Judgment Day 2008 was a professional wrestling pay-per-view event produced by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and sponsored by Lionsgate's Rambo, which took place on May 18, 2008 at the Qwest Center Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska. It was the tenth annual Judgment Day event and starred wrestlers from the Raw, SmackDown, and ECW brands.
The show's seven matches showcased prominent WWE wrestlers, who acted out the franchise's stories in and out of the ring. The main event featured Raw wrestlers in a Steel Cage match, a match where the ring surrounded by four walls of mesh metal. In this match, WWE Champion Triple H defeated Randy Orton to retain his title. In SmackDown's main match, The Undertaker defeated Edge by countout, but did not win the vacant World Heavyweight Championship because in WWE, a championship cannot change hands via countout or disqualification. While in ECW's prime match, WWE Tag Team Champions John Morrison and The Miz defeated Kane and CM Punk to retain the titles. From the six scheduled bouts on the undercard, two received less promotion than the others; these bouts included in two respective singles matches, Shawn Michaels defeating Chris Jericho and John Cena defeating John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL).
Judgment Day received 252,000 pay-per-view buys, and was instrumental in helping WWE increase its pay-per-view revenue by $21.9 million compared to the previous year. The professional wrestling section of the Canadian Online Explorer website rated the entire event 6 out of 10, higher than the 2007 event, which was marked "as an average show".
Judgment Day provided the culmination of various scripted plots and storylines. A month before the event, several professional wrestling matches and scripted plots were played out on WWE programming (Raw, Friday Night SmackDown!, and ECW on Sci Fi) to create feuds between various wrestlers, casting them as villains and heroes. Raw, SmackDown, and ECW were also the names of WWE's televised brands – a storyline division in which WWE assigned its employees to a specific program, thus each brand promoted distinct matches.
The main event scripted into Judgment Day on the Raw brand featured WWE Champion Triple H defending the title against Randy Orton in a match where the ring was surrounded by walls of steel, dubbed as a Steel cage match. The buildup to the match began after Backlash, WWE's previous pay-per-view event, where Triple H last eliminated Orton in a Fatal Four-Way Elimination match, also involving John Cena and John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL), to win the WWE Championship. The following night on an episode of Raw, one of WWE's primary television programs, authority figure William Regal, a portrayed match maker and rules enforcer, stopped a title match between Orton and Triple H, and booked the two in a Steel cage match at Judgment Day for the WWE Championship.
One of the featured preliminary matches on the SmackDown brand was between The Undertaker versus Edge for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship. At Backlash, the Undertaker defeated Edge to retain the title by forcing him to submit to the gogoplata, a chokehold move that causes opponents to spit blood (scripted) from their mouths. On the May 2 episode of SmackDown, authority figure Vickie Guerrero stripped the title from the Undertaker, after claiming the gogoplata was an illegal submission hold and she did it to protect the other wrestlers. The following week, Guerrero booked Undertaker in a match for the vacant title at Judgment Day against Edge, who last eliminated Batista in a battle royal, an elimination style match where the last person in the ring is the winner, to become the number one contender.
Another featured preliminary match involved Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho in a singles match. At Backlash, Michaels defeated Batista (with Jericho as the special guest referee) in an Interpromotional match. During the match, Michaels countered a Batista Bomb attempt, a powerbomb move in which the wrestler drops into a sitting position as they slam their opponent down to the mat, and appeared to have legitimately injured his left knee. On the April 28 episode of Raw, Jericho claimed that Michaels faked his knee injury to allow him to defeat Batista at Backlash, a claim that Michaels denied. The following week, it was announced that Jericho would face Michaels in a singles match at Judgment Day. On the May 12 episode of Raw, Jericho offered his apologies to Michaels for accusing him of feigning an injury, as well as giving Michaels the opportunity to back out of their match. Michaels revealed that he did indeed fake his knee injury. Four days later, on the May 16 episode of SmackDown, Batista commented that he would hurt Michaels, scripted into the storyline, for faking his injury.
One more rivalry from the Raw brand was between John Cena and JBL. In the Fatal Four-Way Elimination match at Backlash, Cena eliminated JBL by making him submit to the STFU, a move in which the wrestler wraps his arm around the neck of the opponent in a sleeper hold instead of pulling back on the head of the opponent. On the April 28 episode of Raw, JBL challenged Cena to a singles match at Judgment Day, which was made official on WWE's website.
The Divas rivalry was between Mickie James, Beth Phoenix, and Melina over James' WWE Women's Championship. It was on the April 14 edition of Raw that James defeated Phoenix to win her fourth Women's Championship. Phoenix received her title rematch on the May 5 edition of Raw, but she was defeated by James. During the match, the evil Melina attempted to strike James with her boot, but she inadvertedly struck Phoenix, which caused the loss. The following week on Raw, Phoenix and Melina were defeated by James and Maria after Phoenix abandoned Melina due to being accidentally knocked off the ring apron by her partner. Melina would turn face after the match due to being attacked by Phoenix in a backstage segment.
The first televised match was between John Cena and John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL). JBL dominated most of the match, as he began to work on Cena's surgically-repaired right pectoral muscle. Mid-way in the match, it saw Cena try to lift JBL from the mat into the air for a powerbomb, a move in which an opponent is lifted up and then slammed back-first down to the mat, but Cena collapsed and could not execute the move. JBL controlled most of the match, as Cena tried to avoid JBL's assaults. JBL also applied numerous submission maneuvers on Cena. JBL performed the Clothesline from Hell on Cena. JBL went for another Clothesline from Hell, Cena avoided the move and lifted JBL onto his shoulders and slammed him down to the mat, a finishing move Cena calls the FU, to get the pinfall victory over JBL.
The next match was for the WWE Tag Team Championship, in which the champions, John Morrison and The Miz, defended the title against Kane and CM Punk. The match began with Kane and Punk in control for the majority of the match. Back and forth action took place between both teams. Punk was tagged in the match, which led to him performing a high knee on Morrison, as well as performing a bulldog. Outside the ring, Kane chokeslammed the Miz, causing Punk to get distracted. Morrison took the advantage as he was able to perform the Moonlight Drive and pin Punk to retain the tag title.
The match that followed was between Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho. The start of the match saw Michaels and Jericho exchange several near-falls attempts before Michaels applied a modified figure four leglock, which Jericho broke free. Jericho applied the Walls of Jericho, a submission hold that typically starts with the opponent laying supine on the mat, with the wrestler standing and facing them, though Michaels grabbed the bottom rope, causing Jericho to break the hold. Jericho attempted to perform the submission move once more, but Michaels caught Jericho and countered it into a straddle pin to take the win. After the match, both men shook hands.
The fourth match was a standard match involving three wrestlers, dubbed as a triple threat match, for the WWE Women's Championship, in which Mickie James defended the title against Beth Phoenix and Melina. The match began with James attempting a roll-up on Melina for a near-fall, though Phoenix performed a clothesline on James. Mid-way in the match, James performed a splash, from the top rope, on Phoenix for a near-fall. A spot in the match saw Phoenix try to perform a backbreaker, in which she placed both James and Melina on top of her shoulders, though Phoenix did not execute the move, as Melina managed to break free from the hold and throw Phoenix out of the ring. The match concluded when James performed the Mickie–DT on Melina, thus winning the match and retaining her title.
Main event matches
The next match was for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship between The Undertaker and Edge. The match went in and out of the ring early on, with both competitors throwing each other out of the ring. The Undertaker instinctively tried to apply the triangle choke hold on Edge, but the referee made him break the hold. Edge then tried to do one of the Undertaker's moves, Old school, but the Undertaker counter the move. Mid-way in the match, Edge's associates, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder, distracted the Undertaker after performing an Old school on Edge. This distraction led Edge to remove the top turnbuckle padding. Back and forth action was seen between the two individuals. As the top turnbuckle was exposed, the Undertaker threw Edge face first onto the top turnbuckle. As the Undertaker ran off the ropes, Edge caught him with a shoulder block takedown for a close two count. Afterwards, the Undertaker clotheslined Edge to the outside of the ring, then he rolled to the floor to follow. Undertaker took Edge over the guardrail to the front row with a clothesline while the referee began the 10 count. Both men struggled back to the floor before the Undertaker grabbed Edge into the guardrail at the eight count. He then rolled into the ring and beat the 10 count to win the match by countout and the belt. Though, authority figure Vickie Guerrero said that a title could not change hands via countout, therefore the title was still vacant. The Undertaker responded by lifting Edge upside down and dropping his head down to the mat, a move called the Tombstone piledriver.
The sixth match was between Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP) and Jeff Hardy. MVP quickly beat down Hardy and dominated early in the match. Hardy tried to come back with a mule kick from the corner, but MVP moved out of the way, leading Hardy to crash the mat face first. MVP controlled most of the match, until Hardy finally had some offense with a double foot kick in the corner. With the upper hand, Hardy performed a Swanton bomb on MVP, but MVP moved out of the way. MVP tried to perform a running big boot, but Hardy countered into a drop toe hold. The match ended with Hardy winning the match, after performing the Whisper in the Wind, a move performed by executing a backflip from the top turnbuckle, then spinning 180°, landing on a fallen opponent back-first.
The main event was the Steel cage match for the WWE Championship, in which Triple H defended the title against Randy Orton. During the beginning of the match, Triple H gained the advantage over Orton, as he lifted his knee and hit Orton in the mouth, thus Orton coming up bleeding from the mouth. Orton came back with a kick to the gut before starting his prolonged attack and bolting for the cage door to be open, but Triple H prevented him from escaping. Triple H took control as he took out Orton's knee with a chop block, a shoulder block that targets the back of an opponent's knee, and applied on a figure four leglock. After Orton broke the hold, he crawled across to the cage door to escape, but Triple H grabbed him back inside. But, on the way back in, Orton managed to grab a steel chair that was on the ring floor. Orton tried to hit Triple H with the chair, but Triple H managed to avoid being hit. Triple H grabbed the chair to hit Orton with it, but Orton hit him in the groaning area. Orton followed this with a chair shot to Triple H's back and performed a DDT, a move in which the wrestler falls down or backwards to drive a held opponent's head into the mat. Throughout the match, Orton tried escaping from the cage, but was not in successful in doing so, as Triple H dragged him back in each time. The match came to an end when Orton tried to hit a running punt on Triple H's head, however, Triple H grabbed the chair and hit Orton face first. Triple H followed up by tucking Orton's head between his knees and jumping up to slam his head to the mat, a move that Triple H calls the Pedigree. Triple H covered Orton for the pinfall victory, and thus retaining his title.
The next night on Raw, William Regal announced that the episode's main event would be a tag team match pitting Triple H and John Cena against Randy Orton and JBL, in which if Orton and JBL were to win, Regal stated that they could choose any kind of extreme singles rematches against Triple H and Cena at WWE's next pay-per-view event, One Night Stand, and creating the same stipulation that if Triple H and Cena were to win, they would face each other for the WWE Championship in an extreme match of Regal's choosing. Orton and JBL won the match. Orton chose a match in which the wrestler who was unable to respond to a ten count by the referee would lose, against Triple H. JBL picked a First Blood match, in which to win a wrestler has to make his opponent bleed, against Cena. At One Night Stand, both men lost in their rematches. During the event, Orton legitimately broke his collarbone in his match with Triple H. The storyline between Shawn Michaels and Batista continued, as Batista defeated Chris Jericho to earn the right to face Michaels in a Stretcher match, a match where the objective is to place the opponent on a stretcher at ringside and move it across a line located on the entrance ramp, at One Night Stand. At the event, Batista defeated Michaels in the match, thus ending their rivalry.
At One Night Stand, The Big Show defeated CM Punk, Chavo Guerrero, Tommy Dreamer and John Morrison in a five-man Singapore Cane match to earn an ECW Championship match against Kane at Night of Champions. During the supplemental draft, a mock sports draft lottery in which wrestlers switched programs, Mark Henry was drafted to the ECW brand. It was announced on WWE's official website that Henry would be added to the title match, making it a Triple Threat match. At Night of Champions, Henry defeated Kane and Big Show to win the ECW Championship. Henry, however, was booked to lose the title to Matt Hardy at Unforgiven in September.
The Undertaker and Edge continued their feud over the next several weeks. Though, a predicament insured on the May 23 episode of SmackDown, when Vickie Guerrero announced that The Undertaker would face Edge once more for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match (TLC) at One Night Stand with the stipulation that if The Undertaker were to lose, he would be forced to leave the WWE. At the June event, Edge defeated The Undertaker with the help of his accomplices, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder, in the TLC match to win the vacant World title and The Undertaker was forced to leave the company, written into the storyline. On the July 25 episode of SmackDown, Guerrero reinstated The Undertaker, after learning of Edge's infidelity with their wedding planner, Guerrero and Edge were in a scripted relationship, and in retaliation she scheduled The Undertaker and Edge in a Hell in a Cell match, a ring surrounded by a steel structure of metal, at SummerSlam. At SummerSlam, The Undertaker defeated Edge.
The rivalry between Beth Phoenix and Melina continued the next day, when Melina attacked Phoenix with her boot after Phoenix defeated Maria. At One Night Stand, Phoenix defeated Melina in WWE's first ever women's I Quit Match.
The Qwest Center Omaha had a maximum capacity of 17,000, but the capacity was reduced for the event. This event received 252,000 pay-per-view buys. Judgment Day helped WWE earn $39.8 million in revenue from pay-per-view events versus $17.9 million the previous year, which was later confirmed by Linda McMahon, the CEO of WWE, on August 5, 2008 in a quarterly result. Canadian Online Explorer's professional wrestling section rated the event 6 out of 10. The rating was higher than the Judgment Day 2007 event, which was marked as an average show that maintained the recent WWE philosophy of wrestling over ridiculousness. The standard match between Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho was rated an 8 out of 10. Additionally, the matches of JBL versus John Cena and MVP versus Jeff Hardy were rated 5 out of 10.
The event was released on DVD on June 17, 2008. The DVD was distributed by the label, Sony Music Entertainment.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- John Cena defeated John “Bradshaw” Layfield (15:14)
- John Morrison and The Miz (c) defeated Kane and CM Punk to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship (7:32)
- Shawn Michaels defeated Chris Jericho (16:01)
- Mickie James (c) defeated Beth Phoenix and Melina in a Triple Threat match to retain the WWE Women's Championship (5:01)
- The Undertaker defeated Edge by countout in a match for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship (16:34)
- Jeff Hardy defeated Montel Vontavious Porter (9:59)
- Triple H (c) defeated Randy Orton in a Steel Cage Match to retain the WWE Championship (21:20)
Other on-screen talent
- Judgment Day 2008 Official Website
- Judgment Day 2008 on WWE Network
- Judgment Day 2008 at CAGEMATCH.net
- Payback 2016 at Online World of Wrestling
|2008 World Wrestling Entertainment pay-per-views|
|Royal Rumble • No Way Out • WrestleMania • Backlash • Judgment Day • One Night Stand • Night of Champions • The Great American Bash • SummerSlam • Unforgiven • No Mercy • Cyber Sunday • Survivor Series • Armageddon|
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