|Event||The Great American Bash 2008|
|Series||The Great American Bash|
|Date||Sunday July 20 2008|
|Venue||Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum|
|Location||Uniondale, New York, USA|
WWE The Great American Bash 2008
WWE The Great American Bash 2008 is remembered by fans as being the last PPV for WWE in the TV-14 era, before the PG rating became the norm for the company. However, I take issue with this, because Raw had already gone PG the previous month, and Night Of Champions held three weeks earlier was a PG presentation. Nevertheless, this is definitely a card which would contain elements that are never seen in WWE these days, and it feels like Vince McMahon and co. decided to make the most of one last opportunity to take things to a pretty violent level.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS TV SHOWS? READ OUR PRE-PPV REVIEWS OF RAW, ECW & SMACKDOWN!
WWE Tag Team Championship Fatal Four Way Match
John Morrison & The Miz (C) vs. Finlay & Hornswoggle & Jesse & Festus vs. Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder
The first match of the show saw The It Team, John Morrison and The Miz, defend the belts that they had held for the past eight months against three very different teams: one squad had a leprechaun, another had a guy who went in and out of a trance at the sound of a ring bell, and the other team comprised of two Edgeheads. This meant that the match had the potential to go off the rails a bit due to the variety of styles clashes (just check out the picture above, for instance). Nevertheless, this served its purpose of entertaining the crowd to start the show on a decent level, and we also got a title change: Morrison and Miz’s long reign with the straps came to an abrupt end here when Hawkins pinned Jesse, allowing the home-state boys Ryder and Hawkins to win their first titles on the main roster, and in New York no less. They would achieve something similar many years later when they defeated The Revival on the Kick-Off Show for WrestleMania 35 in New Jersey to become Raw Tag Team Champions.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS EDITION? READ OUR WWE THE GREAT AMERICAN BASH 2007 REVIEW!
WWE United States Championship Match
Matt Hardy (C) vs. Shelton Benjamin
The second match saw Matt Hardy make his second, and ultimately last, PPV defence of the United States Title. When you consider how hard Matt had worked with his unlikely partners-turned-sworn enemies storyline with MVP, which saw him win the US gold at Backlash, it’s a shame that Matt never had the chance to have a truly memorable reign with the belt. Indeed, his previous supercard defence occurred at Night Of Champions, a card where every champion has to defend their title no matter what, and therefore that wasn’t a particularly big deal. Here, Matt was assigned the task of facing Shelton Benjamin, the self-proclaimed Gold Standard who had recently been Drafted over to SmackDown from ECW (it had been four years since Benjamin had been a blue brand regular which shocked me). The two men were very much capable of putting on a well-executed match, and that’s exactly what we got, but for Matt Hardy fans, it came with the snag that there would be a second title change in as many matches, as Benjamin pinned Hardy with the Pay Dirt to win his first US Title. Somehow, Shelton’s reign was even less eventful than Matt, despite lasting a few months longer.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS PPV? READ OUR WWE NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS 2008 REVIEW!
ECW Championship Match
Mark Henry (C) vs. Tommy Dreamer
It was then time for the ECW Title to be defended. Mark Henry had recently formed an alliance with the long-retired WWE Hall Of Famer Tony Atlas, while Tommy Dreamer had been associated with Colin Delaney, whose underdog loser gimmick was essentially a modern version of what Mikey Whipwreck had done in the original ECW back in 1994. Here, though, it was Dreamer’s alliance that ended up costing him: despite doing his best to take down the World’s Strongest Man and fighting an uphill battle anyway, matters were made worse for the Innovator Of Violence when, after Atlas distracted the referee, Delaney turned heel on Dreamer by shoving him off the top rope, which led to the match-winning World’s Strongest Slam. Colin’s heel turn ended up ruining his career (not too different to how James Ellsworth’s fortunes turned after his attitude adjustment at TLC 2016), as Dreamer ended up easily destroying Delaney in a subsequent ECW match before Colin was released by WWE.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FIRST EDITION? READ OUR WWE THE GREAT AMERICAN BASH 2004 REVIEW!
Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho
After their classic match at Judgment Day, Jericho turned heel on Shawn on the June 9 Raw during a Highlight Reel segment, driving his face straight into the Jeritron 5000 TV screen. Chris adopted a more aggressive, cold and calculated persona, with his vibrant promo style being replaced by sinister, slowly-delivered threats. Jericho also recruited Shawn’s old Texas Wrestling Academy protégé and current WWE star Lance Cade as part of his quest to essentially end Michaels’ career. Shawn retaliated, but in the weeks preceding TGAB, it was played up that Shawn had suffered eye damage due to Jericho’s attacks. That would play a crucial role in this match, which was arguably the first true battle of their legendary 2008 feud.
The first half of this match went as one would expect, with both of these modern greats performing to the top standard when it came to psychology and eye-catching action. Then came the turning point: at ringside, Jericho sparked Michaels with an elbow to the previously-injured eye, and Shawn began bleeding very badly. It didn’t take long for him to be splattered in claret in a rather grisly sight, and a visual that had become increasingly rare as WWE was toning down its product throughout the year. From there, the match essentially became a battle of personal survival for Shawn, as Jericho pounded Shawn’s eye over and over, which only caused further blood to seep out. Though Michaels locked in a Crossface, Jericho managed to escape and continued to pound Michaels’ eye, eventually trapping his arms in such a way that Shawn had no form of defence while Chris repeatedly punched and elbowed his eye until the referee had to drag Jericho away and call for the bell. Chris had won in a brutal and bloody manner, with Michaels looking like he’d been stabbed or something. We’ll come back to this shortly, but I will mention here that this match officially marked the final time that somebody intentionally bled in a WWE ring due to blading, with all subsequent cuts being hard-way or blade jobs that the office did not approve of and dished out heavy fines for those who broke the rules. To some people, this has diluted the WWE product greatly, but when you watch bouts like this, it’s probably a good thing that we don’t see such heavy bloodshed anymore on a regular basis.
WWE Divas Championship Match
Michelle McCool vs. Natalya
Next up, we had the crowning of the first ever WWE Divas Champion at a time when the “butterfly belt” was appreciated rather than derided (and I did like the design myself). This was the first of many PPV encounters for Natalya, who was sporting red hair during this early, often-forgotten phase of his career. By this point, Michelle McCool had shed the old “school teacher” persona and was instead trying to establish herself as a serious performer. If I remember correctly, there were rumours of real-life backstage issues between these two at the time. If that was the case, it didn’t impact the quality of this match, which was hardly great but was certainly adequate. McCool became the Divas Champion after submitting Natalya with a heel hook, and Eve Torres and Cherry celebrated with the new champion. This didn’t last long, though, as Jericho came back out to announce that Shawn’s career was now officially over for medical reasons. This would lead to their feud just getting started, especially when Jericho accidentally punched Shawn’s wife Rebecca at SummerSlam. This interruption took some shine off Michelle’s big moment, but on the bright side, WWE now had two Women’s Championship belts, which gave females on both main brands a prize to fight for.
World Heavyweight Championship Match
CM Punk (C) vs. Batista
On June 30, CM Punk successfully cashed in Money In The Bank on Edge to become World Champion in what seemed to be a career-making moment for Punk. As it turned out, he was often presented as World Champion in name only, though the first few weeks weren’t too bad for him. Here, he defended against Batista, who had earned a crack at CM’s gold, and he certainly fancied his chances of winning the WHC from a smaller, lighter opponent. This is a forgotten bout in both men’s careers, but it was entertaining enough and had fans guessing between Punk pulling off a high-profile victory and The Animal sealing his fourth World Title. As it turned out, we got a screwy finish due to the interference of Kane, who had suddenly turned psychotic for the millionth time by becoming obsessed with a burlap sack. Kane attacked both men to cause a double DQ, Kane was chased away with his sack (eww), and Batista decided to hit Punk with a Batista Bomb for no reason (bear in mind that both men were babyfaces). We soon discovered that hidden inside Kane’s sack (eww again) was Rey Mysterio’s mask, which would set up a Kane vs. Rey feud once the latter had fully recovered from an injury.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE SPIN-OFF? READ OUR WWE THE BASH 2009 REVIEW!
New York City Parking Lot Brawl
John Cena vs. John Bradshaw Layfield
For some reason, WWE decided to restart the Cena vs. JBL feud in 2008, and even stranger, when it seemed like their issue had been resolved at One Night Stand in a First Blood match, they reheated the conflict once again. This included the moment when Cena officially lost his edge by spray-painting “JBL is poopy” on his limousine, and Bradshaw’s more intense response by attempting to murder Cena with said car the previous week on Raw (I kid you not). This all led to the first Parking Lot Brawl for nearly five years, and it featured some memorable spots. Not least the moment when JBL officially became insane and, having realised Cena was locked in a car, set the damn vehicle on fire! Somehow, Cena managed to conveniently escape the car and continue battling on, with their scrap reaching the inside of the arena and the top of the stage. This eventually led to JBL avoiding an FU by shoving Cena straight into the window of another car at the side of the entrance set, with JBL basically falling and landing on Cena to earn the pinfall win. This was odd to watch at the time, but it’d likely seem very entertaining to watch in 2020 now that we have become accustomed to cinematic matches (this match wasn’t totally cinematic but some elements were), and it was also a lot more violent than anything WWE would present nowadays, even with the PG restrictions being loosened on what seems to be a monthly basis. Anyway, JBL won, but believe it or not, there would still be one final PPV match between these two at Royal Rumble 2009, which was won by Cena.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING PPV? READ OUR WWE SUMMERSLAM 2008 REVIEW!
WWE Championship Match
Triple H (C) vs. Edge
Now we come to a strange main event, not so much for the combatants or even for the action, but for the circumstances. You see, Triple H vs. Edge was a guaranteed PPV main event, and a potentially huge WrestleMania attraction if booked correctly. So, it’s bizarre that on this card, arguably the show that was promoted with the least importance on WWE television all year, it would be here that we got the only ever PPV clash between The Game and The Rated R Superstar. It could even be argued that HHH wasn’t Edge’s main focus: in the run-up to this event, the real story was about Edge’s storyline romance with Vickie Guerrero falling apart just as their wedding was approaching. They patched things up and got married, which included a hilariously cheesy celebration that lasted throughout SmackDown the previous Friday. However, Edge was revealed to be having an affair with the wedding planner Alicia Fox (that was her introduction to WWE as a character), which angered Vickie once more.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE SPIN-OFF? READ OUR WWE THE BASH 2009 REVIEW!
With his marriage on the rocks, then, Edge was hardly in the best frame of mind to face HHH. However, since it was HHH who managed to get hold of the footage of Edge bad-mouthing Vickie to Fox and then kissing Alicia, Edge deemed that his best form of revenge would be to win the WWE Championship. This was, not surprisingly, a very exciting main event; after all, Edge was at his peak as a performer, and modern fans forget that HHH was in tremendous in-ring form in 2008, meaning that a great match between the two was virtually guaranteed. The finishing sequence reminded me of HHH’s own past relationship troubles with Stephanie McMahon, as Alicia ran down to try and help Edge, only for Vickie to get involved and start scrapping with the wedding planner; in the midst of all this, Edge inadvertently Speared his wife! This distracted him enough for HHH to hit a match-winning Pedigree, thus ensuring that H-Cubed retained the WWE crown. After all this craziness, Vickie’s response was to reinstate the recently-banished Undertaker to battle Edge inside Hell In A Cell at SummerSlam, which led to Edge becoming an absolute monster for a few weeks. But I still say it’s a shame that we never got to see these two collide again on a major stage when the focus could have been solely on themselves and the WWE Championship (a rematch seemed to be on the cards for WrestleMania 25 for a long time, and then plans changed).
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING TV SHOWS? READ OUR POST-PPV REVIEWS OF RAW, ECW & SMACKDOWN!
WWE The Great American Bash 2008 is most notable for its historical significance of sorts when it comes to waving goodbye to the product being aimed primarily at adults, yet it should be brought up far more often. The only PPV singles clash between Triple H and Edge, the surprisingly violent Parking Lot Brawl and of course the brutal Michaels vs. Jericho contest make this a show that requires another viewing, particularly for those who overlook 2008 as a low-key fantastic year for WWE.
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