Inside Pulse 12

A2Z Analysiz: WWE Backlash 2004 (Chris Benoit, Shawn Michaels, Triple H)

backlash 2004

Rexall Place – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada – Sunday, April 18, 2004

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are calling the action for this RAW-only pay-per-view. This is the first ever pay-per-view to emanate from Edmonton.

SUNDAY NIGHT HEAT MATCH: Val Venis vs. Matt Hardy

Venis grabs a headlock to start and knocks Hardy down to the canvas. Hardy responds with a side headlock of his own. Venis comes back and goes after Hardy’s arm. Hardy comes back with punches and chops, and Venis responds in kind. Venis hits a bodyslam and an elbow drop for two. He charges at Hardy, who sidesteps him and tosses him to the floor. Hardy suplexes Venis back into the ring and gets a two-count. He scores with a couple of elbow drops. A powerslam gets another two-count for Hardy. He locks on a chinlock and Venis powers out of it. Hardy hits a back body drop for a two-count. He hits the Side Effect for another two-count. Venis fires back with a flurry of offense, and then misses a charge in the corner. Hardy levels Venis with a clothesline but only gets a two-count. Moments later he tries the Twist of Fate but Venis blocks it and hits a spinebuster. Venis goes up top but Hardy stops him and goes for a superplex. Hardy goes for a Super Twist of Fate but Venis blocks it and shoves him down. Venis then hits the Money Shot to get the pin at 7:58. That was a decent match between two solid hands.
Rating: **¼

MATCH #1: Shelton Benjamin vs. Ric Flair

Flair is one half of the World Tag Team Champions with Batista at this point. He tries taunting Benjamin to start, so the youngster takes Flair down with a single leg. Benjamin then gets a fireman’s carry takedown, and then mocks Flair. The Nature Boy shoves Benjamin, and gets slapped in the face, causing a Flair Flop. For everything Flair tries, Benjamin has a comeback. Benjamin clotheslines Flair to the floor and then joins him. Flair charges and gets back body dropped on the floor. Back in the ring Flair begs off, and it allows him to get an eye poke to a big pop. Flair goes up top and Shelton slams him down to the mat. Benjamin tries a dropkick but Flair hangs on to the top rope. Flair tries attacking the leg but Benjamin gets a quick inside cradle for two. Benjamin hits six mounted punches in the corner before the referee makes him break, and the brief distraction allows Flair to kick Benjamin in the knee. The Dirtiest Player in the Game goes to work on Benjamin now, really working over the knee. He locks on the Figure-Four Leglock, and Benjamin briefly turns it over before they roll into the ropes. Flair hits a chop to the chest for a two-count. He goes outside and grabs a chair for some reason, and when the referee dispatches of it Benjamin recovers and trades shots with Flair. Flair goes after the leg again and Benjamin hits an enziguiri. Benjamin hits the spinning heel kick, and then whips Flair into the turnbuckles and Flair tumbles all the way to the floor. He suplexes Flair back into the ring. Flair gets back to his feet and hits a thunderous chop to take Benjamin down. Once again Flair climbs up top, but then (accidentally?) drops his brass knuckles and has to come down. Benjamin takes the opportunity to hit a Stinger Splash. He then goes to the top rope and hits a clothesline for the pin at 9:28. That’s not much of a finishing move but the match was good and this was the perfect role for Flair at this point.
Rating: ***

MATCH #2: Tajiri vs. Jonathan Coachman

Coach surprises everyone with a nice armdrag right off the bat. Tajiri responds by hitting a couple of kicks, and then missing a couple of bigger kick attempts. Coach rolls to the floor and Tajiri goes for a kick but the Coach ducks and his leg hits the ring post. Back in the ring Coach goes to work on the leg, much to everyone’s surprise. Tajiri comes back with a sunset flip for two, but Coach goes right back to the leg, wearing it down. Coach has a leglock, but Tajiri viciously kicks his way out of it. Both men rise to their feet and Coach knocks Tajiri right back down and goes up to the top rope. Tajiri knocks Coach down and puts him in the Tree of Woe and kicks him in the head for a two-count. He hits the handspring elbow and a low dropkick. He unleashes a series of strikes and goes for a monkey flip but Coach blocks it and sweeps the legs into a cradle for a two-count (with his feet on the ropes). Coach charges into the corner and gets trapped in the Tarantula! Tajiri looks to be going for the Buzzsaw Kick, but Garrison Cade runs out behind the referee’s back and punches Tajiri, and Coach gets a schoolboy rollup for the win at 6:26. The match was shockingly decent and I don’t mind Coach going over if it was going to lead to a feud between Tajiri and Cade, but I don’t think that ever happened.
Rating: **

MATCH #3: Handicap Match – Chris Jericho vs. Christian & Trish Stratus

Trish’s heel turn was really well executed, and she and Christian made a great heel duo. Jericho immediately knocks Christian down and chases Trish around the ring. He doesn’t catch her, but is able to thwart Christian’s attack and goes to work on him. He hits Christian with a vertical suplex and the cocky pin for two. Trish distracts Jericho, allowing Christian to gain the advantage as the crowd chants “slut.” Jericho sidesteps Christian and dumps him to the floor, then hits the springboard dropkick to send him down to the floor. “Come on, baby!” Jericho goes to the floor to retrieve Christian, and back in the ring hits a back elbow off the top rope for a near-fall. Christian reverses a whip, sending Jericho into Trish and knocking her off the apron. This momentary distraction allows Christian to take advantage and knock Jericho to the floor. Christian actually makes the tag to Trish, and she slaps Jericho in the face several times. She hits a Chick Kick and quickly tags out when Jericho shows signs of life. Jericho goes for the Walls of Jericho, but Christian kicks him off into the corner, and Jericho shoots back with a headbutt to the groin. Christian goes to make the tag but Jericho rolls him up for two. Jericho hits a clothesline and a shoulderblock, and then a sleeper drop for two. Jericho hits a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Trish slaps Jericho from the apron and Christian hits an inverted DDT for two. Jericho comes back and goes for the Walls of Jericho, but Trish comes in to break it up. Jericho gets a hold of her and gives her a spanking. That gives Christian time to recover and he hits the Unprettier. Trish goes for the cover and gets a two-count, and then tags Christian, who gets the same result. She once again enters the ring illegally and Jericho levels her with a clothesline, and then he and Christian simultaneously hit each other with a clothesline. They get back to their feet and exchange blows. Jericho knocks Christian down with a forearm and picks up the pace of the match. He hits the bulldog and goes for the Lionsault but Christian gets his knees up. Christian puts on the Texas Cloverleaf but Jericho reverses it into the Walls of Jericho! Trish breaks it up and Jericho puts her in the hold! Christian gets a rollup for two, and then goes for the Unprettier. Jericho reverses and goes for the Walls of Jericho again, but instead catapults Christian right into Trish in the corner. He then hits Christian with a running enziguiri to get the pin at 11:13. That was a really fun and smartly worked handicap match. This is an underrated feud.
Rating: ***½

MATCH #4: Women’s Championship Match – Victoria vs. Lita

Victoria has been the champion since 2.23.04 and this is her second defense. It’s been four years since Lita last held the Women’s Title. Lita scores the first couple of knockdowns. Victoria grabs a side headlock and takes Lita down to the mat. Lita bridges off the mat and Victoria takes her down with an armdrag. Hey lock up and both tumble down to the floor. Back in the ring they lock up again and trade pinning combinations for a series of two-counts. Victoria hits a body slam and then the Jigglesault for two. She locks on a chinlock and then turns it into a surfboard-like maneuver. She hits a vertical suplex for two. Victoria then locks on a true surfboard, Bryan Danielson style. She goes for the spinning side slam but Lita counters with a headscissors and then unleashes a flurry of offense. Lita hits a vertical suplex and another headscissors. She then locks on a sleeper and Victoria reaches the ropes. Victoria throws Lita’s neck into the ropes, and then hits the spinning side suplex. She goes up top for a Moonsault and pretty much hits Lita, but it appears as though she was supposed to move completely out of the way. Lita hits the reverse Twist of Fate for two. She then goes for a DDT but Victoria counters with an inside cradle to get the pin at 7:23. That was perfectly adequate but nothing special. Molly Holly and Gail Kim come out and put the boots to both Lita and Victoria.
Rating: **

MATCH #5: Falls Count Anywhere Intercontinental Championship Match – Randy Orton vs. Mick Foley

Orton has been the champion since 12.14.03, and this is his fifth defense. Evolution is banned from ringside. Foley is wearing his Cactus Jack attire. He goes after Orton with the barbed wire baseball bat right away, and Orton wisely tries to avoid getting hit with it. Orton is able to trap Foley in a drop toehold into the steps, and then they fight over the bat. Foley gets control of the bat but before he can use it Orton waffles him three times with a trash can. He absorbs the blows and gives Orton a taste of his own medicine. They get back in the ring and Foley kicks away. JR says that Foley weighed in at 272 pounds today, and he does look to be in tremendous shape. Foley hits a legdrop for two. The battle spills back to the floor and Foley hits a neckbreaker, and then goes up to the second rope. Orton moves out of the way and starts walking up the aisle. Foley follows him but suffers a back suplex for his troubles. Orton covers for two. He actually follows up with a backslide for another two-count. He then slams Foley’s head into the entrance ramp for yet another two-count. That always sounds brutal. Back around ringside Orton throws Foley’s head into the steel steps. They get back in the ring and fight over the baseball bat again, and Foley hits a blatant low blow and a clothesline. Foley pulls out Mr. Socko, but then changes his mind and blasts Orton in the face with the bat instead! Orton is busted open now, and Foley elbow drops the bat into his forehead. Foley is dominating here, using the barbed wire bat to further bloody Orton’s face. He sets it again Orton’s crotch and drops a leg on it. The crowd loves this match. Foley goes under the ring and finds a gasoline can and soaks the bat in gas. He also has a lighter! Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff comes out and warns Foley that if he lights the fire, the entire show will be shut down by the fire marshal and the fans will be cheated out of the show. Foley throws the bat down without lighting it. The crowd is disappointed, but Foley assuages them by bashing Orton’s head in with a cookie sheet. Foley then retrieves a barbed wire board and tries to knock Orton onto it, but Orton must have found some powder because he throws it in Foley’s eyes. Orton then slams Foley onto the barbed wire board for a two-count. He sets the board up in the corner and tries an Irish whip. Foley reverses it but Orton reverses the reversal and Foley gets tied up in the barbed wire. Orton then drops the board on Foley, and then produces a bag of thumbtacks. He tries to RKO Foley onto the pile, but Foley pushes him off and Orton lands in the pile of tacks! The crowd popped big for that. Foley gets a schoolboy rollup for two. Orton tries to run away but Foley chases after him. He goes backstage but Foley retrieves him, and then tosses him off the entrance and through a table on the floor! Referees try to check on Orton and keep Foley at bay, but he shoves them off and hits a flying elbow off the entrance ramp! Foley gets a cover but Orton actually kicks out! They make their way back to the ring and Foley hits the Double-Arm DDT for a close near-fall. Foley sets up the board and goes to grab Orton on the floor, but the champion had procured the bat, and he bashes Foley in the face with it. Foley is busted open now too. Orton continues wearing Foley out with the barbed wire bat. Foley puts on Mr. Socko and shoves it in Orton’s mouth! Orton forearms his way out and hits a blatant low blow. Foley puts on the Mandible Claw again but Orton counters with an RKO! Foley kicks out at two! Orton hits another RKO, this one on the barbed wire baseball bat, and that ends the brutality at 23:04. That was definitely the match that made Orton in my fans’ eyes. The match totally holds up; it’s still an awesomely brutal and well worked hardcore match with great heat. I miss this Mick Foley. Ric Flair and Batista come down to help Orton get to the back.
Rating: ****½

MATCH #6: The Hurricane & Rosey vs. La Resistance

Hurricane and Conway start the match with some back and forth chain wrestling. Conway hits a nice hiptoss and gloats about it. Hurricane comes back with a headscissors and the match breaks down a bit. Rosey throws his weight around, and slams Hurricane on top of Conway for a two-count. Hurricane goes up top but gets knocked down, and Conway hits a swinging neckbreaker and then a powerslam. Conway then makes the tag and Grenier immediately goes for a cover and gets two. Grenier hits a backbreaker and gets another two-count. He hits a vertical suplex and then whips Hurricane into the buckle. He locks on a bear hug, and then Eugene makes his way out to ringside, shaking hands with fans. Meanwhile Rosey gets a tag and is a house afire. He hits Conway with a Samoan Drop and Grenier breaks up the pin. Eugene shows an interest in the Quebec flag, as Hurricane flies off the top rope to wipe out both Conway and Grenier on the floor. Now Eugene actually gets in the ring and starts running the ropes back and forth. William Regal comes out to try to get control of Eugene. In the meantime Hurricane hits Conway with the Eye of the Hurricane to get the pin at 5:02. That was a standard Raw match that got dominated by Eugene showing up near the end. This was a good match to have though because the crowd needed to wind down after Foley versus Orton.
Rating: ½*

MATCH #7: Edge vs. Kane

Edge recently came back from an extended absence due to injury, and has been Spearing everyone in sight since his return. Gee, that sounds so familiar. Edge starts the match ducking Kane’s attacks and peppering him with right hands. Kane responds by picking Edge up by the throat and slamming him down to the canvas. He then attacks Edge’s broken left hand. Edge fights back with a clothesline off the second rope and then he goes for a Spear so Kane takes a powder. He follows Kane to the floor and starts rearranging furniture. Kane fights back and slams Edge’s broken hand into the steel steps, and then into the ring post. Back in the ring Kane viciously attacks the broken appendage. Some in the crowd are more interested in chanting “you screwed Bret” at referee Earl Hebner. Kane hits a sidewalk slam but misses an elbow drop. Edge hits a flying forearm and a spinning heel kick, and then motions that he wants to use his cast but the referee stops him, allowing Kane to hit a big boot to the face. Kane goes to the top rope and misses the clothesline. Edge hits the Impaler DDT but Kane sits up. He goes for a Spear and Kane moves, and Hebner has to move out of the way too. With Hebner not looking, Edge hits a low blow and then nails Kane with his cast. Edge then hits the Spear to get the pin at 6:25. It would take Edge another few months to find his groove as a heel after this, as he wasn’t quite 100% here, and Kane is never the guy to wrestle in that situation. The match was a bit on the dull side.
Rating: *¾

MATCH #8: Triple-Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Championship – Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H

Benoit has been the champion since 3.14.04, and this is his second defense. Michaels is of course heartily booed, since they’re in Canada. The pop for Benoit is enormous. Benoit strikes first, going after Triple H, and Michaels joins in. They hit a double back body drop and then Michaels clotheslines H to the floor. Benoit and Michaels trade chops, and Benoit charges out of the corner with a clothesline. Michaels comes back with a swinging neckbreaker, and H rejoins the fray. H throws Benoit to the floor and then goes after Michaels. Benoit gets back in the ring and unleashes on both of his challengers. He throws Michaels to the floor and then briefly traps H in the Crippler Crossface. Michaels had climbed back on the apron, and Benoit went over to knock him down to the floor. Benoit throws Michaels into the barricade a couple of times, and when he goes up to the top rope H has had enough time to recover, and he goes for a superplex. Michaels comes back in the ring and breaks it up, sending Benoit crashing to the floor, and then he hits H with an electric chair drop. H comes back with a facebuster, and both men are down. Benoit recovers and goes up top and lands the diving headbutt on Michaels, and H breaks up the pin. The champion throws H to the floor and tries to suplex Michaels but it gets blocked. Michaels tries a flying forearm but Benoit ducks and the referee gets nailed instead. H gets back in the ring and goes for the Pedigree, but Benoit blocks it and locks on the Sharpshooter! Michaels comes in and Benoit transitions seamlessly to the Crippler Crossface. Benoit tries to wake up the referee but no luck. Back in the ring Michaels locks Benoit in the Sharpshooter to thunderous boos, and Earl Hebner comes racing out to replace the first referee. H breaks up the hold and Michaels slugs him down. Michaels gets an inside cradle on Benoit for two. The “You Screwed Bret” chants are pretty loud at this point. Michaels goes for a slam and Benoit counters it with the Crippler Crossface, but H breaks it up. H hits Benoit with a DDT for a two-count. When H gains control, the chants switch to “You Tapped Out,” which is funny because he had almost as much to do with screwing Bret as either Shawn or Hebner. In the meantime Benoit fights back and throws H to the floor. Michaels hits Benoit with a clothesline for two. Benoit fights back with chops and Michaels grabs him by the tights and pitches him to the floor. Michaels goes to the top rope and leaps at Benoit and H, but they both duck and Michaels wipes out the Spanish Announce Table. H grabs Benoit and throws him into the ring post, and then hurls him into the steps. Back in the ring H hammers Benoit with punches. H throws Benoit’s shoulder into the ring post two times. He brings Benoit back in the ring and punches him right in the face, and then locks on a camel clutch. Benoit won’t give up, but H stays in control. H hits a series of mounted punches in the corner until Benoit drops him with a Snake Eyes variation. Benoit fights off a facebuster and hits three rolling German Suplexes, but misses the diving headbutt. H gets up and hits a Pedigree but Michaels comes in from out of nowhere to break up the pin! Now H and Michaels slug it out while Benoit recovers. Michaels hits the flying forearm and then a bodyslam. He goes up top and hits the flying elbow, and then sets up for Sweet Chin Music. Benoit and H get to their feet at the same time, and Michaels decides to Superkick Benoit off the apron and the crowd is pissed. H makes Michaels pay with a blatant low blow for a two-count. He sets up for the Pedigree but Michaels backdrops him to the floor. Somehow H finds his sledgehammer and bashes it into Michaels’s spine. He goes to hit Michaels with it again, but Benoit pulls him to the floor. He blocks Benoit’s attack and slams him into the steel steps. H moves the steel steps and sets up for a Pedigree on them, but Benoit fights out of it and catapults him into the ring post! The momentum sends Triple H into the crowd. Benoit gets back in the ring while Michaels is tuning up the band. Michaels goes for the Superkick but Benoit catches it and locks on the Sharpshooter! He fights it and fights it but eventually Michaels has to tap out at 30:08! We even now, okay? I remember many were worried that they couldn’t best the WrestleMania XX match, but damn did they come close. The two triple threat matches these guys had really are special.
Rating: ****¾

Editor’s Note: I do have to admit that I’ve watched several Chris Benoit matches since his death, and I’ve been able to separate the performer from the man. However, this show is heavily focused on Benoit, showing him going back to his hometown to talk to school children. The mayor declared it “Chris Benoit Day.” Nancy and Daniel are sitting in the crowd and get shown several times. I realized it’s not seeing Chris Benoit that gets to me, but rather seeing those that were affected by what he did. That did make this DVD a little more difficult to get through than I thought it would be.

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