Sunday, May 30, 2010

Smarkass Reviews: WWE Judgment Day 2007

I bought this yesterday at Wal-Mart for five bucks. They had a bunch more like Judgment Day 2006, Cyber-Sunday 2006, and that awful December to Dismember ECW-only PPV. This one looked like the best of the bunch judging from the match list. Last month, when I was in Wal-Mart, they had the same DVDs, but I picked up The Spectacular Legacy of the AWA two-disc set for five bucks. That had a fantastic documentary feature on the AWA. Michelle loves the DVD sets with documentaries and I'm definitely with her there. We haven't watched many of the matches, though, after a couple were disappointing by not being the full matches. Anyway, moving on to the business at hand: Judgment Day 2007.

A short history of myself and wrestling: I grew up watching it because my dad watched it. He gave up on it before I did. I gave up on sometime near the end of high school/beginning of university, somewhere in the 2000-2002 range. I would occasionally stop on it if I came across it, so I have a vague awareness of certain things, but, for the most part, didn't watch it. In September 2007, I moved in with a fellow grad student and friend, Adam. Adam was a big wrestling fan and he quickly got me back into it and I've been a loyal watcher ever since. I watch WWE pretty steadily same with TNA and a little bit of indy stuff. Judgment Day 2007 took place on May 20, 2007, a good five months before I got back into wrestling. So, this is all new to me. I know pretty much everyone involved and am aware of some of the feuds, but not everything. Immediately, I'm amused that, out of the 20 wrestlers involved on the card, 12 of them are no longer with the WWE, though two of them (Carlito and Batista) are very recent departures.

One good thing about WWE pay-per-views is that they usually pad them out a bit with video packages that explain feuds -- something that makes randomly dipping into DVDs from the past pretty easy. I had a basic understanding of a lot of the feuds with these matches, but it definitely helped Michelle have some idea of who some people were or what the story going into the match was.

Match #1: Ric Flair vs. Carlito
The story here is that Flair saw something in Carlito and being the legend that he is, decided to take Carlito under his wing and make him into a superstar. Carlito refused and Flair responded by calling him unmotivated and arrogant... so, basically, this match and story was a summation of Carlito's entire time in the WWE: a talented performer that could (and should) have done so much more, but was held back by a lack of motivation and a sense that he was better than others. The match was an odd choice for an opening bout. Usually, you want something that will get the crowd hot and this didn't do it for the most part. Sure, people cheered Flair, but that's what people do. By this point, Flair was coasting on his status -- making this feud even funnier. His offence in this match consisted of chops to the chest and... well, he won with a Figure Four. Carlito, meanwhile, stuck to working Flair's left arm for some reason. Carlito is normally quicker and more acrobatic, and this style definitely didn't suit him. He displayed some nice passion, but was pretty boring otherwise. The closest we got to his regular style was a dropkick outside the ring to Flair's arm while it was resting against the ring post. Carlito seemed to be wrestling a Ric Flair match instead of his own match and considering he needed to look good here, it was a little baffling. It wouldn't have been so bad as a five-minute match, but it just went on and on and on and on...
Winner: Ric Flair [*1/2]

Match #2: 3-on-1 Handicap Match for the ECW World Championship -- Mr. McMahon (C), Shane McMahon & Umaga vs. Bobby Lashley
At Backlash (the previous PPV), Vince McMahon won the ECW title from Bobby Lashley in this very match: 3-on-1 handicap match. Now, the rematch with Vince bringing along his son and Umaga for insurance. The crowd was solidly behind Lashley and the match was mercifully short with Lashley dominating, taking out Shane and Umaga in short order, and getting the pin on Shane for the win. After the match, he yelled at Vince to come back to the ring and, just as Vince was going to enter, Umaga attacked Lashley, knocking him out with the Samoan Spike. McMahon got on the mic and said that Lashley may have won the match, but not the title since he didn't pin Vince. The match was energetic and quick, very nicely planned out, but this was an angle, not a match. Pretty sure the video package for it was longer than the match.
Winner, but NOT new ECW Champion: Bobby Lashley [1/2*]

Match #3: CM Punk vs. Elijah Burke
Since I didn't watch ECW when I got back into wrestling (as it was on Fridays nights at midnight here at the time), I pretty much missed Elijah Burke in the WWE despite him being around for a few months when I was watching. I dig him in TNA as "The Pope" D'Angelo Dinero and, judging from this match, he's definitely a better fit in TNA with that character. He and Punk put on a pretty good match. This probably should have kicked things off since it was definitely more energetic and exciting than the Flair/Carlito match. The story here is that Elijah Burke was the leader of a faction called the New Breed that was feuding with the ECW Originals (as ECW was its own company in the '90s and these stars were part of the company then), and Burke wanted CM Punk in his faction. Punk joined, but quickly betrayed the New Breed, wanting to destroy them from the inside. Since then, he'd worked his way through them until this match. Solid story and the match was based around Punk's injured ribs, which were taped up. Punk was clearly a guy who was going places, while Burke didn't seem entirely comfortable yet. Lots of good back-and-forth with some solid false finishes. At this point, it was easily the best match of the night. CM Punk picked up the win and looked very good in the process. Who doesn't love the Go To Sleep?
Winner: CM Punk [***]

Match #4: Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton
Earlier in the show, we got briefed on the backstory of this match: Michaels suffered a concussion at the hands of the Great Khali, which was only made worse by Orton punting him in the skull. During this recap (which was during a backstage interview), Orton attacked Michaels and slammed him face first into a metal beam. Michaels was later told by a doctor that he wasn't fit to compete. So, Orton came out and demanded that he be announced as the winner of the match by forfeit. Just as it was happening, Michaels's music hit and he comes stumbling out. No one could do injured/tired/out of it like Shawn Michaels. He was the master. He looked drunk, which seems the right way to play up concussed and barely conscious. He barely got in the ring and the match began. Orton just beat on him until Michaels got off a move or two, even climbing the ropes for his trademark elbow drop, which he hit. All that was left was Sweet Chin Music, but when it came time for it, he just fell down. The ref stopped the match and, after, when the ref was helping Michaels up, Orton nailed him with the RKO just for fun. Michaels was taken out on a stretcher with his wife crying by his side. Not much of a match, but entertaining nonetheless because of Michaels selling the injury so well. Also, nice to see the old Randy Orton entrance with his old music and the pose.
Winner: Randy Orton [*]

Match #5: World Tag Team Championship Match -- The Hardys (C) vs. Trevor Murdoch & Lance Cade
I don't have much to say about this. The Hardys did their usual routine and this match was a little too long. Nothing special and showed why Cade and Murdoch never really went anywhere. Though, I will say that Cade looked in great shape. He had potential, definitely.
Winners and STILL World Tag Team Champions: The Hardys [**]

Match #6: World Heavyweight Championship Match -- Edge (C) vs. Batista
This match happened because of two injuries. First, the winner of Money in the Bank at WrestleMania that year, Mr. Kennedy, was injured, so they had him drop the briefcase containing a contract for a title shot to Edge. Then, the World Heavyweight Champion the Undertaker got injured, so they had Edge cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase and take the belt after a cage match with Batista. Batista, having lost the belt to the Undertaker at WrestleMania insisted it was his and Edge stole it. This match was surprisingly weak. I was expecting more from the two, but it was just under five minutes of pretty tame action with an abrupt finish. Was Batista also injured in real life at the time? If so... yikes.
Winner and STILL World Heavyweight Champion: Edge [*1/2]

Match #7: 2-Out-of-3 Falls Match for the United States Championship -- Chris Benoit (C) vs. MVP
Okay, a match featuring Chris Benoit. My position on Benoit is that I view his wrestling and the actions of his final days alive as two separate things. I can appreciate his in-ring work while hating what he did to his wife, son, and himself. Some people can't and I respect that, but that's not my position. This match is especially a little difficult with that regard coming only a couple of months before that horrific weekend. But, at the same time, this shows why Benoit was so well respected in the ring by so many. This was definitely the best match of the night with Benoit making sure MVP looked incredibly strong in his victory. The first fall would have been a pretty solid match alone with the two matching one another well. The story here was that MVP had slowly gotten better and better against Benoit with this being his chance to prove himself completely and win the US belt. Lots of good counters and equal shows of strength. After their various confrontations, both men knew one another well, and it was hard to say who would get the upper hand, especially when Benoit locked in the Crippler Crossface. But, MVP eventually nailed the Playmaker for the first fall victory. The second fall was just MVP dominating. No matter what Benoit did to counter or try to mount a comeback, MVP countered himself and beat Benoit down again. MVP even applied a genuinely painful-looking submission hold that was a variation on a single-legged boston crab, but with the leg pulled by both legs over the back of MVP neck, so he could apply more pressure. Benoit sold it well. By the time MVP actually scored the pin, he looked like he could be going after a world belt. Benoit knew what his job was here and that was putting over a younger guy. Not many better ways than dropping two straight falls to him in a 2-Out-of-3 Falls match since usually those use all three falls. I've never seen MVP look this dominant and fantastic since.
Winner and NEW United States Champion: MVP [****]

Match #8: WWE Champsionship Match -- John Cena (C) vs. The Great Khali
One of the WWE's attempts to recreate Hulk Hogan/Andre the Giant with John Cena and a big man. Khali looked unstoppable, Cena was unafraid, and Cena eventually won in a pretty typical match for its type. Not a bad match at all, and Khali hasn't done much better work that I've seen. But still, not a fantastic bout, and the STFU finisher would have worked better if Khali's foot didn't keep hitting the rope. It also makes the later story where Cena couldn't get the STFU on the Big Show look even dumber than it was.
Winner and STILL WWE Champion: John Cena [**]

Overall, not the best PPV I've ever seen. Only two matches really rose above a mediocre level, which isn't a good sign. Then again, the Michaels/Orton one was entertaining. Especially disappointing were the world belt matches.

Show Rating: 5.0 (out of 10)

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