The Katz Files – Arnie Katz
My Judgment Day: Recap & Analysis!
The Kingfish Arnie Katz reports the action and angles from WWE’s May pay per view – and delves into what it all means!.
Judgment Day didn’t seem like a great show on paper. Itr was a little better in the arena, but not a lot.
Let’s look at what happened, match by match:
The Free-for-All, as usual anchored by Jack Korpella, emphasized two matches: The Orton-Batista showdown and that grudge match between John Cena and Big Show. The Edgar-Jeff Hardy title match got relatively little attention.
Extensive highlights of the Christian-Swagger title match from Backlash ran. They also showed an extensive segment of the Jericho-Edge match from the 5/16 Smackdown.
The Kingfish comments: The “Free-for-All” ran hot this time with the two match clips. It’s always interesting to peer through this window into the WWE’s pay per view plans.
A somewhat generic video montage opened Judgment Day from Chicago’s Allstate Arena.
Umaga d. CM Punk
The Story: The Samoan Bulldozer is back after an injury rehab and he has lost no time making a statement. And what he has said, with his actions, is that he wants to destroy CM Punk. Mr. Straight-Edge has other plans.
My Prediction: The nature of the current push for both combatants suggests that this is the beginning of a program, rather than its climax. The idea will be to lift Umaga without damaging Punk. The best way to start this series would be to have Umaga win, but only by foul means. That inevitably leads to big confrontation, possibly over the Intercontinental Championship, if Punk takes it from Jericho.
Predicted Grade: B
The Match: Punk scored with Leg Strikes during the early going, but Umaga caught him in midair and slammed him to the mat. The Samoan Bulldozer began to dominate with sheer strength as he whipped the Straight-Edge Star from turnbuckle to turnbuckle.
Punk tried for the Go to Sleep several times, but Umaga always seemed to have the answer, Punk’s final try for the GTS cost him the match. Umaga not only negated the move, but assaulted Punk with a series of power moves that culminated in a Samoan Spike. The pin was a formality.
Actual Grade: B
The Kingfish comments: Though it differed from my prediction, the actual booking does make sense. Umaga gets an immediate boost from a major victory. If Punk wins the title down the road, the Samoan Bulldozer will be a natural choice as a challenger, though the return match is more likely to take place on RAW.
I also like the fact that Punk lost in his home town. The “homer effect” had become too predictable..
After Chavo Guerrero told Vickie Guerrero that doctors had cleared John Cena for action, Big Show told her that he didn’t think this would be good for business The RAW general manager brushed off the worries, saying that someone always steps up if someone goes down.
Edge entered the office . He castigated Chavo for doing nothing about Santino Marella’s taunts concerning Vickie.
The Kingfish comments: A lot went on in this little scene, which is certainly an improvement over scenes that take 10 minutes to get across a point that could be summarized in about 10 words.
After Chavo and Vickie had hammered home Cena’s woeful physical condition, Big Show’s concern could be taken as the first small step in a babyface turn. Of course, the writer could simply have been attempting to underscore Cena’s situation, but this bears watching.
It looks like Chavo will have a mid-card feud with Santino Marella. Chavo has shown a flair for comedy in the past; maybe working with Santino will bring it out of him again.
Christian d. Jack Swagger
The Story: Jack Swagger’s mammoth ego took quite a holt when Captain Charisma successfully took the ECW Championship. The All-American American looked poised for bigger things. Now he must regroup and climb that ladder again. It could start on Judgment Day, if he can beat Christian for the belt.
My Prediction: One way to liven up a pay per view is a title change. Christian’s future, even short-term, probably doesn’t lie in ECW. It will be a prestige win for Swagger – and Christian will get some payback on ECW on Sci-Fi before he moves on to green pastures. One possible scenario would be to have Tommy Dreamer come out to closely observe the match. He might try to counter some nefarious Swagger tactic only to have it blow up in Christian’s face. This would give Dreamer a shot at Swagger and then a final match against Christian in which Capt. Charisma would briefly regain the title.
Predicted Grade: B
The Match: Swagger had the advantage while the match stayed centered on mat wrestling. When the moves got wilder, though, Christian chased the former champ out of the ring and nailed him with a Cross-Body Flung Press!
When the battle moved to the ringside area, Swagger overpowered Christian. He hoisted the smaller man and rammed him, back first, into a ring post. By the time they got back inside, Christian had recovered enough to stop the ref’s count.
Capt. Charisma blocked a Gut-Wrench Powerbomb, but Swagger executed a ring-shaking Superplex that nearly won the match.
They blocked each other’s finishers, but Christian rolled up the challenger and got the pin to retain his title!
Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish comments: Apparently, WWE plans to keep Christian on ECW a while longer.
John Morrison d. Shelton Benjamin
The Story: The feud continues as each tries to prove that he is the premier athlete in WWE today.
The Match: Charlie Hass accompanied Skelton to the ring for a match that was added after O filed my predictions.
Benjamin got off to a quick start with an Exploder Suplex and a Fireman’s Carry Takedown. His cover was premature.
Te Chick Magnet finally overcame The Gold Standard and scored the pin.
Actual Grade: B
The Kingfish comments: This contest lived up to its billing as a clash of athletes. They worked well together and Morrison will get a nice rub from the victory.
The Miz took the ring microphone to insult his former partner John Morrison and, after a lot of folderol, proclaimed himself the winner of a non-existent match against John Cena.
When The Miz verbally assaulted Alphonso Soriano, who was sitting at ringside, Santino Marella came out to defend “a fellow Italian.”
Marella reiterated his insults directed toward Vickie Guerrero. The Miz cheap-shotted him and the two rolled around on the canvas. The Miz jolted Santino with a DDT and left.
With Santino flat on the mat, Chavo Guerrero suddenly appeared and dealt him a Frogsplash.
The Kingfish comments: The fans seem ready to cheer for Santino. The cross-dressing gimmick has about run its course, so the next angle for him might be to turn him babyface and let him have a little war with Vickie and Chavo.
Chris Jericho embraced the notion that there is a conspiracy against him in WWE.
Rey Mysterio d Chris Jericho
The Story: When Rey Mysterio went to ringside to watch a match, he ended up getting in Chris Jericho’s way. That’s a dangerous thing, to say the least. Chris got shut out of the major title picture as a result of Rey’s distraction, so he plans to make the Masked Marvel pay dearly for the intrusion.
My Prediction: Chris Jericho’s dramatic talent has been on spectacular display for the last several months, but he hasn’t had the big matches that keep him in the main event group. Mysterio’s demolition of Leyfield at W< 25 should keep the fans behind him even if he does lose a hard-fought, exciting match to Lionheart. WWE might be tempted to use Mike Knox or Kane as a deus ex machina; I’d favor an unambiguous decision that gives Jericho the belt, but retains Mysterio as a challenger to re-take the gold.
Predicted Grade: B+
The Match: Jericho tossed Mysterio out of the ring, but the Masked Marvel zoomed back inside the ropes and then blasted him with a Baseball Slide!
Jericho had Mysterio well-scouted and prevented the dreaded 619 several times. The Intercontinental Champion finally caught Jericho down in the corner and gave him a variation on the standard 619. The West Coast Pop and a pin followed.
Actual Grade: A-
The Kingfish comments: If rumors are true that Mysterio is nursing an injury sustained on Superstars, then his work here was incredible. Even if he was at full strength, he and Jericho put on an extremely entertaining match.
It’s hard to know what to make of Jericho’s loss. This might be a way to set up a rivalry between him and Mysterio while he awaits another title run.
Batista d. Randy Orton via DQ
WWE Championship Match
The Story: The epic feud continues with Batista stepping up to battle on behalf of the McMahon Family – and to even the score against the man who Punted him to the sidelines for several months/
My Prediction: Triple H will rush to the ring, interrupting a very intense seesaw match. He will initially counter Rhodes and DiBiase, but he will end up getting the Animal disqualified. That will be a good and sufficient reason for HHH and Batista to meet in the ring “to settle their differences.”
Predicted Grade: B+
The Match: After the video clip, the combatants came to the ring. Michael Cole pointed out the eight stitches in Batista’s head, though he was vague about how The Animal earned them.
Batista’s Suplex was the first serious move of the match, but it was way too soon for a successful cover. He followed Orton around the ring, making his life miserable with knees and stomps.
Randy Orton turned the tables when he caught Batista napping with a hard kick. Then the Third-Generation Superstar unleashed the latest version of the Orton Stomp. There was no pinfall in sight, but all that stomping sure piled up the damage.
Batista broke a Side Headlock with a Back Suplex. Both men rose on unsteady legs and tried to obliterate their hated foe with roundhouse punches. Orton tried a Sleeper hold
Orton kicked Batista in the temple and then drove him into the canvas with a DDT! Randy’s nonchalant cover didn’t do the job.
The champion lined up Batista for a Punt, but Batista cut him short with a Spear! After getting the best of a mid-ring punch-out, Batista threw his adversary into the turnbuckle. That went so well, he did it a second time. Batista added a Powerslam, but that wasn’t enough to put away the title holder.
Orton saw that he was getting the worst of it and began to look for ways to get disqualified. He tried to use a chair, only to have Batista kick it right back at him before he could swing it even once. Orton next fetched the title and started to leave by way of the ramp. Batista chased after him and brought him back inside the ring.
As Batista closed in on a title-winning victory, a desperate Randy Orton slapped the referee, who promptly disqualified him.
Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase hit the ring and, joining Orton, beat down Batista.
Then came some very familiar entrance music – and Ric Flair ran to the Animal’s aid. Batista rocked Orton with a BatistaBomb while Flair made life miserable for the Plumber’s Grandson.
Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish comments: The next pay per view will be conducted under extreme rules. It’s a safe bet that this match will set up a much wilder one. At the least, it’ll be something like No DQ, Falls Count Anywhere.
John Cena d. Big Show
The Story: Big Show and Cena have been at odds since Vickie Guerrero brought in the big guy when Edge took a breather. There’s been a love affair, blackmail and some hellacious right-hand punches. John Cena is not a man to back away from a fight, however, so he’ll go to the ring against the much bigger Mr. Wight.
My Prediction: They have harped on the fact that Cena is not himself and has sustained all manner of debilitating injuries. It’s likely to be an alibi-in-advance for a Big Show beatdown.
Predicted Grade: C+
The Match: The match started extremely slowly. Both men jockeyed for position. Big Show successfully cut off the ring and herded Cena into a corner, but he inflicted only moderate damage.
Cena escaped a potential Bodyslam. He hit the ropes and rebounded right into Big Show’s clutches for a Side Slam!
Cena dodged a Big Show cross-ring charge. The Giant appeared to be caught in the ropes, but that was just a ruse. When Cena tried to capitalize on the predicament, Big Show bealed him to the ringside area. Big Show then picked up Cena and rammed his ribs into a ring post.
John squirmed out of an attempted Camel Clutch only to fall victim to several of Show’s power punches. When the World’s Largest athlete seized a Bearhug, Cena displayed his awesome strength by breaking the grip!
Cena executed the Five-Knuckle shuffle, Big Show clutched his throat! Cena attempted to turn it around to an STF, but the Big Show’s massive body seemingly made him immune to that submission hold.
John Cena took a lot of punishment, including a running right-hand punch that laid him out on the canvas. Yet in the end, against the odds, it was the mighty Cena who hoisted Big Show on his shoulders and rocked him with the Attitude Adjustment.
Actual Grade: B-
The Kingfish comments: The booking ran precisely true to dramatic form. They sold Cena as barely able to get in the ring, so the natural outcome would be an underdog victory for Cena.
I knew that when I forecast a Big Show win. Now I’m a little puzzled why we didn’t see one. If Cena will be gone to make a movie, it would give him sometime to avenge when he returns and, meanwhile, would be a terrific boost to Big Show. It would only b a short-term spike, but it would be enough to propel him into matches for the title.
The rationale may be based on the Big Picture. In the long run, John Cena is more valuable to WWE than Big Show. Sending him off on a win just helps maintain the value of the company’s most valuable performer.
A loss, especially to a major star after a grueling match, doesn’t hurt Big Show all that much, either. He’s still the World’s Largest Athlete with the punch that can end a match with shocking suddenness.
Edge d. Jeff Hardy
World Heavyweight Championship Match
The Story: Sometimes, you don’t know how valuable something is until it’s gone. That’s the way Jeff Hardy seems to feel about the World Heavyweight Championship. Now that his feud with his brother Matt is on the back burner, he can train his sights on regaining the title.
My Prediction: Jeff Hardy isn’t going to win this. He’ll look good and get in his share of offense, but Edge will flatten him with the Spear to hold onto the belt. An out-of-ring factor may have a big impact: Hardy’s contract is expiring and the negotiations are expected to be complicate by the possibility of early retirement. WWE may want to hold another title run as a carrot to get the Charismatic Enigma motivated for another hitch.
Predicted Grade: B+
The Match: Jeff’s face paint seemed especially garish, but the ring-wise Edge conducted business as usual. Even though Hardy brought the crowd to its feet with several eye-popping moves, including an over-the-top-rope Hilo, Edge wore him down.
Edge targeted Jeff’s tender back with a variety of moves. All inflicted pain, but none had the force needed to keep the challenger on the canvas for the three-count.
Hardy went to the top with Edge in close pursuit. They battled for supremacy. Hardy won that battle by uncorking a Sunset Flip, but he couldn’t translate it into a pinfall.
Jeff showed his customary resilience and soon took over the match., The action shifted to the outside, where Hardy stretched the champ out on an announcer table. He ran along the guard rail, with obvious lethal intent, but Edge sprang up and Speared him! Jeff crawled back to the ring and just beat the referee’s 10-count.
Hardy delivered a Twist of Fate from the apron and added a Springboard Legdrop. His cover looked good, until Edge got one of those long legs over the bottom rope. Edge threw his adversary into the corner, but Hardy came out with a Whisper in the Wind that fell just short of a match-ender.
In the ringside area, Jeff Hardy lined up the ring stairs as a launching platform for a Dropkick that sent Edge into the stands.
As Hardy climbed over the barrier to head back to the ring, Matt Hardy destroyed him with a Cast Shot to the head!
Jeff tried to go to the top, but he was very wobbly. Edge went up after him and pulled off a tremendous Suplex. Edge covered for the pin and the win to retain his belt..
Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish comments: This was a good match with a cheesy ending. Really, haven’t we seen enough of the Hardy versus Hardy program? The WWE apparently thinks not.
Predicted Grade for Judgment Day: B-
Actual Grade for Judgment Day: B
The Kingfish comments: This was a pretty quiet show compared to the tumult and title changes of Backlash.
This show stayed on safe ground from start to finish. My predictions came out poorly, because I didn’t think Judgment Day would be so “by the book.” I was actually a little shocked when CM Punk didn’t go for the title at the end to send the show home with a big finish.
That’s it for today. I’ll be back on Monday with another installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising daily wrestling column. I’ll have the recap and analysis of Judgment Day and you’ll be able to laugh at my predictions.
— Arnie Katz