Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Smarkass Reviews: WWE The Bash 2009

One of the two more recent WWE PPVs that I got at Wal-Mart for five dollars each, the Bash also has the distinction of being the first PPV I didn't see at the time after a long string of seeing all of them. I think I'd seen every PPV since missing Armageddon in 2007. My former roommate, Adam, and I (and others) would go to a local bar that showed the PPVs, a tradition I continued after Adam left town. That was until certain circumstances prevented the bar from showing PPVs anymore. The last one Michelle and I saw there was Backlash '09 and, then, we saw Extreme Rules '09 at a local movie theatre. But, for the cost, it didn't seem worth it except for specific PPVs that looked like they would be worth it. So, that meant missing the Bash that year and, now, I've finally seen it. Was it worth the wait?

Match #1: Championship Scramble for the ECW Title - Tommy Dreamer (C) vs. Christian vs. Jack Swagger vs. Finlay vs. Mark Henry
I actually like the Championship Scramble match concept: you start with two guys and, then, every five minutes, another wrestler enters the match until the fifth one comes in. After that, a five-minute countdown starts until the end of the match. At the end of the match, whoever scored the last pinfall or submission is the champion. Technically, after you've scored a pinfall or submission, you're considered the current champion (but it's not an official reign). It's a cool idea and leads to some interesting moments like the WWE Championship Scramble match where The Brian Kendrick was the champ for a few minutes. But, it's also a bit of an oddball concept, so I can see why they haven't used it since this match. Christian and Jack Swagger started things off, and that was good. It's weird to see how far Swagger's come since this point in time. Less than a year later, he'd be the World Heavyweight Champion and is definitely better in the ring now. But, a lot of that talent was already there. When Finlay entered, he came running to the ring and I lamented the lack of his old entrance theme that began with his voice proclaiming "My name is Finlay and I love to fight!" It would have been much more appropriate. The action in this match was good. Swagger got two pinfalls, Henry one, and Dreamer the last one. Dreamer leaving with the belt was so surprising that even he looked shocked that it happened. As far as an opening match goes, this was a smart choice. Granted, the crowd felt a little different. The silence during the Swagger/Christian part of the match was noticeable.
Winner and STILL ECW Champion: Tommy Dreamer [***]

Match #2: Intercontinental Championship vs. Mask Match - Chris Jericho (C) vs. Rey Mysterio
I always lamented never seeing this match, the third one in their trilogy of bouts in 2009 and, according to everyone, the best of the three. And they were right. What impressed me most about their second match, at Extreme Rules, was how it built on their first. Spots and moves weren't repeated with success, they were countered. Both men looked like professionals at the top of their game, able to learn from what happened before, and adapt on the spot. The fact that certain guys are able to do the same spots in the same order with success much of the time is something that I've never liked about wrestling. I'm sorry, but if you don't know the Attitude Adjustment is coming after the Five-Knuckle Shuffle, where have you been? COUNTER THAT MOTHERFUCKER, IDIOT! I know that the routine is integral to some, but I'd always prefer to see a match where it looks like both men have actually watched a wrestling match before. This match was one of those where it wasn't just move-countermove, it was move-countermove-countermove. It was one of the smartest in-ring work I've ever seen. Even the seemingly gimmicky finish of Rey Rey having a second mask on didn't come off that way -- it was another counter since Jericho won their last match by unmasking Mysterio and completely throwing him off his game. My favourite spot, though, was Jericho faking that the 619 landed near the end so he could lull Mysterio into doing a jump off the ropes and catch him, putting him into the Walls of Jericho. Definitely the high point of this PPV and, from what happens later, I know why they put it on second, but, really, they expected people to follow this match? After the Undertaker/Michaels at WrestleMania, it was the second-best WWE match of the year, easily.
Winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Rey Mysterio [****3/4]

Match #3: No Disqualification Match - Dolph Ziggler vs. The Great Khali
Remember when Dolph Ziggler first showed up and did that "Hi, I'm Dolph Ziggler" gimmick? And now he's the #1 contender for the World Heavyweight Championship. Did anyone see that coming then? This was the culmination of Ziggler's feud with Khali where Ziggler continued to outsmart the giant and walk away with victories (or, at least, leave the giant beaten and bruised). This match was shit. For the record, I'm pretty sure that being seven feet tall doesn't make punching a ringpost hurt any less. This was really the beginning of a Kane/Khali feud with Ziggler winning after Kane came down and beat the shit out of Khali with a chair. Whatever.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler [*]

Match #4: Unified Tag Team Championship Match - The Colons (C) vs. Priceless vs. Edge & Chris Jericho
This match became a triple threat match with Edge and Jericho added because of a story involving Smackdown General Manager Teddy Long being put on probation for not being innovative enough for Mr. McMahon's tastes. So, he threw in Edge and Jericho, which just pissed off the other four guys. So, the story of this match became the Colons and Priceless trying to have their match without ever allowing Edge and Jericho to enter (since tag matches with more than two teams still only have two men in the ring, leaving the extra teams on the apron, possibly never able to legally win the match). The couple of times where they managed to get in, they'd make the mistake of getting too close to one of the other corners and immediately tagged out. In the end, they managed to win after the match became a bit of a clusterfuck. Sadly, the Edge and Jericho team didn't last long once Edge suffered a torn Achilles heel. Still, a decent match with a cool story.
Winners and NEW Unified Tag Team Champions: Edge and Chris Jericho [**]

Match #5: Women's Championship Match - Melina (C) vs. Michelle McCool
We fast-forwarded through this.
Winner and NEW Women's Champion: Michelle McCool [N/A]

Match #6: World Heavyweight Championship Match - CM Punk (C) vs. Jeff Hardy
The beginning of Punk's heel turn after cashing in Money in the Bank on Hardy. This match wasn't as good as you'd expect given the two guys involved. Some nice spots, but not conhesive really. Neither guy seemed on the same page entirely. Maybe it was both men trying to wrestle as faces. Sometimes that dynamic doesn't work -- and Punk hadn't turned heel yet. I loved the false finish where Hardy thought he'd won, but the ref noticed Punk's leg was under the ropes after he'd counted the pin. It worked with the feud: Punk was technically in the right when he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and, technically, Hardy didn't win here. Of course, I did enjoy the idea of Hardy, seemingly a face with lots of tenacity, being portrayed as a whiner for this entire storyline. The actual finish where Hardy went nuts on Punk, injuring his eye, so Punk kicked the ref was... meh. It was meant to be Punk couldn't see, so he didn't know who he was kicking -- but we see the small smile he gets as he walks away. The only thing is that the excuse that Punk couldn't see who he was kicking was just lame. It wasn't staged well. But, this is the beginnings of Punk turning heel, which was awesome. Also, the end of Hardy in the WWE.
Winner but NOT new World Heavyweight Champion: Jeff Hardy [**3/4]

Match #7: John Cena vs. the Miz
Like Ziggler and Swagger, the Miz has come a long way since this PPV. He's also become a lot more polished. What I noticed most from the recap video package was how calmer he is on the mic. The personality is the same, but he's slowed it down a little and is much more at ease. He's not trying so hard (or, more accurately, it doesn't look like he's trying so hard). This match was a squash. The Miz barely got in any offence and Cena just beat the shit out of him. Ah well.
Winner: John Cena [*1/2]

Match #8: Three Stages of Hell Match for the WWE Championship - Randy Orton (C) vs. Triple H
And we end things with an odd match. This is a two-out-of-three falls match where the first fall is a regular match, the second is a Falls Count Anywhere match, and the third is a Stretcher match. Now, I've only ever seen one Stretcher match that I'd want to see again and that was the one from Extreme Rules 2008 between Batista and Shawn Michaels -- and that's because of Chris Jericho's involvement, which was done in a way that only worked with a Stretcher match. Here, the Stretcher match doesn't follow any progression. A good progression for this sort of match: No DQ fall, Falls Count Anywhere fall, and, then, Last Man Standing to finish it off. See how that works? Here, it's disjointed. But, that was this storyline all over. It built to Orton winning the belt at WrestleMania... except Triple H retained and Orton won it at Backlash the following month. They just couldn't get things right here. I did like the way the first two falls ended: the first one had Triple H get disqualified when he attacked Orton with a chair, viciously beating him and, then, hitting a Pedigree on the floor to win the second fall. It was a good strategy, especially since Orton seemed so dead that rolling him past the line on a stretcher wouldn't be too difficult. From there, it was your standard hardcore match with a stretcher. Nothing too special. Rhodes and DiBiase helped Orton retain the belt. This would lead to Triple H finding Shawn Michaels to reunite DX since Trips couldn't handle the numbers game of fighting all of Legacy. A mediocre finish to a mediocre PPV.
Winner and STILL WWE Champion: Randy Orton [**1/2]

Overall Show Rating: 5.0 (out of 10)

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