TJR Retro: WWE Judgment Day 2008 Review (Triple H vs. Orton, Undertaker vs. Edge, Michaels vs. Jericho)

TJR Retro: WWE Judgment Day 2008 Review (Triple H vs. Orton, Undertaker vs. Edge, Michaels vs. Jericho)

The 2008 calendar year was a bit of a transition year for WWE. It was the first year where WWE shows were broadcast in beautiful HD, which we are all used to now over a decade later. It was also the year where WWE went PG after a long run of being a TV-14 program. The PG label meant more family-friendly programming, less bad language and no blade jobs as we were used to seeing in the past. The date was July 22, 2008 for WWE going PG, so it this show was two months before the change with the idea that edgier WWE content was going away. By this point, everybody that followed the company knew that the PG rating was coming.

As for storylines, the roster was pretty good at this point with the Edge/Undertaker dominating Smackdown while Triple H and Randy Orton were feuding on Raw. John Cena was still around, of course, but he wasn’t in the main event of this show. Some of the matches on this show continued the rivalries from WrestleMania 24 while others were new storylines.

With regards to the main poster for the show, you may notice EC3/Derrick Bateman on there. He was part of the extras used for the main photo.

Here’s the synopsis on WWE Network:

“WWE Champion Triple H defends against Randy Orton in a Steel Cage Match. The Undertaker and Edge battle for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship. Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho go one-on-one. John Cena clashes with John “Bradshaw” Layfield. Tag Team Champions John Morison & The Miz defend against Kane & CM Punk. // 14+ (D,L,V)”

The DVD looks like this:

 

Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Let’s get to the show.

WWE Judgment Day
Qwest Center Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska
May 18, 2008

The opening video package aired hyping up the show.

The pyro went off in the arena and it looked like a packed house in Omaha. They didn’t do PPVs in that are very often, but they seemed to be an energetic crowd. Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler welcomed us to the 10th Judgment Day PPV. Ross and Lawler were the Raw announcers.

The limousine of John Bradshaw Layfield drove into the arena as JBL entered for the opening match. He was greeted by boos. John Cena was up next as the opponent. It was the usual loud reaction for Cena with mostly cheers from the younger crowd and some boos by the males out there too.

John Bradshaw Layfield vs. John Cena

Pre-match notes: Cena was the face while JBL was the heel. It was rare to see Cena in an opening PPV match especially during this period in his career, but that’s where he was on this card. This was the last year of JBL’s career because he would retire at the next WrestleMania.

JBL was in control with forearms to the head, then a tight headlock and a forearm to the back. Cena went for the STFU, but JBL went to the ropes followed by JBL sending Cena’s left arm into the top rope. JBL sent Cena’s left shoulder into the ring post two times. Fan sign: “JBL Nice Rack. Lose the Man Boobs.” Ouch. Unless you’re into that sort of thing. Anyway, JBL slapped on an armbar on the mat. I think a security guy took that sign away because it was on camera for a few minutes and somebody in WWE must have hated it. Cena powered out of the armbar to send JBL to the mat. JBL continued the aggressiveness with punches and kicks to the left arm of Cena. There were punches by Cena, then a whip into the corner and a clothesline. Cena with the left shoulder tackle leading to the blockbuster neckbreaker. Cena went up top for the leg drop to the head, but JBL moved and Cena hit the mat hard. They battled on the apron with JBL hitting a suplex that sent Cena ribs first across the top rope. JBL hit a running shoulder tackle that sent Cena off the apron to the floor. JBL slapped on a bearhug along with the body scissors across the ribs. After a few minutes of that, Cena powered out of it, the fans came alive and JBL managed to slap on a Full Nelson submission. After about one minute of that, Cena powered out of that, but Cena collapsed when he tried the FU because he was selling the attack. JBL went back to a body scissors headlock for a few more minutes. Cena managed to pick up JBL and drop him with a move that was like a spinebuster. Cena with punches, then he charged and JBL decked him with a boot to the face. JBL decked Cena with a hard clothesline that was not “From Hell” but it was a big shot with Cena continuing to sell a lot. Cena avoided a clothesline and hit the FU slam for the pinfall win at 15:14.

Winner by pinfall: John Cena

Analysis: ** It was a below average match that was slow and plodding. That’s because JBL was on offense for most of it and he was not an exciting wrestler although Cena did sell well for him. JBL was on offense for about 90% of the match with Cena hitting one move to find a way to win. This just didn’t work and I thought it was a bad choice for an opener due to how slow it was. Then again, the crowd was hot for most of it since Cena was involved, so that’s probably why WWE put it on first.

Post match, JBL walked away first with a frustrated look on his face. Cena was down in the ring selling a lot more than JBL was. The fans popped for Cena’s celebration.

There was a shot of King William Regal, the General Manager of Raw, sitting in a luxury suite for the show.

Michael Cole and Mick Foley were up next as the Smackdown announce team. The ECW announce team of Mike Adamle and Tazz set up the lone ECW match on the show.

Analysis: Adamle wasn’t a good fit in WWE, that’s for sure. Sadly, he’s dealing with dementia in his life due to injuries during his football career.

There was a Dirt Sheet video featuring The Miz and John Morrison mocking Kane and CM Punk since those were their opponents.

The Miz and John Morrison entered as the WWE Tag Team Champions on the Smackdown brand even though they were in ECW. Why can ECW hold titles on Smackdown? Because it’s WWE. They don’t follow their own rules. The reason was also because ECW and Smackdown taped on the same night (Tuesdays) so it was easy to put the titles on ECW guys. Anyway, Kane and CM Punk were next as the opponents.

WWE Tag Team Championships (Smackdown): John Morrison and The Miz vs. Kane and CM Punk

Pre-match notes: Morrison and Miz were heels while Kane and Punk were faces. CM Punk also had the Money in the Bank briefcase since he was Mr. Money in the Bank at the time. Kane was the ECW Champion.

Punk hit Miz with a suplex, then Kane tagged in and lifted up Miz on his shoulders. Kane let him go, Miz drove Kane into the heel corner and Morrison tagged in. Kane with a body slam followed by a running dropkick for two. Punk tagged in with a leap over the top where he dropped his right knee onto Morrison. Punk trapped Morrison in the ropes using his legs to tie up Morrison in the ropes. The heels managed to isolate Punk with Miz hitting a stomach breaker on his knee. Punk broke free with a kick to the head of Miz, Kane with a punch and Kane with a sidewalk slam. Adamle kept saying “CM” instead of Punk, which was weird. Anyway, Kane went up top and hit a clothesline on Miz. Morrison made the blind tag leading to a kick to the back of the leg of Kane and a neckbreaker. Miz with a corner clothesline on Kane, then Morrison hit a running knee to the chin of Kane and Miz grabbed Kane in a chinlock. Kane broke free with a boot to the face. Morrison tagged in against Punk, who hit Morrison with three kicks and a powerslam got two. Punk sent Morrison into the ropes leading to a running knee and a clothesline/bulldog combo for two. Punk dove over the top onto Miz on the floor. Punk went up top and hit a clothesline on Morrison for two. Morrison got out of a GTS attempt, Punk sent Miz to the floor, referee tried keeping Kane out of the ring, Punk kicked Miz down and Kane gave Miz a Chokeslam on the floor. Morrison managed to kick Punk in the ribs (Punk was looking at Miz on the floor) and hit a Moonlight Drive neckbreaker for the pinfall win at 7:32. Kane was too slow to make the save.

Winners by pinfall: John Morrison and The Miz

Analysis: *3/4 It was an average tag team match with the champs working well together the whole way. The faces were not a regular team, so they didn’t need to win the titles in a match like this. The finish could have been a bit better because it made Kane look like a bad partner for being so slow even though he could have ben there. Punk getting pinned was not a shock since Kane was the ECW Champion. Miz and Morrison worked well together.

The video package aired for Shawn Michaels facing Chris Jericho. At Backlash, Michaels beat Batista with Jericho as the referee after Michaels sold a left knee injury, Batista showed compassion for Shawn and Shawn hit Batista with a superkick for the pinfall win. Jericho gave Shawn an award for “Best Actor” for the knee injury. Batista said that if Shawn was faking it, he would make him pay. Jericho and Michaels beat Miz and Morrison in a tag team match where Shawn was selling the knee a lot after they won. Michaels admitted to Jericho he wasn’t hurt and then Shawn hit him with a superkick followed by Shawn casually leaving the ring to show he wasn’t shirt.

Analysis: This was early in the Jericho/Michaels story. They would not only have the best feud of 2008, but one of my favorite feuds in WWE history. It was incredible. I liked these early stages of the story because they set the stage for what was to come.

Chris Jericho entered as the Intercontinental Champion although that title was not on the line in this match. Shawn Michaels got a big pop for his entrance as he showed that was just fine with no knee injury. JR noted that these two men were two of the five Grand Slam Champions in WWE at this point.

Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho

Pre-match notes: Shawn Michaels was a face. Chris Jericho was a face, but this is the storyline that would turn him heel in the second half of the year and set him off on what was arguably the best run of his career.

Jericho went after the left leg of Michaels right away, but Michaels kept escaping out of it. Michaels got a sunset flip, then Jericho got a two count of his own and Jericho landed on top to get his own nearfall. They kept exchanging pin attempts, which led to Michaels slapping on an inverted figure four leglock submission with Jericho getting out of it by grabbing the bottom rope. Michaels with a hard slap in the face, so Jericho punched him, the referee made Chris go back and Michaels had a bit of a smirk on his face. Jericho with a back elbow to the face, then kicks to the ribs and Jericho ran into a back elbow. Michaels grabbed an armbar against the ropes. Michaels sent Jericho left shoulder first into the turnbuckle and an armbreaker into the knee. Jericho with a hard whip that sent Michaels into the turnbuckle. Jericho went for a move off the top, but then Michaels elbowed Jericho down and suplexed Jericho stomach first onto the mat. Michaels went up top with the elbow drop, but Jericho got the knees up and Michaels was writhing in pain selling that bump. Jericho with a belly to back suplex to drive Michaels into the mat. Jericho slapped on the abdominal stretch to work on the ribs. Jericho: “ASK HIM!” It’s the best when he would do that. Jericho with a stomach breaker as he drove Shawn’s stomach/ribs into the knee. Jericho worked over Shawn’s ribs some more with three hard whips into the turnbuckle. Jericho went for a bulldog, but Michaels shoved him into the ropes with Jericho taking a bump off that. Michaels with an atomic drop, then a chop and a running forearm leading to the kipup that always led to a pop. Jericho came back with the Walls of Jericho with the fans cheering and making a lot of noise as Michaels managed to crawl to get to the ropes to break the hold.

Jericho went for a dropkick on the apron, Michaels moved, he stepped back and hit the Sweet Chin Music superkick to knock Jericho off the apron to the floor. Michaels could have won by countout because the referee was counting, but Michaels rolled Jericho back in to break the count. Michaels covered for two as Jericho shot his right shoulder up to break it. That superkick was awesome as they showed a replay of it. Michaels went up top and he hit an elbow drop followed by Michaels selling his right side/arm injury. Michaels set up for the superkick, Jericho slowly got back up and collapsed to the mat. When Jericho teased getting back up, he stumbled down to the mat as the announcers wondered if he was faking it. Jericho turned around and hit the Codebreaker. That drew a big pop. Jericho slowly crawled over to Michaels for a two count because he wasn’t able to cover right away. Jericho went for a move, but Michaels trapped him in the Crossface submission. Jericho nearly tapped out, the crowd was screaming and Jericho managed to get to the bottom rope to break the hold. Jericho with two knees to the ribs, then a suplex that sent Shawn’s ribs across the top rope. Jericho went for the Lionsault, Michaels got the knees up, Jericho landed on his feet and Michaels countered a Walls of Jericho attempt into a pinning attempt with Michaels sitting on top for one…two…and three! This match went 16:01.

Winner by pinfall: Shawn Michaels

Analysis: **** This match was awesome. I had forgotten about how great it was, but I’m glad I got to watch it again and review it. It was such an even match with Michaels coming close to winning several times including after the only superkick he hit while Jericho hit his Codebreaker finisher, but was unable to get the win because he was slow to cover. There were so many believable counters during the match that made it seem so even and then the finish saw Michaels use a counter to win the match. It was brilliant technical wrestling with a lot of drama from start to finish. I also liked the time of the match because it didn’t seem too long. It felt just right. This may not have been as good as the WrestleMania 19 match in 2003 or the No Mercy 2008 Ladder Match that they, but it’s still an excellent match worth checking out.

Post match, Michaels was about to leave, but Jericho extended his hand for a shake. Michaels was hesitant about it as he held his ribs with his left hand and then Michaels shook Jericho’s hand in the center of the ring. Jericho stepped forward teasing something more, but then he backed away. Michaels left, Jericho clapped for him and Shawn left as the winner. Jericho took his time leaving the ring as he left with the Intercontinental Championship that was not on the line in this match.

Analysis: It was pretty obvious that Jericho was going to turn at some point. It didn’t happen here, but it was coming soon.

Mickie James, the lovely Women’s Champion, was interviewed backstage by Todd Grisham. She said she was feeling good while noting that Shawn Michaels and John Cena were victorious. Grisham wondered how things went when she went out with Cena last week after Raw. She said it was fun and John’s a nice guy. JBL showed up, James left and JBL wanted Todd to ask him about Cena. JBL was asked about what kind of revenge he would get against Cena while noting that he beat Cena for 20 straight minutes. JBL said that Cena was in the training room right now, so who beat who? JBL threatened Grisham by telling him not to ask a stupid question or it will be his first and last fight.

It was Women’s Title time with Beth Phoenix making her entrance first followed by Melina and then the champion Mickie James was up last. On the Raw prior to this, Beth beat up Melina backstage because they were having issues.

Women’s Championship: Mickie James vs. Beth Phoenix vs. Melina

Pre-match notes: Mickie was the face Women’s Champion while Beth and Melina were heels that weren’t getting along. I like all three of them a lot, but Mickie is my favorite of them all. Mickie won the title from Beth in a great match a few weeks before this on Raw in London, England. All three women were in OVW together a few years before this and by this point in their careers, they were the main women on Raw in the title picture for a few years in the late 2000s.

Melina kicked Phoenix out of the ring and James got a rollup on Melina for two. Melina sent James out of the ring and Phoenix decked James with a clothesline. Phoenix used her power to take down Melina and James was back in with a pin attempt for two. James hit an impressive headscissors on Melina and a sleeper/body scissors by James on Phoenix took Beth down. Melina broke that up with a neckbreaker on James. James hit a neckbreaker on Melina. When James went up top, Melina tripped her up on the turnbuckle and Phoenix gave Melina an Electric Chair takedown. James jumped off the top with a press onto Phoenix for two and then Beth got a two count of her own. James with a dropkick on Phoenix. Melina choked James across the top rope. Phoenix showed off her power by holding both women above her head in a position like a backbreaker before they all collapsed. Melina came back with a neckbreaker on Phoenix. James hit the Mickie DDT on Melina for the pinfall win at 6:14.

Winner by pinfall: Mickie James

Analysis: **1/2 A good match with a lot of action that could have used more time, but that’s the usual time they got in this era. There were some impressive moves by all three women including that Beth Phoenix backbreaker. I think the finish could have been better by teasing some nearfalls before Mickie got the win with her DDT. Mickie hit that DDT perfectly with Melina selling it the right way. Since Beth was often pushed as a powerful woman in the division, it’s not a surprise that Melina took the pinfall here.

Mickie James celebrated with the Women’s Title while Beth and Melina looked angry around ringside. This would lead to Beth vs. Melina at the next PPV.

Shawn Michaels was shown in the locker room changing out of his ring gear. Michaels was unhooking the brace that he had under his left knee. Batista showed up to Michaels saying he told Shawn if he was lying about his injury, the next time he saw him he would hurt him. Batista said he’ll make Shawn wait for it, he’ll dictate the time and place and Batista will hurt him.

Analysis: They would have a match at the next PPV, One Night Stand, and it was a Stretcher Match.

There was a poll asking fans who would win The Undertaker’s match with Edge for the vacant World Heavyweight Title. The fans voted 85% for Undertaker and 15% for Edge. They were all wrong.

The video package aired to set up Undertaker vs. Edge for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship on Smackdown. The corrupt heel General Manager banned The Undertaker’s chokehold (Hell’s Gate) and he was stripped of the World Heavyweight Title that he won from Edge at WrestleMania 24. Vickie was “engaged” to Edge at the time. Edge won a Championship Chase competition on Smackdown to earn a World Title shot although he only entered the match when Batista was the last man in the battle royal. Edge gave Batista a Spear off the apron and that set up Edge to be in the match.

Analysis: This was a long rivalry that led to several PPV matches between Undertaker and Edge in 2008. It was probably the best feud on Smackdown that year.

The World Heavyweight Championship was at ringside in a glass case. Edge made his entrance first as a four-time World Champion in WWE going into this match. The Undertaker made his classic, slow walking entrance down to the ring looking ready to go.

For the Vacant World Heavyweight Championship: The Undertaker vs. Edge

Pre-match notes: The Undertaker was the babyface former champion and Edge was the heel. The Undertaker was 43 years old here. He was healthy while looking like he was in the best shape of his career. Undertaker had a lot of awesome matches in his 40s. The Undertaker was not allowed to use the triangle choke (Hell’s Gate).

Undertaker was in control early on with punches to Edge. Taker did some choking and then put his foot across Edge’s throat. Taker kicked Edge out of the ring leading to Taker sending Edge shoulder first into the ring post. Taker kept working on the left shoulder for a bit, but when Undertaker went for the rope walk, Edge tripped him up and caused Taker to get crotched on the top rope. When Edge tried to capitalize on the floor, Taker sent him into the barricade at ringside. Edge whipped Taker hard into the steel steps with Taker taking that bump right in the knees. It always looks and sounds brutal when somebody takes that kind of bump into the steps. Edge with a baseball slide dropkick into the barricade. Back in the ring, Taker with a running kick, but Edge moved and Taker went crashing into the turnbuckle. Edge took over the momentum with a kick to the leg and some stomps to the left leg. Edge wrapped Taker’s left leg against the ring post. Edge bounced off the ropes and hit a boot to the arm. Taker went for the triangle choke hold, but he stopped himself because he wasn’t allowed to do it. When Edge tried doing the rope walk move, Taker tripped him up so that Edge was crotched along the top rope. Taker ran the ropes leading to a leaping clothesline, then a corner splash, another clothesline and Taker hit a Chokeslam into the turnbuckle followed by a boot to the head for two. Taker did the old school rope walk leading to the punch to the back. Taker lifted up Edge, but Edge flipped out of that and hit a sitout neckbreaker. Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins went to ringside, so the referee told them to go back and Edge took the turnbuckle pad off.

Undertaker tried a Last Ride Powerbomb, but Edge slipped out of that and hit the Edgecution DDT for two. Edge with a Spear, Taker moved and Edge hit the turnbuckle. Taker gave Edge a Powerbomb into the turnbuckle like a Buckle Bomb, but he didn’t run into it. Edge countered a move into the exposed turnbuckle, then Edge did the punches against the turnbuckle, Taker managed to send Edge face first into the exposed steel. Taker was down selling, so he was too beat up to go for a pin. When Taker got back to run the ropes, Edge hit a Spear for a two count. A lot of the crowd was standing and chanting for Undertaker. The wrestlers exchanged punches, Edge ran the ropes and Taker hit him with a Chokeslam leading to a slow cover for two. Edge crawled out of the ring, then Taker went after him and hit a clothesline over the top to the floor. The referee Charles Robinson checked on both men to see if they were okay. The referee went back into the ring as both guys were at ringside, the count was at eight, Taker pulled Edge off the apron to the barricade and Taker rolled back in the ring for the countout win at 16:15

Winner by countout: The Undertaker

Analysis: ***1/2 A very good match with an ending that was lacking in terms of a definitive winner. That’s because WWE wanted to keep the rivalry going. They also had several matches better than this one, so it’s not that memorable in terms of their rivalry. Taker did a nice job of selling the knee early, Edge was aggressive in terms of his attack and that allowed them to tell a believable story. There were a lot of big moves for nearfalls like when Taker kicked out Edge’s Spear, which helped to add to the drama. The fans were really into the match the whole way as always, which helps tell the story.

The Undertaker was handed the World Title, but then Smackdown GM Vickie Guerrero showed up with Hawkins and Ryder for an announcement with Vickie in a wheelchair to sell one of her fake injuries. Vickie kept saying “excuse me” although not as loud as it would become when she got more comfortable in the role. The fans were booing her loudly. Vickie noted that it is common knowledge that a title can only be won by pinfall or submission, but not disqualification or countout. Vickie said that means the World Heavyweight Title remains vacant. She told Undertaker that he is not the new champion. Undertaker had a frustrated look on his face as he tossed the title down.

Undertaker grabbed Edge from ringside and gave him a Tombstone in the middle of the ring. The fans popped huge for that. Vickie to Undertaker: “You son of a bitch!” Hawkins and Ryder helped Edge to the back while Taker left the World Title in the middle of the ring. Foley said it was a blatant abuse of power from Vickie while Cole said this was historic.

Analysis: The thought was that Undertaker won by countout, but in typical WWE fashion they wanted to be controversial and keep people interested in the title chase for a new champion. Sine this was just a regular match, the next match at One Night Stand 2008 would be a bigger deal because that’s when they had a TLC Match for the World Heavyweight Title with Edge facing Undertaker again. That match main evented that show.

Randy Orton did a backstage promo from a seated position. Orton said that he was WWE Champion for six months after defeating the top stars like John Cena, Jeff Hardy, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels and the man he won the title from in the first place, Triple H. Orton said that Triple H claimed Orton was lucky, but Orton said that Hunter was lucky for winning the title on his third try in a Fatal 4-Way match. Orton said that now Triple H has to face him in a Steel Cage Match. Orton said he’ll get that WWE Title back and reclaiming the Age of Orton. Randy stared forward to end it.

Montel Vontavious Porter made his entrance for a promo. MVP was on the Smackdown brand. MVP said that the marquee said that it’s Judgment Day, but somehow MVP was left off of the card. MVP said he was still the highest paid entertainer in the history of Smackdown and the longest reigning US Champion in WWE history. MVP said that it was bad business to be left off the card. The fans kept chanting “WHAT?” at him, but he got through it fine. MVP called out any top tier talent that wants to face him while reminding us he will always be Ballin’ as he wondered if somebody thinks they are on his level.

The music of Matt Hardy hit as Matt walked out in his street clothes with the United States Title in his hands. MVP wanted Matt to bring his title with him. Matt said he has already proven that he is better than MVP, so he has someone else that is going to prove that he is better than MVP too…and it’s Matt’s brother Jeff Hardy. Huge pop for Jeff, who had the “No More Words” theme song by this point.

Jeff Hardy vs. Montel Vontavious Porter

Pre-match notes: Jeff Hardy was a babyface from Raw while MVP was a heel on Smackdown. It was an impromptu brand vs. brand match.

MVP worked over the back of Jeff for a bit leading to two quick nearfalls. Jeff ran the ropes leading to a leaping clothesline and Jeff hit a mule kick to kick MVP out of the ring. Foley noted that Jeff’s house recently burned down prior to this, so he had to deal with that and being in that ring is how Jeff heals himself. MVP grounded Jeff with a chinlock as fans chanted “Hardy” for Jeff. MVP with an elbow to the head, then he charged and Jeff pulled down the rope to send MVP out of the ring. MVP slammed Jeff onto the floor and they went back into the ring. MVP did the dreaded hair pull to take Jeff down leading to an armbar and then MVP slammed Jeff onto the left arm. When Jeff went for a move off the ropes, he collapsed to sell the arm injury and MVP was smiling about it. MVP with a single arm takedown to the mat along with a knee drop into the arm. MVP slammed Jeff off his shoulders leading to MVP bouncing off the ropes with a boot that sent Jeff out of the ring. MVP whipped Jeff left shoulder first into the barricade. Back in the ring, MVP drove Jeff’s face into the top of the thigh of MVP. Jeff avoided the Playmaker attempt into a neckbreaker for Jeff. Hardy got some momentum going with a corner clothesline and a seated dropkick against the turnbuckle. Hardy went up top, he jumped off for the Swanton Bomb and MVP moved out of the way. MVP charged, Jeff with a drop toe hold into turnbuckle and Jeff jumped off the top with a Whisper in the Wind twisting splash onto a standing MVP for the pinfall win at 9:42.

Winner by pinfall: Jeff Hardy

Analysis: **3/4 An average match between two guys without a story going into it with Jeff Hardy picking up the win. Good heel tactics by MVP throughout the match with him controlling about 80% of the match. They worked hard and had a solid match that was under ten minutes. Jeff Hardy was so popular, so the fans were into it especially when he got going on offense. Hardy winning with Whisper in the Wind was rare, but I guess they felt like it was a good idea to win with that move instead of a Swanton Bomb in this case.

The video package aired for Triple H defending the WWE Title against Randy Orton. Triple H won the WWE Title three weeks earlier at Backlash in a Fatal 4 Way Elimination Match where Hunter beat champion Orton in the final fall to win the match. That win ended Orton’s six-month “Age of Orton” WWE Title reign. Orton used his rematch clause to set up this WWE Title match with a Steel Cage match stipulation added to it.

Randy Orton made his entrance first as the challenger. Triple H was up next as the WWE Champion. He got a nice ovation as the champion while he took a long time to get to the ring.

WWE Championship Steel Cage Match: Triple H vs. Randy Orton

In a WWE Steel Cage match, you can win by pinfall, submission or escaping the cage with both feet touching the floor. The referee Mike Chioda was in the ring with the superstars. My preference is that you shouldn’t be able to walk out the door because more people should try that since it is the easiest way, yet they rarely do it.

Pre-match notes: Triple H was the babyface WWE Champion that won the title from Orton three weeks earlier. Orton was the heel challenger. If you’re wondering about their ages at the time of the match, Orton was 28 years old while Triple H was 38 years old (39 in July). They wrestled many times on PPV and TV as well.

Orton tried to crawl out of the cage, Hunter stopped him and Orton slammed the cage into Hunter’s head. They slugged it out in the ring with Hunter hitting a jumping knee to Orton’s head. Hunter blocked a whip into the cage and then he sent Orton into the cage. Hunter hit a neckbreaker. Hunter with a knee drop while Orton was on the mat. Orton managed to get some momentum back by sending Hunter into the cage two times in a row. If this was before WWE was about to become PG then Hunter would have done a blade job there. Not here. Orton sent Hunter into the cage again. Orton continued to send Hunter back first into the steel. Orton with a kick to the chest while Hunter was on the apron, so Orton followed that with a draping DDT off the ropes for a two count. Orton grabbed a chinlock to ground Hunter until Hunter fought back with punches and Orton hit a powerslam for two. Orton did his slow walking while stomping on the body parts of Hunter including a knee drop to the chest for two. Hunter got back into it with a chop block to the back of the left knee two times in a row. Hunter slapped on the Figure Four Leglock in the middle of the ring leading to “WOO” chants from the crowd for Ric Flair. Orton got to the ropes to break it. Orton went for a RKO, Hunter slipped out going for a Pedigree and Orton got out of that with a back body drop. Orton slowly crawled to the cage door, his hands were on the floor, but Hunter managed to grab him. Orton got his hands on a steel chair from under the ring and brought it into the ring. Orton kicked Hunter into the turnbuckle.

Orton charged with the steel chair, Hunter with a boot to the face and the facebuster into the knee for two. Hunter got a hold of the steel chair, but Orton stopped him with a low blow uppercut punch to the groin. Ouch. Orton hit Hunter with a chair shot to the back and then a DDT on the steel chair for a two count. The fans were chanting “Triple H” for the champion while Orton opened up the chair to put it in a seated position in the ring. Orton went for a RKO on the chair, but Hunter shoved him into the cage and then hit a drop toe hold that sent Orton’s face bouncing off the chair. Both guys were down selling for a bit as Hunter crawled over with one hand on the chest for a two count. Orton went for the first cage climb of the match, Orton got near the top, Hunter grabbed him by the trunks and then they were standing on the top rope. Hunter sent Orton face first into the cage, so Orton did a back bump into the ring. Hunter climbed to the top of the cage, Orton got a hold of him and they battled on the top rope again with Orton punching Hunter down. Orton got to the top of the cage with his left leg over the top, but Hunter pulled Orton back in again. They were on the top rope with Triple H teasing a Pedigree, but Orton drove him into the cage. Orton tossed Hunter off the top into the ring again. Orton climbed up to the top of the cage again, he had both legs on the outside of the cage, but Triple H managed to hold on using a headlock. Orton kicked Hunter in the head while on the top rope, but Hunter tripped him up to crotch Orton across the top rope. Hunter with a spinebuster to cheers from the crowd and he was fired up. The chair was placed in the center of the ring with Orton countering the Pedigree setup as Hunter bumped back first onto the steel chair. Orton went for The Punt, Hunter moved and Hunter hit Orton in the head with the steel chair. It looked like Orton got his hands up to block. Triple H hit the Pedigree for the pinfall win at 21:11. The crowd cheered for Hunter’s win.

Winner by pinfall: Triple H

Analysis: ***1/4 It was the typical pretty good but not great Triple H vs. Orton match. I think they had some matches better than this (No Mercy 2007 comes to mind) although a lot of them were similar to this in terms of quality. The cage stipulation didn’t add that much to it other than a few spots to put over the physicality of the match a bit more. It would have been nice if they tried escaping the cage more by trying to go through the door or out of the ring because that way it utilizes the match stipulation more. If you’re going to have a cage match then there should be more escape teases than what they did. Hunter winning clean was the obvious result since he just won the title a few weeks earlier.

Triple H celebrated with the WWE Title while standing on top of the steel cage. That was the end of the show.

Analysis: You might think that a cage match would end this rivalry. Nope. They had a Last Man Standing Match at the One Night Stand PPV a few weeks later as well.

This event had a runtime of 2:43:57 on WWE Network.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Show rating (out of 10): 6.75

There were several good matches on the show to keep it from being bad, but it wasn’t a particularly memorable show. The Michaels/Jericho match was the best although I think they had better matches together. I could say the same thing about Undertaker/Edge and Triple H/Orton. These were all long term rivalries where their matches at Judgment Day 2008 added to the story, but it wasn’t the end. The other matches were just okay. It was weird seeing John Cena in an opening match at this point in his career, but that’s where he was against JBL. There was solid wrestling all night long and the Nebraska crowd was very vocal, which is always a positive thing on a wrestling show. I wasn’t bored by Judgment Day 2008. It also didn’t blow me away. Just a solid wrestling PPV in an era where WWE had a lot of talented people up and down the card.

 

FIVE STARS

  1. Shawn Michaels
  2. Chris Jericho
  3. The Undertaker/Edge
  4. Triple H
  5. Randy Orton

 

OPINIONS

Best Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (****)

Worst Match: John Morrison and The Miz vs. Kane and CM Punk (1/2*)

Most Memorable Moment: I liked the finish to Michaels vs. Jericho a lot, so I’ll go with that. This show was lacking in memorable moments.

That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.

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John Canton

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