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WWE Backlash 
April 27, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Echoing the sentiments of the OO Backlash preview, WWE closed tonight's pay-per-view event with suggestions that fans had just glimpsed the start of a "new era" for the company...  it was a show that featured two veritable rookies being asked to carry the SD! brand main event, while a torch was passed from the Rock to Bill Goldberg in RAW's top match.

If, indeed, this was a look towards the future of WWE, we might be heading in a few surprising directions.  I suppose you could just chalk it up to the traditionally-contrary northeast wrestling fans, but there could also be actual significance to the facts that John Cena and the Rock were both cheered, while Goldberg and Brock Lesnar heard boos directly towards them.  I expected that in the case of the Rock, but I didn't realize that fans, at large, have concluded that John Cena's been just about the most entertaining man on SD! lately...  weird.

Bizarro, Canada-esque, fan responses aside, Backlash was mostly a solid, fun show.  The Fed even managed one bona fide "Holy Shit" moment on a show that was seemingly suffering from the annual perceived post-WrestleMania lull.  Here are the full results of the just-completed WWE Backlash PPV (with some additional editorial thoughts added on in red):

  • On the live pre-show edition of Sunday Night Heat:  Chief Morley appointed himself the special referee for the RVD/Dudleys tag title match... Team Angle dedicated their tag title match to their captain, Kurt Angle...  Scott Steiner soundly defeated Rico... and shockingly, several commercials and video packages hyped the Backlash PPV.
  • The PPV opener saw Team Angle (complete with framed photo of Kurt) defeat Los Guerreros to keep hold of their WWE Tag Titles.  Hot from the start, with the crowd really behind Eddie Guerrero before the match even started.  Some chain wrestling between Eddie and Charlie Haas, then more of the same between Chavo and Shelton Benjamin.  As we got settled in, Eddie was your babyface in peril for an extended stretch of the match.  Hot tag to Chavo led to a run on offense for the Guerreros, but in the end, it was short-circuited when Chavo attempted to suplex Haas from the ring apron into the ring; but Benjamin yanked Chavo's leg out from under him, allowing Haas to score the cheap pinfall at about the 15 minute mark.  After the match, Chavo hit a big plancha onto Haas, Benjamin, and the Angle portrait, and he and Eddie walked off with the tag title belts.  [Super opener.  Great work, effective finish, and the tagged on ending with the Guerreros living up to their "Lie, Cheat, and Steal" motto should mean more of the same on future shows.]

  • Backstage: Test tried to hit on Torrie Wilson, but Torrie was having none of it, telling him to stop harrassing her.  Test wouldn't take "no" for an answer, though, and forced a kiss on Torrie.  Sable was lurking around, and saw all of this.
  • Sean O'Haire got a win over Rikishi in his WWE PPV singles debut.  Prior to the match, Roddy Piper (complete with basket of coconuts) did some mic work to hype O'Haire.  Even with that, fans weren't much into this, except for when Piper interfered.  Piper played a part in the finish, as he came into the ring with a coconut, apparently intended for Rikishi.  When Rikishi caught him sneaking up, Piper gave the coconut to the ref and tried to beg off; but Rikishi took the coconut from the ref and pasted Piper with it.  O'Haire took advantage of Rikishi being distracted, however, and immediately hooked Rikishi up for his inverted DVD finisher.  About 6 minutes, bell-to-bell, I think.  [Nothing to see here...  Piper getting his just desserts 20 years after the original coconut attack on Piper's Pit was the most noteworthy thing, probably.  Harmless fun, though, and I guess it gets O'Haire off to a good start for his singles run.]
  • Backstage:  Sable confronted Stacy Keibler, and told her a rather twisted version of what she witnessed between Test and Torrie.  Sable convinced Stacy that Torrie was trying to steal Test away, and that she kissed Test earlier on the show.  [Blargh... doesn't anybody actually, you know, watch their TV anymore?]
  • Kane and Rob Van Dam beat the Dudley Boyz to retain the World Tag Team Titles.  Morley played surprisingly little part in this match until the finish, allowing the four men to work a really nice, if by-the-book, little tag match.  Bubba seemed to do a lot of the work for his team, which worked, since he's really able to flip a switch and put on a good heel act.  Morley finally decided to help the Duds, and low-blowed Kane.  But the Duds couldn't capitalize right away.  Morley tried to assist again, but missed RVD, and clotheslined Bubba by accident.  This didn't set well with D-Von, who immediately attacked Morley.  It was pure chaos from there on out, with the Duds 3-D'ing Morley, and Lance Storm making a failed attempt to save his sometimes tag partner.  Back down to just the four men involved in the match, RVD hit a 5 Star Frog Splash, and a second ref ran out to make the count for the champs.  [Another really good tag match in the 15 minute range...  action was good throughout, but mostly, I really enjoyed the finish.  Busy and chaotic without feeling over-booked.]
  • Backstage:  Stacy confronts Torrie Wilson in the women's locker room.  A bit of miscommunication results in Torrie accidentally admitting to seducing Test...  which results in a cat fight.  The rest of the divas eventually separated them.  Shocking, even though there was an actual cat walking around the dressing room, Lawler didn't attempt any "pussy" jokes.  [Ivory was your obligatory shower-fresh-and-towel-clad diva...  I can only hope that four years from now, "Why in the hell would Ivory have needed a shower at Backlash 2003?" is right up there in the Pantheon of Unresolved Storyline Issues along with "Who drove the Hummer?" and "Who raised the briefcase?"]
  • Jazz pinned Trish Stratus to win the Women's Title.  Trish was really selling her rib injury from Monday's Bubba/Jazz attack, but still put forth the proverbial ballsy effort.  Theodore Long was, indeed, the difference maker, as he threw his shoe at Trish as she was poised to score the win after a bulldog.  Following that distraction, Jazz was able to sneak up behind Trish as she jawed with Long for a roll-up (with additional illegal leverage courtesy of the ring ropes) and the pinfall win.  Around 5 minutes.  [No real complaints... but since you're never gonna see the women asked to go out there and do 20 minutes, nonstop, you also usually walk away from PPV women's matches feeling like what you just saw would have fit just fine on RAW.]
  • Big Show beat Rey Mysterio in about 4 minutes.  Not quite the showcase for Show that I sort of expected... I mean, how often do you get to face a guy one-third your size who can make you look like a super-bad-ass?  But then again, this match turned out to just be an excuse to run a killer post match angle.  Show countered the West Coast Pop with a chokeslam to score the pinfall.  But then, as medics put Rey on a backboard, Show came back to the ring.  He picked up Rey along with the backboard, and basically took a baseball-style swing with Rey, hitting the steel ring post.  The crowd chanted "Holy Shit," and we all agreed.  Damn.  [Not much of a match, but in Rey's personal collection of jaw-dropping bumps, this one surpasses the Nash javelin-shot from Nitro by an order of magnitude or two.]
  • Backstage:  Torrie and Stacy got into it again, this time in a hallway.  Torrie forcefully shoved Stacy into some equipment, apparently harder than she meant to.  Torrie looked dismayed as Stacy was woozy and couldn't get up.  Scott Steiner came to the rescue, and was carrying Stacy to go get help when Test appeared on the scene.  Test got all indignant at Steiner, but Steiner walked away without incident.
  • Brock Lesnar beat John Cena, again at what felt like about 15 minutes of action, with an F-5.  Cena started out a strong heel, which tends to happen when you wear a Roger Clemens Yankee jersey in the vicinity of Boston... but before long, there were "Let's Go, Cena" chants and audible cheers for his offense.  Damn, can't a guy be entertaining on TV without getting cheered?  And don't give me any "it was his hometown" stuff, either...  This match was almost all Cena after the opening 3 minutes, including, unfortunately an ill-timed rest hold as they geared up for the final third of the contest.  Lesnar, in fact, was busted open and wore a respectable Crimson Mask for most of the match.  The finish had Cena attempt to use his heavy-gauge chain as a foreign object, but the ref intercepted him.  When Cena turned back around to continue the match, he walked right into the F-5.  Clean, decisive win after Lesnar spent most of the match getting beat down.  [I'm not necessarily ready to wager an entire company's well-being on these two having top shelf main event matches... but I liked what I saw here, and kind of got a vibe like I remember feeling when Rock and HHH were fighting back in '97: you can tell these guys have the tools, but they're still a few tweaks away from having the total package that the crowds will buy into.  But like Rock and HHH, I foresee these guys getting plenty more chances to feud in the future, too.]
  • Triple H, Chris Jericho, and Ric Flair managed a win over Kevin Nash, Shawn Michaels, and Booker T.  The action was solid for the full 20 minutes, but there was significantly less drama.  They didn't even try to tease us with the possibility of Nash still riding the fence; within the first 2 minutes of the match, Nash had tagged in and kicked some ass.  But after that, the majority of this match was Michaels selling his ass off for the babyfaces... it amazes me that the guy who's on a partial schedule and has the surgically repaired back decides to strap on the heaviest load even in tag matches where he could loaf a bit.  The hot tag finally came, to Nash, and he and HHH paired off for some outside-the-ring brawling.  The other four guys kept doing spots in the ring, but the ref had kept track of who was legal.  Finally, after everybody -- including the ref -- had powdered out, it was down to Nash and HHH in the ring.  HHH grabbed his trusty sledgehammer, and nailed Nash with it.  The ref eventually came to, and counted Nash down.  Score one for the bad guys.  [Coach made perhaps his most blatant hyperbole when he tried to sell us on Nash not having any ring rust...  Nash only did a few things, and clearly will take a few more nights of work before he's working smooth and easy.  But Michaels was great, again, the star of the match.  Booker and Jericho were maybe a bit underutilized, but this was still really good stuff.  I liked that they played the story pretty straight, too; no wacky stuff, no trying to sell us, again, on Nash turning heel... in short, no insulting our intelligence.]
  • Goldberg beat the Rock in another match that went about 15 minutes and featured odd crowd reactions.  From the get-go, Rock was cheered solidly, though Goldberg's reaction was easily superior.  By the final minutes though, loud boos and "Goldberg Sucks" chants were heard.  Nutty.  I won't try to convince you this was a good wrestling match.  But it was an entertaining spectacle, nonetheless.  Lots of posing, gesturing, and chickenshit tactics (the latter all from the Rock) that could be classified as "stalling," but which certainly came off well enough due to the personalities involved.  Goldberg spent the majority of the match doing a credible job of selling an injury to his right shoulder (his "Spear" shoulder), but in the end, was able to kick out from both a Rock Bottom and a People's Elbow.  He rallied and hit two consecutive spears, and followed them up with a Jackhammer.  A mix of cheers and boos greeted the outcome.  [Like I said, nothing outstanding, wrestling-wise, here.  Goldberg didn't do a whole lot, but what he did looked good enough.  This was NOT a replay of HHH/Steiner, at the very least.  We'll have to see how he does against an opponent who does have the charisma and intangibles that the Rock does, though...  the "big match atmosphere" made this a passable main event, though there were clearly better matches on the show.]

Come on back to OO on Monday for further analysis and fall-out from the show! 


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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