Damian Priest was given new life in WWE thanks to an alliance with Edge. It all started at WrestleMania when the Raw superstar assisted the Hall of Famer against AJ Styles. Since then they’ve added Rhea Ripley and become a seemingly unstoppable force known collectively as The Judgement Day.
This trio is set for a six-person tag match against rivals Finn Bálor, Liv Morgan, and Styles at Hell in a Cell. We caught up with “The Punishment” to talk about the origins of the faction leading into the big match.
How long was The Judgement Day in the works?
Damian Priest: I would say close to a month before WrestleMania when Edge called me. He said, “Hey man, I got an idea. I have a little group situation and I’m thinking about you.” To me, that was nuts. Of course, my only thought process was how do I make it sound to him like it’s the coolest ‘yes’ ever. I was so excited. He is one of my idols. I knew I would learn a great amount. We knew we were going to do something, but we didn’t know when we would debut it and show it off to the world. Edge wanted us to wait until the biggest stage. We contemplated doing it before WrestleMania. We said, “No, let’s wait until WrestleMania and make it a moment.” That was really special to me.
Were there any other names pitched besides The Judgement Day?
We had a few ideas. Edge refers to many of them in his promos because we liked all the names. The Judgement seemed like what we are doing, which is judging. Grand Jury was one of them. The Saints of Fate; but ultimately, The Judgement Day felt right. It also used to be a pay-per-view, so it’s a throwback as well. We liked it a lot. I’m glad it worked out.
It’s been exciting to see Rhea Ripley join the group. There is a natural bond there. How is it to have her with you?
Rhea and I used to hope and talk about teaming up one day. We became close friends during the NXT days. Then here comes Edge with his idea. We all are similar in vibe with the rock star, goth, darker image. It all fit. Rhea only adds to us. We’re very aware that adding a woman to a group of men is not seen as often as it used to. We knew it will stand out and be more special because of her. For Edge, Rhea was a must-have. She has enhanced us.
What have you taken from sitting under the learning tree of Edge?
I talk to him almost on a daily basis about stuff. Him just helping me put my mind and promos and verbiage and attitude together in unison. That has been the biggest help to me. He helps me with everything. When it comes to in-ring, he tells me to just do me. As much as I’ve learned in all the years I’ve been here, I feel like now I’m really learning something. It‘s almost like I’m starting from scratch, and that’s the best part of this. You get really intrigued and excited about stuff. It’s all new. And playing a darker character is so much cooler for me anyway. A dream.
There are comparisons to other factions like Edge’s former group The Brood. Where do you draw inspiration? How would you describe the dynamic?
We love the fact that we get compared to a lot of factions. We’re drawing out aspects of every successful faction. We take the best and pertain to us. I’ve started watching old stuff again to get ideas and vibe about how they worked together. Evolution: That’s one of the main ones I’ve been watching. You have the Hall of Famer Edge as the focal point with two rising stars. That to me is a template to look at. There are so many. For us, we want to be more. It’s not being someone else, but taking aspects and making it our own.
Edge has been teasing and trolling fans on social media with photos of potential members, making fans think this group is going to grow bigger. Who would you like to see recruited?
He has been saying the same person, and I agree with him: AJ Styles would be great in The Judgement Day. Let’s not fight against but fight with. Someone like him and as good as he is to give him a little darker attitude, the possibilities are endless. He has to be at the top at the moment.
Anyone from NXT?
If I had to pick anyone from NXT, the first person I would pick is Santos [Escobar]. I’ve always been a fan of his stuff. Just carries himself so well. Great in the ring, well-spoken. When you look at him, the guy doesn’t look like a random person. He looks like a star.
The Judgement Day expresses frustrations about their position in WWE through promos. A lot of what is said feels lined in truth. How does it feel to have that outlet?
The best stories are when they come from reality. I was frustrated. I was doing what I was asked to do. I was this overly babyface good guy coming out smiling, happy, saying all the right things. It just didn’t click. I was doing everything everyone wanted me to do. That was real. It still wasn’t there unless I was saving one of the fan favorites. That’s when I was getting cheered. There is part of that which is real, and I use. I’m doing all this for me and with people that I admire and that I’m friends with. I’m more comfortable now than I’ve been since joining the Raw roster.
Coming up ,The Judgement Day is squaring off against AJ Styles, Finn Bálor, and Liv Morgan at Hell in a Cell. Arguably, the biggest match yet for the group.
We’ve seen mixed tags, but we know these days it’s not common. A six-person tag is not common in WWE. So this is a big deal. You think about the story and feud and everything that Rhea and Liv have been through with me and Finn. Then AJ and Edge. I just feel like this is the perfect recipe for something special.
WWE Raw, Mondays, 8/7c, USA Network
WWE Hell in a Cell, June 5, 8/7c, Peacock