Sunday, 1 May 2005

WWE Backlash 2005 - TV Review

The WWE presented their latest pay-per-view offering, Backlash, from Manchester, New Hampshire this past Sunday, headlined by the return match between Triple H and Batista, and featuring the return of a legend.

The show began with a rematch that was some seven months in the making, as Shelton Benjamin defended the Intercontinental title against the man he beat at Taboo Tuesday last October, Chris Jericho. This rematch was certainly worth the wait, as what we saw was a good, solid opener between two of the better workers on the Raw brand. Jericho's heel turn was again teased as he failed to regain the belt, Benjamin getting the pin after a series of reversals. Jericho then refused to be interviewed by Todd Grisham as he left the arena.

Next up, tag-team turmoil match, which was nothing more than a filler, and another indication that despite the introduction of two new teams, the WWE doesn't really take the tag division seriously these days. New champions were crowned as the Hurricane and Rosey won the match, with the Hurricane gaining the pin after a big splash on one of the Pseudo Frenchies from Rosey's shoulders. A shame that Regal and Tajiri were eliminated and lost their titles in this match, but I may be saying that because I'm biased towards my fellow Brit here.

Then came the last man standing match between Edge and Chris Benoit. Although the rivalry had been well built between these two, I was a little disappointed that Edge didn't put his title shot on the line. Another good match here between the two Canadians, a hard hitting bout which saw Edge gain the victory after clobbering Benoit with a brick.

Backstage promo time, as Lita encourages Kane before his match with Viscera. Nothing more here. Move on.

Jerry Lawler then does his sad old pervert routine with some of the Divas as they hype the next Divas magazine. Thankfully, Chris Masters interrupts proceedings for his latest Master Lock Challenge, this time taking out a female bodybuilder by the name of Melissa Coates. What was she thinking? The segment got Masters over a little more, but I still can't help but think of Lex Luger when Masters appears.

After Trish encourages Viscera, we see the worst match of the night as Trish's new man fails to get the job done, with Kane defeating the big man after a chokeslam. As expected, there were chants of We Want Matt during this one. Afterwards, Viscera turned blue-eyed after he attacked and squashed Trish with a big splash. So the crowd cheers you after you attack a woman about a fifth of your size. Wrestling fans are certainly a strange breed, aren't they.

Next up, Team Dream taking on the Iron Sheik wannabes. The crowd were really into this one as Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels accomplished their task and sent the Arab scum packing. Hogan pinned Daivari after a Michaels super-kick. With the cohort taking the fall, at least Mohammed Hassan remains unpinned, and still remains strong. After the posedown with Hogan and Michaels, some fat guy with a huge Hogan tattoo on his back is invited into the ring to pose with Hogan. Lawler's remarks about the tattoo will stay with me for ages.

Finally, we get the advert we were looking for, as the hype for the ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view begins, one of the few PPVs I'm really looking forward to this year.

Before our main event, Christian and his problem solver come to the ring, and the charismatic one kind of gives away some of the draft lottery results by challenging some of the Smackdown crew. Talk about telegraphing.....

Then it's main event time as Triple H tries to regain the title from his former Evolution running buddy Batista. After their previous bout a month ago this match had a lot to live up to. It was okay, but nothing special, as the back-and-forth bout was eventually won by Batista after his sit-down power bomb. An angry Game then shoved Naitch and took out the referee with a Pedigree. Given Tripper's backstage stroke, I get the feeling that this isn't the last time we'll see Trips take on Big Dave. Hell in a cell anyone?

Overall conclusion: The pay-per-view following Wrestlemania is always a hit-and-miss affair, and this was certainly the case with the 2005 version of Backlash. Apart from the Intercontinental and the last man standing matches, there wasn't really anything that was exceptional, no real match of the year candidates. The matches served their purpose, and that's all they did really.

Match of the night goes to the opener between Benjamin and Jericho. I wouldn't mind seeing these two going at it for a third time.