Quick Backlash Review:
– Hey guys, what’s shaking? Per usual, I caught the show at my local sports bar, and I haven’t read any outside opinions yet. Hence, you can trust my opinion to be completely unaffected by the old “smart blinders.” Hope you guys are doing good, and we’ll move on with the show:
– It’s definitely refreshing to hear Jim Ross back in the announce position, this time for good. I feel bad for Joey Styles, as he was brought in cold, barked at incessantly, and never really given the time to fully develop as a WWE announcer, but with the new ECW relaunch coming, at least he’s got himself a secure position with the company regardless.
– Chris Masters vs. Carlito:
I don’t know what others thought about this match, but I actually kind of liked it. It was far from a classic, but I wasn’t really expecting much going in, and both men definitely delivered more than I had anticipated. I think Carlito’s definitely got the potential to be something special, but I just hope his heart’s into it. I’ve heard, whether true or not, that Carlito was pushed into the business by his father and has never really had the same passion that his Dad (and brother) had for wrestling. He’s getting better by the day though, so maybe that’s changed. Anyway, a solid opening match to Backlash.
– Weird promo with Edge, Lita, and Maria followed. Say what you want about the merits of the Diva search, but Maria is one of the most entertaining characters in the entire company. She plays stupid, but she always throws enough twists and glimpses of intelligence into the character to make it fun and believable. If the Diva Search can turn out one more talent like Maria (without displacing someone like Victoria who deserves to be on the roster), I’m all for it. Lita certainly seemed off during the promo though. She just seemed kind of out there.
– Ric Flair vs. Umaga
I don’t know what’s more depressing, seeing Ric Flair getting squashed to this degree, or knowing full well that the WWE’s answer to Samoa Joe is probably going to go undefeated for another couple of months. I question the logic of even subtly acknowledging the existence of a company that, with every helping hand in the universe, can’t even sustain a .9 rating, but that’s a whole different story. The match was short and one-sided, but unlike others at my local sports bar, I don’t think it really hurts Flair that much. For one, I doubt the show is going to be doing that great of a buyrate anyway. But more importantly, wrestling fans have such short attention spans these days, and there’s so much overexposure of everybody, that one loss, even a total squash, isn’t going to hurt anybody. A hundred losses aren’t. A thousand. If JBL can be a believable World Champion after being in the opening match for a decade, same with Rey, same with Eddie, same with Edge, one loss isn’t going to “kill” anyone’s career or credibility. In wrestling, you’re only as good (or only as bad) as you were the week before. Nothing more, nothing less.
– Vince Promo:
You know, even though I always found the Vince/God stuff to be stupid and a desperate plea for media attention, I never fully realized just how poorly it’s been recieved until last night. I went up to my local sports bar here in Jacksonville to watch the PPV, and I’d guess that there were probably a good 250-300 people there to see the show. When Vince McMahon started walking on water and performing “miracles” with loafs of bread, even though I’m Catholic, I still couldn’t keep a straight face. The entire thing was just so campy and pathetic on Vince’s behalf that it was impossible not to laugh, not with, but at the guy. But I looked around, and I was just shocked to see the looks on people’s faces last night. Complete and total disgust. That’s the only way I can accurately describe it. The rowdiest people there were just sitting stone-faced, shaking their heads back and forth. A guy who’s always there brought his wife along, and as she watched this promo, her facial expression looked as though she’d just been witness to a horrible automobile accident. The place was just dead silent during this thing. Like walking out of the theatre after United 93 silent (incidentally, if the movie studio TRULY wanted to honor those who died on 9/11, they’d charge $1 for admission and give all proceeds to the victims, instead of slapping together an $18 million dollar movie (which sadly cost $3 million more than the actual half-assed 9/11 Commission “Investigation” itself) and watching the profits soar in). Anyway, the segment just further proved that Vince has lost his marbles. Totally. Although the “Holy Mackeral” line was moderately amusing.
– Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James
Man, what a total shame. This match just started out awesome, with great execution from both girls, a hot crowd, and a couple of brutally stiff kicks by Trish. Just when things were starting to warm up, poor Trish fell from the top rope to the outside, landed funny on her arm, and dislocated her shoulder. Preliminary word was that it was a dislocation that the doctor was able to pop back into place, but pending the MRI results, her health is a question mark. Trish is too hard working and too awesome to be sidetracked like this. Hopefully, the MRI comes back negative and these two can continue their feud in a cage. A great match for what we got though, and I’m really happy to see the real Mickie and the real Trish back. Awesome job from Trish too at the end, taunting Mickie even though she was obviously in some pretty horrible pain.
– Shawn Michaels Promo:
Personally, I’m dying for a Shawn Michaels heel turn, and even a return to DX Shawn Michaels would make him a little less stale. If he’s sincere about not wanting to play heel though, because of his Christianity, he seems like a bit of a hypocrite to me. It’s ok to lead the crowd in “suck it” chants and take part in perhaps the most sacreligious angle in wrestling since the height of Kevin Sullivan in Florida, but it’s not ok to heel? I don’t get it.
– Shelton Benjamin vs. RVD
I really, really enjoyed this match. I was shocked that it was given almost 20 minutes, and if told ahead of time how much time these two would be recieving, I’m not sure I’d believe that they were capable of keeping things interesting for that long. I would have been dead wrong though, as I wouldn’t have minded seeing this match go even longer. The false finishes were great, both guys looked as good as I’ve ever seen them in the WWE, and both guys came out looking stronger than ever. In reference to what I said above about how you’re only as good as you were the week before, Shelton Benjamin is a perfect example. Two months ago, everyone thought his career was just being killed by the losing streak and by Mama. A slight change of character and some awesome new ring gear later, he’s just red hot. As soon as he gets a little better on the mic, I think Shelton Benjamin has BIG TIME main event potential. Great match.
– Kane vs. The Big Show
You know when the various message boards around the intraweb have polls asking, “What is the Worst PPV match in WWE history?” And like a billion people chime in with something like Kane & Taker vs. Kronic, and then like five or six people try to be all cutesy and mega-smart and type something like “Hogan vs. Andre – 78,000 SeAtS sOld, bUt NoT eNoUgH pSyChoLogY or SeLLinG of ThA kNee.” Anyway, Kane vs. Big Show would probably get my vote. Man, what an absolutely dreadful match, from start to finish. Best line of the night came from Jim Ross. The Big Show missed a big boot by a MILE, and Jim Ross just casually says, “This isn’t pretty.” Things only got worse. After ten minutes of clunky, sloppy grapplin’, Kane started to hear his voices again. The arena turned red, the voices “in his head” came over the loudspeakers (just waiting for the Warrior to appear in his mirror), and the Big Show clocked him over the head with a chair, seemingly just to make the voices stop.
Speaking of clocks, every Sunday Morning when I was in kindergarten, my Dad would take me, my brother, and my little sister to the Clock Restaurant down the street for breakfast. My Mom was usually exhausted by Sunday from taking care of three little kids, so my Dad would take us all out so she could sleep in. I wasn’t a big eater, so I’d have Frosted Flakes, toast, and chocolate milk. After we ate, he’d take us to Doc’s Video to rent a few things. I always picked out a wrestling video and a Nintendo game. I loved how the old Coliseum PPV releases used to come in those enormous boxes. One Sunday in particular stands out. I rented Wrestlewar ’89 and Ghosts N’ Goblins for the NES. It rained all day, and I holed myself up in my room watching and rewatching Wrestlewar and flipping frantically through my red How To Win At Nintendo Games: Volume II book looking desperately for ways to make any progress in Ghosts N’ Goblins. “Hey Ken. We want to read bout GRAPPLIN, not some stupid, sentimental side-story that doesn’t mean a thing to anybody but you.” Fair enough. Horrible match, with the only shining spot being Lillian Garcia’s ring announcing. She literally hid in the corner when announcing Kane. Awesome stuff.
– Vince & Candice Promo:
Remember the wife I mentioned earlier in the review? The poor woman who looked absolutely horrified by the Vince McMahon fish & bread segment? When Vince McMahon started working his magical healing powers on Candice’s breasts, the woman WALKED OUT. And she took her husband with her. She stomped off indignantly, and he followed with his head down amidst small but audible chants of “You so whipped!” Again though, I looked around during the promo and people were just horrified. Sure some were laughing, but I’d say for every person who found the segment humorous, there were another five that just looked appalled. Parents were covering their kids eyes. An 80 year old woman in a John Cena t-shirt quietly mouthed “Oh my God.” And for the second time of the night, an otherwise drunken, rowdy crowd fell completely silent.
It was just an absolutely stupid segment, with horrible acting on everyone’s part to boot. Vince McMahon got in his obligatory diva grope though, so the streak continues at 43,343,391 straight PPV’s that Vince has fondled, groped, or tongue-kissed a diva. Poor Linda. Seems like SUCH a sweet woman. And poor Shane. He looks genuinely embarrassed of his father.
If Sting were watching this, he’d look at Shane’s facial expression and be all, “And that my friends… … … is a SHOOT.” And then Jeff Jarrett would be all, “Who are you… Bob Barker?” And then Don West and Mike Tenay would be all, “AHAHHAHA BLAHHHHHH AHHH AHHAHAHA AHHAHAHAH BLAHHHHHH IMPACT ZONEEEEEE AHHHHHH,” as the camera men pulled within inches of everyone’s face while the production truck switched rapidly between 65 different camera angles. And then Jeff Jarrett would name drop Toby Keith and Hermie Sadler. And then the Impact Zone would be all “THIS IS AWESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSOME.” And then Scott D’Amore would be featured for the sixth time in 42 minutes. And then the Ultimate Fighter would pull a record 3.2 rating. And then TNA would score a big .8, leading Spike and TNA to panic and bring in another former star for another exorbetent salary they have no prayer of affording, completely missing the point that a great roster coupled with absolutely shitty creative isn’t going to budge that number one ounce. Point is, there’s a reason that TNA can’t even beat the 2 AM replay of RAW AM. Impact is AWFUL. In-ring, the company is gold. But if they ever want to succeed, they’re going to have to do MUCH better than a cartoonish Larry Zbyszko being chased around the ring by a 600 pound Raven, and much better than antiquated, poorly written “Price is Right” segments. It’s fun to get sidetracked.
Anyway, absolutely horrible segment with Vince, and if he ever dared pull something like this with Trish or Lillian, I’d finally consider giving up the E for awhile. I wouldn’t though of course. I’d just be like every other person who angrily writes the Torch after PPV’s and RAW and swears up and down to “finally be done with the WWE!”
– Vince & Shane vs. HBK & God
If you have any fleeting belief whatsoever in God, you had to be expecting Vince McMahon to be struck dead during this match. Regardless, however deeply it might offend someone’s religion, it had to offend their intelligence even more. Everything about it was just stupid. Not fresh. Not cutting edge. Not ‘Attitude.’ Just totally f*cking stupid. God being led to the ring by a spotlight, complete with theme music, would have been enough to make Observer readers vote Chucky vs. Rick Steiner as feud of the year. It got infinitely worse though when Vince asked God to get a little more “jiggy with it.” As God made his way closer to the ring, Vince McMahon busted into about five minutes of his downright bizarre dancing. He’s been doing it alot lately, and if ANYONE understands the significance of this, please let me know. I laughed my ass off when Vince was doing his psychotic dance to the tune of the marching band playing “When the Saints Going Marching In” last month, but this was just crazy beyond the point of entertainment.
I took another peak around; stone cold faces and dead silence.
More stalling came, with Vince McMahon ordering the referee to check “God” for foreign objects.
When Shawn Michaels finally made his way to the ring, it was a welcome relief. Also a welcome relief was the guy at the sports bar who does the most SPOT ON Shawn Michaels entrance I’ve ever seen. The place is huge, and he’s from one wall to the other, flexing, spinning in circles, and laying across tables when Michaels’ sprawls out on the ropes.
The match itself was decent enough, but it certainly wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination. Michaels had the nice cross body on the ramp, along with the dive from the ladder onto the Spirit Squad outside, but other than that, there wasn’t much too it. It actually suffered a bit because the big spot that was teased — Michaels coming off the ladder onto Shane and Vince — never happened.
Regardless, the match was obviously booked by Vince, as it literally featured McMahon going over God. God cowered in fear of Vince, never got involved, and “left” halfway through the match. I literally feel like I’m getting stupider just typing this shit.
The ONLY way this could be justified is if Shawn Michaels feels slighted by “God” and turns his back on his religion and fans.
I just can’t see that happening though, and instead, it looks like we’re going to get a stale DX babyface reunion.
– Matt Striker Segment:
If ever there was an award for “this doesn’t belong on PPV,” we’d be looking at the top nomination right here. It could probably also sneak into the “Why I’m Embarrassed to Tell Others I like Wrestling” category as well. This wasn’t advertised, and for good reason. I guess it could have been a last minute time-filler after Mickie and Trish had to cut things short, but with the length and intricacy of the segment, as well as the readily available Striker props, I’d guess it was planned all along. For those who ordered the PPV at home, feel good knowing that this segment cost you exactly $3.63. If the WWE’s idea of fresh and cool is “boogers and poop,” I truly feel sorry for them. And if they think people are going to be happy spending their hard-earned money on a 15 minute unadvertised RAW segment that pays off with Matt Striker eating a retarded man’s snot, I can understand why the conference calls with investors tend to get so nasty. Horrificly insulting stuff here.
Disregarding the actual segment though, Matt Striker is the FUTURE of this company. If you’ve seen the guy on Byte This or doing other interviews, he sincerely has Rock-level charisma. Even in the teacher role, he’s solid gold on the mic. His in-ring work is great, he’s got a KILLER look, and he’s got great potential on the both the face and heel side. If this guy isn’t main eventing Wrestlemania one day, I’ll be shocked.
– John Cena vs. Edge vs. Triple H
There’s this massive guy who’s at every PPV at our sports bar. He looks exactly like Tony Atlas in his prime, and he’s a huge Triple H fan. He’s always wearing his Triple H shirt, and every time the H-man comes out, like 50 people will gather around the guy, and he’ll jump up on a chair and do the water spit. Even the waitresses, who must have NIGHTMARES about “wrestling night” gather around to watch him.
Anyway, this was the match of the night, by a landslide. 20 minutes of intense action, believable near falls, and flawless, hard work by all three men.
There’s really not that much else I can say about it besides John Cena has become a true star out there, and Edge is almost at that level as well. Thanks to Triple H’s tapout at Mania, Cena has managed to get that submission over HUGE. Whenever he’d slap it on, people were just going insane. They honestly thought Cena was going to win with it. I noticed at the sports bar last night that, for whatever reason, the white folk in house seemed to love Triple H, and the black patrons seemed to LOVE John Cena. Certainly not suggesting that the reaction in my city is indicative of the overall fanbase, but it was interesting to see, and fun to experience, as everyone gets along great and there’s a ton of good-hearted trash talking during these main events.
From a strictly in-ring perspective, it was definitely better than the Mania main event. Even though Cena technically won the match, it was obvious who really “went over” last night. The pinfall didn’t really mean anything, as Triple H was the complete focus of last fifteen minutes of the PPV, coming across as a sympathetic babyface with a ton of heart. He made sure to get in a few extra crotch chops after laying everybody out with the sledgehammer, and — because subtlety is something the WWE has never seemed to grasp — we made sure to close the show with the H-man standing on the ramp and delivering even MORE crotch chops.
Cena scores the pinfall, but Triple H wins.
I’ve heard people call this the worst PPV in RAW history. It wasn’t. Not even close. Shelton/RVD and Cena/Edge/HHH both delivered in spades. Carlito/Masters was better than expected, Trish/Mickie was great until it was stopped short, and even Michaels/McMahons had a few fun high spots.
Most insulting PPV in RAW history, though? Beyond a shadow of a doubt. Again, it wasn’t the religious aspects that I found insulting, but rather the fact that Vince McMahon thinks so poorly of his audience he honestly believes they’ll accept some of this garbage. Vince walking on bottled water and having loaves of bread thrown at him? God dancing his way to the ring? Vince healing Candace’s breasts as she has a near orgasm? An entire arena somehow hearing the voices in Kane’s head, which conveniently plug his movie? Eugene eating up 15 minutes of PPV time talking about poop and trying to eat his own “boogers?” If the WWE thinks that its fans are going to enjoy this stuff, they obviously think we’re a bunch of backwoods, degenerate, childish morons.
In the case of this PPV, as good as the main event was, I honestly think the bad might have outweighed the good. If I was jumping on the bandwagon of giving the show a thumbs up, thumbs down, or thumbs in the middle, unfortunately, I think my thumb would be pointing towards the floor. The bad was just THAT bad.
Make up your own minds though damnit!
I’m out, but as always, check out The Wrestling Blog (www.thewrestlingblog.com) for your daily fix of breaking news (which is often posted hours before the big sites), wrestling discussion, and special features. We’ve been running classic episodes of the Wrestling Observer Live from 1999 on every morning for the last two months. We’ve had episodes up already with Bret Hart, Ric Flair, Eric Bischoff, Eddie Guerrero, and dozens others, so check it out if you haven’t already. We’re having some slight technical difficulties right now with the comment feature, but Jeremy Botter is on the case, and until it’s fixed, the site is site is still accessible in read-only mode.
Hope all is well, and I’ll catch you guys around.