Sunday, November 16, 2014

Through the Years Reviews: Backlash 2003

WWE Backlash 2003
April 27th, 2003 – Worcester Coliseum in Worcester, Massachusetts – Attendance: 10,000

Hot off the heels of one of the best WrestleManias of all-time, the WWE entered a new phase. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin had retired and The Rock was on his way out. Before he could leave though, he would face Goldberg in his last and Goldberg’s first match in WWE. The only other thing about this show that I recall is that there was a tournament to determine a number one contender for Brock Lesnar’s WWE Title and it was won by John Cena. Considering where these two are now in the WWE, it’ll be interesting to relive their first major fight.

I’d like to point out that the Team Angle poster for this Pay-Per-View is amongst my favorite ever. The intro video focuses on The Rock vs. Goldberg match. It did a good job of bringing up Goldberg’s undefeated streak in WCW. Raw commentary features Jonathan Coachman and Jerry Lawler and Smackdown is Michael Cole and Tazz.

WWE Tag Team Championship
Team Angle (c) vs. Los Guerreros

The story here is that this is Los Guerreros’ rematch from losing the titles to Team Angle back in February. Charlie Haas and Eddie Guerrero kick things off and have a wrestling sequence. Chavo Guerrero gets the tag and showboats so Haas tags in Shelton Benjamin. They have a nice exchange as Cole mentions that Benjamin ran a 4.2 40. That’s legit. Eddie lies, cheats and steals by getting a cheap shot and faking a tag behind the referee’s back. Eddie was so damn good at that and managed to get over a face doing so. It’s an interesting dynamic as the faces are cheating and cutting the ring in half and I appreciate that. Eddie hits a nice dive into the ring, but then Haas gets the tag and it’s time for the heels to be the heels. Haas and Benjamin hit their signature move but Chavo breaks up the pin. Haas stays aggressive but Eddie hits a back suplex and tries to make the tag. Haas takes down Eddie with a badass double leg to stop the tag. Team Angle isolates Eddie which surprises me as I thought Eddie would be the one getting the hot tag. They do a great job of bending Eddie in odd ways. Eddie uses a head scissors and then dives to tag in Chavo who comes in hot. Chavo gets a near fall with a suplex and Shelton hits a STIFF powerbomb on Chavo before eating a missile dropkick from Eddie. Three Amigos time, but Eddie isn’t legal and Chavo takes too long to cover. Eddie, even though he’s still not legal, plants Haas with the Frog Splash. Chavo covers late and Shelton pulls him out at the VERY LAST SECOND. Chavo goes to back suplex Haas, but Shelton trips him up and Haas lands on him. Shelton holds his leg long enough for the three.

Winners and Still WWE Tag Team Champions: Team Angle in 15:03
Great opener. Got the crowd hot, was back and forth and having both teams cheat was a nice twist on tag formula. The finish was cheap but made sense as they got back at the Guerreros who are known for cheating. ***3/4

Chavo Guerrero launches himself onto Team Angle after the match and he and Eddie walk off with the Tag Team Titles. Want to know why they did this? Because they lie, they cheat, they steal. They exit the arena in a low rider, complete with a “La Cucaracha” themed horn. This makes it two straight PPVs with a “La Cucaracha” themed segment.

Torrie Wilson is backstage with Test, telling him to leave her alone. I guess Test is the WWE’s resident creep. Torrie says she won’t do this because she’s Stacy’s friend. Test talks about how many times he’s seen her Playboy. He forces a kiss on her and Sable is shown watching.

Rikishi vs. Sean O’Haire w/ Roddy Piper
Count me as one of the people who felt that Sean O’Haire had a TON of potential. He had the size, the look and the skill. They go through background story saying that Rikishi’s family had been embarrassed by Piper for years. I recall none of this unless Rikishi is somehow related to Jimmy Snuka. The big man starts on the offensive and hits a Samoan drop. He ends up getting sent off the ropes and turns to look at Piper as if they missed a signal where Piper was supposed to trip him. It came off as awkward. O’Haire keeps the pace slow and works him over as the crowd boos heavily. I’m pretty sure there was a fight or someone went streaking as they’re all looking to the side. In the ring, Rikishi calls for the Stink Face but O’Haire launches him away with his feet. Piper enters the ring with the coconut. It’s odd as it does nothing and the men kick each other. Piper tries again and gets the coconut kicked into his face. O’Haire connects with his finisher to win.

Winner: Sean O’Haire in 4:52
Awkward and clumsy. There were missed spots, strange moments and the guys didn’t have much chemistry. I didn’t like this. *1/4

Backstage, Sable catches up to Stacy Keibler in catering. Stacy has a plate of like four tiny vegetables. NO WONDER SHE HAS THAT FIGURE! Sable stirs up trouble, saying that Torrie Wilson is trying to get Test. CONTROVERSY! Stacy, like any logical person, believes Sable, who she just met, over her longtime friend. Cutting away, RVD and Kane have a promo about the upcoming match.

World Tag Team Championship
Kane and Rob Van Dam (c) vs. The Dudley Boyz

Chief Morley is the special referee for this match. Kane is arguably the most versatile performer in the history of the WWE and RVD is another in a long line of guys that he has great chemistry with. RVD and Bubba start with a sequence that involves botches from both men. Bubba and D-Von have a clear game plan of working over RVD. Van Dam seems to be in full botch mode as he messes up a back flip and leg drop. Kane is tagged and he times a big boot completely wrong and whiffs. Kane gets a near fall with a spine buster and Morley has been calling this fairly. RVD overshoots the split legged moonsault. Maybe he’s on something because he has looked bad. He plays the face in trouble for a bit before hitting a variation of the enziguri and makes the hot tag. Kane is on fire but tags RVD back in quickly, who gets in offense. RVD eats a HUGE neckbreaker from D-Von. Like, it’s insane. Kane goes for the Chokeslam but Morley low blows him. Morley disposes of Kane and accidentally hits Bubba. D-Von is pissed and beats him up. Lance Storm of all people arrives to take out D-Von, but he takes a Bubba Bomb. Morley eats the 3D, but that allows Kane to Chokeslam Bubba. RVD follows with the Five Star Frog Splash as a new referee conveniently runs out to count the three.

Winners and Still World Tag Team Champions: Kane and Rob Van Dam in 13:01
Too many botches and overbooking in the end hurt this match. It also ran a bit too long. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t really like it either. **

The saga between Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson continues as Stacy confronts her. When Torrie says that Test kissed her, Stacy attacks. Why doesn’t anyone ever just watch the footage?

WWE Women’s Championship
Trish Stratus (c) vs. Jazz w/ Theodore Long

Oh, so this was around the time that Theodore Long returned to the WWE. Before the bell, Long says “Holla” a lot and Jazz says “the bitch is back and the bitch is black.” Yup. I didn’t make that up. Trish is selling a rib injury because she was beaten up by Jazz and the Dudley Boyz six days prior on Raw. Jazz wisely goes after the ribs and back before hitting the Bitch Plant. That name would not go over well in the current PG era. Trish counters a backbreaker into a gut wrench suplex for two. The champion attempts the handstand hurricanrana but Jazz catches her leg, drops to the mat and locks in a Boston crab. Trish powers out and puts on an STF that would shame John Cena. Jazz reaches the ropes and Chick Kick only earns Trish two. Trish survives a dropkick and hits Stratusfaction but, being a full heel, Teddy Long takes off his shoe and throws it at Trish. WHO THROWS A SHOE? I MEAN HONESTLY. Trish throws it back at Teddy, so Jazz gets a rollup with the ropes and wins.

Winner and New WWE Women’s Champion: Jazz in 5:50
Good women’s match. Both girls worked hard, but I felt that a DQ should’ve been called when Teddy Long threw his shoe. **

Booker T talks to Shawn Michaels to question if Kevin Nash is ready. Nash claims he is and he wants Triple H to himself. Uh-oh, I smell a dreadful feud brewing.

Big Show vs. Rey Mysterio
Over the past few weeks, Rey Mysterio has bested Big Show, upsetting him greatly. Right at the bell, Rey uses his speed to annoy Show and nearly get him off his feet. Show gets a hold of him and chops him, nearly caving in Rey’s chest. Show gets tossed around some and grabs a steel chair from outside. Show shoves the official, allowing Rey to level him with it. He follows with the West Coast Pop for two. 619 to the ribs and to the back of the knee are creative. I give them props for going with Rey attempting to cut Show down. He springboards in and gets caught with the Chokeslam.

Winner: Big Show in 3:47
Short and sweet. This was exactly what it needed to be. Rey looked like the smart underdog and Show looked like a dominant beast. Not a classic by any means, but it did its job. **1/2

Rey Mysterio does the stretcher job when Big Show comes back out. What follows is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen. Show picks up the stretcher and swings it like a baseball bat into the turnbuckle. Rey hits the mat face first and probably got a concussion.

Lillian Garcia interviews Triple H, Ric Flair and Chris Jericho about the six man tag. They put each other over and Jericho calls Lillian Vivian. Because he’s awesome. Backstage shenanigans continue as Torrie and Stacy brawl in the back AGAIN. Scott Steiner comes to rescue Stacy and we get a delightful upskirt.

John Cena might be the first guy to get a WWE Title shot the month after WrestleMania and not be on that WrestleMania card. To earn the shot, he won a Tournament defeating Eddie Guerrero, The Undertaker and Chris Benoit. Talk about earning the shot.

WWE Championship
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. John Cena

Cena is wearing a Yankees jersey in his home state. I understand trying to get cheap heat, but things like this are part of why he doesn’t ever have a hometown advantage. Brock pounds away on Cena to start, including dual backbreakers and a fallaway slam. Cole states that we shouldn’t count out Cena, starting a trend of Cole telling us that Cena never gives up. Brock goes from front face lock to fisherman suplex and Cena is rethinking his trash talk. Like an idiot, Cena goes for a chair but Brock stops him. It comes off as dumb when someone tries that in a title match if the referee is looking. Cena turns the tide by sending Brock into the steel steps. Brock is now busted open and Cena is in control. They do a good job of selling Brock being in trouble as he is covered in blood and Cena is picking him apart. He charges at Brock but is hit with a MASSIVE spine buster. Cena stops the comeback though with a rear naked choke and Brock’s blood is dripping down Cena’s arms. Brock powers out to break the hold and the two men have some awkward exchanges that end with Brock slamming Cena to the mat. Cena uses a low blow for another near fall and goes for the chain but Brian Hebner stops him. Brock connects with the F5 and retains.

Winner and Still WWE Champion: Brock Lesnar in 15:14
Solid match but there were some awkward points. John Cena wasn’t ready and it’s good that he didn’t win the belt for another two years. He clearly wasn’t ready but the match was still pretty good. **3/4

I’d like to point out that this is something I dislike with a lot of wrestling fans nowadays. They want the “hot” superstar to win the title quickly and don’t appreciate a slow build. Could you imagine the backlash (pun intended) if say, Cesaro got a title shot and lost like Cena just did? “HE GOT BURIED!” Cena wasn’t ready and the fact that it took years and a United States Title run before he made it to the top helped greatly in my opinion.

Booker T, Kevin Nash and Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho, Ric Flair and Triple H
Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho start off because they are the most skilled guys in the match and it is their usual good work. Nash gets the tag and slows things to a crawl. Booker enters and hits a big spine buster. HHH ends up getting the tag and hits the DREADED KNEE TO FACE! The teams continue to trade offense and Shawn hits a flying forearm and nips up. Sweet Chin Music to Flair but HHH comes in and hits the Pedigree. Jericho follows with some of the weakest elbow drops ever. Because he does it better than pretty much everyone else, Shawn is playing the face in peril. He eventually makes the hot tag to Nash, who fires away on the heels. He is in dominant fashion, but clearly is moving gingerly. Jericho bumps like a madman for him, making him the MVP of the match. Booker hits Jericho with the Scissors Kick and the crowd pops for the SPINAROONIE! Things have completely broken down as everyone is brawling in and around the ring. Shawn and Flair are in the ring and as Shawn goes for Sweet Chin Music, Jericho intervenes and takes him down. Figure Four is on but Flair isn’t legal so Jericho puts on the Walls. Nash breaks it up before we get a SUPER TELEGRAPHED ref bump. Nick Patrick clearly is moved into position to get knocked down. The Jackknife is hit but with the referee down, HHH enters with a sledgehammer and knocks out Nash. Patrick is conveniently up and counts the three.

Winners: Chris Jericho, Ric Flair and Triple H in 17:51
That was relatively dull which disappointed me since it featured some talented guys. It wasn’t bad, it was just as if the guys were going through the motions. **

The promo for the main event plays and it features Rock’s classic “in WCW, you were a big fish in a little pond, but The Rock is a whale in a teardrop.” Terri Runnels interviews The Rock and it is a thing of beauty. Rock cuts an absolutely fantastic promo, one of my favorites ever. The fans begin to chant his name and Rock looks pretty satisfied with himself. Go watch this, it is near the top of my favorite Rock promos. 

Goldberg vs. The Rock
Hollywood Rock is still one of my favorite characters of all time. Rock is scared at the bell but the fans chanting his name gets him pumped. Goldberg overpowers Rock, who responds with “YOU ARE IN TROUBLE NOW”. Goldberg does it again so Rock slaps him. After some stalling, Goldberg hits a Rock Bottom but misses the Spear. Rock applies his terrible looking Sharpshooter and talks so much smack to the fans at the same time. Goldberg reaches the ropes and Rock uses a timely low blow, but Goldberg hits the Spear from out of nowhere! Goldberg continues to hammer away on Rock and sell his injured shoulder from the missed Spear. Rock rallies with a spine buster and nips up. He hits the Rock Bottom but Goldberg kicks out. It’s so damn hard to boo Rock when he’s so funny. He decides to try the People’s Elbow and hits it but only for two! The crowd doesn’t like this and likes it even less when Goldberg hits a second Spear. “Goldberg Sucks” rings throughout the arena as Goldberg hits a third Spear. A Jackhammer later and Goldberg is 1-0 in the WWE.

Winner: Goldberg in 13:03
Hollywood Rock is entertaining as hell but he was on his way out so Goldberg, the new guy, had to win. The match itself was decent. **1/2

I feel that this hindered Goldberg more than they wanted it to. First of all, he was nowhere near the level of The Rock in terms of star power. Second, even as a heel, Rock was way more likeable so the fans crapped on him, especially when you throw in the fact that he’s a WCW guy.

Overall: 5/10; Mediocre. Absolute middle of the pack show. Nothing on the show besides O’Haire/Rikishi was terrible but nothing besides the opener is really that good. I wouldn’t recommend this show as it’s a far drop from WrestleMania XIX. Outside of the WWE Tag Team Title match, check out Rock/Goldberg, purely for Rock’s antics.