WWE Judgment Day 2004 5/16/2004

May 16, 2004
Staples Center
Los Angeles, CA
Attendance: 18,722
Buy Rate: .42
Announcers: Michael Cole & Tazz

Sunday Night Heat

Mark Jindrak defeats Sho Funaki with the Mark of Excellence at 3:46

Pay Per View

1) Rey Mysterio, Jr. & Rob Van Dam defeat the Dudley Boys when Van Dam (Rob Szatkowski) pins D-Von Dudley (Devon Hughes) with the Five Star Frog Splash at 15:19

Fun Fact: On 4/8, Booker T. turned on his tag partner, RVD, during a match. On 4/22, Paul Heyman returned as GM for the night. He went on to rip RVD, who had just lost to Booker, telling him that he was disgracing the legacy of ECW. As he was ragging on RVD, the Dudleys came down to join the festivities. Heyman ripped into them as well, telling them that they had become watered down caricatures. In response, they turned to RVD and beat him down, officially turning heel. A week later, RVD saved Eddie Guerrero from a Dudley beat down. On 5/6, RVD teamed up with Rey Mysterio to defeat the Dudleys. A week later, a tag team rematch was announced for PPV. That same night, D-Von defeated RVD in a singles match.

Scott: So the Dudleys go from faces on Raw, to heels on Smackdown. *Crickets*. Nobody cares, because they’re the same team whether they’re loved or hated. RVD needed a change of scenery, as he was pretty stale on Raw. Rey Mysterio is the hottest of the four in this match as he gets the biggest pop. The match is pretty standard, because honestly the Dudleys wrestle the same way every time, regardless of what side they’re on. It also went pretty long, longer than I anticipated but we do have four pros that can tell a story at any length. The Dudleys had not one but two long heel segments, one on RVD and the other on Rey. Although Cole & Tazz were on a pretty good roll, Cole was dumb in saying if Rey & RVD won the crowd would go home happy. It was the opener Michael, schmuck. Finally Rey hits the double 619, or the 12218, and RVD froggies D-Von to end it. Hot ending, but overall it was pretty average. Grade: 2

Justin: This Smackdown only offering starts with a solid tag match and opens with a big pop for Rey Mysterio. He and RVD would actually make a pretty good team and they get the crowd going with their highflying tandem offense. The team also seemed to reenergize RVD, who been a bit stagnant as he floated around on Raw. The Dudleys were back to their heel ways here as Paul Heyman had brought their old ECW flame back to life. I liked the design of this match as they worked in a double heat segment, first working on RVD before working over Rey. The Dudleys were good as heels because they knew how to work the classic heel formula to perfection. Their run as faces had stalled and they were getting pretty boring, so they needed this. I think this was definitely a better role for them, especially on Smackdown, where they wouldn’t be buried on the depth chart behind the red hot Evolution. The finish was fast paced as hot and RVD picks up the win for his team. For now, RVD is reinvigorated and the Smackdown tag division has picked up two rock solid teams. This was a fun match to kick off the show and a shrewd choice because you knew these four could get the crowd going. Grade: 2.5

Fun Fact: On 3/25, Smackdown opened with Kurt Angle announcing he had been named as the new GM of Smackdown, replacing Paul Heyman, who had quit that week on Raw. Angle was given this role as he again was suffering from neck problems and needed time out of the ring. His long-term absence from the ring would be explained on 4/15. Early in the night, Big Show was given a non-title match with Eddie Guerrero and Show promised that he would quit Smackdown if he lost the match. Show would lose the match and keep to his word, but before he left the arena he encountered Torrie Wilson and a makeup lady, both of whom were laughing at Show’s loss. Later in the night, Show stalked Torrie as she left the arena, kicked in her car windows and flipped the car over. A bit later, a camera cut to Show holding Torrie up over a balcony, threatening to throw her off. Angle showed up and convinced Show to put Torrie down, which he did. However, Show then grabbed Angle and chokeslammed him off the balcony to the ground below. Angle was left unconscious as the show went off the air. Two weeks later, Angle returned and was being pushed in a wheelchair by developmental wrestler Luther Reigns. Angle informed everyone that his leg was broken and that his career was over. He blamed the fans and Torrie Wilson for his condition.

Fun Fact II:
Born Matthew Wiese, Luther Reigns had a rough life before becoming a wrestler. As a teen, he took to the streets and got caught up in the gang life. During a fight at age nineteen, Reigns was shot, stabbed and had his throat slit. He recovered and returned to the streets, eventually landing in jail. Upon his release, he worked in a McDonald’s until a friend referred him to the WCW Power Plant. He joined immediately and toiled in WCW as a JTTS named Horshu until 1999. He would bounce around the Indies until he signed a WWE developmental contact in 2003.

*** After the opener, a giant platform rolled to the ring and Kurt Angle rose up in his wheelchair. Backed by Luther Reigns, Angle heeled on the fans as well as the hometown Lakers and Eddie Guerrero. He would then bring out Torrie Wilson and tell her that if she lost the next match, she would be fired and her career would be over, just like his. ***

2) Torrie Wilson defeats Dawn Marie with a backslide at 6:16

Scott: Now I know both these women are hot, but we have to watch this match again? Not one match on PPV that these two have had is anything memorable. What’s sad is that they don’t even mention any of the Al Wilson saga. Not that we really want to relive it, but otherwise these two have no heat and clearly no chemistry in the ring. The highlight of this mess was when Dawn Marie’s pants tore and her fine smooth ass, with thong, was sticking out. Torrie with a backslide gets the win, and that’s that. Grade: 1

Justin: This match really had no build behind it as Torrie had been involved in the Cena/Dupree feud in the weeks leading to the show. But, the match was made and the angry GM put Torrie’s career on the line. It was the standard match that these two have had dozens of times since 2002. They worked hard and kept a decent pace early but things slowed way down and dragged along. The grade is bumped a bit because Dawn’s pants ripped while they were brawling, showing off her great ass. This was decent enough for what is was, with Torrie picking up the win and keeping her career alive. Grade: 1

3) Mordecai (Kevin Fertig) defeats Scotty 2 Hotty (Scott Garland) with a Crucifix Powerbomb at 3:02

Fun Fact: Developmental wrestler Kevin Fertig portrayed Mordecai. Fertig competed on the Indy scene as Seven and signed with WWE in 2001. He continued to use the Seven gimmick during his time in OVW, where he joined the stable Disciples of Synn. He was called up to Smackdown in late April and given the gimmick of religious zealot Mordecai. In a series of vignettes, he claimed that he saw sin everywhere he looked and that God had chosen him to eradicate it. It was an interesting idea and Mordecai had an interesting look, decked out entirely in white and carrying a crucifix to the ring. He would also pray before matches. The gimmick was short lived and despite a tease of a feud with Eddie Guerrero, the gimmick was abandoned in July and Fertig returned to OVW.

I thought the package was pretty cool. Essentially Mordecai was a white-clad version of Undertaker. Now we turn back the clock to 1990 and Survivor Series. Who would have though that when Undertaker was walking down the aisle at the Hartford Civic Center that he would have endured. So honestly I was keeping an open mind when this character debuted in a big squash over little Scottie. His finisher, essentially a Razor’s Edge, looks good, but really there was nothing more to see. I’m not sure if this was supposed to be a future Undertaker opponent. I liked the presentation, and the workrate was average, but for this instance it served its purpose. Grade: 2

Debuting a new wrestler in a quasi-squash was a curious decision on a PPV, but with these brand specific shows and a thinned out roster, they needed something to fill the time. Mordecai was an interesting gimmick idea and I think he had some potential with the zealot thing, but they didn’t really give him time to get going and build the character. Here, he makes quick work of Scotty, who was now nothing more than a JTTS with his buddy Rikishi having been turfed. Mordecai worked a good style here, as he was hard-hitting and violent as he picked Scotty apart. I actually liked the match for what it was, even if it belonged on Smackdown more than it did here. Mordecai worked a good squash and did a solid job of establishing his attitude and moveset in just a few minutes. He picks up a good win here, but that would sadly be his peak as a character. Grade: 1

4) Charlie Haas & Rico defeat Billy Gunn & Bob Holly to retain WWE Tag Team Titles when Haas pins Holly (Robert Howard) with a sunset flip at 10:27

Fun Fact: Charlie Haas & Rico teamed to defeat Rikishi & Scotty 2 Hotty for the WWE Tag Team titles on the 4/22 Smackdown.

Fun Fact II:
On 4/15, Charlie Haas and Rico squared off in a match that quickly ended in a count-out as Haas was freaked out by Rico’s gay tendencies. A week later, Rico was revealed as Haas’ mystery partner for his tag team title shot. The odd couple would win the belts from Scotty & Rikishi. On 5/13, Hardcore Holly defeated Charlie Haas in a singles match and it was announced that Holly would be teaming with Billy Gunn to take on Rico & Haas at the PPV. Holly & Gunn had began teaming on Velocity and actually gelled well as a team and had a good surly veteran feel to them.

What the hell kind of combo is this? I can deal with the Rico/Haas combination, and I was big into Jackie Gayda at this point, but what the hell kind of team is Gunn & Holly? Two easily unlikeable guys become an unlikeable team. Why does Billy Gunn still have a job? Sure he’s a pretty good tag team wrestler but I assumed he’s run the gamut of tag team partners, with Bart Gunn, Road Dogg, and Chuck, amongst others. Now we have to see him team with the over stiff, in workrate and personality, Hardcore Holly. This was a prime example of how Smackdown really hasn’t rebounded from the loss of Brock Lesnar and the defection of Chris Benoit. The roster has gotten very thin all of a sudden and the mid-card is now a dearth of talent. This match, like the previous two are pretty standard. The champs retain the titles, but again the action is unspectacular. Grade: 2

Justin: For third year in a row, Smackdown features an odd combo holding the tag team titles. And for the second in three years, the team features Rico. This time around, Rico is portraying a flamboyantly gay gimmick and his teammate, Haas, is a big put off by it. Haas did a great job with his facials and machinations here as he alternated between working well with Rico and being freaked out by his persona. As much as they bored me as singles wrestlers, I thought Gunn and Holly actually made for an interesting angry veteran team. They worked a hard-hitting style and had some believability to them. The champs controlled early as they rotated between Haas’ crisp mat technique and Rico’s suggestive comedy antics. The antics got in Holly & Gunn’s heads as they took turns bailing to the floor and refusing to tag in. The finish of the match was solid with Rico & Haas showing good teamwork to polish off the vets. I actually enjoyed this match quite a bit as both teams played their roles well and both were gelling. The crowd was into this one as well and all four guys worked hard and delivered a fun match. The odd couple champions live to see another day with the gold strapped around their waists. Grade: 2.5

5) Chavo Guerrero, Jr. defeats Jacqueline (Jacqueline Moore) to win WWE Cruiserweight Championship with a Gory Bomb at 4:50

Fun Fact: On 4/29, Chavo Guerrero, Jr. issued an open challenge to anyone in the world that he had not yet beaten. The next week, Jacqueline answered the challenge and defeated Chavo to win the title. The next week, Jackie lost a non-title match to Chavo, Sr., who was now going by the name Chavo Classic. The rematch was set for the PPV, but the stipulation added said Chavo would have to have his hand tied behind his back.

Fun Fact II:
This is Jacqueline’s final PPV appearance. After dropping the title here, she was released in June as creative no longer had any ideas for her. After leaving, she would bounce around the Indy scene, including a pair of stints in TNA. Her final record was 1-7 as she was 1-1 at Summerslam, 1-3 at Survivor Series and 0-3 at other events.

The Cruiserweight Title became nothing more than a prop in this storyline, and here is where the show could have been saved. They should have continued the Chavo/Rey Mysterio storyline from No Way Out and had more really solid matches. Instead Rey’s in a throwaway tag match, and Chavo’s wrestling a woman. Chavo Classic is highly entertaining, but his whole storyline is crap and I’m stunned at how the Smackdown roster has dropped in workrate with the promotions and Raw defections. Grade: 1.5

Justin: Six years after she had some heat on her, Jackie finally gets to run with the boys and get a token title run. Jackie was fairly stale at this point and this angle came out of nowhere as she hadn’t really been on the radar at all. Chavo would overpower her, but she fired back with some basic strikes. Classic would run interference and eventually untie his son’s arm, allowing him to cheat and regain his belt. The match was OK but I was just glad to see the gold back on Chavo’s waist and this two-week joke come to an end. Also, Chavo Classic and his antics continued to be the best part of this whole mess. Grade: 1

6) John Cena defeats Rene Dupree (Rene Goguen) to retain United States Championship with an FU at 9:56

Fun Fact: On 3/25, John Cena made his way out and welcomed Rene Dupree and his dog, Fifi to Smackdown. On 4/15, Dupree announced that his new talk segment, Café du Rene, would debut the next week. His first guest would be Torrie Wilson, and Rene harassed her about her role in the Angle/Show confrontation. Rene splashed wine in her face and was about to slam her before Cena came out to make the save. The next week, GM Angle put Dupree and Wilson into a match. A few minutes in, Cena again saved Torrie from Rene’s abuse. In retaliation, Angle granted Dupree a title match at the PPV.

This match actually had a legit back-story as Cena continues his build to bona fide superstar. Dupree was the more talented in La Resistance, and he’s now a solo superstar. Dupree dominated the action early, trying to become the first French US Champion. Dupree also became the first person to duck the Five-Knuckle Shuffle. Dupree does get a French Tickler in but in the end Cena drops the FU and retains the title. Cena was definitely still the darling of the fans and his overall workrate was very good, but there were a “Cena sucks” sign or two still floating around. I wouldn’t worry about that now. I do dig the James Worthy Lakers throwback. The match isn’t bad, and Cena retains. Grade: 2.5

Justin: Two months after his huge Wrestlemania win, John Cena is still very over with the fans. He had spent the last eight weeks defending his US title against all comers, but here he has to take on Smackdown’s newest mid-card heel, Rene Dupree. Cena was a house of fire early, but Dupree fought his way back with some solid offense. I will say Rene impressed me here as he had improved quite a bit since his debut a year earlier. He held up his end of the match and dictated the pace, building some good heat on Cena. Things would slow down with a Dupree bear hug, but the crowd stayed in it. The Cena comeback attempts were well worked as well, and Dupree was crisp in cutting them off. After a few good teases, Cena would turn the tide and pick up the win over Dupree. It was a good PPV defense for Cena and Dupree showed that he was ready for a decent mid-card singles push. Grade: 2

7) Undertaker (Mark Callaway) defeats Booker T. (Booker Huffman) with a Tombstone at 11:28

Fun Fact: As soon as the ink on the draft papers dried, Booker t. expressed his displeasure with being traded to Smackdown. He believed it was the inferior show and he made his beliefs loud and clear to anyone that would listen. On 4/8, Booker completed his heel turn by teaming on his tag partner Rob Van Dam. On 4/22, Booker went on another anti-Smackdown rant when Undertaker’s music started up. A frightened Booker quickly took off and the segment ended. Two weeks later, Booker visited a fortuneteller to ask for ways to beat Undertaker. She would send him on a mission to find various objects, including dirt from a grave with no name. Later in the show, Booker obtained the dirt and fled the scene just before a hand shot up from the grave. There was a lot of build and anticipation for the match, because Undertaker had been used sparingly since his return and it was made clear during this match that it was a “rare” appearance for the Deadman.

The Deadman’s first feud since returning from the dead and its…ordinary. I don’t understand what’s happened to Smackdown. Did all the shifting of guys mean that much? Eddie moves up to the main events, Benoit’s on Raw, Lesnar’s gone. All of a sudden we have tag team matches with Billy Gunn & Hardcore Holly? So bizarre, but on paper we thought this could stir up some sizzle. Watching the match, it’s just not doing it. At this point in his career, Taker facing anybody different usually brings some sizzle, but this match is just basic. Booker T switched shows and personalities to give SD a new heel, but tonight he’s vanquished by the Deadman. We get Taker offense, Booker offense, chokeslam, Tombstone, good night. Usually I get excited about Taker matches, but this time its just not happening. Grade: 2

Justin: The crowd continues to stay hot as they welcome Undertaker with a big time pop. It was a cool entrance, as always, and Paul Bearer is by his side. I thought it was interesting that Cole kept saying this was a rare appearance for Taker, as I guess they were trying to use him as a special attraction for a bit here. Booker had turned heel upon his jump to Smackdown and I was digging his arrogant attitude here, as he treated the show as second class. He had a solid run as a face, but was getting stale in the role, so this was a good breath of fresh air. Taker was overpowering and aggressive, working a hybrid style of his two gimmicks. Cole made it clear that Taker was defending Smackdown, the show he had called home since late 2002. Booker was solid on offense, but it was Taker’s night. Booker tried to use his magic dirt, but Taker shook it off and planted him with the Tombstone for the win. It was a basic old school match and sometimes that hits the spot. Taker gets a good win and defends the blue brand’s honor, but Booker looked pretty good in defeat too. The crowd was into this the whole way through, as they were solidly behind the Deadman from bell to bell. Grade: 2.5

8) John Bradshaw Layfield defeats Eddie Guerrero by disqualification when Guerrero uses the title belt at 23:11; Guerrero retains WWE Championship

Fun Fact: On the 3/18 Smackdown, the APA crossed paths with GM Paul Heyman. An angry Heyman told them that if they lost their match with Scotty & Rikishi, then they would be fired. Well, the APA lost the match and made their way back to Heyman’s office. Heyman clarified himself and told Faarooq that only he was fired because he saw promise in Bradshaw due to his financial wizardry. Faarooq started to leave, but stopped when Bradshaw didn’t leave with him. Bradshaw told him he was staying and not quitting on Faarooq’s behalf. Faarooq gave him a disappointed look and left the office. This angle was rooted in the truth as Ron Simmons was actually fired on the day the 3/18 show was taped. The next week, Bradshaw debuted his new financial wizard gimmick and let everyone know he would now be known as John Bradshaw Layfield.

Fun Fact II: On the 4/1 Smackdown, it was announced that a handful of competitors would compete to determine the next WWE Championship challenger as well as earning Kurt Angle’s Great American award. Angle was about to announce JBL as the final nominee for the award, but Eddie Guerrero came down, stole JBL’s cowboy hat and had fans throw food and drinks it. At the end of the 4/8 Smackdown, Angle was about to announce John Cena as the award winner when he was interrupted by JBL. JBL rolled footage of himself at the US/Mexico border, preventing illegal immigrants from entering the country. This act of bravery swayed the vote and JBL was named the award winner. When Angle went to unveil the trophy, it was revealed that the trophy had been replaced with a picture of Eddie. Eddie then appeared with the real trophy and proceeded to smash it to pieces. The next week, Eddie was discussing JBL’s award victory when he was interrupted by a JBL propaganda video smearing his title reign. Angle then announced that JBL would receive his title match at the PPV, as JBL was too exhausted from campaigning to compete that night. On 4/22, JBL faced and defeated El Gran Luchador, the supposed Mexican Heavyweight Champion. On 5/6, Michael Cole informed us that Eddie’s mother had suffered a heart attack at a recent house show. She was celebrating an Eddie win with him, Eddie’s wife and daughters to celebrate Mother’s Day, but JBL attacked her son and then put his hand on her, causing her to collapse. Later in the show, JBL explained his actions and continued to rail on Hispanic people, which had become the crux of this feud. JBL would roll into this show after defeating Rey Mysterio on 5/13.

Our main event is certainly a unique combination. Guerrero has been on fire since winning the title in February and the early parts of this feud was no exception. JBL has never been in a main event before for all the years he’s been in the WWE. With the APA done and Faarooq effectively retired, the former Bradshaw was pushed straight to the top and now gets a WWE Title match out of air. The crowd wasn’t totally sold on believing JBL was a legit world title contender. The match was pretty boring for the first thirteen minutes or so, as JBL had Eddie in some pretty long and boring restholds, one headlock and one bear hug. They throw each other into the announce tables that don’t break, but then the turning point. With the referee down JBL pastes Eddie with a chair and then all of a sudden there’s blood everywhere. Eddie’s bleeding so fast it pooled in JBL’s hat. The next seven minutes was JBL beating the bloody champ but can’t get the three count. Finally JBL tries a fast one by purposely getting caught with a chair, then try to paste Eddie with the belt while the ref’s putting the chair away. Eddie low blows him and whacks him with the belt for the DQ. Eddie eventually pastes JBL with a chair and ends up frog splashing him too. The end of the match and post-brawl were fun and actually gave the feud some legit heat as it continues from here. This was the match of the night even if it started slow. Grade: 3

Justin: Well, Bradshaw certainly has undergone quite the overhaul since the last time we saw him on PPV. Faarooq was gone and Bradshaw was now known as JBL, patriotic American and self made millionaire. His promo work was solid and garnered a lot of edgy heat with his borderline racist rants, but many were concerned if he could keep up in the ring. At the time, I thought they should have started him in the upper mid-card and perhaps feuding with John Cena. Alas, they wanted him in the Main Events and immediately vaulted him to the top of the card. Eddie was super over here and was full of hate over JBL’s ravings and recent actions, especially driving his mother to a heart attack. He would keep a great pace filled with hard-hitting dominant offense. JBL would turn the tide with a vicious chair shot that busted Eddie wide open. The match degenerated into a bloody war, with both men losing a whole lot of blood, especially Eddie, who was gushing at an alarming rate. JBL would get a great near fall on a powerbomb attempt, but he couldn’t put the champion away. Even though there were a lot of questions heading into the show, I think this match elevated JBL as someone who could hang in a main event brawl on PPV. Despite the feel of a hated filled war, the match was knocked down a bit by the weak ending. I understand why they did it and Eddie getting frustrated and DQ’d made sense, but it just ended a hot match on a down note. Eddie would get his heat back by pounding on JBL after the bell. JBL showed he could deliver a great bloody brawl, but Eddie leaves LA with his gold still around his waist. Grade: 4

Final Analysis

Scott: The main event clearly saves this show from being a complete dud. Eddie and JBL really brought the goods here and wanted to put on a show. The rest of the card was dreadfully boring and uninteresting. I don’t mind the Mordecai character at this point but I need more. The tag matches were pretty standard and the Booker/Taker match didn’t deliver what it probably was meant to. Smackdown has gone through three major changes that have hurt it since the start of the year: 1) The move of Chris Benoit to Raw, 2) The departure of Brock Lesnar, and 3) The elevation of Eddie Guerrero. Those three things left gaping holes in the roster that weren’t filled with equal talent. Billy Gunn and Hardcore Holly? Good god, they wish they had that kind of talent. I shouldn’t forget about Kurt Angle’s injury that has left a hole in the roster. So Eddie retains his title in a bloody battle with Main Eventer-in-training JBL, but the rest of the show is like paint drying. Final Grade: C

Justin: This is an odd dichotomy of a PPV that Smackdown delivered. On one hand, the show felt fresh as we had a new influx of wrestlers, and many of them had new attitudes and identities. Eddie Guerrero is clearly the Alpha Dog and the show felt like it was heading in the right direction. On the other hand, the card felt a bit haphazard and while there was some good build behind most of the matches, none felt like a must-see affair. Outside of the main event, no match broke a three as the action was middling and just sort of there. It was good to see some new faces pushed along and mixed in, but overall this show just felt like an extended version of Smackdown and not anything that needs to be seen. Still, the main event was a great bloody brawl and carried this show on its back. Final Grade: C-

MVP: John Bradshaw Layfield & Eddie Guerrero
Runner Up: Rob Van Dam & Rey Mysterio
Non MVP: Scotty 2 Hotty
Runner Up: Billy Gunn & Bob Holly

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