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WWE Backlash- May 1, 2005

by SamoaRowe

-Backlash 2005 was held at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH. I attended the show and I had wanted to do a review, but I wanted to wait a while so that my ratings would not be biased by having been there in person. I will probably overrate this show one way or another, but at least I will have fun doing so.

-Our hosts for the evening are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler.

Intercontinental Championship: Shelton Benjamin vs Chris Jericho
They tie up and Benjamin goes right to the back of Y2J. Jericho reverses and uses a waist lock takedown to ground Benjamin. Benjamin counters with a side headlock, but Jericho gets out of it. Benjamin attempts a backslide, Jericho kicks out, and then Benjamin uses an arm drag to trap Jericho in an armbar. Jericho reverses, Benjamin springboards off the ropes to escape, catches Y2J with an arm drag into an armbar. Jericho fights out and slaps Benjamin across the face. Benjamin takes a second to take this in and tackles Jericho. Benjamin is pulled off by the referee, and Jericho takes control. They trade some blows and Jericho lands some chops. Benjamin goes for a suplex but Jericho blocks it. Benjamin finally lists Jericho over the ropes and lands on the apron. Jericho flips Benjamin over him onto the ringside area, and Benjamin tries to suplex Jericho off the apron. Jericho counters with a hurancanrana and Benjamin hits the floor hard in what I would consider to be a great spot. Jericho removes the padding from the barricade and drops Benjamin chest-first onto the exposed wall. Jericho rolls Benjamin back into the ring and kicks him in the ribs. Jericho is acting like a heel, though the crowd seems to favor him. Jericho goes for a cocky pin, and Benjamin kicks out. Jericho puts a reverse chin lock on Benjamin and puts the pressure on in a convincing manner. Benjamin gets to his feet, but Jericho clubs him on his back. Jericho gets an Irish whip in, but Benjamin counters with a flying forearm. Both men are down, and Jericho is the first back up with a small drop-kick. Jericho uses the ropes to his advantage and takes control again. Benjamin comes back with a splash on Jericho's back in the corner. Benjamin corners Jericho with some punches and a head-butt. Jericho reverses an Irish whip to the opposite turnbuckle and gets a bulldog in. Jericho goes for a springboard off the ropes, but Benjamin pushes him off. Benjamin sits Jericho up on the second rope, but is pushed off. Benjamin leaps up to the turnbuckle and suplexes Jericho off! That was really cool! Benjamin takes too long getting to the cover, so Jericho gets a shoulder up at the two count. Benjamin takes control and puts a reverse body scissors on Y2J. Jericho fights out, but both men go down after both go for a clothesline. Jericho gets to his feet first and dodges the Stinger splash. Jericho takes down Benjamin, does a little dance on his back, and hangs him up on the ropes with a drop toe hold. Jericho runs into a Samoan drop from Benjamin, who goes for a cover. Jericho kicks out at two, and Benjamin takes control. Jericho hits a running enziguri and goes for a cover. Benjamin barely kicks out before the three count. Jericho is soon the victim of a springboard bulldog from Benjamin and is barely able to get a shoulder up in a cover attempt. Jericho reverses a roll up and goes for the Walls of Jericho. It isn't to be, so he slingshots Benjamin into the turnbuckle. Benjamin takes advantage with a T-Bone suplex and goes for the cover. Luckily, Jericho gets a foot on the ropes so Benjamin does not get the win. Benjamin drags Jericho to the center of the ring for another cover attempt, and Jericho is able to kick out. Benjamin goes for another T-Bone, but Jericho fights out. Benjamin's super kick attempt is blocked and he is soon caught in the Walls of Jericho. It takes Benjamin several seconds to make it to the ropes. Jericho angrily stomps away at Benjamin. Benjamin hits a flying boot to the face of Jericho that came out of no where. Benjamin makes another cover attempt, but it is only two again. Benjamin misses a drop-kick, but reverses the lion-sault. Benjamin and Jericho go on to counter each other's cover attempts until Jericho is finally rolled up for the three count at 14:32, giving the win to Shelton Benjamin! This was a great opener and proved my suspicions that Jericho and Benjamin could easily out do their Taboo Tuesday match. ***1/2.
Winner and STILL Intercontinental Champion: Shelton Benjamin

-After the match, Todd Grisham tries to get an interview with Jericho. Jericho blows him off and heads to the back.

-Backstage, Jonathan Coachman is standing by with Edge, who will be facing Chris Benoit in a "Last Man Standing" match. Edge puts himself over for winning the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania 21 and how he beat Chris Benoit to do it. Edge promises that he will be the last man standing, and that we can all "bank on it."

Tag Team Turmoil match for the World Tag Team Championship: William Regal and Tajiri vs the Heart Throbs, Simon Dean and Maven, La Resistance, and Hurricane and Rosey
The tag champs and the Heart Throbs start the match off. The Heart Throbs had just debuted two weeks prior to this event, so the crowd really had no clue who they were. This was before they had become established jobbers as well. I am not going to even try to tell the Heart Throbs apart in this one. Regal starts the match off against Romeo, who I see has the darker hair of the two. Romeo puts Regal in a head lock, knocks him down and goes for an early cover. Romeo puts Regal in a side headlock but it does not go anywhere. Regal goes after Romeo, but the Heart Throb flips over Regal and tags in Antonio. Antonio works on Regal's left arm, which Ross seems to think is a good idea. Tag is made to Tajiri, who catches Antonio with some stiff kicks. Tajiri puts Antonio in an in-ring version of the Tarantula (as called by Lawler). Romeo interferes, giving Antonio the edge again. Tag is made and the Heart Throbs double team Tajiri in the corner. Romeo tags Antonio in again and the double team continues. Antonio attempts a cover, it fails, so he goes back to cornering Tajiri. Tajiri tries to make a leaping tag to Regal, but it doesn't work. It is all good though, as Tajiri hits a sunset slip into a cover and gets the win at 3:11. This portion of the match was short, as expected, but fast paced enough to be enjoyable.

Regal and Tajiri do not get much of a break as Dean and Maven charge the ring. Simon Dean starts off against Tajiri and puts him down with a body slam. Dean hits an elbow drop and goes for a cover. Dean charges Tajiri into his corner and tags in Maven for the double team. Maven goes for the cover, but Tajiri kicks out. Maven aggressively pummels away at Tajiri's face with closed fists. Maven charges Tajiri back into the heel corner. Simon chokes poor Tajiri in the corner, incorporating the same strategy as the Heart Throbs. Simon Dean puts Tajiri in a front face-lock. Tajiri fights out and sends a dazed Dean walking into the first of Regal on the apron. Maven rushes the ring, trying to keep Tajiri from tagging in Regal, but it was not to be. Regal cleans house on both Maven and Dean, hitting a high knee on Dean for the victory at about 5:45.

Sylvain Grenier and Robert Conway attack Regal on the outside, who was trying to take a breather. The action spills into the ring as Conway takes the fight to Regal. They swing their attention to Tajiri, who takes both La Resistance members down. Grenier and Tajiri remain in the ring as the legal men. Tag is made to Regal, and finally the good guys get some double team moves in on Grenier. Regal hits some uppercuts on Grenier and goes for the cover. Tag is made to Tajiri, who kicks Grenier in the ribs. Snapmare by Tajiri leads into a leg drop and cover on Sylvain Grenier. Tag is made to Regal, and for the first time in the match the champs seem to have the upper hand. Conway is tagged in, and hits a storm of punches on Regal. Conway goes for the cover, but it fails as usual. Conway tries to trap Regal in the La Resistance corner, but Regal fights out and puts Conway in the Regal Stretch. Grenier breaks up the submission hold, but is jumped by Tajiri. Tajiri goes for the Tarantula, but it is countered. Meanwhile Regal is rolled up at 9:15 for the La Resistance win.

Hurricane and Rosey come out and Hurricane hits an off the top crossbody on Grenier. Hurricane hits another lateral press off the turnbuckles and almost gets the win. Hurricane then heads to the top rope one time too many and Grenier sends him flying to the outside area. Hurricane's knee hit the turnbuckle on the way down, that was sick. Hurricane is back in the ring and proceeds to be the victim of La Resistance tagging each other in and out. The action slows down with a reverse chin-lock on Hurricane by Sylvain Grenier. Hurricane somehow fights out of this always effective submission hold, but is taken down with a big slam from the evil French man. Grenier gets a scoop slam in and heads to the middle rope for an elbow drop. Hurricane moves out of the way, which is good because Grenier slipped on the rope. Rosey is finally tagged in, and he cleans house on La Resistance. Rosey catches Conway in mid-air and slams him into a cover attempt. Grenier is there to break it up though. Rosey is double teamed by Conway and Grenier, but fights out of it. Rosey gets a short airplane spin in on Conway, but Grenier makes the save and suffers a double team move from the evil French guys. Rosey plants Conway in the ring and tags in Hurricane. Hurricane climbs on Rosey's shoulders and dives off onto the fallen Conway to cover him for the win at 13:41! This was the beginning of five months of doing nothing with the tag titles, but the match was entertaining enough with a good finish. **1/4.
Winners and NEW World Tag Team Champions: Hurricane and Rosey

Last Man Standing match: Edge vs Chris Benoit
There was a lot of bad blood brewing between Benoit and Edge during this little era in Raw history. Benoit takes Edge down quickly and pummels away at the evil Edge. Benoit takes Edge down again as "You screwed Matt" chants fill the arena. Benoit hits a hard kick to Edge's head and follows up with a snap suplex. Benoit hits a chop and decides to target Edge's kidneys. Edge has had no offense in this match yet. Edge finally reverses an Irish whip and sends Benoit charging into a turnbuckle. "We want Matt" chants are now filling the arena. Edge is in control now, stomping away at a fallen Benoit. Edge chokes Benoit on the bottom rope, and the referee takes the time to stop this. Edge gets a scoop slam in and positions himself for a spear. Benoit counters with a drop toe hold and plays the stomping game. Benoit lets the referee being the ten count, but when it becomes obvious that Edge is going to stand up, Benoit goes for the Crossface. Edge gets into the ropes, so Benoit lets him go. Edge fights back and hits a high kick to Benoit's skull. Edge goes under the ring for a garbage can, but Benoit hits a baseball slide before Edge can do anything with them. Edge and Benoit trade shots on the outside until Edge pushes Benoit into the barricade. Edge charges, but Benoit flips him over his head over the barricade. Edge and Benoit brawl amongst the fans for a few seconds before Edge tries to escape back to the ring. The "We want Matt" chants are back. Benoit puts Edge in the sharpshooter. Edge taps out, but that means nothing since this is a Last Man Standing match. Edge gets to the ropes and the referee calls for the break. Benoit hits five consecutive rolling German suplexes. Edge rolls out of the ring, near where he left the garbage can and its lid earlier. The referee begins the count, but Edge makes it up. Benoit knocks Edge off the apron back to the arena floor. Edge gets back to his feet at the eight count. Benoit goes for the flying suicide dive, but flies right into a swinging trash can lid! Benoit goes down hard! Benoit makes it to his feet at the seven count, but Edge hits him over the back with the trash lid. Benoit gets to his feet again at the eight count, but Edge is ready to continue the assault. Edge rolls Benoit into the ring and straddles him on the top turnbuckle. The trash can is laying behind them on the ring, while Benoit is awake and trying to fight out of his bad situation. Edge finally hits a big superplex off the top turnbuckle and Benoit lands straight on the trash can! Edge gets himself up, but Benoit only makes it up right after the eight count. Edge takes the lid and hits Benoit with it repeatedly in a rage. Edge leaves the ring and drags a ladder out from beneath the ring. The ladder gets the pop of the night thus far. Edge positions the ladder upright by a turnbuckle. Meanwhile, Benoit has gotten himself together and hits some chops on Edge, but gets slammed down. Edge begins to climb the ladder, but Benoit catches up with him and hits a German suplex off the ladder! I must say, this match has been badly underrated by just about everyone! Both Edge and Benoit struggle back to their feet. Benoit hits a release German suplex on Edge. Benoit climbs to the top of the ladder and goes for a diving head-butt? but Edge moves out of the way! Benoit hits the ring hard! I remember standing up in my seat at that part screaming as if my name was Joey Styles. Edge reaches for his Money in the Bank suitcase. Edge goes to nail Benoit with it, but Benoit counters and puts Edge in the Crippler Crossface. Edge taps out for the second time in this match up, but it does no good. Edge appears to have passed out, so Benoit lets go of the hold. Both men are down as the referee begins to count them both out. Edge tries to get to his brief case, but Benoit catches him. Benoit hits two more rolling German suplexes before Edge blocks the third one. Edge hits Benoit with an Impaler onto the brief case! Lawler accuses the referee of counting slower when Benoit is down. Benoit gets back up, but is caught with a spear by Edge. Edge is up and it is not until the nine count before Benoit can get to his feet. Edge hits a second spear and sits back, hoping this time Benoit is down for the count. Benoit makes it up at the nine count again. Edge goes to his brief case and takes a brick out! Edge rams the brick into the back of Benoit's neck! To add more emphasis, Edge slams the brick into the steel steps, which made a huge noise across the arena (it startled me in person). Benoit fails to make it back to his feet and Edge wins the match at 18:47 in what I would consider to be one of the most underrated matches of 2005! A lot of people criticized this match for a "slow pace" and claimed the counting parts hurt the match. I disagree, ***3/4. That action was intense, the big spots were great, and Benoit sold his injuries like the pro he is.
Winner: Edge

-After the match, Benoit continues to sell his injuries as the crowd applauds him.

-Backstage, Lita and Kane are in their dressing room. They have one of their creepy romantic moments. Lita makes fun of Trish and wonders what she would do if she has to have sex with Viscera. Even Kane agrees that it is disturbing. They proceed to make out.

-Jerry Lawler is in the ring and he calls out the Raw divas so they can shill a swim suit magazine starring the divas. The divas join him in the ring and they look at their favorite photos from the magazine. Chris Masters interrupts the segment and he earns ten points of overness with me for doing that. Of course, that brought his total overness with me at the time to? ten point. Masters is offering 3,000 dollars to anyone who wants to break the Masterlock. OVW's Melissa Choates is in the audience as a plant and she accepts the challenge. This woman could be the second coming of Chyna. Masters aggressively makes her pass out to the hold. This was pretty boring live, and it is pretty brutal on tape.

-Backstage, Viscera and Trish are planning for the match with Kane. Trish has promised Viscera that she will sleep with him if he can beat Kane. Viscera is excited about their date after the show and slaps Trish on the behind as they get going.

-We see an outside shot of the Verizon Wireless Arena, which is a damn fine looking arena if you ask me.

Kane (with Lita) vs Viscera (with Trish Stratus)
We were sitting directly in the line of the pyro from the stage, so Kane's pyro really caught us off guard. I was counting on Viscera coming out first, I guess. Seriously, the pyro is much more intense in person. The two big men stare each other down. Kane hits a big right hand on Viscera, but it is no sold. Viscera whips Kane into the turnbuckle, but misses a splash. Kane fights back, sending Viscera to the outside area. Kane goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a flying clothesline on Viscera, who was still at ringside. Meanwhile, the crowd is giving Lita crap over the Matt Hardy issue. Kane and Viscera are back in the ring and Kane hits a duo of elbow drops and a big leg drop. Kane goes fro the cover, but is only a near fall. Viscera and Kane trade shots, and Viscera hits a rolling kick on Kane. That was impressive, considering it was Viscera. Kane is caught in a scoop slam by Viscera, but moves out of the way of an elbow drop. Kane takes a moment to grab Trish by the hair (Trish had been taunting Lita). Viscera gets a splash on Kane and then a Samoan drop. Viscera goes for the cover, but it was only a near fall. Kane fights back with an uppercut, but runs into a sidewalk slam. Viscera gets another near fall on Kane, and decides to choke him as payback. Viscera hits a head-butt, but Kane catches the big man with a DDT. Kane goes to the top turnbuckle and hits another flying clothesline. Kane is ready for a Chokeslam, but Viscera elbows his way to freedom. Viscera clotheslines Kane over the ropes and the fight goes to ringside. Viscera slams Kane's head into the ring apron, but Lita on her crutches gets in the way. Viscera shoves Lita into the corner. Trish meanwhile lunges at Lita with a chair, but Lita swings the crutch into the chair, laying out Trish. Suddenly the crowd likes Lita again. Meanwhile, Kane sends Viscera back into the ring and goes back to the top turnbuckle. Viscera catches Kane in mid-air and his a sit-down powerbomb! Viscera celebrates by pulling Lita into the ring and sticks his tongue out at her. This distraction allows Kane back to his feet. Kane hits a big boot and a Chokeslam on Viscera. Kane pins Viscera for the win at 6:10. This was so much better than it had any right to be, it was well-booked match that played to both Kane and Viscera's strengths. Lita and Trish's involvement also added to the enjoyment of the match, bringing this up to a surprise ** rating from me. It was a fun match, I am dead serious.
Winner: Kane

-After the match, Trish takes a microphone and chews Viscera out. She calls him pathetic and that he could not get the job down. Trish goes on record and tells Viscera that even if he had beaten Kane, she would "never lower herself to sleep with a big, fat, greasy, chicken eating loser like you!" Viscera grabs Trish and takes her down. Viscera hits his big splash on Trish to a huge pop from the crowd! Viscera pelvic thrusts and the crowd is loving this! Trish does a stretcher job and proceeds in disappearing until September. There, you can blame the Manchester fans for the Viscera push that followed this event.

Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels vs Muhammad Hassan and Daivari
The entire crowd is pro-Hogan. I hate to say this, but I would have to give Hogan credit for selling out the arena this time around. There is an unusually high amount of fans wearing Hogan merchandise and holding Hogan signs. I was not surprised, I have long considered my local fans to be big time marks. Hogan comes out to a massive pop, which was pretty cool to be there to see in person.

Daivari and Hassan are reluctant to get into the ring, so Hogan takes the time to play to the crowd. This deeply angers Hassan. Hogan starts he match off against Muhammad Hassan. Hogan draws a proverbial line in the sand and dares Hassan to fight. They tie up, and Hogan thrusts Hassan into his turnbuckle. Hogan invites Hassan to kiss his ass. Hassan is caught in a side head-lock by Hogan. Hassan sends Hogan into the ropes, but Hogan tackles him to the mat. Hassan is flustered, and is an easy target. Hogan wrings the arm of Hassan and drops an elbow on him. Hassan finally gains some sort of advantage and corners Hogan. Tag is made to Daivari and they double team the Hulkster. Hogan will not stand for this and fights both men off. Hogan takes Hassan down with a clothesline. HBK holds up his legs and allows Hogan to drive Hassan's face into them. Tag is made to HBK. Hogan and HBK hit a double big boot on Hassan. Hogan goes to the ring apron to play to the crowd while Shawn Michaels does the hard physical work. HBK gets a boot to the face of Hassan and follows up with a scoop slam. HBK misses an elbow drop, allowing Hassan to tag in Daivari. Daivari hits some punches on HBK and chops him into the corner. HBK reverses the situation and hits some chops of his own. HBK Irish whips Daivari and hits a big back body drop. HBK tags in Hogan and holds Daivari still. Hogan kicks Daivari in the gut and they floor the young superstar with double elbows. Hogan chases Daivari to the outside and hammerlocks Daivari into the ring post. Hogan takes a second to high five a fan and continues his merciless attack on Daivari. Hogan chokes Daivari and hits a couple elbow drops. Hogan tags HBK back in. Daivari and HBK trade chops and exchange some fun counters. HBK floors Daivari with another chop. HBK goes off the ropes into a flying elbow and kips up. HBK hits an atomic drop and knocks Hassan off the apron. HBK goes to the top rope and hits a flying elbow drop right into the heart of Khosrow Daivari. HBK signals the Sweet Chin Music, but is thrown off by Hassan hitting him in the back with a lead pipe. The referee did not see it because he was trying to keep Hogan from interfering. Daivari goes for a cover, but Hogan pulls him off of HBK. Hassan makes a blind tag and he angrily pummels away at HBK. Hassan hits a hard Irish whip into the turnbuckle on HBK and drops some hard elbow drops. Tag is made to Daivari, who jumps off the middle rope to club HBK on the back. Daivari chokes HBK in the corner, but the referee is kind enough to stop it. Daivari puts HBK in a surfboard stretch, which is okay because it is the first time the move has been used on this show. HBK fights out of the hold as Hogan gets the crowd riled up. Daivari grabs HBK by the hair and sends him back to the mat. Tag is made to Hassan, who puts HBK in a sleeper. Hassan turns the move into a reverse chin-lock, but HBK is able to elbow his way to freedom. HBK gets a sleeper of his own on HBK, but Hassan counters it into a backbreaker. Hassan puts HBK in the Camel Clutch. Hogan gets the crowd to cheer HBK, as HBK desperately tries to make the tag while in the Camel Clutch. Michaels is fading, but the cheers of the crowd wills him to life. HBK stands up with Hassan on his shoulders and hits the electric chair counter. Both HBK and Hassan are down. Hogan is putting a lot of effort into keeping the crowd into the match, and the results have been good. Daivari is tagged in, but so is the Hulkster! Hogan cleans house on both Daivari and the interfering Hassan. Hogan slams their skulls together. Hassan flees the ring, leaving Daivari the victim of a big boot. Hogan signals for the leg drop! Hogan backs into the ropes, but Hassan jumps up and hits him in the back with the lead pipe! Daivari covers Hogan, but Hogan tosses him off at the two count! Hogan hulks up, and points at Daivari. Hogan hits his punches on Daivari and the big boot. Hogan goes for the leg drop again, but Hassan grabs his ankles. Hogan punches Hassan off the apron, as HBK comes in to hit the Sweet Chin Music on Daivari. Hogan covers Daivari for the victory at 15:13! The arena erupts! This was an old fashioned good vs evil match, and even my cold, bitter heart got into it. **1/2. I am dead serious, it is hard to watch this match and not feel incredibly happy. Besides, the Michaels vs Daivari parts was some damn fine work-rate.
Winners: Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels

-After the match, Hogan and HBK go into a lengthy pose-down. They invite a fan into the ring who takes his shirt off to reveal a huge Hogan tattoo covering his entire back. The fan also has some hideous back hair, but that's okay because I probably will too some day. The crowd soaks this all up, making sure they will be asleep for the main event.

-Backstage, Todd Grisham is standing by with Triple H. He asks Triple H how confident he feels going into the match. Triple H asks Todd how confident would he feel if he knew he would be walking out of the arena as the World Heavyweight Champion. Triple H sais that at WrestleMania, Batista had a "great night." Triple H says he has the great equalizer, and it is called the "pedigree." Triple H says that tonight he will have a "great night for the 11th time." Triple H vows to leave as the champion.

-Back in the arena, Christian and Tyson Tomko come out for a surprise interview segment. This was great because earlier on Heat, Tomko had a match with Val Venis. During that match, the crowd chanted "We want Christian." Christian gets a good pop from the crowd and makes his way to the ring. I took the time to type up Christian's entire promo:

"You know all week long all I have been hearing about is Backlash. More specifically the backlash that would take place if Captain Charisma were not on this show. Now I don't want to come out here and upset you people, I don't want to make you mad? but this may be the last time you see me on a Raw pay-per-view. Because later on this month, there will be a draft and nobody is exempt. And since I am a main eventer, I figured I would take this time to come out here and address my fellow main eventers. And I would like to do it in the form of a rap. DO you hear that, Manchester, NH? Don't be afraid to make some noise. Put your hands together because the captain is about to make it happen. Here we go. On Raw you've got Batista with muscle to spare, but he's got charisma like Tomko's got hair. You've got Triple H and Ric Flair and their legends still grow. 26 titles between them and the world's biggest nose. And have you heard the one about JBL, you know the rich guy on Smackdown? Well I hear his taxes are still soaring, but he's no wrestling God, just a God of boring. Seems to me I am forgetting someone? who am I forgetting? oh yeah, he's the guy who inspired this little rap, the WWE Champion, John Cena. Well, I got a little something for him, want to hear it? I SAID DO YOU WANT TO HEAR IT? Well, it goes a little something like this: Hey Cena, you think I'm jealous of your fortune and fame? Well, you talk like Snoop Dogg but you look like Corey Haim. So after the draft, whether it is Raw or Smackdown, J.R. or Michael Cole, I will be champion, because that's how I roll."

I typed this up to make a point. Christian walked into Manchester as a legit top guy in the eyes of every fan in that arena. He cut a top-rate promo. It was hinting at a feud with John Cena, which was a feud the fans were ready to welcome. However, Christian was repeatedly buried and squashed after this show and nothing happened. That feud with Cena ended up having Chris Jericho getting involved. Christian's only title match was at Vengeance in a triple threat. I would say the treatment of Christian by the WWE was the most disappointing and frustrating creative act of last year. I will get off my soap box now.

-Ric Flair comes out before the main event. Flair is here to introduce Triple H.

World Heavyweight Championship: Batista vs Triple H (with Ric Flair)
Batista gets a nice pop on his way to the ring, though the crowd was pretty tired this point after the Hogan match. It was like at WrestleMania X8, where the crowd burnt themselves out cheering for Rock and Hogan and were crickets for the Triple H/Chris Jericho main event. Triple H cannot wait for the match to begin. Batista poses with the title to rub it in. I will note that every time I have watched this match in the past several months, I have liked it a little more each time. My original rating was **1/4. Let's see if I agree with myself from last May.

The bell rings and Triple H is eager to get going. Flair distracts Batista, allowing Triple H to charge at full speed. Triple H tries to get a pedigree in, but Batista is too alert to allow that. They break and resume circling the ring. They tie up and Batista backs Triple H into the corner. Triple H reverses, but Batista blocks his punch. Batista sends Triple H into the ropes, but Triple H goes for another pedigree attempt. Batista gets out of it and goes for the Batista Bomb. Triple H escapes, and hides in the ropes. Batista confidently reminds Triple H how close he was to winning already. Triple H and Batista tie up again, this time HHH cornering Batista. Batista reverses an Irish whip and hits a back body drop. Batista hits some punches and knocks down the Game. Triple H tries another pedigree, but Batista flips him over the ropes and Triple H hits the mat. Batista follows after Triple H, but Triple H catches him with a spine buster into the barricade. Triple H nails Batista into the barricade again, and he collapses on the floor amongst the fans. Triple H suplexes Batista over the barricade and the Animal hits the arena floor hard. They return to the ring, and Triple H hangs Batista up on the bottom rope. Triple H has decided to focus on the lower back of Batista, which makes sense after all those bumps on the floor Batista just took. Triple H drops a knee to Batista's kidney, and corners him again. Batista fights out with an elbow and goes for the Batista Bomb. Triple H avoids the move by pushing Batista back-first into the turnbuckle. Triple H turns Batista around and hits some shoulder thrusts into Batista's hurt back. HHH follows this up with a hard Irish whip into the opposite turnbuckles. Batista rolls out of the ring, where he is victim to some cheap shots from Ric Flair. The referee missed it because he was arguing with Triple H for some reason. Batista rolls back into the ring, where Triple H is waiting for him. Triple H brings on the punches, very creative of the Game. Batista punches back, but is caught with a spine buster. Triple H goes for the cover, but it's only a near fall. Triple H tries two more times to pin Batista, but it just does not work. Triple H continues his assault of punches and whipping Batista's back into turnbuckles. Finally, Batista comes back with a big clothesline. Triple H runs into a sidewalk slam and gets clotheslined over the ropes. Batista goes after HHH and whips him into the steel steps. Batista slams HHH's head into the steps and the action spills back into the ring. Batista thrusts his shoulders into Triple H and hits a power slam. Batista is all fired up, but has to take a moment to knock Flair off the apron. Flair does not give up easily and distracts the referee. Batista goes for a Batista Bomb, but somehow Triple H had the World title in his hands. HHH hit Batista in the head with the belt and went for the cover. Batista is barely able to kick out, and I remember buying that fall while watching the match live. Batista hits some desperate punches on Triple H, and reverses another pedigree. Batista accidentally takes out the referee and Triple H finally hits the pedigree. HHH gets the cover, but the referee is out cold. In the eyes of every fan in the arena, Triple H just had the match won. Triple H tries to revive the referee, but it is not working. Another referee runs in to finish the match. Triple H goes for another pedigree, but Batista reverses it into a spine buster. Batista gets a near fall on Triple H. Batista looks exhausted. Batista gets caught in a face buster by Triple H, who goes for a cover. It is a near fall, I wonder if Triple H has actually ever won with that move? Doubtful. Triple H tries another pedigree, but Batista counters. Batista wears down HHH with some clotheslines into the corner. Triple H kicks the referee in the groin, and he's out. Flair rushes into the ring and gets taken down by Batista. Triple H goes for another pedigree, but Batista counters and slingshots him into the turnbuckle. Batista goes for the Batista Bomb, but Triple H low blows him. Triple H goes for some punches on the middle turnbuckle, but is unwittingly set up for the Batista Bomb! Batista hits the powerbomb and covers Triple H for the victory at 16:22! This is actually a well worked match as the story was that Triple H was sure that if he hit the pedigree, Batista would be doomed. I must say, it was nice being there live to see Triple H do a clean job. I know I'll be accused of being biased again, but I genuinely think I underrated this match the first time around. **3/4. Leading up to Batista's finish, the match was looking like another Triple H screwjob finish, so the match earns some extra points.
Winner and STILL World Heavyweight Champion: Batista

-After the match, Triple H pushes Flair and the referee away and screams in anger. Batista poses with the belt as the cameras go off. At this point, Triple H proceeded to destroy a group of referees. He got on the microphone briefly and asked why is it that fans from New Hampshire are assholes. This is the inside joke, of course, since Triple H is from New Hampshire.

Final thoughts: This really is a good pay-per-view. There were only six matches and I would dare say that none of them were bad, and all of them either met expectations or exceeded them. There is something for everyone, from the mark-out value of the Hogan match, the violence of the Last Man Standing, and the story-heavy main event. This show has been mostly forgotten, mostly due to Hogan wrestling more since this event and the main event being part two in the three part war between Triple H and Batista. Still, I would recommend checking this show out. I think most of you would be in for a pleasant surprise.


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