The Live Wire - By Tony Cottam

TLW: WWE Judgment Day 2004 Thoughts

Well that WAS Judgment Day, and for some it probably was a final judgment on them – if they couldn’t make it on to this card, why are they still hanging around the WWE? As I said, it wasn’t an awe-inspiring card, and the actual matches themselves could do nothing other than be better than they looked on paper… and for the best part, that’s how they turned out…

Well, hello. It’s a belated Live Wire this week… you can thank the joys of needing to puke every 5 seconds of the waking day yesterday for the tardiness, or you can be like most people and thank your lucky stars!

Well that WAS Judgment Day, and for some it probably was a final judgment on them – if they couldn’t make it on to this card, why are they still hanging around the WWE? As I said, it wasn’t an awe-inspiring card, and the actual matches themselves could do nothing other than be better than they looked on paper… and for the best part, that’s how they turned out.

The standard “Dudley” Hot opener got the crowd pumped up, and even RVD looked as if he gave a damn – has he been promised a push in the near future? Who knows… we can but hope. In any case, this was one of the better tag team matches aired on Smackdown in the past few months, although in the glory days of The Smackdown Six, it would have struggled to make it past Velocity.

This is what the Dudleys do and do it as well as anybody – they pop a crowd and make a match seem more important than it actually is. The Duds have a great teamwork in the ring, and seem more comfortable as heels, especially when they have someone like RVD and Rey to work with, who are so over with the fans anyway.

Nice to see The Duds take a loss on PPV, but it would have been nice for a team on the way up in the Tag Division to take the win, so that it actually meant something, rather than a ‘super team’ of two upper-midcarders who don’t really need the heat to start with.

Kurt Angle and his new Black Box transport came out to rile the crowd up next, and he did a pretty good job of it – in between mentioning riots and Kobe Bryant, I hope Kurt got out of LA alive! Kurt came out to add some spice to what was a pretty meaningless women’s match by offering the stipulation that unless Torrie won, she would be fired.

And of course, win Torrie did. I enjoyed my snack break during this one, and I’m pleased to say I didn’t miss much when I watched the tape again the next day. Dawn Marie lost her tights, showed her ass to the crowd, blah de blah… already arguments are breaking out on message boards as to whether it was intentional or not… really? I don’t care.

Bradshaw was up next, doing what he does best – cutting a promo. Seriously, as much as I don’t rate him in the ring, Bradshaw’s strengths of promo cutting have come to the fore in this feud with Eddie. Even though he can’t do it in the ring to a meaningful level, he’d be very useful as a high midcarder to build a new face on, or even as a mouthpiece for someone – bringing in America’s Most Wanted as a tag team and adding Bradshaw to the team as a manager? Seems like an idea to me…

Anyway, after Bradshaw told the world what was on his mind (not a lot, as it happened) we were ‘treated’ to the debut of Mordecai. Well, what can I say? He’s got white hair. He’s got a white beard. He wears white clothes. Even his entrance lighting is guess what? Yes! White!

In Mordecai’s favour, he was facing Scotty. If ANYONE can’t get heat by stopping The Worm in mid-flight, then you should give up right now… and to be fair, Mordecai looked solid enough, didn’t screw up, looks to have an interesting gimmick, and using the Razor’s Edge as a finisher, well, that’s a stroke of genius. That finisher is a great way to pop a crowd, and it still look’s cool as hell.

Not an overly inspiring in-ring debut, but then again, it didn’t need to be. The gimmick, the entrance, and the finisher can cover a multitude of sins in this day and age… some might say sadly, but that’s the way it is these days. My verdict on Mordecai remains open for the time being.

Chavo Classic is just that – classic. His antics in the background while Chavo and Jacqueline put on Daytime Soap Opera Acting 101 made the whole segment worthwhile. Chavo Classic to become Cruiserweight champion! Let’s face it, the way they’re going it would only add to the belt’s image if Chavo Classic won…

Rico and Haas might not be the future of the tag division, but I’ll be damned if they’re not fun. The wacky tag partners gimmick is overused, but when it’s done correctly, like with these two, then it is watchable. Holly and Gunn appear to have a good chemistry together, and keeping them as a tag team for a while is a good idea for a couple of reasons – one, they add some depth to the tag division, and two – by putting two pains in the ass together like this, it cuts down on the airtime on Smackdown devoted to them. Simple!

The match itself was not too bad, if looked at from a point of view of ‘did it entertain me?’ – it was entertaining, mostly down to Rico’s antics and the reactions of all the other parties in the match to him. As a wrestling match, well, let’s just not go there. Rico and Haas are both very capable wrestlers, and this style of match doesn’t allow that to shine at all. But at the end of the day, people have a smile on their face, and I guess that’s what it’s all about, right? Right.

Chavo and Jacqueline’s ‘match’ was up next, and while you can’t really fault the match given the idiotic booking of the Cruiserweight Belt over the past few weeks – I found myself thinking if I would have been happy to actually PAY for this PPV knowing this was on the card… and I have to say… no, I wouldn’t – not one little bit.

Really, this sort of match isn’t above Smackdown filler material, and while both Chavo and Jacqueline tried their best, is does nothing for them or the belt itself. I watched most of this from the kitchen on the live showing as I made a rather tasty cheese, ham, and Worcester sauce bagel. Toasted, of course, for those people that care.

Cena vs. Dupree was the match I thought had most potential as an actual wrestling contest, but it didn’t really live up to that. It was a solid enough match, but again, just seemed to be Smackdown level, rather than a PPV level match. Cena is fast developing into a formulaic wrestler, and really needs another standout match with someone to prove whether he’s up to the challenge of becoming a main eventer… Rene Dupree, to be fair, just ain’t that guy yet.

Dupree’s Dance Of Frenchness is the most over thing that he does. He just screams AVERAGE in everything he does in the ring. He has a good grasp of working heel and how to work over a crowd, as does Cena, but the two just never really looked as if they were 100% confident in either themselves or each other at any point in the match. Distinctly disappointing showing, considering on paper, it was one of the best matches on the card.

As for The NeverJobber, well his new old gimmick is still yet to burn the house down with me. The entrance is great, the old-school blank eyes are great, but other than that, it just doesn’t ring true. I saw an interview with Taker this week where he said it was a long way from Dead Man to American Bad Ass, and it’s a long way back, which does actually make sense, but I hope they speed things up a little.

Credit to the commentators in this match for putting Booker over almost constantly, but it’s a good job Book got some heat from the commentary team, as Taker no-sold everything that Booker threw at him, including the supposed Voodoo Bag Of Doom that Booker was relying on… making the past two weeks of Smackdown vignettes worthless. Hopefully, Booker’s done his job, now he can go and try and reclaim some of his heat and maybe get himself in the title picture again.

And speaking of the title picture (hey, that’s almost professional – well, it’s almost good) I’ll hold my hands up and say it was a better match than I, and probably pretty much everyone thought it would be. I still maintain that Bradshaw performed way above his level, which is no bad thing, and that the match was made into something special by Eddie’s incredible blade job and controlled performance throughout the match.

I’m not exaggerating here – Eddie’s performance in this match is on a par with something Ric Flair would have been proud of in the 80s. Bradshaw did his part in the match, and was a lot better than I thought he would be, but that doesn’t mean we need to see a rematch. Normally, I would bitch about a DQ finish in a PPV main event, but given the bloodbath that had taken place, it was a fair finish. Eddie flipping out and losing his control – letting the ‘Latino Heat’ take him over, if you will – did make sense in the context of the match and the build up to it, with Bradshaw taking the rivalry to Eddie’s family. Eddie’s beat down after the match further added to that, and if nothing else, Bradshaw can be proud of his performance, which he’ll no doubt remind us all of in his next column.

So as a PPV in a standalone context, it wasn’t really that great, but judged against what we expected it to be, it did deliver a lot more on screen than it looked capable of on paper. Easily the weakest Smackdown only PPV since the brand extension though, and lost in the shuffle compared to Raw’s last effort.

Smackdown needs help, and hopefully, the buyrate from this show might be low enough to finally kick-start the WWE into giving that boost to the Smackdown crew.

Until then, have fun, go mad.

Thanks for reading – be sure and pay a visit to these two sweet sites : / TheGroovyComapany

Tony Cottam

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