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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Backlash PPV Preview
April 16, 2004

OnlineOnslaught.com Exclusive Team Coverage
Compiled by Rick Scaia

 

If you had told me 2 months ago that the RAW-only Backlash pay-per-view would shape up as the anticipated highlight of this weekend, I'd have been suspicious...  I mean, past RAW PPVs have not exactly been stellar affairs, and frankly, I'm kind of jacked about this first Yankees/Red Sox series kicking off tonight.

But RAW's been awesome this last month, and Sunday's line-up looks very promising on paper...  although (DIGRESSION LEADING TO ENDORSEMENT ALERT), if we count Thursday, Backlash may still have its "Highlight of the Weekend" work cut out for it.

You see, I was out last night Supporting the Local Music Scene.  I managed to miss my friends' new band (Wet Leather) on the grounds that I decided to stick at home for the end of SmackDown! (and given how it ended, you're perfectly entitled to all join together and chant "You Fucked Up" at me).  I did catch the Sundresses, which was cool because they opened up for us back when they were just starting out and I still had a band, and had gotten so good they were invited to South by Southwest this year.  But the stars of the night were the touring act from New York City, The Giraffes.

They brought the Rock and they brought it hard.  I loved it, it was awesome.  Except for one minor detail: they closed with a hot little number called "Whiskey Angel."  Which annoys me because several months ago, I wrote a song called "Whiskey Ninja" during a late-night after-hours all-star jam session in my basement.  I rarely come up with wholly-formed songs, just because I never have any idea for words or what the song's about, I'm only a riff machine.  But on that night, I had the whole package (the chorus was the three tenants of the Whiskey Ninja: "A girl, a guitar/And a bottle of whiskey" repeated over and over again, chant-style). And now these punks from NYC come in covering much of the same ground; the chorus riff was even kind of similar (and they also just shouted "She's my/Whiskey angel" repeatedly over it).  I wish I had witnesses, but when you think firing up the drums and amps at 3am is a good idea you probably don't have a lot of memory retention going on, so even the people playing the other instruments that night wouldn't believe me.  All I've got now is a song that seems vaguely inspired by The Giraffes, and no current band to play it, anyway.  Goddammit.  This is just as bad as the time I had a song called "X-tra Medium" (an ode to the boring and infuriating mediocrity of 95% of the people I meet), and then a month later, a roommate came home with a CD that featured a track of the EXACT same name (the song was boring and not even mediocre, too).  Everybody's stealing my shit, I tells ya!

Anyway, my point is: the Giraffes are out there humping it on the road, and if they come to your town and you like the Rock 'n' Roll, you owe it to yourself to see them.  They were outstanding.

And what the hell?  I've got 11-person Team Coverage here today, and I'm wasting time on this?!?  Somebody on The Team should have slapped the keyboard out of my hand paragraphs ago...

Sunday's Backlash is looking strong.  You probably oughta check it out.  Or you can come on back here Sunday night around midnight for the immediate post-PPV recap.

For now, let's take an in-depth look at the entire announced card, with thoughts from the Staff of Online Onslaught...

CHRIS BENOIT vs. TRIPLE H vs. SHAWN MICHAELS
Triple Threat Match for the World Title

A rematch from WrestleMania, the formula here is simple: just do half as well as you did last time, and we'll have ourselves another possible Match of the Year Contender.

Benoit made HHH tap out at Mania in the climax of the biggest show of the year.  The storyline side had him jumping from SmackDown! to take his stab at RAW's World Title (as was his right after winning the Royal Rumble), with Michaels involved because in two match against HHH, he was never beaten.  This match on Sunday exists because HHH deserves his title rematch, and because Michaels STILL has not been beaten in a World Title Match this year.  HHH was the one who got beat last month.

Both HHH (as the ex-champ) and Michaels (as the unbeaten top contender) have posited that Benoit got lucky at WrestleMania and will be out-classed by two iconic opponents at Backlash.  But there is an intangible factor here: Benoit will be competing in his hometown on Sunday.  Canadians already rabidly support their countrymen when WWE comes to visit; Benoit in his actual hometown of Edmonton, however, will see that effect magnified.

These three have already shown they can bring the goods.  With the added heat and drama of the hometown audience, I can't imagine Sunday's main event being anything other than tremendous.

The OOutlOOk
Benoit wins:
9 votes   --|--   Triple H wins: 1 vote 
Michaels wins: 0 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Chris Benoit wins.
If Triple H is off to make a movie soon, then he's out of the picture. That leaves Michaels and Benoit to fight it out. In my WrestleMania predictions, I went with my gut and not my heart, picking HBK. Not this time; I'm going with Benoit. If I were booking, I'd have Benoit pin/crossface Triple H for the win, so HBK can claim that Benoit can't beat him in a one-on-one situation. Turn Michaels heel, and let those two fight it out for a few months. That should kick all kinds of ass.
Big Danny T Says... Chris Benoit wins.
Well, at Wrestlemania I bet against Benoit and I missed the boat. This month, can lightning strike twice? I’m of the opinion that it can. Prediction: Benoit retains after making HBK tap (to appease the Canadian crowd.) At some point in the match, HHH is taken out so that he can go off, shoot his movie and maybe get eaten by a shark.
The Cubs Fan Says... Chris Benoit wins.
C'mon, having Benoit here would be epically stupid, minimizing the impact of the win at WrestleMania and wasting a chance to get a really really loud reaction, which they seem to like. I dunno who's he's going to face at the next PPV or if he'll still have the title after it, but as long as he's billed as having no chance to win, I'd bet on Benoit.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Chris Benoit wins.
It will be very difficult for these three to top their WrestleMania match, mainly because that one told the incredible story of Benoit's Big Moment. They can't do that again, even if the match is being held in his (former?) hometown. Still, nothing these three have done since 'Mania indicates that the match will be anything short of brilliant. They're in the unusual position here where any of the three could win and it would look logical. Still, I pick Benoit to come out on top, because I think Triple H finally realizes the value of not having to be the top guy 100 percent of the time.
Alfonso Castillo Says... Chris Benoit wins.
Benoit pins Michaels to retain. This will be a strong match, a notch below their WrestleMania classic, but aided by the tremendous hometown response for Benoit from the Edmonton fans. Benoit will win it with a roll up or some other type of out-of-nowhere pin. I don't see Michaels tapping out. Triple H will look strong.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Chris Benoit wins.
Once again, just like last month this is a tough call.  This is in Benoit's hometown, but that doesn't mean anything anymore.  HHH has been jobbing a lot lately which would seem to indicate he'd get the win, but since he wasn't originally booked for this match, I'll hope that he isn't being considered to win.  That leaves Benoit and Michaels.  Since there would be mass riots if Michaels won, I'm gonna say they do the right thing again and have Benoit retain.  Then Benoit and HBK can feud over the summer.
Matt Hocking Says... Chris Benoit wins.
It’s an interesting situation, this.  A big deal is being made right now about this being Benoit’s “Homecoming” (despite Benoit’s latent Atlanta-ness) makes me think that this all might be a SHOCKING SWERVE~! to get the belt off of him.  But really, I don’t think that’s going to happen.  Benoit “beats the odds” again, and gets to be the guy to hold the line through the rough summer stretch until Summerslam.
Jeb Lund Says... Chris Benoit wins.
Begin witty Triple H complaint here: _______.

Uh, I don't know. Benoit wins, getting the fall or the submission on Michaels this time.

For all the expected reasons, I think Benoit wins. It's his hometown; Bret Hart could come out and help him; the Sharpshooter has been hyped as a finisher recently; Benoit's still too much of a transitional champion; Benoit still needs one clean pay-per-view pinfall, something not afforded at either WrestleMania or Backlash, etc. In short, it's far better to keep his reign going for now.

I think that no matter what, Michaels goes full-bore heel, here. Perhaps it's just for one night, but he could certainly stand to become a long-term heel for the sake of RAW's main-event picture. Hey, he could even become so heelish in this match that he destroys Triple H with a sledgehammer, zamboni, MAC-10 and a bombardment of COSMIC RAYS. That way, Triple H could no-sell them all on the following Monday, and take a leave of absence of his own free will. Then when he comes back, he could have yet another match with Michaels to "finally" determine who has been the better wrestler all along.

Ooooh! My legs tingle!
sayEitan Says... Dragon Suplexes?
Since this thing is taking place in Edmonton, all signs point to Benoit dropping the title. They couldn't be that stupid, could they? Oh wait. Check out the rest of this card! Tajiri v. Coachman? WTF is up with that? Maybe all this "Passion" nonsense has Vince and Shawn scheming behind Hunter's back. And poking at the bacne while they scheme. Hopefully, this all comes to a conclusion when Shawn gets revenge on Triple H (somehow) and Benoit goes on to defeat Michaels (somehow). Maybe Bret Hart will show up, too (somehow) and maybe this show won't suck (somehow).

WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN: Dragon suplexes. Over and over and over.

Brad Smoley Says... Triple H wins.
The show's in Edmonton. Monday's RAW is in Calgary. If you've spent any time at all reading OO, then you've been exposed to all the "Canada this" and "Bret Hart that" stuff. What the hell, I'll play along. I'm gonna say that Hart shows up and tries to help Benoit by screwing over HBK, but that crafty H asserts his dominance by taking the advantage, pinning Benoit. Then on RAW he treats us to a 25 minute dissertation on how The Game am winning for history of Shawn wagon champion title Shawn Chris Chris can't beat the winning of that damn good. Chris.

Extra Happy Prediction Funtime: Triple H will use the Sharpshooter on HBK, while Benoit looks on with a "frowny face."
Rick Scaia Says... Chris Benoit wins.
No way does Benoit drop the belt in his hometown.  With HHH taking off to do a movie in a month or so, I assume the story coming out of this match will be a one-on-one feud between Benoit and Michaels.  The best way I've heard so far to accomplish that: Benoit pins HHH or makes him submit (ideally, to a Sharpshooter).  I mean, HHH has become noticeably selfless and jobby now that he's leaving and it doesn't really matter.  And this way, Michaels can show up on RAW and claim he STILL hasn't been beaten in a World Title Match.  Think about it: there has to be a reason they decided to axe the Ladder Match gimmick at the last second...  you don't have a specific loser in a ladder match.  If they go this way and Michaels comes out unscathed, you can play it as either a heel turn or just a tweener thing (I'm starting to think "heel" to offset the loss of HHH and also because you've got Jericho needing a top babyface spot and Shelton and Edge both fighting for babyface exposure). Either way, I think HBK playing up that angle, and doing it impetuously, will be the way we come out of Backlash with Benoit the champ and Michaels as his next solo challenger.  And those two can do the Ladder Match, too.  And do it well.  Bottom line: Michaels powders out, Benoit beats HHH.

 

RANDY ORTON vs. CACTUS JACK
Hardcore Rules Match for the InterContinental Title

The genesis of this feud goes back to last summer... but with the vagaries of Mick Foley's schedule, it really only kicked into high gear back in December.  That is when Randy Orton decided he wanted to kill the Hardcore Legend, and add another notch to his belt.

In the ensuing months, Foley decided to answer Orton's challenge, and quickly discovered that he would need back-up, that he wasn't facing Orton, he was facing all of Evolution.  He phoned in a favor, and got The Rock to come back and join him against Evolution at WrestleMania.  The two lost.

Wanting to prove his win was no fluke, and wanting to decisively finish off Foley once and for all, Orton issued another challenge.  This time for a one-on-one match.  Mick accepted, but only with a few caveats: Evolution is banned from the ring, anything goes and falls count anywhere, and the IC Title is on the line.  Orton wasn't enthusiastic about this, but he accepted.

Orton's nerves got even more frayed in later weeks, as Foley rediscovered some elements from his past.  Not only is the barbed wire bat going to make its PPV return on Sunday...  so is Cactus Jack.  Knowing that Mick Foley, Good Guy and Family Man, couldn't unleash the necessary carnage, Mick will be manifesting the most brutal of his alter-egos.

In many ways, I look at this as a make-or-break match for Orton.  It doesn't matter so much who wins or loses.  It just matters that he brings his A-game and shows the kind of heart (and blood loss) that will make fans realize that, even if we don't like him, we probably oughta to start respecting him.  In a lot of ways, Foley "made" HHH back when HHH was a seemingly over-pushed heel champ; but in fairness, HHH busted his ass hard enough to get noticed and to let himself be "made" in that series of matches.  Make no mistake, Orton has a chance to do the same thing with Foley.  Win or lose, he's gotta show us something that's been missing in every promo and in every match he's ever had, though.

But if Randy Orton is a world champ in 2 years, this'll probably be the match we look back upon as the turning point.  That's not raising expectations too high, is it?

The OOutlOOk
Orton wins: 7 votes   --|--  Cactus wins: 3 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Randy Orton d. Cactus Jack
I see what's going on here: WWE is trying to re-create the Triple H/Cactus Jack classic from the Royal Rumble several years back. This match can MAKE Orton if he's willing to bleed enough and bump like Shawn Michaels on enough painkillers to tranquilize an elephant. Foley has been incredible in the buildup to this match, but I just can't see him holding the IC belt. Orton will follow in the footsteps of Triple H and squeak out a win. He still can't make me like him, but a superhuman performance here will go a long way in making me actually respect him.
Big Danny T Says... Randy Orton d. Cactus Jack
While the main event will probably be the work rate match of the night, this will be the entertainment festival. Now, if it were me, there is no way that Cactus Jack would leave without the IC title tonight. But, it’s not me, and we’ve got all summer to play with, so I’ll go with Orton retaining (after loads of interference from Batista and Flair.)
The Cubs Fan Says... Randy Orton d. Cactus Jack
I believe Randy wins because he's got to win to make this trip worthwhile, but I just don't know how he does it. Just winning after a RKO after all of this seems anti-climatic. I will also predict Randy will be hurting come Monday Morning.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Cactus Jack d. Randy Orton
Mick Foley has to win. He has to. Of course, that's what I said last time these two met at Mania, a prediction that went along nicely with my overall predictions track record (something like 2-87). Still, Foley (as Cactus Jack) has no excuse now not to triumph. He's done everything in his power to make Orton look like a threat, and to his credit, he's done a damn good job. The only question is… how does he win? I'm guessing he DOESN'T win the title here, setting up for a Hell in the Cell at the June PPV that ends the feud. Not sure what options that leaves them with, however.
Alfonso Castillo Says... Randy Orton d. Cactus Jack
Orton pins Cactus. I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon with Mick Foley at his home about a year ago for a Newsday story and we got to talking about wrestling and what he'd like to do if and when he was to return. Even a year ago, Foley was talking about working with Orton, an seemed genuinely enthusiastic about helping make star out of him. WrestleMania was the first step, and this is the final one. That said, I don't see Orton pinning Cactus clean. I predict some a Foley-eqsue insane stunt will backfire on Cactus, and Foley will capitalize for the victory. Expect plenty of bloodshed.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Randy Orton d. Cactus Jack
I really wish they wouldn't have made this match for the IC title.  I think too many fans know that they wouldn't give Foley the IC belt.  But the predictability of the outcome isn't the draw here.  It's the question of how violent this is going to get.  They have been hyping that Mick will do whatever it takes to get a win and you know Orton will have to dish it out too to get a convincing win.  I think we'll see a bloodbath but in the end, Corona boy will win.
Matt Hocking Says... Randy Orton d. Cactus Jack
I wish they wouldn’t have put the Intercontinental title up for grabs here.  If it were JUST Foley v. Orton, it’d be much simpler to say “Oh, they owe Mick ONE victory), but there’s nothing in a Foley run with the I.C. title.  Ignoring for a moment his “A couple matches a month” run, Foley would have no real pressing program to get into after Backlash, whereas Orton has several potential feuds.  I think Orton gets a hold of Batrice and gets a few swings in to pick up the win.
Jeb Lund Says... Cactus Jack d. Randy Orton
I'm going to go against my better judgment and say that Foley wins.

Hear me out. Foley has lost and lost and lost to Orton. Except for his promos and a few minutes ejecting Randy from the Royal Rumble, he hasn't once had the upper hand. Yes, I know that it's Foley's schtick to be the underdog. But if you look at that schtick from a historical perspective, it's clear that he was an underdog to proven or nearly proven main-event talents. He was beat up by the Undertaker, Austin, Rock and Michaels. These were all men who were at the top of the game. When he lost to Triple H, he wasn't creating a champion out of thin air: he was legitimizing the legacy and talent of someone who had already been WWF Champion.

With Orton, it's as if Foley's trying to job someone into existence. Orton is so insubstantial as a wrestler that it almost seems as if Foley could just go out to the ring and lose to himself and give Orton the same rub. Worse, Foley's constant losing doesn't help. There is no dynamic, no doubt, no alternative or twist in the drama. If he loses to Orton, it caps off a Foley losing streak rather than dazzlingly crowning an Orton winning streak.

So I think Foley ought to win. For one, I don't think he ever held the IC title, and it would be neat to see that added to his resume. For another, it's fun to see Foley win — especially the styles of matches he helped make famous. Also, even in losing, Orton can step up his game and look like a stronger wrestler. Finally: losing a big match like this offers a counterpoint to Orton's career, making his winning matches like this all the more remarkable when it happens.

Hell, you can get the belt off of Foley a hundred different ways. You can have Orton finally beat him a hundred different ways. In simple-minded WWE booking, simply have Evolution beat him nearly to death, have him stripped of the title, then return three or four months from now. By then, enough time has passed that Orton and he can have basically the same hardcore pay-per-view match they had at Backlash, and scarcely anyone will worry that it's the same situation as before. In this case, though, Orton wins the rematch; Foley keeps some credibility; and Orton gets another notch in the Legend Killer belt while also having to learn something and deepen his character.

That said, watch me be totally wrong: Orton goes over Foley after doing a gory blade job, but otherwise hopping all around the ring, on his tippy-toes, saying "Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!" about any other hardcore weapon or spot. Also, enjoy Foley, a man who has an incredibly limited offense, having to give control of the match to someone with an equally limited offense — an offense in which said man not only whiffs on European Uppercuts, but also his own finisher. If this in any way approaches a "classic," we'll know exactly whose fault that is.
sayEitan Says... Handcuffs?
It works like this. As long as Orton bleeds a gusher, Foley does something unbelievably stupid for my viewing pleasure, and they play up just how much of a badass Cactus Jack was and is, it's all good. They can even give the match to Orton, for all I care. Putting the IC strap on Foley makes no sense, and allowing Foley to decimate and defeat Orton makes even less sense.

WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN: Foley cuffs Orton to the ropes and every ECW Arena fan, circa 1995, is allowed to rush the ring with a broken bottle.

Brad Smoley Says... Cactus Jack d. Randy Orton
Logic tells us that Foley shouldn't win. Compared to Orton, he's just some old fat guy that likes to hit himself with bludgeoning/slashing weapons. (Seriously, Mick, spend the cash and put a "Disruption" enhancement on that bat and go feud with the Undertaker. If he fails his fortitude save he'll just disintegrate!) Orton, while a complete toolbox, is the young fit guy that is actually on the roster full-time. So, logically, you keep the title on the guy that actually benefits from defeating a Legend at his own game and will be around next month to gloat about it. Therefor, Cactus will win. WWE hates logic. Batista will try to interfere, but Cactus will take him out by bleeding all over the floor, causing a nasty fall.

Extra Happy Prediction Funtime: Cookie Sheet will make his surprise return to the WWE! Stop Sign will continue to wallow in obscurity in the Indies.
Rick Scaia Says... Randy Orton d. Cactus Jack
I WANT Mick to win.  Hell, after the last few weeks of outstanding promos/packages, I even BELIEVE Mick can win.  But Mick Foley, IC Champ, just doesn't seem reasonable, and it would mean a regular/weekly wrestling schedule for Foley and the continuation of this feud for at least another two months.  I'd love to see it: Foley wrestles a few times a month after winning the belt, and they build it all up to the June PPV, where Orton gets the singles win.  Maybe inside Hell in the Cell.  That's a HELL of a good idea.  But I'm not gonna let my mind wander that direction.  Because if you start to think in terms of "Well, Mick will get the win back from WM, and then he'll drop the rubber match," then you're really missing the point.  Foley never got anything back in that feud with HHH.  He just lost match after match until he was retired.  The rules here play to Mick's strengths, and I have no doubt that he'll control long stretches of the match and that Orton will show us something new.  But in the end, I see the rules as being the likeliest "out" for helping Orton steal a win.  It's Falls Count Anywhere, which means this match will leave ringside.  And when it does, who's to say the match won't go to Evolution?  They are barred from coming to the match, but what if it comes to them?  They'll get involved and help Orton steal one, that's what.  End result: Orton can claim the win, but Mick controls the match and gives the fans what they want, and in the end, also saves enough face that he can continue to work periodic programs in the future.  Sort of like how Orton beat the legendary HBK in their pay-off PPV match, but HBK came out just fine....  I also think that there's a lot to recommend Orton vs. Benjamin as an eventual IC feud, which might be tough to get to in a timely fashion if they give Mick the belt, now.

 

CHRIS JERICHO vs. CHRISTIAN/TRISH STRATUS
Handicap Match

If you want to get fancy, this one has a history that also goes back a real long way.  But I don't feel like re-hashing the Love Rhombus Era.  So let's stick to the latest twists and turns...

A month ago at WM, Christian upset Jericho when he got an assist from Jericho's would-be girl, Trish.  She turned on him, helped Christian win, and in later weeks revealed her motivation:  Jericho wasn't there for her when she needed him most, and a talk with Christian convinced her that she was just being used.  The same way Jericho used and discarded Christian.  Thus was born the self-centered, obnoxious bitch version of Trish Stratus.

Jericho, stung more by the betrayal than by the WM loss, was mute for several weeks.  But then he finally exploded with a spirited roasting of Trish that cast her as a slut.  She has been mortified by this, so Christian did what any good boyfriend would do: he comforted Trish briefly, and then went off to get a match against Jericho so he could get revenge.  And then he decided to change it up: he got GM Bischoff to add Trish to the match.  Trish, who'd prefer not to soil her hands on Jericho, didn't like the idea at first, but was later sold on the concept of letting Christian do all the work, and then getting to tag in and score the humiliating pinfall over Jericho herself.

The formula they hope to use was in full evidence Monday on RAW, as Christian demolished Jericho, and then let Trish talk some trash at his carcass and also slap him around a bit.  Jericho's gonna have his work cut out for him if he's gonna settle the score with the CLB and the FDDBBTH...  I expect a really good match, either way: this is essentially a re-match of Jericho/Christian, which was very solid, with the very-able Trish in the mix to add to the psychology/drama of the match.

The OOutlOOk
Jericho wins: 10 votes  -|-  Christian/Trish win: 1 vote

Erin Anderson Says... Jericho d. Christian/Trish
The best thing about this feud is its ambiguity; I haven't the slightest clue what's going to happen next. That also makes it quite difficult to pick a winner here. I'd like to see Y2J pick up the win, but WWE has gotten so much mileage out of this storyline that it wouldn't surprise me if Christian and Trish are victorious and drag all this out until Summerslam. The not-so-subtle tension between the two Canadian lovebirds just confuses the issue even more. I'll go with an old prediction standard here: since Christian and Trish got the last beatdown before the PPV, Jericho wins.
Big Danny T Says... Jericho d. Christian/Trish
After Chris’ loss at WrestleMania, has enough time passed for him to exact his revenge? I think so. Look for both Trish and Christian to get put in the walls, and Trish to take the pin so that Christian can continue to claim that Chris hasn’t beat him yet.
The Cubs Fan Says... Jericho d. Christian/Trish
It's a handicap match in the WWE, the handicapped always win. Which is a good thing for Eugene. Anyway, they've kind lost a direction since WM; up till then, it was building to The Kiss, and now it's building to - what? Jericho's more ticked at Trish then Christian, and you can't do Jericho/Trish. Maybe you can.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Jericho d. Christian/Trish
My, how the mighty have fallen. Three weeks ago, I saw Trish and the CLB as a very powerful combination. Because of Trish's horrible overacting and a reluctance to make this feud about Chris Vs. Christian, the whole thing has fallen kind of… flat. Still, Jericho has returned to the Y2J of old, and that's not a bad thing. I said it last month, and I'll say it again: Chris Jericho MUST win this match, especially they ever want to position him as the top babyface on Raw.
Alfonso Castillo Says... Jericho d. Christian/Trish
Jericho pins Trish for win. The two men will do their best to keep this match respectable, but in the end, it will be mostly comedy. Expect Jericho to get the last laugh in the rivalry by pinning Trish, and move on to a new opponent.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Christian/Trish d. Jericho
I originally pegged Jericho to win, but the face to heel win ratio for the PPV was a little lopsided so I changed my mind.  I think there is enough going on in this feud to keep it going.  Jericho will definitely get his hands on Trish, but his eagerness to attack her will lead to Christian being able to attack from behind and get another cheap victory.
Matt Hocking Says... Jericho d. Christian/Trish
The result of this one really depends on how much longer they want to stretch this feud out.  I don’t think much longer.  It’s served its purpose as a vehicle for getting Trish and Tian over as jackass heels and Jericho back firmly on the side of “face”.  I think Jericho takes out Tian and is left with Trish.  A Walls of Jericho later, and a winner is Jericho.
Jeb Lund Says... Jericho d. Christian/Trish
Jericho wins, finally getting himself some comeuppance.

This is actually a feud that could go for another couple of months and still be entertaining. But WWE doesn't like extending entertaining feuds. They like extending Triple H v. Michaels, paying it off, then claiming the feud was never paid off, restarting it, paying it off, then restarting it. This feud is simply too potentially entertaining to last.

Look for Jericho to win decisively, thus leading to three weeks of everyone wondering, "What the fuck are Christian and Trish doing, except having pointless matches?" By week four, both will be involved in feuds over who has the "sexier significant other" — feuds augmented by gripping WWE.com polls. Meanwhile, Jericho will clash with Batista, based on a segment in which his opening a window and letting in a gust of wind knocked down Batista's house of cards.
sayEitan Says... Jericho d. Christian/Trish
I don't like it when Jericho feuds with women, it never works out. Jericho comes up with boring promos, boring phrases that no one really wants to chant, and boring looks of anger. Jericho was simply not meant to be a (boring) babyface, and that's the biggest problem in all of this. This one will finally die a boring death when Jericho gets his boring revenge at Backlash.

WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN: Rick Martel shows up and shows us what the difference is between a Boston Crab and the Walls of Jericho. Christian and Trish go shopping. Because Christian is gay.

Brad Smoley Says... Jericho d. Christian/Trish
I want Jericho and Trish to be together. There, I said it. I'm a romantic at heart, so it's ripping me to pieces inside that these two kids that obviously totally want "it" from each other can't make it work. That Christian is just a big jerk! Oh, and Trish needs to go back on her medication. She's clearly bipolar. Anyway, I think it's finally time that Jericho gets the upper-hand. He's been getting huge support from the audience and it just feels like the right time to be pulling the trigger on one of his two-per-year PPV wins. Lita costs Trish & Christian the match after Trish's interference in the Women's match cost Lita the title.

Extra Happy Prediction Funtime: Zany spanking spot featuring Trish's near-bare bottom!
Rick Scaia Says...  Jericho d. Christian/Trish
The way fans responded to the heel beatdown on Monday, I certainly think they could stretch this out by having Trish and Christian go over.  But given that I'm thinking they have other ideas for Trish keeping herself busy and that Jericho's now-fully-babyface character could use a major win after months of defeats, I'm thinking Jericho wins.  But that won't necessarily have to mean the end of the feud.  On the contrary, Trish's whiny self-centeredness and belief she is being besmirched by Jericho could easily inspire her to demand future matches between Christian and Jericho, even while she, herself, goes after the women's title (but more on that later).  I don't actually think the understated friction between Trish and Christian is actually gonna lead anywhere (it was probably just inserted to make Trish more unlikable), but I could even get behind an idea where Trish would eventually get tired of Christian's failure and find another man to try to get revenge on Jericho, and then another, and then another, and so on (before -- UNADULTERATED SAPPINESS ALERT -- finally realizing Jericho is the only man she ever really wanted).  But no matter where they go, I think you need to get Jericho the win on Sunday. And I think it should come over Christian, and not over Trish.

 

EDGE vs. KANE
No Cast Allowed Grudge Match

Edge is finally back after a 15-month lay-off due to neck surgery.  But he's not getting a real friendly welcome home from General Manager Eric Bischoff.

The story here is that Edge was lotteried to RAW a month ago, and on his first night back, he declined Bischoff's ass-kissy advances.  Instead, he silenced Sleazy E with a spear.  The GM turned around the next week and announced that Edge's punishment was having his return match against the monstrous Kane.

Although the two have no real reason to dislike each other, they have crossed paths a few times since Bischoff's announcement.  Edge even got the better of Kane by using a cast on his broken left hand in one post-match run-in.  This ill-gotten advantage didn't sit well with GM Bischoff.  So he sent his apprentice, Johnny Nitro, out to tell Edge that if the referee in Sunday's match sees Edge use the cast as a weapon, it'll result not only in a disqualification, but also in a suspension for Edge.

The company has high hopes for Edge to finally break through as a singles competitor, but this is shaping up more as a feud against management than a feud against Kane.  It'll have to stay that way, as Kane has been getting increasingly babyface responses from fans since WM20.  Should make for an interesting dynamic at Backlash...

The OOutlOOk
Edge wins: 9 votes   --|--   Kane wins: 2 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Edge d. Kane
Poor Edge just can't catch a break. His first match back is against an unmotivated Kane, then he loses what was one of the best entrance themes in the business, and now he's broken his hand. The match? It'll probably suck, but if the E has any brains, it'll be kept short. Edge wins, starting a monster push into the World Title picture.
Big Danny T Says... Kane d. Edge
Edge is gone for a year and now he’s plugged right into a match with Kane for no other reason than it suits Bischoff’s whims to do so. Fine by me! Look for Edge to stay on top of things thanks to his cast, but Kane will take the victory here with the standard flying clothesline/choke slam.
The Cubs Fan Says... Edge d. Kane
Kane's got a lot better record when you don't have to pay to watch the show, doesn't he? My predication of Edge winning is dependent on him not breaking a hip or bruising his eyeball or something between now and then.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Edge d. Kane
I know I should be looking forward to this. But I'm not. Last month, Kane was in a high-profile match with The Undertaker. This time, he's going to be playing jobber to Edge's comeback. Don't get me wrong, I like Edge and think he could go all the way one day; they should have just created a reason for us to watch this. And no, spearing Eric Bischoff doesn't count. Hell, I'D do that if I had the opportunity.
Alfonso Castillo Says... Edge d. Kane
This one will be kept short, in the seven-minute range. Don't expect a classic here. Kane has dropped more than a few rungs since his 'Mania loss, and Edge's return hasn't set the world on fire as many expected. Edge will get the clean pin.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Edge d. Kane
I've been against this match from the moment it was signed as I felt it wouldn't help either guy.  If Johnny Nitro is added as ref to the match, it could help matters a bit.  Despite any efforts by Bischoff to have Edge lose, I think Edge will still win given it's his comeback match.  Let's just hope they don't bury Kane even further with the loss.
Matt Hocking Says... Edge d. Kane
One guy is a returning superstar who needs a big win to reestablish himself as a big player for fans.  The other is Kane.  Edge wins with a big comeback after copious offense focused on his arm.
Jeb Lund Says... Edge d. Kane
Edge wins.

I don't care, and neither should you. But if you want to reason it out, here are my assumptions:
1. It's stupid to waste the "Canadian Guy in Canada" pop by having Edge lose.
2. It's stupid to waste the "Wrestler Returning After over a Year" pop by having Edge lose.
3. It's stupid to have an Edge/Kane feud, because it just sounds stupid. Come on, why these two guys? A decisive win could let us all conveniently forget that Kane technically deserves a rematch.
4. Kane is a supernatural monster, and he has supernatural regenerative powers. He keeps getting jobbed out and forgotten, only to resurface months down the road in a main event. I don't see why he can't do the same here.
sayEitan Says... Edge d. Kane
Well, if this isn't a steaming pile, nothing is. And the scary part is that they're gonna give this thing 10+ minutes, just like RVD/Kane, Shane/Kane and every other horrible Kane match you've ever been subjected to. Do you understand me? This match will disgust you and infuriate you. You will be left questioning just who you are and why it is you're 24 and watching Kane v. Edge on your television. What the fuck kind of name is Edge, really? Isn't that a guy in U2? What's Edge-y about Adam Copeland? He looks like every other pretty boy fuck out there. Look at Jericho...Edge doesn't even have the WWE market cornered. Plus his eyes...they're just really far apart. Still, despite the eyes-far-apart-factor, he takes the victory.

WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN: It just shouldn't.

Brad Smoley Says... Edge d. Kane
I'm gonna drop the sarcasm and cynical attitude for this one. Edge is returning. People like Edge. People wanna see Edge win. People wanna see Edge win big. By defeating a monster, Edge looks like a bad-ass. By losing to Edge, Kane looks like Kane. Edge needs the "first return win" rub. Kane needs nothing... except the number of Edge's image consultant. Seriously, Edge is totally dreamy. Random thoughts: Johnny Nitro may make an appearance as the special guest referee and if someone were to become "too drunk" during a particular match, this would probably be it.

Extra Happy Prediction Funtime: Kane won't attempt to incinerate, electrocute or decapitate Edge... much. However, he will move out of the way, causing Edge to Spear the ring post! SHOCKING~!
Rick Scaia Says...  Kane d. Edge via DQ
I'll get really specific for you.  Johnny Nitro will be inserted as the special referee, here.  Kane and Edge will have a solid, evenly-contested match for about 10 minutes.  And then Nitro will find some excuse to screw Edge and call for the DQ.  Kane wins, which is important since they need to keep rebuilding him after he got squashed by Taker at Mania.  Edge loses, but that's not important because he got dicked by Eric Bischoff's Apprentice, opening the door for him to be the protagonist in a Rebellious Babyface vs. Evil Management angle.  Which would be a great way to build him up to main event status over the next few months.  My only question is whether or not the Fed runs with Kane's newfound babyface appeal (maybe by having him chokeslam Johnny Nitro after his bogus call?), or if they find someway to get fans hating him again....

 

SHELTON BENJAMIN vs. RIC FLAIR
Teach The Punk Some Respect Grudge Match

Four weeks ago, Shelton Benjamin was traded to RAW.  He was a respected, potential-laden tag wrestler on SD!, but in his first week on RAW, he crossed paths with Triple H, and challenged The Game.  And he won.

The shit, then, hit the fan.

Benjamin, confident following the win, asked for a rematch.  And he won again.  Although HHH and Evolution administered a brutal beatdown to Shelton for his insubordination, Ric Flair still took the young punk's actions personally.  So he petitioned GM Bischoff for a chance to personally teach the kid some respect at Backlash.

And just like that, it was on.  Benjamin's already won over fans following his two wins over one of today's best, and this'll be a chance for him to solidify his position with a win over one of history's greatest.  Something to consider: although HHH and Randy Orton have other business on their mind, Batista's not busy.  I can't imagine he won't be at Flair's side helping out...

The OOutlOOk
Flair wins: 7 votes   --|--   Benjamin wins: 4 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Ric Flair d. Shelton Benjamin
I had originally picked Shelton to win this one; if he's beaten Triple H twice, how could he possibly lose to a man in his mid-50s? Then I thought about this win in the context of Evolution: if Triple H will be leaving soon for a movie, why not make a storyline out of it and break him away from the group because he's the only one who can't win his matches? Flair will make Shelton look like a million bucks, but he'll cheat to win, probably with help from Batista. Then Randy Orton takes control of Evolution and kicks Triple H out for his recent case of jobberitis.
Big Danny T Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Ric Flair
Shelton has been a veritable Ball O’ Far since hitting Raw, and I don’t see that streak ending. Flair will get pinned after making Shelton look like a million bucks (not like Shelton needs the help.)
The Cubs Fan Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Ric Flair
Shelton's gotta keep the momentuem going, and maybe someone will determine if he's going to use the Dragon Whip as his actual finish or if the Stinger Splash. I expect post match beatdown.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Ric Flair d. Shelton Benjamin
Half of me hopes that Benjamin enlists a tag team partner, and the match gets changed to them Vs. Flair/Batista (I mean, they have NO tag team matches on the lineup). But that's just not going to happen. So here's what I think: Batista helps Flair get the win; Benjamin returns the favor on the next Raw and Flair and Batista lose the straps (although… who the hell could they lose it to? Hurricane and Rosey?). This sets up a Benjamin/Batista feud, which has TONS of potential if they play it right. But going back to this match, a win by Benjamin won't give him the "rub" he needs; he already got that two weeks ago when HHH handed him a first-class job. I'll be damned – the Nature Boy may actually get a PPV win. Wooooo!
Alfonso Castillo Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Ric Flair
This could be a really fun match, if kept in the 10 to 12 minute range, and will be the latest step in the starmaking of Benjamin. Flair has lost a step, so won't be as good as Benjamin's recent RAW matches with HHH, but the crowd will be into it. Benjamin pins Flair clean, despite interference from Batista.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Shelton Benjamin d. Ric Flair
This is a much better option than Benjamin vs. Batista.  The crowd will respond better to this matchup and the star rating will likely be higher between these two.  Now that you've given Benjamin two wins over HHH, you gotta keep his momentum going and a win over Flair will do very nicely.
Matt Hocking Says... Ric Flair d. Shelton Benjamin
One might argue that Benjamin’s push is too young to afford a loss, but I think he can take one here to Flair without being too harshly set back.  If Flair wins with Orton-ference, it’d set up a nifty Orton/Benjamin feud for Bad Blood (or Great American Bash) plus it’d make HHH look bad to the other members of Evolution, if that’s where they want to go.
Jeb Lund Says... Ric Flair d. Shelton Benjamin
Yikes. What to do here? Uh, Flair wins.

Look, I'll level with you. I don't like either alternative. If Benjamin wins, what does he do next? Beat Batista? Then do what? Or does he lose to Batista and get jammed in mid-card? Or does he beat Orton? Or lose to Orton? (Ugh.) Or does he get the win, here, then get inexplicably shunted to the tag-team ranks and stay in the midcard and lower-midcard for 18 months?

The other option is just as silly to me. First, he basically beat Triple H without any shenanigans. Clean. Then he beat Triple H with his wits, by count-out, even with interference from all of Evolution. If he can prevail twice against those kind of odds, why on earth should he lose to much smaller odds? Flair might be a wonderful cheat, but isn't he supposed to be a step down from Triple H?

And after all, Benjamin was smart enough to out-fox Triple H while "His Royal Cerebral Assassinatude" was being helped by the Dirtiest Player in the Game. A loss in this match is a tremendous step down, one that can potentially kill all of Benjamin's momentum. Also, at this point, I don't think Flair has enough in him to keep a feud going for two months, especially not with someone as green and undynamic as Benjamin.

Yet... yet, yet, yet. I still don't think Benjamin wins. Some interference, or some Flair-esque ingenious and infuriating cheating will cost Benjamin the win. He and Flair could potentially have a very entertaining feud, if their matches were few. (And what better way to help school him in ring psychology and cutting promos than playing off The Master?) Also, if he loses due to interference, he could also have an entertaining feud with whomever costs him the match.
sayEitan Says... Ric Flair d. Shelton Benjamin
If they work this nice and slow like Benjamin and Triple H's first encounter, we should end up with a decent match. Batista has nothing to do, so as Flair's tag partner, he'll bail out the old man and punish the youngster. A nice opportunity for Benjamin to get into a tag championship feud en route to bigger and better things.

WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN: Flair stops playing Gimp to Triple H's Zed. 

Brad Smoley Says... Ric Flair d. Shelton Benjamin
Shelton Benjamin was on the winning team in Monday night's 8-man tag. He has also defeated Triple H twice on free TV. Logically, WWE wants you to pay to see Benjamin lose. They are giving away free wins on RAW, so you've gotta buy something from them. Flair will sell like crazy for Benjamin, bleeding out more than half of his bodily fluids, but a ref bump will allow sneaky Batista to powerbomb the shit out of Shelton and then roll Ric's withered, reanimated corpse on top for the pin. (Shelton, next time you're fighting zombies, combine your herbs for more health. You'll last longer!) On RAW, Benjamin will take his frustrations out on Batista.

Extra Happy Prediction Funtime: Charles Robinson will get in a shoving match with Flair when he gets sick of Ric staring in his direction while moaning "braaains."
Rick Scaia Says... Ric Flair d. Shelton Benjamin
Why pin a loss on Shelton after he's gotten so much momentum by beating HHH twice?  Simple: because it's the easiest way of keeping him in a mix with Evolution, and it's better to be a loser with a top-level storyline than to be a winner who'll need to find something new to do.  Fans won't think any less of Shelton if he takes a cheap loss on PPV... so I say have Batista interfere and help Flair get the win.  That way, Shelton can come back a night later with more reasons than ever before to be a thorn in Evolution's side.  A loss can be the motivation for him to do a singles feud with Batista, to take on a partner and challenge for the tag belts, stick around and get one more shot at HHH before HHH goes off to do his movie, and then eventually be the guy who goes after IC Champ Randy Orton.  Lots of options if you play it this way...  Flair gets the win, and it's for the kid's good. 

 

VICTORIA vs. LITA
Women's Title Match

I'd say something about WWE borrowing WCW's old monkey-operated Random Match Generator... except I can kind of see where they might be going with this.

Victoria has been kind of invisible lately, and her most logical feud (against the shaved-headed Molly Holly) has been ignored for several weeks.  The key issue in the women's division has been Lita winning the #1 Contender spot in a battle royale, last eliminating Trish Stratus.  Then the two had a one-on-one match last week, and nothing was really settled.

Although there is no friction between Lita and Victoria, no real story at all between the two, they'll be battling over the belt on Sunday.  Victoria's solid and as long as Lita doesn't put herself or anyone else's neck in danger, the action oughta be OK.  I just kind of wonder if fans might not be totally into the match, as there is no heel in the ring here.  It'll be interesting to see how/if they react...

The OOutlOOk
Victoria wins: 7 votes   --|--   Lita wins: 4 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Lita d. Victoria
What. The. Fuck? No Molly? And where the hell has Victoria been? WWE is showing no faith in a very strong women's division and what could have been a kickass Molly/Victoria feud. Unfortunately, I think Lita will pick up the win and move on to a feud with Trish Stratus, given Vickie's complete absence from television recently. Boo, WWE. You really dropped the ball with this one. My one hope: Molly runs out after the match and beats the ever-loving shit out of both women.
Big Danny T Says... Lita d. Victoria
Huh? There’s a Women’s title match? Well, I’ll give this decision about as much attention as the WWE has given the Womens strap. * Tosses Coin  * Lita wins, Victoria goes back to Stevie night heat.
The Cubs Fan Says... Victoria d. Lita
I think Lita was inspired by going back to Mexico, because she quite nearly put the suicide in suicide dive Monday. My new theory, inspired by one Justin Shapiro, is that Victoria and Steven aren't hanging together on Heat because Victoria's headed to Playboy. They wanted another top female in Playboy, Trish and Lita and Stacy all said no while non-top female Victoria openly campaigns for being in Playboy and gets rewarded by being the top female by WrestleMania. And now she's off TV so she doesn't get bruised before the photo shoot, and will keep the title because they're not going to take the title off. This is based on no actual evidence (and actually flies in the face of Victoria working the house shows), making it a great and fine theory. Plus it keeps Steven and Victoria together, and that's most important.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Victoria d. Lita
I don't understand the rationale for this match. If it's just an excuse for Molly to interfere, why not make this Molly Vs. Victoria? If they want to turn Lita heel, then do it BEFORE the match. And they're not even going to do that, because Trish just turned last month. Yes, you can successfully have a match between two faces in this day and age without one of them turning. I just don't think this happens to be one of those situations.
Alfonso Castillo Says... Victoria d. Lita
Victoria wins with the Widow's Peak. Not much to this match. It will probably be in the six-minute range. Lita seems to be trying to work her way out of the doghouse, but has a ways to go.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Victoria d. Lita
A horrible choice for a number one contender, but they've made their choice and we have to accept it.  Hopefully, Lita's match on RAW gave the bookers a good reason why she should not win the title.  I don't see any reason why Victoria should lose the title, so I'll give her the win.
Matt Hocking Says... Victoria d. Lita
What a strange match.  If they’re not going to run with Molly/Victoria for whatever reason, then the next best money match is Trish/Lita, which won’t be a wrestling classic, but the fans love both girls.  So then why do I have Victoria retaining the title?  I think that if they’re going to have Lita v. Trish, Lita has to be the one chasing the title.  So, Trish interferes here, beats Victoria some time in the next month or so, and then hold off on Lita/Trish all the way to Summerslam.
Jeb Lund Says... Victoria d. Lita
Victoria wins. I don't care how many "hey, I remember that girl who had a man's jaw but could do a moonsault four years ago" pops Lita gets. She's DEATH on the mic; she's DEATH in the ring; and she's DEATH in general. I've been watching RAW every week for months, and I still have no idea how Lita suddenly became the contender. Sure, I remember the Women's Battle Royal match, but that doesn't mean that Lita's win and subsequent contention come from anywhere other than the " 'What The Fuck?' Total Improbability Zone" — the same place that produced the novel Naked Lunch, Jennifer Lopez's career, George Bush's reputation as a "statesman" and Scott Steiner's promos. The Women's Division took off and succeeded in her absence, and it can only continue to do so without her. Job her and ship her to East Jesus, Wyoming before she kills someone I actually care about.
sayEitan Says... Lita d. Victoria
Is Victoria heel or face? Will Lita break her neck during a botched spot? Will you have enough time to take a piss, grab another drink and send off a few emails? We shall see. Lita finally gets her championship.

WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN: Lita and Victoria both fall in love with me, but their angular jaws poke my eyes out during an erotic 3-way encounter. I finish the job despite the bleeding.

Brad Smoley Says... Victoria d. Lita
Hmmm, does "I don't care" count as an answer? No? Ah poop. Well then, Lita has been sorta MIA lately, popping in to do a little of "this" and a little of "that" whenever they need a spunky girl out there to generate a few BTUs of crowd excitement. Obviously she deserves a PPV match for the title. Obviously. Molly runs out and tries to cost Victoria the match because of the whole head-shaving debacle, but it's a no-go. Then, Trish runs out to mess with Lita and incidentally interferes in Victoria's favor. Not that Trish cares about Victoria or anything. This whole match is gonna be a mess.

Extra Happy Prediction Funtime: In an unprecedented biological occurrence, my bladder and I will totally agree on the appropriate time and duration for evacuation, 3 times in the course of 5 minutes. Jerry Lawler however, will wet himself at some point.
Rick Scaia Says... Lita d. Victoria
This is a clear-cut case of "The Right Move" being completely removed from "The WWE Move."  I fully expect that Lita will get a win over Victoria on Sunday so that they can go full-speed-ahead with a Lita/Trish feud over the belt.  WWE's disinterest in doing simultaneous and independent feuds with the women often results in missed opportunities and sudden shifts in focus (anyone have any idea where they were going with that Ivory-keeps-beating-Jazz storyline from a year ago?)... in this case, the loser is Victoria vs. Molly, which I thought would have been a no-brainer of a re-match here at Backlash.  You can check out my Wednesday column for (what I think is) a killer idea for resurrecting that feud.  But it's predicated on Victoria retaining the belt on Sunday.  Which I don't think will be happening.  Lita beats Victoria, and in coming weeks the top challenger will be Trish.  Because we can only handle one feud at a time in the women's division.  Poor Victoria.  Poor Molly.

 

TAJIRI vs. JONATHAN COACHMAN
Harmless Prank Gone Awry Grudge Match

Yet another case of a SD! importee making a quick impact on RAW, here... on his first night on RAW, Tajiri was goaded into an "initiation ritual."  He was told to spew mist on the next guy to walk through a door.  The Next Guy wound up being Coach.  Coach is GM Bischoff's homey.  Coach got carte blanche to screw with Tajiri.

That meant causing Tajiri to lose a match to Christian.  Which resulted in Tajiri issuing a challenge to Coach for a match.  Coach wasn't quick to accept, instead forcing Tajiri to go through a Five Star Ninja (who was later unmasked as Coach's partner Al Snow, reprising his gimmick as Shinobi).  But Tajiri got past that challenge, and now, he's got Coach one-on-one.

Or maybe not.  It wouldn't surprise me if Snow was around to make sure that the match isn't TOTALLY a foregone conclusion.  Still, Coach's value is as a tremendous comedic putz and long-suffering loser... and Tajiri's value is as a bad-ass Japanese Buzzsaw, so the chemistry/psychology here oughta be spot on, and I think this'll be entertaining, if not exactly a workrate classic.

The OOutlOOk
Coach wins: 6 votes   --|--   Tajiri wins: 5 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Tajiri d. Coach
Isn't it nice to see Coach get a PPV match while Matt Hardy rots away on Heat? That aside, this match could be good harmless fun, or at least a chance to fix a snack or take a pee break. No contest here... Tajiri should kill Coach with his kicks and make himself a big babyface in the process. Coach's sell-job will be hilarious.
Big Danny T Says... Coach d. Tajiri
I’ll go against the grain and say that Coach gains his first WWE victory after Al Snow gives a BIG assist. But look for it to be a very entertaining match.
The Cubs Fan Says... Tajiri d. Coach
I can't believe we're having a match where Coach will get in kicked in head. Perhaps repeatedly! The thing that worries me is that I'm picking all logical finishes and that can't happen and this is a good place for an upset, and plus Tajiri came out ahead last time. This is a E that never managed to give us the incredible logical and possible awesome Tajiri/Ultimo Dragon match, so I fear being wrong here, enough so that I probably should switch around the outcome, but I don't think I could live with prediction a Coach win. I wonder if Coach will still talk about his record if it's 3-4.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Coach d. Tajiri
I can't tell you how badly I wish Jonathan Coachman was an actual wrestler. He has tremendous charisma and, as a snotty suck-up heel, the guy can work miracles on the mic. If he was a decent wrestler, I'd be thrilled. But he's not. So there's no real reason for this to be interesting. Here's how I, Armchair Booker, would have played this out: This week on Raw, show Coach's Ninja but don't have him fight. Explain that Coach flew him in from Japan to take care of Tajiri. Then have their match at Backlash, which accomplishes three things: (1) A much, much better match (2) More heat on Coach for not doing the dirty work himself and (3) When Snow is unmasked, you could have started a feud between those two, which could have been hilarious and produced decent matches (perish the thought!). Using Booking Rule # 76, the non-wrestler will always beat the wrestler in a high-profile match (especially if said non-wrestler is a McMahon). So maybe we haven't seen the last of Ninja Snow after all.
Alfonso Castillo Says... Coach d. Tajiri
This "rivalry" will probably be stretched out on TV for a few more weeks, so Coach will find a way to get the win.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Coach d. Tajiri
Here's my upset pick of the night.  Coach will certainly get his ass kicked but I feel that somehow in the end, he'll score a win.  Perhaps with the help of a new friend or protégé that will then begin a feud with Tajiri.
Matt Hocking Says... Tajiri d. Coach
For this angle to have really accomplished anything, Tajiri needs to just kick the hell out of Coach for three minutes and pick up the win.  Maybe some Snow-ference to pad the segment, but in all, logic dictates Tajiri.
Jeb Lund Says... Tajiri d. Coach
Tajiri wins. If he doesn't, then something is very wrong. This should not blossom into a feud; this should not be an even-sided match, and this should probably fail to entertain. So long as Tajiri winds up looking good in the end, it probably doesn't matter what happens.
sayEitan Says... Coach d. Tajiri
Vince has a strange hard-on for Coachman. Tajiri is foreign fluff. Someone or something causes Coachman to take the victory. Meanwhile, Akio and Sakoda wonder what the hell happened to their leader, and more importantly....their slick suits. I'd be pissed, too.

WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN: Tajiri breaks Coachman's leg and challenges Yuji Nagata to a shoot fight. "YOU A RIAR, YUJI! YOU BRING IT! I APPRY ARMBAR!"

Brad Smoley Says... Coach d. Tajiri
I'm from Lima, Ohio. So is Al Snow. I just wanted to say that. Now, Coach can't wrestle, but he is Bischoff's pal. So um, he'll win somehow, most likely by cheating. Honestly, I don't know what else to say about this match. I mean, I like Tajiri. I like Coach. Together? I dunno. I just don't care. Should be a "good for what it was" match. I can't even think of a weird undead reference to throw in here as filler.

Extra Happy Prediction Funtime: Tajiri will accidentally mist himself to DEATH!
Rick Scaia Says... Tajiri d. Coach
In the Shelton/Flair match, I outlined a way in which I thought a fan favorite losing to a "lesser" opponent could actually benefit in the long run.  That concept does NOT apply here.  Tajiri gains nothing by continuing a feud against Coach (or Al Snow)... he gains by kicking ass, looking like a million bucks, and convincing fans that despite his size, he can still chop down any opponent.  There's no Cruiserweight Title on RAW, so Tajiri getting a win over Coach (and having to overcome Snow, too, in the process) is the necessary start of getting Tajiri over as a mid-card caliber babyface.  Any other outcome would be a mistake.  Mist for Snow, buzzsaw kick for Coach, win for Tajiri.

 

THE EXTRAS

Only seven matches have been announced so far for Backlash, which seems like it's a little light....  although the 3-way main event is sure to go upwards of 40-plus minutes, and Foley/Orton will be sticking around for more than a cup of coffee, there might be room for another match, or some kind of skits/bonus material.

The OOutlOOk

Erin Anderson Says...
I wouldn't be shocked if a certain former Canadian WWE superstar who shall not be named makes an appearance. I'd mark out like a little girl, but I wouldn't be shocked. Look for Johnny Nitro to be the special guest referee for Edge v. Kane, and take even more punishment than he's been getting these past few weeks. Another month and that poor kid will end up in a body cast. Eugene also might make an appearance, even if only in a backstage bit with Regal.

Also, a real long shot: Jericho and Trish might turn out to have been in collusion with each other all along. Sound fucked up? Well, her heel turn was never really satisfactorily explained, and it's a soap opera anyway. It's not supposed to make sense, and these three seem intent on swerving us every chance they get. Hey, it could happen.

Big Danny T Says...
Maybe this will be the show where a certain Canadian makes his return. I wouldn’t expect him to interfere directly in the ME, maybe serve as a distraction at a crucial time, but that’s it.
The Cubs Fan Says...
Stunning Heat Match Prediction!

Grand Master Sexay gets a win over one half of La Resistance when Eugene gets involved again.
Canadian Bulldog Says...
Despite his contract situation, I would be very surprised if Austin wasn't there. They need him to carry the backstage skits with Johnny Nitro… I don't know if this will happen at Backlash, but I think a surefire way to get Eugene over is to start a feud with Matt Hardy. Eugene (and Regal) could make fun of Hardy's losing streak, to which Hardy could start picking on his "special" foe. I could definitely see that as a backstage sketch. The natural Sunday Night Heat match would be La Resistance Vs. Hurricane and Rosey to see which team is suckier. 
Alfonso Castillo Says...
Nothing.
Adam Gutschmidt Says...
One more match will be added and I'll say it will be Hurricane/Rosey vs. La Resistance and it'll be a #1 contender match for the tag titles.

Eugene will have a backstage encounter with someone but nothing more beyond that.

Bret Hart will NOT show up.

Matt Hocking Says...
1.  Johnny Nitro will be the referee for Kane v. Edge, but will take a bump to eliminate him from the finish.
2.  The barbwire bat will be lit on fire at some point
3.  Bret Hart will be mentioned or inferenced at least five times (perhaps in a short video package)
4.  For one night only, Chris Benoit will be from Edmonton, Ontario and Chris Jericho will be from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
5. Everybody will blade in the main event.
6.  Hurricane and Rosey v. La Resistance will be either added during Heat or happen on Heat, and Eugene will “accidentally” cost La Resistance the match.
Jeb Lund Says...
Nothing.
sayEitan Says...
Nothing.
Brad Smoley Says...
EUGENE DINSMORE THEATER

Okay, as far as matches go, eight is enough (there's a Dick Van Patten joke in there somewhere, but I'M not gonna make it) to sustain a two and a half to three hour show. They'll probably throw Grand Master Sexay out there against Rob Conway or something because a) they hate me, and b) I don't think they are gonna "unleash" Eugene's ring skills in a match during this particular PPV. When they do show us what he can do, he should either be like some savant, in-ring genius that out schools everybody, or he should turn heel. Viciously. Like he was faking it the whole time. At Backlash he'll probably be used to get the Canadian audience to boo La Resistance in their "own" country. Hilarity ensues.

Extra Happy Prediction Funtime: Stacy Keibler will be referred to as "pretty" by Eugene. Also, Rick Steiner will confront Eugene backstage and demand his gimmick back. Regal will retort by soundly thrashing him.
Rick Scaia Says...
The Fed's got a hard-on for Eugene, and if he's handled right, I can see the gimmick getting over in a comedy/Hurricane-y kind of way.  They won't leave him off the PPV.  I could see any of an impromptu Regal/Eugene vs. La Resistance match, Eugene/Regal getting involved in a La Resistance/HurriRosey match, or a show-spanning series of Eugene/Regal/Bischoff skits....

The Canadian Venue opens up some other options... Disgruntled Lance Storm has not been seen for 3 weeks, but could probably be used in some capacity (maybe a throw-away, impromptu match against also-criminally-misused Matt Hardy?) to very good effect.

In keeping with my theory from Wednesday (that if you say his name, he won't show up), I won't mention the other "obvious" Extra.  I'm not saying it will happen, but I also don't want to be the guy who jinxes it.  It'd sure be freaking sweet, though, wouldn't it?

So there you have it... the entire Backlash care, broken down in minute detail, examined from every possible direction by the experts here at OO.  We have high levels of agreement on some things, we differ wildly on others.  But I'm willing to wager that, somewhere in the above 11 analyses, SOMEbody hit the nail on each match...

Check out Backlash Sunday night on pay-per-view to see which of us got it right, which of us got it wrong, and whether or not the Fed could expose us all with something completely unexpected.

But if you miss the show, remember: OO will have a recap of Backlash available around midnight on Sunday, and we'll have more thoughts and fall-out available here on Monday.

See you then!

E-MAIL RICK SCAIA
BROWSE THE OO ARCHIVES

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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