THE JOHN REPORT
The World’s Greatest Judgment Day Preview
John: Welcome to the World's Greatest Judgment Day Preview where the usual suspects will analyze, and in some cases overanalyze, the latest PPV offering from the WWF. As always, this preview is written by "Oprah Winfrey's biggest fan (?)" Drqshadow and "The only Canadian that does NOT watch hockey" John C. After last month's successful Backlash show (the best PPV of the year in my opinion) the WWF will try to impress us all once again with less sports entertainment and more wrestling. What a concept! I will have more to say in a few moments although I must hand things over to my tag team partner because if I don't he may apply wrestling greatest submission hold, the Nerve Garden, on me. Then again, I am bigger than him so he would never, eeeeeeever be able put it on me. Isn't that right llama man?
drq: So we've regressed to Oprah jokes! It's always the quiet ones, John.. it's always the quiet ones. With the WWF breaking their string of disappointing PPVs in last month's Backlash event, things seem to be on the rebound once more this time. Each of the WWF's 2000 events have looked absolutely spectacular on paper, and though the main events have been somewhat lacking (here comes the critical e-mail), the undercards have more than made up for it. So it goes this month, as the Radicals seem ready for the split that's been anticipated since their arrival, Benoit and Jericho seem ready to blow off their feud in the next couple months with a dynamite submissions match, and the tag team champions side up with Kurt Angle as replacements for the Radicals, feuding with Too Cool. Though I won't go so far as John in saying the entire undercard's bound to rock more sheep than a drunken farmer on a Friday night (TM & copyright Matt Spence. Where are ya?), I'll agree it holds quite a bit of potential. As for the main event, I'll applaud the WWF; they've got balls, and they've got everybody talking about their product. It's got the hype Vince was hoping for, and I think HHH and Rocky are finally ready to let this beast blow off with the big Iron Man match. I'm far from convinced the match is gonna be pretty, but I'll gladly put my hands together for it. It's garnered interest that was surprisingly lacking from their Backlash encounter, with a Michaels appearance there to seal the deal. It's HHH's big night, and if he runs with the ball he's home free.
John: I would send you an email about WWF main events but you would probably ignore it like all my other emails. Speaking of ignoring emails, who is this Matt Spence guy? Moving onto the subject at hand, is there some sort of stipulation that says every month one WWF legend must return for a PPV? At WrestleMania, Mick Foley came back for a one shot deal. At Backlash, Steve Austin came back for a one shot deal. On Sunday night, Shawn Michaels will be back in what also could be a one shot deal. Considering I am a huge fan of all three of these living legends I have absolutely no problem with them returning to the place that made them famous. However, I am hoping that this time around Shawn can stay on WWF TV for a bit longer. For now though, I will enjoy seeing him at Judgment Day as the special referee in what will be a very important main event for the WWF. Actually, this whole PPV is pivotal in the future of the WWF. If the fans really get into a wrestling heavy PPV, particularly the main event, then actual wrestling will be back stronger than ever. Slowly, the WWF has trained its fans to enjoy good wrestling instead of the sports entertainment stuff that was being force fed to them throughout the last two years. The entertainment aspect is still around, however, the sport aspect of pro wrestling is quickly becoming chic again. With only six matches on the card they have eliminated most of the excess baggage (Godfather, Bossman, Mark Henry, Viscera, Mae Young, etc.) and given us a very strong card from top to bottom. For me, the only disappointment is that the Hardys are not on the card. With or without the Hardys, this is a card with another good undercard and a main event that could set the tone of pro wrestling for many years to come. More on that later. For now though, here she blows...
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John: A month ago there was some doubt as to what role the Dudley Boyz were. In the last three weeks they have solidified themselves in a role as a babyface tag team who gets away with the heel stuff. As I have said many times, fans are the ones that dictate heel or face turns. You never know how they will react until you put the talent in the ring. The same thing happened to Jericho and it happened to Austin in '97 too. I guess the "anything can happen" phrase really has some legitimacy behind it. On the other side, you have the DX team that is only together because the WWF has absolutely no clue where to put them in the singles ranks. On Raw, Tori came off the top rope and splash Buh Buh Ray through a table on the floor in what was a very impressive spot. As far as going through a table, I think she could do a good job of it because she is a trained wrestler after all. Plus, the fans really enjoy that so it seems logical that it would happen. X-Pac is the best worker of the bunch while BBR, D-Von and RD all try very hard to make a match look good and are definitely watchable. This one should be a pretty good match. Next month, the Dudleys could feud with Edge & Christian so they may need the win here while their opponents continue to hang around in midcard limbo. Winners: The Dudley Boyz
John: This is one of those matches that wrestling fans like me really get excited about. You have everything you would ever want all in this match. You have one of the best all around wrestlers ever in Eddy Guerrero. You have, arguably, the greatest technical wrestler ever in Dean Malenko. You also have another good worker in Perry Saturn who is in the prime of his career wrestling as well as he ever has. To the very lonely guys out there, you probably even think Chyna is a plus although I will avoid the usual Chyna jokes this time around. Eddy has recovered from his elbow injury as he has once again proven to be one of two best workers in North America alongside Chris Benoit. Hopefully the fans do not turn Eddy into a babyface because he is such a good heel. The Euro title is worth something once again and it is thanks to the work of Eddy and Mamacita which is Spanish for "that woman with the plastic surgery" or something like that. If Eddy loses here, I'd look for him to jump up to IC title status and take on whichever one of the Chris' has the belt. A Guerrero vs. Benoit or Guerrero vs. Jericho feud? I would pay to see that! Before any of that happens, we get to witness this gem of a match on Sunday night. I will have to go with Guerrero because he has done such a good job as champion. Winner: Eddy Guerrero
John: I thought an E&C vs. Too Cool tag match would be a great PPV match. I guess they decided to stick Angle and Rikishi in so that it will not compress the other matches on the card. That is a good thing though. I would rather have five matches on the undercard instead of six because it gives more time to the very promising Euro and IC title matches. This is a match I am looking forward to because the heels in this match form a fantastic team. I love the "I'm better than you" gimmick that they employ and obviously it has been very successful. Throw in the fact that all three guys are good workers and you have yourself an entertaining team to watch. On the other side you have two good workers and the guy with the fat ass. It should be noted that Too Cool have wrestled in six person tag matches for three of the last four PPVs with the only exception coming at Backlash last month when Grandmasta Sexay was out with a knee injury. There was no point behind that statement, it is just something that I found interesting. I think that the faces will go over leading to an E&C vs. Too Cool tag title match at KOTR and possibly an Angle/Rikishi KOTR finals at the big extravaganza next month. Winners: Too Cool & Rikishi
John: For all of you workrate fans out there this is probably the match that will be the "worst" in your eyes although I still think it can deliver to other types of fans. By that I mean it will entertain those of you who can enjoy somebody like the Big Show and his "methodical" offense. It's not really my thing me but I am sure some of you will like it. Shane is not a great worker by any means yet he is still good enough that he can have watchable matches. He has the propensity to bump a lot and I expect nothing less from this match. I assume it is booked as a No DQ match so that Shane's heel friends like T&A and the Bossmen can try to help him. Something to watch is how well the Big Show can move with his knee injury. I think Shane will take at least one big bump, Big Show will win and they will do an injury angle after the match to explain Show's knee injury. That is, if he is going to take time off because of it. We will have to wait and see I guess. Winner: Big Show
Of course, this talk is all hypothetical. It's based on a prediction that hasn't come true just yet, and I'm willing to bet won't. In a dream world, these two would go half an hour to 45 minutes in a grueling fight to the death. Benoit would escape the liontamer (look how i said the Liontamer, and not the Walls Of Jericho. If Jericho doesn't whip out the old-school, vicious Liontamer Sunday night I'll be very disappointed), and Jericho would survive the Crossface. It would be a lesson in crowd control, building and executing spots, and keeping an arena hot throughout a grueling submission. In the end, both would take a major spot and wouldn't be able to answer a 10-count, resulting in a rematch the next night on Raw. In the rematch, Jericho would lock Benoit into the Walls when HHH makes the all-important run-in and jumps all over Y2J. Benoit gathers himself, rises, and turns on HHH. Together, the two chase him off and you've got a successful turn. Y2J keeps his credibility and moves on to feud with HHH, Benoit keeps the belt and starts a face run on the right foot. I guess I'm not the booker, though. I'm going with Benoit just to stick up a big middle finger at those who believe everything they read on the 'net. Winner: Chris Benoit
John: Don't you just love these great Canadian wrestlers? I sure as hell do! At last month's Backlash PPV these two gave us a ****1/2 match that ended on a disappointing note. My friends who were watching the PPV with me complained because it ended in a DQ. Meanwhile, I realized that the reason it ended in a DQ was so that they could give us a rematch at the next PPV. Guess what kids, that's what they have done. This will probably be the last match in this tremendous feud featuring two of my favourite wrestlers and two of the internet's most popular wrestlers. You know Benoit is probably the best worker alive while Jericho is one of the best overall wrestlers in the world. They are great in the ring together and this feud has helped Jericho find the workrate that he once had. They will do their best to deliver a match that many people are comparing to a match that I feel is the greatest WWF match ever: The epic Austin/Hart submission match from WrestleMania 13. Coming in to the match, Benoit will be selling a knee injury that he suffered at the hands of Hardcore Holly on Smackdown. That is what led people to believe that he will turn face by refusing to tap out despite the pain. Personally, I think you run a bad risk by attempting to copy an angle which, in my opinion, was the greatest angle in wrestling history and was part of the greatest feud and match in WWF history. I doubt they would do a double turn here because of Jericho's success as the #2 face although I understand why they would turn Benoit face so that part of the scenario could happen.
The submission match has been built perfectly because of the way the WWF has excellently pushed the Crippler Crossface as a deadly finisher while doing the same for the Liontamer (or Walls of Jericho for the new fans out there) even though it is more like a Boston (Winnipeg?) Crab nowadays. I think Benoit should have the IC title for a little bit longer while Jericho moves up to the next level after this match. I think a Jericho/Triple H feud is in store for the near future so I think Benoit will retain here. It seems as though he will be feuding with Hardcore Holly in the coming weeks meaning he will probably turn face soon even though he is at his best as a heel. No matter what happens, I have a feeling that this will be a match of the year candidate that we will remember for years to come. Just like the WM13 match catapulted the career of Austin and the Summerslam '98 match helped Rocky and Triple H, this one will be influential in the careers of both men. Winner: Chris Benoit
drq: I pretty much covered this one in the introduction, aside from a few points. I'll continue to applaud Vince for this ballsy move, but for the match to live up to the hype both men are gonna have to put forth the effort of their lives. The comparison to Bret/Shawn at Wrestlemania XII is inevitable, so I may as well get it out of the way here.
The first Iron Man match is still the subject of a good amount of debate to this day, 4 years after the fact. While a good chunk of the viewing public calls this match the best of all time, a larger section calls it a disappointment. Not surprisingly, I count myself among the latter. You couldn't ask for a better opening and closing 15 minutes from these two, but the middle half hour was a straight up snore fest. Their pacing and timing were off, and that can be attested to the fact this was only their second official singles meeting. They hadn't found a good mesh of their styles yet, and they certainly weren't ready to go an hour. The result was a strong 15 minutes, a half hour of loosely assorted small spots and rest holds, and a slam bang closing 15 minutes.
Rocky and Hunter won't run into the same problems that Shawn and Bret did but I stand confident they'll find more than a few of their own. They've been working together long enough to know each other through and through, so a mesh of the styles isn't really an issue. I doubt the stamina of both men right now, and I doubt both have the moveset to go an hour without overlapping more than once. HHH mentioned on Raw there would be no overtimes, so I expect a competition of falls in this one.. which may very well be the key to keeping things interesting. It's gonna be hard to do, but I think Helmsley and the Rock may just surprise us this Sunday night. If not, well.. I guess all the pessimistic biatches like myself will strut for weeks to come. Call me a sheep in wolf's clothing, but I'm expecting a surprisingly good blowoff.
As for the conclusion, I'm looking for Michaels to be crucial. I won't call a turn in either direction, and I don't think the Undertaker will be making an appearance. If anything, I'm calling that because the WWF's been so obvious in their hyping of his return. Anybody remember last year's King of the Ring ads that called for the Big Show to "plow through 4 WWF superstars"? Vince loves to swerve us, and I'm willing to bet that's what all this is about. Then again, I may be swerving myself by expecting a swerve. Swerve, swerve, serve. Remember when stuff was surprising and out of the blue?
I've rambled on way too long already, so I'm putting my money on the Rock here. If Vince pulls another "Survivor Series Finish", he doesn't know when to quit and should be lynched live on Monday's Raw. It was entertaining once, it worked twice. The third time was a bit excessive and a fourth would be ridiculous. Winner: The Rock
John: In the opening, I eluded to the fact that this match will be key in deciding the future of the WWF. If the fans enjoy it for the entire match like they seemingly enjoy all WWF main events then longer matches may become the norm once again. If they react as if they would rather watch a promo than it will tell WWF management that maybe longer matches is not the way to go. Personally, I would keep the "Crash TV" format on the weekly shows and give fans longer, more interesting matches at PPVs. You can give good TV matches as well, however, it is important that you save the better matches for PPVs so that people will be willing to spend their money on the product. That is why I hope all of you give these guys a chance. Do not punish them just because they are willing to try a match that very few wrestlers have been willing to do.
Since my partner touched on the first Ironman match I figure I might as well toss my hat into the loop seeing as how I recently wrote a biography of Michaels and I have looked at some of wrestling's greatest matches in the past. Drq made a mistake when he said that it was only their second match against one another. He was right in that it was only Shawn and Bret's second one on one match against each other on PPV (Survivor Series '92 being the first). You need to remember that they had been in the ring together countless times as part of their respective tag teams, at house shows and on TV as well. Bret and Shawn knew eachother very well having been in the WWF together for seven years prior so I think you would be wrong to blame them for being unfamiliar with each other. I think the biggest problem with the first Ironman match was not necessarily all of the restholds, I think the problem was that they did not get any falls in the first sixty minutes. The WrestleMania XII main event was still a great match, it's just that we all expected better from two of the greatest wrestlers of all-time. Because of the poorly booked WMXII Ironman match, I think it is imperative for The Rock and Triple H to get a few falls in the early going. They don't even have to be falls, just make sure they are decisions that give the other wrestler a certain edge. Make it a Pedigree on the floor that gives HHH a countout decision or HHH using a weapon giving the Rock a DQ decision. Make it something that helps the fans follow along. The biggest flaw in the first Ironman match was the booking of the match, it was not necessarily the talent's fault.
After this match on Sunday, Triple H will put himself in some select company. In fact, it has led me to come up with this impromptu trivia question: Who is the only WWF wrestler to wrestle in a Ladder match, Hell in a Cell match and Ironman match on PPV? The answer is Shawn Michaels. Following Sunday's match Triple H will add his name to that very short list. Most people are afraid to try these types of matches, particularly the Ironman match, because they fear they may not be able to entertain the fans for sixty minutes. You cannot expect them to make it the whole way without a few restholds so when they happen try to understand that both guys are humans and they cannot go forever. Most WWF main events are around 30 minutes and these two wrestled in a 30 minute draw at Fully Loaded '98 so they probably have the ability to go for that long. I think they are in good enough shape to go all the way to sixty minutes. The key thing is that they must be able to keep the crowd entertained. For the first fifteen and the last fifteen minutes I think the crowd will be really hot. The key to the match will be that middle thirty minutes. If they can keep the crowd into the match for the middle thirty minutes then everything else should run smoothly.
I was not sure who would win this match until I heard all the stipulations announced on Smackdown. The thing you have to look at is the part that says, "if there is a tie after sixty minutes, The Rock retains the title." To me, that is what gives away the finish. I think something will happen where it will be tied at three falls each and Triple H hits a Pedigree with five seconds left. Michaels goes to count as Hunter turns him over and the clock expires letting The Rock retain the title. I have this gut feeling that tells me that The Rock and Triple H will be in the main event at King of the Ring although not necessarily in a one on one match. I have a hard time believing The Rock will drop the belt after three weeks and I also have a hard time believing that Triple H will lose cleanly after he has been put over strongly so much this year. If The Rock wins with more falls it will be because of a pin at the last second or possible interference from Michaels. One way or another, The Rock will walk away with the title even though Triple H is the champion that I would rather see. Winner: The Rock
John: You are tired after previewing a card of only six matches? Personally, I enjoyed this preview a lot because we only had six matches to write about instead of the usual ten, eleven or twelve matches that we usually get. I think this PPV is going to be huge in the careers of the four competitors in the two big matches. It will be the breakthrough match in the careers of Benoit and Jericho. They have had great ones in Japan, on WWF TV and at last month's PPV but they have the chance to deliver a special match on Sunday and I really hope they can do that. For Triple H, it will be a day that proves whether or not he deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as Flair, Michaels, Austin, Hart, Steamboat and all the others who were able to put together good matches no matter the stipulations. He is on the brink of legendary status, now he just has to take that one final step. For The Rock, I think this is his chance to prove to all his doubters that he is more than just a guy who recites catchphrases. He needs to show us that he can be a good worker when the opportunity presents itself. Most importantly, I think the WWF is doing their best to put on a great card each and every month. Instead of having five big PPVs every year, they are delivering consistently good PPVs month after month with this one being the most important.
Sunday night's PPV will be crucial in the history of pro wrestling. Will today's wrestling fans applaud the sport aspect of the business or will they lean towards the entertainment side? I think we will have our answer at the aptly named PPV, Judgment Day.
If you have any questions or comments about this preview feel free to MAIL US and we will do our best to reply to you as soon as possible. Drq will have his Four Horsemen column up next week and John will have his look at Shawn Michaels' greatest matches so please join us for that. Have a great weekend.
Until next time, we'll smell ya later,