Tuesday, 30 June 2009

WWE The Bash on Sky Sports - TV Review

It used to be great, and it used to be American, but in an attempt to disassociate itself from all things WCW, World Wrestling Entertainment re-branded and presented The Bash, shown live here in Britain on Sky Sports in the early hours of the Sunday morning, with Jeff Hardy challenging C.M. Punk for the World title, and Triple H challenging Randy Orton in a Three Stages of Hell match for the WWE title.

The show began with the first title match of the evening, with Tommy Dreamer defending the ECW title against Christian, Jack Swagger, Finlay and Mark Henry. Swagger and Christian began this one, followed by Finlay, Dreamer and Henry. As an opener, it was okay, but I just couldn’t get into this one. Maybe that was the Mark Henry effect. Pins were earned by Swagger (twice), Finlay and Henry (unfortunately), before Dreamer earned the final pin on Christian with a roll up with sixty seconds to go. We then got a last minute of countless pin attempts from all five men, with Dreamer announced as champion after the match ended. Not bad I suppose, but nothing special.

More title action followed, with Rey Mysterio challenging Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental title in a mask v title match. This match had a lot to live up to, especially after their tremendous encounter at Extreme Rules a few weeks ago. It certainly delivered. These two have a great chemistry together, both in and out of the ring, and this helped them put together another tremendous, show stealing encounter, a back and forth fast paced affair that left this writer breathless at times, and rooting for the ultimate underdog. Jericho did manage to remove Mysterio’s mask, only to find a second one underneath. This totally threw Jericho off his game plan, and made him easy prey for Mysterio, falling to the 619/top rope splash combination, with Mysterio getting the title winning pin. Boy, was this good, and I really hope that they continue with this feud. These two just work so well together.

Then it was on to a guy I actually haven’t seen that much of, Dolph Ziggler, going up against The Great Khali in a no DQ match. I still can’t believe they’ve turned the big Indian fellow into a baby face. Anyway, back to the match. Well, Khali does seem to have improved since his days as world champion, and it is kind of difficult to give an opinion on Ziggler as a wrestler when he’s in there against someone as limited as Khali. I suppose he did okay against the big guy, but this match was more or less used as a platform for the return of Kane, as the Big Red Machine came down to the ring and clobbered him with a chair. With Khali down, Ziggler dived back into the ring and got the lucky pin. Not bad I suppose.

The third title match of the evening followed, with Carlito and Primo Colon defending the Unified Tag-Team titles against the Legacy team of Cody Rhodes & Ted Dibiase….or so they thought. Having bitched about not having a match on the show, Edge was put into the match by Smackdown manager Teddy Long. Edge’s partner - Chris Jericho, who had also bitched to Long after he lost to Rey Mysterio. So with the two Canadians now in the mix, the storyline for this one was simple. Legacy and the Colons spent most of the match against each other, making sure that Edge and Jericho stayed out of the match, and when they did manage to tag in, they were tagged out by one of the other teams almost immediately. The Colons and Legacy really impressed me with their exchanges, proving that there is some life in the WWE’s tag-team division. But in the end, the ultimate opportunist, Edge, tagged in a groggy Rhodes to get into the match. As Carlito took Rhodes own with the back cracker and went for the pin, the referee informed Carlito that Rhodes wasn’t the legal man. Seconds later an Edge took him down with the spear, getting the pin an winning the titles for his team. A good storyline, although I was a little disappointed that this wasn’t a normal tag match.

Yet more title action followed, with Melina defending the Women’s title against Michelle McCool, accompanied here by Alicia Fox. Divas matches on pay-per-view haven’t really impressed me as of late, but this one did. Melina once again showed why she is one of the best women’s wrestler on the circuit at the moment, and McCool really has come on leaps and bounds. These two put together a very good match, with McCool working over Melina’s left knee, which hampered here whenever she went on the offence. McCool got the win here, taking a leaf out of A.J. Styles’ book by taking Melina down with the faith breaker, or whatever the hell it’s called. Not bad.

Main event time #1, with Jeff Hardy challenging C.M. Punk for the World Heavyweight title. Punk’s slow burning heel turn continued with this solid encounter against the former champion. It may not have been overly spectacular, but it was great to watch, with both champion and challenger putting in a great effort, and Punk showing that his second reign as champion could be a whole lot better than his first, full of twists and turns. It looked like Hardy had won the title after taking Punk out with a swanton from the top rope, but the referee soon ruled out his own count, having spotted Punk’s foot under the bottom rope. So the match re-started, and as Punk went for the GTS, Hardy caught him with an elbow to the eye. As the referee tried to stop Hardy from attacking the injured champion, Punk kicked him in the back, earning himself an immediate disqualification, giving Hardy the win but not the title. Hardy’s rage then boiled over, as he dragged Punk back from the ramp and dealt out a beating, having to be restrained by several referees. A good match, and a nice way to keep the Punk heel turn on the slow burner.

Grudge match time, with The Miz taking on John Cena. After the weeks and weeks of build-up they’ve given this match, you have to wonder what the hell the creatives were thinking of when they put this match together. Aside for a couple of minutes of Miz offence, this was all Cena it what was basically a squash match. It’s was disappointing, considering how much Miz has improved over the past year or so. So in the end Cena won by taking the Miz down with the FU, or whatever the hell it’s called, finishing him off with the STF. Well, I suppose they have to keep Cena warm for his next run at the title.

Main event time #2, with Triple H challenging Randy Orton for the WWE title in a Three Stages of Hell match, first fall a normal match, second fall a falls count anywhere, third fall a stretcher match. While the first fall was fought at a somewhat slow pace, business picked up when Triple H clobbered Orton with a chair, earning himself an immediate disqualification and giving Orton the first fall. He continued the assault with the chair in the falls count anywhere segment, before taking Orton out with a Pedigree on the floor to equal the scores, bringing the stretcher match segment into play very early into the match. I soon began to think that I’d accidentally stumbled onto a TNA show as they began brawling through the crowd, and when they got back to the ringside area, it was again fought at a slow, leisurely pace, and the way that this thing was going, I began to wonder what happened to the storyline about these two hating each other, because this match was certainly lacking any form of intensity. In fact the intensity only went up a notch when Cody Rhodes ran onto the stage an stopped Triple H from pushing the stretcher over the finishing line. Then Ted Dibiase appeared, stopping Triple H for a second time, attacking the Game. But Triple H had conveniently hidden a sledgehammer under the stage, and was able to fight off his attackers, only for Orton to attack him, clobbering him with the hatch from the stage. He then put Triple H on the stretcher, and pushed it across the line, retaining the title, ending a match that just didn’t feel right.

In conclusion - I’ve definitely got mixed feelings about this show. While it had some great moments, most notably Mysterio v Jericho, Punk v Hardy and the exchanges between Legacy and the Colons, some things just didn’t seem right. Miz v Cena had been built up for months, but when it came down to it the big confrontation just seemed like a small, pay-off match. As for the main event, well, come on, these guys are meant to really hate each other, aren’t they? So where was the all-out, balls to the wall intensity that the Three Stages of Hell stipulation match demanded? It certainly wasn’t here, and if the rumours are true, it probably won’t be at their Hell in a Cell match either. Orton v Triple H has to be the most disappointing feud of the year so far. The build-up to it has been excellent, but the pay-per-view matches have been very, very disappointing, and those involved really need to take the intensity and aggression levels not up to 10, but up to 11.

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