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SmackDown presents...
WWE Great American Bash
June 27, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com


I wish I could muster a relatively heartfelt apology for the delay getting this recap posted.  But hey, I can't.  I'll tell you exactly why I'm two hours late getting this done:

After the GAB PPV wrapped up, the last thing in the universe I wanted to do was think any more about it.  So I sat around my friend's house (I made the mistake of doing a good enough drunken sell-job of the PPV at a wedding on Saturday, so there was no Solitary Man at Hooters for me... bow before the Amazing Personal Charisma of The Rick!) and had a couple more beers under the pretext of helping him fix a computer problem.  Anything to dull the excruciating pain.

But now I'm back home, and I guess I've got no excuses for not getting this recap done.  Be forewarned: I'll be putting forth about as much effort here as it seemed like WWE put forth on when planning tonight's show.

And on that happy note, here are the complete results of the surprisingly-long-ago-completed WWE Great American Bash PPV (with editorial thoughts tacked on in red italics)....

  • On Heat: hype and stuff. Also, Spike Dudley beat Jamie Noble in a decent little 6 minute match, and they got a last second tease in for the Taker/Dudleys match by showing Paul Bearer bound and gagged, getting taunted by Paul Heyman.
  • John Cena retained the US Title, outlasting Booker T, Rene Dupree, and Rob Van Dam.  Before the match, Cena did about a 4 minute freestyle; apparently, the lack of rapping on Thursday nights meant he had material bursting from every seam.  For the most part, he should have kept it under wraps, though (yes, he did bring back the edginess, since it's PPV and topics such as Kurt Angle and Luther's taste for mutual masturbation are now fair game, but it was still mostly juvenile and predictable tripe). Early part of the match was all about Booker T realizing that he didn't have to do any work, he could just stand outside and let everybody else beat on each other and eliminate each other.  So they traded off on various 1-on-1 pairings for the opening 5 minutes.  Then Cena realized what was going on, bailed out, and tossed Booker into the fray.  As Cena mimicked Booker's inactivity at ringside, the other three men built up to the first elimination: Booker and Dupree teamed up to get the better of RVD, but RVD eventually staged a big comeback.  RVD hit Frog Splashes on both Booker and Dupree, but just when he seemed like he was ready to score a pinfall, Cena decided to hop back in and he rolled RVD up for a quick elimination.  RVD's gone at about the 8 minute mark.  More Dupree and Booker working together, now, as they team up on Cena.  But it's only a few minutes before Cena stages his comeback: he hits the F-U on Dupree, but before he can follow up, Booker hits Cena with the Scissors Kick.  Booker's not sure what to do, but he opts to pin Dupree first.  And Dupree is eliminated.  But when Booker gets around to covering Cena, he's had enough time to recover, and he kicks out.  Booker opted to slow things down with a submission hold (I forget which one, exactly), which also gave Cena the chance to stage his big superman comeback by powering out of said hold.  As Cena rallied, Booker tried to put an end to things with another Scissors Kick, but Cena sidestepped and reversed his way into an F-U.  A three count later and Cena had retained the belt after around 15 minutes of action.  [Not a bad opener... nothing special, mind you, but just about as rock solid a match as these guys could have in a 15 minute slot.  I almost let myself start getting optimistic if only I could expect the rest of the night to live up to the opener...]
  • Backstage: Cena passes Charlie Haas and Miss Jackie, and gets some token congratulations.  But GM Kurt Angle sees this, and is disgusted... Haas is his former protege, and now he's consorting with the likes of Cena and Jackie?  Angle announces that he will punish his old protege by making him face off against his new protege, Luther Reigns.  And it's NEXT.
  • Elsewhere backstage: Sable is in a hot tub, talking about how her hostess job means she can interview whoever she wants in her Jacuzzi of PG-Rated Pleasure.  So she has opted to interview the hottest star on all of SD!: herself.  Except she really doesn't ask herself any questions, just kind of rambles for another minute or two about how she'll beat Torrie Wilson so that the Home Viewers have time to stare at her glistening fun bags.  Wheee!
  • Luther Reigns beat Charlie Haas.  Not a chance, Potsie: thoughtless squash match gets thoughtless recap.  Seemed overlong (up around 8 minutes) and a travesty that Haas didn't have a chance to look better at some point along the way.  Reigns with the clean pinfall win after the Roll of the Dice (or whatever they're calling that spinning neckbreaker thingie). [Where's me fast forward button?]
  • Earlier today: Bradshaw sat down and had a very serious talk with a camera.  He promised victory at Judgment Day, and he got it. Tonight, with no DQs, he promises not only victory, but to walk out as the new WWE Champion.  Oh good lord, no....
  • Rey Mysterio beat Chavo Guerrero to retain the WWE Cruiserweight Title.  Very good match, and the best of the night by a long shot.  They traded chain wrestling for a bit to start, then Rey got on a roll with a few higher-energy moves.  But Chavo brought that to an end at about the five minute mark, when he shoved Rey off the top rope, and Rey landed awkwardly and started selling a serious knee condition.  From there on out, everything Chavo did was to take out Rey's knee, and everything Rey did was tempered by the fact that his knee was buckling constantly.  Good stuff, as it told more of a story than a usual "X division spotfest," and made every one of Rey's highspots that much more important to the story of the match.  Rey actually did get a bit of offense in the middle of the match, and his target was Chavo's arm, mostly.  At about the 15 minute mark, though, Chavo was back in control, and that's when Rey began to fire up.  From there on out, it was exceptional stuff: very fast paced, tons of near falls and false finishes.  After they'd both busted out their finishes and other plausible final holds, the actual finish was Chavo going for the second Gory Bomb of the match, but Rey countered it into a victory roll/pinning combo.  Rey got the clean pinfall somewhere around the 20 minute mark.  [Excellent stuff, as good as anyone could have hoped for, and given the time to shine, too.  If only it weren't bookended and surrounded by loads of crap, it might have been the kind of match that was seen by enough fans that it could have jump-started the resurrection of the cruiserweight division. But alas....  98% of you will just have to take my word on it.]
  • Backstage: Billy Kidman, Funaki, and Spike Dudley are in the Hot Tub with Torrie Wilson, and they're arguing over whether any of them could have beaten Rey for the CW Title.  Torrie finally decides she's heard enough of their catty bickering, and stands up to announce she's gotta go get ready for her match, anyway.  Of course, she pauses strategically so that all may be afforded an eyeful of her glistening rump.  Kidman, all credit to him, manages to convey Pure Lecherousness instead of Vague Disinterest.
  • Kenzo Suzuki beat Billy Gunn. Michael Cole and Tazz attempted to entertain themselves by debating the pronunciation of the geisha's name (Tazz: "Hiroku". Cole: "Hiroko".  Me: "Who gives a shit?").  Notable: Suzuki hit his claw/legsweep finisher at about the 3 minute mark, and I thought that we might have ourselves a merciful end.  But no: I guess that finisher was deemed inadequate, so instead, we get about five more minutes of pointless crap.  A lot of it was Suzuki using a Spock Lock (nerve hold, whatever you want to call it), which is of course Very Thrilling TV.  Gunn fired up to absolutely no reaction, hit a Stinger Splash, but then fell prey to some kind of knee to the head and a new Suzuki finisher (inverted DDT, but landing across Suzuki's knee).  [Wheee! Another 8-9 minute match that just seemed over-long and out of place on a PPV.]
  • Backstage: Paul Heyman taunts Paul Bearer some more.  He makes an attempt at logic by pointing out that there won't be any cops or authorities to stop the Attempted Murder because everybody in the world thinks Heyman's bluffing.  But he's not.  Blah, blah, blah.  Normally, I'd love a 5 minute Heyman promo, but this is one of those cases where the old maxim holds true: You Can't Polish a Turd.  No matter how hard Heyman buffed this thing up, it wasn't gonna undo the past weeks of crap.
  • Sable beat Torrie Wilson. This one had bowling shoe tendencies, and I have no fucking idea why they insisted on asking Torrie and Sable to approximate a wrestling match for six or seven minutes when there was a perfectly good hot tub going unused in the back.  Some white t-shirts, the jacuzzi, and a bit of cat-fighting: THAT I could understand asking fans to pay for.  But this? Even Tazz quit taking the match seriously after a few minutes, and was mostly just chuckling to himself while Cole tried to stay on task.  The finish was Sable pretending to be hurt so that Torrie got worried and laid off, and then as soon as Torrie was looking the wrong way, Sable got up, rolled Torrie up, used a handful of tights, and got the cheap win.  [Why?]
  • Backstage: Hey, Dawn Marie has found the Hot Tub, at least!  Rene Dupree stops by and tries to hit on her, but is interrupted when Dawn suddenly becomes enamored of Nunzio and his allegedly giant penis.  Or something.  Attempted Comedy straight out of the "Quarter Till 1:00am SNL Skit" Playbook.
  • Mordecai beat Bob Holly.  And again, it's pointless crap served up in a purely by-the-numbers format.  Mordecai is big and strong, Holly gets a late match comeback that not one fan seemed to give a shit about, Mordecai puts an end to that with the Razor's Edge/crucifix finisher.  [Another 7-8 minute match that simply had no excuse being on PPV.  That makes at least four of them tonight.]
  • Bradshaw beat Eddie Guerrero via Reverse Decision to win the WWE Title.  I shit you not.  This was actually a FAR more tolerable match than I would have guessed.  The bullrope gimmick meant that they had way more options to build drama by dragging each other to the four corners (required for the win).  Also: they had about 10 minutes less time to fill up this month so JBL didn't feel the need to kill things with side headlocks and the like.  The bullrope rules were hammered home by WWE busting out Corner Lamps (green for JBL, red for Eddie), which would light up to indicate which corners a wrestler had already hit.  Great idea for a visual, though it probably would have worked better if they'd had somebody other than one of Eugene's ex-classmates pushing the buttons, if you catch my drift.  On top of JBL's "guarantee," the first half of this match was almost ALL Eddie, which further added to my festering dread.  If Eddie was gonna go over, he wouldn't be destroying JBL for 10 minutes at a time and busting JBL open with chairshots, would he?  So even as I was pleasantly surprised by the decency of the work, drama, and intensity, I had that thought hanging out in the back of my skull.  Bradshaw's offense finally kicked in about the 12 minute mark, when Bradshaw used the bullrop to toss Eddie off the top rope and into the Spanish Announce Table.  It didn't break, so Bradshaw followed up with a powerbomb through the table.  Jerk.  They got back in the ring, and Bradshaw finally got a couple of teases in, but it only lasted for a few minutes till Eddie began his comeback.  The back-and-forth ended up with both guys decided to make the rounds: Eddie would hit a corner, and Bradshaw would follow up right behind.  It got the point where both guys had hit three corners, and the next guy to hit the fourth turnbuckle would win...  Eddie finally made a desperation leap over JBL and tapped the fourth corner.  Ref called for the bell and awarded the decision to Eddie.  But wait: here comes Kurt Angle to announce that he'd like to see a replay (and I already knew exactly what was gonna happen here, knew it with stone cold certainty).  And the replay shows that as Eddie jumped over JBL to get to the corner, he actually shoved JBL backwards into the corner, and JBL's back hit the turnbuckle just before Eddie's hand.  So JBL is your winner by reverse decision, and the announcers actually sit there and praise Angle for making the Right Call.  Oh man, not even a single bit of righteous indignation on Eddie's behalf, not even a hint that Bradshaw fell ass-backwards (literally) into the title.  They actually think we should accept JBL as a legit champion.  Dumbasses. [I got nothing else here, people.  The match was OK, but the finish?  I repeat: dumbasses.]
  • Undertaker beat the Dudley Boyz and then decided to kill Paul Bearer all by himself.  Three guys who could have a very solid match, and they don't even hit the ring till after 10:30, so you know it's gonna be short-ish.  And then, they spend more time during this match yammering on the house mics and over-doing the Paul Bearer In Concrete gimmick than they do wrestling.  I don't think the fans really cared about Bearer, and it showed, here.  Right out of the gate, Heyman asked Taker to lie down, and if he didn't, he'd pull the lever that released the concrete in Bearer's glass crypt.  Taker lied down, but then he decided to fight back.  So Heyman threw the switch and filled the thing up to Bearer's belly, and only stopped the flow when the Duds managed to gain control of Taker.  But then Taker started a comeback, and Heyman threw the switch again.  Taker came out of the ring to go after Heyman, but the Duds attacked him from behind.  Just as the concrete got up to Bearer's chin (the fourth of his seven), Bubba Dudley told Heyman to stop the concrete, because he wanted to prove how good the Duds are by beating the Undertaker fair and square.  Heyman obliged.  And the Duds dominated for another couple minutes... but then Taker started to rally in earnest.  And since Heyman was obeying Bubba's wish, he was closer to ringside instead of ready to throw the switch again to punish Taker.  Undertaker's rally culminated in a chokeslam for Bubba, and then a Tombstone for D-Von.  Heyman just had to look on as Taker scored the clean win.  About 12 minutes of not as good as it could have been.  Heyman retreated to the cement truck, and said Taker disobeyed him, and so now Heyman will have to Do The Right Thing.  But just before Heyman can get to the cement switch, a "lightning bolt" comes down from the heavens and scares Heyman off.  Taker slowly marches down from the ring to the Concrete Crypt.  Paul Bearer is making smiley faces and thanking Taker for saving him.  But Taker gets an odd look on his face: looks at Bearer, then looks at the cement truck, looks back to Bearer.  Taker grabs a mic, and announces, "Sorry Paul, but I have no other choice.  Rest.  In.  Peace."  And the crowd seems half uncaring and half supportive as Taker throws the switch and finishes covering Paul Bearer's head in concrete.  Allegedly.  The awkward camera angle made it painfully clear that there were shenanigans afoot, and that this wasn't the same Concrete Crypt we'd been seeing previously in the match.  Just a contrived and cheesy end to a stupefying show.  [I've said all I want to say already.]

I've rarely been so confused by a wrestling show.  It's one thing to be stubborn and want to push your ideas through to completion.  It's another to completely book a show to piss off the few fans who were loyal enough fork over money for a shitty-looking line-up.

Other than John Cena and Rey Mysterio, it was All Heels All The Time tonight, which is never a recipe for satisfying the fans.  Every now and again you can get away with that, though, if you're clearly setting the stage for future storylines/directions.  The problem on this night: even if they have ideas for positive changes to the future direction of SD!, they may not have any audience around to watch the changes.

Bradshaw as a world title challenger was an abysmal failure in the ratings and at the box office. Why in the blue fuck do you think making him into the world title HOLDER will change anything?  Because people will want to pay to see him lose the title?  Maybe.  But I'm guessing not.  All this night accomplished was solidifying Jeff Jarrett's claim to holding North America's second-most-legitimate wrestling title.  Way to go, the E!

Throw in the cheesiness of the show's climax, the pure pointlessness of pretty much everything on the undercard that wasn't for the US or CW Titles, and I am left with an overall very bad taste in my mouth. 

Maybe more thoughts/analysis tomorrow in OO after I've had a chance to sleep on it.  Or maybe not.


Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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