WWE The Great American Bash 2005 Review feat. Batista vs. John Bradshaw Layfield

Logo for WWE The Great American Bash 2005
Image Source: WWE
CompanyWWE
EventThe Great American Bash 2005
SeriesThe Great American Bash
Edition2
FormatPay-Per-View
DateSunday July 24 2005
VenueHSBC Arena
LocationBuffalo, New York, USA
Attendance8,000

WWE The Great American Bash 2005

WWE The Great American Bash 2005 is a forgotten show from a memorable year in WWE. Arguably occurring at the peak of the Ruthless Aggression era for Raw, over on SmackDown it was a time of new headliners, strange storylines and controversial characters. That all sounds like TGAB 2005 would be highly noteworthy, but instead it was just another PPV, and certainly the least memorable from a summer of strong supercards for the company.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS TV SHOWS? READ OUR PRE-PPV REVIEWS OF RAW & SMACKDOWN!

WWE Tag Team Championship Match
MNM (C) vs. The Legion Of Doom

Image Source: WWE

Opening the card, we had a somewhat unusual WWE Tag Team Title match. Despite MNM barely having a division to defend their belts against, and even when you factor in the recent release of a Legion Of Doom DVD, it was odd for WWE to bring back Animal and have him partner up with Heidenreich, who was presumably chosen to replace the late Hawk because of his size, intimidating build and, well, his name began with H as well. The match itself was okay, working effectively in terms of telling the story of a legend aiming to win one last major prize, with particular significance attached to him trying to do so for his deceased partner. And LOD 2005 succeeded: despite teaming here for the first time against WWE’s best duo, Animal and Heidenreich pulled off the surprise win when Johnny Nitro took the Doomsday Device. New WWE Tag Team Champions were crowned in a feel-good moment, with Animal dedicating the title win to Hawk’s memory. This version of LOD held the belts until October, when Nitro and Joey Mercury regained the straps in a four-way bout.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS EDITION? READ OUR WWE THE GREAT AMERICAN BASH 2004 REVIEW!

Booker T vs. Christian

Image Source: WWE

The second match was more or less a reason to get these two performers onto the card, which is a shame considering that this could have been one of SmackDown’s stronger feuds. It’s also worth noting that Christian was super-over at this point despite being a heel, with fans (or the Peeps, I should say) desperate for him to take that giant step towards a permanent headline position in WWE. But that wasn’t on the cards; he’d already had the rug pulled out from under him by being switched from Raw during a WWE Title feud with John Cena to this filler spot on the blue brand. And he couldn’t even score the win on this night, with Booker (who was admittedly still very popular himself, and whose star would rise over the next 12 months, culminating in a World Title win at The Great American Bash 2006) earning the pinfall victory after hitting a Scissors Kick. It’s worth noting that this bout had a mixed reaction, which hadn’t yet become a WWE tradition (that wouldn’t be too far away, though), which demonstrated how much goodwill Christian had built with fans. Alas, WWE would do nothing with it, and Captain Charisma would leave for TNA in November.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS PPV? READ OUR WWE VENGEANCE 2005 REVIEW!

WWE United States Championship Match
Orlando Jordan (C) vs. Chris Benoit

Image Source: WWE

WWE saw something in Orlando Jordan that nobody else did, and they had done so for around a year by this point. OJ serving as John Bradshaw Layfield’s lackey was tolerable, but once he became United States Champion, it simply devalued SmackDown’s second biggest prize, partly because Jordan barely defended it against decent competition. The recently-Drafted Benoit was an exception, and so fans were hoping to see The Crippler end Orlando’s boring reign with the gold. But it never happened: while Benoit definitely got a better match out of Jordan than spectators were accustomed to seeing (no surprise really, considering that Benoit was involved), it was still a lethargic bout to watch, and in the end, Jordan somehow retained the title by capitalising on Benoit being sent into the exposed turnbuckle (OJ had removed the pad of course). Thankfully, Benoit would triumph over Jordan in a rematch at SummerSlam, where he submitted him in just 25 seconds to mark the beginning of the end of Jordan’s WWE tenure.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FIRST EDITION? READ OUR WWE THE GREAT AMERICAN BASH 2004 REVIEW!

#1 Contender’s Match
The Undertaker vs. Muhammad Hassan

Image Source: WWE

Oh, boy. On paper, having the rising star heel Muhammad Hassan square off against The Undertaker with a SummerSlam opportunity at the World Heavyweight Championship at stake was a sound idea. But WWE made the torrid error of taking Hassan’s anti-American persona and pushing it way over the line when he and some “sympathisers” attacked Taker and choked him with piano wire. That this angle resembled a terrorist attack was bad enough; that it ended up airing in the United States (on a tape delay) just hours after the 7/7 bombings in London made this appalling. It’s worth noting that UPN had received the tape of the show from WWE beforehand, and in some respects it was the station’s decision to air the angle rather than remove it; even when you factor in that it was pre-taped, it should have been scrapped, and filling the remaining minutes with commercials could have been achieved. However, WWE also could have taken a stronger stance in persuading UPN to not air the segment if they had really wanted to do so. Either way, the backlash was enormous (the angle never aired on Sky Sports’ showing of SmackDown that week, though clips of the beatdown were shown in the UK when this PPV aired live on the night), and in the end, UPN decided that Hassan was banned from their channel. Hassan had only just been moved over to SmackDown from Raw, but even if he hadn’t, WWE likely realised that immediately putting Muhammad back on Monday nights wasn’t worth the additional bad publicity (Spike TV’s deal was only two months away from ending, but USA Network likely would have said “no” to such a suggestion from October onwards as well).

With no other option, WWE decided that this already-announced match would be Hassan’s last stand. Muhammad complained beforehand about the prejudice against him, his pal Daivari and his sympathisers, who were at ringside for this bout, despite all the aggro pertaining to their actions and appearance (had they been dressed as, well, wrestlers, the angle wouldn’t have bothered anybody). Undertaker, therefore, was now literally in the role of making his opponent’s future Rest In Peace, and that he did: after overcoming the interference, Taker Chokeslammed Hassan for the win (no Tombstone?), and afterwards, Taker ended up hitting Muhammad with a Last Ride through the stage. Hassan was knocked out cold with blood coming out of the back of his head, and we never saw him in WWE again. Rather than repackaging the man behind the gimmick, WWE let him go a few months later, while Daivari was given a second chance later in the year on Raw, with his past controversies never addressed again on TV. What a shoddy tale this was. As an aside, though Taker earned a title shot at SummerSlam, he ended up relinquishing it to JBL on SmackDown (read that as: WWE needed an “out” to avoid Taker getting a WHC opportunity) after interference from his nemesis Randy Orton, who would have presumably cost UT the bout here had it not been for WWE causing an international incident. (It’s also worth mentioning the rumours that Hassan might have even won the World Title at SummerSlam, which would have likely meant many more dodgy angles in the months to come.) Two last points: the “sympathiser” costume was actually used for the Masked Man in the videogame SmackDown vs. Raw 2009, though nobody ever seemed to make the connection; and even more bizarrely, there are fans nowadays who maintain that this was an awesome gimmick, with some even suggesting that it should be revived. If the world couldn’t handle Muhammad Hassan in 2005, how on earth could the modern-day PC culture deal with his shenanigans in 2020?

Six-Man Tag Team Match
The Mexicools vs. The bWo

Image Source: WWE

At least this match wasn’t going to offend anyone, right? Well, actually, The Mexicools’ Mexican lawnmower-riding gimmick would cause outrage if it were featured in WWE in 2020, and the action itself in this bout would be upsetting to anyone seeking a five-star match, but at least it passed without incident. Super Crazy, Juventud and Psichosis had arrived in WWE a little while earlier, and though they hardly created a legacy akin to The Shield or the nWo, they were something fresh for the blue brand. The same cannot be said for The Blue Meanie, Stevie Richards and Nova (who was also playing Simon Dean around this time), with the faction reformed – and Meanie rehired – solely as part of the fall-out from the notorious Meanie-JBL incident at ECW One Night Stand. Anyway, The Mexicools won when Psichosis pinned Richards (or Big Stevie Cool), and this would be the end for the bWo in WWE.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE LAST EDITION? READ OUR WWE THE GREAT AMERICAN BASH 2008 REVIEW!

Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero

Image Source: WWE

Rey and Eddie had feuded for months, but now their saga was taking a sinister turn. Latino Heat had been unable to defeat Rey one-on-one, so he resorted to interfering in his personal life. We were introduced to Rey’s son Dominic, aged eight at the time, and Eddie stated that he knew a secret about him, which he would reveal if he defeated Rey here. If Mysterio won, however, then the secret would remain, erm, a secret. Unsurprisingly, this was the best match of the night, fought at a slightly methodical pace, but with real drama due to the stakes. Dominic was sat at ringside, and the evil “Uncle” Eddie occasionally confronting him only added to the uneasiness surrounding the whole ordeal. Thankfully, unlike in 2020 when he lost his bloody eye in a match, Rey was able to rise up and overcome the monster, as Mysterio pinned Eddie with a roll-up, reversing the attempted cover off a Frog Splash (which was cool, because Mysterio didn’t just kick out of Guerrero’s big move, and instead used logic to stay in the match and score the win). Rey and Dominic celebrated afterwards, but as it turned out, the match stipulation didn’t matter, because Eddie revealed the secret anyway the following week on SmackDown: namely, he was Dominic’s real dad! This led to the infamous Ladder match for Dominic’s custody at SummerSlam, which makes me laugh to just write it.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING PPV? READ OUR WWE SUMMERSLAM 2005 REVIEW!

Bra & Panties Match; Candice Michelle Is Special Guest Referee
Torrie Wilson vs. Melina

Image Source: WWE

Before our main event, we were treated to a Bra & Panties match, which was always going to get a good reaction during this era in WWE. Melina had been on the SmackDown scene for a few months, and it was natural for her to target Torrie Wilson, who was the poster girl of the blue brand for a long time (hence her being on the poster for this very show). That being said, it’s strange in hindsight to see Melina participate in one of these matches, because she would make her name for reasons surrounding her ability in the ring rather than how hot she looked in her underwear. Anyway, the match (refereed by Candice Michelle) was the usual stuff, and it ended when Melina stripped Torrie down to her bra and knickers, having already lost her own top. Afterwards, Melina made the mistake of attacking Candice, who fought back and ended up “pantsing” Melina, before stripping off herself, because why not? Hey, nothing wrong with being a free spirit, you know.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING EDITION? READ OUR WWE THE GREAT AMERICAN BASH 2006 REVIEW!

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
Batista (C) vs. John Bradshaw Layfield

Image Source: WWE

The final match saw Batista defend his World Title against JBL. Batista had become a major star on Raw due to him leaving Evolution and defeating Triple H three times at WrestleMania 21 (to win the WHC in the first place), Backlash 2005 and Vengeance 2005 inside Hell In A Cell. JBL, meanwhile, had lost his WWE Title to John Cena at WM 21, and he then lost an I Quit bout to Cena at Judgment Day. Bradshaw had rebounded by winning a six-man match on SmackDown to supposedly win the blue brand’s new heavyweight title, only for SmackDown GM Teddy Long (holla holla) to reveal that he was not the champ, because the show had just Drafted over Batista. JBL was thrown a bone by receiving a World Title shot here, and because this was The Great American Bash, Layfield hammed up his Uncle Sam roots, wearing a ridiculous Stars and Stripes-themed entrance outfit for this bout.

I mention all this because there is very little to write about the match itself. As a matter of fact, the match sucked. No matter how often the nostalgia goggles are put on, there’s no getting around the fact that as a main event performer, JBL was very dull to watch in the ring, even if his promos helped to disguise that prior to a contest taking place. Batista was also not yet at his peak, making him someone that needed to be carried at this stage, rather than him being able to carry JBL. And it also didn’t help that after around 20 minutes of cumbersome action, we had a screwy ending: Orlando Jordan (him again) ran in holding a steel chair which Batista commandeered, and then The Animal pounded both Layfield and Jordan with the weapon to cause a DQ win for the challenger (check out Batista’s expression at the outcome). Batista did level JBL with a Batista Bomb afterwards, and he would end up beating JBL in a No Holds Barred rematch at SummerSlam.

Image Source: WWE

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING TV SHOWS? READ OUR POST-PPV REVIEWS OF RAW & SMACKDOWN!

The good news is that WWE The Great American Bash 2005 was less of a chore to watch than the diabolical TGAB 2004. The bad news, however, is that the show was still pretty poor. The Muhammad Hassan angle formed a black cloud over his involvement on the card (though at least the character was retired here), the main event was lacklustre, there are a few crap bouts on the under-card, and watching Chris Benoit remains difficult for obvious reasons. Still, Booker vs. Christian was alright and Rey vs. Eddie is really good, and best of all, this time the event didn’t inexplicably end with a babyface burying a fellow face in concrete.

WANT TO RELIVE WWE THE GREAT AMERICAN BASH 2005? WATCH IT RIGHT NOW ON WWE NETWORK!