On Sunday September 11th, the Smackdown Live brand presents Backlash. It has been a number of years since the PPV took place, but the event has seen a number of different matches and interesting results. As fans wait with bated breath to see who will come out victorious at this year’s event, we will look back at 15 Backlash matches that have had mixed results. The pay per view has featured match ups that included everyone from gold medallists, to future hall of famers to perennial movie stars. It has had tremendous matches that made the pay per view better than some of the major ones that occurred the same year.
However, for all the good that Backlash has provided, it has also seen its share of weakly booked matches as well. Coincidently, some solid matches were also guilty of being poorly booked. However, while poor booking contributed to poor match ups, great chemistry among athletes contributed to the best matches. Which matches stood out for both the right and the wrong reasons?
15. BEST: Shelton Benjamin vs. RVD – 2006
Two of the more outstanding performers during the post Attitude Era were Shelton Benjamin and Rob Van Dam. In this match, these two fought for two items: Van Dam’s Money in the Bank briefcase and Benjamin’s Intercontinental Championship. This was an instance where both competitors had something at stake. As with any Van Dam match, he performed the typical spots that make him who he is, and it involved a number of risks that had become synonymous with Benjamin, whether on his own or when he was part of the World’s Greatest Tag Team. It was a high tempo match between two of the very best at the time.
14. WORST: Sean O’Haire (with Roddy Piper) vs. Rikishi – 2003
The second match of the pay per view featured the late Sean O’Haire against Rikishi. There was nothing remotely memorable about this match. It carried with it antics that worked when Piper initially had Piper’s Pit back in the 1980s. Many will remember the incident where Piper cracked a coconut over the head of ‘Superfly’ Jimmy Snuka. In this match, Rikishi was supposed to fall victim to the same fate. However, the end result saw Rikishi prevent Piper from hitting him with the coconut, and instead he hit Piper over the head with it. The distraction led to O’Haire being victorious as he hit his finishing move for the pinfall win. This was intended to aid O’Haire’s character, with Piper as his mouthpiece, but all it did was put the focus on Piper rather than O’Haire. As for the match, it went less than five minutes and could easily be forgotten.
13. BEST: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Rock – 1999
These two have taken each other to the limit on so many occasions, but during the 1999 Backlash pay per view Shane McMahon was acting as the guest referee. At the time, Shane was in control of the Corporation and had to face the constant issues brought up by Austin, who, was the champion. With Shane as the referee, the rules were that if Stone Cold touched the prodigal son, then he would lose the title. While it wasn’t much of a wrestling match, it was without question a fight. Familiarity can breed success, and in this instance it did once again. As Vince came to the ring at the end, Austin was faced with being pinned unceremoniously.
12. WORST: Jazz (with Teddy Long) vs. Trish Stratus –2003
Trish Stratus was one of the greatest female wrestlers of the modern era. There is no denying that everything she did was gold, and she progressed both as a performer and a character throughout her career. There was a time, however, when she just didn’t have any chemistry with her opposition. In this instance, Jazz, who was accompanied by Teddy Long, faced Stratus for the Women’s championship. The storyline was that she was ‘forced to compete’ by then General Manager Eric Bischoff. The strangest part of this match? Teddy Long’s shoe was the item that caused a pin attempt to be broken up. Unlike the scene in Austin Powers, it is possible to throw a shoe and have that result in victory. The match went just under six minutes, and appeared to have little communication between all involved. It is strange because both women were so talented.
11. BEST: The Undertaker vs. Batista – 2007
These two had already faced off at WrestleMania 23, and here they turned a lot of heads and proved a number or people wrong with this match. The concern expressed by some was how well someone the size of Batista would sell and bump for The Undertaker. Taker has always been good at selling and bumping for his opponents, but in this case both men did a great job in providing a convincing match. This match was a Last Man Standing match, with the competitor who is unable to stand by a count of 10 being the loser. The spots hit a fevered pitch when Batista speared the Undertaker off the stage, and neither one of them were able to make the count of ten. The match went about 20 minutes, and both men did a phenomenal job.
10. WORST: The Big Show vs. Rey Mysterio – 2003
On paper this match looked like it was going to be booked as a mismatch, and it was exactly that. There was nothing compelling in this David versus Goliath battle, it was akin to a mosquito constantly buzzing around your head and moving away when they are swatted. In this instance, Mysterio continued to stick and move until he was ultimately caught by the Big Show. The match went less than four minutes and ended with a chokeslam. Mysterio that left the match on a stretcher, and was even picked up while strapped to the stretcher and slammed against a ring post. The post-match beat down may have been different, but the splatting of a fly left a lot to be desired.
9. BEST: John Cena vs. Randy Orton vs. Edge vs. Shawn Michaels – 2007
When the WWE Championship is on the line there are no friends. During this fatal four way match, Randy Orton and Edge, known as team Rated RKO, had blown up and were piggybacking on the Cena/Michaels match from Wrestlemania 22. While 2007 wasn’t necessarily a strong year for matches, this one certainly delivered. The match began with some loyalties existing, but that would quickly change. The match was predictable at times, and while some may have issue with that, in this instance it helped to further the story being told in the ring. The match’s finish proved that even John Cena could be the ‘opportunist,’ as he pinned Orton after he was knocked out courtesy of sweet chin music from Michaels. To the victor go the spoils, and in this case ‘The face that runs the place’ remained champion.
8. WORST: Scott Steiner vs. Rico – 2003
One of the most interesting comments William Regal ever made was in relation to his match against Goldberg, saying ‘I can’t exactly wrestle myself’. The same could be said about this match. The Scott Steiner that could hit a Frankensteiner, wrestle technically, and was often seen as the better of the two Steiner brothers was long gone. In his place was the character that many fans remember, but Big Poppa Pump wasn’t even the same as a few years earlier. His sheer muscle mass inhibited his overall mobility. Rico had honed his craft in OVW, and it was unfortunate that he was facing someone that wasn’t what he once was. While the match technically took place before the event on Sunday Night Heat, it is still considered part of the pre-show for the 2003 event.
7. BEST: Kurt Angle vs. Edge – 2002
This match up during the 2002 show began the elevation of Edge as a singles wrestler. As many know, Edge portrayed a rather silly and goofy character, and was in need of revitalizing. This was also an interesting time for Kurt Angle as well; his matches were among the best by anyone in the company, yet it seemed as though the company wasn’t convinced. Angle needed to show that he was worthy of a main event spot, and this match helped that cause. It was a time for both Edge and Angle to show that they were both worthy of being elevated to the main event. The match itself had spots, threw caution to the wind, and showcased just how amazing a technical wrestler Kurt Angle was. Oh it was true, it was damn true!
6. WORST: Goldberg vs. The Rock – 2003
When one of the competitors is in the midst of leaving the promotion, and the other has been essentially out of the spotlight since the closure of his previous promotion, the match is sure to have its share of bumps. What the match had in name recognition, it unfortunately didn’t match as far as in ring competition. The booking had The Rock as the heel that mocked Goldberg, which delayed the match from getting under way. The Rock was made to look like a coward, as it was Goldberg’s miscues that led to him gaining any advantage. The match eventually ended with Goldberg performing not one, but two spears and a Jackhammer to end the contest. It was hard to accept The Rock as cowardly because he had stood up to Steve Austin for so long that seeing him like this just didn’t make sense
5. BEST: Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit – 2000
This was at Backlash in 2000. What was interesting about this particular event was it also involved matches of varying quality on the card as well. This battle of WCW alumni and Canadian wrestlers had the added motivation of being for the Intercontinental Championship. From bell to bell, this match was straight ahead and intense, showing that these two were criminally misused during their time in WCW. The match resulted in a disqualification finish with Jericho remaining the Intercontinental champion. While we could argue the result took away from the match, in hindsight it would have been unfortunate to have to award a winner in this match after the performance the two put forward. The match went 15 minutes, and was among the most intense matches on the card. For all the downs this event proved to have, this match certainly wasn’t one of them.
4. WORST: Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon vs. Shawn Michaels (and God?) – 2006
The whole premise of the match was bizarre. It wasn’t a strong year, and when it’s punctuated by Vince challenging Shawn Michaels and a greater power, it is a recipe for disaster. The match was essentially a handicap match against Vince and Shane facing Michaels. The concept came about when Vince believed that he was beaten because Michaels had help… from God. Michaels, who is a born again Christian, must have shaken his head at the idea, but went along with it regardless. It was over the top at times, for instance when the referee was asked to ‘check God for foreign objects’. The McMahons had aid from the Spirit Squad, who made the match a 7-on-1 beat down after Michaels was victorious. Regardless of how good Michaels can be at any given time, the sheer lunacy of the concept of this tag match brings its quality down several pegs.
3. BEST: Triple H vs. The Rock – 2000
This was another match where Shane McMahon was given the reigns since he was part of The Corporation. Much like the deck was stacked against Stone Cold Steve Austin in the past, it was The Rock that had to face the unfair advantage. The match could have easily been a focal point on a major pay per view, but in this instance it was a focal point for all the parties involved in it. While that can lend itself to overbooking, the return of Steve Austin, Stephanie McMahon getting pie-faced by her mother, and The Rock capturing the title all led to a happy ending. This particular edition of Backlash was considered at the time to be among the best events of the year.
2. WORST: Bull Buchanan & The Big Boss Man vs. The Acolytes – 2000
If there is one thing men such as Ron Simmons, the Big Boss Man and JBL, are its wrestlers. However, here, the match booking and ultimate result led to them trying to make chicken soup out of chicken poop. The match resulted in a Buchanan and Boss Man win. It went about seven and a half minutes, with the most exciting moment occurring during the match’s conclusion, when The Big Show beat down Kurt Angle while dressed like Hulk Hogan. Did it make the match better? Not at all. What it did do was make the match memorable, which it was, but not because of those who fought in it.
1. BEST: Chris Benoit vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels – 2004
Triple H and Shawn Michaels had many matches, and the quality was enhanced by the addition of Chris Benoit. It wasn’t the first time these three went at it, so one would think they could maintain the same magic they had the month before at WrestleMania XX. A huge key to this match was the reaction of the crowd in attendance: Benoit had the home field advantage as the event took place in his hometown of Edmonton, and the fans showed their loud support for him. Triple H played the heel, but with Shawn Michaels back in the land up north, boes were sure to come his way due to the Bret Hart Montreal Screw Job. Much like the month before, Benoit walked away victorious, only this time it was Michaels that tapped out, ironically to the sharpshooter. While the match wouldn’t equal their previous match, it surely was a tremendous showing by all competitors.
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