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Sixteen quid for two (or three) matches? Hmm...
on 1 December 2004
Since the lottery that shook up both the Smackdown! and Raw rosters back in April, the roles of both WWE brands had reversed somewhat, following the previous year. Raw now thrived whereas Smackdown! now sucked (For a time, anyway. Both shows are equally healthy now in terms of ratings).
On Raw, Chris Benoit was world champ and involved in an awesome feud with Triple H and Shawn Michaels. On Smackdown!, Eddie Guerrero was WWE champ and giving us a brilliant and memorable title reign. So what was the problem? Lesnar was gone, Angle and Show were injured, Triple H had decided to stay on Raw because he could even though he was originally drafted for Smackdown! in the lottery, and any other worthy contenders were being misused.
So what does Vince decide to do? Well, the APA had split up and Farooq was now gone from WWE, leaving only Bradshaw, so the boss decides to give a former tag team wrestler who hadn't exactly succeeded in previous singles gimmicks the sudden ascension to main event status and a shot at the WWE championship. Hmm...you could tell the creative team for Smackdown! was desperate for new ideas.
To be fair, though, Bradshaw had been wrestling for more than a decade. He was a veteran. Whilst he had found more success in the tag team ranks than as a single wrestler on previous occasions, his new gimmick as a millionaire and stock broker turned out top be a great debut of a new heel that was thoroughly enjoyable. Now he was wrestling under his real name of John Layfield, being given the chance to cut some really good promos, and the fact that he was a veteran with a now successful gimmick, it now seemed a very good idea to give him a shot at the title. The ultimate question was had his wrestling skills improved enough to entitle him to such a position? The answer to that...is a resounding 'yes'.
However, whilst the WWE title match is one of the best ever and a true classic that saves the PPV, only a few other matches on the DVD are acceptable, whilst the others represent how much of a rut Smackdown! was in at the time in terms of storylines and ratings.
Rob Van Dam + Rey Mysterio vs. The Dudley Boyz:
Great tag team match, superb opener and one of the only matches on the DVD worth watching. I've dreamt about RVD and Mysterio teaming for years and they don't disappoint. Dudleys do well as usual. This is more of a Smackdown! main event but that's not a bad thing. (7/10)
Torrie Wilson vs. Dawn Marie:
Both are hot, but really they should leave the wrestling to the ladies on Raw. (4/10)
Scotty 2 Hotty vs. Mordecai:
Question: Did we really need Mordecai when we already have the Undertaker and Kane? Answer: Of course we didn't. (3/10)
WWE Tag Team title match
Rico and Charlie (C) Haas vs. Hardcore Holly and Billy Gunn:
Not bad, but really belongs on Smackdown! (6/10)
WWE Cruiserweight Championship match
Jacqueline (C) vs. Chavo Guerrero:
Why was Jacqueline the Cruiserweight champion on Smackdown! when it would've been better to have her being the Women's champion on Raw?! More proof that the WWE needs new writers. The only thing that helps is the outcome. Poor Chavo. He deserves better. (1/10)
WWE U.S. Championship match
John Cena (C) vs. Rene Dupree:
A good feud carried well by two rising stars but again, the match should've taken place on Smackdown! A lot of people criticize Cena as being a terrible wrestler who wouldn't be here without his charisma and I think that's unfair. Give him a few years and he'll be main event level. (7/10)
Undertaker vs. Booker T:
Watching it the first time, I wasn't fond of this. After repeated viewing, I thought it was a very good feud with a very good conclusion. The outcome is questionable but still a very good effort by both men who help save the PPV and should be rewarded for it. (7/10)
WWE Championship match
Eddie Guerrero (C) vs John 'Bradshaw' Layfield:
The match that saves the PPV. Easily JBL's best match ever and that's saying a lot. An engrossing brawl that evolves into a blood bath that establishes both men as credible and worthy main eventers. Eddie's integrity and ability can never be questioned again after performing for half an hour whilst losing more blood than anyone I can think of. Despite what others may think, the ending did not hurt the match at all, as it gave us five minutes of one of the best aftermaths in years. This proved that the feud was a legendary one, and was here to stay. (10/10)
So, all in all, Judgement Day 2004 is a mixed bag, somewhat. In general, it represents how much Smackdown! suffered at one time, as you can tell by the number of bad matches and few enjoyable ones. It's a shame too, as it causes people to judge a book by its cover and think that the main event is terrible because of the PPV's low buyrate and JBL's heavily criticised push. However, JBL shows that he deserves to be where he is today and Eddie shows why he deserved his awesome title reign.
But is it worth £16 just for a classic main event and two more matches that you can see on Smackdown! ? Personally, I say yes as Judgement Day 2004 is better than people say it is. However, I do recommend that if you decide to get it, buy it for Eddie/JBL, as you probably won't get your money's worth out of anything else on this.