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WWE Backlash 2007 
April 29, 2007

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


Well, tonight was to be the start of a new, ultra-exciting, big time Joint PPV Era.
But WWE pretty much served up what they have for the vast majority of "off-month" PPVs over the course of the past 3 years. Namely, not a single memorable, signature moment.

Well, OK: maybe the sight of Vince McMahon as ECW Champ is memorable. But not for the right reasons.

That soul-crushing

sight, however, was off-set by another surprising outing from Batista and the Undertaker (though it was, itself, offset by a pretty annoying finish). Everything else? Exactly what you'd expect and not a precious quarter-of-a-star more. Result: flamboyantly forgettable mediocrity. 

Here are the quick-and-dirty results of tonight's just-completed Backlash PPV:

  • The Hardy Boyz beat Lance Cade/Trevor Murdoch to retain the RAW Tag Titles. Pretty much your standard 8 minute TV match, padded out to 15 minutes thanks to a slightly amped up End Game. Jeff played Kid Kash (don't get the reference? don't worry, I'll explain later this week in an OO column) for the largest chunk of the match. Hot tag to Matt. Chaos breaks loose. And then for about 3-4 minutes, things actually do get fast-paced and exciting for a series of near-falls. Jeff (illegally) hit a Swanton while the ref was distracted with Cade, allowing Matt to pin Murdoch for the win.
  • Backstage: Shane McMahon was pep-talking Umaga, when Vince walks in. This leads to Shane and Vince going into Mutual Admiration Mode, telling each other how the other will TOTALLY be the ECW Champion tonight. Meantime, Umaga is forgotten in the background. This will not end well.
  • Melina beat Mickie James to retain the Women's Title. Like the opener, this was your standard 5 minute TV Women's Match, padded out to 10, again with the only noticeable difference kicking in during the final 2 minutes or so. Very early bump to the floor by Mickie led to Melina spending a huge portion of the match working on Mickie's lower back. Mickie's comeback featured an extended sequence in which Melina was forced to defend herself while in her trademarked Split Position (which was somewhere almost exactly between silly and awesome). Then finally, about 2 minutes of back-and-forth nearfalls at a slightly-above-Monday-night level, before Melina scored the clean pin with the inverted DDT.
  • Backstage: Edge bragged about being all fresh and not tired for tonight's main event (unlike Cena and Michaels who went 57 minutes on Monday night), tagging himself as the odds-on favorite to win the WWE Title. Then Ken Kennedy waltzed in and said he's been studying his Money In The Bank Tactics, and he really liked what Edge did at New Year's Revolution 2006... so if Edge wins tonight, he'd better be watching his back. Foreshadowing, or pointless red-herring? On this uninspired night of non-storytelling, you better believe it was the latter.
  • Chris Benoit beat Mount Vesuvius Porter (or NAMBLA, for short) to retain the US Title. Largely a re-do of the match these two had at WrestleMania, in terms of the basic Match Theory, except that MVP came even closer to winning, and that this time, fans almost-kinda-sorta cared, on the grounds that Benoit is "currently residing in Atlanta, GA" (which is where this PPV took place). So anyway, for 15 minutes of crisply worked action, MVP was not completely out-classed by Benoit, and at the end, Benoit couldn't beat MVP with any of his standard finishers (as he did at WM23), but did catch him for a quick 3-count following a schoolboy roll-up. So logically, that means we'll be "treated" to a third match in this series in which MVP finally gets over the hump and beats Benoit, right? Oy. Not a bad match at all, it's just that MVP, despite being at the higher end of the In-Ring Mere Adequacy Scale of anybody WWE's developmentals have turned out, still has a dead-end gimmick that the vast majority of fans don't buy or care about. If MVP takes the US Title from Benoit, it'll be just as eyeball-roll-inducing as the night JBL beat Eddie for the WWE Title. The only drama will be whether MVP can match JBL by -- only six months after the fact, and after the damage had been done by over-pushing an under-over star -- finally managing to grow into the role.
  • Backstage: John Cena was being interviewed, when Young Randall Orton interrupted. Orton, forgetting that he was dealing with one of the nation's leading Gay Joke Enthusiasts, made three mistakes: (1) he hit his fey-looking Pose of Ultimate Douchebaggery, (2) he called Cena "incredibly handsome" (as part of a list of things that Cena and Orton have in common), and (3) he promised to put Cena on his back and be on top of him at the end of the night. By the end of the display of flaming faggotry, even Cena was out of material, so he just left Ron Simmons to come in and opine "Damn." Ha. 
    So questioning Randall's masculinity is part of his "punishment" this time around? Nee haw, I've only been doing that for 3 years, now. It's fun, granted, but it's not going to fix the fact that this dickface is an incredibly immature, worthless little bitch. Now, if WWE runs with a full-blown extension of this little promo, in which Orton is forced to go on TV and portray "The St. Louis Dandy" Randy Orton, week in and week out (complete with foppish high society overtones to accent his overwhelmingly homosexual mannerisms), then I'll change my story and love every second of it. Not even the dimmest 15-year-old girl with criminally poor taste in TV Boyfriends will be able to take a guy serious when he's going by the nickname "Dandy Randy."
  • Vince McMahon pinned Bobby Lashley to become the new ECW Champion. So I guess all my ranting and raving the last month about how handicap matches for titles don't make a lick of sense was just shoved right back in the stupid little face here? Except: not really. The only way the handicap match thing works is if you castrate the members of the "team" holding the advantage so that only one of them cares about holding a title. Which is exactly what they did here. Umaga did most of the work, then willingly tagged in Vince McMahon, and let Vince score the pin. Maybe 10-12 minutes of intense enough brawling, but capped off with a finish that makes you think they are just daring us not to care anymore. 
    The only (and the Rick says ONLY) way this is even mildly defensible is if the switch onto Vince is the excuse we use to get Mick Foley back in the ring. Something about Mick being sickened by seeing Vince hold a belt that once symbolized the ultimate in hardcore wrestling. Mick can -- without doing any damage to an actual, active wrestler -- win the ECW Title by destroying Vince. Mick can have a few additional matches with the McMahons, including what I'd have to think could be a swell one against Shane. And then the money match at the end of Mick's 2007 Cameo Run would be dropping the strap to a re-energized and re-focused Umaga in what would be Mick's entry into 2007 Match of the Year voting. Give it 3-4 months to play out, with only two really intensive matches (one against Shane, one against Umaga), and I think it's do-able. It's about the only thing I can think of to cover up the fact that ECW's gonna be losing RVD soon enough....
  • Backstage: Vince mocked the assembled "ECW Originals" (RVD, Sabu, Dreamer, Sandman) by posing with the belt, while Joey Styles registered the appropriate level of indignation on commentary.
  • Undertaker and Batista went to a double-count-out in a World Title Match. Two words: Slobber, Knocker. Every bit as good as the WM23 match the two had. Early part was Undertaker focusing on Batista's "injured" leg (from a previous angle on SD!), and in general, kicking ass (including a quick brawl around ringside that saw Batista get busted open). Big comeback from Batista around the 15 minute mark eventually ended with both men down for a double count. Both men up at 9, and we enter End Game. The back and forth brawling led to near falls, but no 3-counts, causing both men to become frustrated. And thus, to become More Intense. When the fight spilled out of the ring and up the ramp, both Taker and Batista were so focused on the ass-kicking that they lost track of the referee's count. D'oh. Big spot to finish, as Batista speared Taker off the stage, and both fell in a heap to the floor, setting off a fairly-silly looking sequence of pyro and prop failures. The ref's 10 count is applied, and we've got ourselves a draw at about the 20 minute mark. Yay? 
    Very good match, massively unsatisfying finish. But this is going to be par for the course, I think, in this New Era of Joint PPVs. Instead of two guys delivering a 2- or 3-match "series" of PPV matches, we may well be en route to Taker and Batista having to deliver 4-5 big matches, which means padding out the feud with non-finishes like this. So yes: it's more Taker/Batista matches (and so far, these have been good things). But also: each one means a little bit less if you have to go to finishes like this to extend the feud. Like I said on Friday: WWE is robbing Peter to pay Paul with this new PPV philosophy.
  • John Cena outlasted Shawn Michaels, Edge, and Randy Orton to retain the WWE Title. And yet another night of "mixed reactions" for Cena. Ahem. Early on, they started with Cena/Michaels cooperating against Edge/Orton, but then flipped things following the mildest bit of chest-puffing bravado so that Michaels was brawling with Cena while Edge battled Orton. It all led up to a palate-cleanser spot in which Michaels took everybody out with a moonsault from the ring to the floor. With the match thus reset, we did more of the standard "cycling guys in and out of the match, 2 at a time." First was a Cena vs. Orton segment. Edge helped Orton get the better of Cena, and then the two briefly teamed up on Michaels, before it broke down a bit into Cena vs. Edge inside the ring and Michaels vs. Orton outside. Orton and Edge won the respective battles, and seemed to make peace until Edge "turned" on Orton with a chair shot. Funny, the crowd didn't exactly boo him out of the building for that one.
    Edge tried to take advantage by going after Cena in the ring. Didn't work. Cena SSTF'd him. Orton tried to follow suit by going after Cena. No dice, he gets SSTF'd, too. Michaels makes the save to prevent a finish, and manages to evade the SSTF long enough for a quick brawling segment versus Cena, leading to the HBK Five Moves of Doom. As expected, Michaels craps out after only four of them, thanks to a spear from Edge. As everybody is pretty equally beat up at this point, we get to the part of the match where everybody hits a finisher or two on somebody else, but then there's either an heroic kick-out, or a third somebody makes the save, creating the impression that its going to be impossible for anyone to score a win in this 4-way environment. A nice standard bit of psychology to employ. 
    Final sequence of moves: Edge aimed for Cena, but speared Orton. Cena FU'd Edge. Michaels superkicked Cena, but turned to the crowd to gloat. Cena, despite being KO'ed, landed on top of Orton, and the ref counted to three just as Michaels turned back around and saw what was happening. Huh, interesting finish. Maybe a bit convoluted, but they executed it WAY better than that double-pinfall debacle from a few weeks ago. This way, I guess you can have Edge say that he "won" because he's the one who knocked out Orton, and Michaels can say he "won" because he kicked the crap out of Cena and he just lucked out by falling on top of Orton, which pretty much leads to Edge and Michaels being to lead shit-stirrers on RAW for a while, while Cena has to sit around and accept being lucky, and Orton deals with having pretty much everybody BUT him being able to stake a claim to winning the match. Not too hateful, I guess. RAW will have an easier time stretching their main event picture out in this new PPV Era than SD! will, at least.

And so it goes.... a new PPV Philosophy, but pretty much the same end results. If you sat down and watched this one, you probably had a good enough time. But if you didn't, there's no reason for you to go out of your way to catch a replay or anything, cuz by Tuesday morning, nobody will be much talking about Backlash 2007.

Any relevant additional thoughts/analysis/fall-out will follow in an OO Column later this week. See you then, kids....


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