The SmarK Rant for WWE Great American Bash 2005
– Live from Buffalo, NY.
– Your hosts are Michael Cole & Tazz.
– So in the spirit of the Bash and its annual reputation as one of the worst PPVs of the year, I figure it’s time to bring back a tradition of my own — the Hot Poker Up the Ass Rating System. Sure, the SMURF system has a good backstory, but really when you have a main event like JBL v. Batista, you can only truly express yourself by quantifying your hatred with red hot pokers. Tonight’s victim will be John Laurena…uh…Laurini… Johnny Ace, the guy responsible for Animal having a job again. But since I’m fair, and since this is in the spirit of the older WCW Bash rants, if matches are good enough to entertain me, we’ll cool off Ace’s burning undercarriage with refreshing bottles of Surge, Tony Schiavone’s former drink of choice.
– Opening match, Smackdown tag titles: MNM v. Animal & Heidenreich. The bastardized LOD theme has the Hawk opening, but then uses a generic rock bassline. Weird. Animal looks better than he did in 2003 for the LOD’s last appearance on RAW. Heidenreich overpowers Mercury to start, as Tazz notes that Heidenreich and Animal are great individually, but might be suspect as a team. “Great”?! I’ll give Johnny Ace 5 hot pokers for that dumb statement from Tazz. Heidenreich keeps bullying Mercury, and finally Animal tosses him back in as he tries to run away. Animal comes in and runs into a boot, but comes back with a double suplex on MNM. Heidenreich comes in for the choke, but he gets clipped behind the ref’s back and he’s YOUR Nazi-in-peril. Has it occurred to anyone that Animal molding Heidenreich into Hawk’s image week after week isn’t exactly a healthy way to deal with his grief? 5 hot pokers for Ace, because moving on with your life is a good thing. MNM works over the knee of Heidenreich, and no doubt have to stop every 15 seconds and remind him which leg he’s supposed to be selling. That goes on for a bit, as MNM takes the minimalist approach to keeping Heidenreich from looking too stupid in there, but it’s hot tag Animal. He gets a backdrop suplex on Mercury and dropkicks Nitro off the apron, but a beltshot from the champs gets two. MNM tries the Snapshot, but Heidenreich breaks it up and Animal powerslams Mercury into a Doomsday Device to finish at 6:44 and give them the tag titles. I’m shocked Heidenreich was able to do his part of the move without falling off and breaking his neck. Well, maybe next time. Nothing terribly offensive, except for the stupid-ass booking that resulted in these two winning the tag belts from the hottest act on the show. *1/2 Animal dedicates the match to Hawk. Maybe he should dedicate a GOOD match to him, instead. 10 more hot pokers for Animal pimping the memory of his dead partner like this.
– Christian v. Booker T. Booker gets a back elbow to start and chops away. Christian tries getting out of the ring, but Booker hauls him back in for a backdrop suplex and some more chops in the corner. Booker slingshots him into the corner for two. Christian gets a cheapshot behind the ref’s back and sends him into the post, which sets up an inverted DDT out of the corner for two. Choking time, but Booker slugs back, only to fall prey to a single-arm DDT. That gets two for Christian. We hit the chinlock, which Michael Cole classifies as “pulling out all the stops”. I’d hate to see what dogging it comprises, then. Christian grabs a headlock on the mat, but Booker makes the ropes. To escape a headlock? Tazz tries to sell it as a submission move, but c’mon. Booker comes back with a sideslam as the crowd seems undecided as to who they should cheer for, but he misses a sidekick and crotches himself. This allows Sharmell “Yes I’m still on TV” Sullivan to showcase her emotional range at ringside. She’s elated! She’s upset! She’s angry! Christian stops to go after her, and runs into the Bookend as a result. That gets two. Booker makes the federally mandated comeback as they continue to sleepwalk through the motions, and a sunset flip out of the corner is reversed by Christian for two. Booker hits him with the spinebuster and flapjacks him, and spends a lot of time looking at his hand. Spinarooni sets up the axe kick, but Christian uses a clever counter by standing up. Booker hammers him in the corner and that allows Christian to get another cheap pinfall attempt for two. Booker necksnaps him from the apron and goes up, and it’s a missile dropkick for two. Booker’s like a videogame version of himself at this point — when he goes up and the other guy is up, it’s a missile dropkick. If the other guy is down, it’s the Harlem Hangover. There’s no variation in between. They fight outside and Christian hits the post. Back in, Booker axe kicks him and it’s over at 11:32. This was like when you’re watching TV and you flip over to the wrestling show, and you watch a match and go “Yup, that was a wrestling match, all right, no doubt about it” and then flip over to the Osbournes and never remember what was on the other channel again. This was also the second match in a row where the logical and obvious winner did a clean job for no apparent reason other than to screw with people who were expecting it. ** 5 hot pokers for moving Christian over, without Tomko, and then jobbing him out in his first PPV on the Smackdown side.
– Elsewhere, Melina threatens to strip “worn-out has been” Torrie Wilson down to her bra and panties later. When you’re a woman and you start getting called that in any context on a wrestling show, it’s time to get the hell out of there, because the trip is only downhill from there.
– US title: Orlando Jordan v. Chris Benoit. Stop and think about this for a minute: Chris Benoit, a guy who was World champion this time last year, had to win a match to qualify for a shot against ORLANDO JORDAN’s secondary title. Benoit had to win to earn a match with Jordan. 15 hot pokers just for that. Jordan, despite winning the US title in February, has been basically persona non grata on PPV since then, and since I don’t watch Smackdown I had no idea if he’s getting any better or not. I was at the Smackdown taping that came through Edmonton at the end of May and saw him in a Velocity match against someone I don’t remember, and was shocked to see that Jordan has actually gotten WORSE since his jobber days, which is quite the accomplishment. Sure, there was the match against Heidenreich at Judgment Day, but I didn’t count that in my analysis of Jordan, because Heidenreich is like the anti-matter universe Ric Flair — he can carry a broomstick to -*** without trying. Benoit pounds him to start and gets a back elbow, then starts firing the chops. They slug it out in the corner and Jordan loses that pretty handily, allowing Benoit to fire off a snap suplex and get a dropkick for two. Jordan misses a kick and Benoit turns it into a leg drag, but misses a baseball slide and gets sent into the post outside. Jordan undoes the turnbuckle, but Benoit attacks him from behind and fires off a german suplex. He follows with a northern lights suplex and gets two. Benoit might as well be wrestling a crash test dummy out there for all the help he’s getting. Cole notes that Jordan has learned from “one of the best” in JBL. Learned to rape people in the shower? Make dumb comments to the press? Offend Germans en masse? Jordan picks an arm and starts working on it with a short-arm scissors, and a standing armbar. Benoit escapes, so Jordan dropkicks him down again. Back to the arm, as Jordan continues to do unimpressive Heat-level rookie stuff until Benoit takes him down and tries a Sharpshooter. Jordan escapes and Benoit responds with chops, but Jordan just sits on his back with the armbar again. Benoit fights out of it again, but Jordan stomps him down and gets a swinging neckbreaker for two. Jordan punches him in the neck a few times and gets two. Back elbow gets two. He goes to a surfboard and the crowd finally gets bored enough to turn on the match, as Benoit makes the comeback with a superplex and some forearms. Backdrop sets up the rolling germans as the match drones on towards the inevitable Benoit title win, as Benoit goes up for the diving headbutt. That gets two. They collide in the corner and Jordan undoes the turnbuckle, properly this time, and rams Benoit into it for the fluke pin at 14:21 to retain. OK, I shouldn’t have to tell the genius writers this kind of stuff, but here’s a primer: You’ve got a guy like Jordan who is useless but you wanna push him. You’ve got a guy like Animal who is doing a nostalgia tour as a result of nepotism but will never draw money. THAT’S who you use for the fluke title defense win, not a guy who can be shunted back to the main event if need be. This was Orlando’s best match ever, by the way, and that’s not even a compliment to him. ** Three matches, three bass-ackwards booking decisions, three more hot pokers for that.
– #1 Contender match: Undertaker v. Muhammad Hassan. It’s funny that for all the time and effort they’ve taken trying to make Hassan into the Arab-American terror of wrestling, Big Brother did 1000 times better with Kaysar, making him into the most wonderfully evil Arab-American on TV in just three weeks. Through the magic of fast-forward (Praise be to Allah for it!) I zip through Hassan’s opening match whining and we cut to the chase. Hassan is of course seconded by a terrorist cell, which is a sentence that you don’t type every day. Of course, since they’re martyring themselves for the cause by standing at ringside for a fixed wrestling match, they’re not the most EFFECTIVE terrorists ever. Hassan dodges Undertaker to start and tries slugging him down in the corner, but loses that battle. Big boot gets two. The ROPEWALK OF DOOM follows, and he gets a downward spiral for two. Of course, that’s also Hassan’s move, which they conveniently forget about. Taker batters him in the corner, but misses a charge and the terrorists get some cheapshots in. The referee warns one of them, which is a pretty strange image in itself if you think about it. I mean, they don’t fear death or legal repercussions, but the guy who gets knocked out by a clothesline makes them stand down? In the ring, Hassan gets a DDT for two. Hassan hits the chinlock, but Taker just stops selling and makes the comeback, slugging him down and then dealing with the terrorists. Sadly, he pulls a Carlo Rizzi and underestimates the guy with the piano wire, and that allows Hassan to get a camel clutch. I have no patience for this bullshit. I hope UPN keeps a tape of this and kicks the WWE off when their contract expires. Taker again casually escapes and beats the crap out of the terrorists, then drops an elbow on Hassan for two. Undertaker should have brought his Druids out of retirement to counteract them. Chokeslam finishes this mess at 8:03 to make Undertaker the #1 contender. Yup. Good thing the WWE would never advertise something and then not deliver, as I look forward to Batista v. Undertaker at Summerslam. 1/2* Taker destroys all the terrorists in a very extended sequence and then powerbombs Hassan through a hole in the stage to hopefully get rid of the character once and for all. 911 hot pokers for all this nonsense and for wasting months on this dead-end heel to begin with. Stick him under a mask along with Val Venis and let him ride out his contract on Heat as an anonymous tag team wrestler, say I.
– The Mexicools v. The BWO. As if that lesson in ethnic sensitivity wasn’t bad enough, the Mexicools ride out on tractors and carry rakes. The BWO respond by riding Big Wheels to the ring, which is what passes for biting social commentary these days, I guess. I guess “Nova” and “Simon Dean” are supposed to be different people in the WWE universe because apparently we’re all f*cking idiots. Never mind that the whole audience for the BWO are people who already KNOW that they’re the same person. Juvy takes Nova down to start and slugs away, and soon it’s a donnybrook. Well, that didn’t take long. Crazy gets caught in the corner and the BWO whip Meanie into him, as the Mexicools bail and regroup. Juvy comes back in with a springboard dropkick on Nova, Nova is face-in-peril. Juvy holds an armbar, but Nova hulks up. Note to Mike Bucci: Hogan parodies became passe the moment Hogan himself degenerated into total self-parody with his reality show. Juvy holds a neck vice on Nova, but falls victim to a big boot and it’s “hot” tag to Richards. He backdrops Psychosis and gets a sideslam for two, but Crazy saves. Richards misses a charge and Crazy moonsaults him, setting up a legdrop from Psy for the pin at 4:43. I love how they sign Crazy and Psychosis on the strength of their ECW work and then have them play idiotic stereotypes who do nothing in the ring that would remind you of their great matches. That’s just super. 50 hot pokers for pretty much everything here. 3/4*
– Eddie Guerrero v. Rey Mysterio. We’ll say 25 hot pokers as a catch-all for this whole stupid thing with Rey’s kid, as they took a perfectly good storyline with Eddie snapping on his partner and turned it into a plot right out of a bad soap opera. But then judging why who Stephanie is hiring these days for the writing team, that’s not surprising. Despite winning every match in the series thus far, Rey is treated like a total chump in the storyline and dominated by the heel at every turn, so the crowd is no longer behind him. Eddie and Rey share a nice pre-match hug, and Rey attacks him to start. Good role model. Rey misses a springboard bodyblock and Eddie stomps him down, but Rey rolls him up for two. Backslide gets two. Bulldog gets two. Eddie whips him into the corner, but runs into an elbow and Rey slugs away in the other corner. Eddie takes him down with an atomic drop, but gets crotched. Rey brings him down with a rana for two. Is the director fixated on Dominic or something? Every 5 seconds they cut to him at ringside in lieu of their usual transition edits. Eddie tries a Splash Mountain, but Rey escapes and gets the 619 and springboard press for two. And the camera cuts to Dominic, with the same blank look on his face as the first 25 times. Eddie goes to hide behind him as the match grinds to a screeching halt like dumping bleach into a gas tank, and Rey begs for mercy. Lame, lame, lame! Back in, Eddie takes over with a backbreaker as Cole and Tazz are getting much more worked up about this match than the bored crowd is. Eddie works him over on the ropes and we stop again for more Adventures With Dominic. Back to the ring, as Cole notes that “emotional manipulation has become Eddie’s new high”. Thank you Sigmund f*cking Freud. Eddie keeps slowly pounding away and gets a suplex for two. And we stop AGAIN to go back to Dominic. Rey falls on top during a backbreaker attempt and gets two, but Eddie goes to the Gory Special submission move. They head outside for MORE cheap melodrama with the kid, and finally Rey makes the comeback. Back in, Rey dropkicks the knee and kicks him in the head for two. DDT gets two for Rey. He gets another 619 and drops the dime, but misses. Eddie does his dance to celebrate and gets the rolling verticals, and that sets up the frog splash. Rey moves out of the way, prompting Eddie to come down again. Cole compares the match to “slow death”. That’s one of the few times I can agree. Three more suplexes and Rey is deader than this crowd, and Cole wants them to end the misery. I agree again. Eddie hits a brainbuster as we keep cutting back to Dominic’s blank stare, and the frog splash looks to finish. Eddie leans back, however, and Rey gets the fluke pin at 15:38. Wow, what vindication. Boring, boring, boring. **
– Meanwhile, JBL tells Batista that he’ll take his body in places he didn’t know it could go. Yeah, that doesn’t sound gay. 15 hot pokers, because JBL would probably like it.
– Torrie Wilson v. Melina. One of the other divas is special referee. I still can’t tell most of them apart. This is the time-honored bra-and-panties match. Torrie gets a headscissors and rolls her into a pantsing attempt, but Melina escapes. Torrie then gets an abdominal stretch and takes off Melina’s shirt, and a rollup looks to finish but Melina kicks out. Melina comes back and pulls off Torrie’s shirt and it’s some choking. Note to Torrie Wilson for future selling attempts in this situation: If you can scream, you’re not choking. This lesson has been brought to you by junior high biology. Torrie comes back with a suplex and tries to pull off the pants, but Melina counters with a hotshot. Torrie loses her pants at 3:51. This was what it was. 1/4* We’ll give Johnny a bottle of Surge because it’s chicks in their underwear and it’s tough to screw that up.
– Smackdown World title: Batista v. JBL. They fight over the lockup in the corner and Batista overpowers him. JBL tries a charge into the corner, but Batista hits him with the clothesline and JBL bails. Back in, he catches Batista with a boot, but gets sideslammed, and Batista gets two. He chokes away in the corner, but runs into JBL’s boot and gets shoulderblocked down. Batista comes back with a backdrop and dumps JBL, and they slowly brawl outside. This match could stand to use a pace increase of about 153%. Give or take. They fight on the apron and JBL necksnaps him, but dives at the wrong time and gets caught. Batista rams him into the apron and they continue the slow brawl. Back in, the slowness continues as I check to make sure I’m not watching at half-speed by accident. JBL sends him into the post, presumably to take over. Big boot puts Batista back on the floor. That’s just what both guys needed — another chance to stop and catch their breath. JBL tackles him into the tables and they continue fighting. JBL jumps off the announce table with a punch, as I guess the extra yard is supposed to really make it hurt. Back in, JBL gets two. He slingshots Batista under the ropes and chokes him out as this match somehow finds another gear lower than it was already in. JBL drops some elbows and gets two. And then JBL manages to find the one thing that can slow it down even more, the sleeper. That burns up another unnecessary couple of minutes before Batista escapes in the usual fashion. Whoever invented elbowing out of a sleeper and then hitting a backdrop suplex should get royalties for it. JBL dumps him, however, to give us another lull. They fight outside again and Batista hits the stairs. We get some token brawling in the crowd, and they head back in for Batista’s comeback. And yes, it’s the ref bump, because this match needed THAT. And speaking of stuff the match didn’t need, Orlando Jordan runs in and chairshots Batista, which eventually gets two for JBL. Tazz thinks that the fix was in. A wrestling match? FIXED? Perish the thought. JBL gets the Clothesline From Heck, but that again only gets two. Batista kicked out of the Pedigree, dude, a clothesline isn’t gonna finish him. Another try is countered with a spinebuster, however. Whew. Jordan runs in again and gets disposed of by Batista, and he powerslams JBL for good measure. Jordan’s chair gets used by Batista for no good, and that’s a DQ at 19:51. Good god, 20 minutes of boredom for THAT finish? 20 hot pokers, one for each minute of the match. Batista destroys both OJ and JBL, which I guess is supposed to make the stupid finish seem better or something. *1/4