It was inevitable that something had to suffer with the WWE’s increased workload over the course of the last few weeks. Two weeks ago on Raw saw a three-hour edition of the show, during which Vince McMahon “sold” that brand to Donald Trump, while just six days ago, there was a two-hour show with no commercial breaks, in which McMahon bought it back for twice what he’d sold it for. And with The Bash pay-per-view this evening, it was just as ludicrous as that two-week angle that the aforementioned special Raw events got more advertising play than the pay-per-view that should be a big part of the company’s quarterly income.

That craziness aside, there was plenty to look forward to at the newly-renamed “Bash”. Having cashed in his “Money in the Bank” briefcase to defeat Jeff Hardy just as he’d taken the title from Edge, CM Punk found himself having to defend the title against the man that he took the title from. In what could be the culmination of a somewhat disappointing feud, Randy Orton and Triple-H would battle in a “Three Stages of Hell” affair, with the first fall being a regular wrestling match, the second with a Falls Count Anywhere stipulation, and the third a Stretcher Match. Furthermore, Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho promised to hand the belt himself to Rey Mysterio, should Mysterio defeat him for it. The other half of the bargain was that if Jericho defeated Rey, he’d have to unmask.

Match #1 – ECW Championship Scramble Match: ECW Championship (Scramble Match): Tommy Dreamer (c) vs. Jack Swagger vs. Christian vs. Mark Henry vs. Finlay

Former ECW champions Christian and Jack Swagger opened up this Scramble Match contest, in which the rules stated that a new competitor would enter the fray every three minutes, and whomever scored the last pinfall/submission etc at the end of the “allotted time” (there was no mention of the time limit before the match started) would be declared the champion at the end.

Swagger took the early advantage in the contest, utilising an MMA-style slam and a twisting neckbreaker into a front chancery, before Christian came back with a dropkick off the top rope just seconds before Finlay entered the fray. The Belfast, Northern Ireland native went after both men, although he spent most of his time working on Christian while Swagger lay prone at ringside. When Swagger did return to the ring, however, he used his fingers to jab the injured eye of Finlay, before schoolboying him for the three-count.

While a ringside doctor checked over Finlay, Christian hit a reverse DDT for a near-fall, before reigning champion (well, at least he was before Swagger pinned Finlay) Tommy Dreamer joined the action. He garnered another near fall out of Christian with a sit-out powerbomb, but when he was thrown into the announcer’s table just moments later, the returning Finlay took advantage of the clear ring to grab a pinfall on Swagger with the Celtic Cross.

By the time that final entrant Mark Henry arrived, there was bafflingly still no mention of this bout’s time limit, although immediately upon his arrival, which saw him powerbomb Swagger – who was standing on the middle rope in an attempt to suplex Christian – into Dreamer, the on-screen graphic began to count down from five minutes. With 4:15 remaining, Henry became the champion-in-waiting, pinning Dreamer with the World’s Strongest Slam, after which there was a melee on the floor, as Finlay hit a tope on Swagger, Dreamer hit a somersault press on the same man, Christian used the second rope on the inside to perform a high crossbody on Dreamer, and comically, Mark Henry ascended to the top rope for a move which no doubt would have caused death for the recipient. The strategy failed, however, when Swagger stopped Henry, and pinned him after a Vader splash from the second rope.

In the final 90 seconds of the contest, Christian took control of the title by pinning Swagger with the Killswitch, before Dreamer immediately hit a DDT for the fall on Christian. From there, there was a sequence of pinfall saves, as Finlay hit another DDT on Swagger, as did Dreamer on Henry. With 10 seconds remaining, as the remaining competitors all sought the quick fall, each was also so concerned with making the save that Dreamer was able to retain. Sadly, despite Dreamer’s delight, there was little reaction to his triumph.

Winner: Tommy Dreamer
Match rating: 4.5 / 10

Backstage, Edge confronted Smackdown General Manager Teddy Long, attempting to convince him to make the World Heavyweight Title match a Triple Threat match, with him involved. If he didn’t, said Edge, he’d risk being out of a job, just like Vickie Guerrero. Long, rejecting the idea, sent him out of his office.

Match #2 – Intercontinental Title vs Mask: Chris Jericho ( c ) vs Rey Mysterio

Stunningly just the second match of the card, it didn’t take long for the commentary team to insult the intelligence of anyone who has been a wrestling fan for longer than 10 years (or anyone with the ability to search Google) by stating that Mysterio had consistently worn his mask since his first bout at aged 14. That, of course, isn’t true, since he lost the mask in a tag team match with Konnan against The Outsiders in 1999, and didn’t begin wearing it again until WCW folded.

In any case, Jericho immediately went after the mask in this bout, hoping to end it quickly. That looked closer to actually occurring when Jericho whipped Mysterio into the security wall, and then hit a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker back in the ring. Things didn’t go all the champion’s way, however, and he was soon on the receiving end of a seated senton (on the floor) from the top rope, and then back in the ring, a hurucanrana which sent him face-first into the second turnbuckle. Mysterio followed up with an incredible springboard into a split-legged moonsault for a near-fall.

A moonsault press got another two-and-a-half count, but Jericho reversed the next move into a boston crab (not the high-angled Walls of Jericho), which Rey broke by reaching the bottom rope. When he then went for the 619 for the first time, Jericho quickly got out of the way, but when Rey went for a top-rope ‘rana, Jericho reversed into a powerbomb, which he got a close two-count from, albeit using his feet on the second rope.

In what was a hot contest by this stage, Mysterio took advantage of a missed Lionsault to get a near-fall of his own with a ‘rana into a cradle, but when he went for the 619 again, Jericho moved, although he almost immediately fell into a DDT. But when the California native – wrestling in his home state – went for a springboard crossbody, Jericho struck with a perfectly-executed Codebreaker for another near-fall. When Jericho went to hit the move from the top rope, he was reversed into an eventual 619, the follow-up of which was blocked into the Walls of Jericho.

Finally, after a series of near-falls and reversals, Jericho pulled away what he thought was Mysterio’s mask, only to realise that this opponent was wearing another. Distracted, Mysterio hit the 619 and a springboard splash for the pinfall, and the Intercontinental Title.

Winner: Rey Mysterio
Match rating: 8.0 / 10

After Chris Jericho demanded an immediate rematch because of Mysterio’s second mask, which was refuted, it was time for the non-sensical Dolph Ziggler vs Great Khali bout. Incredibly, this match even got its own pre-bout video package.

Match #3 – No DQ match: Dolph Ziggler vs The Great Khali

While The Great Khali was seeking to use his power advantage to defeat Ziggler, his opponent went for a more aerial attack, performing a double axe-handle, and then a dropkick, both from the ring apron to the floor. He then looked to go after Khali’s right leg, and then his left, although that was short-lived as Khali struck with a big foot, and then prepared for the Khali Bomb.

Just as he was about to lock in the move, though, Kane returned and firstly distracted Khali, to allow Ziggler to use a steel chair on his much larger opponent. Then, when Ziggler backed away from the “Big Red Machine”, Kane used the implement in a similar manner on the Indian, allowing Ziggler to grab the pinfall.

Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Match rating: 1.5/ 10

After Vince McMahon gave Teddy Long a dressing down for having accomplished “nothing” as a General Manager, the soon-to-be-leaving Lilian Garcia announced the Unified World Tag Team Title contest between champions Carlito & Primo Colon and Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. But the evident pressure of McMahon’s complaints that he should “get it together” saw Long place other visitors to his office, Edge and Chris Jericho, into this bout in a Triple Threat match.

Match #4 – Unified Tag Team Title match: Primo & Carlito Colon ( c ) vs Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase vs Edge & Chris Jericho

The story of this match was that both the Colons and Rhodes & DiBiase did their best to ensure that neither Edge or Chris Jericho got into the match-up, therefore effectively having the tag team contest that they were actually scheduled for.

Aside from that, there wasn’t a great deal to what should have been a fine contest. When the action got hot, it was Carlito who struck with a springboard somersault block on Rhodes, while Primo hit a high dropkick on DiBiase, forcing him to the outside. At that point, Jericho rushed the ring and struck the Codebreaker on Primo, and after Carlito hit Rhodes with the Backstabber, Edge struck with a Spear, with which he took home the Unified titles.

Winners: Edge & Chris Jericho
Match rating: 3.5 / 10

There was dissension in the Legacy group as Ted DiBiase accused Randy Orton of not caring about the Tag Team Title match that he and Cody Rhodes had just been involved in. When Orton agreed that he didn’t, DiBiase simply said “Good luck with Triple-H”, implying that Orton would receive similar disinterested treatment later on.

Match #5 – WWE Women’s Championship: Melina ( c ) vs Michelle McCool

This contest started off in quite the aggressive – not to mention vocal – manner, with McCool working on the leg with kicks and holds, and a chop-block, enough to make Melina have problems in putting any weight on the limb. The champion countered with a bulldog, but even after she knocked Alicia Fox out of commission, it wasn’t enough to gain a significant advantage, as McCool struck with the Faith Breaker for the three-count.

Winner: Michelle McCool
Match rating: 3.0 / 10

Match #6 – World Heavyweight Title match (under Extreme Rules): CM Punk ( c ) vs Jeff Hardy

The crowd was strongly partisan toward the challenger in this contest, not surprising given the fact that Punk’s attitude has leant towards the “other” side of the fence in recent weeks.

The opening of the contest was all Jeff Hardy, as he went for the Twist of Fate right away, and when he didn’t get it, instead used a plancha dive. But when he used the ringsteps to spring into the chest of Punk, the champion moved, and Hardy just beat the count after striking the security wall.

Hardy soon came back with a Whisper in the Wind, a face-first suplex, and a clothesline from the apron to the floor, with which Punk replied with a high kick, a knee in the corner, and a bulldog. But Hardy countered immediately with a Swanton Bomb, which he missed, but when Punk then signalled for the Go To Sleep, Hardy repeated his Twist of Fate/Swanton Bomb feat, capturing what seemed like the pinfall.

However, referee Scott Armstrong dubiously restarted the match, stating that Punk’s foot was under the bottom rope, and Armstrong also allowed Punk a moment of respite when he caught an elbow in the eye from the challenger. Apparently blinded momentarily, Punk then kicked out at the referee, at which point the official signalled for the bell, and awarded the match to Jeff Hardy via disqualification, meaning that Punk kept the belt.

Winner: Jeff Hardy (by DQ)
Match rating: 5.0 / 10

In the back of the arena, Randy Orton left a desperate message on Cody Rhodes’ cellphone, wanting to know if he and Ted DiBiase would be there to back him up in the Three Stages of Hell match later in the show.

Match #7: The Miz vs John Cena

This writer’s eyes were on the clock as The Miz and John Cena arrived in the ring 2hrs 15mins into this pay-per-view, especially with a three-fall stipulation match to come.

The Miz controlled a large portion of this encounter, utilising neckbreakers and a suplex to ground the champion, but unsurprisingly it only took six minutes for Cena to get the win, as The Miz tapped out to an STF, which had followed up an F.U.

Winner: John Cena
Match rating: 1.5 / 10

Match #8 – WWE Championship (Three Stages of Hell 2/3 falls match)

Triple-H arrived to the ring with two huge strappings on his legs, but that did not stop him punishing Orton in the “regular wrestling match”, until Orton chop-blocked him on two occasions, and set to work on the leg with the heaviest strapping, the left. Just when that was beginning to take real effect, however, Triple-H destroyed Orton with a chair, losing the first fall via DQ, but incapacitating the champion in the process.

Immediately, with Orton on the outside, Triple-H hit the Pedigree on the floor for the three-count, at which point the stretcher arrived at ringside for the third fall of the contest, where the winner would have to push his opponent on the stretcher, past the line at the top of the ramp.

Triple-H was close to achieving that right away as well, but at the last moment, Orton pushed the stretcher into Triple-H’s bad knee. From there, he crotched him on the security wall, and back-suplexed his opponent onto the same wall, from which he’d removed the padding.

Orton then went to use the steps as a weapon, but Triple-H attacked with a drop toehold, with Orton then falling face-first into the apparatus. When an attempt at pushing Orton past the line failed again, Orton struck with a devastating DDT, as the challenger’s feet were on the stretcher. Orton then only connected with the stretcher when he went for the concussion kick, and another Pedigree was countered into a backdrop on the stretcher.

At the top of the ramp, however, Triple-H did indeed hit the Pedigree, and seemed certain to push Orton over the line, until he was attacked by Cody Rhodes, and then Ted DiBiase, saving the Legacy head-honcho from losing the title. The former Tag Team champions provided enough of a distraction for Orton to come back to life, and when he blocked Triple-H’s attempt at a sledgehammer shot, Orton used a piece of the staging to knock him down, before pushing a prone Triple-H over the line for the victory.

After the match, the challenger knocked out Orton with a sledgehammer shot.

Winner: Randy Orton
Match rating: 5.5 / 10

Final thoughts:

What did you think of The Bash?
It was great – 6%
It was okay – 17%
It sucked – 31%
Didn’t see it – 46%

Despite the lack of build-up, this pay-per-view had the chance to be a sleeper; one which was great, despite the lack of hype. Sadly, however, that didn’t happen.

While Ziggler vs Khali was a dud from the start, the tag team title match, Punk vs Hardy, and Orton vs Triple-H all failed to live up to expectations, largely due to bad booking. In the SLAM! Writers’ preview for this event, I noted that the Tag Team Title match could be excellent if given 20 minutes or so to work, but instead, the bout was much shorter and had the emphasis on two top singles wrestlers. Punk vs Hardy felt like a complete screwing of the fans even though it will help to solidify a Punk heel turn, and the Orton vs Triple-H was really a very basic match between two wrestlers who are supposed to be the best in the company.

Rey Mysterio vs Chris Jericho was undoubtedly the Match of the Night, with Mysterio putting in a better performance than I’ve seen from him in quite some time. Jericho, as always, played his role to a T.