Written By: Alexander Settee
Great American Bash 2008, July 20, 2008, Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
Announcers: The teams of Jim Ross & Mick Foley, Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler, and Mike Adamle & Tazz
If you read my reviews here on a regular basis you may have noticed that I mainly do older shows, but with the current product actually starting to show some small signs of improvement in my eyes I’m going to start keeping up on reviews of the current PPV’s. But be forewarned, if the current state of the shows is just a blip, and they fail to keep me interested for very long, I’m going right back to the all oldies format.
Opening Match, WWE Tag Team Championship Match: John Morrison & The Miz vs. Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder vs. Jesse & Festus vs. Fit Finlay & Hornswoggle
Right off the bat here I’ll bring up that I’m not a fan of multiway matches. They scream lazy booking to me. Instead of building up a real feud between two teams, they just throw them all in one match, have the buildup consist of a segment or two where everyone beats each other up, and presto, you have a heatless, meaningless, match. If they must do multiways, I would rather them be elimination style, so of course, just to annoy me, this is one fall. Finlay and Hornswoggle are the crowd favourites here and none of the other teams seem particularly over. They focus on a kid holding an “I Want Undertaker” sign for some reason, although they cut away once they realize what it says. Bell rings and Festus chases everyone out. The champs grab hold of Hornswoggle and throw him in and the crowd actually seems excited about that confrontation, but they go after Miz and Morrison instead with Hornswoggle hitting a dive to the outside. Festus and Miz start the match for real, with Festus dropping a leg for 2. He hits a splash in the corner and tags Jesse who uses a monkey flip and a unique looking legsweep takedown for 1. He rams Miz to the buckle and tags Festus back in so Miz can be whipped to a shot to the throat. Miz slips out of a slam, but can’t get a rollup. Festus off the ropes where Finlay steals the tag and a he hits a big boot on Miz. One for Finlay on the way in as well allows Miz to tag Morrison. Some uppercuts on Finlay and the champs tag again. Miz uses a Russian legsweep for 1. He slings Finlay into a shot from Morrison, and then tags his partner who catapults in with an elbow for 2. Morrison grabs a headlock as JR compares him to Rick Rude. I think he’s got a bit of a ways to go on that one. Neckbreaker (not a Rude Awakening, by the way) and he tags Miz. Finlay tries to fight back, but is caught with a knee and the champions tag once more. Finlay gets whipped to the corner, but he comes out and hits head to head with Morrison. Ryder steals a tag from Morrison to get in and starts working over Finlay. Suplex and he tags Hawkins who maintains control before making another quick tag back to Ryder. Corner whip, but Ryder misses the charge and Finlay gets the Celtic Cross for 2 as Hawkins saves. As the ref ejects the illegal man, Finlay uses the shillelagh for 2 forcing everyone to save. Ryder follows up with a rollup for 2 as Hornswoggle saves. Tag to Hawkins, who puts his head down on an Irish whip and gets kicked. Finlay tags Hornswoggle who comes in with a dropkick, but Jesse then steals the tag from him to a round of boos. As ridiculous as the whole Hornswoggle thing is at times, the fans are really into him, I’ll give him that much. Jesse comes in with a face plant, Thesz press, and a sort of snap suplex for 2. Hawkins comes back with a jawjacker and gets a cheapshot on Hornswoggle to another big negative reaction. This lets Jesse tag Festus who nails a flapjack, spinkick and drops a knee. The champs are in now, but Festus dumps both of them. Tag to Jesse and they setup a rocket launcher, but Ryder pulls Festus outside and Hawkins pulls Jesse off the top, which is enough to get the pin and win the titles at 9:07. In spite of my comments earlier about multiways, I do recognize that they are pretty good by default, as this one is, but I still don’t like the dynamic. It’s almost cheating in a way. **
United States Championship Match: Matt Hardy vs. Shelton Benjamin
Lockup leads to Benjamin getting a single leg and they go through a reversal sequence on the mat. Benjamin gets a side headlock and is fired off the ropes, coming back with a shoulderblock. Matt gets a small package for 1. Back to the side headlock for Benjamin who is again fired off, but this time Matt gets a hiptoss, followed by an armdrag and armbar. Benjamin makes it up and backs Hardy to the corner where he boots him on the break. Corner whip is reversed and they go though a series of reversed moves now ending with Matt getting a clothesline. Irish whip and elbow hits followed by Benjamin avoiding a charge and tossing Matt, who tries to skin the cat, but Benjamin dropkicks him to the floor. Matt shoulders him on the way in, but Benjamin sends him to the post and back to the floor. In the ring, he gets a 1 count. Back suplex gets 2 and he follows up with a backbreaker and an armlock. Second backbreaker sets up an abdominal stretch on the mat, but Matt gets up and drops him for a 2 count. Benjamin tries a suplex, but Matt rolls on top for 2. Charge to the corner hits boot and Benjamin slams him down for 2. Spin kick sets up a Stinger splash which hits, but Matt gets the foot up on a second try. Couple of clotheslines and a bulldog get 2 for Matt, followed by a slam and 2nd rope legdrop for 2.5. Next, he tries a rana off the 2nd rope, but Benjamin catches him and drops him on the buckle. Matt flips out of a powerbomb to a sunset flip for 2. Side Effect gets 2.5, but the Twist of Fate is blocked. Benjamin gets him on top, but Matt elbows him down. Moonsault seems to either miss altogether, or miss the knee that he was supposed to hit. They sell it like Benjamin caught him with a knee, so that’s what we’ll go with. To reinforce the miss, the Paydirt follows and gets 3 for Benjamin to win the US Title at 9:34. JR says he’s the twenty-first person to hold both the US and IC Titles. That makes it not a very unique accomplishment then, and not really worth mentioning, huh? Match was pretty good, and we’re getting off on the right foot on this show. **
ECW Championship Match: Mark Henry (w/Tony Atlas) vs. Tommy Dreamer (w/Colin Delaney)
I don’t watch ECW, so my knowledge here of storylines is based only on reading, not too carefully I might add, about it. If I missed something, blame the announcers for not getting the story across to me as they should. I guess they just assume we all watch the show. Henry shoves him down on a lockup and then blocks a single leg to establish the power advantage. Dreamer tries some punches, but runs into a clothesline and gets stepped on. Cocobutt leads to a rear chinlock. Dreamer tries to elbow out, but Henry takes him down and goes to a wristlock. The “boring” chant starts up here followed by Dreamer trying to come back, but he runs in to another clothesline. Splash (World’s Strongest Slam according to Adamle) is missed and Dreamer gets a seated dropkick. Henry is up and whips Dreamer to the corner, but runs into an elbow, followed by a clothesline, although Henry is still on his feet. Dreamer charges and Henry looks to catch him in a slam, but Dreamer slips out and gets a neckbreaker for 2. DDT hits, but Dreamer goes after Atlas on the apron. To the 2nd rope as Delaney makes his way to the apron and as Dreamer comes off, Delaney hooks the arm and drops Dreamer on the ropes. World’s Strongest Slam finishes at 4:30 and Henry retains. For a heel turn to be effective, there either has to be some underlying hatred for the guy making the turn so that fans will have no problem booing him, or a real emotional attachment to the guy being turned on so that the sympathy translates into heat for the new heel. Based on crowd reactions here, I sense that neither case is applicable, and thus the turn is destined to be meaningless. Match was nothing special at all. ½*
Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels
Good buildup for this one as they have a real feud going with an actual issue behind it. They’re playing up that the eye may not be 100% after going through the screen on the Highlight Reel. Staredown starts before a slugfest breaks out. Jericho controls with a knee. Irish whip, but Shawn ducks and comes back with a clothesline. He seems to be selling a rib injury as well, but nothing appeared to have happened yet that would really explain why. Corner whip is reversed and Jericho hits a boot. Shawn clips him and hooks a figure four so poorly executed that the announcers are hesitant to even call it that. Jericho makes the ropes, but Shawn stays on him. Corner whip is reversed and Shawn flips in the corner to the apron allowing Jericho to hit a springboard dropkick to send Shawn to the floor. Back in, Jericho is working over the injured ribs. Back suplex hits followed by some shoulders to the gut. Snapmare and Jericho stretches the arms, but Shawn powers out and they trade shots until Jericho nails an ensiguiri for 2. Slam, and Jericho goes to the 2nd rope, but Shawn catches him and drops him. Irish whip is reversed, but Shawn comes off with the flying forearm and kips up. Backdrop, but Jericho rolls through to the Walls. Shawn struggles, but finally makes the ropes. Superkick from nowhere is casually blocked and Jericho keeps working him over in the corner. Corner whip, but Jericho runs into a clothesline that Shawn gets 2 from. Up top for the elbow, but Jericho is up and crotches him. Shawn blocks a superplex attempt and shoves Jericho off so that he can now hit the elbow. He goes for the Superkick, but Lance Cade is out to provide the distraction. This allows Jericho to try the Codebreaker, but Shawn blocks that and gets a rollup for 2. Jericho gets his own rollup for 2 and now they trade shots. Jericho charges and gets hiptossed outside onto Cade, and then Shawn follows that up with a moonsault off the top onto both of them! Shawn can still bring it when called on, no doubt about it. They get up and Jericho nails an elbow that would be considered harmless 99.99% of the time, but when Shawn gets back up, he is covered in blood. The announcers don’t even pick up on the fact that the elbow opened him up until they see a replay. Another of Shawn’s great attributes is that he is top notch with the blade as he is just instantly gushing. In the ring, Shawn briefly controls before Jericho smells blood (literally) and pounces on it. He pounds at the cut with the ref periodically stepping in to check on it and threatening to stop the match, but Shawn is having none of that. Cade gets a boot to the head from the outside to add to the beating. Jericho keeps working on it, but Shawn is able to catch him in a crossface. Jericho escapes and gets back to work on the cut as Shawn is selling being disoriented and defenceless, but refuses to give up. Jericho stays on him with more punches until the ref finally has enough and stops the match at 18:19. When I read about that finish last week, I was skeptical about whether they had pulled it off well, but now having seen it, I can say that they pulled it off well and then some. UFC helps the crowd believe that this is a legitimate finish, and I personally love it, but they need to do more of these if they really want to educate the fans and get it over. ****
WWE Divas Championship Match: Michelle McCool vs. Natalya
Enjoy the death slot ladies. Man, is that the ugliest belt you’ve ever seen or what? It looks like they ripped it off the walls of Barbie’s Dream House or something. And who the hell decided that we needed a Women’s Title on Smackdown anyways? I’m guessing Stephanie has something to do with this. All I know is that if I was making a list of ways to improve the current product “Add Women’s Title on Smackdown” would not have been near the top. To the match now as Michelle goes to a waistlock (I guess she didn’t have enough time to teach Natalya to lockup so they just avoided it). Natalya reverses but Michelle rolls through to a pin for 1. Dropkick also gets 1 and she goes to a wristlock and some uppercuts. Irish whip is reversed and Michelle tries to flip over a backdrop attempt, but lands awkwardly. She appears to be ok and nails a kick but runs into an inverted stungun. Natalya punches her and gets 2 from that. She hooks a surfboard, but Michelle escapes and reverses to the Brazilian Heel Hook. Natalya makes the ropes and nails a knee. She stretches Michelle around the post and keeps working on the leg. They trade some shots, but Natalya controls and hooks the Sharpshooter. Michelle fights to the ropes and gets the break. Natalya tries again, but Michelle grabs the Heel Hook again instead. Natalya fights it, but eventually taps out at 4:40 to make Michelle McCool the first “Divas” Champion. This was actually a pretty decent match, and good for them to make me say that since I’m the last guy in the world who will cut a women’s match some slack. *1/2
World Heavyweight Championship Match: CM Punk vs. Batista
This stems from the accusations that Punk only won the title in the first place because Batista did all the dirty work (referred to as an “assist” by Punk). So now Punk has to prove that he’s the real deal by taking on Batista here. Batista is noticeably the crowd favourite, and Punk does not exactly get a reaction you would expect for a World Champion. I like the guy, I’m just saying it, that’s all. Batista controls early with his power, backing him to the ropes at will and elbowing out of a hammerlock. So Punk tries some kicks and has some luck with that. Batista almost catches him in a powerslam but Punk slips out and tries a rollup, which is blocked. Snapmare gets 2 for Batista. He misses a charge off a corner whip, but Punk again can’t get the rollup. Batista walks into an elbow and Punk gets an ensiguiri to send Batista out. He hits a baseball slide followed by a running dive which gets 2 when he gets Batista back in. Elbow gets another 2, followed by a nice kick to the back. Corner whip is reversed and Punk goes down, and then Batista whips him back with the same result. Suplex gets 2 and he hooks a camel clutch. He soon lets that go, but keeps on the back. Punk comes back with an elbow and some kicks to send Batista out. Back in, Batista whips him to the corner, but Punk gets the boot up. Flying bodypress gets 2. Punk ends up running into a powerslam which looks to setup the Batista Bomb, but Punk grabs the ropes to block. Several shots to the head by Punk get a 2 count and he sets up the Go to Sleep, but Batista slips out and nails a couple of clotheslines. In the corner, Punk is able to grab an armbar hooked around the ropes, and then comes off with a flying clothesline for 2. Batista gets a rollup for 2 and then comes off the ropes with a big clothesline for 2. He runs Punk to the corner, but misses a charge and hits the post, falling outside. Punk comes off the apron, but gets caught and spinebuster on the floor. Kane joins us now and attacks Batista causing the match to be thrown out at 11:06, and then he hits a chokeslam on Punk. It’s called a double DQ even though Kane clearly attacked Batista first, and indeed the bell even rang before he laid a hand on Punk so I don’t understand where that comes from. Punk is announced as still champion, so now Batista attacks him and gets the Batista Bomb. This was better then I expected and if you gave it more time and an actual finish like “Punk gives it everything he has, but the power and strength of Batista is just too much for him”, or “Punk uses speed and smarts to negate to power advantage and pull off the win” then it could be a contender for match of the night. As it is I can only go ***1/4.
New York City Parking Lot Brawl: John “Bradshaw” Layfield vs. John Cena
We’re actually backstage in the arena as opposed to in a parking lot in New York City. This is pre-taped and the announcers aren’t even calling it. I’m not going to do detailed play by play, because it’s mostly mindless violence anyways. Highlights include: The use of jumper cables and a keg of beer as weapons, cars being destroyed, and JBL lighting a car on fire with Cena inside. Cena comes out of that no worse for wear and uses a forklift to carry a car containing JBL out to the arena. He hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle on the stage, but when he goes to FU JBL on to the car, JBL slips out and throws Cena onto the windshield. That gets the 3 count at 16:20 as both guys sell it like they took the beating of a lifetime. There were some cool spots, but it felt more like a fight scene from a (bad) action movie then a wrestling match. I don’t think I can even give this a rating.
Main Event, WWE Championship Match: Triple H v. Edge
HHH’s meddling has put a rift in the happy marriage of Edge and Vickie, so the announcers sell that Edge may no be all there mentally. Edge jumps him and pounds away, but and Irish whip is reversed and HHH tosses him. He whips Edge to the barrier and back in the ring he drops some knees. Corner whip leads to a clothesline from behind by HHH and Edge goes out. He knocks Edge off the apron again by ramming him to the buckle. He follows him out and charges, but Edge moves and HHH hits the barrier. Edge controls in the ring hitting a charge and a knee. Corner whip sends HHH down and out. Edge follows him now and he whips HHH to the stairs. Dropping HHH on the table gets 2 back in the ring and he hooks a bodyscissors. HHH fights out of it, but Edge hits a dropkick for 1. HHH goes to the apron and Edge charges, but HHH moves and Edge goes flying outside. Back in the ring, HHH takes him down with a clothesline. Irish whip is reversed, but HHH gets the facebuster sending Edge flying out of the ring. He rams Edge to the stairs and then the post before throwing him back in. Edge is quickly up and tries a baseball slide, which misses, but he still manages to get a DDT on the floor. Back in that gets 2 and next he tries a dropkick, but is caught and catapulted to the corner, which HHH follows up with a DDT of his own for 2. Irish whip is reversed and HHH almost catches him in the Pedigree, but Edge escapes and drops HHH with the Edge-O-Matic for 2. Missed spear gives HHH a rollup for 2 and Edge gets a nice looking boot to the side of the head. He sets up another spear attempt but is caught and spinebustered. Pedigree is countered by running HHH to the corner and he hits a superplex. The wedding planner, Alicia Fox is out now for some reason. She hands the belt to Edge, but now Vickie runs in, nails her, and grabs the belt away. The girls get in the ring and a catfight breaks out. The ref tries to separate them but Edge ends up spearing Vickie. HHH takes advantage to hit the Pedigree for the pin to retain the title at 16:47 as almost an afterthought. Or it would be an afterthought if anyone besides HHH was holding the belt as we make sure to end the show focusing on him. Now, here’s what I don’t get. The announcers are trying to tell us that Edge was looking to spear Fox and only got Vickie accidentally, but what was he spearing Fox for? She came out to help him after all, didn’t she? Maybe she was horrible in the sack or something, but that’s just speculation. Good, but not great match caps off the show. ***
So, to close it up here, Jericho/Shawn is a good one for sure, although it might not fit with the tastes of everyone. The title matches are solid, but not spectacular, although I’m looking forward to another one on one PPV match between Punk and Batista to see what they can do with a real finish and more than 11 minutes. Cena/JBL is different, that’s for sure and not really up my alley, but I’m sure some people loved it. The undercard stands up well with Henry/Dreamer and the meaningless heel turn being the only wastes of time on the show. I think I can call it a mild thumbs up for Great American Bash 2008, although don’t cry yourself to sleep over missing it.