It seemed like Smackdown! always got the short end of the stick whenever WWE did their draft lotteries in the mid ’00s. Through some combination of bad luck or bad booking, it seems like they always ended up with the B team. Sometimes, they were able to overcome it by building their own stars as they did during the Smackdown Six era of ’02-’03. Other times…not so lucky. On paper, it seemed like they broke even in 2005. They lost John Cena, Kurt Angle, Carlito, The Big Show, and RVD but gained Chris Benoit, Randy Orton, Muhammad Hassan, Christian, and Batista. RAW got the better end but not by that much. RAW gained the guy who’d be its centerpiece for the next ten years along in John Cena plus a few solid hands to fill out the undercard (and who could pop in the occasional main event) in RVD, Big Show, and Carlito. Angle wasn’t on RAW very long but that was because he had to be shuffled over to Smackdown! as a result of a deluge of injuries. We’ll get to that in a few months. Smackdown suffered some extraordinarily bad luck. Let’s take our first look at how things went wrong…
Smackdown! Presents… WWE’s The Great American Bash 2005
July 24th, 2005
Live from HSBC Arena in Buffalo, New York
Announcers: Michael Cole & Tazz
We get an ultra patriotic video package to open the show given that this is the Great American Bash. America is the Land of Opportunity and World Champ Batista took advantage of the opportunity to move to Smackdown! He’s facing JBL, who guarantees victory tonight and won the WWE Title at the Great American Bash last year. Muhammad Hassan is not as psyched about the Great American Bash! He feels unfairly persecuted in his own country! Just because him and some masked men choked The Undertaker with piano wire. Plus Eddie Guerrero’s got explosive secrets about Dominic Mysterio. What does this have to do with American Pride? I don’t know. Let’s go to ringside!
Michael Cole talks about this being the 20th Anniversary of the Great American Bash. Honestly, never got why Vince brought back the Great American Bash name in the mid ’00s considering he generally hates ideas that aren’t his. I mean it’s a good pay per view name but so aren’t some of the other WCW pay per view names. Also it’s kind of dumb if they were trying to tie together the lineage of one of NWA/WCW’s marquee events with a third tier brand exclusive pay per view.
WWE Tag Team Championship Match: MNM (c) (With Melina) Vs Road Warrior Animal & Heidenreich
One of the only notable things about the WWE version of the Great American Bash is they brought back the red, white, and blue ring ropes! Animal had gotten a comeback run in WWE following the release of the LOD DVD set. This match came about after MNM insulted Road Warrior Animal’s fallen tag team partner Hawk. Geez. What was it with heels insulting dead wrestlers in mid ’00s WWE? Michael Cole does a good job of selling this match by saying for all of the tag team titles that Animal has won, he’s never won this particular version of the WWE Tag Team Titles. Animal teamed with Heidenreich
because he’s big! Heidenreich had been bullied by MNM in the weeks leading up to this. MNM probably deserved better than this. WWE was smart when they realized “Hey! The ECW DVD set sold well…let’s give them a PPV!” the month before this. When they thought “Hey! The LOD DVD sold well…let’s bring back the LOD with Heidenreich replacing Hawk and give them the tag titles!”? Not such a smart decision. I also feel like putting Heidenreich into another lame LOD revival is what put the final nail in the coffin for his WWE career. LOD 2005 wins with the Doomsday Device. HAWK, THIS ONE’s FOR YOU, BROTHER! The crowd seemed to sort of enjoy this which is about the best thing you can say about this. *
Actually, I do like how Heidenreich is still doing the goofy “Hei-den-reich!” stomp when he celebrates the title victory.
Cole & Tazz have goosebumps! We go from one emotional story to another as we recap the feud leading up to Rey Mysterio Vs Eddie Guerrero. If Eddie wins, he’ll reveal an EARTH SHATTERING SECRET!
Josh Matthews is with Eddie Guerrero. Eddie’s “Eddie Stole My Other Shirt” is somehow only the second most racist thing we’ll see tonight. Eddie says manipulation is his new addiction. Eddie’s psyched that Rey Mysterio’s son Dominic will have a front row seat to watch Eddie beat up his dad.
Booker T (with Sharmell) Vs Christian
We know Eddie is sick and disturbed because heelish color commentator Tazz does not endorse what he just said. Christian’s a new addition to the Smackdown! roster. Christian was on the verge of being a main event guy on RAW before moving to Smackdown, which was more or less the B show by this point. You’d think Christian would become the big fish in the little pond but he ended up back in the mid-card and this was more or less the beginning of his first run in WWE. Go figure. Kind of a sign that his debut angle upon jumping to Smackdown, was attacking Booker T, who was reaching the tail end of a two year stretch of god awful angles. This is a basic, well worked match. Kind of feels like a house show opener. This crowd seems split 50/50 in their support, which demonstrates Christian’s breakout potential during this period. Cole tries to brush it off by saying that Buffalo’s close to Canada so the Canadian fans are probably all rooting for Christian. Booker T wins with a scissor kick from the second rope. **1/2
A backstage interviewer I don’t recognize (uh…2005 version of Tom Phillips) talks to Melina! MNM’s gonna get their titles back and nobody’s gonna see her in her underwear.
We get a shot of HSBC Arena as Cole talks about how this show is being shown on the Armed Forces Network for the third time tonight. Speaking of America, the US Title is being defended next!
WWE United States Championship Match: Orlando Jordan (c) Vs Chris Benoit
Like Christian, it seemed like Chris Benoit getting traded to Smackdown! would revitalize his career and he’d become a big fish in a little pond unlike just another guy on RAW’s crowded roster. However, it didn’t work out that way and getting traded to Smackdown, signified the end of Benoit’s main event run. Orlando Jordan, like a lot of the young guys, from this era had a solid look but absolutely nothing else. Curious to see if Benoit can get anything out of him. I always thought it was odd that Tazz would always talk about how Orlando Jordan was the best athlete in WWE. He may have been a great athlete but it didn’t really translate to the ring because he seemed he could barely walk across it without tripping. As for the question of whether or not, Benoit could carry Orlando Jordan to an interesting match? Not really. Jordan’s offense is just bland, bland, bland. He picks up the upset win after blocking a German Suplex and ramming Benoit’s head into an exposed turnbuckle. *1/2
Video package for Muhammad Hassan/Undertaker. Muhammad Hassan’s career also feel apart when he moved to Smackdown in the ’05 Draft. However, it wasn’t really because of the roster move but because of a tasteless angle where Muhammad Hassan had a group of masked men attack The Undertaker and strangle him with piano wire on Smackdown. Oh and this angle aired the same day as the July 7th, 2005 London terrorist attacks. So not great timing to have a stereotypical evil Arab.
Winner Becomes #1 Contender for the World Heavyweight Championship: The Undertaker Vs Muhammad Hassan (with Daivari)
Masked men carry Hassan out on a throne. Like the last match, I’m curious to see if the veteran (Undertaker in this case) can carry the not very good greenhorn (Hassan) to something watchable. The masked men surround the ring. I’m surprised that WWE didn’t immediately drop that aspect of the angle. They even strangle him with piano wire again. Really, guys? The Undertaker eventually fights everybody off then wins with the chokeslam and ends Hassan’s undefeated streak. The masked men and Daivari try to attack again but Undertaker fights them off. The Undertaker tombstones the
Shane Twin masked man. Hassan tries to run away but Undertaker chokeslams him on the entrance ramp then gives him the Last Ride through the stage. This match was just there to write Muhammad Hassan off of TV. But it was unnecessarily long. And boy… they REALLY didn’t need to bring back the piano wire wielding, masked Arabs. This should have just been The Undertaker kicking Hassan and Daivari’s ass for a few minutes. Zero Stars. Good bye and good riddance to the Muhammad Hassan character. It’s ironic/sad/not surprising that what started out as a character to refute Arab-American stereotypes really ended up just reinforcing them but that’s WWE for ya.
Short lived backstage interviewer I don’t recognize interviews Torrie Wilson about her bra & panties match with Melina.
We see EMTs attending to Hassan. Tazz says he didn’t want to see this happen and things get out of hand sometime in the world of wrestling!
The Blue World Order (Hollywood Nova, Big Stevie Cool, and The Blue Meanie) Vs The MexiCools (Super Crazy, Juventud Guerrera, and Psicosis)
Now for something completely different, The MexiCools come out on their riding lawnmowers. From one offensive gimmick to another! The Mexicools say HOLA to Carlos & Hugo and Tazz is pissed that he got brushed off. The Blue World Order enter on big wheels. The Blue World Order’s short lived comeback was a result of JBL beating the hell out of Blue Meanie at ECW One Night Stand and WWE giving The Meanie a payday to make up for it (and try to prevent a lawsuit, I’m guessing). This match is pretty random and just seems there for filler between big matches. MexiCools win with a moonsault from Super Crazy and Guillotine Legdrop from Psicosis onto Stevie Richards. **
Video package for Rey Mysterio/Eddie Guerrero. This angle had gotten over the top at this point with Eddie threatening to blackmail Rey Mysterio over a secret involving Rey’s son Dominic. Most notable thing to come out of this storyline was the debut of Vickie Guerrero.
Rey Mysterio prays en Espanol and tries to reassure Dominic.
If Eddie Guerrero wins, he reveals the secret about Dominic Mysterio: Rey Mysterio (with Dominic Mysterio) Vs Eddie Guerrero
Michael Cole & Tazz try to be unbiased but they’re rooting for Rey Mysterio here because Eddie doesn’t give a damn about anyone but himself. This card has been lousy so far. Even an middle of the road Mysterio-Guerrero match could turn this show around a bit. Not counting on it though. I like Mysterio outsmarting insincere heel Guerrero to start the match. Rey dominates until Eddie runs out and grabs Dominic (who wears a blank, terrified facial expression the whole time. Poor kid). Eddie does a really great job of playing a psychotic bastard even though this is super soap opera-ish. This match definitely has its moments and is definitely match of the night (Unless the Melina/Torrie Wilson Bra & Panties match inexplicably turns out to be a ***** classic) but is one of their lesser matches overall. Still even a lesser match by those two is still worth watching. Mysterio wins with a Crucifix pin while Guerrero’s distracted jawjacking with Dominic. ***1/2
Rey & Dominic celebrate while Eddie argues with a Ted Nugent lookalike in the front row.
Josh Matthews interviews JBL, wearing an Apollo Creed inspired outfit. His red, white, and blue cowboy hat looks more like the French flag though. JBL might clothesline me for saying that. JBL says all of the Great Americans, living and dead; Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and George W. Bush, will revel in JBL winning the World Title tonight.
Tazz thanks WWE.com for sponsoring this pay per view. Geez, this pay per view was such a stinker that WWE couldn’t find anyone but themselves to sponsor it.
Bra & Panties Match (Special Guest Referee: Candice Michelle): Melina Vs Torrie Wilson
Again, we have a serious match followed by something goofy. Melina is wrestling in UGGs. Who said WWE didn’t take women’s wrestling seriously in the mid ’00s? Melina wins a stereotypical bra and panties match. After the match, Melina attacks Candice and Candice strips Melina to her skivvies. Michael Cole says he LOVES living in America. Zero Stars. Candice Matchelle strips to her skivvies too. Why not? USA! USA! USA!
We go back to the last Smackdown! of June 2005 and Teddy Long announcing that World Champion Batista was the last pick in the 2005 WWE Draft. JBL won a six pack match to become the #1 Contender. Batista watched Smackdown! every week and hates JBL! Batista even helped Blue Meanie get his revenge on JBL. I’m mildly surprised that they didn’t bring up the tension between these two when Batista was choosing his WrestleMania 21 opponent.
World Heavyweight Championship Match: Batista (c) Vs John Bradshaw Layfield
JBL gets a police motorcade into the arena. Man, what a great heel JBL was. JBL hands out American flags to the crowd. What a great man. Ah. Cole brings up the fact that this was thought to be the WrestleMania 21 main event. This match reminds me of the two World Title matches at WrestleMania 21. Very slow and methodical and the level of intensity feels off for a pay per view main event. When the color commentator talks about how the match is so physical that it has both competitors exhausted (as Tazz does here), it seems to be code for “This match isn’t very interesting”. This crowd seems lively considering the quality of this show. We get a ref bump. Orlando Jordan runs in and knocks Batista out with a chair but the ref can’t make the count in time. We get a dumb screwjob finish with Batista stealing the chair that Orlando Jordan brought into the ring and whacking JBL with it to draw a DQ. JBL gets the win but Batista retains the title. After the match, Batista beats the hell out of Jordan & JBL with this chair. Lame ending for a lame pay per view. I like both of these guys but this seemed like arbitrary setup for a SummerSlam rematch. *
Batista hits JBL & Jordan with the Batista Bomb to close the show. Cole thanks the troops for giving us the freedom to do things like this. Put on crappy wrestling shows? Foof.
Not only was this the worst PPV of 2005 so far but this might be one of the worst PPVs of the brand exclusive era. RAW did come out with the better hand in the draft but the roster on Smackdown on paper wasn’t really that terrible. You could have easily come up with a good if not great show here. However, a combination of bad storylines and demotivated workers really killed things here. With screwjob finishes in 2 out of 3 of the title matches and a flukey finish in Guerrero Vs Mysterio, this show felt kind of like a filmed house show. Nothing here really had any energy, outside of
Next on Ten Years After… It’s The Hottest Event of the Summer…SummerSlam 2005, headlined by a match you never thought you’d see. WWE’s Biggest Star of the ’80s (and ever) Hulk Hogan takes on one of the biggest stars of the ’90s “Mr. WrestleMania” Shawn Michaels! Plus John Cena defends the WWE Championship against Chris Jericho, Batista defends the World Championship against JBL in a No Holds Barred Match, and Randy Orton takes on The Undertaker in a rematch of their WrestleMania 21 Classic!