The Great American Bash started life as a PPV event (apart from the 1986 and 1987 events which were multi-date tours) under the NWA banner back in 1985. WCW took the mantle and ran GABs in 1991 and 1992. Three years later, WCW brought back the Great American Bash and ran it every year until the summer of 2000. WWE would then purchase WCW and that was that… until 2004 (headlined by a stupid gimmick match between Undertaker and The Dudleys), when WWE resurrected the event as a Smackdown-only PPV.
Running Time: 163mins (excluding extras)
- Fatal Four Way Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship: John Morrison & The Miz vs. Finlay & Hornswoggle vs. Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder vs. Jesse & Festus
- United States Championship Match: Matt Hardy vs. Shelton Benjamin
- Todd Grisham Interviews CM Punk
- Triple H Interrupts Edge & Vickie Guerrero’s Wedding Ceremony
- ECW Championship Match: Mark Henry vs. Tommy Dreamer
- Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho
- Edge Responds to Triple H Ruining His Wedding
- WWE Divas Championship Match: Natalya vs. Michelle McCool
- World Heavyweight Championship Match: CM Punk vs. Batista
- New York City Parking Lot Brawl: John Cena vs. JBL
- Eve Torres Interviews Triple H
- WWE Championship Match: Triple H vs. Edge
- Edge is gonna pay
- Kane needs to know
To be brutally honest, the GAB has proven to be one of the weakest events on the WWE calendar, so there wasn’t a lot of expectations going into this one. Triple H and Edge had never really had a singles run against each other, so this, at least, added something to an otherwise average-looking PPV.
The show opens with a better-than-expected Fatal Fourway for the WWE Tag Team Championships as Miz & Morrison (the best tag team in recent memory) defending against Jesse & Festus, Ryder & Hawkins and (the heavy crowd favourites) Finlay & Hornswoggle. Whatever happened to tag-teams having team names?
JBL and Mick Foley do a sterling job of putting Festus over in the early going, while the champs do their heelish thing and hurl Hornswoggle between the ropes to start the match with the “Transforming Titan”. From here, you get the usual four-way match situations of tags, breaking falls and the obligatory “everyone in at once” spot. The finish is nicely done though and gets a decent pop from the crowd.
Miz & Morrison are the stars of the bout (as if you expected anything less), but I do feel sorry for Ryder & Hawkins. Their association with Edge should have led to a great run and a strong push, but nothing could be further from the truth. A wasted opportunity to establish a tag team as something important.
From a match that was better than expected, we go to a match that has high expectations to live up to. Matt Hardy has been on a great run ever since he started his feud with MVP. Shelton Benjamin is as hot-and-cold a wrestler you can get. When he’s “on” he’s amazing, but when he’s not, the guy can stink out the arena. The big question would be which Shelton would turn up.
For the second match in a row, Jim Ross and Mick Foley provide commentary duties and help to make the match that little bit more credible.
I’m glad to say that it was “On” Shelton Benjamin that showed up for his title shot and, as such, the match is pretty damn good. The crowd are hot throughout and the action is intense (with a sequence having Shelton catch Hardy in mid-air and then powerbomb him into the turnbuckles being a highlight) and hard-hitting with near-falls aplenty. Again, the finish is nicely done and the crowd give a loud reaction for the three-count.
Two matches in and two good outings to show for it. Would the “E” be able to sustain this momentum for a third bout? We’ll find out after Todd Grisham’s WWE Mobile interview with CM Punk from the previous Monday’s RAW, which is good (but drags on) and a look back at the Edge & Vickie wedding (which also mercifully edited into a highlight package instead).
Can the ECW Championship match continue the great run? The simple answer is no, it cannot. It’s ok, but nothing special. The saving grace is that the bout is very short (5m30s) and is most notable for the actions of Colin Delaney (who would be out of the company a few weeks after this event). Mark Henry is joined by Tony Atlas as his manager for the first time. I really like the pairing, so I’m glad WWE have stuck with it so far. Tommy Dreamer is accompanied by “Diet-Mikey Whipwreck” Colin Delaney.
The action is slow and plodding, with the occasional decent clothesline by Henry. The finish, however, is the highlight (after the champ basically no-sells a Dreamer DDT) and leaves the fans with a sense of outrage the convey very vocally. This is the dud of the event and one match that doesn’t really need to be seen by anyone ever again.
From the worst match of the night to one of the best. The fantastic rivalry between HBK and Chris Jericho is chronicled with a fantastic video package. From the smashing of Shawn’s head into the Jeritron, the loss of the IC Title and ‘Night of Champions’ to the beautifully paced and crafted heel-turn of Jericho into one of the best characters in pro-wrestling today, this feud has been a joy to watch unfold.
Jericho and Michaels have always had good chemistry (they stole the show at Wrestlemania XIX) and this match had the potential to top them all. Michaels had an eye injury (sustained in the Jeritron assault) and Jericho’s heel persona took the “the heel has to believe what he says is true” mantra to it’s logical conclusion by actually being right and speaking the truth about the fans hypocrisy and double-standards when it comes to Shawn Michaels.
This match is awesome, from the entrance music to the mannerisms of both men before the opening bell, you know this is going to be something special… and they don’t disappoint. With intense action and a red-hot crowd, both HBK and Y2J give a performance that outshines everything else on the card. Sure, there are the standard spots from both men (which, to be fair, all pro-wrestlers are prone to do), but they deliver them with panache and emotion. It’s the emotion that separates the good from the great and these two deliver it by the bucketload.
The finish is set up by a basic and innocuous reverse elbow that reopens the cut above HBK’s eye and causes him to bleed a gusher. I mentioned emotion earlier, but it’s in the closing few minutes that this becomes really apparent as both men work their asses off in giving their all to their characters (especially Jericho at the moment he realises Shawn is bleeding). Also, the referee warrants a mention for the great job he did in the closing moments.
Deservedly so, this is the longest match on the card and it does a great job of prolonging the feud for another few months.
Edge’s backstage promo is decent enough, but is, ultimately nothing special… which is exactly how I would describe the match between Natalya (oh, how WWE is misusing The Anvil’s daughter) and Michelle McCool. A sub-five minute bout to crown the first WWE Diva’s Champion. Both women can do better than this, and with Natalya, she really should be on RAW and having a drag-out feud with Beth Phoenix.
The action is basic, but I’m disappointed in Natalya using the Sharpshooter and having it countered so effortlessly. The finish, as legit a hold as it is, looks really flat and uninspired. For pro-wrestling, having a basic-looking submission that hasn’t really been built up (the Anklelock is as basic as it comes, but it was pushed to the moon) just doesn’t cut it, so the finish falls down and is, for lack of a better term, an anti-climax. In fact, when Jericho comes out (still covered in Shawn’s blood) to cut a heel promo on HBK while the Divas are celebrating a new champion, it’s the highlight of the segment.
Five matches in and, so far, only three of them have been worth watching. With only three matches left (and one of them featuring JBL), I was wondering if this PPV would be the first one in a long time to have more bad matches than good ones.
Up next, hopefully to add another good match to the show, Batista tries (again) to win the World Heavyweight Title from CM Punk. This is a mild improvement over their previous matches, but it’s still a drop down when compared to what both are capable of. The strikes are hard-hitting and the action is logical in regard to both men’s styles. The only downside is the finish. It really leaves a bad taste in your mouth after investing over ten minutes in an evenly fought contest.
The penultimate match in the card is a bout between two wrestlers who have quite a bit of history. Because of that history, this contest had to have something different to draw the fans in one more time… and in the “New York City Parking Lot Brawl”, that’s exactly what we got.
Cena had been in a similar match, which was very enjoyable, in the past against Eddie Guerrero (a fight that is on the new Eddie DVD), so there was some point of reference to work with. The opening of the match is a little strange; JBL arrives in his limo, dressed in a suit and with crowbar in hand, and spends around 90secs just looking for his opponent.
The action, as with most stipulation bouts, is predictable, but that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable. The two men hurl each other around the “parking lot” with reckless abandon and give themselves some seriously stiff shots throughout. Even a dangerous spot where JBL traps Cena in a car and sets it on fire (with the man himself still inside) doesn’t seem to ridiculous and the finish is a basic and brutal crunch that makes you wince.
This match was a total surprise in how good it actually was, with some of it being outright exciting. JBL and John Cena deserve credit for going all out and giving the fans a violent and memorable hardcore brawl. Cena’s punches still suck, though.
The main event between HHH and Edge was an intriguing one for me because they’d never really had a programme with each other before. Mick Foley, commentating with Jim Ross, was in a unique position of insight as he had been in major feuds with both men… and those feuds, arguably, were what cemented Edge and Triple H in the upper-echelon of WWE (with HHH v Cactus Jack and Edge v Mick Foley being, in my opinion, the greatest examples of a Street Fight and Hardcore Match respectively). Edge, who going into the match had nothing left to lose, was without Vickie Guerrero as he challenged Triple H for the WWE Championship, was the most consistent performer in the company at this point in time.
The fans in Long Island were seriously up for the main event and the wrestlers didn’t disappoint; the action was great and paced to perfection. The appearance of Alicia Fox is a disappointment (even if it makes sense in regards to the storyline), but the finish is as heated as you’re likely to find on a “B-Level” PPV.
The main-event couldn’t possibly hope to live up to the HBK/Jericho match (either emotionally or with the in-ring action), so with “Match of the Night” honours already sewn up, the two guys in the ring could focus more on a story-driven contest that showcased Edge’s strength as a physical performer in regards to facial expressions and the small things that separate a wrestler from a wrestler with personality.
A satisfactory close to a satisfactory pay-per-view.
The two extras are pretty much worthless. The first, an exclusive backstage segment immediately following the main event, has Vickie Guerrero promising that Edge will pay for his indiscretions (ultimately leading to her re-instating Undertaker and booking a ‘Hell in a Cell’ match between the men who competed in my feud of the year).
The second is simply Kane talking backstage and holding up his little sack. This was in the midst of the “Is he dead or is he alive” angle that had me thinking that Masked Kane would be returning. Instead, it led to a pointless feud with Rey Mysterio that eventually fizzled to nothing and had no impact whatsoever.
A decent event, but not a hugely memorable one. Of the eight matches on show, six of them were title bouts and two of those were not PPV-worthy (ECW and Divas Title matches). The non-title matches (JBL/Cena and HBK/Y2J) stole the show and are the reason to watch this event.
The opening match is fun, but the wrong team won, while the US Title match is pretty good too, but again, WWE didn’t really do anything with the winners of both matches afterwards, rendering them meaningless in the grand scheme of things.
The Great American Bash wasn’t a bad pay-per-view, it just wasn’t a very good one. Very little is memorable outside Michael/Jericho and very little had any real bearing on what followed in WWE. Even the WWE Title Match seemed like just an excuse to continue the Edge/Vickie situation and lead into an angle that brings back The Undertaker.
A disappointment and the worst show of the year so far. Only buy it if you can get it cheap or you really want to have a complete collection of WWE events.