they might not reach those heights.

My Prediction:  ummm, I'll go with Jazz to retain.  I still suspect that Steve Austin will be re-instating Lita in the next few weeks, and so it makes sense for a heel to hold the belt when she returns.


A baffling match to put on a PPV, this one just SCREAMS "Well, we kept Steiner off pay-per-view for two months, and we felt obligated to give him something to do this time around."

The Test/Steiner forced partnership (Stacy Keibler's idea) is b-grade storytelling at best, and their inevitable break-up due to Test's jealously over Steiner's behavior towards Stacy is so obvious as to preclude it as a sufficient, PPV-caliber blow-off.  La Resistance are presently little more than masters of cheap heat; I've hated the French for as long as I can remember, but now it's en vogue, so their fruity berets and snooty accents are presently putting them in the same league as the Iron Sheik, circa the early 80s.

So: Test/Steiner issues, painfully obvious.  La Resistance, would be much better served by feuding with a returning APA.  End result, I don't give two shits about this match.

My Prediction:  maybe they'll salvage an iota of creativity here, and do the following.  Test gets pissy at Steiner for something, and abandons him, announcing in a later promo that he's got the IC Title battle royal to focus on, and screw his tag team partnership.  Then, you can get Steiner in on the battle royal, too, and add at least a bit of intrigue to the thing.  Oh, and this stupid match:  La Resistance gets some kind of cheap win over Steiner after he's left alone, so that they can have some heat when APA returns to provide their next feud.


Though the Fed is only officially acknowledging these seven matches, there will likely be a few more things added on...  on last night's SD!, it seemed like a Cena/FBI vs. Benoit/Rhyno/Spanky match was set up (and that could be sweet).  That would bring the match total up to eight, and even the score at four matches per brand.

Plus, Bill Goldberg -- although not booked to wrestle -- will almost certainly be present.  You could have him stage an inquisition about who almost ran him over on RAW, which could eat up some time on the PPV.  Also in the non-wrestling time-killer category: the Torrie Wilson/Sable bikini contest should provide some harmless titilation, and take their little storyline into the next phase (which I'll assume is going to involve "wrestling" matches).

Perhaps you've been inspired by this write-up to actually check out Sunday's Judgment Day PPV...  but if not, OO will have your back; family commitments may keep me from seeing the 8pm broadcast and doing the usual midnight immediate-post-show recap, but we'll have something up late on Sunday night.  There will probably be people in the Chat Room after the show, too, and they'll be happy to fill you in or dissect the show with you...

Weekend NewsBites

  • Last night's SD! did a 4.2 overnight rating... though that's nominally down compared to the previous week's overnight, it doesn't really matter.  What matters is the final number, which we'll have in Monday's update.
    It wouldn't surprise me if numbers are down this week, as there were a couple of big NBA play-off games on last night.
  • The Ultimate Warrior -- now relegated to #2 in the Most Eccentric Wrestler-Turned-Web-Columnist rankings -- has posted a new missive on his website.  He talks a bit about the death of Elizabeth, and has some harsh words for Lex Luger.  Plus, there's the usual dose of bile directed towards Vince and WWE.
    It's worth checking out.
  • A couple readers passed along a blurb from Wednesday's USA Today, in which it was suggested that The NEW New TNN (which will be rebranded as "Spike TV" this summer) is in the hunt for the NHL TV contract that will be up for grabs after next season.  Right now, ABC and ESPN hold those rights, but with ESPN having just negotiated for NBA rights effective this season and with their on-going baseball commitments, there could be a chance for Spike TV to sneak in and (with other outlets available courtesy of the Viacom media empire) snag the contract.
    This would, obviously, impact WWE, as play-off schedules would likely result in pre-emptions throughout the spring.  Oh well, I guess it beats the Westminster Dog Show...
  • Darren Husted passed along a note reminding us that this weekend is actually a bit of an anniversary.  It was 40 years ago tomorrow (Saturday) that Bruno Sammartino beat Buddy Rogers for the WWWF Title at MSG.  Considering that Rogers' title win the month before (in Rio, natch) was fictitious, Bruno's win is considered by most to be the real birth of the title and the company that now bears the WWE name.
    Happy 40th, the E.
  • That's about enough from me today.  See you Sunday night with PPV results, and then again on Monday with fall-out and other news to start the week...



Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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