Thursday, 3 September 2015

Stick Or Twist: WWE Backlash 2004

WWE Backlash 2004
18th April 2004
Rexall Place, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Attendance: 13,000

* The opening video recounts the Wrestlemania XX main event, talking about lightning in a bottle. HBK: "Lightning won't strike in he same place twice, but I will."

Match 1: Shelton Benjamin vs World Tag Team Champion Ric Flair

Nice "Vince, my Dad says hi" sign in the crowd. They recap Shelton beating Triple H TWO WEEKS IN A ROW with a fluke roll up then a count out. Urgh, they've overdubbed Naitch's theme song. OMG, JR says Flair won his first major singles title THE YEAR SHELTON WAS BORN!!! Flair demands the ref holds the ropes open, and when he holds the lowest two he tells him to do it properly. JR calls it "Mind... games"

Shelton takes down Flair early but Naitch isn't fussed and struts. Benjamin takes the piss out of his hair slicking and slaps Flair, who flops. Guess what Ric's offence is mostly? Yep, chops. He dodges a Stinger Splash but Shelton balances on the top rope leading to... nothing. Lots of leapfrogs and a dropkick, shitcanning Naitch and back dropping him outside. Flair begs off to thumb the eye. Naturally he fails going up top, but avoids another dropkick (looking nackered). Figure Four... roll up counter! Gets 2. Naitch: "NOOOOO!" Shelton: "Yeah."

Shelton with mounted punches, but when the ref forces the break Flair zones in on the leg and gets the Figure Four. It gets a near fall, then Flair rolls through Shelton's counter to get the ropes. Naitch goes for a chair but the ref stops him. King: "What the hell's the referee doing?" JR: "What do you mean...? What do you want him to bring in, a bazooka?" Enzughiri by Benjamin causes another Flair flop, then he hits a dragon whip kick. Shelton whips Flair to the corner, and he slips off the apron trying to Flair bump out of it. He gets suplexed back in, only to beg off to hit a HUGE chop. He goes up top again, then decides against it and somehow finds brass knucks, but a Stinger Splash and top rope clothesline gives Shelton the 3 and the win!

Winner: Shelton Benjamin
Verdict: 5/10. Generic "Flair on autopilot trying to get the face over" match that did little to get over Shelton's great athleticism, with a finish that came from nowhere in a bad way. Meh.

* Todd Grisham asks Intercontinental Champion Randy Orton if that loss is a bad sign for Evolution. Randy says "So what?" - he's the longest reigning IC champ in seven years, has beaten legend after legend and tonight he puts Mick Foley in retirement for good. Todd then wonders if he's scared but Orton says he's seen what Foley's capable of and will show a side of himself we've never seen before. He'll put Foley out of his misery like an old, sad, toothless dog.

Match 2: Jonathan Coachman vs Tajiri

We see a recap of Coach getting the mist in the face from Tajiri, then costing him a match against Christian. Tajiri is non-specifically billed as being "from Japan". Cheers.

WTF Coach gets an arm drag and standing switch to start! King: "He's been training for this match by watching the Three Stooges videos." He teases a knuckle lock but Tajiri starts kicking so he bails and lures him into kicking the post outside. Coach then works the leg (second straight match - dammit D'Lo)  with a shinbreaker and leg grapevine. A second shinbreaker is countered to a sunset flip by Tajiri for 2, but Coach reapplies the grapevine using the ropes. Tajiri eventually escapes with a kick to the face. Coach unwisely goes up top, ends up in a reverse tree of woe, and Tajiri hits a sick dropkick to the back of his head. Somehow Coach got the ropes during the cover though.

Tajiri keeps control with a hand spring elbow and kicks. Coach blocks a monkey flip to cover with his feet on the ropes but the ref caught him. TARANTOOLA! Hey, Garrison Cade comes out, knocks out Tajiri with a right hand behind the ref's back, and Coach rolls him up for 3! JR: "The sky is falling here."

Winner: Jonathan Coachman
Verdict: 3/10. Well Coach didn't totally embarrass himself, but he didn't really do anything remarkable either. This is only worth watching to see Tajiri kick the fuck out of him.

*The video package for the handicap match covers Christian being mad at Y2J hitting on Trish, then beating him at Mania and getting Trish too. Trish: "I'm a three time Babe of the Year, you're not even in my league." Y2J: "Wasn't Babe a talking pig?" The idea of the match is Christian will beat Jericho up so Trish can pin him.

Match 3: Handicap Match - Trish Stratus & Christian vs Chris Jericho

King ages this show by comparing Christian and Trish to Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey. JR admonishes King for focusing on Trish's boobs, but King insists he was talking about her eyes. JR: "You don't even know she has feet!"

Y2J socks Christian and chases Trish, hitting a baaack body drop when Cap tries to intervene. TONNES of slut chants towards Trish. Big suplex and "C'MON BABY!" cover gets 2, as does a top rope reverse elbow after a springboard dropkick. Christian reverses a whip and Jericho collides with Trish, knocking her off the apron! The look on her face is priceless. Christian gets the advantage with a gordbuster onto the ropes and knocks Y2J off the apron into the barricade as fans chant CLB at him. Tag to Trish, who slaps Jericho while Christian holds him, then hits a chick kick. Chris tries to grab her, so she tags Christian, who hooks a RESTHOLD.

King: "Trish is an earth sign and Jericho's a water sign, so together they'd have made mud." Y2J blocks a dropkick and tries the Walls. When Cap kicks him off Jericho bounces off the buckles and inadvertently headbutts his bollocks! Trish wants the tag, giving a big cleavage shot. King: "Lean over a little more Trish, be a bit more concerned." Trish confuses Christian over whether she really wants the tag, causing Jericho to get near falls from a roll up and a sleeping neckbreaker. He counters a reverse DDT (that JR calls an Unprettier, naturally) with a Northern Lights suplex for 2.

Chris winds up perched in the heel's corner countering a whip, so Trish socks him, allowing Cap to hit an elevate reverse DDT for 2. He runs into a Walls attempt. Trish tries to interrupt but gets taken to the woodshed!! But it only allows Christian to sneak in an Unprettier! He tags Trish - 1, 2... no! JR says Trish didn't weight enough for her cover to work - what a gent! Trish gets clotheslined down! Then a stereo clothesline has both men down. Jericho comes back with a rough rider and bulldog, only for the CLB to get the knees up on the Lionsault and hook a Texas Cloverleaf. Y2J escapes and tries the Walls, but hooks it on an interfering Trish instead! Cap rolls up Jericho - 1.. 2.. NO. Another Unprettier... countered to a catapult into Trish! Running enzughiri! 1... 2... 3!

Winner: Chris Jericho
Verdict: 8/10. Y2J & Christian are always sound together, and they were no different here, also working Trish into the match very well so that the face could get some revenge from Mania.

* Eugene is walking and reading the Divas magazine backstage. Not bad multitasking for someone who's supposedly mentally handicapped. Oh, he walks into the Divas locker room without realising and asks Gail Kim for an autograph. When she freaks out, Molly Holly sans wig interrupts, so Eugene freaks out over her hair and Molly does too. William Regal finally retrieves Eugene, apologises, then either gets offended or titillated (either way he had a great Les Dawson look on his face) before being shooed off.

Oo-er missus
* Oh boy, it's Chris Benoit Day in Edmonton, so they run a video package of his homecoming featuring clips of his (then) forthcoming DVD set. Oh Jesus one of his mates says any child can look up to Chris Benoit and what he's done. Yeah, I'd skip this.

Match 4: WWE Women's Championship Match - Victoria(C) vs Lita

Rare face vs face match here, and even rarer short term booking in giving the champion their biggest possible challenger.

They trade mat wrestling to start. Victoria jackknifes out of a headscissors, Lita bridges out only to get arm dragged. They slap hands out of respect and take a NASTY spill outside during a lock up. Both trade pins back inside - Victoria a backslide and Lita a shitty half nelson thing. More near falls trading sunset flip counters before Victoria powers Lita down and gets a standing moonsault for 2. King pointed out the vibrating dance Victoria did beforehand, and JR just thought she was shaking out of excitement. Victoria follows up a snap suplex with a nice surfboard, but just randomly gives up. She tries her airplane spin sidewalk slam but Lita counters nicely with a headscissors and builds momentum with clotheslines, a monkey flip and a nip up suplex. She then hits a far too slow headscissors and an awkward sleeper. Victoria gets the ropes and hangs her throat on the second rope, allowing her to hit her sidewalk slam for 2.

Victoria goes up for a moonsault but Lita BARELY rolls out of the way, getting near falls from a jackknife cover and reverse Twist of Fate. Both women fight for a backslide, but eventually Victoria rolls up Lita for 3!

Winner: Victoria (still champion)

* Post match Gail and Molly (complete with her ridiculous blonde wig) run in to give the faces a pretty lame beat down, with fans chanting baldy at Molly.

Verdict: 6/10. Solid match. Lita was SOOOO sloppy and the match had a very exhibition style feel to it with it being face vs face, but it was very watchable.

* The IC Title match is profiled next. Orton says in 2000 Foley was the hardcore legend, but in 2004 he's Orton's bitch, and accepts Mick's challenge of a hardcore match with Evolution banned from ringside. We also see clips of Mick's EXCELLENT promo in the rocking chair, saying he felt hardcore wasn't about plunder but loving the fans enough to go through the pain. He watched his old matches after his Mania performance disappointed him...

He faced men who had honour unlike Orton...


Match 5: Hardcore Match for the Intercontinental Championship - Randy Orton (C) vs Mick Foley

Orton has a trash can full of plunder and a totally SHIT barbed wire 2x4. King on Mick's entrance: "The sounds of a car wreck, how appropriate." Foley has a REAL barbed wire bat. The wire unravels from Orton's, so he scrambles for the can in fear but Mick beats it away with the bat and chases him around ringside, knocking a cameraman down. Eventually Orton lures Mick into a drop toehold into the steps. Both wrestle for control of "barbie" to big Foley chants. JR: "I can see Orton playing with Barbie." When they reach a stalemate they BATTER each other with the crumpled can instead. JR says Mick's at his lowest weight since 1989! He looks in great shape. King: "You got nothing better to do before a match than to ask Mick Foley how much he weights? Why didn't you ask him what he's going to do to Randy Orton?"

Back inside Mick hits a million dollar knee lift and legdrop for 2, then baseball slide dropkicks Randy to the outside and hits a neckbreaker on the floor. He goes for a second rope elbow but Orton rolls away towards the ramp, and when Foley gives chase Randy back suplexes him on it! That gets a near fall along with a backslide(!), then Orton again drops the back of Mick's head on the ramp, stiffs him and sends him to the steps. Back in, he tries maiming Foley with barbie, but it's blocked and Foley mule kicks his balls! Socko! He calls for the Mandible Claw, but barbie catches his eye, so he polls the crowd over which to use. King: "Whatever will do the most damage." Naturally barbie won, and he clobbers Orton in the head with it, busting him open. Elbow drop with the bat! Flurry of rights (Bang bang!) then the knee before he grinds the wire into Orton's face. He looks mortified. Mick gets Randy to straddle the bat, then legdrops it into his balls!!

Foley's found gasoline and DOUSES BARBIE IN IT! JR: "Somebody stop this... No Holds Barred my ass!" JR gets his wish as Bischoff comes out saying the Fire Marshall will shut the show down if Mick lights the bat. He listens and hits Randy with a baking tray instead. JR: "Cactus Jack not even going for a cover. I think it's obvious what's on the mind of this incarnation of Mick Foley." OMG he finds a BACKBOARD COVERED IN BARBED WIRE!!! Crowd: "Holy shit!" JR: "My sentiments exactly." Cactus tries knocking Randy into it from a head of steam, but Orton throws powder in his eyes and POWERSLAMS HIM ONTO THE BOARD! Jesus, Mick's arm gets really cut when he rolls off. Cover gets 2. Orton props the board in the corner. After several teased counters he whips and dropkicks Mick into it then drops it over him. MASSIVE Foley chants as Randy empties THUMBTACKS onto the canvas. He tries an RKO... and Foley throws him off into the tacks!!!

Tacks are all down his back, really embedded in his arm and one's even on his chest! Foley covers. 1... 2... NO! JR: "Randy Orton, I didn't think he was tough enough to kick out, but he is." Randy crawls out to pull tacks from his hands, and Foley chases him to the back, no doubt to help him get more tacks out. They soon return and Mick throws Orton off the stage through some wooden pallets!!! Loads of trainers check on him. King on Foley: "This man does not belong in our profession, JR... he's sick, twisted, warped." Mick teases letting the officials usher him away, but instead twats them and runs off the stage to elbow drop Orton!!! JR: "We are witnessing a human demolition derby!" Cover - 1, 2... NO!! Smattering of ECW chants as Mick takes Randy back to the ring. Double arm DDT! 1, 2... Orton kicks out!

Foley props up the board again, but Orton batters him with barbie. He winds up a big shot... but tastes Socko! Randy's stuck in the Mandible Claw, but uppercuts Mick in the balls. Fondly tries the claw agaRKOOUTTANOWHERE!!! 1... 2... NO! The ref counted a thumb tack into his hand. RKO INTO THE BARBED WIRE BAT! 1, 2, 3!

Winner: Randy Orton (still champion)

JR: "We said before this started this would be a slobber knocker and this was the damnedest slobber knocker I've ever seen. The bloody Intercontinental Champion took everything Cactus Jack had." Flair and Batista come to collect Orton because he can barely walk.

Verdict: 9.5/10. Stellar match putting Orton over big time, well and truly legitimising him. We'll not see this level of violence in a WWE ring again. There were great homages to classic Foley moments and his matches with Triple H. Foley was in really good shape and put in a phenomenal performance, I was sad he didn't stick around after this feud, he could have been really useful in such great shape.
I remember in school one of my mates essentially shat on wrestling for being a bunch of pussies pretending to hit each other, then I showed him this match and he really got into it an I think he gained a bit more respect for wrestling. This is one of my all time favourite matches.

* We get an ad for John Cena's Word Life DVD. I miss the days when midcarders would get sets like this to test their popularity. John Morrisson was the last person I remember them trying it with.

* King gets on JR's case asking if he's finally a believer in Orton: "If Randy Orton went out and walked on water you'd say 'Oh look, Orton can't swim.'" He gets pissed when all JR says is he's "tougher than a $2 steak". When JR finally concedes he may be the greatest IC Champ ever we see Triple H congratulate Orton backstage, saying he's a legend and he's proud. Grisham then asks what his chances are in the main event. Hunter says don't bet against him, taunting the crowd saying it'd be sweet to pin Benoit on Chris Benoit Day.

Match 6: Number One Contender's Match - La Resistance (Sylvain Grenier & Rob Conway) vs Rosey & The Hurricane

Good luck following that one lads. Rosey's still a Superhero in Training (SHiT, get it?). Conway and Hurricane chain wrestle to start, Conway getting a hip toss. JR: "Conway grows up in rural Kentucky, moves to Quebec and becomes a French sympathiser... you won't hear that in any country song." Headscissors by Helms, with Rosey flattening Rob and hip tossing Hurricane onto him for 2. Sylvain distracts Helms climbing the ropes, so Conway gets a one man Magic Killer over the ropes. Tag to Grenier, who gets a backbreaker for 2. JR & King do a real WCW job by still talking about Foley vs Orton.

Sylvain hooks a bearhug and Eugene comes out to walk round ringside. Rosey tags in with huge slams and a Samoan Drop for 2. Blind tag to Helms as Rosey double clotheslines the heels and Eugene plays peek-a-boo around the Quebec flags. Rosey's corner splash misses but Hurricane shitcans Grenier and dives onto La Resistance from the top to the outside. Eugene gets in the ring, so JR & King worry he'll copy Hurricane, but he just runs the ropes. Helms is all "WTF?" and brawls with Conway. Regal finally retrieves Eugene. In the distraction Helms hits the Eye of the Hurricane for 3.

Winners: The Hurricane and Rosey
Verdict: 3.5/10. A bit of bollocks really. The teams never got a chance to develop a cohesive match, and with Eugene coming out and commentary talking about the previous match you couldn't care. 

* They show the statue of Wayne Gretzky outside Rexall Place, King quipping "He looks like he's in a hardcore match about to hit someone with that trophy".

We then see clips of Edge botching the fuck out of spearing Bischoff on his return, confronting Kane for some reason with his "broken hand" (Kay-fabe!) and Bischoff's assistant Johnny Nitro telling him he'll be disqualified and suspended if the ref catches him using his cast in the match. Man, I didn't get this angle. I'm sure it was an effort to even Edge's chances against Kane, but he'd literally just got back from injury, so to give him an injury angle so soon after returning just made him look piss poor. Or was the injury legit?

Match 7: Kane vs Edge

Edge doesn't get that good a reaction considering it's Canada and his first match in 14 months. In a nice touch he's got laceless boots and no elbow pads because of his "broken hand". Oh God, Earl Hebner is the ref, so fans distract themselves chanting "You screwed Bret".

Edge's punches don't seem to phase Kane, who hooks a double arm choke and slams him hard. Kane goes after the hand but Edge escapes with a reverse elbow and second rope clothesline. King: "I remember when Kane made JR stand for Just Roasted, do you remember that?" JR: "I sure do. *sad panda*". Edge wants a spear but Kane rolls out, so Edge baseball slides and posts him, then sets up the Spanish table but gets uppercutted and his hand sent to the post and steps. Kane does further damage in ring. Edge rakes the eyes to escape an overhand wrist lock (heelish) only to get sidewalk slammed.

Kane misses an elbow and Edge regains the advantage with a flying forearm and spin wheel kick. He threatens using the cast but eats a big boot. Kane goes for the top rope clothesline but Edge ducks. Edge-ucator! But he doesn't cover... and Kane sits up. He tries the spear but Kane rolls away as does Earl, who nearly got hit. Goozle! But with the ref still out of the ring, Edge gets a low blow ("THAT'S MY PURSE! I DON'T KNOW YOU!"), a cast shot, then the spear for the 3.

Winner: Edge
Verdict: 4/10. Like the last match, the crowd were out of it, just chanting for Bret, and having face Edge TWICE cheat to win didn't enthuse them either. This really hurt what was an average match at most.

* JR accidentally spits on King selling the main event and apologises. It's billed as "The Final Encounter" just like Shane vs Kane at the Series the year before, to indicate this is a feud ender. The video package simply talks up last month being the greatest Mania main event ever, and this will be the greatest rematch in history.

Main Event: The Final Encounter Triple Threat World Heavyweight Championship Match - Chris Benoit (C) vs Shawn Michaels vs Triple H

JR puts over HHH huge as a combo of Harley Race, Jack Brisco and Flair. Most of Edmonton still haven't forgiven Shawn for Montreal. King says deep down in his heart he can't see HBK winning. Cheers! Way to put over the challengers. Benoit gets in both their faces with the belt raised, drawing huge pops. Shawn appears to argue with some bald dickheads in the front row.

Much like Mania, Benoit and Michaels both go after Hunter. Chris initially gives HBK a little chop to tell him to fuck off, but then lets him help on a double back body drop. Shawn shitcans HHH and chops Benoit (you idiot). Benoit retaliates with a chop that sends Shawn's gum out of his mouth. Backdrop countered to a neckbreaker by Michaels as one fan raises an "I forgive you Shawn" sign. Well 1 out of 13,000 is a start I guess. Hunter comes back with a high knee to Shawn and sends Benoit out. He lowers his head on a whip and HBK hits a reverse atomic drop. Then SHAWN lowers his head on a whip and has to escape a Pedigree attempt. Benoit is back with Germans and chops for both. Shawn chops him in a corner but gets turned inside out on a whip for his troubles.

H tries a second rope... jump, and ends up in the crossface! Benoit spots Shawn so break the hold to knock him down and send him to the barricade. Hunter cuts the Crippler off up top to chants of "You tapped out" and "Let's go Benoit", but Shawn breaks up the superplex, resulting in Benoit falling face first to the outside! He gets an electric chair on Hunter for 2. "Shawn screwed Bret" chants as he falls prey to a facebreaker. Headbutt by Benoit! 1, 2... H breaks it up but winds up shitcanned. Shawn tries a flying forearm but Benoit ducks and it hits the ref! Hunter tries to Pedigree Benoit... countered to a Sharpshooter at the second time of asking. Crossface to an interfering HBK. Chris realises the ref's still down and tries reviving him, but this allows Michaels to lock in the Sharpshooter! And out comes Earl Hebner, tolololol!!!  He broke the hold when Trips tried to interfere though. 

HUGE "You screwed Bret" chants that Shawn sells with great disdain. He winds up in the crossface! Hunter breaks it up and DDTs Benoit for 2. JR: "Triple H has silenced this crowd."... who then promptly chant "You tapped out". Benoit whips Hunter over the top but gets clotheslined by Shawn for 2. He grabs Benoit by the trunks and pulls him outside to avoid more chops, then goes up top... but both Hunter and Benoit duck the crossbody and Shawn goes through the Spanish table!!! Triple H posts Benoit, sends him to the steps and, back in the ring, sends him to the post shoulder first. Nice Canadian twang to the "asshole" chants Trips receives. King: "They've got a lot of class but it's all low." Camel clutch by Hunter. FUCK HIS ASS AND MAKE HIM HUMBLE! He beats up Benoit for trying to power out and mounts him in the corner only to get flapjacked into the buckle.

Facebreaker by Trips, but Benoit ducks the clothesline and hits the triple Germans! Throat slash! Headbutt... HHH moved! Pedigree! It takes forever but he covers. 1... 2... HBK breaks it up!! He slugs it out with Hunter and slaps him to dare him to keep going. Flying forearm, nip up and slam to MAJOR heat. Top rope elbow! Shawn's tuning up the band... and kicks Benoit, who's just got on the apron! Low blow by Hunter 1, 2... no! Pedigree... HBK backdrops H over the top, but oh look, he found a sledgehammer. King: "Man's best friend... or at least Triple H's." Shawn's trying to drag Benoit back in the ring so Hunter clobbers him square between the shoulders with the hammer! He tries to finish him ala Summerslam 02, but Benoit pulls him out, paying for it by being sent to the steps.

Trips tries to Pedigree Benoit on the steps, but Chris catapults him to the post, sending him over the rail into the first row!! HBK's tuning up the band waiting on Benoit to get back in... but the Sweet Chin Music is countered to the Sharpshooter!!! Shawn tries to get the ropes but is pulled back, and just as Hunter agonisingly crawls in the ring SHAWN TAPS! TO THE SHARPSHOOTER! IN CANADA!!!

Winner: Chris Benoit (still champion)
Verdict: 9/10. Perhaps just a shade below their Mania effort, but still a pretty remarkable match. The dynamic of Shawn being hated in Canada and it distracting him was well used, especially his selling mid match and gave it a different feel. The finish was great, not just as attempted Montreal appeasement but so Benoit could say he made DX tap to both his trademark holds. Thumbs still way up.

Final thoughts: This was a pretty tough one to call. There was a fair bit of stuff that was varying degrees of worthless (Flair vs Shelton, Coach's match, the tag match, Edge's return) but on the bright side there were two outright classics in the IC title match and main event, along with another really good effort from Christian and Y2J and a pretty solid Women's title match. Similar to last month's Pay Per View, if you're really uncomfortable watching Benoit post double murder suicide you probably want to avoid this show - being his homecoming it's pretty much a Benoit lovefest. However, if you can put up with that or desensitise yourself from it  I'd give this show a mild recommend. DEFINITELY check out Orton vs Foley, it's this show's saving grace.

Final Verdict: STICK (only just)