wrestling / Video Reviews

The 2004 WWE Great American Bash Breakdown

September 18, 2004 | Posted by J.D. Dunn

Scott Keith didn’t do this one until after he left for Inside Pulse, so as your PPV recapper that leaves it to me by default I guess. WHOO-HOO! The two most beautiful words in the English language. DE-FAULT! DE-FAULT! DE-FAULT!

Before I get started, let me pimp my good friend Gordi who got a column at I Pee on the strength of his work in the Smark Superstar contest.

Other recommendations include L2C or “Leggo’s 2 Cents” for those that just aren’t “with it” as the youth of today like to say.

Larry “the Legend” Csonka is one of the hardest-working writers at 411 and also one of the best. He’s got a review of one of the absolute must-haves for your tape collection in The Super J-Cup 1994.

On with the show.

Most of my regular readers know I’ve developed a reputation for being more positive than your average recapper. Not much, but a little. Well, that may change after this review.

Word ’round the campfire is that Vince McMahon is not happy with the direction of the booking (especially Smackdown) so there will likely be a shakeup. Most likely it will just be “same ass different hat”, but if someone really took the time to examine the shows for the past few months (years really) some of the flaws are quite glaring.

I’ll try to point out some of them as we move along. Don’t think of it as bashing, think of it as constructive criticism.

• Great American Bash — 6/27/04.

Live from Norfolk, Va.

Your hosts are Michael Cole and Tazz.

The WWE video production team does their usual awesome job with the opening video package. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but they very efficiently delineated Bradshaw’s conservative line of how Americans are supposed to act and John Cena’s liberally free expression. Smackdown your vote, people.

The show starts with Torrie Wilson, in full Uncle Sam gear, welcoming us to the Bash. Good to be here, Torrie.

• Opening Match — United States Championship: Rene Dupree vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Booker T vs. John Cena. Cena’s opening rhyme is pretty good when he gets to his opponents. All four guys are legal in the ring, which normally sucks, but they wind up booking it like it was a four corners match anyway. Fortunately, it is elimination rules. RVD & Booker T and Cena & Dupree pair off to start. RVD and Cena go at it, but the heels jump them from behind. RVD and Booker fight on the outside. Dupree dominates Cena and gets a few two counts. He misses a swing, though, and takes an atomic drop. Cena charges, but gets tossed over the top. Booker does the smart thing and tosses Van Dam into the ring to let Dupree work him over too. RVD makes the comeback and hits Rolling Thunder for two. RVD slingshots Dupree to the outside and delivers a somersault plancha onto both Dupree and Cena. Van Dam tosses Cena in and they exchange nearfalls. RVD slides out and tosses Booker T in for some action. Cena dominates Booker, but decides to toss Dupree in instead. Dupree hits Booker with a powerslam and does the Ahchoo Dance to HUGE heel heat. Booker comes back with a spinebuster for a double KO. RVD sneaks in and hits a Five Star Frogsplash on Dupree. Cena goes up, but RVD knocks him off the top. RVD then hits Booker with ANOTHER frogsplash. Cena gets a little revenge by sneaking in and eliminating RVD with a schoolboy rollup at 8:18. Cena tosses Dupree back to the ring but gets blindsided by Booker. Booker and Dupree form an alliance with designs on eliminating Cena. Booker delivers a side kick but pulls Dupree off a cover. Dupree and Booker T get into it (ooh, which one’s Bret Hart and which one’s Bad News Brown?). Cena makes the comeback and hits Dupree with the FU. Booker takes advantage, though, by hitting Cena with the scissors kick and pinning Dupree at 11:16. And then there were two. Booker rolls over on top of Cena but only gets two. Booker gets two off a sideslam, but he’s getting frustrated. He slows things down (even further) with a chinlock. Cena battles back, but Booker nails him with a side kick. Booker goes with a cobra clutch (!) to wear Cena down even further. Cena fights out of it again and connects with a sideslam. FIVE KNUCKLE SHUFFLE! ONE, TWO, TH—NOO!!! Booker gets his corner sunset flip rollup for two but misses the scissors kick. Cena pops up and delivers the FU for the win at 15:51. They packed enough action to keep it from being boring, but there wasn’t really anything to get excited about either. **Ѕ

In the back, a winded Cena hits on Miss Jackie (hoo-ahh!) while Charlie Haas stands there looking stupid. Kurt Angle rolls up and makes a match between Haas and Luther Reigns.

Sable stands…er, sits by in the hot tub and insults Torrie Wilson.

• Charlie Haas (w/Miss Jackie) vs. Luther Reigns (w/Luther Reigns). Luther and Angle had a very Cyclops/Professor Xavier relationship at this point. Haas wisely goes after Luther’s legs to start. Luther dominates with brawling. Haas gets a schoolboy, but Reigns comes right back with a big boot. Haas tries gamely to provide some excitement, but Reigns seems intent to pay tribute to Great American Bash’s past by channeling Nikita Koloff. Crowd gets listless. Reigns puts Haas in a single leg crab, which doesn’t help. Haas gets two off a reverse rollup, but Reigns clotheslines him. Reigns misses a charge to the corner. Haas gets the Exploder (which used to be his finisher) and an Oklahoma roll for two. Haas gets two more off a bridging German suplex. This time Haas misses a charge and Reigns finishes him with a reverse neckbreaker at 7:11. Reigns looked horribly green here. Ѕ*

I hate to be a Negative Nelly, but maybe instead of having a talented guy like Charlie Haas busting his ass to put over someone from the Vince McMahon Wet Dream Assembly Line, you should just…push Haas. I know that’s a radical concept what with him having actual talent and all, but since the WWE is desperate to try new things, they might want to start by rewarding the guys who work the hardest. (Not that I don’t think Luther has potential. He’s probably the best of the new crop of guys from the aforementioned VMWDAL, but that’s not saying much. I mean, Rue Mclanahan is more attractive than Bea Arthur. I still don’t want to do her, though).

Speaking of the devil (not that I was), John Bradshaw Layfield complains about his treatment by the media and the fans. He also obeys Michael Hayes’ rule of heel interviews by adding a thread of truth (his version of it anyway) to his insults of the fans. The bottom line: he promises victory.

• Cruiserweight Championship: Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero. This is like the Undertaker/Mankind of cruiserweight feuds. They just keep coming back to it when neither guy has anything better to do. Rey gets a Mahistrol cradle early for two. Chavo gets a couple of quick two counts to put Mysterio off his guard. Chavo works the arm with a stepover armbar, but Rey springboard backflips out of it. Rey dropkicks Chavo down to an armbar. They then do a lightning quick avoidance sequence that ends with a Mexican Armdrag by Rey. He converts it to a crucifix for two. Big “Chavo Sucks” chant. Nice to see him getting heat in spite of months of bad booking. Rey starts going after the arm now. Rey goes up, but Chavo delivers a springboard dropkick to send Rey to the outside, injuring his knee. Chavo tosses him back in and goes to work on the knee with a kneebar. Chavo drapes Rey’s leg on the rope and splashes it. He tries again, but Rey pushes him over the top. Chavo makes him pay by wrapping the leg around the ringpost. Rey grabs a headlock, but Chavo counters to a kneebreaker. Rey counters a second kneebreaker to a sunset flip, but Chavo rolls through into a single leg crab. Rey then counters that to a bulldog. Nice. Chavo whips Rey across the ring, but he collapses. Chavo goes after the leg again, including a kick to the leg that flips Rey all the way over. Chavo locks in an Argentine Leg Lock. Rey manages to counter to an armdrag, but Chavo targets the leg again. Rey comes out of the corner with a spinning huracanrana. Rey lands on his leg, though, and hurts himself. Chavo ties him in the tree-of-woe, but misses a charge and goes shoulder-first into the ringpost. Rey goes to the top rope and comes off with a VERTICAL BODYPRESS TO THE FLOOR! Crowd chants “Holy Shit” for that one. They recover and fight on the top rope. Chavo teases a superplex to the floor (!) but Rey fights out of it, and they deliver super facebusters to each other four a double KO. Chavo rolls over for a cover, but Rey reverses it for two. Chavo tries to catapult Rey to the corner, but Rey catches himself and hits a dropkick. Rey delivers a tilt-o-whirl headscissors for two. A springboard vertical bodypress gets two more. Chavo goes to the eyes and catches Rey in the Gorybomb. ONE, TWO, THRE—NOOOO!!! Chavo stomps a mudhole in Rey’s knee. Rey delivers a desperation enzuigiri to put Chavo on the ropes. 619! Rey goes up for the springboard huracanrana, but Chavo counters to a single leg crab. Mysterio claws and scrapes his way to the ropes after about a minute in the hold. Chavo goes for the coup de grace with another Gorybomb, but Rey slips out and counters to a Fulcrum Flip for the win at 19:40. Really nice match, but then these two should be used to each other by now. ***Ѕ

Match of the night so far, but it also shows a couple of flaws in how the WWE books cruiserweights. #1 — You have to have more than three. Two Mexicans and eight losers is not a division, it’s the kitchen at El Pollo Loco. #2 – It’s the same problem I have with the All Japan junior division in the early 1990’s — the cruiserweights wrestle exactly like the heavyweights only with different moves (and sometimes not even that). This is a match on the card that could have been used to get the crowd rockin’ with high-flying action. Instead we got Edge vs. Kurt Angle only with smaller guys. Let the cruiserweights be cruiserweights.

Kidman, Funaki and Spike Dudley are chillin’ in the hot tub with Torrie Wilson. They start arguing over who is the best cruiserweight until Torrie stands up to get ready for her match. Hey Robin, what’re you looking at me for. Look at her!

• Kenzo Suzuki (w/Hiroko) vs. Billy Gunn. Suzuki got disqualified in his earlier match with Gunn to set up this match. Yes, they brought in a guy, gave him tons of video promos to hype his arrival, and then had him lose to Billy Gunn. Cole sounds like a dumbass off the bat by saying Suzuki never takes his eyes off his opponent, while Suzuki has his back turned to Billy Gunn. Gunn avoids a chop in the corner and teases the DX chop. Kenzo hits a double thrust chop. LUI KANG MAXIMUM FATALITY! Gunn comes back with a Fisherman’s Suplex for two. Kenzo charges right into a boot. Kenzo chops him in the throat and hits his STO Claw (I thought that was his finisher). Instead, he decides to kill some time with a trapezes hold. It wouldn’t be so bad, but the whole idea is that the victim’s arm become paralyzed and Gunn then uses that arm to elbow out because he doesn’t know how else to break the hold. Gunn gets a schoolboy, but Suzuki chops him back down to maintain control. A Suzuki double-arm vise wastes more time. They erupt into a slugfest and Gunn gets a Stinger Splash. The Famasser misses and Kenzo delivers a Shining Wizard…for two. That should have been the finish. Kenzo charges, but Gunn counters to tilt-o-whirl slam. He finishes with the Kobashi Inverted DDT Backbreaker at 8:05. No real story to the match and Gunn is not the one to use to put over the new guys. ѕ*

Meanwhile, in another part of the city…Paul Heyman has Paul Bearer tied up in his abandoned warehouse. He threatens to engulf Bearer in concrete if the Undertaker doesn’t “do the right thing.” They also discuss how cool it is to go through life with the name “Paul.”

• Sable vs. Torrie Wilson. I’m not excited about the match, but those leggings on Torrie are working for me. Just for fun, I’m going to call the match as if it were a Joshi puro match just to see if it gets any better. Nothing of note happens until Sable corners her and hits some giris. Nothing of note is still happening, but I have to write something. Sable actually hits a Hennig neck snap. Torrie gets a kaitenebigatame (sunset flip), but Sable drop toeholds her to the ropes. Sable has the ovaries to bust out a Gokuraku-gatame (choking out Torrie with her own arms). MOVESET~! Torrie counters to a brainbustah (actually a vertical suplex, but the Japanese call it a brainbuster). Torrie corners her for some gyaku suihei chops. They collide for a double KO. Sable plays dead confusing Torrie so much that she walks around the ring going “Where did she go?” Sable pops up and schoolgirls Torrie for the win at 6:06. Torrie’s shoulder wasn’t even down for the three, so if you were wondering if they could botch a cover, wonder no longer. The only reason this gets anything is at least they tried to rip off the classics. ј*

The Undertaker arrives in the bowels of the arena. Will he “do the right thing?”

Dawn Marie stands by at the hot tub to interview a displeased-yet-horny Rene Dupree. He offers to show her his French Tickler…the dance, you sick bastards. The FBI interrupts and Nunzio shows off his 15″…of foot. That’s enough to get Dawn hot to trot so they head off. Stamboli sticks around to insult Dupree’s little Eiffel Tower. BUT ZERE WAS SHRINKAGE!

• Mordecai vs. Hardcore Holly. If Mordecai didn’t look like Will Farrell doing a character, he might have worked out a little better. Michael Cole: This match will not be pretty. Holly ties the Yiddish Avenger in the ropes and lays in a few shots. Mordecai bails and tosses Holly into the sword. Mordecai delivers a boot to the head for two. He “settles things down” with a chinlock. Yeah, there was too much action all at once there. You know the crowd is bored when it’s so quiet that you can hear individual conversations out in the audience. Mordecai charges but gets hotshotted on the ropes. Holly delivers a pair of clotheslines and goes up. FLYING CLOTHESLINE! It only gets two. Holly gets two more off a reverse DDT. Mordecai pops up and hits a sitout spinebuster. Holly gets his dropkick, but it only gets two. Holly goes for an Alabama Slam, but Mordecai reverses to the Crucifix Bomb for the win at 6:32. Buh-bye, Pale Rider. This match was only slightly better than the Diva match thanks to the somewhat clever reversal at the end. Ѕ*

Recap of Eddy getting disqualified at Judgment Day. This angle gets a bad rap because people hate Bradshaw so much. The stuff with the limo was stupid, but the PPV-to-PPV booking was really smart old-style feuding. Heel cheats in the first match, but Face gets caught and DQ’d. The heel complains that the face got disqualified on purpose and demands a rematch of his choosing. The heel then picks his specialty match to give himself an advantage. Logical Mid-Southish booking there.

• WWE Heavyweight Title, Bull-Rope Match: Eddy Guerrero vs. John Bradshaw Layfield. This is a “touch the corners” bull-rope match, which doesn’t really bother me as much as it does a lot of people. The bigger problem I have is that the ref has the discretion to start over if he feels the momentum has been broken. Eddy comes out swinging, but Bradshaw uses the cowbell to take advantage. JBL touches two corners, but Eddy dropkicks him. Eddy touches two but can’t pull Bradshaw to the third. Bradshaw tries to use the rope to assist in a hangman’s neckbreaker, but he can’t get it to work. Instead, he puts Eddy in the tree-of-woe and uses the rope to choke out Eddy. Bradshaw takes Eddy to the announce table and prepares for a powerbomb. Eddy wraps the rope around Bradshaw’s leg, though, so Bradshaw winds up tripping himself. It probably worked better in theory. Eddy threads the rope through the ring and pulls Bradshaw into the ringpost. Bradshaw reverses a whip, sending Eddy across the announce table again. Eddy suddenly pops up and BLASTS JBL with the chair, mirroring their spot at Judgment Day when Bradshaw did the same to Guerrero. Back in the ring now, Eddy nails Bradshaw with the chair and touches three corners. Bradshaw pulls the rope taut and clings to the bottom ring rope to keep Eddy from hitting the final corner. Referee Nick Patrick waves off the lights. Eddy dropkicks Bradshaw and touches three corners again. Bradshaw keeps him away from the fourth, though, and drops him with a DDT. Bradshaw touches two corners, but Eddy uses the rope to crotch him. Eddy sprints around the ring touching three corners, but Bradshaw yanks him away from the fourth. Eddy gets the Triple Verticals and delivers the FROGSPLASH! One corner, two corners, three corners…oh, but JBL rolls out of the ring, keeping Guerrero from reaching the fourth corner. How smart is that?! They fight on the apron, but JBL uses the rope to toss Guerrero from the apron to the Spanish Announce table…and the table DOESN’T BREAK! Ouch. JBL makes the table break by powerbombing Guerrero through it. Back inside, Bradshaw staggers around, touching three turnbuckles. Eddy scurries over and clenches the bottom rope to keep Bradshaw from reaching the fourth. Bradshaw responds with COWBELL! One, two, three…Eddy just does keep him from reaching the fourth corner long enough to hit a low blow with the cowbell. Eddy wears him out with the rope and touches two corners. Little does he know, though, that Bradshaw is also touching the corners behind his back. Eddy touches the third but gets leveled by the Clothesline from Hell. Bradshaw starts toward the fourth turnbuckle, but Eddy pulls him back. Eddy blasts him with the rope again and vaults over Bradshaw to touch the final buckle at 21:04. Oh, but wait. Kurt Angle comes out to show us that Bradshaw’s shoulder touched the buckle first when Eddy splashed him. Angle reverses the decision and hands Bradshaw the WWE Title. That just lost them about half a point. This match was very close to being a classic, but the silly Dusty Finish and some of the botched spots with the rope dragged it down. ***ѕ Crowd chants “Eddy” as Guerrero leaves.

Recap of the feud between Undertaker and Paul Heyman. Even after watching this, I’m still not entirely sure why they hate each other.

• Concrete Crypt Match: Dudley Boyz (w/Paul Heyman) vs. the Undertaker. I’ve decided that the Undertaker gimmick is 90-percent hat. Heyman pours some concrete into the crypt just to show that he’s willing. Bubba Ray tells Taker to lay down. Kinky. He also tells Taker “his life is in your hands.” Taker lays down, but Bubba Ray makes the mistake of taunting him. Taker readies both Dudleyz for a chokeslam, but Heyman threatens him long enough for the Dudleyz to make a comeback. Taker comes back and destroys both tag team champions. Heyman yells “BAD DOG!” about a dozen times and pulls the lever. Taker should scoot his anus across the carpet now. Instead, he takes out both Dudleyz again. Heyman starts the lever, but Bubba Ray stops it because he wants to finish Taker without distraction. D-Von puts Taker in a chinlock, but Taker fights out of it. Bubba tag in and drops an elbow. Bubba seems game at least. Crowd chants for tables. Tazz notes that the cement is just under Paul Bearer’s chin. Which one? Undertaker comes back against both Dudley again. Weren’t these the guys that nearly killed Sid Vicious a few years ago? Taker delivers a Snake Eyes and a big boot to D-Von. Bubba tries to help but misses a splash in the corner. Taker hits Bubba with the Old School forearm. D-Von slips out of a Tombstone Attempt and hits a low blow. The Dudleyz hit a doubleteam neckbreaker, getting Heyman all cocky. Heyman walks down and the angle accidentally gives us a nice look at Heyman’s earpiece where he can communicate with the back. Next thing you’re gonna tell me is you can see the zipper on the Creature From the Black Lagoon. Taker does the Zombie Situp, chokeslams Bubba and finishes D-Von with the Tombstone at 14:41. Yes, the Undertaker has just defeated both tag team champions in a handicap match. Bubba was motivated, which is the only thing that saves this from donutville. ј*

After the match, Heyman is about to throw the lever but gets hit by a bolt of lightning localized within the arena. Taker tells Bearer that he has no other choice and pulls the level himself. Bearer is engulfed in cement as we fade to black. (The WWE was quick to point out that no portly managers were harmed in the making of this PPV. Okay fine. Then what was the point of the stipulations?)

Final Thoughts: The Concrete Crypt match ranks as one of the single stupidest things I’ve ever seen in wrestling (and I’ve seen Abdullah the Butcher strapped in a chair and electrocuted). It’s bad on so many levels that I don’t even have the time or energy to go into them. On top of that, Undertaker has now squashed Kane, Booker T, the Dudleyz and JBL in successive PPVs. With the possible exception of the Dudleyz, all of those guys are heavily involved in the WWE’s booking. That brings me to the other main souring point for most fans — JBL’s title win. Look, I can’t stand the guy either, but he’s worked hard both in the ring and in promos to become the best heel he can be. So how do you build this guy up into the star that’s going to draw big money…well, if you’re the WWE, you have him win the title on a screwjob finish, lose in his first major title defense and get chokeslammed through the hood of his own limo. If you’re going to push him, push him. If not, then don’t give him the title. It’s not that hard. Rey vs. Chavo was good. Eddy vs. Bradshaw was very good. The rest can go to hell.

Strong recommendation to avoid.

J.D. Dunn.


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