Wednesday, April 22, 2015
This wasn't scheduled to be my next review, but after hearing that my favorite Pay-Per-View review podcast, Getting Networked was doing it, I chose to bump it up. Check them out at thefanspodcast.com.
The year 2000 was a banner year for the WWF. Coming off of an incredibly profitable 1999, they would lose Stone Cold Steve Austin to surgery, but managed to pick up steam with two great PPVs to start the year. WrestleMania would be a bit of a letdown but the WWF would look to right that ship with a Backlash card that has tons of potential. The announcement that Steve Austin would be making his first PPV appearance since Survivor Series helped this show scored a massive buyrate.
Right from the opening video package it seems like music has been dubbed over. Or maybe not. I don’t know. It focuses on the build for the WWF Title match that we should have had at WrestleMania, but are getting it a few weeks late. As always in this era, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are on commentary. Debra makes her return to Lawler’s delight to be our guest ring announcer. This was when the company had nothing for her.
Road Dogg and X-Pac come out to the WWF Aggression version of the DX theme. Debra is the most unenthusiastic ring announcer that I’ve ever heard. “X-Pac sucks” chants as the bell rings. He gets into a fun little exchange with Edge that ends with Edge hitting a trademark X-Pac spinning heel kick. The crowd has interesting reactions to stuff since neither team is really face. E&C work their Poetry in Motion type move for two on Dogg. I guess DX are the bigger heels as they work the heat on Christian and get in some cheap shots. Edge gets the tag but the referee doesn’t see it, in classic tag team booking. Bronco Buster, Juke and Jive and Shaky Legs knee drop all hit as DX is getting in their stuff. Mid-air collision as both Dogg and Christian attempt cross bodies. X-Pac comes in for a cheap shot, but it distracts the ref so Edge can hit a headbutt on Dogg. Christian nails a double reverse DDT and hot tags Edge! He comes in with a powerbomb on X-Pac for two. He hits a Spear and Tori tries to get involved by X-Pac hits her by mistake. Roll up from Edge gets a near fall that the place pops for. X-Factor is nailed but the ref is distracted, so Christian uses the ring bell on Pac and scores the pin.
With neither team being true faces, it allowed both to be sneaky, which made this interesting and different. The crowd was red hot near the end which is always a plus.
Scotty 2 Hotty was more over than most of the current active roster. Dean Malenko had just won the title from Scott three days earlier. They go at it right at the bell with Scotty getting the early upper hand. Even when Dean tries a powerbomb, Scotty is ready to counter with an arm drag. He counters a headlock into a back suplex too, but wastes time moonwalking allowing Malenko to take him down with a hellacious clothesline. Malenko strikes with a dropkick to the knee and it becomes time to work the leg. Dean’s serious demeanor is great to play off of the playful Scotty. He slams the leg on the ring post and kicks it out from under him like a good old fashioned, vicious technician. Kudos to Scotty, who takes a corner bump hard. Scotty gets two on a rollup before they tumble outside. Scotty drives his face into the apron and has a chance. He goes up top where Dean meets him with a superplex. Backslide and small package get Scotty close near falls. He gets free of Dean and hits the facebuster as the fans come UNGLUED for the Worm. The ridiculous move hits but Dean rolls him up with his feet on the ropes and is caught. That’s a smart spot since the ropes helped Dean win the title. Tiger bomb gets Malenko two and he hits an Orton like powerslam for two as well. Dean is the one who seems to make a mistake by climbing up top. Scotty tries a superplex but it’s countered into a super DDT that just spikes Scotty. It’s enough to end this.
I expected a total styles clash but this ended up working out. Dean Malenko looked like a great technician who worked the leg for the Texas Cloverleaf although that didn’t play into the finish. I’d be more upset about this if this finish wasn’t awesome.
Backstage, Mr. McMahon wants to make sure that Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco are set for tonight. Stephanie looks damn fine here.
After two fine wrestling matches, this is going to be nothing more than a brawl. Big Bossman and Bull Buchanan are totally the founding fathers of the Shield judging by their attire only. Bull Buchanan actually shows impressive athleticism on a front flip but is taken down with a spear. Both teams bust out frequent tags and the crowd is more into this than I thought. “Bossman sucks” chants ring out. Bradshaw gets in some shots on Bossman outside. The Acolytes surprisingly work over Bossman with quick tags before he gets the tag to Bull. The crowd doesn’t care AT ALL for that since they hate Bossman. Warm tag to Bradshaw who hits a shoulder block. Faarooq and Bossman brawl outside, with Bossman coming out on top. He then gets to Bradshaw and allows Bull to hit a second rope suplex for two. Shortly after, Bossman hits Bradshaw with the nightstick. That, coupled with Buchanan coming off the top with a scissors kick gets them the win.
Not very good. Both teams are pure brawlers and they tried to wrestle here which failed. The finishing spot was cool at least.
Backstage, the Hardy Boyz discuss being against each other tonight and they have an understanding. The Holly Cousins discuss it too, but Hardcore just slaps Crash.
Crash Holly wisely tries to avoid the ring but Saturn takes him out and suplexes him. The rules state that Crash has to pin someone or be pinned himself to end this. Crash continues to take a beating, including a Northern Lights Tazzplex. He tries to escape, leading everyone to fight in the entrance. This is the old awesome Backlash set with the steel hooks and Crash climbs it to get away. Matt follows and hits him, as his leg gets stuck like Owen Hart at SummerSlam 1994. It looks like it hurts. Matt leaps off onto everyone in a cool spot before Saturn front suplexes Crash onto another hook and breaking it. Jeff uses one as a swing to hurricanrana Saturn as the Hardy’s ability to innovate works wonders in this environment. Back to the ring and everyone is using weapons before Saturn uses an abdominal stretch like move. DO YOU NOT REALIZE THE KIND OF MATCH THIS IS? It’s hard to keep up with this. Crash is just taking a beating while only getting in a few offensive moves. Tazz has suplexed him a million times or so. Poor Saturn was minding his business outside when Matt reaches over the ropes and hits him with a cookie sheet. Every pin has been interrupted throughout. Hardcore hits the Falcon Arrow on a chair but the pin is broken. The Hardys bring in a ladder to the biggest pop of the match. Matt’s Twist of Fate, followed by a Swanton from the ladder leads to them fighting over the pin. Tazzmission is applied as the crowd pops but Saturn breaks it up with a stop sign shot. The Hardys dive onto Saturn and Hardcore outside, while Crash drapes an arm over Tazz to retain.
One of the most fun Hardcore Title matches you will ever see. The Hardy Boyz were an excellent addition and got to be innovative and use ladders. Everyone contributed and Crash barely retaining made sense.
Jonathan Coachman interviews Shane McMahon about him being the special referee in the main event. Shane promises to be fair, which nobody believes.
This was brought upon because Big Show had turned into a fun loving impersonator and when he was set to be Kurt Angle’s partner for a Tag Title match, he joked around, which upset Kurt. After Kurt badmouths the fans, Big Show comes out dressed as Hulk Hogan. As Kurt attacks, Show Hulks up, which Jim Ross calls “the old no sell”. Show hits the big boot and the Leg Drop as the fans are loving this. Kurt kicks out though and takes out the leg. JR also gets in jokes about the 19,000 fans here being the most to chant for Hogan in years. Show gets serious and ends this with a Chokeslam.
Fun little comedy match. I know people would be upset that Kurt Angle jobbed so quickly, but the guy would be WWF Champion within six months so he was fine.
Up next is a tag team match with an actual storyline build. I miss these. Bubba Ray was obsessed with putting women through tables, but every time he got close to doing it to Trish, she would kiss him or seduce him and he’d fall into a trance.
My god, Trish’s table segments were some of the hottest things in WWF history. Trish is unbelievably hot here. Like there is nothing even close. It’s enough to make Bubba chase her only to run into a clothesline from Test. Once Bubba gets on the offensive, he shouts at Trish “I’M GONNA GET YOU, YOU LITTLE BITCH” which gets a pop. This is two teams brawling and it works a lot better than the earlier tag match. T&A get two on a cool double team as they isolate D-Von. They play the hot tag tease really well as the crowd is dying for the Bubba tag. When he does get the tag, they don’t pop as hard as I expected. The Dudleys do a double team back suplex that commentary mistakes for 3D. I hated when they did that. Test misses the top rope elbow, which gets Bubba two. Bubba calls to end this, but Trish gets on the apron and removes her coat. THAT BODY! The distraction allows Test to hit the big boot on Bubba, causing Trish to jiggle in all the right places, and get the win.
Longer than I expected but still fine. They worked tag formula really well and the crowd was mostly hot because of the Trish angle. Solid stuff. Plus, Trish looked incredible.
After the match, the Dudleys Boyz go after Trish. When Bubba grabs her, she kisses him but it fails this time. Bubba puts her through the table to a big ovation from the crowd.
Eddie Guerrero and Chyna are just arriving because they were at Eddie’s prom. Wasn’t he getting his GED? I’m trying to remember the angle. Anyway, it’s the first time Eddie drives to ringside. Eddie is in slacks and a bowtie but it doesn’t impact his ability. He hits a nice front flip before Chyna gets in a shot on Rios. Lita does nothing about this. Missile dropkick from Rios gets two and I can’t help but chuckle at Eddie’s attire. The high flying continues when Eddie hits a plancha outside. He goes for a powerbomb outside and Lita attempts to jump on him but Chyna shoves her off and she hits her jaw on the announce table. Essa reverses the powerbomb into a back drop and follows with an Asai moonsault. In the spot of the night, Essa front flips over the turnbuckle and out onto Eddie. Inside, Rios hits a top rope arm drag but misses his next move. Eddie capitalizes with an airplane spin into a neckbreaker to retain.
Really fun high flying action here. Just the kind of thing that we hadn’t seen tonight and it was a nice change of pace. My only real issue was that the finish was rather anti-climactic.
Jonathan Coachman interviews Triple H and Vince McMahon in their office. Triple H just says he will prove that he is that damn good, while Vince says Austin may not make it here tonight. Cut to Michael Cole, who interviews Chris Benoit about his upcoming bout.
The red hot Chris Jericho had actually won the WWF Title a few weeks prior but had to give it back. Their collar and elbow tie uptakes them outside, so they turn to slapping each other. Inside, they get into a series of rollups and a series of hard chops. High impact stuff is coming early as Benoit hits two Germans, but Jericho blocks the third. Benoit goes for a suicide dive but Jericho side steps and he hits the floor head first. In an innovative spot, Benoit whips Jericho into the steps, but he leaps over only to turn around and have it dropkicked into him. Back inside, Benoit reels off some nice looking suplexes for near falls. These two are working pretty stiff as Jericho elbows Benoit down and connects on the Lionsault. The pace is quickening as Jericho hits a bulldog for two. In the series of suplexes that Benoit hit earlier, one of them saw him hang up Jericho on the top rope, and Jericho now returns the favor. Up top, Jericho tries a second rope back suplex, but Benoit lands on Jericho instead for two. A series of counters ends with Jericho hitting two great looking powerbombs for a near fall, but as Benoit kicks out he goes right into the Cripple Crossface! Jericho fights it but Benoit is rabid, pun intended. He finally reverses into the Walls of Jericho as the crowd is on their feet. Benoit makes it to the ropes and the referee is knocked out by mistake. Benoit sees the opening and lays out Jericho with the belt but only gets two. He goes up top for the flying headbutt but Jericho gets the belt up to block it and is disqualified.
Wow. Those two can pretty much do no wrong against each other. This had everything as it was technical, stiff and featured high flying. While the finish to the match hurt the score, it allowed their rivalry to continue, which everyone enjoyed.
Shane McMahon is our special guest referee. The ovation the Rock gets is monumental. A slugfest opens things as I continue to wonder why this didn’t main event WrestleMania. Triple H tries an early Pedigree but it gets countered. Shane gets in his face, allowing HHH to hit a neckbreaker and take this outside. Vince throws Rock into the post as we see the decked stack paying off already. HHH does an old school favorite of mine where he pins three times in a row. He works a sleeper for a while to slow things. Rock begins to rally but runs into the double clothesline spot. Out of sheer worry, Vince nailed Rock with the WWF Title. Rock kicks out though and sends Triple H outside. The Game hurt his arm and is now holding it. Rock hits a DDT and Shane blatantly chooses not to count so Rock takes him out. The fight makes it to the Spanish announce table where HHH tries a Pedigree. Rock stops it with a low blow before going for the Rock Bottom. Shane tries to stop it so Rock grabs him and nails a DOUBLE ROCK BOTTOM THROUGH THE TABLE! Vince’s facial expression is absolutely golden. In the ring, Vince gets a cheap shot that the Rock shrugs off. However, HHH hits the Pedigree but Shane is dead outside so Vince calls out the Stooges. Rock gets a shoulder up so the Stooges puts the boots to him. The stacked deck continues as the crowd is salivating for Austin. Vince hits Rock with a chair before the glass breaks the arena goes BALLISTIC for Austin! He comes wielding a chair and hits Patterson, Brisco, HHH, Vince and Shane with it. “AUSTIN! AUSTIN! AUSTIN!” screams Jim Ross as he leaves and Linda McMahon comes out with Earl Hebner. Triple H fired him recently. Stephanie gets in Linda’s face and gets shoved to the mat. Spinebuster and People’s Elbow from the Rock as Hebner slides in to count. 1-2-3 and the roof blows off the building.
This is a truly perfect example of how overbooking can work in certain situations. The odds were not in Rock’s favor and they did everything to showcase that. Whenever Rock did something, the crowd popped and Austin’s arrival came off perfectly. The ending to this was fantastic and remains one of the best feel good finishes to a wrestling show I have ever witnessed.
As the Rock is celebrating his first run as WWF Champion in over a year, Steve Austin comes back out with the burned down DX Express and they share a beer.
Overall: Not only is this among the best non Big Four Pay-Per-Views ever, but it’s also one of the best PPVs ever, period. The depth of this show is phenomenal as there is a little bit of everything. Benoit and Jericho put on a classic, Trish got what was coming to her, the Hardcore Title was a ton of fun, Eddie and Essa flew all over the place, we had a fun opener and the main event was pretty much the perfect WWE style big match. This show is not only must-see but it’s a must-own event.