SmackDown! Pay-Per-Views always seem to come with the stigma of being considered a minor issue, and this reputation is based on a string of poor events that the SmackDown! crew have dished out since the beginning of the one brand PPV era in 2003. And when the WWE debuted the Great American Bash name that became synonymous with WCW, they put on a show so bad that it was voted a clear winner of the Wrestling101 “Worst PPV” award for 2004, getting 54% of the votes.
Length: 192 mins
- World Heavyweight Title Match:
Batista vs. JBL
- Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio (w/ Dominik)
(If Eddie wins, he tells the secret about Dominik. If he loses, the secret can never be told)
- #1 Contender’s Match for the World Heavyweight Title:
Muhammad Hassan (w/ Daivari and masked men) vs. The Undertaker
- United States Title Match:
Orlando Jordan vs. Chris Benoit
- WWE Tag Team Title Match:
MNM (w/ Melina) vs. Road Warrior Animal and Heidenreich
- Bra and Panties Match (Special Guest Referee: Candice Michelle)
Melina vs. Torrie Wilson
- Christian vs. Booker T (w/ Sharmell)
- 6 Man Tag Match:
The Mexicools vs. The bWo
Would the 2005 version of Great American Bash prove to be any better? Well it couldn’t get much worse for a start. This PPV was the first in the WWE after the completion of the four week draft lottery, and the four of the five men traded to SmackDown! in the lottery, Chris Benoit, Batista, Muhammad Hassan and Christian were all in action, with Randy Orton still recovering from shoulder surgery. Many fans hoped that the influx of new talent would be what SmackDown! needed to break out of the rut they had been in for so long. But good talent still needs good writing, and partly due to some poor writing, plus the lack of time given to the writers to come up with storylines due to the draft lottery, the card for the Great American Bash seemed rushed and intrigue for the matches was at a severe low.
Highs and Lows
Opening up the show is the WWE Tag Team Title match between defending champions MNM and the challengers Road Warrior Animal and Heidenreich. This match was set up after Road Warrior Animal (making a return to the WWE mainly to plug the Road Warriors DVD that the WWE had recently published) saved Heidenreich, who you may recall, had been on the hunt for friends everywhere from an MNM attack. After some very harsh words about Animal’s late former partner Road Warrior Hawk, Animal agreed to team up with Heidenreich for a shot at the tag team gold.
The match itself sticks to the usual formula of the heels beating down the face-in-peril; in this instance MNM beating down Heidenreich, before the hot tag is made. Unfortunately for the match quality, Heidenreich is not the greatest seller in the world, and his flaw in this area makes the match unconvincing throughout. There can also be no doubt that Animal was not in any ring shape at the time, and many of the moves he attempts in the big comeback of the match are executed poorly. The end of the match is probably the highlight due to the emotion portrayed by Animal, but the match itself is watchable, but certainly a below-average contest.
Next up is a match with only a brief build-up that was seemingly put together because the two guys involved had nothing better to do. Those two men would be Booker T and Christian, and the build up revolved around Christian attacking Booker T before a previous match between the two, he had won with the Unprettier as a result. Due to the lack of reasoning behind this contest, it’s not surprisingly that the crowd in Buffalo aren’t too interested, and spend most of their time chanting for Christian or against Booker T.
However the match is a pretty good contest and the two men prove that they deserve better than being stuck in the midcard. The involvement of Sharmell at ringside is fairly brief, and that automatically bumps the match up in my estimation. As I say, a pretty good contest with both men busting out some good spots, such as Christian hitting a Reverse Tornado DDT from the corner, and Booker hitting the “Heat Seeker”, aka a Missile Dropkick. The end of the match is also different from usual, even if the man staring up at the lights isn’t that different. Definitely a solid contest and a good effort considering the lack of motivation both men must have had.
The second title defence of the evening came at the hands of United States Champion Orlando Jordan defending against Chris Benoit. This is another match that suffered from a distinct lack of pre-match build-up; in fact, there was not a single piece of interaction between the two on the SmackDown! that preceded the PPV. Or the SmackDown! before that. However, Benoit had emerged as the #1 Contender by defeating Booker T on the SmackDown! before that! Aside from a sixty second confrontation on the pre-PPV Heat, that was it. It would be easy to blame the draft lottery for the lack of preparation, but Orlando’s US Title reign was very poorly executed throughout, and the lack of any challengers on the SmackDown! brand before the lottery emphasised that greatly.
I try not to be biased in anything I give my opinion on, but when reviewing this match it is hard for me not to notice the superb job Benoit does consistently at making his opponent look so much better than they actually are. Orlando Jordan does not have much of a move set behind his constant punching, to the extent that I don’t think he even has a signature move. So the fact that Benoit manages to make a solid match out of this contest has to be impressive. As I say, I try not to be biased, but I am someone who enjoys 95% of Benoit’s work, and thus I enjoyed this match. I understand though that Benoit can be difficult for some people to get into, so unless you’re a Benoit fan, I doubt you will enjoy this match.
The theme of this PPV so far seems to be “lack of preparation”. Well the next contest between Muhammad Hassan and The Undertaker to determine the #1 Contender for the World Title certainly had an issue involved. On the 7th July edition of SmackDown!, the day of the bombings in London, Muhammad Hassan commanded five masked men to beat down the Undertaker. Their appearance was intended to make them appear as terrorists, as they choked The Undertaker with a piano wire, and carried Daivari off on their shoulders, the symbol of a martyr. The outrage sparked off by this event was unprecedented, the controversy attracted media coverage from stations such as CNN, and UPN refused to allow Muhammad Hassan to appear on SmackDown! from that show onwards. I personally found the controversy to be exaggerated beyond belief, as the inability to separate reality from fiction destroyed the wrestling career of Hassan, who had the potential to be a big star of the future.
The match itself is poor, but the WWE knew that the Hassan character had no future, so The Undertaker is dominating for most of the eight minutes. The WWE decided to stir up even more controversy by having Hassan come to the ring on an Arab throne being carried by the five masked “sympathisers”, and the masked men spend most of the match trying to interfere. The Undertaker naturally shakes off their offence with ease, kicks out of Hassan’s signature move, and generally buries Hassan deep into the ground. This becomes literal after the match, when the Hassan character is permanently terminated with a Last Ride through the steel staging to the concrete. If you’re an Undertaker fan, you’ll probably enjoy watching your favourite destroy seven men and end someone’s career, but if you’re not, you’ll be left feeling what a complete waste of time and talent this was.
How do you follow a serious injury angle? With three men on lawnmowers, naturally. The Mexicools against the bWo continues the theme of no prior build-up, with the match being made due to the bWo challenging the Mexicools on WWE.com two days before the PPV. It would also be the last time the bWo has been in a WWE ring since.
The match is purely a filler to help the PPV run to around three hours, and although there is some comedy to be found in the bWo mocking the Mexicools’ lawnmowers by riding down on big wheels, the lack of purpose in the match completely undermines the hard work that the wrestlers put in. It’s a decent contest for what it is, but with most of the crowd either buying food or having a bathroom break, the match has no heat, and the match makes no difference to the PPV for better or worse.
We finally come around to the match that many people had pegged for being the contest that could save the show, Eddie Guerrero taking on Rey Mysterio. This feud had been the focus point of SmackDown! since WrestleMania, and the arrival of the new Eddie, addicted to manipulation, gave the crowd a chance to see a great heel character. However, the decision to involve Rey Mysterio’s son Dominik in the feud made very little sense, as it took away the focus from the in-ring talents of the two men involved and made the storyline central around the soap opera element of Eddie having a secret about Rey that concerned Dominik. The two had fought twice already in 2005, once at WrestleMania 21 and again and the previous SmackDown only PPV, Judgment Day. Both matches had failed to set the world on fire, would this be the occasion for a classic bout?
Ultimately, the answer is no. For whatever reason, the chemistry that Rey and Eddie had in the ring together in late-90s WCW could not be found, and again Rey and Eddie have an above-average match that is fun to watch, but still not the calibre of match that so many fans were anticipating. Before the match even started we had the additional stipulation of Dominik being at ringside to watch, and on several occasions the in-ring work is ignored in favour of reaction shots from Dominik, who looks thoroughly bored by proceedings. His presence also breaks up action when Eddie leaves the ring to talk to him, which further frustrates the people who would much rather see him wrestling. The commentary also suffers as Michael Cole and Tazz spend more time talking about the storyline than the wrestling. It’s a good match, easily the best of the night, but after it’s done you are still left feeling that it had much more potential than what was actually delivered.
And now for something completely different, as we come to the staple of WWE programming for the last six years, T&A. No, not Test and Albert, the OTHER T&A, with the Bra and Panties match between Melina and Torrie Wilson. The back-story to this is simple. Melina doesn’t like Torrie. Torrie doesn’t like Melina. How do you settle a feud with such burning passion and conflict? By getting them to rip each other’s clothes off. The shocking thing is that this match has more hype on the PPV than most of the others, as both Melina and Torrie get pre-match promos to emphasise just how much a victory in this match would mean to them. Add in the additional factor of the recently-drafted Candice Michelle as the special guest referee, and you have all the ingredients you need for a slobberknocker of epic proportions!
I’m sure there are certain people out there who will have enjoyed this match immensely, and I’m all for people having different tastes. But as much as I enjoy seeing women in their underwear, especially attractive women such as Melina, I still don’t see the need for this match to take place on a PPV. Candice does a dreadful job of what little refereeing is required for this type of match, and after four minutes of rolling around, slapping, unconvincing clotheslines and stripping, we get a winner. Then the other two women take their clothes off anyway, making the whole thing a waste of time.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, we move on to the Main Event of the evening, with Batista defending the World Heavyweight Title against John Bradshaw Layfield. This match does have a certain amount of build-up to it, but not enough for a contest that is to determine the World Champion. This is almost certainly down to a lack of time, with just two weeks in between Batista’s move from RAW to SmackDown!, and it has to be said that JBL has an obvious claim to a title shot after winning a six-man elimination contest to become the #1 contender.
Nobody was expecting a lot from the match considering the two men involved, and they were proven correct. The only word that I feel can describe the main event in its entirety is BORING. For a start the match is twenty minutes long, and for the first fifteen minutes there is very little action. The two men brawl around the ring and then outside the ring, hitting every move well enough but not doing anything original, or anything to make you stand up and take notice of what’s going on. But no matter how unexciting the first fifteen minutes is, nothing can prepare you for the shambles that is known as the ending to the match. I do apologise to anyone who does not know the outcome, but I will be spoiling it for you if you don’t. But believe me; it’s worth knowing if you intend to buy the DVD. Batista, the World Champion, the face, the man with the momentum, gets disqualified for hitting Orlando Jordan with a chair. The crowd at the arena hate this decision, the fans around the world hate this decision, and I especially hate this decision. NEVER should a face be disqualified in the main event, because it completely defeats the object of what is needed. It should also be taken into consideration that the main event is what the PPV is based on, and when people part with their money for either the PPV itself or the DVD, not giving them a result in the most important match makes the fan feel like they’ve wasted their money. A mediocre match with an utterly dreadful finish that ends the show on a serious low.
- Exclusive Extra:
BWO-Blue County Choppers
- Smackdown! 28/07/05
Eddie Exposes Rey’s Secret
- Great American Bash 07/07/90
WCW World Heavyweight Title Match
Ric Flair vs. Sting
So the PPV itself isn’t up to much, so the DVD extras have to be of a high enough standard to make purchasing the DVD worthwhile don’t they? But naturally, it’s a let-down on that front as well.
There are three extras on the DVD, two of which are tacked on for very marginal reasons; however, the other is a piece of wrestling history. First up we have a vignette of the bWo preparing the big wheel bikes for later on, as the bWo Chopper Crew. What follows is a short, if funny skit as Hollywood Nova tries to motivate his slacking workforce of Da Blue Guy and Big Stevie Cool. It’s a fun little segment, but does very little for the DVD.
Next we have the main progression from after Great American Bash 2005 with Eddie Guerrero telling all about Rey Mysterio’s secret from the two SmackDown!s after the GAB. Again, nothing really of note, and if you watched the shows then you’re getting nothing new at all. However, it does serve as a reminder to how good Eddie Guerrero is as a heel, as he makes the absurd storyline his own with some perfect deliveries.
The third and final extra is a biggie, as we get the NWA World Title match from Great American Bash 1990 between Ric Flair and Sting, a classic match that is definitely well worth watching. It is a brilliant display of technical wrestling combined with a MEGA-hot crowd who cheer everything Sting does, and boo anything Flair does in return. Although it seems rather strange to have a WCW match on a WWE DVD, it is a nice reminder of the history of the Great American Bash, and one of the matches that helped kick-start Sting to superstardom.
It should be noted that there is nothing from the Sunday Night Heat that preceded the show (which featured a Cruiserweight Title match between Paul London and Nunzio), nor additional interviews from the Bash itself.
I won’t lie to you, this PPV is a stinker. Poor booking throughout belittles the effort put into the matches by the wrestlers, with only average matches from Christian/Booker T, Orlando Jordan/Chris Benoit, and a good outing from Eddie Guerrero/Rey Mysterio. The main event spectacularly fails to deliver, and although there is the lasting memory of Muhammad Hassan meeting his untimely demise, the way in which it was carried out (and then ignored for the rest of time) just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
Best match of the night honours go to Eddie against Rey, while the worst match in my opinion was Torrie vs. Melina.
The extras add little, if anything, to your enjoyment of the DVD, even if the Flair/Sting match is some great entertainment. If anything, the fact that the 1990 match eclipses all of the 2005 matches on the DVD speaks volumes for the quality of the event.
I would strongly advise you not to pick up this DVD unless you wish to have a complete set of 2005 DVDs; it’s just not worth the money you’ll pay for it.
Points: 4 / 10