All for one and one for all. It may sound a bit cheesy, but the new look Judgment Day have quite literally adopted a philosophy straight out of Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel The Three Musketeers.
When the group first formed, it was very clear that their universe centered around one man. Edge recruited Damian Priest and Rhea Ripley into The Judgment Day under the guise that they would grow and flourish under his tutelage. In reality, they were there to better serve his interests and help accomplish his own personal goals. At least, that’s the story for their abrupt betrayal of the Rated R Superstar and sure, I’ll buy that.
It’s a story arc that probably would have played out a bit better over time, but the powers that be (at the time) determined it was best for Edge to return to being a babyface post-haste and that left Damian Priest, Finn Balor and Rhea Ripley to pick up the ball and run with The Judgement Day concept all on their own.
I had a chance to catch up with Damian Priest during the SummerSlam media tour a few weeks back and he said their betrayal was simple. Edge needed to be dealt with and he got what was coming to him. The focus moving forward, will be on The Judgement Day as a whole.
“Who is this about right now? Let’s support that one person. If it’s all three, that’s fine. It’s all three. But it’s a revolving door for us. Nobody is more important than the next. We have to be this way for it to be successful, for it to work out the way we want it to be. So no, there isn’t one set person. If today this is about Rhea, we’re gonna have her back a hundred percent and make sure it’s about Rhea. If it’s about me, they’re gonna do that for me. If it’s about Finn, Rhea and I will do that for him.”
The Judgment Day’s attack on Edge was one that left the WWE Hall of Famer out of action for several weeks. Once he was out of the picture, the group turned their attention to a future Hall of Famer and his son.
Given the history between Edge and Rey Mysterio, the shift of focus to the Mysterio’s made all the sense in the world and was always going to be used as a catalyst to bring Rated R Superstar back into the fold.
Even though he spent the majority of their rivalry dishing out severe punishment to the former World Champion, Priest told me on the Bleav in Pro Wrestling Podcast that getting to work with Rey Mysterio was a really special time. Especially throughout his 20th anniversary show at Madison Square Garden.
“What he’s [Rey] has done, and especially for the Latin community, is something that I still strive for and work hard at, you know, just representation and what not. So, seeing him throughout all these years and then now being able to be a part of that, it’s special. Although we’re feuding, I know how special this is. It is a big deal and I love that I’m doing this now. Like, it’s the first time we’ve ever interacted on TV and it’s happening now during his anniversary in WWE. So for me, it’s perfect timing.”
For much of their feud with the Mysterios, The Judgment Day have focused on trying to separate father and son. Attempts to recruit young Dominik never really flourished into anything more substantial than previous efforts to divide and conquer the Mysterios.
While efforts to get Dom to join The Judgment Day may not have been entirely genuine, it wasn’t for a lack of admiration. Dominik is only two years into his wrestling career and he has been cutting his teeth in front of live audiences since day one. His first match was nearly two years ago to the day against Seth Rollins at SummerSlam. Priest acknowledges that growing up on television is (clearly) not an easy thing to do and says Dom deserves credit for what he’s accomplished so far in his brief career.
“Although he’s extremely young, like, he’s wise beyond his years as far as like how he’s able to adapt and handle all this attention. And you know, this is crazy. This is a crazy world. WWE is a crazy, crazy world. So for him coming in and never really having experienced that a lot of us did. I mean, I would wrestle for so many years before I even got to the WWE and had this experience. He doesn’t have that. He just got thrown right into the fire. And he’s been able to adapt and he’s swimming. So good for him.”
Dominik’s role in recent weeks has definitely been one that people are talking about, which at the end of the day is the important thing right? I’m sure the 25 year-old has bigger goals in mind than getting dominated by Rhea Ripley every Monday night, but to his credit, he is playing his part to perfection.
There has been a concentrated effort to make Ripley look like a total badass ever since she returned from injury, and more often than not, that has come at the expense of young Dominik. It started back on that show at Madison Square Garden when Ripley pancaked his sister Aalyah at Rey’s 20th anniversary party and then dragged poor Dom out of the locker room right into a Judgment Day ambush.
That moment was Damian Priest’s favorite part of the entire evening. He said he was rolling with laughter when he watched that segment back. If you also enjoyed Rhea’s actions, then you’re in for a weekly treat, because it sounds like she’s just getting started.
“The world doesn’t even know what she’s [Rhea] capable of and that’s crazy thinking about all she’s accomplished already. The shackles are off a little bit and that was the point of The Judgment Day. Let’s do this our way and now we’re really gonna have fun. Like, we were having fun before. Individually, we were all successful. We were all happy and having fun. But this is a blast, you know? And all we talk about is, like the crazy things we’re gonna do.”
The Judgment Day has had its fair share of critics and undergone quite of bit of change ever since bursting onto the seen earlier this year, but Priest chalks all that up to growing pains.
Extenuating circumstances forced a major adjustment during the group’s infancy. Injuries to top level babyfaces meant WWE needed Edge to abandon his mountain of omnipotence and get back to rocking out to Alter Bridge. That left Damian Priest, Finn Balor, and Rhea Ripley to find their own way, which was hindered early on by an injury to Ripley, but now the trio finally seems to be finding their groove.
“We’re just starting. I mean, people don’t even know what the Judgment Day is yet realistically,” Priest said. “Right now the goal is just cause chaos, beat the hell out of everybody and have the most fun possible. And Rhea’s so happy about that. Especially the chaos part.”
We’ll see what kind of mayhem The Judgment Day can unleash in Toronto for Monday Night Raw. Damian Priest is set to go one-on-one with his former mentor Edge, but I can’t imagine a scenario where Finn Balor and Rhea Ripley don’t get also get involved.
Regardless, this match has a big fight feel. The Rated R Superstar himself is putting this fight with Priest right up there with any match he’s had before, whether it’s the main event of WrestleMania or Hell in a Cell with Seth Rollins. It’s been 12 years since Edge wrestled on TV in Toronto, and he never expected to get the opportunity again.
Now add in the much anticipated return of Trish Stratus to WWE programming and the Women’s Tag Team Tournament Semi-Finals and this has all the makings of a big show. Then again, both Raw and Smackdown in recent weeks have carried that feeling.
Suddenly WWE has become appointment viewing for so many fans once again. There’s a sense of excitement and optimism throughout the WWE Universe that hasn’t been felt in quite some time. Much of that has to do with the man who is now calling the shots. It’s only been about a month since Triple H took over as Head of WWE Creative, but the impact has been felt up and down the card.
It would be natural for any Superstar on the roster to be anxious about what a change in leadership would mean for them from a creative standpoint, be it positive or negative. For Damian Priest however, he’s going to go about his business as he’s always done.
“We’ve got one job, to entertain. Regardless who’s in charge. That’s our job, is to do our job for the best of our abilities and bring entertainment to our fans. And as long as that’s the focus, we’re good. There is no feeling of, oh, I don’t know what’s gonna happen. I know what’s gonna happen. We’re gonna go out there and put on a hell of a show,” Priest said. “I’ve been here for little less than two years on the main roster. So this entire time, it’s the same goal. Entertain to the best of our abilities and bring entertainment to those fans that... sometimes people are just going through it and they can distract themselves from this crazy world for a little bit watching us, that’s our goal. As long as that doesn’t change, we’re good.”
Check out my full conversation with Damian Priest in the video above and please forgive my God awful hair. Nashville humidity is no joke folks. You can also listen to the Bleav in Pro Wrestling Podcast, available wherever you get your podcasts.