JUDGMENT DAY

May 20, 2007


After putting on one hell of a good PPV the month before, the WWE forced me to return to Blockbuster and get the next month’s show to see if they can make it two in a row. While it’s nice to see that some mistakes from the previous show were corrected, there were some new ones made.


Vince McMahon . . . keeps the three on one rematch with Bobby Lashley a lot shorter this time around.

Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch . . . keep on erroneously thinking sportsmanship will help them win.

Batista . . . doesn’t grasp the idea of selling, something that even The Great Khali understands.


RIC FLAIR vs. CARLITO

When the most interesting parts of a match are nonsensical comments made by JR, then you’re in deep trouble. It’s sort of fun to watch Flair smack Carlito around in the early going, especially when one is familiar with the full story of why this is happening, Carlito does a fine job in putting over the mini thrashing that Flair dishes out (or as JR says ‘the electric company that lights him up). The trouble starts when Carlito starts to work over Flair’s arm, but he doesn’t really *do* anything. He holds him in various generic armbars for long stretches, without really working the holds at all. He’ll occasionally do something nice, such as the dropkick into the post, but it’s rare, other than that he’ll stomp it a bunch, leading to another JR classic quote, ‘Carlito showing some ambidextrousness, using his right leg to stomp Flair’s left arm.’


Flair’s selling isn’t bad that is until he starts using armdrags to escape the holds, and firing off punches and chops with the bad arm and not selling. There’s no build to the figure four other than the chop block and a bunch of stomps and kicks to Carlito’s leg. If Flair had gone over here, then he should have done so by taking Carlito to school and teaching him a little lesson about respect. If this is an indication of what Flair brings to the table, then it’s time for Ric to hang it up.


BOBBY LASHLEY vs. UMAGA/SHANE MCMAHON/VINCE MCMAHON © (ECW Heavyweight Title)

At least those involved learned their lesson after the snoozer that these four put on the month before. It’s almost over before it begins. Lashley hits the ring and explodes all over everyone, Umaga misfires and hits Shane, leading to Lashley pinning him. Lashley thinks he’s won the title, but gets beaten down and Vince informs him that he had to pin Vince to win the title. Next!


CM PUNK vs. ELIJAH BURKE

In many ways, this is a carbon copy of the Flair/Carlito match. It’s largely built around the heel singling out a specific body part (in this case it’s Punk’s DDP-ish taped up ribs), but not always doing it in the most interesting of ways, and the babyface’s selling ranging from good to awful. When Burke is throwing punches and kicks at the midsection, its Dullsville. When he gets his creative juices flowing is when things get fun. It’s fun to get behind Punk, but he makes it difficult, because his selling is wildly inconsistent. When Burke does the Elijah Express, or shoulder tackles, or the big punt when he’s got Punk hanging over the ropes, he’s pretty good with his selling. A rib injury should have a long-lasting effect though, and it doesn’t seem to have that with Punk, he’s able to pull off a superplex (with better selling from Burke), a delayed vertical suplex, and the GTS all without a hitch. The GTS finish wouldn’t be so bad if it was an out of nowhere type of move, like the finish of the guy that Punk’s taped up ribs resembles, but it’s not and it looks more like Punk blowing the injury off to do it, not to mention that it kills both of Burke’s finishers (it comes almost directly after the Elijah Express and was a counter to the Elijah Experience). And much like the opener, there wasn’t anything wrong with Punk going over, he’s the most over guy in ECW and it was time to put him in the title picture, but there were definitely better ways to accomplish that than with iffy selling and devaluing his opponent.


RANDY ORTON vs. SHAWN MICHAELS

Wow. The WWE is actually putting somebody over in their hometown, there’s something you don’t see every day (or at all). The story is so simple that not even Orton can screw it up, Shawn is concussed and clearly not in any shape to wrestle, and Orton, the conniving bastard that he is, goes right after Shawn and drops him with his hanging DDT and then stomps him in the head. Shawn sells the concussion to a tee, he probably shouldn’t have hit his elbow off the top cleanly, but he needed something to give the impression that he might stand a chance, but all he’d done is gouge Orton in the eyes, not exactly something that should keep him down long enough for that. Nonetheless, he may have hit the elbow, but he can barely tune the band, let alone play the music. Orton gets the cheap win via ref stop, and RKO’s him just for kicks.


MATT HARDY/JEFF HARDY © vs. LANCE CADE/TREVOR MURDOCH (World Tag Team Titles)

At first this looks like the same match they had at Backlash, technically sound, but nothing really exciting. That’s more or less the first half of this with only a few notable exceptions, such as Matt’s show to Cade’s jaw, and Cade’s lariat that returns the favor, Cade also hits a gorgeous dropkick, and Jeff and Murdoch pull of a cool spot where Murdoch drops down in the corner to prevent a ten-count punch, and Jeff hits his slingshot dropkick. The match picks up nicely after Jeff’s missed tope to the floor, with a sick bump that only Jeff Hardy can pull off. The challengers are both total dicks about going after the back/midsection, but they wisely keep playing to the sportsmanship angle that’s been ongoing. The closest that they come to really doing anything heelish is Cade’s blind tag and big lariat, but again, it was still a legal tag, and after hitting a high impact move, Murdoch reminds everyone that he’s playing by the rules. There’s a nice moment where Murdoch counters Jeff’s attempted Jaw breaker by planting his weight causing Jeff to drop on his back and hurt himself even more, and Jeff does a much better job selling than he did in the previous match, and that makes the hot tag to Matt that much hotter.


Another similarity to their previous match is the lack of a good finish. The Twist of Fate and Swanton combo has enough history behind to be a credible finish, but after taking a big bump off Cade’s Rock Bottom like move, and barely kicking out, why wouldn’t Matt go right for the pin after countering into his finish? After having seen Jeff take such a pounding, why tag him in? And while one could argue that Matt was still hurt, he had enough spring in his step to charge across the ring to knock Murdoch off the apron while Jeff was making the pin. They’d have been better served by doing something similar to Guerrero/Batista from No Mercy ‘05, where the challengers had a chance to win the titles, but lost it due to deciding to keep playing by the rules. Losing twice in a row, cleanly, to Matt and Jeff doesn’t say much about them.


EDGE © vs. BATISTA (World Heavyweight Title)

It seemed odd to me that this was booked to be before the U.S. Title match, but now it makes sense. It’d have been all right, if they’d done anything interesting. Batista and his no-selling and rope shaking still makes me compare him to the Ultimate Warrior. I’m sorry, but if you go into a match with a taped up knee, and that knee is rammed into the steps, then that should hurt you, not slightly delay you from continuing to dish out punishment. And if the knee is taped and already attacked, then the missed tackle into the post spot shouldn’t be what lets Edge go on offense. And while Batista is horrible here, Edge doesn’t help matters much, his method of attacking the shoulder is to use armbars, technically sound, but far from interesting. He gets in his token Edge O’Matic near fall, and his spear attempt (which winds up with Batista spearing Edge to go back on offense and dishing out his moves), and pins Batista after a roll up. And the catalyst for the roll up wasn’t anything that Edge did, Batista simply hurt his knee (yes the bandaged one that went into the steps that didn’t hurt him at all) doing a second spine buster and Edge took advantage. I’m a big Edge fan and I think he truly deserved the title, but he also deserved much better than this.


CHRIS BENOIT © vs. MVP (WWE United States Title - 2/3 Falls)

Compared to most 2/3 falls matches this is very short, but it more than makes up for its relative shortness with smart work from both. The match isn’t always very interesting move to move because it’s up to MVP to carry things, and he’s not in Benoit’s league. Luckily for MVP, he’s got a crutch of sorts, with working over Benoit’s injured knee, and Benoit does one of the better sell jobs in recent memory.


MVP’s big failing in the first fall is that he’s not always interesting with how he works over Benoit’s knee, he’s got a few good spots, but he’s more often to be found punching, kicking, and working generic submissions, but that’s where Benoit’s selling helps him out. MVP also makes himself look a bit bad by not doing anything to stop the Germans, Benoit hits three of them and then has stop and sell his knee to explain why he stopped, because MVP wasn’t doing anything. Benoit’s knee also allows a sharpshooter spot that looks believable, it makes sense that Benoit wouldn’t sit down all the way and put more pressure on his knee. It somewhat makes sense to establish that Benoit can still outwrestle MVP, but if you’re going to put him over, arguably, one of the best of all time in two straight falls, then he probably ought to be kept looking strong. The finish they work is almost flawless, with MVP hitting the Playmaker as a counter to Benoit’s electric chair, and MVP more or less lured him into the electric chair with his constant dropping off the ropes onto Benoit’s knee, the move itself looks ugly, but it always has.


The second fall is more of the same, although MVP brings more interesting knee spots this time, such as slamming it into the apron, and the brutal charging kick while in the Tree of Woe. MVP also finally uses an interesting submission with a Horse Collar Crab. And Benoit never lets his selling lapse. Benoit only gets one real spot during the fall, when he counters the Playmaker, although his slow motion attempt at the Crossface doesn’t come off as well as the previous Sharpshooter spot, it looked more like Benoit was having trouble getting MVP’s arm into position due his arm being hurt, rather than his leg. MVP getting the upset with a small package is a nice bit of revenge from Backlash, and he even wrenches the leg before going for the hold. It’s not quite as good as Backlash, thanks to MVP not always bringing it during the first fall, but it’s more than able to hold its own, especially considering what it had to follow. ***


JOHN CENA © vs. THE GREAT KHALI (WWE Heavyweight Title)

I may not be much of a fan of Cena’s work, but I’ll give him huge props for this match, it’s the closest thing that Khali will probably ever have to something watchable. It’s still not very good, but it kills anything else I’ve seen from Khali. What they do is pretty basic, Khali bumps Cena around, and Cena goes above and beyond with his selling. It’s the same mentality, although on smaller scale, as Benoit/MVP. Khali is far from interesting, but Cena’s selling makes it credible. The only good spots that Khali works involve the stairs and the announce table. Cena’s selling is superb, until he goes on offense and forgets about it. Given the size difference there really wasn’t another finish they could run with other than the STFU, but having Cena hurt Khali’s knee with the stairs (complete with selling) gives it a little build, and while it looks as goofy as always, Khali’s bad wheel at least makes it look like something that could actually get the win.


Conclusion: It’s a step down from Backlash, but that’s not much of a surprise honestly. There’s plenty of fun to be had, but there’s also lots of frustration to go around. I’m in the middle with this one, nothing essential, but nothing terrible either.