July 21, 2008
The Great American Soap Opera
By DAVE HILLHOUSE - SLAM! Wrestling
With recaps of Triple Hís awkward "wedding gift" to Edge and Vickie, Cena and Cryme Tymeís re-designing of JBLís limo, and Punkís sneaky title win and confrontation with Batista, we are given the warning that titles are not the first and foremost concern at this Great American Bash. Like sand through the hourglass, so are the pay-per-views of our lives.
Jim Ross lets us know at the outset of the main event that both Edge and Triple H, having grown up as WWE fans, must think it's pretty special to be in the main event at The Great American Bash. If you had told them years ago that the WWE would be running the Bash, I'll bet they'd think that was something.
Right at the bell Edge goes all Festus and leaps on Triple H, landing blows. The Game reverses a toss into the ropes and throws Edge over the top to the outside, then into the security barrier. Triple H lays Edge out on the apron and drops an elbow on Edgeís neck. Triple H keeps working the head and neck, dropping knees on the back of Edgeís head. He throws the challenger chest-first into the corner and hits him hard, causing Edge to roll out of the ring. Edge clambers back up only to be driven into the ringpost. Triple H comes out for the kill but dodges Triple Hís attack and The Game runs into ... something (including the cameraman, making it hard to tell what happened). Back in the ring, Edge delivers a spear into Triple H while in the corner! Deciding not to follow up on his finishing maneuver, Edge instead drives his knee into Triple Hís midsection and sets the champ up on the apron for a hard shot himself.
He pulls Triple H outside and throws him into the ring steps, and follows it up by driving the champís back into the apron, then dropping him face-first on the announcerís table. Edge slows things down by locking on a leg scissors across Triple Hís upper body. The Game powers his way out of the maneuver, but is brought down to the ground once again by a quick dropkick for a two-count. Edge sees an opportunity for a spear with Triple H on the apron, but the champ steps aside and Edge dives through to the outside. When the challenger returns, the momentum slowly turns around culminating with Triple H landing a clotheslines and then a facebuster, sending Edge rolling outside again. The Game returns the ring steps favour to Edge and also throws him into the ring post. Shortly after, though, the challenger lands a hard DDT on Triple H.
Both lay prone for a while before Edge rolls the champ back into the ring. He misses the three-count and then, worse, misses an attack off the top rope that Triple H turns into a slingshot, followed up with a DDT of his own. Edge kicks out of a pinfall himself, and the two are on pretty even ground now. Triple H nearly gets a Pedigree but Edge counters it, dropping the Gameís head to the ground. Edge goes for another spear, but Triple H backs away, rolling Edge back for a two-count. A hard boot to the face brings the champ to the ground, setting Edge up for another spear attempt, but The Game turns it into a spinebuster. He then moves in for a Pedigree, but is run backwards into the corner. Edge hoists the champ up for a superplex and nails it. With both men down, the wedding planner (co-star of Edgeís video production) comes to the ring and hands Edge the belt. Vickie arrives, though, knocking her to the ground. She grabs the belt herself and enters the ring, looking to clock Edge. The wedding planner enters and the ref has to separate the two women. Edge lines up a spear (on who??), but everybody backs away and he hits Vickie. He then turns around into a Pedigree and Triple H retains the title. The Game celebrates his victory, which, I might remind you, was for the WWE World Title -- in case you missed it during the Edge/Vickie story.
The next WWE pay-per-view is SummerSlam, on August 17, 2008, from the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Match One - Fatal Four-Way for the WWE Tag Team Championship (The Miz and John Morrison (C) / Finlay and Horsnwoggle / Jesse and Festus / Hawkins and Ryder)
Jim Ross welcomes us to Long Island, New York, and the first match announced is for the World Tag Team Titles. The match, a Fatal Four-Way, is entirely unfair to the champs, as Ross and Foley remind us. The champs, entering first, do not have to be involved in the decision and they still may lose the titles.
Unfortunately for Morrison, the slow-motion normally used for his entrance was unavailable. The bell brings out the beast in Festus and everybody clears out of the ring. From the outside, the champs toss in Hornswoggle to face the big man. Not about to back down, Horsnwoggle rolls up his sleeves for a fight, but decides instead to dive out through the ropes and take out the champs. Jesse then tosses in Miz to his awaiting partner who gets an early one-count on one half of the tag champs. Festus follows by running Miz in the corner, then tagging in Jesse who monkey-flips The Miz to the middle of the ring for another attempted pin. In comes Festus with a rather Kane-esque uppercut.
A couple of unexpected tags follow, as Finlay is tagged in by The Miz and Festus tags out to Morrison. Morrison and The Miz then make traditional tags with each other, double-teaming Finlay with The Miz eventually settling into a chinlock on the fighting Irishman. Finlay starts a comeback, urged on by the crowd, but is taken down with a neckbreaker. Finlay is then catapulted into an awaiting elbow from Morrison on the apron. Morrison then leaps in with an elbow drop as Foley feels the need to let us know that Morrison can grate cheese with his ass. The Cheese-Grater and Finlay collide as Finlay comes out of the corner, with Ryder then tagging himself in via Morrison and getting a near-fall on Finlay. Mounting a comeback, Finlay starts pounding on both Hawkins and Ryder, but he is again worn down. Hawkins then runs Finlay into his partnerís boot, then Ryder re-enters only to be driven to the mat by Finlay and subsequently knocked down with the shillelagh. Ryder is out and Finlay seems locked for the win, but The Miz and Morrison enter to break up the pin and protect their belts.
The crowd is getting anxious for Finlay to get out of there and he obliges by tagging in Hornswoggle. A moment later, though, Jesse tags himself in through Hornswoggle and lands a Lou Thesz press on Hawkins. Hawkins rudely knocks Hornswoggle off the apron, which gives Jesse the chance to tag in Festus. Festus cleans house and hoists Jesse up for a launch onto Hawkins. From the outside, though, Ryder pulls Festus out to the floor and Hawkins knocks Jesse off of the top rope. Hawkins drops down for the cover and gets the pin, plus the belts for himself and Ryder.
Winners and NEW WWE Tag Team Champions: Hawkins and Ryder
Match Rating: 6/10 for some innovative tagging, and a rather sudden but effective ending.
Match Two - Matt Hardy (C) versus Shelton Benjamin foir the U.S. Championship
Hardy enters first, and as Benjamin follows J.R. mentions that the U.S. Title has been successfully defended for 21 years at The Bash (not consecutively). Benjamin immediately tries a roll-up and follows with a chin-lock. They run the ropes and Hardy is knocked down, but manages to try a small package for a one-count. Benjamin re-applies the headlock before he runs the ropes again, but this time he is knocked down and receives an arm-drag from Hardy as a follow-up. With both in the corner, the ref calls for a clean break, and to the amazement of all Benjamin delivers a cheap shot. Hardy knocks Benjamin down with a plain but solid elbow, but as he tries to follow-up heís tossed over the ropes. Hardy clings to the top rope and readies himself to flip back inside the ring, but Benjamin shows that he actually watches old wrestling tapes and dropkicks Hardy in the back, knocking him to the floor. Hardy is then tossed into the ringpost and he spins to the ground.
Benjamin quickly returns the champ to the ring and starts working on the back, eventually stretching Hardy out against his knee. The crowd is vigorously behind Hardy, but Benjamin is tenaciously stretching the champís back and abdomen. Hardy manages to get to his feet and drops Benjamin with a sort of impromptu Samoan Drop. He then goes for the less-fancy punch to the face, but Benjamin stops his run into the corner with a boot and drops him again with his back directly on his knee. Hardy catches another oncoming boot but Benjamin quickly counters with the other one, then Benjamin follows with a big splash onto Hardyís back as he is leaning against the corner. Benjamin tries again but gets kicked away and Hardy gets his first run of successive moves, highlighted by a clothesline and a bulldog. Hardy slams Benjamin and climbs the ropes, landing a leg drop across Benjaminís neck but only getting a two-count for it. Hardy tries again, but, as Shelton found out earlier, itís tough to do it twice. Benjamin catches him and tosses him, back-first, into the top turnbuckle.
Each then try a number of pins before Hardy lands a belly-to-back suplex, but his own back suffers for it. Hardy calls for the Side-Effect but is driven into the corner. Benjamin tries to set up a suplex off the top rope, but Hardy knocks him back. Hardy goes for broke with a moonsault but misses, getting a solid blow to the head. Benjamin follows with the Paydirt and -- guess what! Another new champ! Hardy clearly misread Benjaminís position on the mat, making it pretty easy for Benjamin to counter and capitalize.
Winner and NEW United States Champion: Shelton Benjamin
Match Rating - 7/10 for an even-handed match that truly could have gone either way.
Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler get on the mic and introduce a CM Punk promo. He points out that you donít have to be 6í6", 300 pounds and chiseled to be a champ. Whew ... I was worried that my plan to become champ was unrealistic. We then get another recap of Triple H interrupting Edge and Vickie, which of course sets us up perfectly for ...
Match Three - Mark Henry (C) versus Tommy Dreamer for the ECW Championship
Once again, the champ arrives first as Mark Henry enters alongside Tony Atlas to resounding ... silence. Henry is smiling all the way to the ring, even as he faces off against Dreamer, who is accompanied by Colin Delaney. The smiles disappears as Dreamer runs right in for a lock-up but is tossed back into the corner. He tries to take Henry down by the legs but is easily tossed aside. Dreamer ducks around the champ and does manage to dizzy Henry a bit with some punches, but he canít follow up and is knocked hard to the ground. Very quickly Dreamer looks to be in trouble as Henry stands upon him, laying all his weight onto the challenger. Dreamer is held up only to be sent down again with the worldís strongest headbutt. Dreamer gets to his feet on his own this time but is still tossed unceremoniously to the mat. Henry then locks in the worldís strongest wristlock. The crowd is either chanting for Dreamer to get up or to just throw the match already -- itís unclear which it is. Dreamer is knocked down again and gets some smack thrown in his face by Tony Atlas. Thatís Hall of Fame smack, mind you, so you know itís going to affect Dreamer.
Henry goes for a splash but Dreamer rolls out of the way. He shoots a quick dropkick into Henryís chest and stops the charging champ with an elbow. He then lands a neckbreaker, then a DDT, and is actually mounting a strong offence. Itís bad enough that Atlas feels the need to try and distract the challenger while Dreamer climbs the ropes. Itís looking good for Tommy until he is double-crossed by Delaney, who pulls Dreamer towards the ropes in mid-air, setting up Henry to deliver a slam and a cover for the win.
Winner and still ECW Champion: Mark Henry.
Match Rating: A surprising and perhaps inflated 6/10 for more entertainment than I was expecting.
Match Four - Shawn Michaels versus Chris Jericho
Both Jericho and HBK enter in extremely low-key fashion. Neither wrestler is interested in histrionics, which perhaps bodes well for the tone of the match. They come face to face, saying nothing, until they take a few steps back only to charge into a lock-up. They start trading blows and Jericho starts the trash-talking, but fails to catch HBK off the ropes and gets laid low with a heavy chop. HBK clutches at his ribs, but he still manages to kick Jericho in the face as he charges him in the corner. HBK then delivers a chop-block and locks in the figure-four (I see, so when Michaels defeated Flair at Wrestlemania he also took on his powers). Jericho is laid out in the corner and HBK keeps the punishment coming, especially working on Jerichoís right leg. Jericho holds the ref between himself and Michaels to stop the onslaught, but HBK keeps coming. Finally, Michaels tries throwing Jericho out of the corner but Y2J reverses it, sending Michaels flipping upside down and over the turnbuckle. Jericho follows with a hard dropkick as HBK stands on the apron. Michaels falls to the floor, still clutching at his ribs.
Jericho brings him back inside and lines up a hard kick to those ribs. A side-suplex keeps working on Michaels' ailing side and Jericho also keeps the trash talk going. Now itís Jericho who works on Michaels in the corner before settling on driving his knee right into HBKís "Achilles Back." Michaels gets to his feet and escapes the hold, then a slugfest ensues before Jericho drops HBK with a hard kick to the side of Michaelsí head. Jericho climbs the ropes and waits for Michaels to stand up. He then launches off the pads but Michaels makes sure that the Balls of Jerichoís end up on his knee. Michaels still manages to nip up even with the sore ribs, but Jericho quickly counters with the actual Walls of Jericho. HBK struggles to reach the ropes and seems to be a half-second from tapping before he grabs the bottom rope. Jericho keeps up the attack on the back and manages to catch Sweet Chin Music in his hand. Michaels finally lands a solid counter, knocking Y2J to the ground with a hard clothesline.
HBK climbs to the top but, before he can go for the elbow, is knocked into the top buckle by Jericho. Both end up on top of the buckles as Jericho goes for a superplex. HBK knocks him off and finally gets the elbow. He gets the crowd all worked up and calls for a second shot at the superkick. Down comes Lance Cade to distract, though, which he does by selflessly getting kicked to the ground. Michaels and Y2J trade near falls before Michaels launches Jericho over the ropes and on top of Cade. HBK then climbs the ropes to moonsault on both of them. Jericho gets to his feet and stumbles back into the ring, elbowing Michaels in the process. Michaels is cut and Jericho, seeing the blood, zones in on Michaels' face with a kick and punch. The ref asks Michaels if heís okay but Jericho just keeps up the assault on the face as does Cade on the outside. Michaels stumbles around, seemingly half-blind, but, proving that a blind squirrel can indeed find an acorn now and then, Michaels locks on an STF. Jericho battles out of it and once again the ref asks HBK if he wants to continue. Jericho looks to close things up with hard kicks and punches to HBKís face. Michaels tries again to get to his feet, but Jericho just pounds and pounds relentlessly until the ref has no choice but to call the match.
Winner by decision: Chris Jericho
Match Rating: 7/10 for some great heel work by Jericho, but a little too much "wounded puppy" by Michaels.
Thereís a Hollywood-themed promo for SummerSlam featuring a nice bit with Jericho playing Indiana Jones. J.R. then has a direct interview with Edge claiming that Triple H crossed a line that you just donít cross in this business. Had Edge and Triple H been accountants, perhaps Triple Hís behavior might not have violated "the code." Turns out it wasnít a direct interview after all, but they tried to make it look like it was.
Match Five - Natalya Neidhart versus Michelle McCool for the new Divas Championship
It is probably noteworthy that Michelle McCool comes in first as the champ has been entering first tonight. Neidhart gets her own catchphrase from J.R.: Natalya by name, naughty by nature. Weíre told that it is the first time in 52 years that a second title exists for the women's division. McCool drags Natalya to the ground off the bat, then Natalya runs behind McCool and receives a dropkick for her efforts. McCool drives uppercut after uppercut into Natalya and lands a kick to the chest before Natalya catches McCool and drops her neck first onto the ropes. Natalya starts working on McCoolís legs and applies a surfboard submission hold, but McCool escapes and almost gets on the Heel-Hook. Natalya goes outside and bends McCool around the ring post. Natalya then goes for the sharpshooter and gets it hooked in, but McCool gets to the ropes. Natalya decides to switch from her Hitman character to The Anvil and pounds away at McCool mercilessly before going to re-apply the sharpshooter. McCool counters, though, and gets on the Heel-Hook. Natalya tries to kick her way out but canít quite make the ropes, finally giving in and tapping to crown McCool as the new Divas Champion. Winner and NEW Divas Champion: Michelle McCool
Match rating: 5/10 for some good hard work, but this match had to be more special than this.
A celebration for the new Divas Champion, such as we havenít seen in 52 years, begins -- until five seconds later when Jericho comes out, still covered in blood. He tells the crowd to hold on to their tickets because this was the night that Shawn Michaels had his last match. Shawn, according to Jericho has been diagnosed with a detached retina. Oh, by the way, did I mention that thereís a new Divas Champion? You may have missed that in the middle of the Jericho/HBK storyline.
Match Six - CM Punk (C) versus Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship
Again, Punk, as champ, comes in first. Iíll lay odds right now, though, that Triple H comes out second. Batista plays the power game early, carrying Punk around the ring and grinning while heís at it. Punk gets behind Batista for a lock-up, but Batista gets him off quickly with a hard elbow. Punk starts with his arsenal of kicks and suddenly Batistaís smile is gone. He hoists the champ up on his shoulder but Punk wiggles out of the powerbomb predicament, yet he still falls victim to another heavy elbow. Punk dodges a charging Batista but canít pull him down. A moment later, Punk kicks Batista through the ropes to the outside, then follows with a baseball slide kick, knocking Batista into the security barrier. Punk then follows with a suicide dive, nearly driving himself as hard into the barrier as he does the challenger. He gets Batista back in for a two-count, but The Animal quickly regains advantage and begins tossing Punk from corner to corner, lifting him up for a solid suplex. Batista stretches the champ out in a near-camel clutch and, when the champ refuses to quit, Batista tosses him repeatedly against the ropes and drives his forearm into Punkís back.
Batista misses the third attempt, though, and again Punk kicks the challenger out of the ring and gains a momentís rest. Once back inside, Batista again throws Punk hard into the corner, but gets a boot to the face when he follows him in. The champ follows with a twisting splash off the ropes, while Batista quickly counters with power moves, leading to the champ being arranged for the Batista Bomb. Punk grabs the ropes in the midst of the maneuver, though, and he delivers several hard kicks to knock Batista listlessly to the mat. Punk drives a knee into Batistaís face and gets a near-fall. The champ canít land his finisher either, though, as Batista escapes the GTS and proceeds to run Punk from pillar to post, successfully following in with clotheslines. He gets Punk up on the top rope, but Punk counters by stretching Batistaís arms over the ropes. Punk then leaps to the top and drives an elbow into the challenger. Batista finally catches one of Punkís kicks, though, and retaliates with a devastating clotheline. It wasnít from hell, but probably from the same postal code.
Punk is then driven into the corner and Batista follows with shoulder-drives, until he tries again and Punk dodges to let Batista run his own shoulder into the post. Punk tries to leap on Batista from the apron, but is caught and slammed mercilessly to the outside mat. The challenger gets him up and inside the ring. Things seem to be leaning Batistaís way, but then Kane arrives, disposing of Batista on the outside. He then delivers a chokeslam to Punk and -- will we finally see what's in the bag? Nope. Kane grins momentarily and the World Heavyweight Championship plays second-fiddle to Kaneís internal struggles. Is he dead? We still donít know, but I think the cameraman that Kane kicked to the ground is. Batista rolls back into the ring and the crowd reacts mutedly to the announcement of Punk as reigning champ. Batista goes to meet Punk in the middle of the ring and finally lands the Batista bomb to wild cheers. Gotta admit, Punk asked for it when he flaunted the belt in Batistaís face.
The match is ruled a Double Disqualification, therefore CM Punk is still the World Heavyweight Champion.
Match rating 6/10 for some good salesmanship by Batista, especially on the receiving end of those kicks, but a crummy ending. Match Seven: John Cena versus JBL in a New York City Parking Lot Brawl
Cena and JBLís recent rivalry is reviewed. They donít go back as far as Wrestlemania 21, which, in wrestling years, is a lifetime ago. To my great pleasure, JBL still gets his limo entrance even with the match staying in the parking lot. Actually, it makes more sense than his limo coming into the arena. He exits the limo with a tire iron, but who shows up for a brawl in jacket and tie? Now itís JBL's turn to hunt around for Cena, whom the ref hasnít seen. A clanging in the background gets JBLís attention. Cena was waiting inside a car and runs at JBL, who leaps on top of another car to escape. Cena exits with jumper cables and wraps them around JBLís throat. He slams JBLís head against a car hood, and then slams his head under the hood. He hooks the booster cables to JBLís "Money in the Bag" and sends a charge through a carís battery. While JBL longs for an energy drink, Cena hoists up a keg but JBL dodges the attack.
JBL gets inside a car (which is a bad idea) and has his head rammed into the horn several times (as punishment for his dumb idea). A couple punches later, though, and JBL has some momentum. He is blocked from ramming Cenaís head into a car, but does manage to reverse a toss, throwing Cena into an open car door which knocks it off its hinges. JBL then drags Cena onto the hood of yet another fine vehicle, ramming his head into the steel. Both men end up on the hood of the car where JBL drops Cena with a neckbreaker. He goes for the first pin, and gets the first two-count. JBL keeps up the punishment, tossing Cena into a windshield. He then gets him on the roof of the car and drops Cena with a DDT. Cena rolls out to the concrete, and JBL gets another two-count. Frustrated, JBL finds his tire iron, but when he returns Cena has got to his feet.
About to deliver his finisher, Cena listens to the devil on his shoulder and goes to FU JBL onto the car instead. JBL uses the hesitation to reverse the move and throws Cena hard onto the carís windshield. He clambers over and covers Cena for the pin. Remember, kids, always listen to the angel on your other shoulder. JBL is aided to the back while Cena refuses help and walks away looking upset with himself.
Winner by pinfall: JBL.
Match Rating: 5/10 for some innovative violence, but Cena had already survived being thrown into a windshield, and should have taken a bigger hit to lose the match.
Now, for the moment youíve really all been waiting for: in a text-based survey, the fans sympathize with Edge more than with Vickie, by a clip of 55%. Wow. Wrestling fans shows their moral character. We get to see Triple H interrupting Edge and Vickie again. That's good, because I forgot what had happened.
Match Eight: Triple H (C) versus Edge for the WWE Championship
Edge enters first, and though I win nothing for being right, I will sleep well. Edge plays up the crazy eyes as he waits for the champ. One more note before the match starts: Vince has to write a memo. Either the WWE Title is the richest prize in sports entertainment or itís the World Heavyweight Title. You canít say both on the same night. Winner by pinfall and still WWE Champion: Triple H. Match rating: 6/10 for Edge and Triple H working well together ... I expect much better things to come.
Event Rating: 6/10