Inside Pulse 12

A2Z Analysiz: WWF Backlash 2001 (Triple H, Steve Austin)

Backlash 2001

Allstate Arena – Chicago, Illinois – April 29, 2001

Jim Ross and Paul Heyman are on hand to do commentary.

Sunday Night Heat

MATCH #1: Light Heavyweight Title Match – Crash Holly vs. Jerry Lynn

Crash has been the champion since 3.18.01. Lynn is a former ECW Champion just looking to get going in the WWF. He attacks Holly right away and we’re off and running. Crash hits a rana but Lynn comes back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. A very audible “ECW” chant breaks out in support of the challenger. Crash comes back with ah flurry of offense, as Jim Ross notes that he is merely an 11-time Hardcore Champion at this point. The champ hits a powerslam for a two-count. He stays in control, locking on a bow-and-arrow. Lynn escapes and gets a near-fall, and then they trade punches. Crash knocks Lynn down with a clothesline. They do the fish out of water spot to a nice pop from the crowd. Lynn gets a schoolboy rollup and grabs a handful of tights to get the pin and win the title at 3:33. This was fine for the time given, but it ended up meaning nothing anyway.
Rating: *½

MATCH #2: Lita vs. Molly Holly

They trade hammerlocks and Lita gets a quick rollup for two. Lita goes back to the arm and Molly counters with a fireman’s carry and a La Magistral cradle for two. They impressively trade holds back and forth, with Molly’s offense looking noticeably better than Lita’s. Molly goes for a body slam but Lita slips out and hits a Scorpion Death Drop for two. Lita goes for the Twist of Fate but Molly counters with a Northern Lights suplex for two. Molly hits a vertical suplex and goes up top for a cross body block, which gets a two-count. Lita blocks a clothesline and turns it into the Twist of Fate. She goes up top and almost slips and kills herself on her way to almost hitting a Moonsault for the win at 2:40. Lita was ridiculously over but I forget how sloppy she really was as a wrestler.
Rating: ¾*

Backlash

MATCH #1: Six-Man Tag Team – The Dudley Boyz vs. X-Factor

The Dudley Boyz are Bubba Ray, D-Von, and Spike. X-Factor is the much-loved super-group consisting of X-Pac, Justin Credible, and Albert. They charge the ring but the Dudleys easily handle them and send X-Pac and Credible to the floor so they can triple-team Albert. Then Bubba and D-Von toss Spike from the ring onto Credible and X-Pac on the floor. Referee Teddy Long regains control of the match with Spike and Credible in the ring. Spike gets a couple of near-falls but Credible kicks out of them and makes the tag to Albert. The littlest Dudley tries the Dudley Dog but Albert simply tosses him away. Credible gets tagged back in and when he goes for a baseball slide in the corner, Spike moves out of the way and Credible’s junk collides with the ring post. D-Von and X-Pac get tags, and D-Von is all over all three members of X-Factor. Albert takes a cheap shot from the apron, allowing X-Pac to hit a spin kick. Now Albert gets tagged into the match officially, and he throws D-Von to the floor and then tricks Bubba into distracting the referee so X-Pac and Credible can double-team D-Von on the floor. X-Factor takes turns abusing D-Von. Credible hits a Boss Man Slam but doesn’t go for a cover. They continue working D-Von over until he takes both X-Pac and Credible down with a clothesline, and finally D-Von makes the tag to Bubba Ray. The match turns into a pier-six brawl pretty quickly. The Dudleys hit the What’s Up on Credible, and Bubba calls for the tables. Albert thwarts D-Von’s attempt to get a table with a big boot to the face. Bubba misses a charge in the corner and gets squashed by Albert. Seconds later X-Pac and Credible hit Bubba with a double superkick to get the pin at 8:00. That was a good, energetic opener and the right team went over. Of course he Dudleys get their heat back by putting X-Pac through a table with the 3D. Sad to think they’re just doing the same exact routine today.
Rating: ***

MATCH #2: Hardcore Championship – Rhyno vs. Raven

Rhyno has been the champion since 4.19.01. This was during Raven’s brief run as a hardcore babyface. Rhyno charges before the bell and receives a drop toehold into a stop sign for his trouble. Raven dents a trash can on Rhyno’s head for a two-count. Rhyno comes back and uses the same trash can to hit Raven. He sends Raven to the floor and gets a cover for two. The champion sets up the steel steps away from the ring post and slams Raven’s head into them. Rhyno sets Raven up in a chair and tries to leap from the steps but Raven moves out of the way and Rhyno crashes into the chair. Raven then uses the steps to hit an elevated clothesline for a two-count. They make it back to the ring and Raven slugs away. Raven knocks Rhyno right back outside and whips him into the barricade. He brings out more weapons and then Rhyno pulls him into the ring post. Rhyno then levels Raven with a trash can lid. He pulls off one of the “keep off” signs from the barricade and cracks Raven in the face with it for a two-count. He hits Raven with the sign one more time for another near-fall. They take it back to the ring and Rhyno throws in a shopping cart. Raven comes back with a drop toehold, this time sending Rhyno into the cart. He uses a handicap parking sign to wear Rhyno out. The crowd is really behind Raven here. Raven hits the bulldog for a close near-fall. Both men struggle back to their feet and Rhyno hits a few punches. Rhyno grabs the shopping cart and Raven Grabs a trash can, and Raven wins that battle for a two-count. Raven runs the cart into Rhyno’s guts. He goes for his clothesline, but Rhyno clobbers him with the handicap parking sign for two. Rhyno blasts Raven twice with a trash can, and then goes for the Gore, but Raven moves and he crashes through the shopping cart! That’s a great spot. Raven hits Rhyno (still in the cart) with the kitchen sink a couple of times, but can only get two. Man the crowd is hot for Raven. While they’re showing the replay, Rhyno is able to cut Raven in half with a Gore to get the pin and retain the title at 8:12. That was tons of fun but the finish came off somewhat anticlimactically. This was probably the best Hardcore Title match ever up to this point.
Rating: ***¼

MATCH #3: Duchess of Queensbury Rules – Chris Jericho vs. William Regal

They did not explain the rules before the match, so Jericho is at a disadvantage. It starts off like a standard wrestling match, which Jericho dominates. Jericho tries a missile dropkick but Regal avoids it and hits a vertical suplex for two. Regal hits a series of strikes and then locks on a chinlock. He works Jericho over, but goes up to the second rope and takes too much time to gloat and Jericho makes him pay with a hurricanrana. Jericho fires up, hits the bulldog and the Lionsault, and then the bell rings at 4:48. Apparently the time limit for round one has expired. Jericho is angry, and Regal gets a quick rollup for two. Regal hits an overhead German Suplex, causing Jericho to land on his face. He then locks on the Regal Stretch and Jericho reaches the ropes. Jericho reverses a suplex attempt and locks on the Walls of Jericho and Regal taps at 7:12. However, the Duchess informs the Fink that you can’t win by submission, so the match once again will continue. A frustrated Jericho goes to the floor and walks toward the Duchess, and Regal joins him. Regal grabs the Duchess’s scepter and bashes Jericho with it for the disqualification at 8:14. If you guessed that there are no disqualifications in a Duchess of Queensbury Rules match, you guessed right. Regal rolls Jericho back in the ring and goes for a cover but Jericho kicks out at two! Regal works Jericho over but can’t quite put him away. Jericho comes back with an enziguiri and both men are down. Back to their feet they exchange punches. Jericho wins that battle and stomps Regal down in the corner. He once again goes for the Walls of Jericho but thinks better of it and kicks Regal in the nuts instead. That’s a clever use of the “rules.” Regal bails to the floor and Jericho baseball slides him, and Regal falls right into the Duchess’s lap! Regal’s expression is priceless. Jericho dispatches of Regal and the Duchess’s security, and then throws the Duchess into the ring and locks on the Walls of Jericho! This distraction gives Regal the chance to wallop Jericho with a chair three times and that’s enough to get the pin at 12:34. That was pretty goofy but it put a lot of heat on Regal and they did do a few creative things in there. It’s funny to look back on this and see just how different Chris Jericho is today, and just how the same William Regal is.
Rating: **¼

MATCH #4: 30-Minute Ultimate Submission – Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle

An Ultimate Submission match is the same as an Iron Man match, except in this one only a submission earns a decision. The clock is ticking away in the lower right hand corner of the screen. Both men are aggressive but cautious early on. They take it right to the mat and wrestle to a stalemate. Each man goes for their pet hold early on but the other seems prepared for it. Angle takes a powder to regroup. Benoit almost locks on the Crippler Crossface and Angle bails again. Back in the ring Benoit gets a waist lock takedown and Angle tries to roll to the floor but Benoit hangs on and they right on the floor. Benoit locks on a Crippler Crossface on the floor and Angle taps out! But since the submission didn’t take place in the ring it doesn’t count. That should be a psychological advantage for Benoit though. Angle stalls for a bit before getting back in the ring. Finally back in the ring Angle quickly grabs Benoit in a leg bar and Benoit quickly taps out at 6:33. There is a 30-second rest period between falls. Heyman points out that Benoit tapping out was a smart decision, as it helps preserve him for the rest of the match. Benoit throws a few chops but Angle cuts him by continuing to work on the knee. Angle charges but Benoit catches him and locks on a Cross Armbreaker and Angle quickly taps out at 8:04 to even the match at 1-1. Benoit goes right after Angle’s shoulder, throwing it into the ring post. He goes for the Cross Armbreaker once again but this time Angle reaches the ropes. Benoit hits a shoulderbreaker and even chops right on the shoulder. Angle seeks solace in the ropes but Benoit won’t let him go. The referee tries to pull Benoit back but gets shoved down. That gives Angle the chance to grab a chair he had strategically placed ringside early and crack Benoit in the skull with it. Angle then locks on the Ankle Lock and Benoit taps at 10:20. He pays no heed to the 30-second rest period, kicking away at Benoit. When the rest period is over, Angle immediately locks on the Crippler Crossface and Benoit taps out at 11:04! Angle is up 3-1 now. The Olympic Gold Medalist is looking supremely confident now. He takes the fight to the floor to further abuse Benoit. Back in the ring Angle charges at Benoit and gets back dropped to the floor. Rather than recover, Benoit takes the fight right to Angle. Given that he’s two falls behind, that’s good strategy. Angle reverses an Irish whip and sends Benoit crashing into the steel steps. He then locks on the Ankle Lock and Benoit taps, but they’re on the floor so it doesn’t count. We reach the halfway point, and Angle is up 3-1 still. Back in the ring Angle goes after the arm for some reason. Angle locks on an abdominal stretch to take some time off the clock. Benoit reverses it and puts on a cross armbreaker but Angle luckily reaches the ropes. Angle tries an Irish whip but Benoit counters it and puts Angle in the Sharpshooter, but once again Angle reaches the ropes. A series of reversals ends with Benoit locking on a nasty looking half crab and Angle taps out at 18:05, bringing the score to 3-2. Angle rolls to the floor to kill some time, but Benoit chases after him. Benoit throws Angle into the steel steps and then back in the ring. Angle continually tries to run away. He switches gears and tries to keep Benoit on the floor instead. He finally lets Benoit back in and commences wearing him down. They go back to the floor and Angle hits a suplex. Back in the ring Benoit fights back but Angle has time on his side. Less than five minutes to go now. Angle tries to choke Benoit out, but Benoit hits a chinbreaker to break the hold. That’s not enough to wrest control away from Angle though. Angle throws a couple of belly-to-belly suplexes as we’re less than three minutes away from going home. Benoit reverses a whip and hits the rolling German Suplexes. How awesome is it that these guys essentially went 25+ minutes and didn’t throw their signature suplexes? Angle tries to counter the Germans, but Benoit counters the counter and locks on an Ankle Lock to tie the match at 27:51! We’re tied at 3-3 with about 90 seconds to go. Benoit goes after the knee. He tries the German Suplexes again, but Angle hits a low blow out of view of the referee. Angle then locks on the Ankle Lock but Benoit reaches the ropes. He hits a suplex and locks on the Ankle Lock again but Benoit hangs on and the bell rings at 30:00 with the match tied at 3-3. The referee declares Sudden Death, so the match will continue! Angle goes right back to Benoit’s knee. He hits a belly-to-belly suplex. Benoit fires up and rams Angle into the turnbuckle, but Angle grabs Benoit in a kind of guillotine maneuver. Seconds later Benoit rolls that into the Crippler Crossface and Angle taps out to give Benoit the 4-3 win at 1:52 (31:52 total match time)! That match may not be for everyone but I enjoyed all the strategizing and smart work involved. Having seen him in TNA for the last four years or whatever, I forget how entertaining Kurt Angle used to be.
Rating: ****

MATCH #5: Last Man Standing – Shane McMahon vs. Big Show

Show chases McMahon right away, but McMahon first throws a chair into the ring and then crawls under the ring to grab a kendo stick, and proceeds to wear Show out with it. After taking a few shots Show catches the stick and levels McMahon with a hard clothesline. Show throws McMahon back in the ring now, but McMahon grabs the chair and wallops Show with it. So there have been chair shots in the last four matches. McMahon hits Show six or seven times with the chair, finally taking him off his feet, but Show gets up at the count of five. He goes back under the ring and grabs a medical bag and soaks a rag with chloroform or ether, and tries to knock Show out. It works, but then Mr. McMahon comes running out and hits Shane across the back with the chair, and then cracks him across the head. Both competitors are down now, as Mr. McMahon takes the bag and the chair to the back. Show gets to his feet and picks McMahon up at the count of eight, just so he can deliver more punishment. He’s just destroying McMahon at this point. He hits a Chokeslam and once again picks McMahon up at eight. He picks McMahon up in a Lex Luger torture rack, but this time Test comes out and nails Show with a big boot to the face, falling down in the process. Show recovers and throws Test to the floor and then into the crowd. He pulls Test back out and then into the steel steps. They battle up the aisle, with McMahon following soon after. McMahon grabs one of the “keep off” signs and cracks Show with it. Show shrugs it off and grabs a metal pipe. McMahon wisely tries to avoid Show and starts climbing up the scaffolding. Test takes Show down, and then encourages McMahon to jump off the scaffolding with an elbow drop! That was at least a 30-foot drop. Test props McMahon up on one of the camera cranes, and McMahon is declared the Last Man Standing at 11:54. That was a fun brawl. Shane McMahon always brought it. Replays show that McMahon didn’t even make contact with Show on the landing, but I forgive him.
Rating: **½

MATCH #6: Triple-Threat European Championship – Matt Hardy vs. Eddie Guerrero vs. Christian

Hardy has been the champion since 4.26.01. I believe the European Title match was originally going to be Eddie Guerrero defending against Raven, but when Hardy won the title from Guerrero on Smackdown they quickly reshuffled the card. Guerrero and Christian join forces to attack the champion right away. They pitch him to the floor and then Christian attacks Guerrero from behind. Christian hits a powerslam for two. Guerrero comes back with a hurricanrana. He takes Christian to the top rope and Hardy rejoins the fray. The maneuvers and reversals are coming at everyone pretty fast here. Guerrero goes for a surfboard on Christian, which Hardy stupidly breaks up with a sunset flip (stupid because that just got them up against the ropes and looked awkward). Hardy sends Guerrero to the floor and hits Christian with a clothesline for two. Guerrero pulls Hardy to the floor, and Christian takes both of them out with a baseball slide. Hardy hits Christian with a nice DDT on the floor. Guerrero grabs Hardy and hits a brainbuster back in the ring, and then hits another one for a two-count. Hardy comes back with a back body drop and takes off his shirt, much to the delight of the teenage girls in the crowd. JR gets a nice zing, also noting that a shirtless Hardy is “to the delight of the young ladies here in Chicago and a couple of guys in the third row.” Guerrero tries a super hurricanrana on Hardy but Christian stops him and tries to superplex Hardy. That doesn’t work either, and Hardy comes off the top rope with a simultaneous clothesline on both men. Christian knocks Guerrero down with a cross body block and then Hardy throws him to the floor. Hardy bodyslams Guerrero and then hits the legdrop off the second rope for two. Christian pulls Hardy to the floor, and when the referee’s back is turned, Edge comes running out and hits Hardy with a Spear. Edge throws Hardy back in the ring, but Guerrero throws Christian to the floor and tries to steal his pin but Hardy kicks out at two. Jeff Hardy comes down to counteract Edge. The referee is distracted with Edge, and Christian hits Guerrero with the Unprettier. Jeff breaks up that pin with a Swanton Bomb, all behind the referee’s back. Edge and Jeff are sent outside, and Matt hits Christian with the Twist of Fate to get the pin at 6:52. Whew, they really packed a lot of action into a short amount of time.
Rating: **¾

MATCH #7: Three Titles Are on the Line – Stone Cold Steve Austin & Triple H vs. Undertaker & Kane

Austin has been the WWF Champion since 4.1.01. H has been the Intercontinental Champion since 4.16.01. Undertaker & Kane have been the World Tag Team Champions since 4.19.01. All three titles are on the line – the winner of the fall wins the title of the man he pinned. This is a pretty important match for H especially, since if he wins the Tag Team Titles he’ll become the second-ever Grand Slam Champion after Shawn Michaels. Undertaker is entering to Limp Bizkit’s “Rollin’” at this point. Kane’s left arm is badly injured and heavily bandaged. The bell rings before everyone is officially ready to begin, so we start with Austin and H stalling on the floor. The referee starts counting them out, and when H gets in the ring Undertaker hits one punch and the Intercontinental Champion goes right back to the floor. Austin and H retreat once again, but this time Undertaker and Kane retrieve them and the battle starts in the aisle. They pair off, with Undertaker battling Austin in the ring and Kane fighting H on the floor. Then they switch. The Brothers of Destruction are dominant in the early going. H cuts Kane off with a high knee right to the injured arm. JR goes into detail about the history these men share, which is something I feel like today’s commentary lacks. Undertaker and Austin both get tags, and Austin immediately begs off. No matter, Undertaker stomps a mudhole in Austin but gets his eyes raked before he can walk it dry. Undertaker shrugs it off and throws Austin all over the ring. Kane begs for a tag and Undertaker hesitates before tagging in his baby brother. Austin goes after Kane’s arm, so Kane tags his big brother back in and Austin immediately tags H. Undertaker hits Old School, and Austin illegally enters the ring and suffers Old School as well. Austin and H take a powder and start walking to the back again, but Kane takes them out with a clothesline. Kane throws Austin back in the ring and Undertaker sets up for the Last Ride but H breaks it up. Austin and H stomp a double mudhole in Undertaker and start working him over in their half of the ring. Undertaker comes back with a DDT on H, and both men are down. He gets to his feet but won’t tag his injured brother, which allows Austin to regain control, hitting a Thesz Press. Undertaker valiantly fights back and takes both of his opponents down with a clothesline. Kane tags himself in and goes to work, hitting big boots and sending H to the floor. He hits Austin with a sidewalk slam and then a clothesline off the top rope. H tries to surprise Kane off the top rope but gets slammed down. The Big Red Machine fights off both men for a while, but succumbs to attacks on his injured arm. They’re keeping up a pretty fast pace here. The Two-Man Power Trip finally takes control of Kane, sending him to the floor. Austin bashes Kane’s arm with a chair. Back in the ring they mercilessly work on Kane’s arm, thwarting his numerous comeback attempts. Austin makes a tag to H, who goes up to the top rope for the Flying Nothing, and gets Kane’s boot in his face. Kane still can’t make a tag, and Austin comes back in. He hits Austin with a suplex, and then Austin tags H back in. H hits the Pedigree and tags Austin back in. Austin goes for the cover and Undertaker breaks it up. H argues with the referee, giving Undertaker the chance to level Austin with a Chokeslam. Now Stephanie McMahon gets on the apron to distract the referee, and he shoves her down to the floor! Kane hits H with an enziguiri and the referee takes a small hit. Undertaker finally gets tagged but the referee didn’t see it. The ref quickly gives up trying to get Undertaker out of the ring. Undertaker hits H with the Last Ride, but the ref won’t count because he never saw the tag. Obviously Undertaker is not happy, and Austin hits him from behind and the referee tumbles to the floor. Austin hits Kane with the Stunner, and then he and Undertaker fight on the floor. Stephanie hands H one of the World Tag Team Title belts, but Kane boots him in the face. Kane goes for the Chokeslam and Stephanie gets in the ring and Kane gives her a big boot! Mr. McMahon comes down now with the sledgehammer. Kane grabs him, but H gets control of the sledgehammer and hits Kane in the arm with it, and then gives him a shot to the head. That’s enough for the pin and we have new World Tag Team Champions at 27:11. That went on a little bit long but they had a solid story to it and they kept up quite a pace there given who was involved.
Rating: ***

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