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1987 All Over Again...
April 19, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Before I start in on the Backlash pay-per-view preview, two little things I want to say...

First, I know the Forums/Message Boards are screwed up.  I don't know how or when they went bad, but as it stands right now, they're basically un-usable.  I'll make it a priority to find out what wrong and how to restore them to pre-Friday status...  till then, I've suspended the Forum links on the site.

And second, since I know it's been KILLING you since I mentioned it on Wednesday:  the Latin-laden placeholder page on the WWF Backlash website was removed within an hour or so of my mentioning it here, but it was still available long enough for me to get word from a ton of readers with experience in the graphics design business that the reason the Latin was poorly constructed is because it was essentially Latin gibberish used purely as a placeholder in laying out a page.  It's a practice called "Greeking" (even though they use Latin), and a lot of publishing software includes a function that creates the Latin-based gibberish to fill up a prescribed space.  And so that's all it was...  no diabolical attempts to taunt readers who go out of their way to find hidden pages, afterall!

With that said, the real business of the day is Sunday's Backlash PPV... and though it seems like we've stepped into the Way Back Machine and emerged in an era where Hulk Hogan wears red and yellow and headlines PPVs in WWF Title matches, I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm a little bit more excited for this pay-per-view than I was last month for WrestleMania.

Which is weird, since the post-Mania PPV has been a let-down PPV for the past few years.... but in this case, the "on paper" potential of Backlash is pretty strong, which is exactly the opposite of what I said four weeks ago about WM.  Of course, WM did manage to supply an incredibly memorable Hogan/Rock match that did not appear ANYwhere "on paper" leading into the show, and Backlash may not be equipped to deliver anything quite like that.  But still...

With "shades of gray" and unclear allegiances dominating the top two matches, the storyline potential for Backlash is great.  And then with two workrate freaks wet dream matches, the potential for in-ring action is just as impressive.  The supporting cast of matches seems like it'll be strong enough to keep things rolling along, too.

So let's get on with the business of previewing the official, as-announced nine match card for Sunday's Backlash...


I think we all knew it was gonna happen... but not this soon.  Seeing Hulk Hogan in the red and yellow, getting cheered by fans everywhere, and contending for the WWF Title just isn't something I figured would happen inside of two months of Hogan's WWF return.

And yet, here we are.

Most impressively, despite my belief that fans will not sustain their nostalgia-based pops for Hogan, he's actually being cheered as the fan favorite over Triple H at this point.  The man who, following his return from severe leg injury, seemed on top of the world is now having to return to his fantastic ability to act like an asshole, all because fans want to cheer the shirt-ripping, shitty-match-having Hogan.

Actually, I don't want to sound like I'm down on the idea of handling the story-telling this way.  It's just that it's so surreal to see today's fans so quick to respond positively to Hogan... to be honest, avoiding that same "mutual respect" vibe that came out of the Hogan/Rock match last month is a good thing.  And therefore, one of Hogan and HHH has to act the heel.  And since HHH is the better at it of the two, it only makes sense to handle it this way.  

Which is not to say that HHH will be a heel and Hogan a babyface at the end of the night on Sunday.  There are plenty of ways to get out of this with both men as fan favorites, and that actually seems likeliest.  And personally, I think it'd be coolest of all if they flip-flopped Hogan and HHH on Sunday night so that Hogan's once again a heel (perhaps some kind of alliance with Vince would do the trick?)...  yes, it might be too soon, but doing it now would save the Fed a lot of embarrassment down the road when the fans do start turning on Hogan again.

It's that added drama and uncertainty over how both men will come out of the match that makes it easy to get enthralled with it.  You can look past the fact that this will not necessarily be a well-worked match in the traditional sense because there are enough opportunities to build suspense and to get fans interested (just like Hogan did at WM last month).

A quick look at the story here:  Vince McMahon claimed the right of naming the #1 Contender, and mysteriously selected Hogan (rather than a more obvious heel choice, such as Kurt Angle).  Immediately, HHH began giving off that asshole vibe, saying that even though he respected Hogan, the WWF Title was more valuable than anything to him, and he'd do anything to keep it.  As the tension between the two mounted, "anything" eventually translated into whacking Hogan in the head with a steel chair last night on SmackDown!...

And let's not forget The Jericho Factor...  the Larger than Life Living Legend does not have a match of his own on Sunday night, and has been a thorn in Hogan's side for the past two weeks.  What role might he play in this match?

My Prediction:  I doubt the Fed's got the balls to try to keep one of these guys heel after Sunday (but seriously, how cool would a Vince/Hogan/Angle heel alliance be?  Call 'em the Real American Heroes!), and I'd HOPE that the Fed has the brains to realize that giving the belt to Hogan wouldn't be the wisest of moves (unless he were to do something shocking, like turn heel)... which leaves me to make a wuss prediction of my own.  Triple H wins, pretty much cleanly.  Maybe you have Jericho run out and cause the distraction that costs Hogan the match... but at the end of the night, I don't think you'll have HHH getting booed or anything.  Hogan/Jericho could be a fun feud, and then HHH just moves on to face the winner of the #1 Contender match...

STEVE AUSTIN vs. THE UNDERTAKER (#1 Contender Match, Special Referee Ric Flair)

Flair as the special ref opens up a ton of interesting possibilities in what is basically a match being recycled for the umpteenth time...  for months, Flair's had his troubles with Taker, and now, since signing "free agent" Austin to RAW, he's had problems with Stone Cold, too.

So does that mean that Flair can be trusted to be impartial here, as he officiates two men who he's got heat with?  Somehow, I don't think it'll be that easy.

Taker was actually scheduled to be the challenger to HHH's title on this PPV before Vince stepped in and switched things in Hogan's favor... and now, Taker's not even getting the privilege of retaining the right to the next PPV title match.  Instead, he's gotta fight Austin for it.  And he's gotta fight Austin while the man whose ass he kicked last month at WM is the referee.

Luckily, Austin hasn't exactly been kissing up to Flair, either.  Since coming back to TV three weeks ago, Austin's delivered a few Stunners to Flair, for no reason other than the fact that he's an anti-authority SOB.  But Austin also managed to beat Scott Hall to qualify for this #1 Contenders match, and will be just as subject to "the Nature Boy's" iron fisted rule.

The possibility for Flair to screw over Austin does exist... but so does the opportunity for Flair to shortchange the Taker.  Just like the main event, the uncertainty over how these key players will come out of the match adds sufficient intrigue to make up for the fact that this is also not necessarily guaranteed to be a work rate classic.

But it also won't be awful:  the Undertaker was seemingly rejuvenated in an awesome RAW match against Rob Van Dam two weeks ago, and Austin's always ready for a full-speed brawl.  Of all the times Austin and Taker have tangled, this one could end up being one of the best.

My Prediction:  look for the Undertaker to win when Flair inadvertently acts to cost Austin the match.  Flair might get a post-match Stunner for his troubles, but I don't see a full-fledged heel turn or anything coming out of this match. 


Now we get to the part of the show that I'm really excited for... because this is the part of the show where it doesn't matter if there's any back story at all.  You just need to put RVD and Eddie in the ring with 15 or 20 minutes to work with, and you'll get results.

But we're not relying on just the incredible skills of these two men...  nope, this match has all the bells and whistles.

Guerrero's return and decision to target Van Dam is predicated on the fact that RVD has "stolen" Eddie's finishing move, the frog splash.  Since then, the two have brawled a few times and been on opposite sides of tag match...  on top of that, this isn't gonna be a deal where great work is done for fans who don't give a damn.  There will be plenty of crowd heat here, as Van Dam is one of the Fed's top babyfaces at this point, and Eddie is a master at exuding the quality of "dick-ish-ness."  A guy who had the balls to choose "eddysucks.com" as the domain for his official website has probably got a pretty good handle on how to be a heel!

This could be a money feud, but only if Eddie wins the title to keep it going...  otherwise, it'll seem too much like RVD just dispatched another challenger and is ready to move on.  Hey, if that happens, how about a pissed of D'Lo Brown running in to stake HIS claim to the Frog Splash?  Yeah, that'd work for me!

My Prediction: RVD gets the win.  And it'll be a **** affair.  


Angle's a guy who's been in the main event mix, and is simply working the midcard for now, until something opens up on top...  Edge is a guy who is projected to be a main eventer some day, but is still plugging away just a few notches short of that status for now.  Which makes this a perfect pairing for this PPV...

This feud sprang forth from a tag match several weeks back, when Edge teamed with the Rock in the Rock's last TV match to face Angle and Chris Jericho.  Since then, these two have been messing in each other's business...  hey, Edge was even trying to be helpful when he implored fans to stop chanting "WHAT?" at every pause in Angle's interviews.  Of course, what he suggested to replace "WHAT?" may not have been in the best possible taste...  but it's the thought that counts, right?

With Angle as probably the Fed's top all-around in-ring performer right now, and with Edge as a very capable singles wrestler who remains best known for his work as one-half of a tag team, there's no reason to be anything but fired up for the prospects here.  One any other show, this might be in the running for Match of the Night honors... but at Backlash, that'll only happen if RVD and Eddie falter.  

And don't forget that this is the other match on the card where Chris Jericho could conceivably make an appearance.  He and Angle have been very chummy lately...

My Prediction:  by hook or by crook, Angle gets the win. 

BILLY KIDMAN vs. TAJIRI (Cruiserweight Title)

The second of the workrate fans' reasons to celebrate, this marks just about the highest profile Cruiserweight Title defense since...  ummm, when WAS the last time this title was defended on pay-per-view in a match that had a real story behind it, anyway?

No matter...  because whatever the WWF's crimes in the past have been, they're trying to make good, now.  Stocking the Cruiser cabinet with plenty of talent, and now kicking off a hot feud between Kidman and Tajiri that is based on Tajiri's increasingly poor behavior towards Torrie Wilson, it looks like this title will now be a staple of many future broadcasts.

Kidman upset Tajiri for the title three weeks ago, in a match that saw Tajiri distracted by Torrie's decision to remove the title belt from the ring (Tajiri seemed like he was getting ready to use it as a weapon).  Since then, he's grown increasingly abusive towards his girlfriend, while Kidman has, on a couple of occasions, been Torrie's knight in shining armor.

I don't necessarily see the Fed giving these two the same sort of time to work with that I hope the IC Title match gets...  but 10 minutes between Kidman and Tajiri could be mighty fine.  The action alone would probably be enough for fans to get interested, but in this case, the added bonus of Torrie's involvement will guarantee it.  I'm stoked for this one.

My Prediction:  Tajiri regains the title, but loses Torrie in the process.  Maybe Tajiri cheats to win, upsetting Torrie (who I suspect will end up as the valet for her real-life fiancée, Billy Kidman, before all is said and done)...


When you get this far down the card, and you've still got a genuinely intriguing match-up, life is good.  In this case, Lesnar's debut match for the WWF will have fans paying extra-close attention to see if he can live up to the promise that his last month's series of run-ins have shown.

As an indestructible monster, Lesnar has sliced through just about the entire mid-card at one time or another before finally focusing his attention on the Hardy Boyz.  The Hardys thought they may even have gotten one up on Lesnar last week, when they pasted him with a pair of wicked chairshots. But Lesnar was unfazed.

Lesnar's "agent," Paul Heyman, however, took umbrage at the Hardys attempt to KO his Next Big Thing.  Heyman harassed Lita this past week on RAW, and provided the distraction that caused the Hardys to lose a tag match to Booker T and Goldust.  When Matt Hardy -- the originally scheduled PPV opponent for Lesnar -- tried to attack Heyman, Lesnar stepped in and delivered his devastating overhead-DDT move to Matt on the steel stage.  Ouch.

Now, Matt has been written out, and brother Jeff will have to step in to face Lesnar.  With Jeff's ability to bump around like a ping pong ball, this is a perfect opportunity for Lesnar to showcase his offensive arsenal.  I suspect we'll see a lot of that... but I doubt the Fed will pull the trigger on showing us Lesnar's Shooting Star Press (a spectacular sight which ought to be saved for a more special occasion).

My Prediction:  no way Lesnar loses this one.  I also bet dollars to donuts that Matt Hardy somehow makes his way to the ring, only to prove a minor nuisance to The Next Big Thing.


I remember, a long, long time ago, in a newsgroup far, far away (alright, it was RSPW back in '96-ish) that I once made a comparison between Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw and Scott Hall.  I don't think it was made expressly because both used a fall-away slam as part of their arsenal... but in any case, it's kinda funny to see 'em paired up six years later on a PPV.

Bradshaw is getting the WWF-R equivalent of WWF-SD's push of Edge...  he's a guy who is expect to break through to the next level, and as such was supposed to be snuck into a marquee feud, teaming with Kane against the nWo.  Course, with Kane now out due to injury, he's left to face Hall in a one-on-one match.  Takes away some of the sizzle, but Bradshaw did himself a bunch of good this past week when he cut one of his quarterly killer promos...  if only he could do that EVERY time he's behind a mic, that prospect of him as a main eventer would start to seem more likely!

In Bradshaw and Hall, you've got two big guys who have been known to work good matches.  Hall's finally started to knock off the ring rust, while Bradshaw's always gonna look best in a brawling-type setting.  Hopefully, the pieces will click together, and these two can have a good match on Sunday night...

My Prediction:  X-Pac's interference will lead to a Scott Hall victory.

BILLY & CHUCK vs. AL SNOW/MAVEN (Tag Team Titles)

This is just about the best the tag division has to offer these days.  The whole thing is in disarray, following the break up of two of the Fed's three most established teams as part of the draft.  And also a result of the draft:  the other of the established duos (the Hardys) is wrestling over on RAW, unable to contend for the tag titles controlled by Vince's WWF-SD.

So we're left with Billy and Chuck, who with the addition of Rico have become a bit more credible as tag champs (if only because Rico's there to help them cheat, cheat, cheat), but who have yet to really play up the whole Ambiguously Gay thing in a way that would establish them as credibly entertaining.

This feud started with Billy, Chuck, and Rico mocking Maven's voluminous eyebrows.  Al Snow stepped up to defend his protege, and even beat Billy in a singles match.  A week and a half later, and the "big payoff" will see these two teams fight for the tag straps.  I'm not exactly drooling in anticipation...

My Prediction:  Billy and Chuck retain.  Mainly because giving the belts to Snow and Maven would only underscore how thin the tag division is right now...

JAZZ vs. TRISH STRATUS (Women's Title)

And finally, a women's title match to round out the card...

Fresh off wrestling two very solid matches against Molly Holly (winning this title shot in the process), Trish once again challenges Jazz for the title that Jazz took from Trish months ago.  There should be enough backstory here to keep the fans involved.  And if there isn't, hey, there's always Trish's backside, right?

I don't think anybody's going into this expecting a five star classic... but even if Trish and Jazz just recreate the quality of the Trish/Molly matches from the last few weeks, this'll still be a solid match and a non-offensive way to "cleanse the palate" between higher profile matches.

My Prediction:  let's give the title to Trish.  There seem to be a lot more entertaining prospects for heel challengers (rematches with Jazz; a continuing feud with Molly; locking up with Ivory) to step up than there are for Jazz to keep slicing through the two viable babyface divas (Trish and Lita).

With the roster split, it seems like a number of potentially ready-for-PPV talents are being left out in the cold...  in the case of Chris Jericho, he's actually made it part of his current angle, and as such, is almost certain to surface as part of the show, afterall.  But Booker T, Big Show, Bubba Ray Dudley, Rikishi, Test, and Dallas Page are all left with nothing to do on Sunday night.

I'd say you could look for some of these guys to surface as part of the live Sunday Night Heat (Rikishi vs. Albert, for instance, would make a lot of sense given current storylines), except that the status of Heat as a WWF-R affiliated show means that you'd have to only feature matches featuring Flair's roster, right?

I guess they could get a waiver or something for Heat on PPV weekends...  we'll have to see.  Certainly there SHOULD be a match or two on Heat.  The question is, which ones?

Check out Heat and the PPV on Sunday night to find out.  Or just come on back to OnlineOnslaught.com on Sunday night around midnight to get full results from the show.  We'll follow that up on Monday with a Scott Keith PPV rant and more fall-out, too!


Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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