Available at Amazon.com
Studio: World Wrestling Entertainment
Rating: Not Rated
Run time: 161 minutes
Number of discs: 1
Release Date: June 5, 2007
Backlash has been an annual event for World Wrestling Entertainment since 1999. In its nine-year history it has had more than its fair share of memorable match-ups. Among the most lauded encounters include main event rematches from WrestleMania XV and XX, a “falls count anywhereÃ¢â‚¬Â match pitting legend Mick Foley against legend killer Randy Orton (at Backlash 2004), and Kurt Angle butting heads with a wrestler who would eventually be a main event player: Edge.
Though, despite such remarkable matches, never has there been a Backlash pay-per-view that had the potential of being the best PPV event of the year.
Having but a few weeks to organize the pay-per-view after its annual Super Bowl-esque spectacular WrestleMania 23, WWE did something to help the cause. PPV branding became obsolete. So instead of Raw and SmackDown! alternating PPVs, with talent from each program getting plenty of time to practice their collar-and-elbow tie-ups and Irish whips, now they would co-habitat the monthly PPV cards. Such a decision allowed for greater flexibility.
The creative staff didn’t have to knock their heads, trying to figure out how to come up with a six to eight match pay-per-view event with nothing but Raw superstars. By spreading the workload amongst the different brands Ã¢â‚¬â€œ including the new kid on the block ECW Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and going with a six-match card, more time was devoted to the product in the ring. This could have been disastrous if certain wrestlers were paired against each other and had a twelve-minute match that took the crowd out of the action.
Well, the audience in attendance and the millions watching at home did have to suffer through one snooze-fest without the benefit of a fast-forward button; but everything else is surprisingly watchable.
World Tag Team Championship Match Ã¢â‚¬â€œ The Hardys vs. Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch
Ever since the Hardys have reunited and competed as a tag team, they have never been better. The crowd always seems to be behind them 100 percent; their high-flying antics are just the thing to get them excited. The Hardys have had success on an individual level Ã¢â‚¬â€œ with the number of injuries on the SmackDown! brand Matt Hardy should be getting a title shot any day now Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but they are best as a team. Their encounters with the odd-couple pairing of Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch on TV and at various house shows are just the elixir needed to revitalize the tag team division. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch. But these four are fun to watch. As the opening match of Backlash, the two duos spoon-feed those in attendance some sweet, Southern style tag action. It was just the thing to kickoff a night of great pay-per-view excitement.
Backstage segment: Shane & Mr. McMahon pump up Umaga for their match
As the three prepare for their upcoming three-on-one match with ECW Heavyweight Champion Bobby Lashley a decision needs to be made: Which of these three will get pinfall and be crowned to new “King of ExtremeÃ¢â‚¬Â?
WWE Women’s Championship Match Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Melina vs. Mickie James
If there was a special award for matches in which the final product far exceeds how it looks on paper, then Mickie James taking on Melina for the woman’s title is such a match. It’s not a classic by any stretch, but in the annuls of WWE women’s championship matches of recent memory, it’s got to be on a shortlist somewhere. These two go at it for close to nine minutes, each pulling out punches and dropkicks and leg splits. Special attention should go to Melina’s spider-like submission maneuvers. Either she has spent time in Stu Hart’s dungeon or she’s been getting pointers from the Kama Sutra.
Maria interviews Edge
Poor Maria. Seems like she drew the short stick when it came to interviewing smarmy heavyweight champion contenders. Though to Edge’s credit, he has improved with his skills in the ring and on the mike. A few years ago he was dishing out “ConChairtosÃ¢â‚¬Â with his then tag-team partner Christian. Now he is the “Rater R, Superstar.Ã¢â‚¬Â The manner in which he won his first heavyweight title is the stuff of legend: invoking his Money in the Bank title shot after the champ (John Cena) was victorious after a grueling 25-minute title match against five competitors, none of them Edge. It is a topic that is brought up by current Money in Bank winner Ken Kennedy, who graces us with his presence during this segment much to Edge’s disdain.
The Condemned Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Behind the scenes look at the fighting
Nothing subtle about this obvious tie-in to the theatrical release of The Condemned starring “Stone ColdÃ¢â‚¬Â Steve Austin and Vinnie Jones. It’s a quick, pre-fabricated fluff piece about the feature film that was D.O.A. when it graced theaters around the globe.
United States Championship Match – Chris Benoit vs. MVP
The history behind this match is that MVP lost to “The CripplerÃ¢â‚¬Â at WrestleMania 23, but was victorious against Benoit on national TV. During a tag team match, I think it was. Taking notice of the crowd approval of the two competitors, WWE went with a rematch for the United States Championship at Backlash. The resulting match was a good back-and-forth encounter with the competitors getting in some of their patented moves. Benoit’s Triple-German Suplex and Diving Head-butt. MVP’s big boot to the head. In lieu of what has happened in recent weeks it’s strange to hear John Bradshaw Leyfield talking about how Benoit’s wife and child were in attendance. (The venue for Backlash was in Atlanta, Georgia, the city Benoit calls home.) Nevertheless, MVP shows promise in the ring. At the time, Benoit was grooming Porter has his heir apparent. I just hope for this school of hard knocks, everything he was being taught was taken with a grain of salt.
Todd Grisham interviews John Cena
Todd Grisham wants to learn what John Cena’s strategy will be as tonight he is pitted in a match against Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton and Edge. Well, Orton shows up and tries to convince Cena that they should team up and take out Michaels and Edge first then go at it one-on-one. But Cena turns Orton’s comments upside down and inside out. “So let me get this straight you think I’m handsomeÃ¢â‚¬Â and “later tonight we should get together?Ã¢â‚¬Â That right there deserves a Ron Simmons-sized “DAMN!Ã¢â‚¬Â
3-on-1 Handicap Match for the ECW Heayweight Title Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Bobby Lashley vs. Mr. McMahon, Shane McMahon & Umaga
This is the portion of the PPV where watching it on DVD is probably a good thing. You have the option to fast-forward through the package building up the 3-on-1 encounter and portions of the match itself, or you can skip the match entirely. While Vinny Mac’s vision of ECW is a travesty of what Extreme Championship Wrestling stood for, the outcome of this match made some for interesting bits of comedy. This is especially true once Vince McMahon got an honorary doctorate degree from a school of higher learning. Because even if you are the Chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment, it’s cooler if you are recognized as the “Dr. of Extreme.Ã¢â‚¬Â If that comment spoiled this match for anyone, well, perhaps you are better off. Bobby Lashley is being pushed to the moon even though he lacks the chops on the mike and his move set is about as intimidating as a Hogan leg drop.
The Condemned Ã¢â‚¬â€œ The critics are raving
Again, another piece to fill some time during the pay-per-view. When WWE says the critics are raving about The Condemned, it does not mean those two thumb pointers. More like Web sites like movieweb.com and Ain’t It Cool News. Still, a movie like The Condemned should be critic proof to begin with, its audience are those who grew up watching stupid, leave-your-brain-at-the-door action movies like Commando and other movies from the eighties.
Umaga, Mr. McMahon & Shane McMahon celebrate victory
Everybody sing along: “MIS-TER MAC-MAY-UHN IS CHAMP-EEE-UHN!!!Ã¢â‚¬Â
Last Man Standing Match for the World Heavyweight Championship Ã¢â‚¬â€œ The Undertaker vs. Batista
If their encounter at WrestleMania 23 had left you wanting more, their championship re-match at Backlash will fill you up, and leave you begging for seconds. Sometimes “Last Man StandingÃ¢â‚¬Â matches can be a mixed bag. Two wrestlers pound each other around the ring, and the only way to win is to pummel your opponent so hard that he is knocked out for a ten count. This may lead to dead time, where one wrestler is standing around waiting for the other to get up. If there is too much of that, you lose the audience. Better to have the two men beat up on each other to an equal degree, instead of one imposing himself over the other.
With such a description, don’t expect knife-edge chops or technical wizardry. The Undertaker and Batista are two behemoths who do nothing but beat the hell out of each for twenty minutes. Even with a bad arm Ã¢â‚¬â€œ an injury that would later need surgery and rehab Ã¢â‚¬â€œ The Undertaker is ruthless. From the big boot after the opening bell, to leg-dropping Batista through the announce table, he pull out all the stops. But Batista is no slouch either, trying to get The Undertaker to lay down after a hard spear and two spine-busters. The climax is a bit of a letdown, the end result an easy out in case they want to blow-off the feud in some kind of rubber match on either TV or another PPV. Still, if hard-hitting action is what you crave, these two big men deliver.
Fatal 4-Way Match for the WWE Championship – John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Edge vs. Randy Orton
Never before has there been a four-way main event for sports-entertainment’s biggest prize at Backlash. In fact, rarely has WWE had four-ways for Heavyweight gold. There was the main event at WrestleMania 2000, but that PPV was such a mess Ã¢â‚¬â€œ who actually remembers it was the first WM where a heel went in and left as heavyweight champion?
But the Backlash main event was a multi-layered affair with each competitor having something to prove. While Cena was victorious over Michaels in the main event of WM 23, Michaels still considers himself the better man. Michaels did one-up the heavyweight champion in a sweat-induced 56-minute match during the Raw telecast a week before the PPV. It was a non-title affair, however. Even so, it was a confidence booster.
As for Edge and Randy Orton, they were once a formidable makeshift tag team who feuded with Dengeration X during the remaining months of 2006 and into 2007. But that was then, now they would like nothing better than to make mincemeat of each other.
With such a rich history between these four, it could make for compelling television or be a slow-moving affair. Thankfully, these four brought their A-games and wrestled one hell of a match. We get Shawn Michaels busting out a moonsault of all things, very reminiscent of his match with Davey Boy Smith eleven years ago at the King of the Ring. Even better is how much action they cram into twenty minutes. With four wrestlers in the ring at one time it allowed for some kind of action to always take place. Partnerships are renewed with Edge and Orton trying to dismantle Shawn Michaels, pounding away on the “Heart-break KidÃ¢â‚¬Â’s ailing back. Later bygones are bygones as Michaels and Orton team up against Cena. That enterprise doesn’t last long as Jim Ross delivers the quote of the night: “Well, that partnership dissolved faster than one of your marriages, King.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Even the concluding seconds of the match is pitch-perfect. I will admit the manner in which the pinfall is decided is a bit of a headscratcher, making you reconsider what constitutes a legal cover, but it works considering the circumstances.
A/V QUALITY CONTROL
Like other WWE PPV releases on DVD, the video is presented in 1.33:1 full frame and the quality is crisp and clear. There seems to be some small pixilation during entrances that use pyrotechnics. Though this may be visual effect as the lighted entrance platform gives off the illusion of pixilation. Special to this DVD is the ability to hear the entire telecast from the Spanish announce team. Both the English and Spanish tracks are presented in 5.1 surround. Anything less would lack testicular fortitude, as Mick Foley would put it.
Sadly, the extras included are not as stellar as the event itself. All we get are a pair of backstage segments. The first is a short, one-minute-and-eleven-second interview WWE personality Todd Grisham has with Mr. Kennedy. The second is Rob Van Dam commenting on Mr. McMahon becoming the ECW Heavyweight Champion.
THE INSIDE PULSE
With Backlash, WWE put on an event that could well be the company’s PPV event of the year. With six matches on the card, there is more than enough time given to tell a story. Some stories are better than others, however, but even the dud of an ECW title match is entertaining to an extent. Like all critics, my love for wrestling is dependent upon the performers in the ring and the matches that occur. Nevertheless, any wrestling fan would be foolish to skip this DVD release. If only to see two great championship matches: The Undertaker vs. Batista and the Fatal 4-Way.
|The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for WWE Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Backlash 2007
|RATING(OUT OF 10)|
|8(NOT AN AVERAGE)|