First Mariner Arena – Baltimore, Maryland – Sunday, April 27, 2008
This is the tenth annual Backlash, which is a pretty cool milestone. The theme song is “All Summer Long” by Kid Rock. I lived in Northern Michigan when that song came out. I could live the rest of my life and never hear it again thank you very much. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler welcome us to the show on behalf of Raw; Mike Adamle and the Tazz are here to call the action for ECW; Michael Cole and a debuting Mick Foley are representing Smackdown.
MATCH #1: United States Championship Match – MVP vs. Matt Hardy
MVP has been the champion since 5.20.07, and this is only his seventh defense. They lock up and try to outmuscle each other to start. Hardy is the aggressor early on, not letting MVP take a powder when he tries. Back in the ring Hardy tries to wear MVP down with basic moves like a headlock and an elbow drop. Hardy goes for lots of covers. MVP comes back and starts working on the lower back. He sets Hardy up on the top rope presumably for a super belly to back suplex, but Hardy knocks him down. He tries a Moonsault but MVP gets the knees up. He works over Hardy’s midsection now. I think he should be working on the previously injured knee. MVP locks on an abdominal stretch, but Hardy counters it with a modified Samoan Drop. Hardy charges and they blow a belly to belly suplex. Foley explains that MVP got to where he was by having multiple plans of attack, and that’s why he switched from the knee to the midsection. I’m satisfied with that answer. Hardy comes back with a clothesline and both men are down. MVP gets back in control and tries the Playmaker, but Hardy counters to the Side Effect. Hardy then goes up to the top and MPV knocks him down, but Hardy is able to counter that into a Super Side Effect. MVP kicks out at two. Hardy tries the Twist of Fate but MVP counters to a backslide, but the referee won’t count it since MVP puts his feet on the ropes. He argues with the referee so Hardy rolls him up for two. He goes for the Twist of Fate but MVP counters it again. MVP hits a big kick to the face to send Hardy to the floor. He just barely makes it back in, and MVP goes right back on the attack, unleashing several kicks to the head. He goes for the big kick in the corner but Hardy moves and finally nails the Twist of Fate to get the pin and win the title at 11:24. That was a good opener and a good payoff to this seemingly endless feud.
MATCH #2: ECW Championship Match – Kane vs. Chavo Guerrero
Kane has been the champion since 3.30.08, and this is his first defense. Chavo is flanked by Bam Neely, his new personal bodyguard. Chavo goes for the knee right away but Kane overpowers him and throws him down to the mat. We’ve already surpassed the length of last month’s match. Kane works on the back, Chavo works on the knee, and the referee keeps an eye on Neely. Of course Chavo distracts the referee and Neely gets his shots in. Kane fights back with an Electric Chair Drop. Chavo actually reaches his feet first. Kane is able to grab Chavo’s throat while lying down, and delivers a big boot and a side slam for two. Kane tries the Tombstone but Chavo slips out, only to take a back body drop. Kane goes up and hits the flying clothesline. Chavo gets up to the top rope and hits a tornado DDT. Chavo goes for a suplex but settles for taking out the knee instead. Chavo goes up top again and Kane follows him and grabs the throat. Chavo knocks him down and hits the Frog Splash, but Kane is able to grab his throat on the way down and hit the Chokeslam to win the match and retain the title at 8:48. That was surprisingly decent, but nothing that couldn’t have been done on TV, and I still don’t care about either guy or the belt they’re fighting over.
MATCH #3: Big Show vs. Great Khali
I’m a sucker for Khali, and Show is way better than people give him credit for, so I admit I’m very much looking forward to this match. They shove each other to start and throw some punches. Khali even executes an Irish Whip! They slug at each other with right hands and headbutts. They trade chops and Khali hits a short arm clothesline to knock Show down. Khali backs Show into the corner and works him over. A clothesline sends Show to the floor and Khali follows him out. Back in the ring Khali hits a boot to the face and Show goes down once again. Khali then uses the Crippler Crossface, to a rousing round of indifference from the crowd. Show fights up and tries a bodyslam but Khali falls on him for a near fall. Khali then goes to the vice grip, and when Show powers out and runs at him Khali strikes him down with a big chop to the skull. Show kicks out at two. Khali pulls Show’s arms back in a surfboard type maneuver. Show backs him into the corner and elbows him in the face a few times to escape. Show once again goes for the bodyslam and this time he gets it but Khali kicks out at two. Khali recovers and goes for the Khali Bomb but Show fights it off and goes for the Showstopper and hits it to get the pin at 8:03. Screw you Khali haters that match wasn’t bad at all and Khali used a couple of moves I’ve never seen him do. He actually got to dominate most of the match and didn’t look bad in losing.
MATCH #4: Shawn Michaels vs. Batista; Special Guest Referee: Chris Jericho
I think it’s funny that they’re using the Intercontinental Champion as a guest referee. The video package does a good job showing how phenomenally awesome this feud has been. This is a special “Raw vs. Smackdown” match. Michaels really needs a haircut. Both men go for their finishers early and Michaels powders. Back in the ring Batista uses his power to gain control. Michaels responds by going after the arm. Batista powers out and they both spill to the floor. Michaels rams Batista’s arm into the post, and continues to work it over back in the ring. Batista comes back with some power moves and a big clothesline. He goes for a Batista Bomb but Michaels counters to the Crossface. Batista escapes but Michaels gets a cover for two and then locks on the Crossface again. Batista reaches the ropes and Jericho has to forcefully pull Michaels off. Batista comes back with a side slam for two. Michaels comes back with his flying forearm and nips up. Ha ha, nips. Batista was ready for him though and hits a spear for two. Batista puts Michaels on the top rope but Michaels knocks him down and hits the big elbow. He goes for Sweet Chin Music but Batista catches him and hits a spinebuster. He goes for the Batista Bomb but Michaels slips out and apparently injures his knee on the landing. Jericho checks on him, and the delay allows Michaels to hit Sweet Chin Music and pin the Animal at 14:59. For such a heated feud the match really lacked heat from the crowd. It was entertaining and all, but just lacked a spark. Michaels needs referee assistance to get to the back, so it looks like the injury is “legit” from a storyline perspective.
MATCH #5: 12-Diva Tag Team Match – Mickie James, Maria, Ashley, Michelle McCool, Cherry & Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix, Melina, Jillian, Victoria, Natalya & Layla
This seems destined to be a big clusterf*ck. McCool and Phoenix start it off and the crowd dies right after the entrances. Phoenix gets the advantage and brings McCool over to the heel corner and tags in Melina. McCool gets the advantage on her and tags in the Women’s Champion Mickie James. These two had some pretty decent matches for the title back in 2007. Melina tags in Natalya, whose ring gear seems excessive. James hits a neckbreaker on her for two. Natalya comes back and throws James down, then knocks Cherry off the apron for no real reason. Victoria gets tagged in and hits a bodyslam but misses the Jigglesault. James hits an enziguiri and Cherry goes over to the heel side and gets a receipt on Natalya, and now it’s a pier-six brawl on the floor. Jillian and Ashley then get tagged in, and Ashley proves that she should have never been allowed in a wrestling ring in the first place. Phoenix comes in and uses a rest hold, when she has five people on the apron she could tag. Phoenix tries the chicken wing slam, but Ashley avoids it but can’t make the tag. James comes in illegally to deliver a DDT to Phoenix, and Victoria hits the Widow’s Peak on her. This leads to a sequence of each diva getting to hit a move on another one. We wind up with Phoenix and Ashley back in the ring. Phoenix hits the fisherman’s suplex to get the pin at 6:30. That wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be, but Maria, Cherry, Kelly, Jillian, and Layla were never officially tagged into the match so what was the point of having all of them out there?
MATCH #6: World Heavyweight Championship Match – Undertaker vs. Edge
Undertaker won the title on 3.30.08 and this is already his second defense. The champion had to face Kane, Festus, and Batista twice on Smackdown over the last four weeks, while Edge was busy getting pampered with massages and things of that nature. Edge deserves an Oscar for being able to act like he’s attracted to Vickie Guerrero. Undertaker controls the early going, tossing Edge to the floor and then dominating him in the ring. Edge comes back by clotheslining the champ to the floor and hitting a baseball slide, but when he tries to leap onto him, Undertaker grabs him and slams him into the post. Undertaker continues to abuse Edge on the floor. Back in the ring the challenger takes over and works on the back. Undertaker recovers and both men boot each other in the face and they go down. Undertaker gets up first and hits the Snake Eyes, a big boot, and an elbow drop for two. Undertaker then tries a Savage Elbow but Edge moves and gets a near fall off it. Edge goes out and grabs the title belt and drops it, but is able to drop Undertaker’s neck on the top rope. Back in the ring the champ tries the chokeslam but Edge counters it twice, the second time hitting a Russian Leg Sweep for two. Edge goes up top but Undertaker chokeslams him off for a near fall. Undertaker tries the Tombstone, but Edge blocks it and they pull the pad off the turnbuckle and Undertaker gets his back slammed into it. The ref replaces the pad and that allows Curt Hawkins to nail Undertaker with the belt, but the champion kicks out at two. Zack Ryder comes out to interfere as well, but that backfires. Undertaker tries the last Ride but Edge rolls through to a sunset flip, which just gives Undertaker the chance to lock on the Hell’s Gate, and his shoulders are down but the referee doesn’t count it for some reason. He rolls to the side to ease my irritation, but then Edge taps out and Undertaker retains at 18:23. That wasn’t quite as good as their WrestleMania XXIV match, but these two clearly have good chemistry together, even without all the needless overbooking.
MATCH #7: Fatal Four Way Match for the WWE Championship – Randy Orton vs. John Cena vs. Triple H vs. JBL
Orton has been the champion since 10.7.07, and this is his seventh defense. Many fans haven’t cared for Orton’s reign to this point but I think he’s done a fantastic job. JR lets us know that the WWE Title has been defended at Backlash seven times and has changed hands twice. Orton tries to hit JBL with the title belt right before the bell, but JBL is able to boot him in the face and send the champion to the floor. JBL then goes after Cena, and HHH goes after JBL. The champion rests on the floor while the challengers beat each other up in the ring. Cena will have none of it though, and attacks Orton on the floor and dumps him back into the ring. Cena then gets dropped onto the announce table and the heels beat up HHH in the ring. HHH and JBL go to the floor and the with the same three initials throws the other guy into the steel steps and tries a Pedigree but it gets blocked. In the ring Orton and Cena are going at it. Cena hits the legdrop off the top and locks on the STFU. JBL motions like he’s going to break it up but then taunts Orton instead, which is really smart since the match is under elimination rules. However, his taunting leaves the door open for HHH to put the Crossface on and Orton taunts JBL now. This one is hard to keep up with. They start whipping out the finishers, and Cena gets the STFU on JBL in the center of the ring. JBL taps out and he’s gone at 10:29. Orton nails Cena with the big kick to the head and he’s able to pin Cena at 10:41 to a big pop.
Orton and HHH waste no time going after each other and taking the battle to the floor. Orton takes over and starts dismantling the Game. He works over the midsection of the final challenger and goes for a lot of covers and gets near falls. He also uses a chinlock for a good long while. Well it wouldn’t be a Randy Orton match if he didn’t. He finally gets ready to go for the RKO but HHH blocks it and both men are down now. They get up and HHH hits the high knee. They struggle back to their feet once again and the challenger is in control now. They go back to the floor and HHH throws Orton around on the various announce tables. Orton comes back and tries a piledriver on the steel steps but HHH blocks it and sweeps Orton’s legs out and his head cracks the steps. Back in the ring The Game hits a spinebuster and goes for the Pedigree but Orton backdrops him. The referee takes a shot and Orton nails the RKO. It takes him too long to make the cover and HHH kicks out. He goes for the Knockout Kick and that leads to a series of reversals culminating with Triple H hitting the Pedigree to get the pin and win the WWE Title for the seventh time (and twelfth World Title overall) at 28:11. The opening of the match with Cena and JBL involved was a great deal of fun, but HHH and Orton’s segment seemed labored at almost 18 minutes. Still, both are good enough to at least have decent matches, and the first bit is really good.