WWE The Great American Bash 2004
For the fifteenth anniversary of WWE‘s The Great American Bash 2004, I thought it would be a good time to look back at one of the poorer aspects of the inaugural brand split by reviewing this edition. This show took place at the Norfolk Scope in Norfolk, Virginia, with the main matches being The Undertaker vs. The Dudley Boyz in a Concrete Crypt match for Paul Bearer’s life (yep) and a Texas Bull Rope match for the WWE Championship, with Eddie Guerrero defending against JBL.
The opening promo focused on the allegiance to the flag of the United States and the main matches on focus for the show. The key areas surround the land of opportunity, freedom of expression and freedom of choice. The show opened with Torrie Wilson welcoming the crowd to the show dressed up as Uncle Sam, the only way Torrie Wilson can, before her match with Sable later on.
United States Championship Fatal Four Way Elimination Match
John Cena (C) vs. René Dupree vs. Booker T vs. Rob Van Dam
This match came around through interim GM Kurt Angle putting as much pressure on the US Champion due to his rebel–esque attitude, making this Cena’s toughest defence yet. Cena’s pre-match promo focused on this with some sexual humour aimed at Angle with Mark Jindrak and Luther Reigns, before targeting all three of his opponents with dope, G.I. Joe and calling René with the name “Fifi”.
The start of the match saw René pressuring Cena whilst Booker and RVD waited on the outside, leading to the crowd doing the “USA” chant, which at least makes sense for this patriotic show, against the man Michael Cole called the “French Phenom”. RVD hit the first big move with a tope to the outside on Cena and Dupree. The setup of this match was two guys fighting in the ring whilst the other two competitors waited for their opportunities on the outside. The breaking of this set-up led to the first elimination, as a smart Cena was able to capitalise on an injured RVD and rolled up the former ECW Television Champion. René was the next eliminated, with Booker T capitalising on a FU by Cena to gain the pinfall. Cena would retain the United States Championship following an FU on Booker after a failed Scissors Kick to overcome the seemingly impossible odds given to him by Angle.
Backstage, Cena was congratulated by Charlie Haas and Miss Jackie before Kurt Angle arrived. Angle claimed Haas had fallen off the wagon, and that his new protégé Luther Reigns needs a match tonight, which would be against Haas next. Sable also promoted her match with Torrie.
Charlie Haas w/ Miss Jackie vs. Luther Reigns w/ Kurt Angle
This goes down as one of those forgettable PPV matches to have occurred in this time period. The former Team Angle member Haas tried to use his amateur wrestling skills against the power of Reigns, but fell quite quickly to a big boot and sidewalk slam. Luther showcased his power moves with a deadlift gorilla slam being one of these moves. The finish saw Haas almost win with an Oklahoma roll and German suplex combo before falling to Luther’s Reign Of Terror (ironic based on Raw at the time), giving Angle’s protégé the win.
JBL then cut a promo claiming Eddie Guerrero was only WWE Champion because he got himself intentionally disqualified at Judgment Day, and that “today is the day of reckoning”. He guaranteed victory to win the WWE Title.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Rey Mysterio (C) vs. Chavo Guerrero
This was made only days prior, with Chavo winning a ten-man battle royal to gain the opportunity. It started off very hot with the two countering each other move for move to try and get the early victory. Rey began to focus on Chavo’s left bicep, hitting a dropkick and a knee on to the arm, while Chavo nailed an elevated dropkick to the outside to take control on Rey’s knee. Chavo exploited this, locking in an elevated Boston Crab and wrapping Rey’s knee around the ring post. This would have an impact with Rey not being able to run to the turnbuckle without collapsing. Rey did gain some momentum with a headscissors, but his knee would again buckle before the Cruiserweight Champion could capitalise. The finish of the match saw Rey and Chavo both hit major moves, with Chavo hitting the Gory Bomb and Mysterio hitting the 619 before being countered into a single leg Boston. After Mysterio reached the ropes, he countered a second Gory bomb into a Code Red for the win. This is a recommended match, which on this show may be lonely.
Torrie then again promoted her match with Sable. This ought to be good, right?
Kenzo Suzuki w/ Hiroko vs. Billy Gunn
If someone could tell me why Billy Gunn was getting a PPV singles match in 2004, it would be nice to know. Like Haas vs. Reigns earlier, this was another forgettable match on the show, being that it was very basic and not much to get excited over. Suzuki took control with a knee to the skull after a hand-thrust to the throat. Billy gained momentum with a tilt-a-whirl powerslam and attempted a Famouser, but he fell to a low blow and inverted backbreaker to give Suzuki the win.
Paul Heyman told a tied-up Paul Bearer backstage that The Undertaker needed to do the right thing and side with Paul Heyman, and if he didn’t, then he will be trapped in the Concrete Crypt forever!
Torrie Wilson vs. Sable
These two were not known for putting on a Flair vs. Steamboat-type match, and really Sable was not known for being an in-ring competitor in her second run for WWE at all. This was poor from an in-ring standpoint, but it did have the crowd invested in Torrie, which was the point. It started off with a catfight of sorts, before Sable took over with a neck-snap and used the ropes as leverage to hit a forearm. Torrie gained back control with a snap suplex into a pinning combo for two. Sable went on to win the match, exploiting the referee by playing possum and then rolling up Torrie despite both shoulders being up.
Dawn Marie interviewed René Dupree about his loss, which leads to two minutes of sexual innuendo with Dawn, René and Nunzio.
Mordecai vs. Hardcore Holly
Yes, this is the match that officially meant the end for Mordecai. I will make the claim, though, that I’m a nostalgic fan of Mordecai and that his gimmick had potential. That may end after rewatching this. Holly started the match dominating Mordecai, tying up the undefeated superstar in the ropes before being thrown into the symbolic staff. Mordecai followed this up with a big boot for two before slowing down the match with a headlock. The crowd turned on this match pretty quickly, and the slow pace didn’t help its cause despite Holly even hitting a top rope move for a two. The finish would see Mordecai remain undefeated by hitting the Crucifix Bomb after reversing the Alabama Slam to win his second and final PPV match in the white gear.
WWE Championship Texas Bull Rope Match
Eddie Guerrero (C) vs. John Bradshaw Layfield
The focus of this match surrounded JBL making their issue personal, saying that Eddie can’t escape the “inevitable”, while Eddie aimed to prove that he was the rightful WWE Champion. Both guys had their car entrances, with Eddie being incredibly over with the Virginia crowd to the surprise of no-one.
Eddie started by using ground game control, before JBL used the cowbell to his advantage by choking the WWE Champion. The two both attempted an early victory to no succession, and the match was taken to the outside with JBL setting both announce tables up, before Eddie was able to stop being powerbombed through the table and threw JBL into the ring post twice. The first sign of blood came from JBL after being hit by a steel chair, reminiscent to Judgement Day. This led to Eddie coming close twice to winning the match, reaching three turnbuckles on two occasions. Eddie aimed to incapacitate JBL by hitting a Frog Splash, but again JBL was able to avoid defeat by rolling to the outside on the third red light. As desperation, JBL threw Eddie from the ring to the announce table before powerbombing the WWE Champion through the desk. The finish saw JBL steal the win by falling into the fourth turnbuckle as Eddie was reaching for victory himself, meaning NEW WWE CHAMPION JBL!! I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this match, but I would say that if you are an Eddie Guerrero fan, it’s a match that needs to be watched.
Concrete Crypt Match For Paul Bearer’s Life
The Undertaker vs. The Dudley Boyz
The whole premise of this match surrounded The Undertaker’s conscience, that being Paul Bearer. The match started off with The Dudleys asking The Undertaker to lay down to protect Paul Bearer. After teasing that it would occur, Undertaker attacked Bubba ay and D-Von, and the match officially began.
The Dudleys used the advantage of the numbers game, but it didn’t last long as Undertaker dominated the two, until Heyman got involved whilst Undi was attempting Old School, leading to Bubba Ray using the ring post to incapacitate Taker. With UT’s focus on Heyman, this gave The Dudleys even more of a focus by using the steel steps and barricade as a weapon. Despite the odds, Taker took out both Dudleys, until suffering a D-Von low blow. Their advantage would not last long, though, with Undertaker being victorious after pinning D-Von with the Tombstone.
Post-match, Paul Heyman claimed he had to do the “right thing”, before a lightning bolt stopped Heyman. Undertaker then walked up the ramp before doing the unthinkable: KILLING PAUL BEARER, claiming he had “no other choice” and telling Paul Bearer to “Rest In Peace”. This was later explained as Undertaker getting rid of the weaknesses that he had and promising destruction across the whole of WWE (he remained a babyface by the way), but it ended the PPV on a horrific sight.
Overall, The Great American Bash 2004 was not very good. Despite having its moments in the Cruiserweight Title match, Eddie vs. JBL and the opener, there is just too much forgettable stuff for it to be even seen as a PPV and not as a regular episode of SmackDown. Torrie Wilson vs. Sable was better than it had any right to be, and the imagery at the end of the show is horrific as well, but other than the two matches I have recommended, the show is skippable.