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The Great American Bash 2021 recap & reactions: Rap N’ Wrestling

My man Sean said I could recap The Great American Bash if I promised him not to spend 80% of this thing talking about Hit Row’s performance. As a man of my word, prepare for a recap that is 79.9% devoted to Hit Row’s championship cypher.

Nah, I’m not doing that but what I am doing is giving props to Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, B-FAB, Top Dolla, and Ashante “Thee” Adonis for being, dare I say, dope.

When you listen to as much hip hop as I do, you know wack sh*t when you hear it and there was nothing wack about anything they did. The flows were crisp, there were several hot lines, and all three rappers showcased different styles. I went into this expecting Men on a Mission but instead I got something infinitely better. JAY-Z always says he’s not a rapper; he’s a hustler who just knows how to rap. Hit Row aren’t rappers. They’re just wrestlers who know how to rap really damn well.

Of course, your mileage may vary on how much you liked a concert breaking out in the middle of a wrestling event—especially one of this magnitude—but it is a unique celebration method that bucks wrestling convention. Like every other genre on the planet, pro wrestling needs to constantly evolve or die trying. More importantly, it needs to figure out ways to illustrate unique characters. Hit Row is unlike any group in wrestling history, therefore they shouldn’t use the same tried and true methods to get over with the audience.

That said, and maybe I’m bugging, but wasn’t it weird when Bronson Reed didn’t interfere at all? Feels like a wasted opportunity but I won’t gripe much since I was told by Poppa Haitch not to ruin things I love.

Red, White, and Bruised

WWE loves telling a story of good friends turned better enemies. And to be honest, fans are infatuated with it as well, so I get why they keep going back to the well. Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole are the latest in a long line of former friends who feel compelled to fight each other and their emotions at the same time.

Cole and O’Reilly had a lot to live up to following their first encounter but for little ole’ me, they succeed with flying freaking colors. Having their first match as the foundation, part deux felt more personal and, surprisingly, more intense. These two cats beat the hell out of each other in a back and forth contest with Cole focusing on O’Reilly’s bad knee that got worse the longer the match went. It’s tough beating any person with one leg, let alone Adam Cole, but Kyle tried. The problem is that he tried a little too hard.

I love when wrestling really does focus on the fact these people are athletes. And like any athlete, a lot of what they do is based on instinct, not always strategy. Every athlete, regardless of the sport, is used to using different body parts to move in a certain ways on their field of choice. So when Adam Cole jumps off the top rope, Kyle instinctively uses his knee to defend himself and counter whatever Cole planned. Of course, he used the bum knee. Like I said, he tried a little too hard.

At that point, the ending was elementary. Cole stood tall. For now. The two are now 1-1 and Kyle has his knee as an excuse but it’s hard to see Adam giving him a rematch out the kindness of his heart. But if he isn’t convinced he’s NXT’s best ever, as Wade Barrett loudly proclaimed when the match ended, then perhaps his ego gets the best of him.

Who are we kidding? This is a Shawn Michaels and Triple H production. The tiebreaker match is almost guaranteed.

Guess Who’s Back? Tell a Friend

Candace LaRae and Indi Hartwell defended their NXT Women’s Tag Championships against Zoey Stark and Io Sharai. On any other night, the big story is the fact the champs were dethroned. But the Great American Bash isn’t just any other night.

That battery charge graphic NXT teased for weeks? It finally hit 100% and out came Tegan Nox to ruin Candace’s day. The minute Nox showed up, LaRae followed the rules of wrestling and took her eyes on the prize to focus on the person on the ramp. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Look, I’m not a fan of titles exchanging hands like this, especially because it does blot out the sun the new champs should bask in, if only a little. A match that started telling the story of Io having Candace’s number ended up being less about the match itself. This is most certainly not the way. But hey, we got new champs, Zoey’s theme music is a damn banger, and then this happened:

If your heart didn’t melt even a little, you have no soul. Or you’re the Tin Man, who, as we all know, has no heart.

The Best of the Rest

Cameron Grimes is now LA Knight’s butler

Cameron Grimes and LA Knight’s story doesn’t do much for me. I like both guys a lot and they have good chemistry, but something about this is just missing me. Grimes as Knight’s butler should provide several chuckles though, so at least there’s that. I do love that Knight managed to use the Million Dollar belt to help him get the W. Heels need to cheat to win a whole lot more than they do. Salute that man.

Put respect on MSK’s name

In a very dope opening bout, MSK successfully defended their NXT tag titles against Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher. It was a simple story about one team fighting for respect from the other while always being one step behind.

Until they weren't.

MSK learned during the match and got smarter as it went on. It felt like a Dragon Ball Z fight where combatants just get better the longer the fight lasts. In the end, they finally learned enough to get the W, retain their titles, and got the respect they demanded.

The Not so Best of the Rest

Keeping it all the way real, the Johnny Gargano and Karrion Kross “confrontation” bored me. I get nothing from two people talking to each other who just talked to each other last week. The most interesting part about it is Samoa Joe refereeing their championship match next week. When it comes to Joe, Kross is cruising for a bruising and clearly wants that action. I wouldn’t be surprised if Joe gives it to him next week once he’s “provoked.”

Grade: A-

The funny thing about NXT is there are really no bad matches. Ever. The Great American Bash was a great night of wrestling capped off with a physical grudge match between two people who hate each other.

Why not a full A? The talking segments didn’t work for me. We had a few backstage interviews setting up future matches that thankfully weren’t long but just weren’t compelling. And that goes ditto for the supposedly clever insults Gargano and Kross threw at each other. The show was at its best when the wrestlers wrestled and on that note, it got the job done.

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