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If you are an avid listener of The Voice of Wrestling Radio Show, then you have heard me say the past couple of weeks that in my opinion, WWE has batted 4-4 in 2009 when their Pay-Per-View events have stepped up to the plate. Last night, the company presented its annual Judgment Day Pay-Per-View, and with the exception of a few speed bumps I can confidently say that WWE has hit yet another home run in 2009 and is 5 for 5 at the near halfway point of the PPV calendar. One thing that has made WWE PPV's so exciting this year is that the company has managed to keep the shows exciting, with twists such as the unpredictable outcome of their No Way Out event, the entertainment value of Wrestlemania 25, the unique presentation of the Royal Rumble PPV, and the strong booking of what appeared to be a sleeper card at Backlash. Last night's Judgment Day PPV, however, lacked the surprises and spontaneity that was found in the previous 4 shows this year, but I think WWE made up for that with a very strong display of in-ring wrestling, with some matches qualifying as early match of the year candidates. With this in mind, let's take a closer look at all of last night's action from The Allstate Arena in Chicago, IL.
Cm Punk vs Umaga: The PPV opened strong, with the returning Umaga challenging Mr. Money in the Bank, CM Punk. Great back and forth action here, with Punk coming off as a worthy competitor to the much larger Umaga even though the Samoan Bulldozer would end up scoring the pin fall. My only complaint with this match is that I did not agree with the decision to have it open the card. The bout was a bit too slow at times, and I personally think a more high-flying, fast-paced match such as Jericho vs Rey or Morrison vs Benjamin should have started the show. On the other hand, the hometown favorite, CM Punk, did manage to get the crowd into both the match and the event itself right from the onset. Out of a possible 9 stars on the "Nick's Nine" rating system, I give the opening contest 7 stars.
Christian vs Jack Swagger for the ECW Championship: The PPV continued on a strong note with yet another great match between Christian and Jack Swagger for the ECW Title. I like how Christian is the babyface in this program, yet both of the last two title matches he's had against Swagger have seen the Champion cheat in some fashion to win or retain the belt. In the past two bouts Swagger has attempted to cheat in a way that always fails, and Christian then uses the same technique, but pulls it off successfully. This is a creative way to both book Christian as the ECW Champion but leave Swagger with a level of competency that allows the viewer to buy into him as a contender to the title. 7.5 Stars.
John Morrison vs Shelton Benjamin: This may come as no surprise to anyone, but this was definitely the show stealer in my book. I would like to have seen this match given a bit more time, but in the end the two superstars worked as hard as they could, and gave us one of the most exhilarating, innovative matches we have seen on WWE programming this year. The highlight of the night was the perfect one and a half revolution springboard dive that Morrison hit on Benjamin early in the bout, and the precision with which these two execute offense is what makes them a pleasure to watch work. I see Morrison becoming a huge star if WWE allows both his character and in-ring work to flourish in the coming months. 8.5 Stars.
In-Ring Segment with Santino, Alfonso Soriano, The Miz and Chavo Guerrero: This was a nice way for WWE to provide some comic relief to the 3 wrestling-focused segments we have seen thus far on the show. Santino was hilarious as usual, and The Miz, love him or hate him, comes up with some very unique ways of drawing heat and taking jabs at people. His line about Soriano's yearly injury on the field was both funny and had some sting to it, which is exactly the kind of tool I think a successful heel needs to utilize. It appears as if Santino is making the slow transition into a face, and this segment complimented that transition nicely. This was a solid piece of entertainment that was inserted at an appropriate place in the card.