In the mid-’80s, the Great American Bash was NWA/WCW’s major event of the year. It was the event where long-standing feuds came to an end, major titles were decided, and fans were generally treated to some of the company’s best work. This year, however, the show didn’t live up to the billing that the title would imply. Indeed, tonight’s WWE pay-per-view offering wasn’t so much “Great” as it was mediocre.
While one of the eight matches presented was very good, the rest of the in-ring action ranged between okay and awful. Unfortunately, the worst match of the show was also the last, the main event match pitting the champion Batista against the self-proclaimed wrestling god, JBL.
The match was a dull, plodding affair that seemed to go on far longer than the 23 minutes it did. JBL’s entrance proved to be the most entertaining part of the match, as confetti filled the air and the challenger, decked out in red, white and blue, threw out miniature American flags to the ringside fans (in another era, this would have been the entrance of the good guy — indeed, some of the fans tried to start a “JBL” chant but it didn’t really catch on).
The match started off slowly, with Batista getting first blood, as a shoulder block put down JBL. The two exchanged a series of big boots and pummeling blows, but neither one was able to get much of an advantage for any length of time, until a big backdrop by Batista and a running clothesline knocked the challenger to the floor.
JBL managed to get in a few blows on the outside, and after exchanging suplex attempts on the apron, JBL tried for an uncharacteristic leap onto Batista. Batista was able to catch his opponent and ram his back into the edge of the ring. The match slowly made its way back into the ring where Batista continued dominating JBL, bashing him in the corner with a number of forearms.
Batista got caught in a shoulder block attempt, and yet another boot to the face sent him tumbling back outside. Things promised to pick up a little bit when JBL tackled Batista and the two went flying onto and over the announce table, but alas, it was only temporary.
The match made its way back into the ring where it unbelievably slowed down even more, as JBL locked on a sleeper hold. Batista escaped, and the match spilled to the outside yet again for even more ringside lethargy. Slowly, they got back in the ring, and then things kind of picked up, but not necessarily in a good way. The ref got knocked out, allowing JBL’s Chief of Staff to come in and interfere. Jordan’s help proved ineffective, however, and Batista was able to withstand a chairshot and a Clothesline from Hell before hitting the challenger with a spinebuster. The champion, fired up now, though too late to save this match, took his frustrations out on Jordan and JBL, hitting them both with a chair. The referee woke up just in time to see this, and disqualified the champion, awarding the match, but not the title to JBL.
After the match, Batista hit both JBL and Jordan repeatedly with chairs, left the ring, and returned to nail them both with the Batista bomb, guaranteeing that there will be a rematch that hopefully will be better than this encounter.
It’s too bad that the legacy of the Great American Bash will be tarnished by the WWE’s last two offerings under that name. Though not as bad as last year’s debacle, where bad storylines and lousy matches pervaded throughout, this year’s version did little to recapture the event’s past glory. Rather than evoking memories of the legendary Flair-Rhodes wars with which the Great American Bash is synonymous, this year simply reminded us of how just by saying something is Great doesn’t make it so.
Other Match Results
Sunday Night Heat
Paul London vs. Nunzio (Cruiserweight Title)
Nunzio hit a nice dropkick to get the quick advantage, but London used his educated feet to escape danger. He kicked out of a pin attempt after a Sicilian Slice, and nailed the challenger with a twisting backbreaker. A shooting star press gave him the victory over Nunzio in a hurried affair (3 minutes).
Winner and still Cruiserweight Champion: Paul London
Great American Bash
Live from the HSBC Center in Buffalo, NY
Match 1: MNM vs. Heidenreich & Animal (Tag Team Championship)
Animal looks a lot like Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart now, with his short haircut and big pot belly. Heidenreich was the better worker of the two, which is kind of sad in and of itself, and he took the beating for most of the match. With the crowd urging him on with “L.o.D.” chants, Heidenreich was finally able to get the hot tag to Animal. Tazz charitably called Animal’s “one-legged dropkick” as if it were a legitimate offensive move and not just a sign of a wrestler past his prime. In what screams of short-term booking, Heidenreich and Animal hit one of MNM with the Doomsday Device, and got the pinfall victory for the championship. After the match, Animal dedicated the win to Hawk.
Winner and new tag team champions, Animal and Heidenreich (10 minutes)
Match rating: 4/10
Backstage, Eddie announces a new development for his match against Rey Misterio. Rey’s son Dominic will be seated at ringside for the match.
Match 2: Christian vs. Booker T (w/ Sharmell)
Booker T still has the best pyro in the business — I just had to say that. A fairly slow match that got slower when Christian clamped on a headlock. Booker crotched himself on the top rope, and Christian took advantage, menacing Sharmell on the floor, but getting slapped for his efforts. After getting his second wind, Booker took Christian down with a spinebuster, earning him some boos, and forcing Tazz and Michael Cole to acknowledge Christian’s growing popularity (though, a few times tonight, pro-heel reactions were blamed on Canadians who came over to Buffalo for the show). Booker turned things up a notch, hitting Christian with a missile dropkick and then using the ring steps on the floor to his advantage. He hit a leg scissor kick off the top rope, and got the pinfall in rather anti-climactic fashion.
Winner: Booker T (12 minutes)
Match Rating: 6/10
Backstage, Melina promised that MNM will win their belts back soon. She vowed to not be the one who ends up in her bra and panties, but said that the “old hag” Torrie Wilson would be.
A SummerSlam promo aired which showed the WWE Divas wearing bikinis and washing cars. It is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
Match 3: Orlando Jordan vs. Chris Benoit (U.S. Title)
Michael Cole ran down some of the history of the U.S. Title — somehow, Orlando Jordan doesn’t seem to be in the same league as some of the prestigious names mentioned. This was a back and forth affair, with Orlando looking like an even match for Benoit, even though he was far outclassed. Orlando worked over Benoit’s arm and shoulder, and basically kept the challenger from building up any momentum for several minutes. The crowd was pretty generous with this, not chanting “Boring” despite the several minutes of rest-hold action — perhaps fans have finally bought into the new more-grounded, story-telling style of the WWE. After thwarting a top-rope move by Jordan with a superplex, Benoit caught fire and took over, hitting OJ with a series of German suplexes and a swandive headbutt. Jordan took advantage of Benoit being momentarily knocked out after they bumped heads, and removed the top turnbuckle pad. Benoit went for another German, but Jordan propelled him into the unexposed pad, knocking him down and out and ripe for the pin.
Winner and still U.S. Champion: Orlando Jordan (15 minutes)
Match rating: 6/10
After the match, Benoit received a standing ovation from the crowd.
Match 4: Mohammad Hassan w/ Davari vs. the Undertaker
Hassan was carried out on a shoulder-sled by the “sympathizers” — apparently, Kenzo forgot to take it with him when he was traded to Raw. Before the match, Hassan cut a promo where he called the Undertaker an “infidel” and promised that he would win the match and therefore number-one-contendership. Taker was able to withstand the attack from Hassan and all of the sympathizers, who took every opportunity to beat on the dead man outside the ring. One sympathizer choked out Taker with piano wire, and rolled him into the ring where Hassan clamped on a Camel Clutch. Taker was able to escape that, and then the match turned into a giant schmozz. He destroyed all of the sympathizers, and eventually hit Hassan with a chokeslam to end the match. After the match, he continued to beat on the sympathizers, taking them out in entertaining, if violent, fashion. He threw Davari through the base of the announce table in a nice-looking spot. Hassan tried to crawl away like a scalded dog, but Taker would have none of it — he chokeslammed Hassan on the ramp. Then, Taker removed two of the steel panels from the entrance stage, and delivered an ugly-looking Last Ride to Hassan, sending him crashing to the floor below. Though his landing wasn’t shown, shots afterward showed him laying, bleeding on the concrete, and carried out on a stretcher by paramedics.
Winner: Undertaker (12 minutes)
Match Rating: 5/10
Backstage, Torrie gave out props to the U.S. forces overseas and promised to strip Melina down to her bra and panties during their match.
Match 5: Mexicools vs. bWo
I know some people find it offensive, but I think the Mexicool entrance is simply hilarious — this time, they gave the Spanish announcers a rake! The bWo came out on blue Big Wheels, and tried to get the crowd to chant “bWo.” This was a sloppy and confusing mess, but fortunately it was short. The end came when the Mexicools hit a series of high-flying moves on Stevie Richards, and pinned him.
Winners: Mexicools (5 minutes)
Match Rating: 3/10
Looks like Psicosis may have hurt his knee legitimately, landing awkwardly in a failed flying body press attempt — he seemed to be favouring it after the match.
Backstage, Rey Misterio told his son Dominic that no matter what happens, he loves him
Match 6: Rey Misterio (w/ Dominic) vs. Eddie Guerrero
Before the match, Eddie forced Rey to shake his hand to show Dominic how good friends they are. Rey tried to end it quickly, exploding with a flurry of offense. “Let’s go Eddie” chants were acknowledged by the commentators, who again speculated that the Canadians in the audience were backing the heel. The story here was that Rey is distracted by Eddie’s threat to expose his secret, so he couldn’t give his full attention to the match. Eddie got some real good heat when he used Dominic as a shield on the outside. The commentators totally supported this story, denouncing the despicable actions of Eddie — Tazz went so far as to call Eddie a friggin’ a-word. Eddie grounded Rey, but wasn’t able to put him away, stopping his beating only briefly periodically to wave to Dominic like a loving uncle should. Rey finally halted Eddie’s dominance with a spinning DDT out of nowhere. Rey hit a 6-1-9, but Eddie moved out of the way of the flying legdrop. After a series of Three Amigos and a beautiful looking brain buster, the sliminess literally dripped off of Eddie as he smirked evilly at Dominic while climbing the ropes to put Rey away with a frogsplash. A cocky cover attempt by Eddie allowed Rey to roll him up out of nowhere and get yet another victory. Dominic and his father celebrated excitedly after the match, while Eddie is left in the ring alone with his demons.
Winner: Rey Misterio (17 minutes)
Match Rating: 8/10
Backstage, JBL — decked out in red, white and blue — guaranteed the crowd that he would do what the Buffalo Bills could never do — win a world championship. If you didn’t know, he’s a wrestling god.
Match 7: Melina vs. Torrie Wilson (Bra & Panties match) — with Candice Michelle as the special referee
Surprisingly, a pretty good match. Well, not really, but it was fun for what it was. Torrie used an abdominal stretch as a means of tearing off Melina’s shirt, and nearly got the quick win by going after Melina’s pants in a rollup. Melina used straight force to push Torrie to the mat, hold her down, and rip off her shirt. Melina threw Torrie face-first into the ropes, knocked her down, and then stripped of her pants to win the match.
Winner: Melina (6 minutes)
Match Rating: 3/10
After the match, Melina hit Candice, but Torrie made the save. Candice and Torrie teamed up to strip Melina of her pants, and then Candice joined the fun and stripped down herself. We all win!
Match 8: JBL vs. Batista (World Championship)
Winner: JBL (23 minutes)
Match Rating: 3/10
Overall Event Rating: 5/10
“Bloodthirsty” Bob Kapur is going to go back and watch the SummerSlam promo again.