Saturday, May 15, 2004

The World's Greatest WWE Judgment Day 2004 Preview

WHEW!!! WHAT DIED IN HERE?!?! Holy lord, what's happened to Smackdown? I mean, honest to god, it wasn't THAT long ago we were salivating over the new tag division, enjoying Brock's ascent to the throne and applauding Kurt Angle's return to action.... was it? It's mind boggling to me that a federation with such a deep talent pool can't manage to divide their roster into two equal sets and book them somewhat intelligently. I can't even begin to understand how they've overcorrected so wildly for RAW's initial weaknesses at the outset of the brand extension, rather than learning from their mistakes and patching the holes. This card is sad, and that's not just because of the lame, hurried storylines surrounding these matches... it's because the show legitimately doesn't have much more top-level talent than this. Surely, the cruiserweight division has a few bundles of joy hidden away for us somewhere, but with the introduction of Jacqueline as a face champion, what does that say about the other guys? The tag division is beyond the point of disarray, as the lottery split just about every tag team in the federation, and the US Title is just an afterthought in the Dupree / Cena story (which is, when you think about it, a lot more about Dupree and Wilson than Dupree and Cena.) This is not a pretty card. I fear for the souls of those just reading this preview, let alone those who are planning to order it this Sunday night.

Jacqueline (c) vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.
Cruiserweight Title: Chavo will have one arm tied behind his back.

Somebody explain the logic to me here. You've got, probably, the one division that's been unquestionably strong in its efforts over the last six to seven months on a show that really needs some sort of a spark to get the ball rolling once again. You've got a tremendous collection of athletes who are all but specifically geared to working that division's style, many of whom have been given a chance to prove themselves under the big spotlights. You've got deep pockets, which means you've got access to probably every cruiserweight that made WCW's division so legendary, in addition to the hundreds of new faces that have popped up since the belt's heyday. You've got an undeniably successful heel champion, who's been turning positives into negatives ritualistically for the last four months, and you've got a hot storyline that enables you to put anybody in the world in the ring with him (potentially in an introductory role) for almost guaranteed face heat. So what do you do? You inexplicably steal Jacqueline from RAW, throw her into the ring and hotshot the title onto her. Jacqueline. A woman who's never been able to build a name for herself in the women's division, despite opposing Sable at the height of her popularity and working in the current women's division during its peak about six months ago. Seriously, what the fuck. How do you come up with shit like this and manage to fool yourself into believing that it'll work. That old method of "throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks" is perhaps not the best method for continuing the cruiserweight division's success right now.

Not even Chavo can save this match. Fuck, I can't BELIEVE they screwed up that "mystery challenger" storyline as badly as they did. This match will be an abomination to mankind. And I mean that in a REALLY bad way. I can't see them keeping Jackie as champion for very long here, and the only way to salvage even a little bit of anything out of this story is to put Chavo over big.
Winner: Chavo Guerrero

Torrie Wilson vs. Dawn Marie

Oh, right. Like the war these two went through over Torrie's dad didn't already expose to us all how absolutely putrid they both are in the ring. It hurts my head just trying to visualize the way this match will play out. Maybe ol' Al will come to the ring and interfere, proving that the age-old comic book theory "Nobody ever stays dead except Bucky" also applies to Pro Wrestling. Hell, maybe he and Katie Vick will both interfere, and then Al will announce that not only was Katie his long lost daughter (and, naturally, Torrie's sister) but that he's also taken her hand in marriage and plans to consummate their marriage in that very ring, later on in the PPV. You know, to offend and drive off anybody lingering fans they may have retained throughout the build to this PPV. Then again, even the most hardcore of fans will probably be taking a piss break during this one, so I don't think even that plan will work quite as well as they would hope.

Dawn wins with help from Rene Dupree, because there's no way in hell the Frenchman's winning his match later on in the night.
Winner: Dawn Marie

Rob Van Dam & Rey Mysterio vs. The Dudley Boyz

I've actually been pretty entertained by the Dudleys' heel turn. There's interest, emotion and (most importantly) money in the old ECW name, and while they've still got so many of the promotion's old stars under one roof, it doesn't make sense NOT to take advantage of that opportunity. I've always preferred the Dudley Boyz as heels, and while I won't go so far as to say they're on my list of favorite performers just yet, seeing anybody alongside Paul Heyman is good enough for a bump up in my attention span. I wish they'd do something less bland with Rob Van Dam (like, maybe, showing just a little bit of CHARACTER?) but if they haven't done so with him by now, I seriously doubt they ever will. Rey doesn't really fit into this storyline as well as somebody like Tommy Dreamer, Tajiri, Tazz, Rhyno or even Jerry Lynn or Steve Corino would, but if you dig back far enough into the archives you'll find that Rey once worked in the house of extreme, too, so he's not as outrageous an addition to the feud as Billy Gunn or Rico would've been. The Dudleys have been a little more motivated than usual lately, with the momentum of the turn still behind them, so this could turn out to be the best match of the night. I've got Bubba and D-Von coming out on top, though I've no idea how.
Winners: The Dudley Boyz

Rico & Charlie Haas (c) vs. Billy Gunn & Bob Holly
WWE Tag Titles

They should subtitle this match "the battle of the boring, blank-faced blonde guys... with special attraction, Rico, the dancing pseudo-gay beast of American Gladiators fame." At least then they'd capture the "What the fuck?!?! Now I've GOTTA order this" crowd. Man, what happened to tag team wrestling in WWE? Well, scratch that, I know the draft lottery happened to tag team wrestling in WWE... but why? This is a set of divisions (both RAW and Smackdown) that have been severely de-emphasized for no particular reason over the last few years, and I can't for the life of me figure out why. Tag team competition is one of the most unique aspects this sport has going for it, yet it's taking the backburner so a few of the younger competitors can break out on their own. I'm all for elevating young talent, but why do it all at once, especially when the entire division is comprised of young talent?

This gimmick Rico's working has begun to wear thin for me. It was a lot of fun for the first couple months on RAW, but it's just repetition at this point, as they haven't yet explained anything about him or his sudden change of direction and affiliation with Jackie Gayda. I like Charlie Haas, but I like him as an athlete, not the straight man in a comedy pairing. As for Billy Gunn and Bob Holly, if I had a nickle for every time these guys blew an opportunity to make something of themselves, I'd... I'd have a lot of friggin' nickels. Haas and Rico get the V, and Billy n' Bobby go back to searching for mid-carders to job to.
Winners: Charlie Haas and Rico

John Cena (c) vs. Rene Dupree
United States Title

This'll be an interesting match, to say the least. Interesting to see if Dupree's really got the talent to make a play for the big time, and interesting to see if Cena's got the wherewithal carry the match on his own if Dupree's a mental no-show. My first impressions on both guys have been more flash than substance, but a good showing this Sunday will be enough to change my mind, as well as quite a few other skeptics. I don't really care for Rene's character all that much, since they went so over the top with the French generalizations and gave him a weak little talk show segment, but at the very least they've kept Fifi consistent throughout his appearances, so I'm kept entertained. I love watching that poor animal react to everything around it; the fans, the monitors, the pyro... it's scared to death of EVERYTHING, and always manages to miraculously disappear just before the segments escalate into violence. Fifi is an entertainment workhorse.

I'll call Cena retaining in this one. I realize the rumors are claiming they're really high on Dupree, but they can't be THAT high. At least, not yet. Wrestling's other JC is still too hot a ticket to be dropping his title right now. He'll hold on to it for at least a couple more months.
Winner: John Cena

The Undertaker vs. Booker T

Yet another bad idea. Like the Dudley Boyz, I definitely prefer Booker as a heel rather than a face, but he's not going to get anywhere opposite the Undertaker, especially this soon after his return. Booker should've been Eddy's opponent this month, and then gone on to lay down to the Taker at the Great American Bash... he had the successful "I'm pissed about being traded to the minor leagues" angle rolling, he's stepped up his work in the ring and he's an extremely credible threat, despite a year of midcard hell on RAW. Add to that the fact that it's a fresh match with some fan interest and the possibility of a very good performance, and you've got a main event that has nothing to do with heart attacks, racism and cartoony heels, and everything to do with the World Title, competition and respect. But that's not the way the cards fell, I guess, and instead we've got The old school Undertaker, looking horribly outdated with his no-selling zombie act, trotting out there and killing the competition. Lovely.

This storyline is bad, the outcome of this match will be bad and the impact it'll have on the Smackdown upper card will be bad. Baaaaaaad. Bad bad.
Winner: The Undertaker

Eddie Guerrero (c) vs. JBL
WWE Title

Unless Bradshaw has stepped in some sort of mysterious, talent-enabling liquid in the last couple weeks, he doesn't stand a chance in hell. I don't think anybody looks at that paper-thin JBL gimmick and thinks "main event" aside from maybe Vince, the bookers and Bradshaw himself, and I'm saying that as an evaluation of just the character itself, regardless of his ability in the ring. I'd be saying this if they'd strapped that gimmick onto Bradshaw, Rikishi, Kurt Angle or Chris Benoit. It's just a transparent attempt at garnering cheap heat, they didn't even bother coming up with music that doesn't sound like it came off a "100 themes" disc at the dollar store.

The match itself is gonna be sickly. It'll be like watching an old woman with a walker, arthritis and a colostomy bag attempt to keep pace with a fiery, pissed off racehorse with the runs. And, when the old lady doesn't make it to the finish line, the trainers will blame the horse, shoot it and turn it into glue. But, I guess, doomed or not the horse still makes it to the finish line in first place.
Winner: Eddy Guerrero

In Closing...

I read somewhere that WWE management is worried about how the buyrates will look for this PPV. Whatever could've given them that idea?
until next time, i remain

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