WWE Great American Bash 2005 7/24/2005

July 24, 2005
HSBC Arena
Buffalo, NY
Attendance: 8,000
Buy Rate: .58
Announcers: Michael Cole & Tazz

Fun Fact: In the continuous battle for the title of “WWE’s #1 PPV State”, New York (18) has gone back ahead of California (17) with this show. This is also Buffalo’s first PPV since Fully Loaded 1999.

Sunday Night Heat

Paul London defeats Nunzio (James Maritato) to retain WWE Cruiserweight Title

Pay Per View

1) Heidenreich & Road Warrior Animal (Joe Laurinaitis) defeat MNM to win WWE Tag Team Titles when Animal pins Mercury (Adam Birch) after a Doomsday Device at 6:44

Fun Fact: With his brother John gaining power in the front office and a Legion of Doom DVD on the racks in stores, Animal was brought back to WWE for one last in ring run. The thought was they could use him for a quick nostalgia run, push the DVD and use him to help the younger stars develop. Animal returned on the 7/14/05 Smackdown, saving Heidenreich from an attack at the hands of MNM. MNM then challenged the two to a match at the PPV. Animal & Heidenreich accepted and won a quick squash match the next week to begin their run as a tag team. Also, back on 6/23, Mercury had defeated Heidenreich thanks to some help from Nitro.

Scott: Our opener is a strange one. MNM is the hottest new team in all of WWE. They have the look, the workrate and the hot manager. Now, I love Animal and the Road Warriors are my favorite all time team, and the greatest tag team of all time. However I thought this was nothing more than a novelty in the era of novelties. Sure Hulk Hogan won the WWE Title in 2002 when he really had no business winning it. Then again he stiff-armed Vince for it, because well that’s how Terry does business. I really didn’t think this misfit tag team had any real chance to win this match. Animal clearly has the retired paunch, and with the hot start I thought they would wind down and MNM would escape with the titles. Then as it went along and Cole and Tazz kept mentioning the memory of Hawk, who had passed away over two years earlier I started to think that maybe the impossible would happen. If it were any other team that were the champs, some humps like La Resistance or some other older more experienced team, I would think the nostalgia factor would create a title change but not a change here against the best tag team on either show right now. Then when Nitro hit Animal with the title belt I thought it was over. Then Animal hits a power slam, and a Doomsday Device later, we have new champions. I was stunned. The match itself is pretty plain, but in honor of Hawk, Animal and Heidenreich made MNM pay…The Road Warriors Way! Grade: 2

Justin: July’s Smackdown outing kicks off with a trip down nostalgia lane. With LOD DVDs hitting the streets and his brother Johnny Ace calling the talent relation shots, Animal makes an unexpected return as a regular competitor on the roster. After saving Heidenreich from an attack, he teams up with his new buddy in an attempt to win gold that he last wore in December of 1997. Despite being a bit more overweight than his last appearance in 2003, Animal brought the energy in the ring and the team was over already. Despite their youth, MNM already had a veteran presence and some slick heel tandem teamwork. They would work Heidenreich’s leg in a quick heat segment and then pick up a good near fall on a belt shot. Animal would get the hot tag and after a Doomsday Device, the revamped LOD would shockingly take home the gold. The finish was pretty hot and LOD get a big pop for the win, but I really disagree with the result. MNM were really gaining steam as the main team on Smackdown. They were young, fresh and brought a feeling of importance to the belts. Their reign deserved to be a bit longer, but I guess I understand the idea of trying to cash in on Animal’s nostalgic pops. The match was fun and saw a condensed version of the tried and true tag formula but really too short to garner a higher grade than this. Grade: 2

2) Booker T (Booker Huffman) defeats Christian (Jay Reso) with an Axe Kick off the second rope at 11:32

Fun Fact: Christian was officially drafted to Smackdown on 6/30 and he was immediately put into a match to determine a new champion for the show. During the match Christian was able to steal a pin on Booker and eliminate him from the bout. On 7/14, Christian and Booker were set for a match after they had a verbal fight the week before. Christian assaulted Booker on the ramp and then easily pinned him, trash talking Booker’s wife Sharmell along the way. A rematch was signed for the PPV.

Here we have a recently drafted Raw star against a guy who’s got so much talent with really nothing to do. These two did have a feud back in the spring of 2003 over the Intercontinental Title. Christian won the battle royal when then-Co-GM Steve Austin brought the IC Title back, then he and the Book battled over it, including a rare title change at a house show. Now both are on the other show and they’re battling again. Cole just said that Booker T, at the time, has won 28 championships. Wow I never thought it was that much. The match is pretty standard as both guys go back and forth. The one thing I like about the GAB is that they bring back the old school red, white and blue ropes, reminding me of the 80’s PPVs. The match got pretty hot at the end when Booker hit the Book End but Christian did kick out. The action picks up a bit and the crowd really keep the energy level going. Booker hits his axe kick off the second rope for the win. This was a good match that had the crowd pretty hot throughout. Grade: 2.5

Justin: These two veterans and former enemies reunite on a new show but pick up right where they left off in 2003. They would trade some basic strikes and brawling early but Christian would use his veteran heel wiles to take over with some nice offense. These two really had some good chemistry in the ring and turned a basic match into an entertaining back and forth battle. The crowd was pretty split here as Christian was really at the peak of his popularity. He was gaining steam on Raw and was clearly becoming a bigger star than expected so he was shifted to Smackdown because rumor had it that they wanted him to remain heel. Despite forcing him to Thursdays and quelling his push he was still being cheered despite their efforts. Sharmell would get involved and that led to a good near fall on a Book End. The match was well built as these two veterans had crafted a nice lengthy back and forth battle. The end saw a hot flurry, including a good brawl on the floor. Back inside, Booker would come off the middle rope with a nice axe kick to pick up the win. This match was as basic as it got but it was really entertaining and pieced together nicely. Booker moves on with a win and the sad depushing of Christian continues. Grade: 2.5

3) Orlando Jordan defeats Chris Benoit to retain WWE United States Title after Benoit hit the exposed turnbuckle at 14:21

Fun Fact: Chris Benoit defeated Booker on 7/7 to earn this title match.

Chris Benoit has probably bounced between both shows more than anybody on the roster since 2002. He returned from injury on Raw, but actually started on Smackdown. He went to Raw after winning last year’s Royal Rumble, and now was drafted back to the blue brand. Benoit pretty much lost all his sizzle after they foolishly took the World Heavyweight Title off him and gave it to the clearly not ready Randy Orton. Once Batista’s star began to rise, Benoit was pretty much forgotten. So bring him back to Smackdown and boost up the sagging mid-card. Jordan was a collegiate wrestler, which I didn’t know. So in all honestly he’s not exactly chopped liver. Maybe he doesn’t show his technical side as much as Shelton Benjamin or Charlie Haas does, but he can work with good opponents when he has to. Unfortunately for him since beating John Cena in February he really hasn’t defended the title that much. This is where you started to see the mid-card titles being devalued a bit on PPV. Honestly the bookers should be able to put a secondary title match on every PPV. Instead they need to fit some random singles feuds and divas crap to fill instead. It’s not that big of a problem now, but it does get worse over time. This match really started to pick up steam after a great Benoit superplex. This Buffalo crowd is surprisingly hot, although not really as they’ve been chomping at the bit for PPV since their last event six years to the month. Jordan wins nefariously as Benoit gets dumped on an exposed turnbuckle and Jordan retains his title. I surprisingly liked this match as Benoit puts on his normal great effort but Jordan held his end as well. Benoit gets a standing ovation after the match. Grade: 2.5

Justin: In what seemed like a colossal mismatch on paper, Orlando Jordan has to defend his US title against Chris Benoit, another man freshly drafted to Smackdown. With the crowd behind him as always, Benoit was aggressive in his attack. OJ would withstand the intense assault and begin to work Benoit’s arm, which the Wolverine sold tremendously as always. OJ got quite a bit of offense here as the pace slowed way down. OJ was fine and the match was technically good, but it was just kind of boring. Benoit made a good comeback but OJ would run him into an exposed buckle and pick up a big upset win. Both guys worked hard here but it was just a hard match to get into as the pace was slow and the middle portion dragged. OJ holds on to his gold, but Benoit’s chase was not yet over. Grade: 2

4) Undertaker (Mark Callaway) defeats Muhammad Hassan (Mark Copani) to earn a World Heavyweight Championship title shot with a chokeslam at 8:03

Fun Fact: Muhammad Hassan and Khosrow Daivari were drafted to Smackdown on 6/23 and it was then that a mildly questionable gimmick exploded into one of the most controversial angles of all time. On 6/30, Hassan and Undertaker had a verbal altercation that ended in a Daivari chair shot followed by a Taker chokeslam. At the 7/4 Smackdown taping, Teddy Long announced that Hassan would wrestle the Undertaker at the PPV and ordered Daivari to compete against the Deadman that very night. During the match, Hassan appeared on the ramp and dropped to his knees to pray. It was then that a group of men in camo pants, black shirts and ski masks appeared and assaulted Undertaker with clubs and choked him out with piano wire. In an instance of the worst possible timing ever, just hours before the show was set to air on TV, there were severe terrorist bombings in London. With very little time to make edits, the UPN affiliates in the US and the Score in Canada aired the show as is with additions of advisory warnings throughout it. After many major news outlets picked up on the story, UPN caved and said it would monitor the angle and requested that Hassan not appear the following week. WWE had Hassan cut a promo at the following week’s tapings, but UPN refused to air it, so it was added as a video on WWE.com. In the promo, Hassan claimed that he was unfairly pegged as a terrorist and even called out a NY Post writer by name and took umbrage to the writer claiming the attack was perpetrated by “Arabs in ski masks”. On the 7/14 Smackdown, a lawyer representing Hassan claimed that his client refused to appear on TV until the PPV due to his unfair treatment. As the weeks wore on, it was leaked that UPN no longer wanted Hassan to appear on its network, basically killing the character off of the brand. This threw a serious wrench into WWE’s plans as Hassan was scheduled to win this match and face, and possibly defeat, Batista at Summerslam in Washington, DC. Weeks after this match, Teddy Long officially kicked Hassan off Smackdown, and WWE buckled to the pressure and eliminated the character, despite fan backlash. Hassan and Daivari both were sent to developmental and Hassan was released from his contract in late September.

Fun Fact II: Muhammad Hassan’s final PPV record is 1-3. After his release, Mark Copani would leave the business to focus on acting.

Wow is there a boatload of stuff surrounding this match. The character was clearly very controversial and polarizing. He pissed off pretty much everybody, and that’s exactly what his job was. He was on a good streak, and for someone who’s only been wrestling since January; he’s gotten to face Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels and Undertaker. Not bad for a guy who was a virtual nobody before this run started. His move to Smackdown was for much bigger things, as he was expected to win this match, and apparently upset Batista at Summerslam to become World Heavyweight Champion. Then, fate and reality stepped in. The same week that Undertaker was attacked by those masked goons, terrorists attacked London. That, my friends, was pretty much the end of Muhammad Hassan. The fate part of it was that if this poorly thought out skit had happened on Raw, it still would have had a decent amount of flak but at least it was on cable. There are some parameters that would have probably protected the character. But because it was on Broadcast TV, there’s really no way to avoid it. As for the match, plenty of interference by Hassan’s masked goons, but other than some big visuals here and there, including Taker reversing the Camel Clutch into an Electric Chair, it’s kind of a mess. Taker wins the match with a chokeslam out of nowhere, and then the masked guys come into the ring for a beatdown. Taker cleans all these stiffs and Daivari out through various means. Then to officially put the character to bed, Taker grabs Hassan who was trying to escape up the ramp. After chokeslamming him on the stage, he opens up a couple of the metal grates. He gives Hassan the Last Ride through the open stage. You never see Muhammad Hassan again. It’s a shame but unfortunately it had to be done. Grade: 2

Justin: Despite all of the controversy surrounding this angle, I actually thought the build up for this match was well done. Sure the timing was awful, but Hassan was drawing some great heat at this point and his promos were tremendous. Hassan was really growing as a character and even though his angles were going in an odd direction, his confidence and delivery was now top notch. He makes a cool entrance and cuts a great promo here in his final match, going out with a bang. Hassan looked strong early, refusing to cower or back off from Taker and bringing the fight to the Deadman. Taker would use his power offense to fight Hassan off, but Daivari and his masked crew would help Hassan gain control. One of the masked guys even used the piano wire to choke Taker again. Taker would fight back again; take out the whole group and chokeslam Hassan into history. The match was a mess on a whole and in the end it was clear that it was a complete burial of the character. Taker would destroy everyone and take Hassan out with a nice powerbomb through the stage to a huge pop. It was sad to see Hassan and his gang dismantled because it was clear that his push and probably his career were now done. Hassan’s run was brief, but he reached some lofty heights in just seven months. Unfortunately, an edgy storyline and some awful timing sidetracked his progress and ended his career. Undertaker picks up a title shot and takes out Hassan all in one fell swoop. Grade: 1.5

5) The Mexicools defeat the Blue World Order when Psychosis (Dionicio Torres) pins Stevie Richards (Michael Manna) with a guillotine legdrop at 4:43

Fun Fact: Juventud Guerrera made his pro debut in Mexico’s AAA promotion. After bouncing around the Mexican Indies, he would migrate to ECW before joining Konnan and his group of luchadors in WCW in the summer of 1996. He would make his debut on the 8/26 Nitro and would spend the next two years tussling with his fellow cruiserweights, wowing the crowd and kicking off TV shows and PPVs. On 1/8/98, Guerrera would defeat Ultimo Dragon to with the Cruiserweight title, but his reign would end one week later at the hands of Rey Mysterio. At that year’s Superbrawl, he lost his mask in a match with Chris Jericho. He would get his revenge later in the year when he defeated Jericho to win the Cruiserweight strap for a second time. While rehabbing an injury, he began a role as a color commentator on Thunder, often ripping off the Rock and calling himself The Juice. After a run as part of the Filthy Animals, Juvy found himself in some trouble in October of 2000. During a tour of Australia, Juvy was arrested after running around a hotel lobby naked and screaming. It was later surmised that Juvy was under the influence of PCP. After being released from WCW, Juvy spent some time on the Indy circuit, including a stint in TNA, before inking a WWE deal in June. He made his debut on the 6/18 Velocity, defeating Funaki.

Fun Fact II: This is Blue Meanie’s final PPV appearance. After this match, Meanie’s short-term contract expired and he moved on to the Indy scene, where he competes to this day in addition to dabbling in acting.

Fun Fact III:
This is Richards’ final PPV appearance. He would move on to the new ECW in 2006 and would remain there, notably losing five TV matches to CM Punk between February and June 2007. He had surgery in late 2007 to repair his voice box. He would recover and return to action in the beginning of 2008, actually receiving a small push. Unfortunately, it didn’t fare well, and he would be a JTTS until his release in August. Richards would join TNA in the beginning of 2009, debuting as Abyss’ therapist, Dr. Stevie. He would enter a lengthy storyline with Abyss that concluded in a “Foley’s House of Fun” match in December. He still wrestles with TNA to this day. Despite Richards’ employment with the WWF/E from 1999 to 2008, his PPV record is a small 3-3, with the bulk of his PPV matches in 2000-01 as the leader of the RTC.

Fun Fact IV:
On 6/23, during a Paul London/Chavo Guerrero match, Super Crazy, Psychosis and Juventud Guerrera rode down to the ring on a riding mower. After assaulting both men, Juvy announced that they were not just toilet washers and that they were tired of working for Gringos. They were going to take over and the Gringos would then be working for them. He also said they weren’t Mexicans…they were Mexicools. The next week, the Mexicools interrupted another London/Guerrero match, assaulting both men. The assaults and victories would pile up as the Mexicools gained steam. Also, their riding lawnmower would eventually be christened as the Juan Deere. This match was announced on WWE.com and confirmed on TV on 7/21.

Scott: We get some quick comedy relief after what just happened. Not much to go on here, just a little six-man tag team action between this new heel team of Luchadors driving “Juan Deeres” and the comedy faction from ECW. It was clear the Mexicools would win here, as the BWO were nothing more than a novelty that regained the fans’ interest after One Night Stand. The Mexicools indeed pick up the win, and we move on. Grade: .5

This may be one of the most random and odd PPV matches thrown on a card in a long time. Fearing a lawsuit due to JBL’s attack, Blue Meanie was given a short-term contract and the BWO was given new life. Simon Dean was switched to Smackdown so Mike Bucci could pull double duty as Dean and Hollywood Nova. In continuing their old ECW parodies, the BWO mocks the Mexicools by riding down to the ring on power wheel bikes with handkerchiefs wrapped around their faces. The BWO was pretty popular but it was clear they were on borrowed time and weren’t going to get any sort of substantial push in any way. As neat and different as this match was, it was pretty choppy and never got into much a flow. To me, Super Crazy was clearly the star again as he was crisp and energetic during his short time in the ring. The finish was pretty hot and was the best part of the match and it was capped off with a Mexicools win. For as obvious as it was that the BWO was headed nowhere, it looked like the Mexicools were being set up for a pretty good push. They had been booked as a serious threat on Smackdown and win the match here to keep rolling. The BWO is now done and all three men return to their lives as they were prior to One Night Stand. I wish they would have stuck around just to provide some laughs in the undercard but it just wasn’t meant to be. This match was solid, but nothing special outside of its novelty. Grade: 2

6) Rey Mysterio (Oscar Gutierrez) defeats Eddie Guerrero with a crucifix at 15:38

Fun Fact: On 5/26, the Smackdown stars were set to compete in a battle royal. On the way to the ring, Eddie Guerrero jumped Rey Mysterio and brutalized him with a chair. Rey would get his revenge by hitting the ring and eliminating Eddie from the battle royal. Rey would strike again on 6/16, assaulting Eddie with a chair after Eddie won a match with Paul London. The two met in the ring on 6/23 with Rey picking up yet another win over his former friend. A week later, Eddie put a demented plan into action. He came to the ring and requested that footage of a recent trip to a playground be aired. The footage showed Eddie talking to Rey’s son Dominic, giving him candy and asking him if he liked secrets and bedtime stories. He then said it was time to share his secret with the world. Rey came to the ring and Eddie demanded Rey to hit him, but he wouldn’t do it. Eddie started smacking him around as Rey begged Eddie not to share the secret. Eddie would take out some candy from his pocket, crumble it and shove it in Rey’s face. On 7/7, Eddie forced Rey to team with him against MNM. Eddie would stand on the apron as Rey was beaten down and pinned by the tag champs. The next week, Eddie was about to tell the secret but was interrupted by his wife Vicki and his two daughters. She begged Eddie not to tell the story and hurt Rey, who she said was a good man, which angered Eddie. Eddie snapped, grabbed his wife and stormed off. Backstage, Eddie demanded they leave and forced them to drive away. Later that night, Eddie told Rey that if could he beat him at the Bash, he would bury the secret forever, but if Eddie could finally defeat Rey then the secret would be revealed.

Scott: We move on to the next chapter in what is a dark horse for 2005’s Feud of the Year. Of course it’s been one-sided, as Rey has won every encounter. Now we see the dark side of Eddie Guerrero’s character. He’s got a “secret” and it involves Rey’s son Dominic. Dominic was forced to watch the match per Eddie’s “request” as he was going to spill the beans on this secret. This feud has bolstered the Smackdown mid-card and kept things solid as the main events have gone through some changes. There’s a funny moment as Rey is crotched on the top rope, Eddie seems to go into his tights and “adjusts” his twig and berries. Quite funny. Then it gets very serious as Eddie uses Dominic as a shield in front of Rey, holding the boy’s head like he was going to break his little neck. This was sick, demented, and classic Eddie. He knows how to get inside anybody’s head, heart and soul. This manipulation gives Eddie the upper hand throughout most of this match. Great job by Kevin Dunn to show Dominic’s face every couple of minutes, as the kid really has no clue what’s going on, which is probably the best way to do it. The match is pretty solid, but not exactly to the level as their other matches. As with the other matches where there was back and forth action and great pacing, this match was more psychology-driven and the pace was considerably slower as Eddie would go to the outside and constantly interact with Dominic. It doesn’t make the match terribly worse; in fact it does make it quite different than the others. For me the slower pacing takes a notch or two off their other matches. Eddie really pummels Rey towards the end and after a Frog Splash, he starts yapping at Dominic and lollygags on the pin attempt, allowing Rey to get a crucifix completely out of nowhere and gets the win again. This was a very solid match, different from their others. Grade: 3

Justin: The major feud synonymous with Smackdown in 2005 continues here with a new twist added to it. Eddie Guerrero has been frustrated, unable to defeat Rey Mysterio. So, he resorts to manipulating Rey’s family and holding a secret over their heads. This was a tense storyline by this point and that feeling was palpable during the bout. Rey’s son Domenic was at ringside, per the request of his Uncle Eddie. The heat on Eddie at this point was tremendous and he was feeding off that energy big time. He was just an epic heel, as he manipulated and tortured Rey and his family. Rey got off to a fast start as he tried to end the match quickly so he could get his son out of there. Eddie would spend a lot of the match staring at, talking to and using Domenic to his advantage. One great emotional line from Tazz came when Eddie used Domenic as a shield and he yelled, “Eddie Guerrero is a friggen asshole!” Eddie was vicious with his pinpoint assault, including a stiff wheelbarrow suplex that crushed Rey. Rey would have a desperation comeback but that was cut off by more vicious Eddie offense, centered around a nasty brainbuster and a stiff frog splash. He would lazily cover Rey, who in a last gasp was able to roll Eddie over and get a flash pin to win the match. This may not have been as high flying or fast paced as their past matches but this one was dripping with tension and drama and was great in its own way. Rey wins, but this story is far from over as a seething Eddie would continue on his maniacal path. Grade: 3.5

7) Melina (Melina Perez) defeats Torrie Wilson in a Bra and Panties match at 3:51

Fun Fact: On 7/14, Torrie and Melina got into an argument backstage and Melina called Torrie a “washed up has been” and challenged her to a match. Torrie requested that the bout be a Bra and Panties match. Melina claimed that nobody would ever see her in her underwear and that nobody would remember Torrie after she took her out. The next week it was announced that Candice Michelle would be the guest referee for the match. Melina attacked her in the ring, but Torrie made the save.

Fun Fact II:
Candice Michelle started her modeling career in 1999 after moving from Milwaukee to Los Angeles. She appeared in numerous bodybuilding and car magazines, as well as being named Cyber Girl of the Week for Playboy in June 2002. She has also starred in softcore porn, appearing on an episode of the late-night Cinemax series “Hotel Erotica.” And yes, she does appear naked, twice to be exact. She auditioned for the Diva Search in July 2004, but she failed to crack the top ten. Despite this, the company eventually hired her. She made her debut on the November 15 RAW under the gimmick of a make-up artist. She would appear in several Divas contests throughout the remainder of the year. In February, she appeared in a GoDaddy.com ad made for the Super Bowl that become very controversial, and eventually was pulled. It was also during this time that the story of Candice working as a foot fetish model for a website under the name of Mackenzie Montgomery was brought up, but nothing came out of it. She would make occasional appearances on RAW from there on. She was a part of the eleven-wrestler trade back in June that moved her to Smackdown, where she would become involved in the feud.

Just like the Mexicools/BWO match, this is nothing more than a quick breather to get between the very emotional Rey/Eddie battle and our main event. Torrie and Melina are definitely quite good looking, but at this point I think special referee Candice Michelle was hotter than both of them. Wow she was looking damn fine. Anyway they roll around for a while and eventually Melina gets Torrie in her undergarments and it’s over. Then for good measure, Candice drops her stuff too. That’s…not ever a bad thing. Grade: .5

Melina makes her way out here, still steaming over MNM losing their gold earlier in the night. This was a quick respite for the crowd and was nothing more than the usual Bra & Panties fare. Candice was looking hot as the ref here, but she doesn’t do much of note. Melina was hyper and aggressive in the ring and she picks up a win to salvage the night. Torrie and Candice would grab her after the bell and strip her down for fun, and that about sums this up. Grade: .5

8) John Bradshaw Layfield defeats Batista by disqualification when Batista uses a steel chair at 19:51; Batista retains World Heavyweight Championship

Fun Fact: On 6/30, Teddy Long announced a six-pack challenge match to determine a new Heavyweight Champion of Smackdown, which was needed after John Cena was drafted to Smackdown. JBL would win the match and in the midst of his celebration, Teddy came out and said he had some bad news. JBL may have won, but there was no longer a need for a new champion because Batista had been drafted over to the blue brand with the final pick of the 2005 Draft. The next week JBL complained about being screwed and announced that he would be facing Batista at the Bash. He was interrupted by the BWO and Blue Meanie challenged him to a match, playing off their One Night Stand altercation. Batista would make his first Smackdown impact later in the night when he helped Meanie defeat JBL. Later in the night, JBL and OJ attacked Batista after a match with Christian. JBL would quickly bail as Batista dropped OJ with a Batistabomb. On 7/14, Batista defeated OJ in a match but JBL hopped in the ring after the bell and planted Batista with a Clothesline from Hell. The next week, JBL rode to the ring in a convertible, decked out like Apollo Creed, to give a victory speech for his upcoming match. He would cut a good promo, including proclaiming himself to be “a wrestling god”. Batista would interrupt the festivities, wipe out JBL, hit yet a spinebuster on OJ and mockingly put on JBL’s Creed outfit to end the show.

The match that was bantered about back in February, but we knew wasn’t going to happen, is happening here. After winning the trilogy of matches against Triple H, including the epic Hell in the Cell war last month at Vengeance, Batista is drafted to the Blue brand and faces Smackdown’s top heel. We knew coming into this that the match quality would drop a bit for Batista from his three matches with the Game. JBL isn’t chopped liver, as he’s faced a myriad of challengers during his WWE Title run. So many different styles from Eddie Guerrero to Undertaker to Booker T, Kurt Angle to Big Show to John Cena. Taker was the only real opponent that was most similar to JBL’s style. Those matches if you remember weren’t that great. Batista is that type of opponent to JBL as well. Batista also had to realize that he wasn’t going to get the kind of help that Triple H gave him. This is the kind of combination where a stipulation of some sort would have helped them. Unfortunately you normally don’t put a stipulation on the first match of a feud, so we were stuck. To their credit both men did use their strengths: Big power moves and strikes. The problem is that JBL doesn’t take bumps like Triple H does, not intentionally; more that JBL is a lumbering big man who isn’t exactly fluid in selling moves. Both men get their shots in for most of the match, until JBL takes advantage and then puts on a sleeper. Ugh. I can’t think if JBL normally puts a sleeper on his opponents. I don’t think he does, which means he can’t toss around Batista like he did Eddie or Kurt or Cena. So the pace here is painfully slow with a lot of outside punches and slams into the post. The most “high-flying” move of the match was when Batista clotheslined JBL over the barricade, taking himself over in the process. We get the obligatory ref bump, and then some interference as Orlando Jordan comes down to the ring. As Batista goes for the Demon Bomb, Jordan pastes him with a steel chair. JBL goes for the cover, but no ref. Jordan throws him in but the champ kicks out at two. JBL does hit the Clothesline from Hell, but the ref is still messed up from the bump and can’t count. We can already see a Summerslam rematch here as JBL had Batista beat twice but no referee. JBL goes for the CFH again and eats a spinebuster. Jordan returns with the steel chair but Batista beats it out of his hands. He cracks Jordan and JBL with the chair, but as he hits JBL with the chair, Nick Patrick looks over and calls for the bell. Batista is disqualified and we’re guaranteed a Summerslam rematch. Batista takes his frustrations out on the Cabinet and its leader by crushing both of them with chair shots. The post-bell violence can’t make up for the dull, slow pace of this match. Grade: 2

Justin: With John Cena moved over to Raw to be the face of the flagship, Batista is moved to Smackdown to help balance out the ledger. And of course, upon his arrival he is thrust into a feud with the resident heel gatekeeper of the blue brand: JBL. I loved JBL’s Apollo Creed tribute garb and it added to the patriotic feel of the show. Batista is still over like rover, but the question hung in the air: could he be as successful away from Raw, where he proved himself, took his time in growing and emerged as a superstar. The two would get off to a slow brawling start as Batista used his power arsenal to control things early. The crowd was flat here after being pretty amped all night. They were trying to make it feel like a big time fight, but these two just weren’t clicking here. They were working hard but it just had a blah feel to it and the fans felt the same way. The brawl in the crowd was pretty good and the near fall off the ref bump and OJ chair shot was well done too, but they weren’t enough to save the match. JBL would get the visual pin on Batista with a CFH, but the ref was down so it didn’t count. Batista would finally snap and start beating on JBL with a chair, drawing a super lame DQ. I get the reasoning behind the decision and it set up a rematch nicely, but it just was not a good way to end this show, especially since the match itself was long and boring. The final few minutes save the grade a bit, but overall it was just a blasé bout. Batista would keep up his assault after the bell, destroying OJ and JBL and that beating was more entertaining than any portion of the match itself. Batista hangs on to his gold but it was clear a rematch was imminent. Grade: 1.5

Final Analysis:

Scott: I have to say, as much as all the matches were mostly average, except, as usual, for Eddie/Rey, I have to give the bookers credit for jamming the show with action and not a lot of backstage fluff or in-ring segments to bore the audience. We had three title matches, although I would have put the Cruiserweight Title match in the show and put the six-man tag match on Heat. The crowd was pretty stoked for the most part, although again the matches were fairly average. The controversy surrounding Muhammad Hassan gave that match a little sizzle even though it was an overbooked mess and an eventual eulogy for the character. The other confusion was that Undertaker was now the #1 contender, but the ending of the main event shows that JBL would get another title match at Summerslam. So is it now a triple threat match? We’ll see. It would seem the Eddie/Rey feud is over, although once again we’re on the second biggest show of the year, so Eddie must be pulling another rabbit out of his hat. The rest of the show has average to good matches, but nothing that stands out. The real hot feud started on Raw a few weeks before this, so Smackdown has to come up with something juicy for Summerslam. We’ll see if they do. This show was right down the middle, not bad matches, but nothing that truly stands out. Final Grade: C+

Justin: After delivering two straight excellent PPV outings, Smackdown drops a dud in our laps here in July. I wanted to like this show because the crowd was red hot and everyone works hard, but the in ring action just didn’t click outside of the Eddie/Rey war, and even that was predicated more on psychology than in ring wrestling, which is fine because it fit the angle. Nonetheless, Smackdown has some work to do to really sort out their roster and organize their cards post draft. They lost some good talent, but they also gained some major players that can carry the show if used right. The question would be if they could do just that and utilize these pieces of talent in the proper way. Batista is now King of Smackdown and for the first time in his career he would be expected to carry a show week in and week out as the driving force of the brand. This show probably deserves a lower grade based on match grades, but the atmosphere was good, a lot happened, we got a lot of in ring action and everyone busted it and tried hard to deliver a winning show. Final Grade: C-

MVP: Rey Mysterio & Eddie Guerrero
Runner Up: Animal & Heidenreich
Non-MVP: Muhammad Hassan
Runner Up: MNM

Leave a Reply