Vintage Vault – WWE Judgment Day 2008

*** Scott & Justin’s PPV reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV history that began with a review of Wrestlemania I. After a brief hiatus, the PICs are back where they left off. The reviews include fun facts that provide insight into the match, competitors and state of the company along with overviews of the match action and opinions and thoughts on the outcomes. If you would like to review the full archive, stretching from Wrestlemania I through Backlash 2008, please visit the Place to Be message board. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ****

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Judgment Day
May 18, 2008
Qwest Center
Omaha, NE
Attendance: 11,324
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Mick Foley, Mike Adamle & Tazz

Dark Match

Hardcore Holly & Cody Rhodes defeat Carlito & Santino Marella  to retain World Tag Team Titles

Pay Per View

Fun Fact: This is just Nebraska’s second PPV, both in Omaha. It is the first PPV in the CenturyLink Center (formerly the Qwest Center) and the first show in the state since Good Friends, Better Enemies in April 1996, which took place at the Civic Auditorium.

1) John Cena defeats John Bradshaw Layfield with the FU at 15:05

Fun Fact: JBL was fuming that John Cena cost him the title at Backlash and publicly said so the following night on RAW. The match was made official on the 5/5 RAW and JBL continued to unload his frustrations by proceeding to destroy DH Smith after proclaiming neither the Hart Family nor God could help him right now. Six days before the PPV, Cena confronted RAW GM William Regal about how he was running RAW, and Regal responded by assigning Cena a match with Randy Orton later that night. JBL would be named the guest referee prior to the match and cost Cena the match by booting him in the face and making a fast count.

Scott: One thing about this point in 2008 that I did enjoy is that the main event scene was so crammed, high level guys were forced to work other parts of the card to really beef it up. For instance, the last time John Cena curtain jerked a show was Great American Bash 2004. The premise of this match is pretty simple: JBL had the WWE Title won (in his eyes) in the four-way at Backlash but Cena cost him the pin. It’s been over three years since JBL lost the WWE Title and his epic reign to this very man and the feud is reignited. So the symmetry is perfect and it gives Cena something to do while other stuff is going on higher up the card. Some nights its funny how Cena gets a overwhelming pop when he gets in the ring, but then during the match his cheers and boos are more mixed. It’s like that with this Midwest crowd tonight. The match goes back and forth until Cena re-injures his shoulder and the big Texan really works him over. Cena couldn’t hit the FU because his shoulder kept betraying him. The match was methodical which may have lost the crowd at times but at some points they go crazy. Cena takes a pretty good beating for a good portion of the match as JBL is ruthless. JR and King think JBL could have won the match but he wanted to punish Cena, however that may have been a mistake as Cena hits an FU out of nowhere and wins the match. I liked the pacing and the psychology of JBL really torturing Cena, but the surprise ending takes away from the story. Grade: **1/2

Justin: We are just three weeks removed from Backlash, so not much has changed in the WWE landscape, as many feuds are still raging on. These two were the first eliminated individuals in the WWE title main event last month, but their feud continued leading to a solo match here. Pretty interesting that Cena opens the PPV, and Scott mentioned it is the first time since the summer of 2004 that he is doing so. I miss JBL in the booth, but his return to the ring has been enjoyable as well. After a lackluster performance in April, I was looking for these two to up the ante and deliver a good match here. Cena gets a pretty good pop here in Nebraska, a welcome change for him I am sure. Once the match started, though, the crowd splintered, with half chanting for JBL. Things started a bit slow, with JBL landing some shots early but Cena doing his best to fend him off. JBL has been solid in the ring since his return, but he was still looking to deliver a marquee performance. Early on, JBL was able to snap Cena’s arm across the top rope, injuring the Doctor of Thugonomics. He would keep working over the injured wing as the crowd tried to rally Cena. This has been an interesting match structure so far, with Cena never getting much offense in and JBL controlling right from the start. It is actually kind of refreshing to see Cena open the show in what has become an upper mid-card feud. Cena slugged his way back in but the arm kept slowing him down. Things quickly turned again, though, when Cena came up empty on a top rope legdrop attempt. JBL really emptied his bag of tricks, busting out every strike and submission hold he could think of to damage that arm. As the match chugged along, I really started digging the story within it. JBL has dominated since the bell and quickly cuts off Cena’s comebacks each time, working and beating on that arm along the way. The announcers and fans played right along and it really built up some good heat as everyone waited to see if Cena could pull out the win or if this would be the time he falls short. And as I finish typing that, Cena dodged a JBL right hand and snapped off an FU to steal the match. Cena literally hit maybe five offensive moves in the match, but he sneaks out the win. I dug it still, because JBL looked really strong, battering Cena around and only losing on a fluke flash move. I enjoyed this match and it was a shrewd choice to open the show and get the fans up and running early on. Grade: ***

2) John Morrison & Miz defeat Kane & CM Punk  to retain WWE Tag Team Titles when Morrison pins Punk with the Moonlight Drive at 7:13

Fun Fact: Back in November, former rivals Miz and John Morrison teamed up and ended up winning the WWE Tag Team titles in January when MVP turned on his partner Matt Hardy. They slowly began developing charisma and their characters as a team and by this point they were quickly building cache and becoming one of the best teams in recent memory. In an attempt to drive their own success, the duo took to WWE.com and created their own mini TV show entitled “The Dirt Sheet”. The show became a cult favorite and really helped build the chemistry and profile of the team.

Fun Fact II: Morrison and Miz have been on a roll since winning the Smackdown tag titles back in November. It was announced on the 4/29 ECW that the duo would defend the tag titles on Smackdown that week, and they did so successfully by defeating Jimmy Wang Yang and Shannon Moore. Meanwhile, Kane, the current ECW World Champion, was involved with Chavo Guerrero and Bam Neely, and their feud continued with Chavo scoring a big win over the champ in a handicap match that night and Punk was involved with Chuck Palumbo with Punk wrapping things up there with a win over Palumbo on the 5/16 Smackdown. The two teams would actually unite with the rest of the ECW roster in a massive 13 on 2 match on the 5/5 RAW in a winning effort over Triple H and Ken Kennedy. The following night on the 100th episode of ECW, Kane and Punk defeated Chavo and Neely with the tag champs on commentary. The match would officially be announced on the 5/9 Smackdown and the two teams would face off in singles matches on the 5/13 ECW with Miz scoring a win over Punk and Morrison defeating Kane for the momentum heading into this match.

Scott: Adamle and Tazz get to do this match since it involves four ECW guys that are splitting time on Smackdown too. Kane is also ECW Champion so he’s looking to be a double champion, whereas his partner is still holding the briefcase won in March down in Orlando. I liked Adamle as an announcer. I thought he was really rough early but he added that real sports feel, using transitions and analogies that would be used in sporting events. It was a different spin on PBP that made his matches unique. Mind you Adamle knew none of the moves or anything so Tazz is talking about 80% of the time, but that’s OK. Miz and Morrison were on a roll since winning the titles in January and with the chemistry Punk and Morrison had from their ECW Title feud the previous year this match was looking to be pretty good. Punk was about to hit the GTS when Miz trips him up and allows Morrison to hit Moonlight Drive for the win. Another solid match between four good workers. Grade: **1/2

Justin: Miz & Morrison were really catching fire here thanks to the awesome Dirt Sheet, which gave them an opening to show off their personality in an enjoyable way. The newest edition featured Morrison aping Punk while Miz portrayed Kane. Punk is still carrying the MITB briefcase but hasn’t been involved in too many teases to this point, still plying his trade on ECW TV. Kane gets the biggest pop of the four while Punk actually gets booed a bit when Tony Chimel announces him. Adamle puts over the confidence of the champs, which has continued to grow as their reign has edged along. Tazz notes that Punk has a big muscle bruise on his leg, courtesy of Miz. I am digging Punk’s white and black tights. The challengers control early, mixing in some tags. Miz tried to slow things up, but it is for naught. Punk and Kane actually show some nice teamwork with a modified Devastation Device. Adamle just calling Punk “CM” never gets old. Miz again makes a brief comeback, but Kane tags in and the assault is back on. The champs getting no shine at all early on but they eventually double-team Kane to turn it around. I am actually surprised they had Kane take the heat segment here, but it was very brief as Punk was right back in and in charge, picking up near falls. Punk is just flying around the ring, wiping both champs out wherever he can. Miz eats a chokeslam on the floor from Kane and OUCH. Back inside, Morrison hits his finisher to pick up the win. Well, that was pretty interesting as the champs got zero offense but hung in long enough to sneak out a win during a chaotic moment. It makes sense both as the team’s modus operandi and within this match structure because Punk & Kane were more likely to slip up and leave an opening than the champs. Fine match, but I would prefer to see Punk and Kane elsewhere on the card. Grade: **

3) Shawn Michaels defeats Chris Jericho with a roll-up at 15:54

Fun Fact: On 4/28, Chris Jericho marched to the ring for the Highlight Reel to present an award for the best acting performance in WWE history. And he determined to the winner to be Shawn Michaels, for his performance in faking a leg injury to dupe Batista the night before at Backlash. Michaels limped to the ring, maintaining his innocence that he was injured and did not fake it. Jericho would not accept that and continued to prod Michaels to tell the truth before walking off smugly. The next week, GM Regal forced Jericho to team with Michaels, surmising this would force Shawn into revealing the truth. The two would defeat Miz & Morrison, and Michaels continued to hobble around, favoring the injured knee. A match was set for the two at the PPV and they had a face to face on 5/12. Jericho revealed that 72% of fans voted in favor of Michaels, believing he is telling the truth. Jericho then announced that he had changed his mind after watching Shawn the week before, and he now believes Shawn’s knee was injured. He then offered Shawn the chance to cancel their match so he could heal. Shawn then turned the tables and apologized to Jericho, because for the first time in his career, he did feign injury at Backlash. Jericho refused to buy into the mind games and started insisting that Shawn was hurt and now was lying again to mess with him. Shawn maintained he was again telling the truth and proved it by dropping Jericho with a Superkick, hopping out of the ring and strutting to the back.

Scott: Now it’s time to start cooking with some gas. After a sensational match five years earlier in Seattle, we have chapter two of the feud. On this night the 2008 Feud of the Year kicks into high gear. This one is all about psychology. Michaels used a fake knee injury to play opossum at Backlash and hit Batista with a superkick for the win. Well Jericho, who was the special ref, didn’t like being duped. From there it was pure mind games. I noticed that 2008 was the first time since his mini-heel run three years earlier during the Hulk Hogan feud that Shawn was really working a little heelish. He was giving those shit-eating grins he used to give in 1997 and during the Hogan feud in 2005. This one is a myriad of counter-maneuvers and mind games. The match was back and forth early, then Michaels went for his elbow off the top rope and landed on Jericho’s knee. So Jericho worked over Shawn’s ribs for a few minutes until Shawn drilled Jericho with a superkick on the apron. The match then became a shocking spotfest with both guys were hitting strikes out of nowhere. Michaels went for a second superkick but Jericho hits the Codebreaker first, so Shawn cranks a crossface until Jericho got to the ropes. Jericho tries the Walls of Jericho for the second time but Michaels reverses into a roll up for the victory. I enjoyed this match a lot, but I knew more could come from them. They do indeed give us more. Grade: ***1/2

Justin: Boy oh boy, is this one the world has been looking forward to. Chris Jericho desperately needed a heel turn and he ended up with the best kind: calculating, calm and justified. This whole storyline has beautifully wound from Wrestlemania through Backlash and then to here, but is still incredibly fresh because the beef between Jericho and Michaels really just kicked into full gear a few weeks before. Jericho firmly believes he has done nothing but tell the truth, which he has, but the fans just love Michaels too much to give a shit. The psychology around the knee injury was great too, as Jericho finally believed Shawn, but Shawn denied he was hurt and superkicked Y2J as proof. Despite the evidence otherwise, Jericho kicked the match off by going right for that knee, not taking any chance either way. Shawn would keep the mind games rolling as he targeted Jericho’s knee as well with an Indian deathlock. He kept infuriating Jericho, smacking him across the face, trying to force him into a mistake. Lots of back and forth here, but Jericho gains full control after he got his knees up to block a Michaels top rope elbow. That opening allowed Jericho to abandon the knee and go right at the ribs. Let the selling begin. The Nebraska fans have been red hot for this one, almost blowing the roof off as Shawn fought through the Walls and grabbed the ropes. In fact, they seem pretty split now, with Jericho winning his fair share of applause. They would tumble to the apron, where Shawn hit a surprise SCM to send Jericho careening to the floor. Michaels didn’t take the countout win, and back inside he put the rib pain aside as he started to pick Jericho apart with his usual match closing offense. However, Jericho had one last trick in his book as he faked a bit and dropped Shawn with the Codebreaker as he came in for another SCM. Shawn hung in again and locked in a really tight crossface, looking like he was going to bust Jericho’s neck. Jericho got the rope break and hung Shawn across the top rope to further assault the ribs. Finally, in a great finishing sequence, Shawn tried to block a Lionsault, but Jericho avoided him and went for the Walls. Shawn fought that off and got a roll up for the flash pin. This was a great match, no surprise there at all. The finish was perfect too, because it will just push the already frustrated Jericho further to the brink. We already knew these guys had fantastic chemistry but with this storyline added to the mix, there will be much more greatness to come. Grade: ****

4) Mickie James defeats Beth Phoenix and Melina to retain WWE Women’s Title by pinning Melina with a DDT at 4:43

Fun Fact: The night after Backlash, a rematch took place between Mickie and Beth’s team, with Mickie scoring the pin over Jillian Hall. On the 5/5 RAW, Mickie would defeat Beth in a no-DQ Lumberjill match when Melina accidentally whacked Beth with her boot. The following week, Mickie would team with Maria to defeat Beth and Melina after Beth got payback and walked out on her partner.

Scott: We get the three most athletic women on the roster in the same match for the gold. The feud was really between Melina and Beth over who was the more deserving #1 contender and Mickie was kind of just there. Beth was a beast at this point, putting on pretty solid women’s matches every week. The match had some good single spots and kicks, particularly by Mickie who was really throwing herself all over the place to give the match extra sizzle. Beth Phoenix’s incredible size was on display when she was giving Mickie and Melina a double backbreaker. Mickie retains the title with a DDT on Melina. That was fun and quick. Grade: **1/2

Justin: Don’t make Beth Phoenix angry. That was the main gist of this feud and was evidenced on Raw when Beth destroyed Melina, lifting her in an elevated choke and slamming her into some lockers over and over. As a result, both she and Melina get a shot at Mickie James’ title here. The fans were all in on Mickie here. I am not sure what is going on with her hair at this show, as it is poofier with more bang action. Beth is such a bitch, demanding Melina get out of her ring because she doesn’t belong inside it. Great character work there. All three women get to shine early on here, with a fairly quick pace and no slow spots. Mickie looked crisp coming off the top with a Thesz press, followed by a low dropkick to a kneeling Beth. Beth then upped the ante by hoisting both women on her shoulder, stacking them up for a Jesse Ventura backbreaker. Holy shit, that is some crazy strength, and also a fantasy for many male fans. Mickie would survive that torture hold and hit a DDT on Melina to retain the belt. Beth was pissed at ringside and I assume she will not let this one end here. This was a fun sprint from three pretty good female workers, as far as WWE style goes. Grade: **1/2

*** Backstage, Batista threatens to hurt Shawn Michaels because he was faking his injury. He is going to let Michaels think about it, but the beating is coming at some point. ***

5) Undertaker defeated Edge by countout at 16:17; the World Heavyweight Title remained vacant

Fun Fact: On 5/2, Undertaker was set to defend his title against Great Khali, but GM Vickie Guerrero canceled the match and banned Undertaker’s Hell’s Gate submission going forward. The show ended with Taker and Khali brawling while Hawkins & Ryder stole Taker’s title belt. An angry Taker took Khali down and hooked on the now banned Hell’s Gate. The next week, Vickie officially stripped Taker of the World Title as punishment for using the choke the week before. Vickie revealed that Taker could wrestle for the vacant strap at Judgment Day against the winner of the Chase for the Championship, a series of matches that would occur on Smackdown and was open to any former champions. She announced that Khali was out of the country and Edge was not cleared medically to be involved. At the end of the night, all of the winners competed in a battle royal to determine who would advance to the PPV. Batista seemingly won the match, but Vickie brought out Edge, who was now cleared to compete. Edge hit the ring, eliminated Batista and earned a rematch for the vacant title against Taker. The 5/16 episode opened with Assistant GM Teddy Long informing Vickie that the Board laid down an ultimatum: Vickie wrestles Undertaker tonight or is fired. Teddy then quit his job and walked off. Later in the show, Vickie changed the match to Undertaker facing Vickie, Edge, Chavo Guerrero, Bam Neely, Hawkins & Ryder. Chavo & Neely bailed before the match, angry about being mistreated recently. Edge, Ryder and Hawkins did their best, but Taker fought them all off. Just as Taker was about to chokeslam Vickie, but Edge made the save with a spear to end the show.

Scott: For the third straight PPV, these two men battle for the World Title. Taker beat the Rated-R Superstar at Wrestlemania for the title, then successfully defended it at Backlash. In both cases he used Hell’s Gate. Now with that move banned, Taker needs to use another means to beat Edge for the third straight month. I find it funny that Taker was won so many matches in his career with the Tombstone yet for some reason they try to build this up that without the chokehold Taker is vulnerable and possibly can’t win. Very funny. Many people were 50/50 on their match at Mania, then the rematch a month later. By now they’ve definitely gotten some chemistry down and though this match isn’t as good as last month’s PPV match in Baltimore, they didn’t drop down too much. As I continue to watch Edge matches I still can’t figure out what his style actually is. He’s technical, strike, some high-flying. I guess it depends on the opponent. Eventually the Edgeheads (Ryder and Hawkins) come out to distract the ref, giving Edge a chance to loosen a turnbuckle cover. We’ll see if it affects the match. Eventually Taker indeed drops Edge’s head on the steel ring in the corner. Edge recovers enough to hit a spear but only gets a two count. Edge kicks out of a chokeslam, but I still didn’t think he was going to win the match. Both men are battling outside, and Taker gets back in the ring before Edge to win the match by countout. As he’s being handed the title, out comes Smackdown GM Vickie Guerrero, who was still very raw in the role. She says “I need to interrupt this announcement.” What does that mean? She says it twice! She says the title can’t be won by countout. So the match is over, but the title is still vacant. It’s a weak ending but if the feud is continuing there’s really nothing else to do. So Taker takes his frustration out on Edge by Tombstoning him. Grade: ***

Justin: This was a weird booking turn, stripping Taker of the title just to set up another match between these two. I get they wanted to make Vickie look corrupt and power hungry, but just rigging another title shot for Edge could have gotten the job done without having to vacate the title. The Championship Chase gimmick was good TV, I will give them that, but the vacating just didn’t seem needed. Cole & Foley really push the frustration of the Undertaker, noting he needs to channel it and not let it cause him to slip up. Edge tries to dodge Taker, but it doesn’t work so well as the Deadman is all over him both in and out of the ring. Another storyline thread here is the point of how well these two know each other, leading to a lot of counters, evidenced by Edge blocking the Old School. Edge is at his best when he is taking advantage of openings, and he tries to do it here, peppering Taker with right hands whenever he gets a chance. Edge would eventually gain full control and went right for the leg of Taker, trying to cut him down and take away all his power moves. The heat segment was fairly short lived as Taker plowed his way right back into control, driving Edge back into the corner and then dropping him with a big boot before finally hitting Old School. Taker’s selling of the leg is a bit spotty here, but in fairness Edge didn’t really work it over that match. As Edge reverses a Snake Eyes, Hawkins & Ryder show up to distract everyone, allowing their boss to expose the turnbuckle. Edge again reversed a big move, slipping out of a Last Ride and hitting a DDT for a near fall. Edge’s plan eventually backfired, as Taker caught him and dropped him on the exposed steel with a Snake Eyes. Just as it looked like Taker was about to wrap things up, Edge struck with a spear but still couldn’t put the Deadman away. The two started trading some blows, capped by a huge Taker chokeslam that sent Edge reverberating to the mat. With both men spent, they tumbled out to the floor and spilled over the barricade. Just as both men were about to reach the ring, Taker sent Edge flying into the barricade and slid into the ring to beat the count and win the vacant title. The celebration was short, as Vickie Guerrero came out to crazy heat. The heat is so overwhelming, she can’t even make her announcement, proving her crazy strong heel work at this point. Vickie rules that the title can’t be won by countout, so Taker grabs Edge and drops him with a Tombstone. The Edgeheads fetch Edge and walk off as Taker stands stunned. Well, this was interesting on a few levels. The match was really good and had a red hot finish…until the spirit of Dusty Rhodes got involved. This is obviously part of a bigger story, so I won’t dock the match too much, and the heat Vickie generated almost justifies it. Good stuff, just a notch below Wrestlemania, but still a lot of fun to watch. Grade: ***1/2

6) Jeff Hardy defeats Montel Vontavious Porter with the Whisper in the Wind at 9:44

Fun Fact: This match was not part of the original card; MVP came out and complained in the ring about not being on the card and issued an open challenge. Matt Hardy came out and said he had proven himself already, but someone else wanted to prove he was better than MVP and Jeff then came out.

Fun Fact II: This is Jeff’s return to PPV following his 60-day suspension for violating the Wellness Policy a second time. Three days after he was suspended, Jeff lost his home in a tragic fire in Cameron, NC, losing virtually everything he owned, including his pet dog. The suspension ended one week before the PPV, and Jeff made a surprise return on the 5/12 RAW, picking up the win in an impromptu match over Umaga

Scott: This is nothing more than the new US Champion Matt Hardy putting his rival through the motions. In one of the most impressive title reigns in WWE history MVP has dodged, bobbed and weaved through everybody to keep the US Title including torturing Matt Hardy. That ended last month at Backlash when Matt finally defeated him. So tonight Matt throws his brother Jeff at MVP and both men put on a good match. Jeff’s popularity is at an all time high and his time could soon be coming.  I was hoping that MVP wasn’t going to slide down the card because he was still very valuable to the roster.  Jeff Hardy was a mess right now.  He was back from his long suspension following another failed wellness test, then his entire property goes up in flames.  So maybe the best place for him right now is in the ring and doing what he does best.  The match is pretty basic with Jeff winning with his swanton. Grade: **

Justin: MVP is at his douchiest best here, bragging about how he is still the highest paid Smackdown superstar and is in the record books as the longest reigning US Champion of all time. He vented about it being a disgrace that he was left off this card and issues an open challenge, which is answered by his fiercest nemesis Matt Hardy, kind of. MVP was thrilled to be getting a chance at his US title again, but Matt informs him that he has already proven he is the better man, so instead he brings out his brother Jeff. Jeff gets a big pop as you would assume. Hardy’s red hair is quite interesting and kind of makes him look like Lita if you glance quickly. He dominates the early portion before finally driving the frustrated MVP to the floor to regroup. MVP’s strategy was pretty basic, trying to ground Hardy and keep him horizontal and out of the air. JBL made a good point about how MVP was unable to prepare for Hardy but is adapting on the fly. MVP really gains control by yanking Hardy off the apron and slamming him down to the floor. From there, he went right to the arm and shoulder of Hardy, working it over and keeping him on the ground. Cole talks about MVP’s boot to the head and how it is his most effective weapon in his matches, which is a valid point for sure. Cole and Foley have done a nice job on the SD side of this show, really bringing some good analysis overall. Once Hardy came back he went to his usual assault but came up empty on a swanton bomb, quieting a crowd that was starting to get revved back up. MVP would whiff on a charge, allowing Jeff to scamper up the ropes and nail the Whisper in the Wind for the win. I really enjoyed this one as it told a nice, simple story that paid off at the end with Hardy able to use his quick strike offense to win a match in which MVP had been methodically picking him apart. It was almost like a football game where a team that slowly moves down the field got burnt in a two-minute drive by a high-powered offense. Nice win for Hardy as MVP now heads to the drawing board to regroup. Grade: **1/2

7) Triple H defeats Randy Orton to retain WWE Title with a Pedigree at 21:12

Fun Fact: The night after Backlash, Orton initiated his rematch clause for Judgment Day but when he refused to leave the ring, Trips clocked him with the microphone, and Orton then opted to do the rematch later in the show. Late in the contest, RAW GM William Regal felt the fans didn’t deserve to see the ending of the match because of how they disrespected him and took the show off the air. After the show went off air, Regal came out and stopped the bout with the champ getting the final blow by nailing a Pedigree. The next week, Regal would no longer tolerate disrespect. Ken Kennedy came out and challenged Regal to a match. Regal declined and instead offered to teach Kennedy a lesson by pitting him against the entire ECW roster in a handicap match. Triple H then came out and called Regal’s actions a mistake, and Regal responded by making the rematch official in a steel cage at Judgment Day and added the champion to the match to team with Kennedy. After a losing effort by the duo and the lights went out, they came back on to an RKO from Orton to Triple H. On the 5/12 RAW, Orton would pick up a win over John Cena thanks to guest referee JBL, and the two would double team Cena afterwards. Triple H would make the save, and a cage would lower with Trips throwing Orton into the cage and the two had a staredown as RAW went off the air.

Fun Fact II: This marks the PPV debut for Orton’s new theme song “Voices” by Rev Theory. He debuted the new theme song the week before.

Scott: After the fun four-way match at Backlash, these two go hard right from the beginning as Orton gets his rematch in a steel cage. I believe this is where Randy Orton officially turned the corner here. He gets a new theme song (one I liked immediately), and he began to move around differently. Gone is that annoying frat boy asshole look and in its place is a legit main event superstar who moves around the ring with confidence. That excess bulk is slowly vanishing and he’s becoming a trimmer, quicker worker in the ring. Triple H is getting some of his best babyface pops in a long time since returning the previous August. I knew that we probably wouldn’t see as violent a cage match as we should for a main event title match. The company has changed and its not as bloody as it used to be. The match is very methodical, like most of the matches on this show. Orton would actually take control for a good portion of it early, using the cage heavily to his advantage and pummeling The Game with kicks and strikes. I talked about Edge’s hybrid style of wrestling earlier, and watching this match (and all his matches since coming back from injury) Triple H has also streamlined his style into more strikes and a little quickness. You don’t see that quickness much in this one though. This match almost feels like an old school “Federation Years” cage match with a lot of slow moves and lying around. The crowd was about 50/50 throughout, until the champion tried to get out over the top of the cage and Orton followed him. Both men battle in the corner until Orton was alone in the corner and had a legitimate chance to crawl out of the cage and regain his title. Orton was caught hanging over the top railing and eventually Triple H crawls up and somehow pulls Orton’s dead weight over the top wall. Both men finally get back to the center of the ring and when it looks like Hunter is about to win, Orton reverses the Pedigree into a back drop on a chair. Orton sets up for the punt kick, but Triple H ducks it, drills Orton with the chair and hits the Pedigree to win the match and retains his title. The match was solid, but nothing spectacular. Both men told a solid story and although they are putting on solid matches, I thought the feud should have ended here and both should have moved on to other things. Instead we have one more PPV chapter between the two.  Grade: ***

Justin: And it is now main event time as the cage has lowered and Randy Orton’s brand new theme song echoes throughout the arena. The Viper is looking to regain the title he lost a month ago and the cage stipulation made perfect sense for these two rivals. I liked Orton’s apprehension as he stalked down the aisle and to the ring, really showing the respect and gravity that should be shown to the steel cage. I will give Hunter this, he always straps that belt around his waist like a champion should. Orton shows his strategy right off the bat when he dives for the cage door, trying to win the title without even engaging in a fight. Orton would land some big strikes early, but Hunter was the first to take things to the steel when he started running the Viper into the side of the cage. Orton would quickly recover and start to use the cage mixed with right hands to batter the champ. The first near fall came after an Orton hanging DDT and to that point he had pretty much dominated this one. He really started to punish the Game with his usual precision offense, working Hunter’s rehabbed quads as well as his ribs and torso. Orton would finally slip up and give Hunter an opening to clip his leg and go right to work, even wrenching in a figure four. Orton again was able to almost escape through the door, but Hunter stopped him just in time on a couple of occasions. However, on one of the attempts, Orton was able to grab a steel chair, which he dragged into the ring. They played hot potato with the chair for a few minutes before Orton struck with a low blow and searing steel to the back of the Game. The chair would stay in play on both ends and was the key cog in Hunter’s comeback. It was clear that the champ was always on the defensive as Orton had racked up at least five or six escape attempts before Hunter made his first. And once Hunter made that first climb up the cage, the match became a race to the floor with constant chase sequences interspersed with some basic brawling. Orton would avoid a pedigree but come up empty on a punt, allowing Hunter to grab him and drop land a second attempt for the win. This was pretty solid work but nothing that will ever really stand out. It was just a good cage brawl with no shenanigans and lots of cage and chair usage blended in. This should put this feud to bed as Hunter finally puts Orton down for good. Grade: ***

Final Analysis

Scott:  This was a pretty solid show top to bottom. We had some reigniting of feuds from earlier in the decade and the continuation of a feud that also started a few years earlier. I think that was as good idea to bring feuds like JBL/Cena and Jericho/Michaels back because all four men are more seasoned, more mature and for someone like Michaels a chance to face Y2J again after being in more of a monthly groove. In 2003 he was barely a year into his return. It was also a wise idea to shuffle Cena around on the card after that long reign as WWE Champion so the cards didn’t get too stale. I was concerned about MVP getting shunted down after losing to Matt Hardy at Backlash, and losing to a returning to Jeff Hardy on this night was strengthening my concern. Overall this is a pretty good show that should be watched again if you haven’t seen it in a while. The feuds here continue with more violence and chaos on the horizon. Final Grade: B

Justin: This was a pretty solid outing for May PPV event, a show that can often lose momentum if there are too many lingering Wrestlemania season storylines. We did have some of that here, but there were some fresh twists in the mix. The Jericho/Michaels kick off match is clearly the centerpiece here, followed by the ongoing saga of the Undertaker, Edge and Vickie. The heat for Vickie was off the charts and her power as a top heel is really continuing to grow. It was also good to see Triple H finally put Orton is his rear view mirror and we now look to see what is on the horizon for the WWE title. While I can’t say the show is a must have for your collection, the two big matches capped with the cage main event and storyline development definitely make this a thumps  up overall. Final Grade: B-

Author: JT Rozzero

JT Rozzero is a cohost of the Place to Be podcast and original member of the legendary Moliseum Video. He enjoys all sports. The only thing he hates more than traffic and customer service is people. He is a proud Svenjolly and has had a sinus infection since October 2013. Send Justin an email