Let’s finish off these Judgment Day Main Events. I hope you like Bradshaw, because you’re about to get a heavy dose of him! You’re also going to get stuff from guys like John Cena, Edge and Triple H as well though, so hopefully the match quality on this one should be decent.
Let’s watch some chuffing wrestling!
Judgment Day 2004
Champ: Eddie Guerrero Vs John Bradshaw Layfield
Eddie had defeated Brock Lesnar back at No Way Out to win the Title and had then feuded with Kurt Angle through WrestleMania. However, both Lesnar and Angle would be gone following Mania, due to a failed attempt at a football career and a serious injury respectively, so Eddie needed some new opponents. As a result, newly single former tag team wrestler Bradshaw was chosen for the role, doing a mixture of JR Ewing from Dallas and Ted Dibiase’s Million Dollar Man gimmick. It was a great cheap heat mid card character that would have made an excellent United States Champion, but WWE decided to shoot him up the card in lieu of having anyone else.
For his part Bradshaw was an entertaining heel and cut some good promo’s to get the character over, but the fact remained that this was Bradshaw from the APA in a Main Event slot, one month removed from working a nothing tag match at WrestleMania. Fans just were not going to buy him on that level and his run on top was often met with groans rather than genuine heel heat. He got given the Honky Tonk Man gimmick when it came to Title matches too, which is pretty much death for any heel act you’re trying to get over as a Main Event level guy. In the mid card with a secondary Title it often works a treat, but the World belt requires something more and WWE has never really grasped that aspect of it.
As a way to try and up the ante they had Bradshaw attack Eddie’s mother on a live event to get the Champ all good and angry, which really should have set the alarm bells ringing at the time, especially when you consider the finish to this one. This version of the belt that they’re fighting over essentially got sacrificed on the spinner belt altar, which is a shame because I quite liked it. JBL gets some more cheap heat before the match starts, by telling all the non-English speakers in the LA crowd to ask an American to translate his promo for them. He says he’ll take Eddie’s mum on as his maid once he wins the Title, which gets more groans than actual boos.
Eddie is a fantastic worker and storyteller, so he does an excellent job of being intense and angry over what happened to his mum at Bradshaw’s hands. In a nice touch, they don’t bother with a lock up and go straight to a fist fight, because if someone caused your mum to have a heart attack you wouldn’t get in there and start working holds, you’d get in there and try to punch them until they ceased to live. Eddie dominates the brawl in the early section, doing a great job of being a fired up defiant babyface seeking vengeance.
Eventually though JBL is able to reverse an Irish whip into the ring steps and starts getting in some offence of his own. JBL sold getting clobbered quite well there (It’s an underrated aspect of his act I think. He was great as a cowardly bully who didn’t like it when the tables were turned, possibly because in real life he was a bully who didn’t like it when the tables were turned) and Eddie of course returns the favour when selling the heat segment. The heat is basic and to the point, with JBL mostly doing strikes and working holds, which is fine but dull.
The crowd stays with Eddie through the heat and he has occasional flurries here and there to show that he’s still in the match, which is always important and was something Ricky Steamboat was always great at. In my opinion goes on a tad too long, with long head lock and bear hug sections making it feel like it drags. Eddie does manage to fight out of the bear hug and makes a comeback with the Three Amigo’s rolling vertical suplexes before slipping out of power bomb. Eddie tries to hit the ropes but knocks the referee down in the process, which leads us to the spot the match is famous for as Eddie heads outside to go after JBL, only to find a sickening unprotected chair shot to the head waiting for him.
Eddie does an outrageous blade job following that one, and it was so bad that doctors outright suggested he get a blood transfusion because of how much plasma he lost. It really is one of the goriest instances of blood in the history of wrestling, as within seconds blood is not just covering Eddie’s face but also his chest and arms. Combined with the frankly horrific chair shot that preceded it, I can guarantee that you won’t see something like this in WWE today, and that’s probably for the best. I can’t deny though that the blood adds something to the match, although they could have made the same point with less, but then again the human body can sometimes make fools of us all and I’m pretty certain Eddie didn’t want to bleed THIS much.
JBL gets the Clothesline From Hell back inside, but the referee is still out from earlier, so there is no one to count. Seeing as JBL cheated by hitting Eddie with the chair, it’s just desserts for him that he can’t benefit from it, which I like. Charles Robinson runs down as the replacement ref, but he gets clocked as well, as they are overbooking the fudge out of this one. JBL gets a power bomb, which gets two from the revived first referee and a big pop from the crowd. Ever since Eddie started bleeding the crowd has been way more invested in this one, possibly because now they are honestly starting to buy that Eddie might lose due to all the blood, so they are giving him all their support.
I get the argument that blood can be a cheap way of getting a crowd to care about a match, and I’ve never been one who has been in favour of blood for bloods sake, but when it’s done right it can really accentuate the drama in a match and this is a good example of it doing so. Eddie makes a bloody comeback and the crowd is losing their minds. The ring canvas looks like it’s been painted in Eddie’s blood, it’s absolutely gross. Eddie counters a JBL slam attempt into a DDT and heads up for the Frogsplash, but JBL rolls out of the way for a double down.
They could have conceivably done a blood stoppage there actually and it would have been one heck of a downer ending but would have worked very well and left the door open for rematches. Instead though, JBL brings both a chair and the Title belt in with him, but Eddie kicks him right in the blackjacks before following up with a belt shot of his own for the lame DQ.
WINNER BY DISQUALIFICATION: JOHN BRADSHAW LAYFIELD
This was a good match, but it went a bit too long so that it could justify it’s positioning in the Main Event slot, which kind of exposed JBL as a mid-card guy in Main Eventer clothing. Overall though there was some really good intensity from Eddie and the blood really turned the drama and crowd investment up a notch. It’s not a classic but it’s a solid outing and worth a watch if you’ve never seen it just for the horrific amount of blood Eddie spills in it. Eddie does a big beat down following the match, which allows JBL to bleed too, and it’s such a vicious battering that it makes up for the lame finish and actually sends the crowd home happy.
Judgment Day 2005
Champ: John Cena Vs John Bradshaw Layfield
Cena had defeated JBL for the belt at WrestleMania in a bit of dull anti-climactic match, so they upped the ante here and decided to go for a big blood filled Attitude Era styled brawl to really get Cena over as a top guy, and it worked. Cena gets to come out on a truck for his entrance, as I ponder why they did all this on a B show pay per view and not on the biggest show of the year? I do hate Cena’s spinner belt, but I was fine with it just being his thing ala the Smokin’ Skull belt for Austin. The problem was that after he lost it they kept the belt design for everyone else because it sold well at the merch table.
Interestingly there was little to no backlash for Cena at this stage and most of the fan base liked him. It wasn’t until he moved to Raw about a month after this that a certain section of the fan base started turning against him. My thought on the matter is that the fan base at large was happy to tolerate Cena whilst he was on the B show and they didn’t have to deal with him, but once he intruded onto the A show they started losing patience with him. That’s just my own personal theory though and it could be a load of arl arse on my part.
They establish early on that there are no rope breaks when Cena gets an arm bar and JBL grabs them, only for Nick Patrick to shake his head in response. They also do the thing they always seem to feel they have to do in these sorts of submission based matches, where JBL forgets the rules and goes for a pin, which of course don’t count in this match type. I mean, I get that they want to make sure the viewers know the rules, but exactly how stupid do they think we are sometimes? I mean, I’m magnificently stupid and it’s a miracle I know how to poor milk onto my cereal in the morning, but I’m hoping that I’m an atypical case.
We get some of the Magnum TA Vs Tully Blanchard “yell on the mic for your opponent to quit” spots, and that’s almost always a winner. In a spot you likely wouldn’t see today, JBL steals a leather belt from the ring announcer and chokes Cena with it, but he refuses to quit and then fights his way out. JBL comes back and sets Cena up for a piledriver on the announce table, but stops to try and get him to say the two words, which gives Cena time to back body drop him through the other announce table. Probably should have just piledrove him through the table first there JBL, just a thought.
JBL lifts the Eddie spot form the prior year, by clocking Cena with a chair to set up a gory blade job from Cena, although thankfully it’s not quite as hideous as the Eddie one was, although it’s mighty close. Aspirin sales at local chemists must have been doing gangbusters when the WWE came to town during this era, that’s all I’m going to say. Even though blood is oozing from his head, Cena still refuses to quit and the crowd gets behind him to make a comeback. That happens after JBL chats a bit too much wham on the mic, which leads to Cena making the usual comeback and finishing it off with the Five Knuckle Shuffle and F-U.
This was actually prior to Cena doing the STFU, so he doesn’t actually have a trademark finishing move, meaning JBL rolls outside from the F-U and just tries to flee. Cena follows him however and then proceeds to destroying JBL’s limo by throwing him onto it. JBL replies with a neck breaker onto the car bonnett however, coating it in Cena’s blood in the process, and we head over to the sound stage for some more choking, this time with a television cable. That ends with Cena fighting JBL off and sending him fast first into a monitor, which leads to JBL getting some colour of his own.
Both men head back to damage the limo further, with Cena getting a vertical suplex on top of it before taking one of the doors off its hinges by flinging JBL into it. We head over to the truck Cena came in on next, as they continue to just destroy everything in sight. Hey, if you’re going to do one of these wacky brawls then you might as well do it right. JBL ends up trying to choke Cena AGAIN (Does he have some sort of fetish or something?) but Cena fights him off and the challenger ends up going through a table. Cena rips off something from the truck next, which leads to JBL quitting so that he doesn’t have to get beaten up anymore. Cena ends up hitting him with it anyway though.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: JOHN CENA
Bit of a flat finish, but it was a good bloody brawl prior to that and did an excellent job of making Cena look like a gigantic star on the rise, which is exactly what it set out to achieve. This is how you make a star!
Judgment Day 2006
Champ: Rey Mysterio Jr Vs John Bradshaw Layfield
Rey had won the belt at WrestleMania and had been booked horrifically since winning it, doing clean jobs on TV to both Mark Henry and Great Khali, the latter of which came in his hometown and was basically just a squash. This all ultimately came down to Vince McMahon just not believing in Rey, which became a self-fulfilling prophecy when Rey was made to look so weak all the time. JBL was already the United States Champ at this stage, so having him win the belt wouldn’t have really made much sense, but Rey was getting booked so horrendously that the possibility of them switching the belt couldn’t be taken off the table.
JBL wasn’t far off heading into his first commentary role here and it kind of shows with his physique. I think he was battling injuries and that was making it a struggle to stay in shape, which is perfectly understandable and explains why he decided to step away for a year and a half. They do the typical big bully Vs gutsy smaller babyface story here, with JBL battering Rey with strikes and the like when the situation presents itself whilst Rey tries to hit and move. Thankfully the crowd is really into Rey, which means they cheer when he hits moves and get behind him when he’s selling.
Honestly, you watch stuff like this and it makes you wonder just how much more over Rey would have been if they hadn’t had him getting his arse kicked every week, because even with some of the worst booking a World Champ has ever had he’s still very over with this crowd. JBL eventually manages to fling Rey into the ring steps to cut him off and we get our heat segment. JBL actually busts out Eddie Guerrero’s Three Amigo’s to troll the crowd. He’d be the ultimate opening match guy on an Indy show with his penchant for the cheapest of cheap heat. He even threatens Rey’s wife at ringside to turn up the douche meter to 11.
Rey actually bleeds, which pokes out of his white mask in a good visual. They do a ten count knock out tease for Rey, but he makes it back up. Hot take I know, but Rey Mysterio is a great underdog babyface fighting from underneath. Rey eventually gets a comeback and ends it with a buzz saw kick for two, but the Bronco Buster gets countered with a raised boot to the Oscar’s. Rey fights back and goes for a springboard move, but JBL moves and the ref takes a bump. JBL gets a power bomb, which gets two from a new referee, so JBL knocks him down in frustration and heads outside for a chair. Rey kicks the chair in his face and gets the 619 before heading up with the Frogsplash for the three count.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: REY MYSTERIO
Good Big Vs Little match there, with a hot crowd really adding to things. I liked how JBL had it all in hand but just had to go out and grab the chair, which led directly to him losing the bout. Wrestling is still the ultimate morality play when you do it right, and this was an occasion where they definitely did it right.
Judgment Day 2007
Champ: John Cena Vs The Great Khali
They’d had some good results with “John Cena Vs Monster” feuds, notably with Umaga, so they decided to try Khali next in the role. Khali actually stole the belt from Cena and battered him numerous times to heat things up. Jim Ross pushes on commentary that Khali hadn’t been pinned or submitted yet at this stage, which might possibly have been true. I know he’d lost to Undertaker in a Last Man Standing match, but I’m drawing a blank on any other jobs he might have done besides that one.
Cena gets attacked right from the off and Khali proceeds to slowly pummel= him into mush with basic stuff. Khali isn’t a great wrestler, but he’s good enough keep it simple whilst someone bumps around for him, so the match is fine for the most part and it keeps the crowd invested. Sadly we do have the suffer the terrible nerve pinch, which is probably my all-time least favourite rest hold, but it at least makes sense when you look at how big Khali’s hands are. You certainly buy that him grabbing and squeezing your shoulder would hurt.
The crowd is mostly behind Cena in this one, and they cheer whenever he gets a brief flurry of offence and boo whenever Khali cuts him off again. Cena does manage to block Khali’s deadly head chop, but Khali flings him to the outside, which allows Cena to dropkick the ring steps into the big man’s legs. Cena adds a top rope leg drop whilst Khali tries crawling back in following that and goes to the STFU, which Khali actually taps out to. However, his leg was under the ropes, thus setting up a rematch for the following pay per view.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: JOHN CENA
That wasn’t bad at all actually. They kept it short and didn’t overexpose Khali and took it home at the right time. Cena won clean but it was an absolute last gasp win against the run of play, and Khali was given an out by having his leg under the rope too, so he didn’t lose too much from it. He destroyed Cena for the majority of the match but ultimately lost because he decided to take the fight outside, which allowed Cena to get three quick fire desperation moves in succession to put him away. Good stuff and I think the rematch was even better.
Judgment Day 2008
Cage Match (Pin and Escape Rules)
Champ: Triple H Vs Randy Orton
Triple H had won the Title at Backlash, finally ending Orton’s 6 month long Title reign in the process and bringing the “Age of Orton” to a close. This is the rematch, and the stipulation doesn’t really make sense because it wasn’t like Orton had been running away a lot or people had been running in to help him. On the brightside they were at least trying to rehab the cage match as a stipulation so it could actually be something you could use in a Main Event setting again, especially as it had almost become a kind of throwaway non important gimmick match since the Attitude Era.
This wasn’t a bad Title reign for Triple H when it came to match quality, as he ended up on Smackdown later in the year and had some crackers with Jeff Hardy and even managed to have a good match with Great Khali too. Orton tries to escape the cage right from the off, but Triple H stops him and the match quickly becomes a fight, with lots of punching and kicking. It’s a little bit like one of the cage matches Bruno Sammartino would have at MSG actually, except this one is a lot more back and forth whilst those Bruno matches were often him just destroying the heel and taking 90% of the match.
Orton was starting to gradually morph into “Voices” psycho here, and in fact this show was one of the first times he used that as entrance music. He takes control of things and starts working Triple H over whilst making wacked out facial expressions. Obviously it would need some more honing, but you could see the beginnings of something here. I know that the methodical nature of the Orton Vs Triple H matches can turn some people off, and I totally get that, but I quite like them, especially when Orton is working as the heel as it gives Triple H a chance to sell and make comebacks, which he’s always tended to be good at.
I always thought lifting the Garvin Stomp was a good move on Orton’s part, as it suits his heel act of trying to dissect and break down the babyface, almost like he’s trying to pull the wings off a butterfly or something. Orton really is one of those guys who are almost perfect in regards to the mechanical aspect of wrestling, and when he’s a heel he’s able to let out his inner jerk. He’s great at making you detest him and want to see him get his comeuppance. Orton makes another break for freedom once Triple H starts fighting back, and ends up dragging a chair back in with him, but Triple H manages to stop him from using it.
Triple H gains control and tries to brain Orton with the chair, but Orton bosh’s him right in the knackers to put a stop to that and then adds a chair shot to the back before DDT’ing Triple H on it for two. They’ve gotten the crowd into this and they want Triple H to win, and he tries to pull himself up whilst Orton goes all viper and stalks him. RKO onto the chair looks to end things, but Triple H manages to fight that off before getting the old Raven drop toe hold onto the chair for two. Raven Vs Orton would be an interesting match I think, although they could end up cancelling each other out.
We get the mandatory spot of both men climbing the cage to escape and battling with one another, which the crowd gets into because they’ve built to it well and the match hasn’t overdone the climbing spots. Triple H actually teases a Pepsi Plunge of all things from up there, but Orton manages to fight that off and then throws Triple H down to the mat. Orton looks free and clear and makes a break for it, but Triple H manages to stop him just in time, which leads to Orton dangling at the top of the cage in a spot that always gives me the willies because it could get very gnarly if things went wrong.
With Orton’s escape attempt foiled, Triple H gets a spine buster back in the ring and then preps for a Pedigree onto it, but Orton counters out of that and double legs Triple H so that he bounces off the chair. Orton goes for the Soccer Kick of Doom, but Triple H is able to dodge it and follows up with the Pedigree to win it clean for a good pop from the crowd.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: TRIPLE H
Good match which built nicely and featured some good heel character work from Orton. If you’re not a fan of Orton Vs Triple H matches then this probably won’t convert you, but if you like them then this was another solid outing from the pair and I enjoyed it. It’s easy to forget as well just how over Triple H was as a babyface during this period. The crowd really liked him and were very pleased to see him win. I think it gets forgotten sometimes, but Triple H had a very good 2008 where he had a lot of strong matches and also enjoyed consistently great crowd reactions.
Champ: Edge Vs Jeff Hardy
Jeff had lost the Title to Edge at the Royal Rumble thanks to his brother Matt interfering, but now that Matt had moved over to Raw it was time for him to go after the Title again, especially after Edge had claimed the belt from Cena at Backlash. The pre-match video package is mostly about how both men both came to prominence in the WWF around the same time period in 1999 and that they’d been rivals ever since.
Jeff is over with the crowd and they are in to his opening babyface shine, as he controls Edge with arm drags and the like before getting a dive to the outside. The Whisper in the Wind misses back inside though, and that allows Edge to cut Jeff off by throwing him into the ring post and then spearing him off the apron.
Edge works the general back area back inside, mixing up rest holds and bigger moves to keep things interesting. Edge is a great heel and Jeff is a great babyface, so it’s a decent heat segment. Jeff does get a flurry of moves and heads up for a cross body block, but Edge dodges it and he splats down onto the mat, which gets Edge a two count.
Jeff makes a proper comeback not soon after though, and gets a seated dropkick to Edge’s face for a two count. In a nice touch, Jeff goes for the cross body again and manages to get it this time, but Edge kicks out at two. I liked that as it showed off Jeff’s daredevil nature by going again for a move that failed rather than shying away because he missed earlier.
Jeff actually goes to a Sharpshooter after that, which is a move I don’t think I’ve seen him do before, but Edge makes it to the ropes to break the hold. Twist of Fate comes next, but Edge once again denies Jeff the Title by kicking out. The crowd are starting to get into these near falls, especially a vocal female contingent who are very much behind Jeff.
Jeff actually busts out a sunset flip power bomb, but Edge once again kicks out, so Jeff knocks him to the floor where he preps the Smackdown announce table. Jeff tries jumping off the ringside barricades to put Edge through the table, but Edge recovers and then Spears him out of mid air. They do a count out tease following that, but Jeff makes it back in after a good dramatic crawl.
I’m a bit of a sucker for the “heel lays out the babyface outside the ring but the face only just makes it back in before the count out” spot, especially when it’s done well like it was there. One of the best ones was a match between Erick Stevens and Roderick Strong at ROH Final Battle 2007, where I actually jumped off the sofa the first time to yell at the TV for Stevens to get back in.
Jeff quickly starts fighting back after making it back in and it’s not long before they are outside the ring again, where Jeff leaps off the ring steps to knock Edge into the crowd. However, whilst the ref checks on Edge, Matt Hardy shows up a clocks Jeff with a cast on his arm, which gives Edge a two count back inside for a great near fall. I believe the story line reason for that was that Vickie Guerrero arranged for Matt to help Edge out.
Jeff manages to dodge the Spear and heads up top for the Swanton, but the cast attack has left him woozy and he can’t get it done quick enough, which allows Edge to climb up and DDT him down for the three count.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: EDGE
Good match there that just felt like it had a higher to kick into but never did. You can’t really lose with these two though, as they are so good at their allotted roles that it’s always likely that they’ll have a good match.
Nothing amazing in this collection of matches but every match but one was *** or over, with the other one being **1/2 so it was hardly a terrible match or anything like that. Three JBL matches in a row was just a tad too much Bradshaw for me, but I can’t deny that the three matches involving him delivered in the end. All of these matches were fine to good and I’d happily recommend checking them out if you’ve never seen them.