WWE The Great American Bash 2006 Review feat. Rey Mysterio vs. King Booker

Logo for WWE The Great American Bash 2006
Image Source: WWE
CompanyWWE
EventThe Great American Bash 2006
SeriesThe Great American Bash
Edition3
FormatPay-Per-View
DateSunday July 23 2006
VenueConseco Fieldhouse
LocationIndianapolis, Indiana, USA
Attendance9,750

WWE The Great American Bash 2006

WWE The Great American Bash 2006 is a bit of an odd supershow in the company’s history. Though the main event went to plan, as many as four other bouts on the show did not, resulting in a bizarre “card subject to change” presentation that, nevertheless, still managed to provide some entertainment along the way.

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

WWE Tag Team Championship Match
Paul London & Brian Kendrick (C) vs. The Pit Bulls

Image Source: WWE

Opening the show, we had a WWE Tag Team Title match against the exciting new champions Kendrick and London defended against Kid Kash and Jamie Noble. It is wrestling law for me to remind readers at this stage that The Pit Bulls name was taken from an old ECW tag team, though it served the quick-striking attacks of Kash and Noble rather well. Though they held the belts for close to a year, few remember Brian and Paul’s reign nowadays because WWE barely promoted their defences, but it’s definitely worth revisiting their work because they were able to put on some outstanding doubles matches. This would be one of those, as all four meshed really well to deliver a hot opener. Kendrick pinned Noble to retain the gold for himself and London, with The Pit Bulls not lasting too much longer as a team as Kash would leave WWE in the autumn. I should mention at this point that this was the first PPV where John Bradshaw Layfield was on commentary alongside Michael Cole, and rewatching the show reminds me of how good JBL was in those early days at the announcer’s table.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS EDITION? READ OUR WWE THE GREAT AMERICAN BASH 2005 REVIEW!

WWE United States Championship Match
Finlay (C) vs. William Regal

Image Source: WWE

Now we come to the first of the bouts which were hindered by external factors. This was supposed to be Finlay vs. Bobby Lashley vs. William Regal, but Teddy Long brought out Lashley (who was really getting over at this point) to reveal that Bobby had been medically disqualified from competing due to “elevated liver enzymes”. At the time, this was seen as pretty strange, especially considering that other performers ended up having the same problem, and yet they were all back in action rather quickly. Nevertheless, it meant that the two heels would square off, and though these two put on some brutal matches in WCW, WWE fans in 2006 did not care for their work, at least not while both were villains. As it turned out, The Little Bastard (who was later renamed Hornswoggle) made the difference, since he had removed William’s boot, which allowed Finlay to strike him with said footwear to retain the belt. Not a good match, though the surrounding circumstances clearly impacted the quality of this encounter.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS PPV? READ OUR WWE VENGEANCE 2006 REVIEW!

Matt Hardy vs. Gregory Helms

Image Source: WWE

Originally, this was meant to be a different bout as well, as Super Crazy of the recently-dissolved Mexicools had earned a shot at Gregory Helms for the Cruiserweight Title. But he too was sidelined due to liver problems. Rather than sliding in another junior heavyweight, WWE instead utilised Matt Hardy, who had a long history with Helms off-screen, and therefore the likelihood was strong that they would have a good match here. That they did, and it probably ended up being better than anything Helms and Crazy could have composed, partly because Matt was far more popular with WWE audiences and therefore far more likely to garner a worthy response for his match. It also led to a wider feud that ran through to the autumn, so WWE definitely made the best of a bad situation here. Gregory scored the pin by holding the tights (or the cargo pants in this case), but as noted, this was only the beginning of an accidental rivalry between the two North Carolinians.

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

Punjabi Prison Match
The Undertaker vs. Big Show

Image Source: WWE

What is it about The Undertaker and The Great American Bash? I know it was due to the booking and not his own in-ring efforts, but he was involved in some notoriously poor stuff at TGAB. In 2004, he was part of the Concrete Crypt disaster, which ranks as one of the worst endings to a WWE PPV ever. In 2005, he happened to be the guy on the other side of the ring for Muhammad Hassan’s last match due to the most tasteless angle in wrestling history. And in 2006, he was meant to finish his feud with The Great Khali inside the newly-constructed Punjabi Prison structure. However, prior to the match, Khali and, for no real reason, Big Show (the ECW Champion, meaning that he wasn’t a part of the SmackDown brand) attacked Taker backstage (which in itself was strange, because we very rarely see Taker walking through corridors and passing by catering), and Teddy Long decided to inexplicably replace Khali with Show. It made no sense, and while I realise that WWE needed to pull Khali because of – yes! – elevated liver enzymes, the way that they went about it was pretty poo.

Image Source: WWE

But worse was yet to come. On paper, Undertaker vs. Big Show has potential, or at least, more potential than Undertaker vs. Great Khali. Unfortunately, this was the morbidly obese version of Big Show who was in a terrible state, and with Taker being a bit out of sorts himself, the upshot is that this Punjabi Prison match (the first of its kind, with some convoluted rules pertaining to the four trap doors) was one of the crapper PPV matches of 2006. Both men bled, and there were moments when they grafted, but it was just a chore to sit through, and the props within the Prison environment made this feel more like an Indiana Jones movie scene than a wrestling match. In the end, Taker won by being driven back-first into the outer Prison wall with his feet hitting the floor, which in itself was a bit of a cop-out considering that the victor was meant to climb over both structures akin to a regular Steel Cage match. Taker did eventually settle his feud with Khali by winning a Last Man Standing match a month later on SmackDown, but it occurred to me after this ended that Taker’s best match at The Great American Bash probably occurred when he was Mean Mark Callous and he fought Lex Luger in WCW in 1990. How crazy is that?

Fatal Four Way Bra & Panties Match
Ashley Massaro vs. Jillian Hall vs. Kristal Marshall vs. Michelle McCool

Image Source: WWE

As an, erm, breather between big matches, we had four of SmackDown’s Divas going at it in a match where stripping opponents down to their underwear was the name of the game. This may not age particularly well and the novelty of seeing Divas in their bras and knickers had long worn off, but it did ensure that fans (the horniest male ones, at least) would care enough to respond, rather than totally ignoring whatever was happening before them. This was not an elimination match, meaning that the first woman to remove the top and pants of another competitor would win, and that ended up being Ashley, who undressed Kristal to claim the, erm, honour of winning this bout.

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

Batista vs. Mr. Kennedy

Image Source: WWE

This was the fourth match out of five which didn’t go as planned in more ways than one. Batista had returned from a six-month injury lay-off on the July 7 SmackDown, and he destroyed Mark Henry, the man who had injured him in the first place. The idea was that they would battle here in a grudge match. However, Henry ended up injuring himself on Saturday Night’s Main Event just eight days beforehand, which meant that he was now off the Bash card as well. Batista ended up being targeted by rising star Mr. Kennedy, who himself had also returned from a long injury-enforced absence (I’m sensing a theme here), but had yet to really get back on track. Sliding him in to battle The Animal here seemed like a logical decision.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING PPV? READ OUR WWE SUMMERSLAM 2006 REVIEW!

And that more or less proved to be the case, because this was entertaining enough, serving more as a teaser of things to come than a major match in its own right. It still didn’t pass without incident, though: Batista slammed Kennedy’s head into the steel stairs at ringside early on, which opened up an almighty cut on Ken’s head. Poor Kennedy bled everywhere, and it wasn’t even part of the match plan. Still, since this was still the TV-14 era, nobody tried to stop the bleeding or call off the match; if anything, it proved that Kennedy was even more worthy of going toe-to-toe with Batista, since he didn’t allow the heavy blood loss to stop him. And as it turned out, Kennedy won, albeit via disqualification when Batista began choking the life out of him and refused to relinquish despite the referee’s request. A post-match Batista Bomb allowed Big Dave to leave on a high, though in hindsight this abruptly-arranged battle ended up being a springboard for Kennedy to become one of the highlights of WWE over the next 9 months or so.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING EDITION? READ OUR WWE THE GREAT AMERICAN BASH 2007 REVIEW!

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
Rey Mysterio (C) vs. King Booker

Image Source: WWE

In the main event, Rey Mysterio defended the WHC against King Booker. Booker T had won the King Of The Ring tournament at Judgment Day and had quickly turned into the blue brand’s top heel, making him an easy and credible contender for Rey, whose reign as World Champion hadn’t exactly been going swimmingly. The two men clicked very well, though WWE took the odd decision of having Rey pin Booker in a World Title match just two nights earlier on SmackDown for reasons that I’ve never been able to fathom. But this was really fun to watch, and I liked how two WCW mid-card prodigies had ended up reaching the level of headlining a WWE PPV for what was technically the old WCW Championship. At the time, the outcome shocked me, but in hindsight, with Batista sniffing around for a chance to start working towards regaining the World Title that he had vacated due to injury, I shouldn’t have been surprised that King Booker became World Champion here. But the circumstances remained eye-opening: with the referee down, Chavo Guerrero ran in with a steel chair, seemingly to help Rey in the same way that he had done when Mysterio fought JBL at Judgment Day. Instead, though, Chavo clocked Rey with the chair, leading to a mixture of shock and applause from fans. Booker then pinned Rey to become World Champion, and the show ended with him celebrating as Queen Sharmell repeatedly shouted “ALL HAIL KING BOOKER!” so much that, by the end, you wanted to throw a shoe at the TV screen. But I guess that’s what makes a good heel, right? Booker would indeed feud with Batista for the gold, while Rey entered into a rivalry with Chavo concerning the memory of Eddie Guerrero, which had already been overdone by this stage, so you can imagine how fans felt by the time that WWE had finally finished using Eddie’s name for storylines, which wasn’t for a good few months.

Image Source: WWE

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

I personally enjoyed WWE The Great American Bash 2006, in particular for the opener and the main event. The rest of the show is average at best, and the Punjabi Prison match is a bit of a stink-bomb, plus the various line-up changes didn’t help matters at all. Nevertheless, I was entertained, though maybe that’s because I have fond memories of the summer 2006 version of WWE as a whole.

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