Arnold Furious: We’re in Los Angeles, California. Hosts are Michael Cole and Tazz. In early 2004 (and the two years previous to that) SmackDown! had been heralded as the wrestling show, whereas RAW was more of a Sportz Entertainment show. Vince McMahon can’t have been keen on that, as he started to introduce new characters onto SmackDown! to make it different. One of them, Mordecai, is on tonight’s show. Other odd happenings recently include Jacqueline winning the Cruiserweight Title, thus completely devaluing it, Charlie Haas teaming with Rico to win the Tag Titles, and the whole Al Wilson fiasco. The talent pool has been eroded too. Chris Benoit and Edge were traded to RAW to give it a workrate boost, Brock Lesnar left the promotion after WrestleMania XX, and Kurt Angle is giving his bad neck a rest during a run as SmackDown! General Manager. You can’t just lose four top wrestlers, not replace them, and hope to put on shows that are on a par with what you were doing beforehand. It became apparent around this time that WWE wanted SmackDown! to be a lesser show than the flagship show RAW, and some (Triple H) were almost disgruntled that the fans preferred SmackDown!. As part of the damage limitation SmackDown! gained Rob Van Dam and Booker T in a move aimed at lightening the loss of their workrate guys. It was not an effective one.
Tangent: There’s a weird timing thing on the opening to Judgment Day 2004, where a video about legacies mentions death twice, and both times a picture of Eddie Guerrero is shown. It’s a trend that’s starting to become a little unnerving on these things. My guess would be it’s not a coincidence, and tied in to Eddie overcoming his drug addiction.