Saturday, June 15, 2024
EditorialJD McDonagh Should Replace Damian Priest in Judgment Day

JD McDonagh Should Replace Damian Priest in Judgment Day



On last night’s episode of Monday Night Raw, we saw three things that indicate Damian Priest may be turning babyface soon and leaving The Judgment Day.

First, when he addressed answering the open challenge for a shot against Seth Rollins, he was uncharacteristically complimentary toward the champion. Priest called him a worthy title-holder, but expressed that he would soon win the belt later on in the night. IE, he did the most respectful thing any traditional babyface would do.

Then, when the subject of having The Judgment Day ringside was brought up, Priest not only dismissed them in that he doesn’t need them to win, but he agreed—with no hesitation—to keep them away from ringside. Again, not something a heel would do unless they planned specifically to have a “gotcha” moment and try to cheat and win.

But when the time came for the match, the story was very much getting over the idea that we’re seeing a character shift in Priest. Kevin Patrick made a point to reference Priest saying Rollins is a deserving champion. When Finn Balor popped up—unprovoked by Priest, mind you—Priest asked “What are you doing here?” and the commentary team made sure to relay that message.

Following Raw going off air, Rollins cut a promo about mutual respect. Priest went back to the ring and shook Seth’s hand.

Is that the actions of a Judgment Day member? I think not.

So the excommunication or willing departure of Priest out of that faction seems pending. It may take a few more weeks for that to sizzle (possibly playing out at Money in the Bank, if Balor is the next opponent for Rollins at that show), but it seems almost guaranteed.

So…then what?

Well, I think the answer is obvious: JD McDonagh should be Priest’s replacement. And it would benefit everyone involved.

One of the issues going on right now with Priest as a member of this group is that he has no identity.

Rhea Ripley is pulling triple duty as the only champion in the ranks, the only woman in the group AND the most dominant physical threat. Balor has become the de facto leader as the most established star of the bunch with the best list of accolades, despite how he wasn’t even an original member. And when it comes to Dominik Mysterio, he’s the biggest heat magnet.

What role does Priest fill? He’s not “the big powerhouse” as that position has largely been filled by Ripley intimidating male Superstars, even, and Priest hasn’t gotten any recent wins to indicate he’s the monster brought in to a match to seal the deal.

Priest isn’t the talker. They all talk. He isn’t the funny guy or the wildcard or anything. He’s just there, going from Edge’s enforcer to struggling to be the second-in-charge, at best.

On his own, he’ll go back to being a priority (assuming WWE is giving him this character change because the rumors are true that they were impressed with his Backlash performance and want to push him again) rather than just a member of the group. He’ll have fresh opponents like Bronson Reed and Imperium and can team back up with Matt Riddle if need be, too.

When it comes to McDonagh, he’s in a spot right now that requires a lot of transition.

He had been an established NXT Superstar, but it doesn’t translate quite the same automatically when you’re brought to the main roster. A whole new audience that doesn’t watch NXT has to become acquainted with your character and style.

McDonagh’s not the most bombastic persona. He’s not some giant who you get the full picture just by looking at them, or a colorful character like Rick Boogs. McDonagh is all about punishing others and doling out pain, taking a twisted, sadistic pleasure in it.

Sound familiar?

The Judgment Day has strayed from its original blueprint and could use someone like that to inject more savagery into the system. Plus, McDonagh has history with Balor, having been trained by him, allowing for an easy excuse why he’s granted membership.

That automatically gives Priest someone else to feud with, too (on top of Balor and Mysterio, naturally). It allows McDonagh to rub elbows with a faction that has some over members so he can get heel heat by proxy and association, as well as more screen time even if he’s not the focal point of that segment.

The more he’s on screen, the quicker it will be for audiences to take to him, much like Solo Sikoa’s easy transition as part of The Bloodline.

McDonagh can go from “an NXT guy who needs to find his place on the roster and is being overlooked to even potentially qualify in Money in the Bank” to “a featured player as part of one of the big stables of Raw” who doesn’t have the weight of needing to lead a faction on his shoulders.

Eventually, as all factions come to an end, Balor vs. McDonagh would be a future feud, having been built up by their association together. As they can work well together, that would surely do wonders for JD, too.

The only questions are how and when this should all happen.

My vote goes for Money in the Bank. July 1st is not too far off. Three more episodes of Raw and the pay-per-view itself is all we need to fill.

Next week, have a segment where The Judgment Day have a little argument over how Balor was ringside and distracted Priest, who reiterates that he didn’t need them. Book them in a tag team match (Priest and Balor against Rollins and Whoever). Either Rollins and his partner get the win due to miscommunication within The Judgment Day, or, better yet, Priest has the win in his hands, but Balor tags himself in and pins Seth’s partner. In the meantime, have the rematch between Dolph Ziggler and JD McDonagh, if Ziggler isn’t Rollins’ partner.

Week 2, book Ziggler against Priest. McDonagh is ringside and gets involved, causing a disqualification and Priest losing. Priest acts pissed, Judgment Day step in, Rollins maybe gets a quick shot in on Balor, you’re done.

The go-home week of MITB, I’m guessing there’s some six-man tag team match of Rollins, Cody Rhodes (since they had him with Dominik last night) and Ziggler against Balor, Dominik and Priest. McDonagh interferes and the heels get the victory.

Then, at your pay-per-view match, Dominik and possibly Rhea (though I’d rather her not be involved, as she should be either defending her title or trying to stay away from Ms. Money in the Bank) interfere. Priest is ringside and doesn’t follow orders to insert himself into the match. McDonagh appears, but Priest pulls him off. Balor is distracted, Rollins gets the upper-hand, beats him, and that rift is now torn open.

By the time we come to the Raw after MITB, there can be either a distinct “I quit” moment for Priest, or a moment where Balor, Dom and Rhea excommunicate Priest and all beat him down with McDonagh’s help as they crown him the newest member.

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