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WWF Backlash 2004
by Scrooge McSuck
- So... I'm attempting to recap this on the WWE Network. I search the library, and notice that the original poster art for this show is replaced by a random shot from the match between Mick Foley and Randy Orton. The original artwork was centered entirely around Chris Benoit. The brief description beneath the video? "Triple H and Shawn Michaels compete in a Triple Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Title." No reference to Chris Benoit, THE CHAMPION? Even the skip points in the stream ends with the last option being Edge and Kane's stinker, followed by 40-minutes of nothing. Yes, Chris Benoit, you are not erased from the video footage, but damn if you will not be mentioned in the descriptions, chapter skips, or even in the artwork representing this PPV. There's no reason for any of this to still take place: You're showing the matches, why go out of your way to change everything else, and bring attention to it? You've already given up the big piece of the picture, no need to salvage the erasing by doing everything else in your power to white-wash history.
- Originally brought to us via Pay-Per-View on April 18th, 2004, from the Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Yep, hometown of WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Chris Benoit. It's mentioned a lot throughout the show, complete with video packages of him touring local landmarks. Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler are on commentary to call all the action, unless otherwise noted.
Opening Match: Shelton Benjamin vs. Ric Flair:
In the weeks following WrestleMania, WWE did their first "Draft" where Superstars were moved from Raw and Smackdown, likely to shaken things up and give new possibilities for angles. One such move was Charlie Haas being sent to Smackdown, breaking up The World's Greatest Tag Team. Through some kind of bullying/trash talking, Benjamin found himself in a match with Triple H... and won. I remember everyone losing their shit for this. They had a rematch, and Shelton won that, too (by Count-Out, so not as big of a deal). Ric Flair is looking to avenge Evolution by putting Shelton in his place. It's a good match, but you can feel it's two different styles and it feels like it's just mixing properly. Benjamin can keep up on the chain wrestling, but he was also more about flash spots, which Flair usually feels out of place taking, or just looks odd bumping for. Finish comes with Benjamin hitting the Stinger Splash and a clothesline of the top rope at 9:33. ** Not exactly the PPV opener we were hoping for, but it was good enough... I know, that sounds kind of backhanded, but it's the truth: It was disappointing, but alright.
Tajiri vs. Jonathan Coachman:
Nope, that's not a typo... we actually paid $40 for a PPV with an undercard featuring the guy who did backstage interviews and was constantly harassed by the Rock. A helpful recap of why this match is taking place reminds me of an awesome segment where Tajiri, having switched from Smackdown to Raw, was "initiated" to the Raw Locker Room by spitting Mist in the eyes of whoever walked in the door: It was Coach, and his over-selling reaction was AWESOME. To my surprise, they skip the obvious comedy routines and try and make a real match out of it. It's OK, but it definitely feels like someone working the match has little experience inside the ring. Tajiri dominates, with Coach getting a desperate spot of offense here and there. Tajiri seems to have things won until Garrison "Don't Call Me Lance" Cade runs in, allowing Coach to roll Tajiri up for three at 6:25. Yes, Tajiri just jobbed to COACH, to further an angle with Garrison friggin' Cade. * I don't think that program went anywhere, unless it was a Sunday Night Heat Exclusive.
Chris Jericho vs. Christian & Trish Stratus:
Quasi-ReMatch from WrestleMania. If you'll recall, Trish Stratus turned heel at WrestleMania XX, kicking off what I consider one of the greatest year or so of Trish being a complete BITCH, but in a completely justifiable reason that we were "supposed" to boo. Sorry, but calling out Christy Hemme for earning $250,000 by eating pie was the GREATEST Diva Promo ever. And let us not forget her Maid of Honor outfit for Kane and Lita's wedding. That sure got me through some lonely nights... I too am amazed I've have sexual relations with real women, without having to pay for it. Laughable hype from Jim Ross "true love gone bad." Uh-huh... wasn't Jericho's original motivation just to tap it? Yes, after getting some action, you feel like you're in love, but that's more lust than anything trying to convince you otherwise. I can't believe I ripped off Jericho's "sexy beast" line in the very recent pas. Am I commenting on the match or making fun of what is generously called my sex life? Either way, I'm rolling, and I'm not afraid to poke fun at myself to get a good laugh. Crowd is pretty into Jericho, despite being announced from Winnipeg, Manitoba. I don't get how it works with them. Does everyone in Canada love anyone else from Canada, simply because they're Canadian? Does it even matter what Province they're from? Trish's involvement is minimal, which is to be expected, allowing Jericho and Christian to work very good, if uneventful match. Jericho avenges his 'Mania loss by putting Christian away with the running enziguri at 11:15. *** 3-Stars always seems disappointing when a match seems like it could've been a bit better. I guess maybe we expected too much out of certain people. Unfortunately, all this did was introduce the world to Christian and Trish's problem solver, Tyson Tomko [flush].
WWE Women's Championship Match:
Victoria © vs. Lita:
Does anyone really care about this? Before watching the match, I tried, with my best intentions, to remember what either was doing at this point. Couldn't tell you. Gun to my head, need to answer? My brains are on the fucking wall. Looks like Victoria is between personalities: Gone is the psycho-bitch paired with Stevie Richards, but we're still not in "Dancin'" Victoria territory, either. Both are babyfaces, because it makes sense. Lita looks so wasted, it's not even funny... OK, it's kinda funny. J.R. actually reminds me Lita held the title back in 2000... I completely forgot she beat Stephanie for it in a pretty awesome moment, and forgot even harder who she lost it to (brain racking says Ivory, RTC Version). Jim Ross' boredom with a match can be measured by how quiet he is and what he talks about: He's whisper quiet and rambling about whatever the fuck. I completely forgot about Victoria's twerking moonsault. Was twerking a thing in 2004? God, I feel old. God, I can't believe I'm actually referencing TWERKING. My soul must hate what I've become. Victoria wins, seemingly on a fluke, with an inside package at 7:22. Match was so important, Lawler kept wondering if Lita was wearing a thong. Molly Holly (with wig) and Gail Kim post-match beatdown both Diva's, just for the hell of it. Whatever, probably went nowhere. * It wasn't awful, but you would think Victoria and Lita could deliver better. Well, Victoria at least. We all know Lita was mostly a shitty-spot-monkey that blew her spots half the time, but she was someone the crowd liked, and they really couldn't give a shit about her here.
WWE Intercontinental Championship; No Holds Barred Match:
Randy Orton © vs. Mick Foley:
I'm sorry, but making this for the title kind of makes the finish more than a little bit obvious. Orton's constant disrespecting of Foley lead to a pretty kick-ass Tag Match at WrestleMania XX, featuring the Rock's last match until Survivor Series 2011. Orton pinned Foley there, but Foley isn't done... he wants Orton in an environment that he's more comfortable with. No Holds Barred! Oh, and Evolution is barred from ringside. Foley comes out dressed like Cactus Jack, and Orton is wearing his typical tights, so maybe he won't take too much of a beating. Not so much wrestling, just a whole lot of brawling. Gets off to a slow start, including the standard "fight over a baseball bat wrapped inn barbed wire" spot, triggering Orton's first blade job. Orton winds up in control, dumps out a bag of thumbtacks, and misses the RKO into the entire pile. OUCH! Tacks are all over his body, and the match is only half done. They manage to work their way back up the ramp, out of site, possibly to clean him off, but nope, he's still a human pin cushion, and gets tossed off the stage, through a pair of tables! Orton somehow manages to survive all the abuse and puts Foley away with the RKO at 23:03. **** This definitely felt like a true coming-out party for Orton. Despite being pushed throughout 2003 as an upcoming star, it was hard to take him seriously, and he really didn't do much to justify his push. While it's easy to say "ooh, big deal, he got worked over in a hardcore rules match", the crowd totally bought into the entire angle and match, and the crowd that seemed unimpressed by him at the start gives him a mild standing ovation as he departs a bloody, beaten mess. Probably the last time Foley "made" someone.
The Hurricane & Rosey vs. La Resistance:
This would be the Robert Conway and Sylvain Grenier version of the team. I think Rene Dupree was out with an injury, but honestly, who cares? Rosey was STILL working the "Super Hero In Training" gimmick (yes, we all know what it spells...), complete with awful attire. He would FINALLY get a professional Super Hero costume a few months later, right before being released. Got to love WWE. The very definition of a piss-break match, as the crowd is constantly on the move and extremely quiet for the entire thing. Standard formula match with he only highlight being a walk-on appearance of everyone's favorite special-ed Superstar: Eugene. His arrival at ringside creates enough of a distraction to La Resistance, allowing Hurricane to finish Conway off with the Eye of the Hurricane at 5:02. 1/2* Hard to hate the match, considering it was only trotted out to create a breather for the crowd.
Edge vs. Kane:
This should be another classic... I'm as big of a Kane fan as you can be, but this was a period where he was NOT having good matches (with the exception being with an obvious option I don't want to glorify right now), and Edge is making his return to the ring, having been sidelined with an injury since February '03. Man, Edge was injured A LOT. No wonder the poor guy had to retire in 2011. I don't know what the deal is behind this, but Edge pissed off Eric Bischoff, so maybe it's Punishment by way of Kane™. Earl Hebner is the referee, and thus remains the only person with heat throughout the match. Seriously, the crowd is more worried about chanting "You Screwed Bret" at him than paying attention to this stinker. Did I mention that "returning from injury" Edge has a cast on his arm? Yep, he's injured, but put out there anyway because... this match just had to take place? Despite being warned beforehand by Eric Bischoff's new stooge, Johnny Nitro, Edge uses the cast as a weapon and puts Kane away with the Spear at 6:25. * What a waste of time and both men. Things would get better for Edge, not so much for Kane, who's next storyline was raping and impregnating Lita. Yeah, that really happened. Then he turned face because of an accidental miscarriage (of Justice). Yes, that really happened, too.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match:
Chris Benoit © vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H:
Another rematch from WrestleMania. Most of the hype is around the idea that Chris Benoit couldn't win another Triple Threat Match against Michaels and Hunter, because lightning doesn't strike twice. At the time of the PPV, my official prediction was Benoit going over Michaels, since he already beat Triple H at 'Mania. Benoit gets the mother of all babyface pops from his hometown crowd (I guess he moved back from Atlanta, GA?), and his family is in the front row for this... and now I must say I completely lost focus on the match. There's flawless effort in getting all three men into the action, and finding ways of taking one out so it leaves solid strings of one-on-one action. The crowd is intense throughout and all over Shawn Michaels. There's even a spot where Hebner gets trotted out as Michaels puts Benoit in the Sharpshooter. Yes, WWE has been trolling it's fans for YEARS. It's not something new they do with Daniel Bryan. Michaels takes a manly bump, missing a twisting body press and crashing through one of the announcer's tables. Later on, Benoit takes Hunter out with a nasty little slingshot into the post. I don't know what looked worse: Hunter's contact or Benoit's bumping to the floor, falling off the dismantled ring steps. back in the ring, Benoit blocks Sweet Chin Music and locks in the Sharpshooter. Before Hunter can save, Shawn taps at 30:07, giving the match to Benoit. Speculation in me wants to say Shawn only tapped (in storyline) so either Triple H didn't win, or didn't have the misfortune of being saved by his blood rival at the time. Either way, Benoit made Shawn Michaels tap, something that wasn't happening often. ****1/2 Not as great as Mania, but still an excellent Triple Threat. End Show. Sorry for cutting it short here, but you'd understand if you were watching, too.
Final Thoughts: I'm starting to regret shaming WWE for their interpretation of Backlash in their descriptions and links on the WWE Network. While the Main Event delivered a near-5 Star performance, and an undercard with a classic brawl between Foley and Orton, I just can't recommend ever watching this show again. Any time my attention is completely thrown off and I'm broken down into tears, I simply can't think about watching the show again. I can watch random matches from pretty much every other show available, this was too much, and the stink of the entire thing (we all know what I'm refering to) trickles throughout the show before a heart-wrenching finale. Time doesn't change that feeling, and I don't want to try and challenge it, again.
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