Friday, September 2, 2016
This show features a main event between John Cena and Bobby Lashley. On paper, it looks pretty awful but I’ve actually heard really good things about it so I’m intrigued to check it out. This was in the midst of Cena’s year long run with the belt and also the Great Khali’s run with the World Title. Yikes. This would be the fourth WWE GAB but the 22nd in history.
The opening video package does a good job in hyping Bobby Lashley vs. John Cena as a really big deal. It also highlights the World Title triple threat but not as well. The Lashley/Cena stuff is set to a cool score. This show’s theme song is by Cobra Starship and is pretty cool.
Two months earlier, MVP won the US Title. This is the beginning of a feud that last nearly a year. Random note, but Matt is really tan here. Like, near Randy Orton levels. MVP takes some quick breathers so Matt does a plancha to the outside, but it looks pretty lame. They move from holds and tests of strength to just headbutting each other’s chests. Impressive. MVP takes control and applies a submission that holds Matt’s arms, so he chooses to bite MVP in the leg. Matt tries to climb up top, but he struggles due to a previous head injury. I appreciate things like that. MVP climbs up and hits a superplex. Matt counters a top rope back suplex and they trade blows. After Matt hits some signature offense, he counters the Playmaker into the Side Effect for a close near fall. The fans bite on a few flash pin near falls. MVP nails a boot to the injured skull of Matt before scoring with the Playmaker to retain.
Really solid opening contest. The crowd was rather quiet to start but the two men worked hard to get them involved. The head injury coming into play and being involved in the finish is something I really appreciate. MVP was on a bit of a roll of having solid matches and he did so here again.
Todd Grisham interviews Dusty Rhodes, who will be in a Texas Bullrope match later. As usual when it comes to Dusty, he delivers a charismatic promo.
As a surprise entrant at No Way Out 2007, which I recently reviewed, Chavo Guerrero won the title as a surprise entrant in a Cruiserweight Open. A wild Hornswoggle appears and slides across the ring, confusing everyone. Everyone just fights each other in and around the ring, with Yang and Noble having the best exchange. Chavo is close to winning with a half crab on Noble but Funaki breaks it up with an enziguri. Everyone gets in their spots like Chavo’s Three Amigos and Yang’s moonsault. In my favorite spot, Yang backdrops Moore over the top and onto everyone else outside. They do a tower of doom spot inside and, with everyone down, Hornswoggle shows back up. He hits the tadpole splash on Noble and wins.
This was your standard cluster of spots that we tend to get with cruiserweights. It was somewhat fun but that finish ended up being the end for the division as the title never came back. Gregory Helms did fine work with the title for about a year and it’s gone about six months after he loses it.
We now go to a video package to highlight Bobby Lashley.
I have no idea why this is even happening, let alone why it’s on a Pay-Per-View. I feel like it was during that weird time that Sandman was drafted to Raw. The object of the match is to retrieve the cane from a pole. Both guys get into a slugfest before each man tries to climb. That is honestly pretty much the entire match until Carlito misses a springboard back elbow. Sandman gets the cane and can use it legally but Carlito ducks a shot and wins with the Backstabber.
That was pretty much a waste. The object was to get the cane and then it didn’t even get used once. It was two guys slugging it out, climbing a pole and then it ended.
Randy Orton gets interviewed backstage and brings up how he took out Shawn Michaels and will do the same to Dusty Rhodes tonight.
They actually try some mat wrestling early on and Candice Michelle gets out of a head scissors like she’s Austin Aries. Well, she tries at least. Candice does a running snapmare that JR calls a blockbuster. Bless them, they were trying with Candice. Melina chooses to target the arm simply because it’s there and she needs something to work. Candice goes into her comeback with some dropkicks. She finishes it with a standing bulldog that she calls the Candy Wrapper.
Man, the women’s division was in trouble around this time. Beth Phoenix was about to give it a shot in the arm but for now, no good. Melina was never great to me the way that some people made her out to be and Candice was rough.
The Hardy Boyz are talking backstage when Candice Michelle comes up and starts drinking water, only to pour it over herself in slow motion. The facial expressions from the Hardys are classic. Ron Simmons delivers the slowest “DAMN” of his career.
The crowd was pretty dead for the Women’s Title match but they come to life for Jeff Hardy. Umaga dominates the early goings and it’s mostly entertaining. He does apply my least favorite hold in wrestling, the trapezius hold, which disappoints me. It’s the laziest of rest holds. Jeff nearly starts a comeback but Umaga just OBLITERATES him with a spinning sidewalk slam. It takes Umaga missing a headbutt for Jeff to rally, hitting a plancha to the outside. He continues to try and get the win with some signature offense inside. When Jeff hits Whisper in the Winds, Jim Ross calls it the Twist of Fate twice. You’re slacking JR. He’s able to hit the Swanton Bomb but takes a bit too long to cover and Umaga kicks out. The fans absolutely bite on this near fall. As if he gets tired of this, Umaga hits a savant kick, the running ass attack and the Samoan Spike to retain.
It started slow but it made sense since Umaga wanted to control the pace. He was in the midst of a strong 2007 and this was another good performance by him. Jeff Hardy’s rally was well done and the fans were completely into this. Having Umaga win clean and Jeff put in a gutsy effort made sure this accomplished what it set out to do.
Similar to the Bobby Lashley video package earlier, it’s time for a John Cena one.
This is the first ever ECW Title match in the history of the Great American Bash. CM Punk went on record on his DVD saying that he didn’t like any of his PPV matches with Morrison and this is the second of three straight. Punk has the advantage to start, getting two on a slingshot suplex. Morrison does his massive oversell on a monkey flip before taking a breather outside. Punk goes to get him but is tripped up on the steel steps. Morrison takes control for a short while, but the crowd has unfortunately quieted down again. They go up top where Punk sends Morrison to the mat and hits a cross body. Morrison wins a series of rollups but gets caught grabbing the ropes. Punk comes off the top but flies into a knee. However, it just looked like they awkwardly collided and Morrison just covered him for a lame finish.
I can kind of see what CM Punk meant on his DVD when he said they tried to cram 15 minutes of stuff into 8. Still, while I didn’t hate this, I do believe that it had potential to be much better. The incredibly lame and awkward finish really hurts things too.
Dusty wastes no time busting out the Bionic Elbows. According to Jim Ross, he’s gonna take young Randall to the woodshed. Dusty whoops ass outside but when they get inside, Orton attacks the knee with the cowbell. Very good heel work here as it looks pretty vicious. Since he’s Orton, he goes to a chinlock. The best part about it is that Dusty does a little dance to try and rally but it doesn’t work. Well, he eventually rallies but misses the big elbow. Orton then strikes Dusty with the cowbell and that’s a wrap.
About as good as I expected considering Dusty Rhodes hadn’t been on a WWE Pay-Per-View in about 15 years. They kept it short, the crowd was into it and Randy Orton looked pretty good.
Randy Orton looks for the punt but Cody Rhodes rushes out to protect his papa.
Edge was originally scheduled to face Kane for the World Title but had to vacate the gold. Khali won it in a battle royal later that night. To show his dominance, he just manhandles both of his opponents. He Chokeslams both of them and is looking like the monster champion that you would expect from someone of his size. Both Batista and Kane are out and Khali follows instead of trying for the countout win. Big body, small brain. Batista and Kane work together to put Khali through the table with a double spinebuster. So far, I have to commend the booking of this match. Khali is back in after Kane and Batista go at it. Kane Chokeslams him but Batista breaks up the count. They repeat that with a Batista spinebuster and Kane breaking up the pin. Batista then hits Kane with the Batista Bomb only for Khali to pull him outside and toss him into the steel steps. Khali enters and choke bombs Kane to retain.
Expertly booked stuff here for the most part. There was no way that this match would be great but this did everything that it needed to. Khali looked like a monster early, then they put him through the table to take him out of the equation. Not only was is smart in kayfabe terms, but it also allowed the better workers to do their thing. This was probably the best possible match these three could have put together.
A vignette airs for Triple H who is returning at SummerSlam next month. This leads to King Booker and Queen Sharmell coming out. He says he is the one true king in the WWE, calling out “Jerome” Lawler for an act of regicide. They want Lawler to relinquish his crown but he doesn’t. Booker declares this an act of treason and leaves. It didn’t accomplish much but the “true king” of WWE stuff would ignite a feud between Booker and the returning “King of Kings” Triple H for SummerSlam.
I appreciate that this starts with two powerhouses trying to outmuscle one another. That’s how it should be with these two guys. They do a good job of showcasing how Lashley may be stronger. He actually is in the driver’s seat for the most part, really hammering home the story of him possibly being the guy to end Cena’s reign, which started back in September. Cena comes with that diving Fameasser, but Lashley applies a rear naked choke like he’s Samoa Joe or something. When Cena gets out goes into the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM, Lashley gets up after the Five Knuckle Shuffle. That’s how everyone does it, so Cena can try the FU, but commentary tries to sell it like it’s this amazing feat from Lashley. He slips out of the FU and hits that Nikki Bella Rack Attack. Cena hits the FU but can’t cover in time, allowing Lashley to kick out. Cena then dodges a spear and locks in the STFU, which has made Umaga and Khali tap in recent months. Lashley is able to reach the ropes though. Cena talks to the official, giving Lashley the opening to hit a spear for a near fall. Lashley tries to take Cena up top, but Cena counters with a top rope FU and gets the 1-2-3.
Similar to the previous match, this was better than I expected. They told a good story of two powerhouse faces going toe to toe and surviving the best shots each other had. This did a good job of making Lashley credible as it took a lot to beat him. Unfortunately for Lashley, he would never appear on another WWE PPV.
Overall: The good on this show is good (Lashley/Cena, MVP/Matt and Umaga/Jeff) the mediocre on this show is painfully mediocre (Dusty/Orton and Punk/Morrison) but the bad (Carlito/Sandman, Melina/Candice and the Cruiserweight match) is awful. I commend the World Title and WWE Title matches for being better than I could have ever imagined, but there is too much bad dragging this show down.