Welcome to the column that runs on very low sleep, the Wrath of Tito. I'm whooped! After working the early hours all weekend, I then view WWE Backlash at home and drive back to school, a good 2 hour drive, just for the sake of a freakin' 8 am class. Seriously, who on earth can learn at that time of day? Regardless, I just got in from the long drive, and thanks to the miracles of caffeine contained in my favorite drink, Sunkist, I'll review Backlash for the readers here very late at night.
But before we do that, let me give some brief SMACKDOWN thoughts. Overall, I liked the show, although I've read many other reviews of the show that absolutely hated it. The wrestling was perfectly acceptable for a Pay Per View hype show, as you usually get more promos than wrestling anyway. I thought Brock vs. Albert was solid, and I'm happy that A-Train is finally in his perfect role as the set up guy, not the main eventer Vince McMahon dreamed of a few months ago. He should be used to elevate the top guys, as he won't make you any money at the top. I thought Crash Holly was a weird fit with Matt Hardy. Nothing against Crash, as I'm happy he'll now have a role on Smackdown, but the reason Shannon Moore fits is because he has a history with Matt Hardy, whereas Crash was a midcarder without a purpose, making it look like he was just put into the group because the creative team didn't know how to use him. Oh well. Good match with Rey Mysterio, as I hope the WWE can utilize Crash in the Cruiserweight division.
Unlike many, I liked the Sable stuff on Smackdown. She looked FANTASTIC, too, which goes against many of the elderly comparisons others online have made about her. Just a little extra make up cleared up her face, while she started to show the goods on Smackdown, showing she still has a great body. I can't say that I like the FBI group. Ok, so I get that they use strength in numbers, but nobody from that group is winning any matches (although they shouldn't beat Chris Benoit). Speaking of Chris Benoit, he was NOT on Backlash, whatsoever. What's up with that? One of your top performers and you exclude the man off of a show featuring mostly wrestling? No get... Piper is out of shape, yes, but is he a full time wrestler? No. By the way, he said in his book or on NWA-TNA that he'll wear a black kilt and wear black tights to wrestle in from now on to salute many of the dead wrestlers this industry has had. I can't remember what else happened on Smackdown of note, but I liked it and I'll give it a grade of a [ B ].
On to my Backlash review.
Before I start, I just want to say that Johnathan Coachman needs go to as the RAW announcer. He was absolutely terrible in all of calls, especially the Rock vs. Goldberg match. "This crowd is half and half, more leaning towards Goldberg" when there were clear Rocky chants. Stupid. I'll take Tony Shiavone over Coachman, any day of the week. Jim Ross needs to come back, and quickly!
The opening bout was Team Angle vs. the Guerreros. Good choice of openers. Solid opener, overall, with a long "face in peril" on Eddie Guerrero featured in the match. I still find it hard to sell the Guerreros as a face tag team, but oh well. I, however, disliked the ending, which had the old recycled finish where someone is about to hit a move near the ropes, but an evil companion pulls the legs to cause a pin to happen. It was the Bobby Heenan technique used for Rick Rude to beat the Ultimate Warrior for the Intercontinental Title one time. It's been used over and over again. Ugh. Someone give the writers a clue. Good match otherwise. The Guerreros would steal the titles after the match, which hasn't been done, either *rolls eyes*.
I liked the Torrie Wilson-Sable-Test-Stacy Keibler-Scott Steiner segments, for whatever reason. Despite not being wrestling, they were handled well. The story goes that Test was hitting on Torrie Wilson backstage, and Torrie was mad that Test kept calling her. Test then forced a kiss on Torrie, to which she walks away, and Sable saw the whole thing. Sable then starts shit by telling Stacy about Torrie wanting Test and saying that Torrie just kissed Test. D'oh! Stacy then confronts Torrie about this and a catfight erupts. Somehow, Stacy gets thrown into a cabinet or whatever, and a box falls on her head, and Scott Steiner is there to check on her and take her to safety. Now that's a recap.
The next match was Sean O'Haire vs. Rikishi. Terrible match here. I love how the WWE has totally handcuffed Sean O'Haire from any aerial moves. Ok, I understand that you don't want spotfests, but part of what made O'Haire fun to watch was an occasional jump off the ropes. They should bring back the Seanton Bomb since Jeff Hardy is gone instead of his inverted DVD finisher. Thanks to a distraction by Piper, O'Haire was able to beat Rikishi. Seriously, let O'Haire do something more than punch and clothesline, the WWE style of offense these days.
Our next bout was Rob Van Dam and Kane vs. the Dudleys. Before the match, RVD and Kane were worried about Chief Morley naming himself the special guest referee on Heat. Decent tag match, although no tag chemistry was present among teams, like the Smackdown brand title match. It goes to show you why tag wrestling on Smackdown is better. The Dudleys would turn on Chief Morley, get attacked by Lance Storm, and eventually lose to Kane and RVD. I was thinking the Duds would win the titles here, but it looks like RVD/Kane are champions for over a month now. Wow! I bet they lose them on the next Pay Per View or on an upcoming RAW.
Next, it was Trish Stratus vs. Jazz. Nothing special, again, between these two. A carbon copy of previous matches that they've had. Jazz won by holding the ropes, thereby becoming your new Women's champion. Whoopie!
I was ENTERTAINED by the Big Show vs. Rey Mysterio match. It was fun seeing Rey-Rey attempting his offense on a large individual, such as the Big Show. The part where Rey hit the Big Show with 3 consecutive 619's was fun, all on different body parts. Rey lost after a VICIOUS chokeslam. Big Show had Rey up a good 10 feet in the air and dropped him hard. They sold it as a legit injury, as EMT's strapped Rey onto a board to haul away. However, the Big Show picked up the board or whatever and took a swing at the ring post with Rey Mysterio on it! Looked nasty!
Chris Jericho was pretty funny in the backstage interview with Ric Flair and Triple H, interviewed by Lilian Garcia. "Vivian", he told Lilian, which the look on Garcia's face was priceless when he said that.
Next bout was John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar. Decent overall, but Cena and Lesnar had some timing issues on some moves. For instance, when they went back and forth from one corner to the other, they couldn't get in sync on some of the moves, thereby making it rather amateur looking at times. Cena losing kinda makes no sense, given that he's beaten Eddie Guerrero, Undertaker, Chris Benoit, and Rhyno in 4 consecutive weeks. Although, it could make sense if they keep building up Cena, but I'm sure there's somebody attending the production meetings saying that Cena is "not ready" for the bigtime.
Chris Jericho/Triple H/Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels/Booker T/Kevin Nash was up next. 2 RAW matches finish out the show..... This was a good six man, but by no means was it something that blew the roof off the arena. It was funny to hear dead silence when Kevin Nash was tagged in and hitting offense. Yep, and he's your TOP FACE going up against Triple H for the World Title. Can't wait for that, as you'll notice that Nash will have credibility (at least through the storylines and not in our eyes) heading into his match against HHH, unlike previous others, such as Chris Jericho, Booker T, and Rob Van Dam. That's the whole problem with a guy banging the boss's daughter, along with him wanting to help out his friends to get a push. Funny thing is that Triple H pinned Nash in this match, forecasting the feud that will guarantee lower ratings and possibly a record low buyrate for the Attitude era of 1997 and beyond.
The main event was Bill Goldberg vs. the Rock. I liked the ending... But I must say that the shoulder injury selling KILLED this match. Bill Goldberg dove into the ring post when attempting a spear on the Rock, which he sold the entire match. Huh?!? I will also mention that Goldberg has new music, a pussy'd and watered down version of his old one. Instead of hard drums to get you pumped, we now have a keyboard instead. Switch back to the old music, mmmkay? The fans were behind the Rock most of the match, but they cheered for Goldberg at the end when he hit his spears and drilled Rocky with the Jackhammer. Well, it's a start. I'm noticing that Goldberg's pops are weak because Goldberg IS from WCW and that audience quit watching WWE's stuff after the failed invasions. By now, those fans know better. Besides, Goldberg was still on top of the company throughout various times in 1999 and 2000, and he didn't quite help WCW turn around business, whatsoever. The WWE needs to work with Goldberg and let him hit more impacting offense instead of dragging around the ring, selling a pathetic shoulder injury. It's cool to sell a move throughout the match, but for it to begin hurting the match is not good at all.
LAST WORD: Overall, I enjoyed Backlash. Many were predicting this to be a major Pay Per View disaster. While there were no blowaway matches, there was some good wrestling featured on the card, and that's all I can ask for anymore. I'll give this show a grade of a [ B ] (B). It's sad to see the Rock leaving the WWE for movies again after this show, for he's the only thing worth watching anymore over on RAW. It's funny with the Rock. At Summerslam 2002, he put over Brock Lesnar CLEANLY in their first meeting ever. At Backlash 2003, he put over Bill Goldberg cleanly. If there isn't a more clear sign on who is the man, besides Kurt Angle, is on the WWE roster, then you should get your head checked. I just hope the WWE builds on what the Rock did this month, such as putting over Goldberg, working with Christian, and in the other month, working with the Hurricane. Sadly, it won't happen.
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