THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne
Just three weeks after Wrestlemania 25, World Wrestling Entertainment are back on pay-per-view with Backlash, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning here in Britain on Sky Sports, and headlined by Triple H, Batista and Shane McMahon facing The Legacy, and John Cena taking on Edge in a last man standing match. Michael Cole, Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler are on the microphone for this one.
The show begins with the first title match of the evening, as Christian challenges Jack Swagger for the ECW title. Something of a David against Goliath battle here, pitting Swagger’s power-based game against Christian’s cunning, and it made for a very good opener. Swagger continues to show a great deal of promise, even though it’s still pretty early in his WWE career, while Christian, well, is Christian, one of the best at what he does. The ending was quite novel. As Swagger tried to remove on of the corner pads, the referee admonished him. But while this was happening Christian was doing the same in the opposite corner. Swagger went to charge him, Christian ducked out of the way, and Captain Charisma took him down with the Unprettier to get the title winning pin. Match one, very good.
Then it’s on to the match I was really looking forward to – Chris Jericho versus Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. Once again the Dragon turned back the years, showing he’s still got it by putting in another great performance against Jericho. A great back and forth encounter which saw Jericho up his game again against the crafty veteran. The majority of the current roster could learn a lot by watching Steamboat in action. Sadly, the great man couldn’t get the job done. After taking a ton of punishment, including a code breaker as he was coming down from the top rope, Jericho locked in the walls of Jericho to get the submission victory. A shame, as it would have been great to see Steamboat get that one last victory.
Next up, what could be a rather interesting match, pitting Kane against C.M. Punk. Now this was definitely a David v Goliath battle, and a very good one at that. Kane used his power advantage well, but Punk always fought back, focusing his attack on the monster’s right arm, his choke slam arm. It made for a great story. Eventually, despite Punk’s attack, Kane used both of his arms to take Punk down with a choke slam, bringing to an end a great little match.
Family feud time next, with Jeff and Matt Hardy going at it in an I Quit match. You don’t really need me to tell you the rules of this one. Now if you want to see a match with great intensity, then this is the match for you. Mixing some great mat wrestling with high flying moves and a few hardcore stylings, the Hardy siblings put on a match that was possibly even better than their Wrestlemania encounter, and it also produced one of the dramatic moments we’ve seen on a WWE pay-per-view this year. After Jeff bound Matt’s hands and feet with duct tape, and then tied him to a table, Jeff brought a ladder into the ring, and was about to come off the top when Matt began to plead with his younger brother, apologising for what he’d done and telling him that he loved him, before talking about their parents. Realising that Jeff wasn’t listening, Matt said the magic words, but that didn’t stop Jeff coming down off the ladder and putting his brother through the table, ending what could only be described as an awesome match.
Then came the Great Khali kiss-cam with Santina Marella. The less said about this the better.
Main event time #1, six man tag-team action, with WWE Champion Triple H, Batista and Shane McMahon facing The Legacy, Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase. The stipulations for this one were simple – if anyone on Triple H’s team lost, then Randy Orton gets the title. After Wrestlemania’s rather boring WWE title match, this just had to be better. This one took some time to get going – literally. The entrances themselves took nearly ten minutes! When it did eventually start, Triple H chased Orton backstage before the match even began, meaning that in the first few moments of the match Rhodes and Dibiase were in a two-on-three situation, and were getting hammered until Orton made his return, and the Legacy team finally managed to get some cohesion, and from there, the match got a whole lot better. The intensity was there from the beginning as Legacy triple-teamed Batista, and, after the Animal got the hot tag, McMahon, before Triple H finally got into the ring and cleaned house. The obligatory mass brawl followed, breaking off into three encounters, with Batista almost costing Triple H the match, with the champion stopping the Animal from clobbering Rhodes with a steel chair. Orton then connected with the RKO, but that wasn’t enough to get the pin. So Orton upped the stakes, and took Triple H down with the punt, getting the three count and winning the WWE title. After the match the Game was taken away on a stretcher. Well, this was certainly better than that Wrestlemania match, and then some.
Main event time #2, with Edge challenging World Champion John Cena in a Last Man Standing match. No need for me to explain the rules of this one. Once again this was another of those main event matches that had to improve on it’s Wrestlemania counterpart, which it certainly did. Although we’ve seen these two in action against each other countless times over the past few years, they still manage to put on great matches, giving us thing we’ve never seen from them before. They threw everything they had at each other, including a few choice weapons, and still couldn’t get the ten count. It was the same with their trademark moves, still no ten count. Even when Edge was thrown into the crowd from the announce table into the crowd with his attitude adjuster, it still didn’t get the ten count. It went on and on like this, until the Big Show appeared and choke slammed him into a spotlight by the stage. The referee had no choice but to count, and when Cena failed to rise after ten seconds, Edge was declared the new World Champion. Afterwards, like Triple H before him, Cena was taken away on a stretcher. An awesome finish to an awesome match.
In conclusion – this was a hell of a show, if you forget the Khali/Santina fiasco. From top to bottom, every match delivered, and then some, with the Edge/Cena showdown clearly the match of the night, and with the six-man WWE title match also delivering, these two more than made up for the disappointments of the Wrestlemania main events. Although I did find it somewhat strange that all three major singles titles changed hands on the same show. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, because this is one show that I’ll probably watch time and time again.