*** Scott & Justin’s PPV reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV history that began with a review of WrestleMania I. After a brief hiatus, the PICs are back where they left off. The reviews include fun facts that provide insight into the match, competitors and state of the company along with overviews of the match action and opinions and thoughts on the outcomes. If you would like to review the full archive, stretching from WrestleMania I through Backlash 2008, please visit the Place to Be message board. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ****
Great American Bash
July 20, 2008
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Mick Foley, Mike Adamle & Tazz
Fun Fact: This is New York’s 22nd PPV, tied for first with California. It’s Long Island’s first since Summerslam 2002.
Umaga defeated Mr. Kennedy
Pay Per View
1) John Morrison & The Miz vs. Finlay & Hornswoggle vs. Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder vs. Jesse & Festus for WWE Tag Team Titles
Fun Fact: These four teams would eventually get involved altogether by the PPV. Finlay and Hornswoggle were already competing with each other. On the 7/4 Smackdown, Hawkins and Ryder were forced into a tag match with Jesse and Festus after they failed to help Edge on Monday night (more on that later). Jesse and Festus got the win, but Edge, furious from his loss, brutally attacked Festus. The next week, Finlay and Hornswoggle got a big win over the tag champs and Jesse and Festus won again via count-out. The match was announced on two days before the PPV, and Hawkins and Ryder got a big win over Finlay and Hornswoggle while Morrison and Miz defeated Jesse and Festus.
Fun Fact II: This is the PPV debut of Jesse and Festus. Jesse is Ray Gordy, the son of Terry Gordy, and Festus is Drew Hankinson, the man behind The Imposter Kane. The duo originally debuted as a team early in 2007 as The Dalton Boys, but the name was dropped quickly and so was the team. Later that year, the duo would debut on the 10/5 Smackdown, and Festus’ gimmick consisted of a Pavlovian response to the ring bell: when the opening bell rang, Festus’s persona changed into a very focused, aggressive competitor, as compared to the aloof, absent-minded character he had been portrayed as, and when the closing bell rang, Festus returned to his “normal” self. This would be used against him more than it would benefit him. The team moved between Smackdown and ECW as the year closed out as part of a talent exchange. After they took a hiatus, they returned in February and wrestled most of the year on Smackdown.
Scott: A lot of gold on the line tonight out on “the Island”. First off, there weren’t many catchy themes like Jesse & Festus’ song. During 2008 I found myself singing “Biscuits and Gravy!!” over and over. Miz & Morrison have been a pretty solid team since winning the tag team titles. You can always tell shows at Nassau Coliseum because the ramp to the ring is on the right side of the screen, instead of the usual left side. I liked the storyline of Festus snapping when the bell rings, similar to a later storyline in TNA involving Abyss’ brother Joseph Park and blood. Back to the champs. Miz & Morrison were easily the best athletes in the match and their tag team maneuvers are quite impressive, like when Miz had Finlay in a front crab, and Morrison goes over the ropes and drops a leg. I thought this was Jesse & Festus’ chance to be champions, but alas we see Edge’s cronies Hawkins and Ryder steal a pin from Jesse to give gold to “the Family”. That was a fun match with to me a shocking finish. Grade: **
Justin: Just weeks removed from our last PPV event and things have already been shaken up quite a bit throughout the card. We kick off with our first of six title matches on the night, this one featuring Miz & Morrison’s tag team titles up for grabs. While we saw the Fighting Finlays last month, this go around features Edge’s lackeys and a new hillbilly team that had been faring fairly well on Smackdown since debuting. I dug the Jesse & Festus gimmick as it was pretty original and effective as they stuck to the premise early on. Things were pretty unruly in the early portion of this match, with Festus clearing house and Hornswoggle taking advantage of the prone bodies. It was pretty interesting to see Finlay take the heat segment considering the other three faces in the ring. Miz and Morrison had developed some really smooth teamwork at this point, effortlessly cruising in and out of the ring as they kept the pressure on Finlay. I also thought it was a nice touch that the champs tried to exclusively work the match until Curt Hawkins was finally tagged in to get his team involved. Finlay regained some momentum by smashing Ryder in the knee with the shillelagh but the champs frantically busted up the pin. Jesse showed some nice aggression and a mean streak, blind tagging himself in on Horsnwoggle and then viciously beating on Hawkins. Festus had a pretty good hot tag segment as well, and wrestled very similarly to Andrew Flanagan back in the WCF days. Just when it looked like the country boys were going to pick up the win, Hawkins tripped Jesse up, yanked him off the top rope and stole the win and Miz & Morrisson’s titles. This was a pretty big upset as well as a nice way to get the straps off the champs without having them eat the pinfall. It feels like they had bigger plans for Miz and Morrison, so this was probably a good time to get the gold off of them. A solid enough opener and the LI crowd was digging it all the way through. Grade: **
2) Matt Hardy vs. Shelton Benjamin for WWE United States Title
Fun Fact: This began on the 7/4 Smackdown when Matt defeated Benjamin, Ken Kennedy, and Chavo Guerrero in a Fatal Four Way, closing out his feud with Chavo and igniting his feud with Benjamin. The following week, Benjamin picked up a non-title win over Matt. The match would be announced two days before the PPV.
Scott: Matt Hardy continues to be one of the hardest working guys in the company and continues to get great pops. As for his opponent Shelton Benjamin, he became a pretty slick heel, wearing the gold tights and calling himself the “Gold Standard”. Thank God he shed that hideous gimmick where his “momma” was helping him win matches. Mick Foley’s commentary was hit or miss in this stretch but when he was on he could break down a match as well as anybody can. Here he’s breaking down the match and psychology. Mick also states that Shelton Benjamin is his son Dewey’s favorite wrestler. I thought Owen Hart was his favorite wrestler. Maybe that was another kid. The crowd is red hot during the action, with dueling “LET’S GO HARDY…LET’S GO SHELTON” chants. That’s a great testament to the popularity of both these guys, even if Shelton is a heel. Shelton seems to be playing more of the power role here, using sidewalk slams and backbreakers to ground Hardy down and slow the pacing. He is trying some weird maneuvers like giving Hardy a front facelock while draping him on his knee vertically. Shelton wins the match and in my opinion really earned it here by working his butt off and putting his stuff over. A great US Title run for Matt Hardy, but more was on the horizon. Grade: ** 1/2
Justin: The 2008 TV MVP, Matt Hardy continues his US Title reign here in what should be a pretty good matchup. We haven’t seen much of Shelton on PPV but this is a good place for him to remind us all of what he is capable of. Shelton actually took things to the mat early, trying to grind Hardy to the mat and slow the match down right away. Hardy quickly fended him off and took control, attempting an early Twist of Fate along the way. It is pretty cool seeing these guys cross paths as seasoned veterans, having a completely different style of match than they each were having when they first started out. They have a nice “slow quick” pace going, where they are not flying around the ring, but working at a controlled briskness to keep the match chugging along. There is no wasted motion, but no rushing either. As Shelton worked over the midsection, the impressive LI crowd was loudly chanting for the champ. They have been pretty hot early on here. Shelton’s focus on the lower back was laser-like and really built well to the best spot of the match: a powerbomb into the turnbuckle that popped the crowd big time. Shelton couldn’t capitalize on that, allowing Hardy to get a near fall on a Side Effect. The key for Shelton to stay alive in the match has been his ability to avoid the ToF, which he did once again by assaulting the lower back. However, Hardy made a major mistake when he went for a blind moonsault and ended up eating knees. That gave Shelton a chance to hit Paydirt for the huge win. Wow, even five years later that finish caught me off guard. That was a really fun and well worked sprint and a great way to reestablish Shelton as a player. Hardy’s reign has been hella fun, but it ends here in a good one. Grade: ***
3) Mark Henry vs. Tommy Dreamer for ECW Title
Fun Fact: On the 7/1 ECW, Dreamer challenged Henry to a title match and praised Colin Delaney’s abilities. Henry said he’d give Dreamer a shot if Delaney could beat him in the main event. Henry defeated Delaney. The following week, ECW GM Teddy Long asked Hall of Famer Tony Atlas to be the guest ring announcer in the main event of Dreamer vs. Henry. Both men fought to a double countout but Atlas turned on Delaney when he seemingly came to his aid and Henry slammed Dreamer on the floor. On the 7/15 ECW, Atlas and Henry challenged a fan to bend a frying pan. When the fan failed, Henry bent it into a taco shape. Dreamer came out and wanted to bend it. When he failed, he cracked Henry with the pan and fled the scene. Later that night, Henry sent a message by putting Delaney in a bearhug before throwing him into a wall.
Fun Fact II: Atlas was paired with Henry both on and off screen; Vince felt Henry needed to lose some weight and putting Atlas with him was a way to help.
Scott: I was very happy for Mark Henry. He was finally a world champion, even though it is the #3 belt in the company. I like how he brought in Tony Atlas to be his guy on the outside. Considering what Atlas had been going through personally over the past few years, it’s nice to see WWE bringing him in for some work. Wow I totally forgot about that twirp Colin Delaney. He was a two-legged Zack Gowen, this scrawny little guy that was used to get some sympathy from the crowd. Tommy is an ECW old-timer and except for about five minutes in 2000 never wanted to be champion. He liked being the underdog and the guy who put everybody over. Now as the #1 contender he’s trying to take down the massive champion. The ECW belt looks so puny on Henry, like it did on Big Show and even Kane. That will change soon. The match is a slow, methodical war of attrition as Henry is just mangling Tommy’s body and torturing him. Mike Adamle is slowly growing on me as an announcer. He learned to factually talk the match while Tazz did the yeoman’s work of analyzing all the action. Just when Dreamer looked like he was about to hit something off the top rope and win the title, that scrawny turd Delaney pulls Tommy’s arm and Henry hits the WSS to retain his title. I don’t know where they’re going with this, as nobody really cared about Delaney but it gives us an ending. Henry moves on and Tommy’s protege turns on him. Grade: **
Justin: The monster ECW champion has some new backup: Tony Atlas! Atlas had began managing Henry on TV and added some nice credibility to the champ. Tazz points out that we already had two title changes on the night. Tommy also has backup in the form of the diminutive Colin Delaney, a newcomer that he had taken under his wing. This is being built up as a real shot at the holy grail for Dreamer, something he has been waiting a long time for. Dreamer did his best to get Henry off his feet at the bell but that was a fruitless attempt. After that, the bout settled right into what it should be: Henry beating the piss out of the big bumping Dreamer. Henry went to submission attempts to try to break Tommy, but Mike Adamle was pretty adamant that Tommy would never give up. The fans turned on this one pretty quickly even though it really hasn’t been bad by any stretch. The nay way Tommy was able to get back into this was when Henry made a mistake, missing a splash. From there, it was all about the Innovator using his (relative) speed to avoid the champ and land strikes whenever he could. With Atlas knocked down and Henry groggy, Dreamer went to the top rope but as he leapt, Delaney turned heel, yanking him down across the top rope. Henry pounced, hit the World’s Strongest Slam and picked up the easy pinfall victory. Not sure Delaney turning heel made much sense because he was a natural underdog face, but we will see where it leads. Henry’s reign of dominance continues on. Match was nothing special. Grade: *
4) Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho
Fun Fact: We continue one of the best feuds of the year so far as the night after Night of Champions, Jericho challenged Michaels to a match at the Bash, and then lost his IC title rematch against Kofi Kingston via DQ, and then Jericho proceeded to injure Kofi’s eyes. The next week, Michaels accepted the challenge and both he and Jericho proceeded to go back and forth, with Jericho calling Michaels a martyr to the fans while Michaels claimed Jericho would never be him. On the 7/14 RAW, Jericho and Michaels brawled around the ringside for the first part of the show. Jericho then defeated Paul London and told London that he can go down the path of Jericho and achieve greatness or go down the path of Michaels with lies. Michaels then appeared and promised the worst was yet to come.
Scott: The rivalry continues with the first match between the two where we have a clear face and heel. Jericho may have made a point that Shawn Michaels is a conniving worm who continues to be loved by the fans. His heel turn was complete when he threw Shawn’s face into the Jeritron 5000. Their match at Judgment Day was super, but now with a little hatred and revenge involved we know the matches can be better. Jericho dominated the action early, working over Shawn’s ribs, but not the recently healing eye injury suffered when his face went into the Jeritron. One thing I like about watching these two is that they set up maneuvers, not to execute them but to make sure the reversal looks better. One instance has Shawn going to the top rope for something but instead he lands right into a Jericho reverse atomic drop. The last time we had a PPV in this building, Shawn Michaels won a classic against best friend Triple H and although maybe this match doesn’t reach that, it could come close. I mentioned earlier about the eye injury suffered about a month ago, well Shawn eats an elbow to the face and now the blood spews, and believe me it flows like crazy. When Shawn gets busted open, it’s an event. Referee Marty Elias keeps asking Shawn if the match should stop but Shawn says not at all. Shawn’s blood is all over the place and it’s actually disturbing. I don’t know if it was totally needed in this match but Shawn Michaels doesn’t do many things by accident in a match. Jericho becomes relentless with the eye, punching it over and over until Elias had enough and called the match. Jericho showed a new viciousness that we hadn’t seen in his return but we surely saw it here. It was a great brawl but there would be better to come from these two. Grade: ***
Justin: This excellent feud continues with another match between these two. At our last outing, Michaels cost Jericho the IC title, but paid the price when Jericho jabbed his injured eye. We will see how much the eye factors in here. Jericho is also growing a nice little beard here to hammer home his heel turn. Shawn controlled the action early, wrestling angry and with aggression, including mixing in a stiff forearm to Jericho’s face. Jericho would eventually target the back, taking advantage of an opening and sending Michaels flying into the corner and then dropkicking him to the floor. The best thing about the build and execution of this feud is that even the most basic of moves feel impactful and full of hate. You can see the disdain on their faces as they lay in strikes or hook in a submission hold. Shawn tried to make his comeback, even kipping up, but Jericho showed that he knew his opponent quite well, rolling under a superkick attempts and transitioning right into the Walls. The crowd actually seemed to be behind Jericho at this point in the match, booing when Michaels forced the rope break. Jericho continued to counter every comeback attempt, really showing to be on point and understanding the importance of this match. These types of performances were quickly establishing Jericho as a truly cerebral wrestler that operated on a different plane. Michaels was able to storm back after knocking Jericho off the top and back to the mat, to which he followed with his flying elbow drop. Just as Michaels was firing up the band, Lance Cade showed up to run some distraction. Shawn shrugged it off and was still able to counter a codebreaker but the temporary interference kept Jericho alive. Cade would get wiped out when Michaels back dropped Jericho over the top rope and into his face. Shawn topped that with a wild moonsault to the floor, careening into both men. As they got back in the ring, Jericho cracked Michaels with a wild elbow, splitting Shawn’s eye wide open. Jericho’s facials here were great, realizing the golden opportunity he had to massacre his former idol. Michaels’ blade job was pretty gory as the right side of his face was just covered in blood. In fact, I wonder if this is one of the final gory blade jobs of this era. The referee continued to check on Shawn, but both Jericho and Cade kept pounding the eye mercilessly. At one point, with Michaels on his knees, Jericho just grabbed him and kept peppering him with headbutts to the eye. Michaels had one last ditch effort, catching Jericho with the crossface, but Jericho escaped and went right back to work on the eye. Michaels kept refusing to quit, despite the pleas of the ref, leading to kick after kick to the eye. This is some brutal, yet simple, stuff as Michaels looked like he was a victim in a Saw movie. After Jericho grabbed a face lock and wrenched Michaels to the mat, pulverizing the eye, the referee finally stopped the match. Holy shit, THAT is how you book a dominant assault to a previously injured body part. This feud has been amazing, and that continued here. Jericho looks like a monster, a smart, cerebral, maniacal monster. He was frenzied and under control as he just pounded Michaels into a state of unconsciousness. As Michaels lay prone, surrounded by doctors, Jericho and Cade just glared from the top of the entrance ramp, caked in Shawn’s blood. What a scene. Grade: ***1/2
5) Michelle McCool vs. Natalya for WWE Divas Title
Fun Fact: This started all the way back on the 6/6 Smackdown, when Vickie announced the brand would be making a new women’s title. Six women competed in a Golden Star on a Pole match where the winner would be the first contender for the title, and Natalya picked up the win. Over the course of the month, Natalya would scout potential opponents. Fast forward to the 7/4 Smackdown, where Michelle won a Star on a Pole match to be the other contender. The next week, Natalya teamed with Maryse to defeat Michelle and Cherry and then Natalya brutally assaulted Michelle before promising she would win the title at the Bash.
Scott: I never understood why the Divas needed a second title belt. The divas roster was solid but I wouldn’t say it was solid enough to justify a second title. In any event we have the former Florida school teacher facing yet another member of the Hart pedigree. I liked Nattie’s flowing red hair and her workrate. Her modified surfboard worked well until Michelle impressively reversed it into an (almost) heel submission. Eventually Nattie hooks on the Sharpshooter and to me it was over, but Michelle actually gets to the bottom rope. Michelle hooks her own heel finisher (the Brazilian Heel Hook) and Nattie has no choice but to tap out, and Michelle McCool is the inaugural Divas champion. I find this to be an upset. I thought for sure that Nattie had this one won. The match isn’t too bad for divas, and the underdog gets the victory and the gold. Grade: **
Justin: I feel really bad for these poor ladies as they attempt to follow that massacre. For the first time in 52 years, we have the creation of a second title devoted to female competitors. The ladies get off to a fast start with a series of counters and strikes, eventually seeing Michelle take control with uppercuts and kicks. She even survives a back body drop and comes back with a kick to the face. Natalya has the size advantage here and uses it to wheelbarrow Michelle across the top rope. She continued to use her power to hook Michelle into a modified surfboard where Michelle was propped straight into the air. Michelle tried to reverse into a Brazilian heel hook, but Natalya easily broke free. Michelle did her best to hang in and fight back, but Natalya was able to lock in a snug Sharpshooter. That looked like the end, but Michelle reached the ropes to force the break. The story here is pretty simply Natalya trying to bully and bruise her way to the title. As she tried for another Shaprshooter, Michelle tripped her up and went right back to the heel hook. After trying to writhe free, Natalya was finally forced to tap out, giving Michelle the newly minted Diva’s Title. Well, I will give them full credit for establishing a finisher and putting it over strongly, but I think they would have been better served to get the title on the potentially dominant Natalya, who could have run the division. But, I get that they wanted Michelle to be the face of the division. Cherry and Eve come out to celebrate the beginning of this new era. The match was fine with some decent submission stuff and definitely felt different than many other WWE Diva bouts. Grade: *1/2
*** Chris Jericho interrupts the celebration to inform us all that Shawn Michaels has a detached retina, which should effectively end his career. Jericho states that this is proof that the good guy does sometimes win and that Michaels’ time has finally come. That was a great to the point promo to put a stamp on that brutal assault from earlier. ***
6) CM Punk vs. Batista for World Heavyweight Title
Fun Fact: With the draft come and gone, RAW had no World Champion with Triple H drafted to Smackdown and he and Edge retaining their titles against RAW members John Cena and Batista at Night of Champions. The next night, Edge came out and gloated about RAW not having a champion. Batista then came out and confronted Edge, brawling around ringside until Batista hit the powerbomb. Then the inevitable happened: new RAW member CM Punk cashed in the Money in the Bank and defeated Edge in 12 seconds to win his first World Heavyweight title. It also happened to be the first time a MITB was cashed in on RAW. Punk then successfully retained the title against JBL later that night. The following week, Batista defeated JBL, Cena, and Kane in a Fatal Four Way match to determine the #1 contender to Punk’s title at the Bash. Kane then went berserk and assaulted Jerry Lawler after Lawler saved Michael Cole from a chokeslam. On the 7/14 RAW, Kane apologized for the attack and then faced Punk later that night, but when he lost, he went berserk again, beating down Punk with a chair. Batista made the save and then got into a confrontation with Punk. After trading some words, Punk pushed Batista, who responded by leveling Punk.
Scott: Has anybody had more World Heavyweight Title matches since 2005 than Batista? Whether it be Undertaker, Triple H, Great Khali or Edge, Batista always seemed to be the #1 contender. Now he takes on the guy everybody wanted to see get the shot he deserved. I’m sure many were concerned that Batista was going to just swoop in and take the World Title and take Punk out like a bug on a windshield. I also think many were concerned the severe contrast of styles would make this a substandard match, something CM Punk isn’t used to. Most of the early part of the match is Batista just pummeling the smaller champion with power moves and strikes. Yet every time Batista would go for the kill, Punk would kick the big guy out of the ring. Punk is obviously a good seller as well as a technician and put over Batista’s offense admirably. Punk spent most of the match trying to work over a part of Batista’s anatomy. Mostly it was his left shoulder/arm so the Animal couldn’t use the Batista Bomb. The crowd seemed to be into the match as both are strong favorites. I thought the match was going pretty well until the shabby ending when Kane comes in and takes both guys out. Kane keeps talking into a burlap bag and then boots a cameraman. The match was going pretty well, except for the fact that it was Batista that was jumped first, so already they make Punk out to be lucky. That I wasn’t a fan of. In any event, Kane wrecks what was a good match. Then to really hammer the point home that Punk was a fluke, Batista power bombs him after the match. As a whole the match was better than I remember, but the grade went down from when Kane came out to the end. Grade: ** 1/2
Justin: Another PPV and we get another World Title mach for Batista. He must lead the league in title shots by far and away, and his winning percentage must be dogshit. Anecdotally it feels that way to me. CM Punk cashed in his MITB on a wrecked Edge the night after our last PPV, winning his first World Championship in a really great moment. Now he faces the man that allowed him the chance to cash in, as Batista is the one that beat the piss out of Edge and left him primed for Punk. The key for Punk here is to stay calm and collected and let Batista either beat himself or get screwed, like always seems to happen in these spots. Punk would follow that strategy early on, as Batista overpowered him but eventually gave him an opening to zero in on. That would be short lived, as Batista just used his raw strength to send Punk careening into the buckle, rattling his spine and turning things around. He started to focus on the back, including a rear chin lock, but Punk kept coming right at him, sending him to the floor with a leaping kick to the face. After a short flurry, it was Punk who once again made the mistake, wildly charging in at the Animal, allowing him to drop the champ with a powerslam. Punk avoided a Batistabomb and kept fighting off Batista’s power based counters with quick strikes to drop the big man. The fans seemed a bit unsure who to back here,just kind of buzzing throughout without really committing to one or the other. It really felt like Punk was in trouble, as every time he hit some of his signature moves, which would take a normal man out, Batista just battled back and swatted him off to reset the ledger. The kill strike may have come when Batista caught Punk off the apron and slammed him hard to the mat with a spinebuster. As Batista was trying to dead lift Punk’s limp body into the ring, Kane popped up and assaulted the Animal, drawing a very weak DQ. After the bell, Kane brandished a little mysterious bag, kicked a cameraman in the face and then stomped off. And then to make matters worse, Batista beat up Punk after the bell, leaving him laid out with a Batistabomb. I hate this finish. Big time. Punk looked like a joke at the end, killed dead by Batista, who once again blows a title shot thanks to some whacky third party involvement. Punk needed a win or to at least be strong late in this match, but instead he looked like a champion that was saved at the last minute. The match itself was solid and was actually picking up steam in the last few minutes. A better finish could have really capped this off and pushed it up a notch, but as is, it is just a middle of the road affair and not the best way to kick off Punk’s reign. Grade: **1/2
7) John Cena vs. John Bradshaw Layfield in a New York City Parking Lot Brawl
Fun Fact: This on and off feud kicked back up the night after Night of Champions. Cena came out and felt it should be him and not JBL challenging the new World champ tonight. JBL came out and had Cena escorted from the arena by his security guards, even getting in a few shots. Later that night, Cena and Cryme Tyme were brawling with the guards, distracting JBL and causing him to lose the match. The next week, Cena and JBL competed in the aforementioned Fatal Four Way, and during the evening, Cena and Cryme Tyme proceeded to vandalize JBL’s limo, with Cena even spray-painting “JBL is poopy” on the hood. On the 7/15 RAW, Cena and Cryme Tyme defeated JBL, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. After the match, JBL goaded Cena backstage where he attacked him with a pipe and then put Cena against a car and JBL then drove his car into Cena, and he surveyed the damage, appearing remorseful from his actions.
Scott: As much as this feud probably went a little too long, at least Cena wasn’t clogging the title pictures. One thing about this feud is that it does have history and it adds great psychology to the matches. The results thus far have been suspect with Cena winning most of the battles, and I thought tonight was going to be no different. I find it funny that JBL was going to fight the match in a suit. That’s arrogance. I’m sure this one’s going to get more time than the Shamrock/Blackman match had at Fully Loaded 1999. Cena brawls with jumper cables, even stealing Kane’s idea of yapping JBL’s twig and berries. He then pulls out a keg which I find hilarious and throws it through a windshield. Going in I was wondering if these two can surpass their best match, which was three years earlier at Judgment Day 2005. That “I Quit” match was a bloody war. Cena dominated early, until JBL threw him into an open car door and it snapped off the hinges. I’m glad there were no announcers, which begs the question if this was live or taped earlier in the day. JBL was hitting some great moves, like a neckbreaker and DDT on the hoods of cars. After about ten minutes of throwing each other through doors, hoods and windows, neither guy was busted open. That was disappointing. At one point, JBL throws Cena in the back seat of one of the many cars in the back. He then grabs a can of gasoline and starts dousing the car with it. JBL indeed sets the car on fire and I thought that was the match. Cena makes a comeback and now I thought the match would be over. Cena would return the favor from earlier by throwing JBL into a car and t-boning it with a forklift. Cena would then drive the car through the garage out to the ring. Well that answers the question if the match was live. Then Cole and Lawler would start to commentate. When it looked like Cena was going to FU JBL onto a car that was the end. Then out of nowhere JBL threw Cena off the stage and into a windshield. That got him the victory, which was truly the upset of the night. Technically he won the feud. Match of the night for me that was methodical and fun. Grade: *** 1/2
Justin: Well this is certain a unique setting, the first time we have seen this type of match since Ken Shamrock and Steve Blackman battled in the parking lot at Fully Loaded 1999. This feud has really overextended itself, but it has kept Cena occupied and out of the main event picture, so it gets some brownie points there. Still, it had devolved a bit with that terrible “JBL is Poopy” incident. We shall see if they can rehab it here with some good old fashioned violence. We cut back to the garage with a circle of cars as JBL’s limo drives in and the man himself emerges. Looks like he is going to fight in his suit and tie (Justin Timberlake sits up and takes notice). As he meanders around the lot, he brandishes a tire iron and tries to sniff out Cena, who is yet to arrive. As JBL was standing on the old of a car, Cena drive another car into it, looking for revenge for the vehicular attack on Raw. Cena was a man on a mission, crazily jumping JBL on the roof of the car before choking him out with jumper cables. He kicks things up a notch by hiking the cables to JBL’s crotch and then zapping him with a charge. JBL should be dead. Or crying. He narrowly avoids death again as Cena chucks a huge keg at him, but he dodges at the last moment as the keg careens into the car windshield. This is all Cena, which makes sense in their attempt to wrap this feud up for good. There is also no commentary here at all, which makes the match feel a little odd, but hooray for something different. JBL does get an opening and really takes advantage, viciously hammering Cena with a car door and his fists. He tops that by chucking Cena into a windshield and then cracking him with a DDT on the roof of it. That was a pretty stiff DDT, but Cena survives it. The ante continues to be upped as Cena is run head fist through a window. I will say the effects and use of the cars is pretty damn good here. But the match feels like it has gone on a bit too long, although that could be a product of not having any commentary or much crowd reaction piped in. And just when I was feeling that everything felt quite realistic in this one, JBL chucks Cena into the backseat of a car and then lights it on fire. As staffers rush over to put the fire out, Cena escapes unscathed and destroys JBL once again. Did we really need to go to that point? There is no blood here either, which makes this feel a bit hollow after we saw Michaels hit a gusher from a back elbow. Cena tossed JBL in a car and then slammed him with a forklift, meaning we get all the hokey camera shots that clearly prove this is edited up. Cena lifted the car and drove the forklift to ringside, where the brawl spilled out and raged on. Cena would try to quickly wrap it up with his usual finishing sequence on the entrance ramp, but he stalled a bit, debating whether to toss JBL onto the car. That delay allowed JBL to slip free and toss Cena off the ramp and into the windshield for the win! Wow, I can not believe JBL won this one. I guess the feud will continue on yet again. That was pretty good finish. I enjoyed a good chunk of this one, but I wish they didn’t bother with the fire or hokey camera angles. If it was tighter in the garage and spelled out to the arena quicker, it would have been a lot more effective. As is, it is probably still the best match of this long-standing feud. Grade: ***
8) Triple H vs. Edge for WWE Title
Fun Fact: On the 7/4 Smackdown, Triple H was interviewed by MVP and they alluded to Edge’s title loss on Monday night before Vickie interrupted. Triple H praised Edge for marrying the boss and even alluded to them going through a drive-thru in Las Vegas and “you don’t have to be conscious to go through”. Vickie then proceeded to make Triple H/Edge for the WWE title at the Bash. Later that night, Edge claimed what happened to him Monday wasn’t fair but he would survive, despite lack of any support from Vickie, Hawkins & Ryder. Edge then prepared to tell a few “dirty little secrets” about Vickie, but then Vickie interrupted on the entrance stage. Edge confronted Vickie on the stage and said the wedding was off, and Vickie went hysterical. The following week, Edge stood by his decision and then Vickie came out and put Big Show in a No-DQ match. Meanwhile, Chavo supported Edge initially and then called him a liar but Vickie put him in a match with Triple H, who proceeded to defeat Chavo. Later that night, Big Show was about to put Edge in a Con-Chair-To, but Vickie stopped the bout and covered Edge with her own body before they reconciled. The next week, they get married and the entire show was dedicated to their wedding. At the end of the show, Edge showed a video proclaiming their love before Triple H crashed the party and showed different clips of Edge and Alicia Fox before the last clip showed Edge and Alicia making out and Vickie was furious and attacked Edge as the show came to a close.
Scott: This was a combination I had been waiting for since 2004. I had become a huge Edge fan over the past three years, based on his improved work in the ring and his smarmy pervert character. Then in one of the most shocking moments in Raw history, Triple H was drafted to Smackdown. I mean it happened in 2004 but it was switched quickly. This time though it stuck, and The Game was on the Blue Brand for the first time since 2002. Now on paper the fact that two of the more decorated guys of the past five years should make for a great feud and match based solely on history. Instead we see Triple H forced to shoehorn his way into that insipid storyline with Edge and Vickie Guerrero. The previous Friday Triple H (who before the draft could really care less about their nuptials) decides he needs to have footage of Edge being unfaithful? I thought the whole thing was silly but nonetheless I was ready for this match simply because it was fresh and hadn’t been done before. Triple H had dominated early until Edge put him into the barricade outside. Mick made a good point on commentary by saying that he needed to see the real Edge and not the one that’s used nepotism and the numbers game to win matches. Sadly, my expectations were probably too high, because the match overall was good. Not off the charts incredible, which I think I was expecting, but just good. One good move was when Edge was going for the spear and out of nowhere Triple H catches him and hits the spinebuster. Now the live crowd was really into the match, but I’m not sure if this was the strongest option for the main event. To really throw the match down the tubes, out comes wedding planner Alicia Fox to do, something? In any event Vickie Guerrero comes out and clotheslines her. We then have a cat fight in the middle of the ring which really ruins any credibility this match had. Edge spears Vickie, then Triple H puts us out of our misery with a Pedigree to finish things off. All the crap that the storyline carried pretty much ruined what could have been a pretty good main event. I’m glad the Game won, but it’s a pretty flat finish to a decent PPV. Grade: ** 1/2
Justin: Well, the company wasted zero time getting these guys into the ring together as soon as Triple H moved to Friday nights. It is a really fresh matchup and feels like the blowoff to an era. An era where Edge was The Man on Smackdown and Triple H was The Man on Raw and now they face off to see who is The Man of WWE. I kind of wish we didn’t have all this hammed up soap opera stuff with Vickie and Alicia in the mix, because this match could have sold on its own “Clash of the Brands” merit. Instead, it is set up a punishment for Edge, where it should instead be a reward for him. Instead of it feeling a BIG MATCH, it instead just feels a bit forced, with Hunter shoehorning his way into the Edge/Vickie love story theatrics. Edge knew he had to put the Vickie stuff in his back pocket and focus on this title opportunity, and this exactly what he does as he aggressively jumps the Champ off the bell. Hunter quickly reversed that and started to hammer away on Edge, working some basic holds for a few moments until Edge found an opening and targeted the midsection of the Game, which played perfectly into his spear based offense. A problem with this combination is that both guys work a multifaceted style with no real strength, which leads to a lot of basic, bland offense. They both do it very well, but it doesn’t stand out or pop in any way. It is just solid. Hunter was able to force Edge to the floor to buy a few moments and by the time the challenger got back in, Hunter was on his feet and started to fire away with right hands, launching a full fledged comeback. Both men would end up outside again, but this is where Edge got one last gasp, with an impaler on the floor mat. Edge would take the first risk of the match, heading up top and coming off with a dropkick, but it backfired, as Hunter caught him and sent him careening into the corner with a slingshot. As we headed to the finish, we got the standard finisher reversal war with Edge coming out on top after a stiff kick to the head. Any time Hunter would slow Edge up, he went right to a Pedigree attempt, but the challenger kept blocking it and regaining control. With both guys down, trying to fight to heir feet, Alicia Fox jogged to ringside and tried to hand Edge the belt. That drew Vickie out, who collided with Alicia and delivered the weakest clothesline you may ever see. Vickie would grab the belt and hop in the ring, but Alicia recovered and jumped on her, leading to a cat fight that wasn’t half bad. This all ended with Edge spearing Vickie, who took a pretty good bump off the move. As Edge tried to contemplate his feelings on what happened, Hunter grabbed him and hit the Pedigree for the win. This was as basic as it gets and nothing too inspired. As we worried about, the storyline totally overtook the match and I believe these two could have a better battle with a heated feud and a street fight style gimmick attached. As is, it was just kind of there. Grade: **1/2
Scott: I didn’t remember this show very well when I watched it live, and watching it again it was pretty unremarkable. There were a couple of upsets in my eyes, like Shelton Benjamin winning the US Title and JBL actually beating John Cena clean. Otherwise the show is pretty unremarkable. CM Punk/Batista was booked exactly as I thought, with Batista dominating the action, Punk escaping with the title and Batista getting the last word. The crowd was hot all night, as a good NY crowd is, and that kept my interest in the show, otherwise it may go down as a big stinker. The draft did shake the roster up and give us some fresh matchups, but on this night even that didn’t help matters. The HBK/Jericho war was fun and clearly we have more matches coming from them. I will say that the road to Summerslam was unclear, at least in the title pictures. I don’t know what was more disappointing: The main event or the finish to CM Punk’s biggest WWE match to date. Other than Shawn Michaels’ crazy blade job, this is probably a show you can afford to miss. Final Grade: C
Justin: This was an easy show to watch but outside of the great final moments of Michaels/Jericho, there really wasn’t much else to get excited about at all. Nothing was actively bad, but nothing quite stood out. The JBL/Cena match was the best of their series, but that may be faint praise at this point. The Batista/Punk finish was annoying at best and a major self inflicted wound at worst. The main event SHOULD have been something special, but with all the Vickie hoopla mixed in, it came off as uninspired. The roster mix up certainly helped and things feel fresher, but the in ring action left a lot to be desired this time around. I will give props to the fans, as they were into things throughout the whole show and definitely gave it a bump. If they were bland or quiet, this show may have flatlined. We will see where things head next, but CM Punk clearly needs a marquee win to be looked at as a brand headliner like his Smackdown counterpart. Final Grade: C