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Bash provides surprise endings
By CHRIS SOKOL - SLAM! Wrestling


Wrestling and patriotism, both have shared a strong bond. The WWE has always been a strong believer in supporting our troops and the American way of life. Fans watch the emotional tributes the WWE puts together for the men and women of the United States armed forces. While it is true that WWE is patriotic, they did not introduce the idea for the PPV that will take place on the night of June 27, 2004. The creators of The Great American Bash were in fact WCW. Three years after buying WCW, WWE has picked up that they could use WCW PPV names and re-introduce the once-loved PPVs.

The card this year, though, has left many people skeptical. Eddie Guerrero vs. John Bradshaw Layfield last month was a bloodbath. Can they improve on that and pull off a great match at the Bash? The Undertaker taking on The Dudleys with Paul Bearer's life at stake in a Cement Casket Match? That could be interesting. After you have those men who have been main eventing and gaining top spots on recent Smackdown Cards, you are left with the mid card and openers. Unlike the Raw Roster, Smackdown's roster is less "Legend" filled. Like I have said in the past, Raw is an established show with established talent. Smackdown, though is does contain established talents is mostly rookie show. A show the up-and-coming stars of tomorrow are put on to showcase their skills and gain experience. The mid and opening card for this event showcases new talent such as, Luther Reigns, Mordecai and Kenzo Suzuki. It will be interesting to see how their matches play out since they are all new, with the exception of Mordecai, who made his PPV Debut last month, to this atmosphere.

However, we shouldn't move ahead until we look back at what The Great American Bash has meant to wrestling and what great wrestling the Bash has provided us with.

July 6, 1985, Charlotte, NC, Memorial Stadium, The Great American Bash is born. The event drew 27,000 fans and $300,000 (arena numbers). Big difference from today's inflated PPV world. The show opened with an infamous Dog Collar Match, pitting Jimmy Valiant against Paul Jones. The big match was Ric Flair keeping his NWA World title against Nikita Koloff, but the final match of the evening was a cage match where Dusty Rhodes beat Tully Blanchard to claim the NWA TV belt.

WWE had The Big Five (Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, King of the Ring, Summerslam and Survivor Series). WCW did their best to combat that with their big PPVs (Halloween Havoc, Superbrawl, Starrcade). The one they struck gold with was The Great American Bash. Sure WCW had Beach Blast and Bash at the Beach, but The Great American Bash lasted the longest. It came before Bash at the Beach and Beach Blast and the crowds it drew proved that WCW was on to something. The Great American Bash brought in the crowds of people who were patriotic through their arena tours.

Throughout the years this great event has excelled to greater heights. Sadly, The Great American Bash would be lost for four years. The last event was held on June 11, 2000 in Baltimore, Maryland at the Baltimore Areana. The event drew 7,031 people and $298,870 in box office earnings.

And now fast forward to the present. June 27,2004. The Great American Bash returns. Norfolk, VA waits for the return of a PPV that brought smiles and excitment to many a fan back in the day. Welcome Back Great American Bash!

WWE The Great American Bash 6-27-04 Norfolk, VA at the Spectrum

Opening video package is shown. School children are shown lifting the American Flag and pledging alligeance while clips of John Bradshawn Layfield, Eddie Guerrero, John Cena, The Undertaker and The Dudleys are shown.

Torrie Wilson, dressed as Uncle Sam, and welcomes us to The Great American Bash.

Match One- WWE United States Championship Fatal Four Way Match- John Cena vs Booker T vs Rob Van Dam vs Rene Dupree

John Cena comes out and does a really funny rap. He bashes Kurt Angle, Luther Reigns, Booker T, RVD and Rene Dupree all at once. The match starts out with punches being thrown between all four compeitors. Cena and RVD get rid of Dupree and Booker in opposing corners and then have some heated words. While they are going at it they are jumped from behind. Dupree and Book gain control of the match. RVD and Booker go to the outside leaving Cena and Dupree to battle inside the ring. Rene does a strut like Michael P.S. Hayes. RVD comes in and fights with Rene. Rene gets the upperhand on RVD. RVD comes back with kicks and a moonsault. RVD gets taken out. Cena joins the mix and goes back and forth with RVD. RVD is on the outside and throws Booker in. Booker and Cena go at it. Cena rolls out and throws a resting Rene Dupree in. Rene does the French Tickler. Booker and Rene Dupree go at it. They are both down. RVD hits a Five Star Frog Splash on Rene. Cena goes to the top but gets knocked off to the floor by RVD. Five Star to Booker T. Cena comes in and rolls up RVD for the pinfall.

Elimination One Via Pinfall- RVD

Booker and Rene double team John Cena. With Cena down, Booker and Rene argue. Cena comes up and beats on both. Throwback on Booker T, pumps up the sneakers. Goes for the F-U on Rene, but Rene hooks the rope. Booker kicks Rene's arm and Cena nails the F-U. Booker then hits the Scissor Kick on Cena and pins Rene Dupree.

Elimination Two Via Pinfall- Rene Dupree

Booker then quickly goes for the cover on Cena but only gets a two. Cena and Booker go back and forth. Booker gets a headlock on Cena, but Cena comes back. Booker gets a headlock on Cena again. Five Knuckle Shuffle, pumps up, but Booker comes back. Booker goes for the Scissor Kick but misses and gets F-U'ed.

Elimination Three Via Pinfall- Booker T

Winner and still WWE United States Champion John Cena

Notes- John Cena had a tremendous opening rap. I would have to say it was one of his best to date. The match went smoothly, but I wish that Rene Dupree would finally pick up singles gold.

John Cena is shown backstage. He sees Charlie Haas with Miss Jackie and tells her to call him. Angle comes over and yells at Haas. He said all he used to care about was wrestling. Now hes hanging with Cena and flirting with Miss Jackie. He told them "If you have any plans tonight, cancel them. Your match with Luther is next!"

We go to Sable in a hot tub. She says that the WWE Divas will be in Red, White and Blue Bikinis doing interviews by the hot tub. She says she has the honor of doing the first interview and that she will do it with Smackdown's Biggest Star, herself. She says she will beat Torrie Wilson.

Match Two- Charlie Haas w/Miss Jackie vs Luther Reigns w/Kurt Angle

Haas trys to take Luther off his feet, but that does not happen. Luther dominates the entire match. Haas tries to mount a comeback every once in awhile, but Luther would always power out and continue his beating on Charlie Haas. At one point, Charlie Haas gets sent shoulder first into the post. The match ends when Luther hits his finishing move, a real nice version of a Neckbreaker.

Winner Via Pinfall-Luther Reigns

*Notes-Luther reminds me of Diesel. Charlie Haas dropkicked him and all Luther did was stagger. Luther is the bodyguard of Kurt Angle much like Diesel was the bodyguard of Shawn Michaels.

We cut to a John Bradshaw Layfield promo. He guarantees victory.

They show the armed forces in the crowd.

Match Three-WWE Cruiserweight Title Match- Rey Mysterio Jr. vs Chavo Guerrero

They match starts off with the reversal after reversal type gig. Chavo locks in an arm lock on Rey Mysterio. Rey comes back with an arm drag. Amazing reversals once again. Rey gains the upperhand with a kick. He then works on Chavos shoulder. Armbar on Chavo and a knee to the bicep. Rey goes to the top and gets knocked off and bangs his knee on the ring apron. Chavo then goes to work on Rey's knee. He wraps it around the post. He locks in a single leg Boston crab. Chavo then does a version of the Brock Lock. Rey is put in the tree of woe. As the match progresses Rey come back and Chavo goes into the post. Rey goes to the top rope and hits Chavo with a sit out sinton on the outside. Both men fight back and forth and both go to the tope rope, double face slam. Chavo gains the advantage and sets Rey up in the slingshot, but Rey lands on the second rope and kicks Chavo. Rey goes outside and jumps for the seated sinton for the two count. Chavo comes back and hits the Gorri Bomb. Rey comes back, kick to the back of the head, 6-1-9, goes for the hurricanrana, but gets reversed into a single leg Boston crab, that's reversed by Rey into a pinfall position for the duke.

Winner Via Pinfall-Rey Mysterio Jr.

Notes-Great Cruiserweight action. Back and forth match and both men worked on the other one's weak spot. Tremendous contest which is exactly what was expected.

Torrie Wilson is shown in the hot tub with Spike Dudley, Billy Kidman and Funaki. Kidman. Kidman says it was a good match. Spike, Kidman and Funaki argue that if Funaki was in the match that he would have won. Kidman and Spike don't buy that. Torrie says she has to go get ready for her match. She gets out of the hot tub, Funaki then says, "God Bless America."

Match Four- Kenzo Suzuki w/Hiroko vs Billy Gunn

Billy starts off with some offense. Kenzo comes back with chops. Billy fights back though. Kenzo then gains advantage back with a palm to the head slam. Kenzo then puts pressure on the shoulder. Kenzo continues working on Billy Gunn. Billy fights back. Kenzo again regains control with a kick to the face and the back. Kenzo then put pressure on the shoulder for awhile. Billy comes back. Billy then hits a Tilt-A-Whirl Slam and signals for the Fame Asser. Kenzo goes into the corner, when Billy approaches him, he is low blowed. Kenzo hits a version of a backbreaker for the pinfall.

Winner Via Pinfall-Kenzo Suzuki

Notes-This match was mainly chops and putting pressure on the shoulder. Looking back at my copy of Wrestlecrap, Kenzo's look reminds me of Yoshi Kwan the Oriental Hitman. Only difference is Kenzo is Japanese and does not have the tattoos Kwan does.

Paul Heyman is shown with a gagged Paul Bearer, He tells Bearer that he will "Have no problem pulling that lever." He says that "Even if The Undertaker does the right thing, that doesn't mean he will."

Match Five- Sable vs Torrie Wilson

Sable taunts Torrie and gets chased out of the ring. Torrie beats on Sable, but Sable comes back with kicks. Drop toe hold and choke on the ropes by Sable. Sable then executes a criss cross choke on Torrie. Rollthrough by Sable for the two count. Kick to the back by Sable. Chops by Torrie. Both ladies get up and come at each other and bang heads. Sable seems hurt. Torrie is worried, with Torries back turned, Sable rolls her up and hooks her tights for the pinfall.

Winner Via Pinfall-Sable

Notes-Torrie's shoulder was WAY up. They even showed it on TV. I guess its all part of the angle and not a screw up as I once thought it was.

The Undertaker is shown backstage.

We go to Dawn Marie in a red, white and blue bikini. She is with Rene Dupree. Rene flirts with her and does the French Tickler. The F.B.I. walks in and Nunzio tells Dawn he has a size 15 shoe. He asks her if she "Knows what he means." She eventually gets it and leaves with Nunzio. "The Bull" walks over to Rene and asks "What are you, a size six?"

Notes-Ha Ha. Good one Johnny. Could there be a face turn for Rene and a feud with The F.B.I?

Match Six- Mordecai vs Hardcore Holly

The match starts off with punches back and forth. Mordecai is sent to the ropes and rolls out. Hardcore comes out after him but is sent into Mordecai's cross. Mordecai beats on Hardcore Holly. Mordecai continues to dominate with a chin lock. Holly comes back and both men bang heads. Mordecai charges at Hardcore Holly who is in the turnbuckles, Mordecai gets kicked in the head. Clothesline by Hardcore. Hardcore goes to the top rope and hits a flying elbow. Mordecai comes back with a sit out spine buster for the two count. Holly comes back with a dropkick for the two count. Holly then goes for the Alabama Slam but its reversed into the Razors Edge for the pinfall.

Winner Via Pinfall- Mordecai

Notes-Mordecai has a good thing going for himself. Great gimmick.

WWE Summerslam promo is shown with the WWE Superstars, and Kurt Angle narrates. They show Batista spine bustering an Olympic athlete with Kurt Angle saying "What did you expect?"

JBL/Eddie Guerrero Video Package

Match Seven- WWE Championship Texas Bullrope Match- John Bradshaw Layfield vs Eddie Guerrero

Guerrero starts off with the offense, but Layfield comes back and chokes Eddie with the rope. Eddie's end gets loose and falls off so the ref has to put it back on. JBL keeps on the offense. JBL hits two corners but Eddie breaks it up. Elbow drop on Eddie and a cowbell to the back. JBL puts Eddie in the Tree of Woe and chokes him with the rope. Eddie gets bounced of the announcers tables. Eddie trips JBL to gain back advantage. Eddie comes back, pulls JBL into the post and then does it again. Eddie hits JBL with a steel chair. JBL is busted open. Eddie goes back into the ring and hits three posts but can't get to the fourth. Dropkick to the face of JBL and a legdrop on JBL. Eddie hits three again and JBL holds on. Exchange of fists. One corner is hit by JBL, but he gets low blowed. Three corners for Guerrero, but he is pulled away. Three amigos by Eddie, followed by a Frog Splash. Three corners for Eddie. JBL rolls to the outside, Eddie is put on the second rope and thrown onto the Spanish announce table which does not break. JBL then powerbombs Eddie through the table. JBL goes back into the ring and hits three corners, but is pulled away. JBL hits three again, but gets lowblowed. Eddie uses the rope on JBL. Both men hit three corners with Eddie leading the way. Eddie then splashes onto Layfield into the fourth.

Winner and still WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero

Kurt Angle comes out with Luther and says they will look at the end of the match again. It shows JBL hit the fourth corner first. The rules state any body part can hit and count.

Winner and NEW WWE Champion John Bradshaw Layfield

Notes-They put the title on JBL, huh? He has come a long way it seems. The fans just plain hate him now. It will be interesting to see the Smackdown numbers now that Guerrero has lost the title.

The Dudley Boyz/The Undertaker Video Package

Match Eight- The Dudley Boyz w/Paul Heyman vs The Undertaker

Paul Bearer is shown in the glass crypt. Heyman is standing next to the cement truck. He tells Undertaker that he hopes he makes the right decision. He then demonstrates what will happen to Paul Bearer if Undertaker doesn't do the right thing. Cement falls in up to Paul's ankles. Bubba tells Undertaker to "Lay down." Undertaker does, then Bubba stands over him and says "I have been waiting for this my whole life." Undertaker then chokes him. Heyman yells that that is not the right thing. Taker lets go and is attacked by the Dudleys. Taker beats on them and goes for old school. Heyman yells "Bad Dog." More cement is poured into the crypt. Dudleys beat on Taker again, but Taker comes back and beats down The Dudleys. He starts walking towards Heyman, Heyman yells that if the Dead Man takes one more step it will be over. Bubba and D-Von attack from behind, Heyman yells, "That's a step." He pulls down the lever but Bubba pulls it back up. He wants to finish Taker off, then Heyman can have his way with Bearer. Dudleys continue to beat on Taker. Taker comes back and beats on D-Von, Bubba is then punched by Taker. Old School on Bubba. D-Von hits a low blow on Taker while Bubba has the ref. Modified 3-D on Taker. Heyman walks toward ringside and Taker sits up. Chokeslam to Bubba. Tombstone on D-Von for the pinfall.

Winner Via Pinfall-The Undertaker

Heyman gets on the mic and says that he thought they had a deal. He heads for the cement truck so he can finish off Bearer but lightning strikes the truck. Taker then bows to Paul Bearer. Taker gets on the mic and says. "Paul, I have no other choice, Rest in Peace." Taker pulls the lever and the crypt is filled to the top with cement.

Notes- To quote Joey Styles "Oh My God!" The Undertaker "kills" his own manager and long time friend Paul Bearer. As a heel they should bring in Brother Love or Ted Dibiase as his manager.

WWE's Great American Bash was not the classic Great American Bash that WCW introduced in the 1980s. The Texas Bullrope Match and Cruiserweight Match along with anything Diva had the crowd pumped. All in all the PPV had more surprise endings than any other this year -- Taker getting rid of Paul Bearer himself and JBL becoming champ. I can only hope that WWE continues to re-introduce the classic WCW events and possibly ECW events. WWE should probably give Raw those classic titles and leave Smackdown with the WWE Titles only because Raw contains more people who were involved with the orignal events. Ric Flair was a pioneer for NWA/WCW and Chris Benoit, William (Steven) Regal and others were mainstays of WCW; they should be on those classic PPVs. I found the red, white and blue ropes to be cool. It brought me back to the Federation years. Good PPV with plenty of surprises. We can now move onto a Bradshaw Title reign and focus our attention to Raw's Vengeance PPV.

Chris Sokol is from Long Island, NY.