Monday, 17 September 2007

WWE The Great American Bash 2007 on Sky Sports - TV Review

It’s that time of the month again where the three World Wrestling Entertainment brands band together to put on a pay-per-view spectacular, and this month it’s the 2007 version of The Great American Bash, headlined by new World Champion, the Great Khali defending in a triple threat match against Kane and Batista, and WWE Champion John Cena facing the challenge of Bobby Lashley.
The evening begins with title action, as Matt Hardy challenges MVP for the United States title. MVP has certainly improved over the past few months, and by putting him in the ring with a guy who could have a good match with everyone guarantees a good opener, and this is what we got here. Slow paced at times, it speeded up as it reached it’s conclusion, with both men countering each other’s big moves, until MVP finished Hardy off with the playmaker. A good way to open the show, and I hope they keep this rivalry going for a while longer.
We stick with the Smackdown brand with one of those Cruiserweight Open matches, with the title on the line. Taking part in this one are Jimmy Wang Yang, Shannon Moore, Funaki, Jamie Noble, and the champion Chavo Guerrero. During the introduction Michael Cole says that the match is open to everyone on the Smackdown roster who weighs less than 215 pounds, so just before the match begins, Finlay’s buddy Hornswoggle jumps into the ring, before going back underneath. Tons of fast-paced action throughout this one, with all five men putting in a good account for themselves, and a somewhat surprising, and some would say baffling, ending. After Guerrero took out Yang with a superplex, which Noble got involved in as well, Hornswoggle jumped out from underneath the ring, climbed to the top rope, and came down on Noble with a big splash, getting the winning pin and title seconds later. Needless to say that the five cruiserweights in the match weren’t too pleased with what happened, and while it brought a smile to this writer’s face for a few seconds, I couldn’t help but think that they’ve perhaps degraded the Cruiserweight title again.
Over to the Raw side of things, as Carlito faces the Sandman in a Singapore Cane match, with the Sandman’s favoured weapon high on a pole above one corner of the ring. I have to admit that I was a little sceptical about whether these two could work well together, but those fears were dispelled when I saw them in action. A well put together match, and probably the Sandman’s best performance since he signed with the company, saw both guys put on a good match and, of course, spending a lot of time going after the cane on the pole. But at the end of the day the cane didn’t actually come into play that much. The Sandman was the one who got the cane, but when he swung at Carlito, Carlito ducked and took the Sandman out with the backstabber to get the winning pinfall. Entertaining, and I hope we get to see a lot more from the Sandman on Monday nights.
Next up, Melina tried to regain the Women’s title from Candice Michelle, who certainly has improved in these past few months. JR and the King point out that Candice is actually the first Diva Search contestant to win the Women’s title, so I suppose that says something about that worse-than-useless contest. Now this was good. We always know we’re going to get a good match with Melina, and it’s getting to the point where we can now say the same thing with Candice. Great storytelling here, with Candice showing her improvement again, and Melina playing the part of jealous challenger to a tee. Candice retained the title in this one, finishing Melina off with a standing bulldog, which the King informs me is actually called the Candy Wrapper.
More title action follows, as Umaga defends the Intercontinental title against former champion Jeff Hardy. This was a hell of a match, with Umaga dominating the first half of the bout with his power game, and it was during this that it looked like Umaga was going to dominate completely. But then Hardy came back well, unleashing his high-flying arsenal against the bigger man, almost getting the winning pinfall on a number of occasions. Hardy hit Umaga with everything he had, but nothing could put the big man away. One mistake by Hardy was all it took for Umaga to re-take control, and a Samoan Spike later, and Umaga had retained his title. A great match, and possibly the best match Umaga has had this year.
Then it’s time for the only ECW match on the show, as the newly re-named John Morrison defends the ECW title against C.M. Punk. Punk and Morrison seem almost made for each other, and although this wasn’t as good as their encounter at Vengeance, it was still good to watch. False falls aplenty, and some great moves from both guys saw Morrison frustrated towards the end of the match as he left the ring, grabbed his belt and went to leave, but Punk stopped him and threw him back into the ring. Then, as Punk launched himself off the top rope, Morrison connected with a kick, and got the winning pin moments later.
Time for the bull rope match, with Randy Orton facing Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes. Unlike other bull rope matches, pinfalls count in this one, meaning that the winner doesn’t have to touch all the corners of the match. I can’t see why they’ve changed the rules to this though, as those rules have served bull rope matches well for decades. Probably the weakest match of the show so far. The bull rope was used to good effect early on, but the change of rules totally changed the dynamic of the match as it were, as it was, more or less, a normal no disqualification match with Orton getting the win after clobbering Dusty with the cowbell. After the match, Orton was about to pounce again until Cody Rhodes came down to save the old man. Disappointing.
Smackdown takes over again as The Great Khali defends his newly won World title in a triple threat match against Kane and Batista. Like many people I have massive doubts about Khali as the World Champion, and this match didn’t really convince me. Khali did the bear minimum here, while Kane and Batista did most of the donkey work, and it was while these two were in the ring that the match looked great, but when Khali climbed through the ropes, it kind of took a downward turn. The end? Khali, despite having been put through the ECW announcers table, got back up, and after throwing Batista into the ring steps, he took out Kane with a choke bomb to get the winning title retaining pin. Definitely a mixed bag here.
Before the main event began, King Booker and Queen Sharmell once again came down to the ring to talk about the other kings in the WWE. Looks like they’re setting up Booker v Lawler before Triple H’s return.
Main event time, as John Cena defends the WWE title against Bobby Lashley. It’s not often that we get a pay-per-view main event that actually has that main event feeling. We get it every year at Wrestlemania, and we got it here at the Bash. Cena and Lashley put in their best performances ever in a match that would have been good enough to headline Wrestlemania. Lashley dominated Cena with his power, Cena came back well with his street fighting skills. Lashley took Cena out with his signature moves, and the champion kicked out. Cena did the same to Lashley, and the challenger did the same. In the end, as Lashley was trying to set up a superplex from the top rope, Cena grabbed him and took him down with an FU for the winning pinfall, with the two men shaking hands afterwards to end what was a tremendous bout. These two will probably go at it again. Let’s hope that they do it again on the big stage next spring.
In conclusion - The Great American Bash delivered, for the most part. Cena/Lashley certainly delivered on it’s promise, while the majority of the undercard, save for the bull rope and the World title match, supported the main event well. Once again this is evidence that the WWE did the right thing in scrapping it’s single brand pay-per-views.