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Exclusive: Damian Priest Interview Gives Rare Inside Glimpse Into The Judgment Day
Priest discussed the two rivalries at play for the Judgment Day and what he envisions the future of the WWE stable to look like.
Damian Priest and the rest of his fellow Judgment Day members, Finn Balor, Rhea Ripley, and Dominik Mysterio, are currently navigating a precarious position in the WWE landscape.
Although Judgment Day is riding a great deal of momentum, they are also fending off two of WWE’s modern legends: Rey Mysterio and Edge. The complexity of the situation can not be understated as the two simultaneous feuds have created a situation that forces Judgment Day to have eyes in the back of their heads as they try to deliver their mysterious message to the WWE Universe.
Luckily, even amid all this turmoil, The Archer of Infamy, Damian Priest found time to sit down with USA Insider for an exclusive interview to discuss what the group wants from Mysterio and Edge, what it’s been like working as a team, and what is next for the Judgment Day. First though, we needed to ask him how Judgment Day came to be and what exactly attracted Damian to Edge in the first place.
“You know, it’s funny. Before I even joined WWE as a Superstar, I looked at Edge as like a different version of me. When I first thought of myself, I wanted a rock star vibe and somebody who is ruthless. His in-ring style, I was a big fan of all of it, I was a big fan of the music, it was right up my alley. So naturally, it felt like a right fit. Then he reached out to me, which is the big one. I was like, ‘Is this for real?’ like he wanted to talk to me? So that was cool," he said.
But the partnership between Priest, Edge, and Ripley was short-lived, as Edge was shockingly kicked out of his own group. Priest elaborated on the decision explaining, “Ultimately, the Judgment Day, the idea was never to follow [Edge], it was supposed to be to elevate those who were underutilized or felt like they were stuck in their success. It became more of us just following the leader than the original idea so that’s why we did what we did and we are where we are now. We want to elevate each other and not try to use each other. [Edge] started to use the rest of the group to their advantage. But let’s use this group to elevate each one of us, not just one of us."
Judgment Day’s decision to drop Edge when they felt used by him has seemingly paid dividends, as the foursome is experiencing white-hot momentum in WWE. The chemistry between the group is bleeding through our TV screens, and it’s all because of their relationship outside of the ring.
“It’s cool. Rhea and I were already close friends since NXT so that one was easy. And Finn Balor and I have had respect for each other since our time in NXT together as well. Through competition with each other we earned respect for one another and through that respect we formed a bond and a friendship. Were we ever as close as we are now? No, but now Dom is here too and it’s the same thing," he said.
Priest further explained the group’s relationship, adding, “We talk all the time on the phone now, we get together, we go out to dinner, we joke around like, it’s definitely a very close unit. We are starting to understand what the other person is going to do and say before they do it. We were already pretty cool with each other before Judgment Day but now we’re together all the time. And it’s awesome because each one of those people are such great people and it makes it very easy for me to want to be around them.”
While it may be easy for Priest to be around Balor, Dominik, and Rhea, it isn’t as easy for them to be around Rey Mysterio or Edge. On one hand, Dominik Mysterio, the newest member of the faction, turned on his own father — arguably the greatest luchador of all time — in order to join the group. The father-son rivalry is now reaching a boiling point and the emotions between both sides are running higher than ever before.
“Really looking at it, it's got a lot of layers to it,” Priest explained. “When you bring in his youth, his knowledge, his family, his father … It's wild. I couldn’t be happier to have him in the group. He is a great addition, but he’s going to be an even bigger star than people realize. He’s just a sponge. It’s not like we have to tell him what to do, you know? Things are explained to him once and you never have to explain it again. He’s a sponge. He gets the business, he’s been around it his entire life.”
The former North American Champion also revealed that he thinks Dominik is a future legend in the making. “It doesn’t matter how long he’s been wrestling, he’s been in this business for a long time so he gets it. I think he’s doing great. He’s knocking it out of the park. He has 100 percent stepped out of his dad’s shadow and in the short amount of time he’s been with Judgment Day, I already feel like he’s a bigger star than he was when he was with his dad. So that tells you what we’re doing for each other," he said in praise of the young Superstar.
On the other hand, Finn Balor has currently picked a fight he may not be able to win against the Rated-R Superstar, Edge, as they move closer to their I Quit match at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view on Oct. 8. Edge, the original creator and leader of the faction, was quickly kicked out of his own group after the rest decided they were being used by him.
When asked about Balor’s chances against the Rated-R superstar in a violent match clearly in his opponent’s wheelhouse like an I Quit Match, Priest seemed unbothered.
“We have no issues with Finn’s chances. I have full confidence in his abilities. Edge is great, I know firsthand how good he can be. But he’s not invincible. I had him beat in the ring my first encounter with him. I have full confidence that Finn Balor will do what he needs to do to make Edge say the words, "I quit."
Whether Judgment Day is dealing with the high-flying Rey Mysterio or the violent and determined Edge, the stable has found themselves in a volatile situation that could have effects on the group’s mission statement for years to come. Despite the chaos and all the tugging in different directions, Priest says the group’s mission remains the same.
“[The goal] is, ‘Hey. Let’s continue to rise.’ It’s not just a cool thing to say, it’s because I really do believe that Judgment Day is on the rise and we continue to rise and that’s our goal: Make each person individually and us as a unit as big, popular, and as successful as we can be. There is no reason why we should settle for anything.”
While Judgment Day certainly seems motivated and has the potential to climb the WWE mountain, the group is so mysterious the WWE Universe is unsure of what they will do next. When asked about adding a new member or any dream matches the group might have, Priest had a surprising response.
“Right now we have somebody in mind and that’s AJ Styles. We are hoping that he will — like Dom did — turn that corner. At first, it’s not easy to turn your back on everybody and yourself, so we get it. But, we’re hoping that he’ll see the light and see what he should be doing. I truly believe that this is where he belongs so hopefully it gets through to him and he joins us," he said.
He then switched gears to address the idea of a dream match for the group, but is more concerned about their legacy than checking cool opponents off the list. What is logical for Judgment Day to consider is what will come next and that is a discussion the group will have shortly.
“We can go through a list of people and dream matches are cool, but our focus once we’re done and we’ve moved on from these roadblocks that are standing in our way is to elevate. It’s time to elevate and we’re gonna do that by going against the best. The champions.
"It’s going to be something we are going to have to discuss as a group once we break down these roadblocks: Who is next? What do we want next? And that’s the conversation for us to have at that point," he elaborated. "Dream matches are cool, don’t get me wrong, but they will not be the ones that will really dictate our legacies in the way we want. I mean once we’re done with Edge and Rey Mysterio, those two names alone … where do you go from there? That’s the top.”
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