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WWE Backlash- June 14, 2020
by Samoa Rowe
From the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. The crowd consists of 30-odd developmental wrestlers, who all come across like they have guns pointed to their heads and orders to smile or else. The studio is jam packed with spiffy lights, and the plexiglass wall actually helps give the venue a kind of surreal, dreamlike vibe. I might not hate this as much I think I will. Michael Cole and Corey Graves are calling the action.
WWE Women's Tag Team Championship:
Sasha Banks and Bayley © vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross vs. The IIconics (Billie Kay and Peyton Royce)
Beforehand, Bayley declares herself "Bayley Dos Straps" and Sasha puts over their friendship. Nikki is eager to start but gets double teamed by Billie and Bayley. The match restarts after a six way standoff, with Bliss seeking quick pinfalls on Sasha and Peyton. Another standoff results in a brawl. Royce nails Nikki with a big kick, and Bayley and the IIconics battle for the right to beat her up. Bayley turns her attention to Kay, and she wheelbarrows her into Banks' running knee for 2. Nikki finds her second wind and hits a double clothesline and makes the hot tag to Alexa. The crowd reacts to Alexa's big moves like a video game crowd would. They actually chant "This is awesome" when Royce crossbodies onto everyone at ringside. IIconics rebound with a tandem slam on Sasha, but Nikki and Bliss break it up with a wild facebuster combo. Twisted Bliss is good, but Sasha uses her momentum for the pinfall at 8:47. Good effort and energy, but rough around the edges and that finish is old enough to vote, **½.
Winners and still WWE Women's Tag Team Champions: Sasha Banks and Bayley
Universal Champion Braun Strowman arrives in his Plymouth Grand National, which needed repairs after getting the Street Fighter II bonus level treatment from Miz and Morrison.
Last month, Sheamus ran Elias over with a car and staged the crime scene to look like a drunk Jeff Hardy had been driving. I guess the police were too busy shooting tear gas at protesters, because Jeff had to play detective to clear his own name and since the driver had "red hair" then it leads him straight to Sheamus. This leads to Jeff Hardy having to take a urine test in the middle of the ring (don't ask) and he threw the full glass of pee right into Sheamus' face. I'm now convinced this is in the "so bad it's good" range, but let's see what they can do in the ring.
"Admitted Alcoholic" Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus
This is a winner goes to AEW match, or at least it should be. I'll give them credit, they lock up and tussle like two guys who actually don't like each other. Sheamus rips Jeff's shirt, so he targets his knee with kicks. Sheamus takes over with clubbing offense, but Jeff dropkicks the knees to send him off the apron and follows with a dive off the ring steps. Sheamus slams Jeff's knee right onto the ring post! Sheamus follows with a Black Hole Slam variation and flying knee for 2. Sheamus hits a pair of Irish Curse backbreakers for another 2. Sheamus takes a break to yell at Cole and Graves for saying he's "frustrated" and Hardy breaks his chinlock to hit a back suplex. Hardy hits Whisper of the Wind for 2. Hardy's string of quick offense can't put Sheamus away. The Brogue Kick misses, Jeff hits Sling Blade. Sheamus trips Jeff on the top rope, and he takes a bad fall and lands on him. White Noise by Sheamus, followed by the ugliest Texas Cloverleaf of all time. Jeff gets the ropes but looks finished. Sheamus smashes the chest, and the crowd counts along (again, like a video game crowd might do). Jeff comes back with a desperate Swanton Bomb, but Sheamus gets a rope break. Jeff flies off the rail into a Brogue Kick! A proper Brogue Kick in the ring finishes it at 16:48. The match was fine, but it left me feeling strangely empty, **¾.
The Miz and John Morrison are busy goofing around and don't want to talk to Kayla. She reminds them that only one of them would be Universal Champion if they beat Braun Strowman, and it seems like that's news to them. They're interrupted by Otis and Mandy Rose, who remind them that the Money in the Bank briefcase could cut their reign short.
Byron Saxton, Tom Phillips, and Samoa Joe take over the calls for some Raw action.
Raw Women's Championship:
Asuka © vs. Nia Jax
I guess the issue here is that Nia is jealous of Asuka, because it's not enough for her to be big and scary in pursuit of the title. Asuka quickly goes on defense as Jax overpowers her with brute strength. Jax can't put Asuka away with a spinebuster, so she applies the inevitable chinlock. Asuka surprises with a guillotine headlock, but Jax reverses into a jackhammer. Asuka comes back with a Shining Wizard for 2. Missile dropkick by Asuka and hip attack gets another 2. Jax answers with a sitout powerbomb. Jax misses on a head of steam, Asuka attempts an armbar over the ropes, but they totally botch it and tumble to the floor. Asuka goes for another armbar, but Jax stumbles into a break against the barricade. They're both counted out at 8:27. Ah man, I guess this feud must continue. This just completely flamed out down the stretch and the non-finish killed it dead, *.
Asuka hits a hip attack off the apron just to prove her point and walks away with her title and head held high.
Lana approaches MVP about helping her husband win the title after his long journey, but he dismisses her.
WWE Universal Championship:
Braun Strowman © vs. The Miz and John Morrison
Glad to see the rich history of the Smackdown world title getting the PPV midcard treatment continuing. Smackdown on FOX gets higher ratings than Raw, but it's still the B-show through and through. They take a detour to unveil a Miz and Morrison music video, and I wonder what all the "AEW is too goofy" folks think of this. I think it's hilarious, for what it's worth, as they sing in a mansion about how Braun has got to go. Braun cuts it off, and the fake crowd lost the memo to pop for it. Braun overcomes an early double team. Miz snaps Braun's neck on the ropes and hits some jabs and misses a kick that Braun kind of sells. JoMo catches Braun with a springboard enziguri and wipes him out for a dive. I feel like it's time for a commercial, but it's PPV, so we get to enjoy the heat sequence in all it's mediocre glory. Morrison totally misses a running knee that Braun has to sell anyway. Miz and Morrison hit a missile dropkick/Skull Crushing Finale combo, but Miz breaks Morrison's cover because they can't both be champion. Braun uses this to his advantage and chokeslams Miz and drops Morrison with a running power slam to finish Morrison at 7:23. Wow. Miz or Morrison alone could make perfectly good PPV title challengers to Braun, but this match totally buried them like they were nothing. This was also sloppy as hell, with blatantly missed shots left and right. This failed on multiple levels, DUD.
Winner and still Universal Champion: Braun Strowman
Recap of this past Friday's Smackdown, which featured Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles in an almost 40 minute IC title match that is likely better than anything we're getting tonight, which makes me feel like a moron for wasting my time with this dreck. Kayla interviews the new champ, Styles, and he promises to have a grand championship presentation on the next Smackdown, and he hopes Bryan will be there so he can learn how to make dreams happen.
Drew McIntyre © vs. Bobby Lashley (with MVP)
Now that Paul Heyman has been ousted from Raw, I have to wonder if Drew and Lashley are about to lose their spots in a big way. One of them has to win here, I guess. It's telling that Edge and Orton are apparently getting the main event above this. Lashley ambushes Drew with a Full Nelson before the bell! A pack of referees have to pry Lashley off so the match can officially begin. Drew still wants to fight, so the bell rings, and Lashley continues dishing out an onslaught. I guess every babyface tonight needs to just sell, sell, sell against "impossible odds." Drew comes back with a clothesline to ringside, but he lets MVP distract him for Lashley to hit a botched power slam. Lashley hoists Drew on his shoulder and runs into the ring post. Lashley runs into a suplex of sorts into the barricade. Drew follows with a flying shoulder block and they take a breather. Spinebuster by Drew gets 2. Lashley answers with a high spinebuster for only 1. Flatliner by Lashley also gets 1. Lashley can't quite get the Full Nelson, and McIntyre counters into an Alabama Slam. Drew flies into Lashley's crossface counter. Drew reverses into a Tombstone tease, but Lashley counters into an ankle lock! Drew blocks the spear and rolls into the Kimura, followed by a superplex to buy some time. Drew runs into a spear for a great nearfall! Lana arrives and argues with the ref about Drew's "cheating." Drew knocks her off onto MVP and hits the Claymore for the win at 13:18. This was humming along nicely, until the Lana angle cost us a good finish. Drew looks good as champion, ***½.
Winner and still WWE Champion: Drew McIntyre
The Street Profits and Viking Raiders brawl in the parking lot, and accidentally damage Braun Strowman's car in the process. They realize they've messed up and run away to continue brawling in the PC. The Street Profits arm themselves with golf clubs, while the Vikings arm themselves with a bowling ball and shields. They all agree to lower their weapons before slugging it out. One Viking finds the bowling ball and has a flashback to when they went bowling with the Street Profits on Raw. He rolls it into Ford's groin and has a laugh. He looks for the others, but gets tackled through a glass wall by Dawkins, leading to another flashback of the times chicken legs appeared unexpectedly while golfing and bowling. Again, I wonder what the "AeW iS tOo GoOfY" crowd thinks of this. Both teams limp to the parking lot, when a biker gang surrounds them, Akira Towawa represents the gang and declares "Anything you can do we can do better" and throws his helmet at them. Street Profits and Visking Raiders team up as the Viking Profits to beat up the biker ninjas with chicken wings and golf clubs. Just when they think they've won, Tozawa unleashes a super tall ninja. A Viking summons his chicken wing the same way Thor would summon his hammer, but they end up fleeing onto the production trucks. They resume fighting on the trucks, and the Street Profits end up getting tossed into a dumpster, with the Vikings splashing onto them. Referee Jessica Carr wakes them up for their match, but they're alerted by monster sounds. They struggle to escape when the camera cuts out. This sucked and was a terrible imitation of the cinematic, set-piece brawls that have been happening on AEW. NO STARS!
"The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever"
Randy Orton vs. Edge
WWE has been taking shots for weeks over the billing of this match. Edge and Orton are a couple of three star specialists who historically have two star chemistry as opponents, but it's going to be the "GREATEST" match ever. Frankly, I'm stunned that WWE allowed the use of the term "wrestling" in the graphics. An MSG mic lowers and archived audio of Howard Finkel introduces the competitors, which actually gives my cynical heart all the feels. They lock up and tumble around. I think they're piping in crowd noise now, because the developmental kids sound like fans now. They trade arm drags but Orton backs off to obvious canned heat. Orton targets Edge's neck with a head scissors. Edge escapes, but misses an elbow drop. Match restarts with them running the ropes but Edge trips over Orton's gut and tumbles to the floor. Edge lures Orton into a big boot. Edge absorbs an uppercut and hits an armdrag to set up an armbar. The canned noise is pretty distracting, I'm starting to think this whole thing is an experiment to see if they can get away with using it. Edge breaks a waistlock with a hip toss and reapplies a side headlock. The fake crowd overreacts to Orton stomping the foot, and Edge throws him to ringside. Edge defends the top rope and nails a flying clothesline, busting Orton open in the process. Canned "This is awesome" chant. Edge glares while dismantling poor Randy, putting him into a crossface. Orton attempts the RKO, but Edge cuts him off with a cobra clutch, er, Anti-Venom. Orton's patented backbreaker does a number on Edge's bad neck. Orton smashes Edge into the plexiglass while the invisible crowd gasps in horror. Edge takes a suplex onto the announce table, but kicks out at 2. Orton stomps a circle around Edge and puts him in the chinlock. Orton shoves Edge's neck into the buckles and hits the Three Amigos. Edge returns the favor. They exchange chops until Orton hits a dropkick, and targets the neck again with the ropes. Orton nails the superlex and Edge sells it like death. I hope that's only selling, anyway. They collide with stereo crossbodies, earning a breather. Edge avoids the Draping DDT and hits the Edge-o-cution for only 2. Running knees by Edge and a running elbow gets 2. High crossbody by Edge still isn't enough. They jockey for position until Edge locks on a vicious crossface, but Orton breaks loose with an Olympic Slam! Edge answers with a sit out powerbomb. Orton hits a back drop over the ropes, followed by the Draping DDT. Orton signals the RKO, but eats the Edge-o-matic! They block finishers until Edge hits the Unprettier, but Orton kicks out! Orton snaps the ribs onto the ropes and hits a Pedigree for another 2 count. The NXT crowd chants "Fight Forever" but I want to go to bed. Edge busts out a Rock Bottom for 2. They sprint through a great exchange, while the crowd works against them by acting like this is just a fun time with no stakes, and Orton nails an RKO for only 2! Orton teases the Death Punt, but Edge hits a spear! Orton kicks out of a second spear. Edge springboards into an RKO and kicks out again, and we're reaching ludicrous levels here. There's great nearfalls, and then there's false finisher spamming, and this crossed into the latter. Edge finally hits the Death Punt to win at 44:49. Wow, this just kept on going, didn't it? They won me over, lost me, won me over again, but then lost me again before it ended. Hard match to rate, rounds out to ***.
Winner: Randy Orton
Orton puts his forehead against Edge and talks some barely audible smack talk that certainly feels chilling. This moment would have improved the match had it happened before the finish.
Final Thoughts: This was pretty terrible. WWE has a world class roster and some of the best minds in the history of the business, and this is the best they can do, COVID-19 notwithstanding. I'd say avoid like the plague, but I think I'd rather get the plague. My beer goggles did nothing to help either. Thumbs Down.
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