The SmarK Retro Repost – Backlash 2001

The SmarK Rant for WWF Backlash 2K1

– Kinda ironic that the WWF is suffering from it’s own backlash, namely from the online fans who are getting increasingly pissed off with their short-sighted booking, empty promises and unfulfilled potential. Of course, much like WCW when the same thing happened to them, their solution to the problem has been becoming a reliance on having their shills tell off the hardcore fans because they’re just “smarks” who don’t know how to run a promotion, and that the “real” fans are still responding to the stale main events and nonsensical storylines. But no matter how much you try to sugar-coat the bile with excuses, Smackdown still did a 3.1 rating last Thursday and the interest for this PPV seems non-existant compared to even Royal Rumble, let alone Wrestlemania. And isn’t it funny how much of a non-factor Austin, the World champion mind you, has become since allying with HHH? After chasing the World title for a year, now he wins it and becomes a coffee-fetching flunky for a guy who tried to kill him less than six months before. One thing’s for sure: No matter how things shakedown in the next few months, you can bet HHH will end up on top. That’s not a critcism, by the way, just an observation.

– By the way, for those who keep asking, my website has moved from Rantsylvania.com to TheSmarks.com. There’s a long story about why you now see an article on rape at the old address, but much of it is probably tied up in Sean Shannon’s various mental problems.

– Live from Chi-Town.

– Your hosts are Paul E & JR.

– Opening match: X-Factor v. The Dudley Boyz. Big brawl to start. The Dudz suplex Albert and Spike comes off the top with an ugly cannonball move, then he gets tossed over the top onto Justin & X-Pac. Back in, he gets a crucifix on Justin for two, and a rollup for two. Albert comes in and blocks the Acid Drop, and Spike takes a beating. Justin charges and posts himself, allowing the hot tag to D-Von. He nails X-Pac, but a cheapshot makes him brother-in-peril. The Glimmer Twins post him and and Albert gets some shots in. X-Pac’s lightning legdrop gets two and he hits the chinlock. Spinkick sets up some choking, and Justin gets a Bossman slam. Albert’s underhook slam gets two. D-Von gets the double-clothesline, hot tag Buh Buh. Bubba Bomb for Justin, sideslam for X-Pac. Justin takes Wazzup, but Buh Buh misses a blind charge and takes the superclique for the pin at 8:00. Perfectly Accectable Wrestling. **1/2 The bookers then annoy the shit out of me by having the Dudleyz IMMEDIATELY get their heat back by putting X-Pac through a table. Good lord, this promotion is on cruise control.

– Hardcore title: Rhyno v. Raven. Rhyno charges and runs into a stop sign for two. Trashcan to the head gets two, but Rhyno shoulderblocks Raven and uses a can for nefarious purposes. Raven hits the floor and gets covered for two. Rhyno sets up the stairs at ringside and tries a daring dive off them, but misses and smashes into a chair. Raven steals his idea and leaps off them with a lariat for two. Back in, Raven punches Rhyno to the floor and tosses more plunder in. Rhyno posts him, and uses the “Keep Off” SIGN OF DEATH for two. Again with that, it gets two. Back in, Rhyno hits him in the head with a shopping cart, but gets drop-toeholded into it. Ouch. Roadsign gives Raven a comeback and he gets the bulldog for two. Rhyno charges with the shopping cart, but Raven knocks him off, dropping the cart on him in the process. Raven runs him down with the cart, but walks into a sign for two. Rhyno preps the Gore, but misses and crashes into the shopping cart, trapping himself. That’s a brilliant spot. Raven pounds on him with a sink and gets two. Crowd was TOTALLY buying that near-fall. Rhyno pops up and gores him for the pin at 8:11. Really terrific hardcore match as the WWF continues to at least do a great job bringing Rhyno along. ***1/2

– Duchess of Queensbury match: Chris Jericho v. William Regal. I think we all feared an outbreak of Russocity here. Regal actually brings the “Duchess” with him, who looks like Hank Azaria in drag, guaranteeing HOURS OF HILARITY for all. Jericho goes for the arm and gets some CANADIAN VIOLENCE. He goes up with a flying forearm and a dropkick sends Regal to the floor. They brawl for a bit, and back in as Jericho misses a dropkick badly. Regal gets two off a suplex. He spreads some goodwill and hits the chinlock. He goes up but gets dropkicked and rana’d. More Canadian Violence and a forearm set up the Lionsault, but the “first round” has expired, according to the Duchess, so the match continues. Everyone who CAN’T predict the finish from 8 miles away please leave the room now. Regal rolls him up for two. Jericho goes up, but gets caught, catapulted and suplexed onto his head. Nasty. Regal Stretch, but Jericho makes the ropes. Jericho gets the Walls of Doink, but of course now submissions don’t count. Note to future WWF writers: If you don’t have any GOOD ideas for a cutesy match, just DO A MATCH. Jericho goes after the Duchess but gets nailed with a scepter by Regal. Now it’s no-DQ, and the crowd just totally tunes out as they all see where this is going, too. The near-fall on Jericho back in hardly even gets a reaction. Regal gets a back elbow and a suplex for two. Jericho hits an enzuigiri and comes back to stomp a mudhole. Regal bails and lands in the Duchess’ lap (OH THE HILARITY! STOP MY SIDES FROM SPLITTING!), but Jericho tosses her into the ring, puts the Walls on her LIKE A MORON, thus leaving himself completely open to a chairshot for the pin at 12:34. Way too long to build to an obvious and totally unwanted Russo finish. ** Jericho’s character is just dying before our eyes, and they either need to get him up into the main event or find something new and different for him to do besides being the smart-ass Canadian who ends up back where he started. With X-Pac, Kane, Benoit and Regal it’s always win one, lose one, win one, lose one. Oddly enough, with HHH it was lose one, lose one, lose one. How about that.

– 30-minute Ultimate Submission match: Chris Benoit v. Kurt Angle. Lockup series to start, and they do a sweet mat-wrestling clinic. Angle goes for the ankle early, Benoit makes the ropes. Back to the mat, Angle makes the ropes and bails. Back in, Benoit controls the mat again. He goes for the Crossface, Angle makes the ropes and bails. Back in, Benoit grabs a waistlock and they fall to the floor where Benoit locks on the Crossface to no avail. Angle stalls. Back in, Angle grabs a legbar and gets the first fall at the 22:54 mark. Benoit with some CANADIAN VIOLENCE, but Angle works the knee with a pair of clips. He walks into a cross armbreaker, however, to even it up at 21:55. Benoit pounds him in the corner and goes to the armbar again, but Angle makes the ropes. Benoit gets a shoulderbreaker and more CV to the shoulder, so Angle grabs a chair and clocks Benoit. Anglelock puts him up 2-1 at 19:38. Benoit is still out, so Angle puts him in a Crossface to go 3-1 at 18:18. Backdrop suplex and Angle stomps Benoit to the floor and they brawl. Back in, Benoit backdrops him out and posts him. Angle sends him to the stairs, however, and Anglelocks him on the floor. Into the ring, Benoit blocks an armbar and makes the ropes. Angle grabs an abdominal stretch, reversed by Benoit. Angle makes the ropes, but Benoit snaps on a Sharpshooter, drawing a huge pop from the crowd. The WWF should take note and build that up as a finish for Benoit. Half-crab with a knee to the face is enough for a submission to make it 3-2 at 11:55. Angle runs away, Benoit chases. Angle runs again, Benoit chases again. Again, and Benoit gets caught coming in. Slugfest and Angle tosses Benoit. Back in, Angle suplex and Benoit hits the ropes to prevent anything. Good psychology there. Blind charge misses, but Angle goes for the ankle again. To the floor, Angle suplexes him. Back in, Benoit tries his own anklelock, but Angle makes the ropes. Dropkick misses and Angle stretches him with a choke. Benoit breaks but gets clotheslined. Overhead belly to belly, twice, by Angle. Benoit comes back with the rolling germans and counters the anklelock into one of his own to tie it at 2:07. Benoit goes after the knee, viciously clipping him. Back to the germans, but Angle goes low and grabs the anklelock until time expires at 30:00. The match, of course, continues into OT. If Angle was from Dallas, Benoit would be in REAL trouble. Angle gets a Steiner-ish belly to belly, but Benoit takes him down and they tustle. Benoit struggles into the Crossface and gets the win at 1:33 of overtime. Really really solid psychology and intensity, but a lot of the stuff just didn’t seem to go anywhere and the fast submissions really hurt the believablility of it for me. ***3/4

– Shane McMahon v. The Big Show. Shane grabs a kendo stick and canes Show into dog chow to start, drawing a “Shane O Mac” chant. Show clotheslines him and backin we go. Shane uses a chair to put him down, then gets an ETHER-SOAKED RAG?!? Didn’t Paul Bearer retire that gimmick in 1999? Holy 60s flashback, Batman! Show goes down, but Vince runs in and chairs his boy. Show comes back with a sideslam and bumps Shane around, then hits the Final Cut (of Meat). Chokeslam, Show picks him up. Test runs in and brawls with Show to the entrance, and Shane climbs the scaffolding. Test puts Show on the VERY conveniently placed black staging area, and Shane comes off from 239 feet in the air or whatever they’re claiming this PPV and gets the win at 11:55. Why would you even waste the stuntman bump on a Big Show match that was already flirting with negative stars? *1/4

– European title: Matt Hardy v. Christian v. Eddy Guerrero. Well, we’ve got these guys, and we have no clue what to do with them, but they have good matches, so here you are. Welcome to the monopoly. Heels beat on Matt and toss him, but Christian turns on Eddy. Powerslam gets two. Eddy gets a rana and they head up, but Matt shoves Eddy off and rolls him up for two. Christian nails Matt, but Eddy suplexes him. Everyone out. Matt sunset flips Eddy for two, and Eddy bails. Matt lariats Christian for two, but Eddy pulls Matt out. Christian follows and gets DDt’d by Matt. JR notes how nice it is that Edge & Jeff aren’t hanging around at ringside and that’s it man on man on man. Eddy suplexes Matt in, and then brainbusters him for two. Matt backdrops him and goes upstairs, but Eddy blocks with a rana attempt, which is stopped by Christian. Matt suplexes Christian onto Eddy and clotheslines them both. Yodelling legdrop on Eddy gets two, and Christian brawls with Matt outside, allowing Edge to run in and spear Matt on the floor. Oh, lord. Eddy covers Matt for two. Jeff then joins us and attacks Edge as Christian gets the Unprettier on Eddy, but Jeff comes in and swantons him, leading to the Twist of Fate for the pin to retain at 6:37. Way too short given all the interference allotted. This would be a good RAW match but it’s a PPV, ya know? **1/2 In fact, I could make that comment about a lot of this stuff tonight.

– WWF World title, Intercontinental title, Tag team title match: Undertaker & Kane v. Steve Austin & HHH. Heels bail right away and the Long Stall begins. UT beats on Austin in the ring, then Kane beats on HHH. Austin gets the same. HHH Uses the Knee on Kane and goes after the arm, but gets clotheslined. Austin comes in and runs like UT like a chickenshit. The Austin character gets weaker by the week. Taker stomps him and whips him hither and thither for a bit, and Kane comes in to continue. Austin nails the arm and tags HHH, who walks into a big UT right. Ropewalk on both heels and both bail. Back in, a HHH cheapshot puts UT down and they double-team. They beat on him on the floor and Austin hits a kneedrop back in the ring. More beating in the corner. DDT on HHH turns the tide, and Kane almost gets a tag, but not quite. Thesz Press for UT and FU elbow, but he no-sells and hits a double-clothesline on the heels. Hot tag Kane. Sideslam for Austin and Kane goes up with a lariat and slams HHH off the top. They nails the arm, but Kane fights them off. Austin finally gets the arm and they work on it, for TEN MINUTES. Seriously, that’s all it is. Austin comes off the top what feels like a year later and hits boot, and Kane breaks a sleeper with a suplex. HHH gets the Pedigree, but Austin wants the cover and gets one. Taker chokeslams him, and Kane gets two. Kanezuigiri for HHH, hot tag UT, but the ref misses it. UT cleans house and Wedgiebombs HHH, but HE’S NOT LEGAL. Of course, it’ll go uncalled the other 99/100 times it happens, but such is life. Stunner for Kane, and Austin goes brawling with UT and is basically forgotten. Vince runs in, gives HHH his trusty sledgehammer, and that finishes Kane at 25:02 to give HHH & Austin the tag titles. Like anyone cares. **1/2 I know it’s a main event and all, but 30 minutes (with stalling at the beginning) is just INSANELY long for what these guys are limited to right now. Notice how HHH gets the winning pin on Kane, a finish that pretty much everyone called, once again proving HHH is indeed the most intelligent person in our so-called sport. The match would have been higher on the spectrum of the good end if they didn’t have that immensely boring middle portion and if Austin wasn’t Budro to HHH’s Bill.

The Bottom Line: The show lacked anything really bad, and the good was good enough for a VERY mild thumbs up, but does the world REALLY clamour for Austin v. Undertaker part 18 next month, or that show-stealing HHH v. Kane match? Can the WWF at least throw me a bone and have the Canadian Chris Connection win the tag belts from Austin & HHH in a somewhat non-screwy fashion tomorrow night? Will Rick’s thumb be firmly in the middle for this show again?

Stay tuned for all the answers, same smark time, same smark channel!