WWE BACKLASH PPV REVIEW
April 29, 2007
A -- WWE's text messaging service noted that Carlito beat Johnny Nitro in a dark match before the PPV. How far Nitro has fallen since being in the top program in the company on Jan. 1.
We start with a look back at the night that changed history - WrestleMania. How do you change history if history is already history?
Everyone's ringside to call the matches tonight.
1 -- JEFF HARDY & MATT HARDY vs. CADE & MURDOCH
Ross said Cade was trained by Shawn Michaels and Murdoch was trained by Harley Race. There's a good story behind the idea for Murdoch to use the gimmick that was told to me a few years ago. If I remember correctly, Race was initially against the idea because he didn't think it would get over. Jeff Hardy hit a plancha onto the heels in the opening five minutes for the first big highspot of the night. He went for another move on the outside, but Cade yanked him face-first to the floor. The heels then isolated Jeff in their corner for a while. At 13:00, Matt took a hot tag and worked on Murdoch before hitting a bulldog in center ring. He then made a cover for a nearfall. Jeff tried to run off Matt's back for a corner splash, but Murdoch moved and Jeff ate the corner turnbuckle. Matt recovered and hit the side effect on Murdoch, but Cade came off the top rope with a top rope elbow. For some reason, Murdoch went back to the Canadian Destroyer and didn't completely botch it this week, and it was good for a nearfall. Matt suddenly recovered with an Ace Crusher and Jeff came off the top with a Swanton Bomb out of nowhere with the ref's back turned. Matt then covered Murdoch for the win.
WINNERS: Hardys in 16:00. Like there was any chance of Murdoch & Cade winning the belts. Good opener with decent action that kept the crowd involved for the most part. Uniting the tag title belts between Raw and Smackdown might be the best option to make the tag division mean anything in the company. (**)
Backstage, Umaga was breathing heavily as Shane McMahon talked him up. He just needs to listen to the McMahons and things would go smoothly. Umaga walked away, then Vince entered the scene sporting a doo-rag. Simply great. Vince sought Shane's approval for the look, then Vince predicted that a McMahon would become ECW champion tonight. Vince paused and said Shane should win the belt tonight. Shane visualized his name in lights, but then came back with a suggestion that Vince be ECW champion after what Lashley did to him at Mania. Vince left, then Shane stared after him with a hint of distrust.
2 -- MELINA vs. MICKIE JAMES -- Women's Title match
They went to a lock up to begin with and Melina knocked Mickie out of the ring to the floor. Lawler wanted to lend Mickie a helping hand, but Ross told him to keep his hands to himself. Back in the ring, Melina stretched Mickie's back against the ropes before making a cover for a nearfall. Melina then went for a body scissors hold by wrapping her legs around Mickie's back and forcing Mickie's chin towards her stomach. Great hold. Ross sarcastically asked Lawler if he had an upcoming match he wanted to use the move during. Melina then went for a kick, but Mickie forced her into a splits position. They battled while in the splits and Mickie won the exchange with a double foot dropkick to the face. Mickie made her comeback with a double handful of hair toss before dropping Melina with a neckbreaker for a close nearfall at 8:00. Mickie picked up another nearfall with a top rope cross body splash. Melina then caught Mickie in the corner with a rake of the eyes and dropped Mickie with a reverse DDT for the win.
WINNER: Melina in 9:00 to retain the Women's Title. That was really starting to get good until they went to the finish. Mickie had some believable nearfalls at the end to show that she could hang with Melina and set up future re-matches. This was the match that should have happened at Mania, and could have been a very good women's match with 3 or 4 more minutes. (**1/4)
Backstage, Melina interviewed Edge about the WWE Title match tonight. He said he's happy he didn't have to wrestle Orton on Raw last week, and he's really happy that Cena and Michaels tore each other up wrestling almost an hour. Maria then pulled out a cue card from her top and asked Edge how he won his first WWE Title. Edge eagerly re-told the story of cashing in the Money in the Bank stipulation last January to beat Cena for the title. He paused, then asked who told her to ask the question. Maria then pointed over Edge's shoulder and the camera zoomed out to find Mr. Kennedy standing off to the side with briefcase in hand. Kennedy then re-told Edge's story from his perspective and hinted that he might cash in his prize tonight. Edge simply stared at the briefcase with a clenched jaw. Nice.
We saw a video package on The Condemned.
3 -- CHRIS BENOIT vs. MVP -- U.S. Title match
JBL equated MVP to Deion Sanders, who played for the Falcons in the early '90s. A better analogy for 2007 would have been Michael Vick, but Deion transcends time as a legend in sports. Brief "Power Rangers" chant in the opening minute as Benoit and MVP danced around the ring during the feeling-out process. Benoit went for a Sharpshooter at 5:00, but MVP reached the bottom rope to break the hold. MVP suddenly came back with a charging kick to the back of the head and scored a nearfall. MVP went for a side headlock vice, but Benoit escaped and landed an elbow smash before walking into an overhead suplex toss. Nice exchange, resulting in a nearfall for MVP. Benoit then ducked a clothesline and landed three German suplexes at 8:00. MVP prevented Benoit from getting to the corner, so Benoit scored with a Northern Lights suplex. MVP came back with a grip for a suplex, but Benoit countered right into a Crippler Crossface. MVP teased losing the match, but then grabbed the bottom rope.
10:00: MVP instantly recovered and kicked Benoit in the face for another nearfall. Benoit then came right back with five consecutive German suplexes. Goodness. The fans applauded, then Benoit went up top for a top rope headbutt, but MVP smartly shifted his body and got his knees up to catch Benoit in the gut. MVP then locked in a half crab center ring as the fans chanted for Benoit, who eventually the ropes for a break. This would be a great match to have ROH's Pure Title rules on rope breaks. Suddenly, Benoit and MVP went into a finishing exchange and Benoit rolled up MVP with a small package for the win.
WINNER: Benoit in 14:00 to retain the U.S. Title. Again, just when the action was getting good, they went to the finish. I'm surprised by the short length of this match, as I felt MVP really could have had a break-out match with a 20-25 minute match against Benoit. Granted, I feel better critiquing a match for not going long enough than featuring bags-of-tricks and ref bumps and blindfolds and electricity. (**3/4)
Backstage, Todd Grisham interviewed John Cena, who slapped Grisham hard on the arm. Grisham said Cena's title is in serious jeopardy tonight. Randy Orton then interrupted and said they have a lot in common. 1. Young. 2. Incredibly handsome. Cena looked into the camera with an odd look. 3. Extremely talented. Orton said they've been treated like dirt by the veterans, so they need to take out Edge and Michaels tonight to see who the better man is between them. Cena thought about it, then asked Orton if he really thinks he's handsome. Cena turned it into a sexual innuendo, and questioned whether Orton's gay based on the ballerina pose. He said that's not his thing. Orton said the only pose Cena's doing tonight is lying on his back with him on top. Yowsers. Ron Simmons then entered the shot from behind and shouted, "Damn!" in Orton's ear. Orton recognized that he fell into Cena's trap and showed frustration.
They showed a video package on the McMahons vs. Lashley fued.
4 -- BOBBY LASHLEY vs. VINCE MCMAHN & SHANE MCMAHON & UMAGA -- ECW Title match
Shane's out first. Umaga's out second without Armando. Vince "thug life" McMahon came out third sporting black jeans, a black sweatshirt, and a black doo-rag. Shane held the ropes down for Vince, who did the belt-around-the-waist motion. Lashley then came out to a decent reaction. Team McMahon debated who should start, then Shane took the nod and Lashley instantly lifted him up in the air and dropped him hard on the mat. He then smashed Shane with a hard spinebuster. A smile probably crept across the face of some of the wrestlers who just took bumps for 12 days in Europe after seeing the golden boy take a hard fall. Umaga then tagged in and Lashley worked on him in the corner before clotheslining him over the top rope to the floor. Shane then took a hard clothesline over the top rope to the floor. Lashley circled the ring, then stared down Vince, who slowly swung one leg into the ring before Shane came in and took a high-vertical suplex. Lashley lost track of Shane momentarily, and Shane pulled the top rope down, causing Lashley to spill to the floor. On the outside, Umaga threw Lashley hard into the ring steps and went on the offensive control back in the ring. Shane tagged in and applied a series of arm bars on Lashley while cranking on the left shoulder. Suddenly, Lashley used his leg strength to power Shane in the air with the arm bar still intact before slamming Shane hard on his back. Umaga then tagged in and gave Lashley a back body drop to the mat.
10:00: Shane tagged in and went to work on Lashley's back with a series of elbow drops and forearm smashes. Lashley made his comeback and gave Shane a torture rack slam, but he fell forward instead of falling on his rear end. Lashley made a cover, but Vince finally entered the ring and broke up the pin. The fans popped when Lashley and Vince finally squared off, then Lashley put Vince up for the Dominator, but Shane and Umaga tripped up Lashley to save Vince. With the ref's back turned, Shane smashed Shane in the face with the ECW Title belt. He wanted to go for the cover, but he tagged out to Vince, who made the cover for a nearfall only at 14:00. Suddenly, Lashley rolled up Vince from behind, but Shane broke up the pin attempt. Umaga then took a tag and gave Lashley a top rope splash. He was ready for the pin, but Vince tagged himself in, which didn't sit well with Umaga. Vince then made a cover, but it was good for another nearfall only. Umaga re-tagged into the match and hit another top rope splash, then reluctantly tagged out to Vince, who made the cover for the win to capture the ECW Title.
Post: Styles and Tazz were shocked on commentary. Styles said he never thought he'd see the day. After the match, Umaga reluctantly shook Vince's hand. Shane then gave Umaga a huge hug. Styles said he's nauseous and tried to figure out how ECW went from its formation in 1993 to Vince McMahon becoming champion. Vince then grabbed JBL's cowboy hat and did a brief dance before leaving up the ramp with the belt around his waist. Styles said this might be the darkest day in ECW's history.
WINNER: Vince McMahon in 15:00 to capture the ECW Title. Well, this should make for interesting TV on Tuesday nights. If you haven't figured out what McMahon thinks of the ECW brand by now, this should make the picture pretty clear. (*3/4)
Backstage, Vince, Shane, and Umaga shared a brief moment of celebration. Vince sent Umaga to the showers, then Vince stopped when he spotted RVD, Sabu, Sandman, and Dreamer standing off to the side. Vince mocked each man's trademark mannerisms as Vince pounded the ECW Title belt. The Originals predictably didn't get any words in to make a verbal comeback.
We saw a video package on the feud between Undertaker and Batista.
5 -- THE UNDERTAKER vs. BATISTA -- World Hvt. Title match -- Last man standing
Batista's right hamstring is still taped up. Gee, I wonder if Taker will target that tonight. Taker came out and we saw that Taker's right arm/elbow was taped. JBL warned us to put the women and children to bed because of what was set to happen in the ring. Cole gave us the tale of the tape, to give it more of a sporting feel. Batista instantly charged Taker, just like at Mania, but Taker met him with a big boot to the face. Batista recovered and executed a powerslam that put Taker down for a five count. Taker then rolled to the floor and Batista gave chase, but Taker slammed Batista's injured leg into the ring steps and announce table. Batista answered the count, then reversed a whip and Taker went knee-first into the steps. Inexplicably, Batista went up top after rolling Taker into the ring, and Taker met him up top. After a brief battle, Taker executed a dangerous-looking superplex. Both men answered the count at 8, as Batista's leg quivered. He then landed a knock-down clothesline so he could recover in the corner. The action spilled to the outside again and Taker cleared the Smackdown announce table.
10:00: Batista reversed another whip and Taker ate the guardrail. Batista went for a power slam on the table, but Taker slipped out and gave Batista a Randy Orton-style fallaway backbreaker. Taker then picked up the ring steps and slammed them hard into Batista's face. Batista came up bleeding heavily from the forehead, and Taker went right after the forehead to draw more blood. Taker then put Batista on the Smackdown announce table and walked the guardrail before delivering a hard leg drop that sent both men crashing through the table. Nice mid-match highspot. Cole said there's no way Batista can make the ten count, but Batista reached a squatting position at nine. Back in the ring, Taker hit Snake Eyes, but Batista made a great comeback with a spear when Taker usually hits his running boot to the face. Batista then met Taker with a spinebuster when Taker reached his feet. Taker came back up again, but Batista dropped him with consecutive spinebusters. When Taker came up at nine, Batista set up for a powerbomb, but Taker shoved him off into the corner. Taker then dropped Batista in center ring with a chokeslam at 16:00. Man, what a match. Both men up at nine. Taker took Batista to the corner for ten punches, but Batista countered with a Batistabomb as the kids in the arena screamed. The ref applied a count as Batista recovered in the corner, and Taker fell down at five, but then reached his feet just before 10. Batista, frustrated, went to the outside and grabbed a chair. He then smacked Taker in the face with the chair and went for a Batistabomb from a standing position, but Taker back dropped him onto the chair. Taker then scooped up Batista and dropped him with the Tombstone Piledriver near the ropes. JBL all but said the match was over as the ref applied another count. Amazingly, Batista reached his feet at eight and the crowd exploded. Taker then gave Batista a big boot, sending him falling to the outside.
20:00: They brawled up the entrance ramp toward the top of the stage and teased something big as they exchanged right hand blows. Batista then set up for a Batistabomb, but Taker blocked with a kick to the bad leg. Taker then measured Batista, but Batista speared him off the stage and they crashed through the electrical items on the floor below. Sparks shot up, then the Backlash stage pillars collapsed on top of Taker and Batista. Men scrambled around the stage on the floor, then the ref applied a ten count and called for the bell, with neither man being able to answer the ten count. After technicians cleared the stage, Taker was the first to get up. Batista then slowly reached his feet. Taker then raised his World Title belt in the air.
WINNER: Double Count Out in 22:00. Great, physical heavyweight-style action leading to the big finish. I'd put the match right on par with their show-stealer at Mania, with possibly more dramatic moments tonight. The finish gives them a ton of material to work with for TV storylines going forward. Since we've seen decisive finishes throughout this PPV, and since WWE can get one or two more re-matches out of Batista vs. Taker, I have no problem with the non-finish. (****1/2)
WWE's text messaging has 50 percent of voters believing Cena will retain the WWE Title. Orton received more votes than Edge, surprisingly.
6 -- JOHN CENA vs. SHAWN MICHAELS vs. RANDY ORTON vs. EDGE -- WWE Title match
Michaels out first. Edge out second. Orton out third and Ross said controversy seems to follow Orton everywhere he goes. Cena then came out to a monster pop. The bell sounded and the crowd roared with anticipation. This should be a hot main event. After everyone stood his ground in his respective corner, they slowly met in center ring and tried to form teams. Cena and Michaels then reared back and landed right hand blows on Edge and Orton before clearing them to the outside. Michaels then stepped into Cena and landed a round of hard chops. Cena suddenly came back with an overhead suplex for a nearfall two minutes into the match. Edge and Orton then cleared the ring to have their moment in the match. After a brief verbal exchange, Edge rocked Orton with a right hand blow. The action then spilled to the outside and Edge whipped Orton into the ring steps. Michaels scoop slammed Edge, then he went to the apron. Everyone recovered to their feet, and Michaels came off the top with a graceful moonsault onto his three opponents. Spot won't mean anything in ten minutes, but it showed that Michaels is still quite the athlete. Back in the ring, Edge and Michaels battled before Cena came off the top with a double guillotine leg drop on both men as they knelt down. Orton recovered and cleared the ring, except for Cena. He hit a fallaway back breaker for a nearfall, then re-arranged Cena's face with knee drops. The fans booed Cena's offense, then cheered when he ate the ringpost shoulder-first when Orton moved out of the corner. Edge and Orton then argued when the other man went for a pin attempt on Michaels. Edge tried to reason with Orton that they needed to work together. Hot opening 10 minutes, with no one taking too long of a powder.
10:00: Edge shoved Cena off the ring apron, sending him crashing into the announce table. Orton and Edge then put Michaels in a dual Boston Crab, which brought up the question of who would win the WWE Title if Michaels tapped out. Team RKO pulled Michaels back to the center of the ring, then Cena re-entered the picture by hitting a Blockbuster on both men. Cena fired up with shoulder tackles on everyone in the ring before slamming Edge. He went for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but then Michaels and Orton pulled Cena out of the ring and threw him into the ringpost. Michaels then shoved Orton hard into the ringpost and Ross said that relationship dissolved faster than one of Lawler's marriages. Michaels and Orton brawled to the Raw announce table and Edge blocked a piledriver attempt by Michaels by slamming Michaels in the back with a steel chair. Orton gave Edge a thumbs up, then Edge suddenly creamed Orton with a steel chair shot to the head. Edge re-entered the ring and tried to smash Cena with the chair, but Cena countered with a drop toe hold into an STFU in center ring. Edge crawled on his belly toward the bottom rope and made a last-ditch effort to grab the bottom rope. Goodness. Orton then stumbled back into the ring and Cena put him in the STFU. Michaels slowly entered the ring, and Cena went for the STFU, but Michaels countered with a small package into a nearfall.
15:00: Michaels cleared Edge from the ring, then he cleared Orton. Michaels found Cena and scoop slammed him before going up top. Selling a back injury, Michaels came off the top with an elbow drop to the chest. They've got the kids screaming tonight. Michaels then warmed up the band in the corner, but Edge put an end to the tune. Michaels side-stepped Edge, though, and slammed him into the ringpost. He then hit a top rope elbow drop on Edge. Orton took a scoop slam, then Michaels went for an elbow drop on Orton, but Cena cut him off. Cena went for an FU off the top, but Orton and Edge grabbed Cena's legs and slammed both Cena and Michaels down to the mat. All four men recovered on the mat, allowing the fans to take a deep breath and come down from the dramatic high. Cena and Edge then went into a standing exchange, and Michels warmed up the band for Cena, but Orton gave him an RKO out of nowhere. Edge then caught Cena with an impaler DDT, but Cena kicked out. Edge got that look in his eye and went for a spear, but it was Orton who took the spear. Cena gave Edge the FU, then Michaels nailed Cena square in the face with Sweet Chin Music, but Cena fell on top of Orton. The ref had a brief moment of not realizing Cena was in position to pin Orton, but then he counted a three count just before Michaels could realize what happened and break up the pinfall. Sheer brilliance!
All four men recovered on the mat as they showed several replays of the amazing finishing sequence. Edge and Orton disappeared, and Michaels and Cena were left in the ring. Michaels pointed his finger at Cena out of frustration, as Cena stood his ground in the corner with a blank look on his face. Michaels then sat down in the corner and tried to ponder the events. He left the ring as Cena stood center ring with the WWE Title belt in hand. They went to a close up of Michaels staring into the ring from the top of the stage. Cena then turned and looked at Michaels before they closed the show with a shot of Cena holding up the title belt in center ring.
WINNER: Cena in 20:00 to retain the WWE Title. Wow. Great drama. Great WWE-style main event match. The pacing was spot-on and the teased finishing sequence and final finishing sequence were laid out with amazing precision. I think everyone watching wanted a few more minutes, but it's hard to complain about that when there were few slow moments at any point in the match. Just like with the Smackdown main event, they have so many different options coming out of this match for TV storylines going forward. I have both main events at the same level, as they made it a night to remember showcasing two different WWE main event styles (heavyweight power wrestling and dramatic storytelling). (****1/2)