WWE tag team legends The Hart Foundation
The Katz Files – Arnie Katz
Backlash: Recap & Analysis!
The Kingfish Arnie Katz tells you what happened at WWE’s April pay per view event – and delves into what it means!.
Backlash proved to be a memorable pay per view, indeed! When all three major title change hands on one card, fans have to pay attention.
Let’s look at the card, match by match, to see how it the pay per view unfolded…
Jack Korpella, host of the pre-Backlash “Free-for-All,” said that this was the pay per view at which wrestlers will take care of unfinished business.
A long video, highlighted by Edge’s incredible mic work, put the spotlight on the showdown between the Rated R Superstar and John Cena.
Edge-Cena got the largest share of air-time, but “Free for All” also gave a lot of attention to what was billed as the final match between Jeff and Matt Hardy.
The pre-show featured a fairly lengthy version of the Kane-Big Show vs. CM Punk-Rey Mysterio match from the 4/23 episode of Superstars.
The Kingfish comments: The structure of the hype suggests that someone at WWE has doubts about how much fans care about the Orton-Triple H six-man extravaganza. The show spent the final few minutes on Orton-HHH, but the heavy emphasis on Cena-Edge showed how much WWE is banking on one of the supposed two main events.
The use of the tag match certainly enlivened the show. A lot of WWE fans either don’t get WGN or haven’t acquired the habit of watching Superstars, so for many it was an extra, “B” match with four well-known performers.
It seems strange that, coming off this tag match, WWE didn’t schedule Mysterio versus Big Show for Backlash. They broke Kane-Punk out of the match, but didn’t do anything with the other half. On the bright side, Show-Mysterio would have been a grim spectacle, indeed..
The opening video for Backlash, from the Dunkin’ Donut Arena in Providence, RI, featured a female voice that equated the pay per view with “vengeance, obsession and pride.”
Jim Ross welcomed fans to the 11th annual edition of Backlash. Michael Cole introduced himself as his two wingmen, JR and Jerry Lawler.
The Kingfish comments: The three-man announce team worked very well. Cole handled most of the play-by-play while the other two provided abundant color commentary. This isn’t Ross’ usual role, but it is well-suited to his encyclopedic knowledge of wrestling history and personalities.
Christian d. Jack Swagger
The Story: Jack Swagger has given the ECW Championship fresh credibility, but now he faces his most serious challenger to date in the form of Captain Charisma.
My Prediction: The arrival of Kozlov and the Tommy Dreamer deadline angle makes this especially tough to predict. There are so many options and alternatives. I don’t think they would want to turn Swagger face at this point, so a likely scenario would be for Christian to lose to Swagger, who would lose to dream who would lose to Kozlov who would lose to Christian who would lose to Swagger. If that’s what’s on the menu, Christian loses to Swagger in some way that doesn’t take him out of the title picture. It could even be one of those endings where Kozlov rushes to the ring and destroys both men, causing a No Contest.
Predicted Grade: B+
The Match: Jack Swagger dominated the chain wrestling portion of the match. A Running Leg Lariat helped Captain Charisma get back into the fight.
Swagger leveled Christian with a couple of Shoulder Blocks and Gorilla Press Slammed him over the top rope to the arena floor! The ECW champion grounded Christian with a Body Scissors. The All-American American rolled back and forth with his trapped prey, which added a lot of pain to the maneuver.
Swagger applied a Bearhug and almost forced Christian’s shoulders to the mat for a three-count. Christian punched free, but soon found himself on the wrong end of a Gutbuster.
Christian raised his knees just in time to counter a Swagger Cross-Body Splash Christian hit a Running Forearm and attempted a Sunset Flip without success.
Christian saw an opening to go to the top, but Swagger recovered, climbed after him and dealt a ring-shaking Back Body Drop. Swagger tried a Splash from the top, but Christian kicked out at “two.”
After exchanging several near falls, Swagger ripped the cover off a turnbuckle. What the ECW champion didn’t see, however, was that Christian did the same thing at the opposite end of the ring.
Christian stood in front of the exposed metal and moved away just as Swagger charged at him full tilt! Swagger banged into the metal and Christian finished him with the Kill Switch (formerly known as the Unprettier). Christian is the new ECW champion.
Actual Grade: B
The Kingfish comments: What does this mean for Jack Swagger? WWE loves this guy and rightly so. He is big, skillful and charismatic. There’ll be some rematches, perhaps even at the next pay per view, but Swagger may well move to Smackdown, which could use more star power.
Backstage, an elated Christian met Edge, who told him not to get too full of himself. Christian told his old teammate that he had changed. The Rated R Superstar attributed his apparent mental deterioration to the effect of John Cena.
The Kingfish comments: This was a nice touch. WWE is clearly not yet ready to do something involving Christian and Edge, but this got the first meeting out of the way without hurrying whatever it is they plan to do with the form partners.
Chris Jericho d. Ricky Steamboat
The Story: Last time, Chris Jericho faced three legends. This time, he goes one-on-one against the surprisingly fit and ready Ricky Steamboat.
My Prediction: Thos will be a fairly short match. Steamboat will do what he can and Jericho will do what he must. I expect them to give Steamboat the dignity of not having to take a definitive loss, but I would look for it to be a DQ victory for the Dragon.
Predicted Grade: C+
The Match: Jericho tried to ground Steamboat, but that proved to be a tougher-than-expected task. Ricky hit a Baseball Slide into the ringside area, but he connected on a flying move from the apron.
Steamboat uncorked several of his signature Armdrags and used them to establish a Reverse Armbar that definitely had the potential to make Jericho tap.
Jericho hit Steamboat with a Springboard Dropkick as the Dragon stood on the apron. Jericho added a Suplex, but he still couldn’t polish off the legendary wrestler.
After Steamboat escaped from a Sleeperhold, he scaled the turnbuckle with Jericho in hot pursuit. They struggled and Steamboat brought his foe down to earth with a Back Suplex! He took too long to make the cover.
The Dragon tried a Figure-Four Leglock, but Jericho easily unraveled it. Steamboat next went for a Texas Cloverleaf, but again, he couldn’t make it stick.
When Steamboat came off the second rope, Jericho nailed him with the Codebreaker! By the time Chris covered, Ricky had enough strength to sling his foot over the bottom rope.
Lionheart finally put the Dragon into the Walls of Jericho. Even a hard fighter like Steamboat had no choice except to tap.
Actual Grade: B
The Kingfish comments: Let’s give credit to Steamboat for hauling his butt into the ring for one more match and to Chris Jericho for beating him in a way that did not embarrass him.
I fervently hope that we have now seen the last of legends in the ring for the next year.
Beth Phoenix, accompanied by the bodacious Rosa Mendez, interrupted Santino Marella’s imaginary phone call. She told him that he ought to cut the ridiculous act. He tried to get her to take Santina’s place on the Khali Kiss Cam. She tumbled to his plan and told him that she wouldn’t kiss Khali – and wouldn’t be kissing Santino any more.
The Kingfish comments: It’s a good thing that WWE has switched to its tepid “family entertainment” policy just in time to give us a transvestite and potential man-on-man action.
Kane d. C. M. Punk
The Story: Two men, when they have their eyes on the same prize, can easily become enemies. When CM Punk knocked Kane off the ladder in the Money in the Bank match at WM 25, he earned the hatred of the always unpredictable Big Red Machine.
My Prediction: It wouldn’t make much sense to hang a big loss on Punk, since he is lined up for the title shot that goes with Money in the Bank. Kane will make it competitive, but as so often happens, he will come out on the short end in this high-profile match.
Predicted Grade: B-
The Match: Kane’s strength gave him an early edge, but Punk soon had a Cross Armbreaker. It would’ve made this one short match if he hadn’t done it tangled in the ropes. CM< held it as long as he could without drawing a DQ, but the referee forced the break.
Kane took the fight out of the ring. He had Punk line dup for a Chokeslam, but the athletic Mr. Straight-edge landed safely on the ring apron! Punk survived a mammoth Clothesline, but the Big Red Machine was right on him in the corner, dishing out the agony.
Kane tried for a Chokeslam, but Punk countered it into a DDT! Punk went back to that Armbreaker, but the official again separated the combatants. Punk came off the top with a Forearm to the back of Kane’s neck. The big man kicked his tormenter across the ring.
Kane went to the top, but Punk stopped him cold with a Flying Enzuiguiri. The cover fell short, though.
CM Punk soared through the air with a Springboard Fly – only to have Kane punch him right out of the air! The Straight –edge Man somehow got his shoulder off the canvas.
Punk tried for one Enzuiguiri too many. Kane caught his leading leg and delivered a tremendous Chokeslam. The Big Red Machine covered to take the decision in a hard-fought contest.
Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish comments: Quite a match for Kane! It also makes sense for the promotion. WWE has moved both men to Smackdown. If Punk gets the title, he has the Big Red Machine as a readymade challenger. Even if he doesn’t have the strap, revenge is enough motive for another match between them.
Jeff Hardy d Matt Hardy
I Quit” Match
The Story: The feud between the brothers, started by Matt’s psychotic actions toward his brother, could very well end in the ring at Backlash. This is the kind of match that settles grudges.
My Prediction: Some very interesting singles programs against non-relatives should material for both Hardy boys after the realignment after Backlash, so this could finally be the end of this feud. The brothers ought to reconcile, so after Jeff makes Matt quit, he helps carry his brother to the back. Later in the show, they shake hands and exchange a Manly Hug.
Predicted Grade: A-
The Match: As Matt got into the ring, the announcers discussed his three-match winning streak against his brother.
Jeff got off to a fast start. He attacked aggressively and did the first significant damage with a Legdrop, Jeff scored with a Baseball Slide and an out-of-ring Plancha. Jeff followed up by running his brother into the ring steps and generally working him over in the ringside area.
Matt broke out of a Sleeperhold and mounted some offense of his own. When Jeff tried to go to higher ground, Matt knocked him off the turnbuckle to a hard landing on the arena floor!
Matt crotched Jeff on the ring post and slammed his brother’s leg against the unyielding steel. When it looked like this had tweaked Jeff’s knee, the elder Hardy immediately clamped on the Figure-Four Leglock. Jeff outlasted Matt on the hold, but he took a vicious Elbow Drop.
When Matt applied the Figure-Four a second time, Jeff rolled into a reversal. Matt quickly untangled himself to avoid having to tap.
Matt kept screaming at Jeff to quit, but the Charismatic Enigma’s reply was a devastating Moonsault! Matt did tap to a Texas Cloverleaf, but he wouldn’t utter those two fateful words to end the match. Jeff added a Twist of Fate, but it didn’t bring him closer to victory. Next he dealt Matt a Swanton Bomb, but the victim would not quit.
After Jeff connected with another Swanton Bomb and used it as an opportunity to set up a table. He used a roll of duct tape to strap his brother to the table.
Then he got a ladder and erected it next to the table. Matt began to beg Jeff to stop. He talked about the love of brothers and the bond between them. Jeff resolutely climbed up the ladder.
Just as he was about to come off onto his restrained brother, Matt finally uttered the words: “I quit!”
Jeff did it anyway. He Legdropped Matt right through the table.
Actual Grade: A-
The Kingfish comments: The match was good enough to end this feud well, but I think the Hardys probably should’ve reconciled in some way. This still leaves the brothers estranged.
Randy Orton told Tod Grisham that he wanted to speak directly to Dave Batista. Randy recalled their time in Evolution and tried to set Batista against Triple H.
The Kingfish comments: This served to remind fans that Batista, though a babyface, is a loose cannon. His hatred of Orton is strong enough that he might well not perform like a good teammate.
Great Khali, led by Runjin Singh, came to the ring for the Kiss Cam segment.
“Santina claimed that she wasn’t what she appeared to be – and then claimed a deep crush on Jim Ross. “He calls me his little slobberknocker,” “Santina” gushed. JR didn’t appear to agree.
Singh explained that Khali now understood the situation, but added that the Punjabi Playboy wanted to see “Santina” and JR express their passion with a kiss.
As “Santina” went into a swoon, Beth Phoenix, flanked by Rosa Mendez, came to the ring and said she’d had enough. Beth challenged the transvestite for the “Miss WrestleMania title. The Glamazon asked Khali why he was pursuing this and wondered aloud if all the women in the Punjabi were that ugly.
It looked like Khali would kiss the big blonde, but he smashed her on top of her head! He pushed her over and “Santina” pinned her.
Great Khali yanked “Santina’s” sash and caused what the announcers called a “wardrobe malfunction.”
The Kingfish comments: This skit certainly had some amusing moments, but the plotting was weak. Why would Khali first harass “Santina” and then help “her” win a match against Beth Phoenix? And since Khali likes to kiss, wouldn’t you think that lush and tight Beth Phoenix would be higher on his “to do” list than a chunky transvestite? Are they trying to tell us something about Khali’s sexuality?
Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes &Ted DiBiase d. Triple H, Batista & Shane McMahon
WWE Title Championship
The Story: The stipulation and the family feud are the twin angles fueling this massive, three-on-three-showdown. The captain of the winning side, either Triple H or Randy Orton, goes home with the coveted title.
My Prediction: When WWE puts together this type of match, they usually have something in mind. A Randy Orton victory caused by a Batista SQ (and there’s a stip that says the title would change hands) could lead into a Triple H-Batista program with the winner then going on to fight Edge for the title.
Predicted Grade: B+
The Match: After the video, the participants began to assemble in the ring. The babyface trio entered one at a time, while the three members of Legacy came down the ramp as a unit.
When all six men had completed their entrances, they rushed at each other before the official could even call for the bell. As four men struggled against each other in the ring, Triple H chased Randy Orton out of the arena.
To everyone’s surprise, Randy stayed gone for a long time, letting Rhodes and DiBiase fend for themselves. When he did finally return, it proved to be a good strategy. He was fresh and tipped the balance in favor of Legacy.
The heels worked very efficiently, first isolating Batista and then Shane McMahon for all kinds of punishment and triple-teaming. They really went to town on the younger McMahon, too, and kept him from making the hot tag to his brother-in-law several times./
Triple H hadn’t done much since running after Orton, so he had a lot of energy to expend against the three rulebreakers. Action continued outside the ring even as Hunter lined up DiBiase for a Pedigree. As The Game prepared to execute the hold, he saw that Batista was about to exact revenge for a chairshot on Shane with one of his own. Triple H saw that the referee was watching the Animal and broke the hold to stop his teammate from firing a chairshot that would’ve caused a disqualification!
Randy Orton blindsided Triple H with an RKO and then, for good measure, added a lethal Punt. He pinned The Game to win the match and the WWE Championship.
Actual Grade: A-
The Kingfish comments: This match sets up some intriguing situations. Triple H can claim that he lost the title due to the distraction caused by Batista, while Randy Orton will point to the fact that he pinned Triple H.
It’s also a pretty good bet that Batista is now on a collision course with The Game.
They stretchered Triple H from the ring.
The announcers talked in hushed tones about catastrophic injury.
The Kingfish comments: The emphasis on a Triple H injury suggests that Batista may do a program with Orton before Triple H gets his payback.
Edge d. John Cena</b
The Story: The feud that has blazed across WWE for so long is coming to what may be a climactic moment (at least for now). The title is on the line, animosity fills the air and no one is going to take a backward step or deliver less than his best.
My Prediction: John Cena is set to make a movie soon, which is only one of the reasons why Edge will win this and take the title. Another is that it might be time for Batista to make his title run with a Cena-Batista rematch waiting in the wings for WM 26.
Predicted Grade: A
The Match: After an extended stalemate, Cena and Edge escalated the action with some more powerful moves. It became clear that the challenger planned to exploit the head injury Cena received in their previous encounter.
Every time Cena would start to get off the canvas, Edge would hover – and then knock him right back down! Both men took some “6” and “7” counts.
Edge tried to weaken Cena with a Sleeperhold. The champ broke out once, but the Rated R Superstar went right back to it. Cena rose at “7.” The title-holder went on an offensive run, but when he bent over Edge for the “You can’t see me,” the challenger kicked him in the head and applied a Boston Crab!
Cena took some terrible damage during fighting in the ringside area. The referee followed the action and the champ took an “8” count.
Cena brought the bottom half of the metal ring steps into the ring. Edge charged across the ring to kick Cena in the head. When John started to get up, Edge charged again, this time booting the ring steps into him.. Cena sent Edge to the outside and nearly crushed him when he heaved the ring steps over the top rope at him! Edge couldn’t get up until the ref said, “Eighth!”
They exchanged giant haymakers. Each man reeled with the effort of giving, and taking, the mighty blows.. They both got up at “8.” Cena twice attempted an Attitude Adjustment, but Edge blocked the move and connected with a Back Suplex! Cena took Edge to the mat with a Drop Toehold and applied the STF. Edge was quite willing to tap, but the official wouldn’t start the count until he broke the hold and backed out of range.
Edge got up at “8,” and after again thwarting the Attitude Adjustment, nailed Cena with a Spear! Cena barely beat the count. He went to the top, Edge following, but it was the champ who uncorked an Attitude Adjustment from the second rope!
By this point in the match, almost every big move led to a count. Cena appeared to be getting the better of Edge, but neither man stayed down.
Edge cleared an announce table and positioned Cena on it. The champ had a little more life than the Rated R Superstar expected, though. Cena lifted him onto his shoulders and used the Attitude Adjustment to heave his foe over the outer barrier and into the crowd! Edge barely beat the count!
Cena chased Edge through the crowd. Edge ran for his life, even leaving the arena for the backstage area before returning again. Cena hit a Running Bulldog off a staircase and into an equipment area. Edge smashed Cena in the head with a foreign object and DDT’d him on the ramp’s metal grate! This time it was Cena who had to race the final count to avoid elimination.
Edge pulled off a makeshift Con-Chair-to, used the metal grate as the other chair. Cena somehow struggled back to his feet at “9.”
Cena summoned his strength to lift Edge for an Attitude Adjustment. Suddenly, Big Show rushed into the scene and smashed Cena so hard that the champion fell into a bank of pyro. The fireworks exploded and caught fire.
The official counted out the unconscious Cena. Edge had reclaimed the World Heavyweight Championship!
Actual Grade: A-
The Kingfish comments: A great match should’ve had a better ending than using Big Show as the Magic Helper. It does give Cena a reason to fight the Giant and an excuse for losing to the Great Opportunist, but it seemed like such a bolt from the blue when it happened.
Predicted Grade for Backlash: B
Actual Grade for Backlash: B+
That’s it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with another installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising pro wrestling column. I hope you’ll join me then and, please, bring your friends..
— Arnie Katz