Backlash 2003: This Was Embarrassing

Backlash 2003
Date: April 27, 2003
Location: Worcester, Coliseum, Worcester, Massachusetts
Attendance: 10,000
Commentators: Jonathan Coachman, Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, Tazz

Rock vs. Goldberg. That’s really all there is to say about this show. Well not really because I’ll write five or six pages about it but you get what I mean. Goldberg debuted the night after Wrestlemania and I think this is the first big match he’s had. It’s also Rock’s last match for about eleven months as he would go full Hollywood, come back for Mania, and then be gone for seven years. Let’s get to it.

The opening video is exactly what you would expect: highlight packages of Rock and Goldberg who collide tonight.

Smackdown Tag Titles: Team Angle vs. Los Guerreros

The Smackdown Tag Titles were established in the fall and had been a big highlight of the company ever since. They let the wrestlers go out and have great matches, and when you had guys like these four, Angle/Benoit and Edge/Mysterio, you could mix and match anyone and get an entertaining match. Team Angle (who are defending here) brings out a portrait of Angle who is too hurt to be here. This is Los Guerreros’ rematch after the champs won the titles in February.

Eddie and Charlie get us going. They take it to the mat quickly and it’s a stalemate. Eddie gets three straight two counts and a nice bit of applause from the fans. After some showboating it’s off to Chavo vs. Benjamin. Los Guerreros take over on the arm of Shelton and use better teamwork. Shelton gets in a slam and clothesline on Chavo but Eddie gets in a shot to the back and Los Guerreros take over again.

Chavo chokes him with the tag rope and Eddie gets in some shots on the floor. Slingshot hilo gets two. Off to Haas who gets Eddie into the corner and Shelton uses the rope to choke away as well. Nice little bit of storytelling there. Eddie gets caught in the double team move where Shelton jumps over Charlie and lands on Eddie’s back for two. A pair of suplexes get two for Charlie.

Benjamin comes in with a chinlock and uses a leg lace to keep Eddie in the ring. Shelton comes back in with a kind of powerslam for two. Off to a chinlock as Cole sets up Tazz to explain how Shelton is making this hold more effective. See? Why can’t he do that with Booker and Lawler? Charlie bends Eddie’s back over his knee but Eddie comes out of it with a headscissors in a cool counter.

Hot tag to Chavo and he cleans house. Suplex gets two on Charlie. Shelton powerbombs the tar out of Chavo and everything breaks down. Three Amigos to Charlie but Eddie has to be sent out. Chavo gets a delayed two on Haas so Eddie Frog Splashes him so Chavo can get another two. He tries a suplex to Charlie but Shelton hooks the foot and it’s the Wrestlemania 5 ending as the champions retain.

Rating: B-. Bad ending to a good match here. Like I said, there’s no real need for a story here because you can give four talented guys fifteen minutes and you’re going to get a good match. Tag matches and cruiserweight matches to open a show are great choices. Tag matches with cruiserweight style guys are even better choices. Good stuff here but the ending wasn’t great.

Chavo dives onto the champs and Los Guerreros steal the belts. They head to the back and leave in a green car. The horn plays La Cucaracha and the car bounces away.

Torrie tells Test to leave her alone. He calls her baby and says they don’t have to tell Stacy about anything. Stacy is Test’s girlfriend but he’s not getting any until he wins more if I remember this properly. Test won’t let her leave and kisses her, making Torrie leave distraught. Sable sees what happened and smiles.

Here’s a very fat gut attached to Roddy Piper. He’s got a basket of coconuts with him. After saying he has a lovely bunch of coconuts, he introduces Sean O’Haire.

Sean O’Haire vs. Rikishi

O’Haire was a guy with A TON of potential and an awesome looking gimmick that was similar to a devil’s advocate who said that everyone knew they did wrong things, but what’s so bad about that? Look up the promos as they’re really cool. Then he was put into a feud about Piper vs. Hogan and became Piper’s lackey and had his push ruined. This match is happening because of Piper hitting Snuka with a coconut almost 20 years ago.

Rikishi controls to start but Piper offers a distraction to shift momentum. O’Haire hooks on a chinlock as this match stops very quickly. Piper plays to the crowd and gets them to boo him, because keeping the focus on the guys in the ring isn’t a good idea right? O’Haire misses a spin kick and Rikishi splashes him in the corner. Sean escapes the Stink Face and Piper gets in the ring. He brings in the coconut but both guys hit kicks at the same time. Piper gets in again but Rikishi cracks the coconut over his head. O’Haire picks Rikishi up and hits the reverse Death Valley Driver for the pin.

Rating: D-. Piper sucked the life out of O’Haire at this point because no one was interested in Piper vs. Rikishi, which is what this was really about. Piper would be gone a few months later and O’Haire’s push would die. The Devil’s Advocate character was never mentioned again and we lost a ton of great potential. But hey, Piper got some TV time out of it right?

Sable comes up to Stacy at catering and suggests that Torrie hit on Test. This was part of some weird lesbian crush that Sable had on Torrie.

RVD and Kane get fired up. RVD is nervous because Morley is guest referee. Kane says let’s go win.

Raw Tag Titles: Dudley Boyz vs. Kane/Rob Van Dam

RVD and Kane are champions. Morley is the guest referee and the corrupt Chief of Staff for Bischoff. The Dudleyz are heel against their will here but it’s the only way they can get a title shot. They’ve also been fighting a bit. Bubba and RVD start us off and it’s power vs. speed. RVD kicks the legs out from under him but Bubba pounds him down with ease. Van Dam tries to flip out of the corner but Bubba takes his head off with a clothesline.

Off to D-Von and Kane with the masked man taking over. Big boot gets two as Morley has been fine so far. Bubba comes back in and gets clotheslined down very quickly. The fans want tables as Bubba manages to knock Kane down. The count seems a little faster there. Spinebuster by Kane gets two and a pretty fast count as well. Van Dam comes back in for some flipping offense, including a moonsault for two.

The rolling monkey flip is countered and Bubba hits a sidewalk slam for one. Kane gets knocked down and What’s Up RVD? D-Von comes back in and gets two as Van Dam is in trouble. Off to a chinlock to fill in some time. Bubba comes back in but gets caught by a spin kick from Van Dam and it’s a double tag to bring in D-Von and Kane. The Dudleys are both in the ring at the same time and Morley is fine with it. Back to RVD who hits Rolling Thunder on Bubba.

The monkey flip is broken up but Kane hits the top rope clothesline to take D-Von down. Morley hits Kane low to break up the chokeslam but it only gets two. Morley clotheslines Bubba by mistake and D-Von beats the tar out of him. Here’s Lance Storm to take out D-Von but he takes a Bubba Bomb. There’s a 3D to Morley and a chokeslam to Bubba. Five Star Frog Splash gets the pin by another referee.

Rating: D+. The match wasn’t that terrible but MAN was it overbooked. I completely lost track of what was going on in the middle of the match with who was on what side. Did anyone really care about Morley in 2003? I don’t think anyone did in 2001 so I’m thinking the answer to that is no here. The match was ok but it was a total mess by the end which brings it down.

Stacy goes into the women’s locker room and a fight starts. Why are there never any naked women in these locker rooms?

Women’s Title: Jazz vs. Trish Stratus

Trish is champion and Jazz has Teddy Long with her. The Dudleys beat up Trish on Raw recently so she’s coming in injured. To those of you paying attention, IT’S THE SAME THING AS LAST YEAR. Jazz goes after the bad ribs but gets rolled up for a quick two. Clothesline gets two for the champ but Jazz goes back to the ribs. A release Glam Slam puts Trish down but she comes back with a tilt-a-whirl slam for two.

Backslide gets a delayed two because Teddy has the referee. Jazz gets in a shot to the back and it’s off to a Boston Crab. Trish rolls out of it with leg strength and hooks the same move on Jazz and then into an STF, which is the same finishing sequence from last year. Teddy shoves the rope to Jazz though and we keep going. Chick Kick gets two. Stratusfaction hits but Teddy throws in his shoe to break it up. Somehow that’s not a DQ and Jazz rolls her up with the ropes for the pin.

Rating: D. Someone tell me the appeal of Jazz. This is the second year in a row they’ve put her over Trish for the title and I still don’t see the appeal of her. You have Molly and some other chicks on the roster that can be evil and you pick Jazz? Why? So you can have her speak ebonics and be loud? You have Jackie for that. Boring match with an annoying outcome.

Booker and Shawn fire each other up. Nash is ready too. Yeah the Raw main event is a six man that no one wants to see.

Rey Mysterio vs. Big Show

Apparently Mysterio embarrassed Show recently. A fan things Big Show loves Cher. Is that an insult? Rey gets Show to chase him which frustrates the giant. Things go exactly as you would expect: Rey fires off some offense, Show uses power, Rey speeds things up again. Backbreaker puts Rey down and Show takes over. Rey gets sent to the floor and gets in a chair shot and seated senton for two. A pair of 619s take Show down and a third staggers Show but he jumps into the chokeslam for the pin.

Rating: D. I can’t stand these matches. The one perk here is that Show didn’t look like an idiot for the most part. At the end of the day, without making the giants look stupid in these matches, there’s no real conceivable way to have a competent giant lose these matches. Rey’s offense would have no effect here and for the most part it didn’t. The ending helped it but the rest of it was junk.

Post match Rey is put on a backboard and Show picks it up and slams the board into the post.

Flair, HHH and Jericho (the other team in the six man) say that they’re ready and not worried about Nash. Yeah, not only did HHH vs. Nash get two PPV singles matches, it gets a six man as well. That’s ignoring their European PPV main event too.

Stacy and Torrie are still fighting. Were they fighting all through that match? Scott Steiner comes in to take care of Stacy again, which would lead to them hooking up and then a feud with Test, resulting in a Steiner heel turn and Stacy being made a sex slave. Test comes in to yell and Steiner leaves. Some savior.

We recap Cena vs. Lesnar. Cena was a plucky young guy that Lesnar hurt so then Cena came back as a rapper and won a pretty star studded tournament to get his shot here. Check out these brackets.

Chris Benoit

Big Show

Rey Mysterio

Eddie Guerrero
John Cena

Cena beat Eddie, Undertaker (with interference) and Benoit. That’s not bad for a guy less than a year into his run with the company. Then again Lesnar main evented Mania in his first year so that trumps Cena I think.

Smackdown World Title: John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar

This would be a very different match today. I mean imagine: CENA ON SMACKDOWN? That’s hilarious. Cena comes out in a Yankees jersey and raps about being better than Sammartino. He’s iron like the Sheik and has us in his camel clutches. Cena jumps him from behind and we’re ready to go. This is Lesnar’s first defense since Mania. Lesnar grabs him into a backbreaker and hits two of them followed by a fallaway slam.

Brock hooks a front facelock on the mat and the fans think this is boring. That’s so weird to hear in a Cena match. A kind of fisherman’s suplex puts Cena down. Lesnar hits a gorilla press and we head outside. Cena goes into the announce table as this has been ALL Brock for the first few minutes. Back in Cena avoids a clothesline and heads right back to the floor. John manages to reverse a whip into the steps and gets a breather.

Brock is bleeding from a bandaged cut he had coming in. Belly to back gets two for the challenger. Cena knocks him to the floor and rams Brock’s head into the post again. That gets two so it’s chinlock time. Brock has a cut that looks like the kind Hogan used to get: it’s all jagged. The hold doesn’t last long as Lesnar charges into a big old spinebuster which puts both guys down.

Cena comes back with a clothesline for two. Now the Dr. is getting frustrated so he puts on a rear naked choke of sorts. Cena’s eyes look crazy here. Brock gets up and rams Cena’s back into the corner three times to break the hold. That would be opposite corners which makes it even more impressive. Brock gets all fired up and hits a bunch of clotheslines and a spinebuster for two. Powerslam gets the same. Brock almost gets rammed into the referee but he puts on the brakes. Low blow gets two for Cena and the Throwback gets two. Cena picks up the chain but as it’s taken away he walks into the F5 for the pin.

Rating: B-. Not bad here but man is it weird to see Cena as such an underdog. This wasn’t really a match with a chance of having a new champion, but rather giving Brock a good first match as champion. Cena was obviously going to get better but for a first time out there, this was fine. Why they don’t do this more often today is beyond me. Why not throw out something like Kofi for a title match if you have a bigger main event such as Rock vs. Goldberg.

We recap the six man. Nash wants HHH, Booker wants HHH, Shawn wants HHH, Jericho and Flair are there to give some backup. Jericho and Shawn were just getting past their Mania match too.

Ric Flair/HHH/CHris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels/Booker T/Kevin Nash

Booker gets an ok reaction, Shawn gets a good reaction, Nash gets NOTHING. Nash and HHH start but Jericho tags in during the staredown. Off to Shawn as well before any contact was made. Shawn punches him a few times and hooks a sunset flip for two. They trade pinfall attempts, getting about 14 in total. Off to Nash who sends Jericho to the floor and hits both Evolution members.

Back in Nash hits the big boot and with 1/5 of his offense gone, he brings in Booker. Spinebuster gets two on Jericho. Flapjack gets the same. Jericho gets him into the corner and it’s off to The Game. Flair comes in and misses a knee drop, letting Booker tag in Shawn. Forearm and nipup set up the superkick but after it connects, Shawn walks into a Pedigree. Flair makes the tag and it’s off to Jericho who picks the bones of Shawn.

A few elbow drops get two for the Canadian so it’s off to HHH again. High knee gets two for the Game. Flair comes in but the Figure Four is countered into a small package for one. Jericho back in and he throws on a quick hold which gets him nowhere so it’s HHH time again. That goes nowhere so it’s back to Flair for some knee attacks. Shawn gets a clothesline for a pair of twos but he can’t follow up.

Double tag brings in HHH and Nash and things slow down again. You can literally see the crowd sitting still during his house cleaning segment. Shawn had been in trouble for awhile just like the formula would suggest, but the people just don’t care at all. Everything breaks down and it’s Booker vs. Flair on the floor. Pedigree is broken up as is a Jackknife (a few people reacted at least) and everything breaks down even more.

There’s a Spinarooni and the fans pop to their feet. Shawn slams Flair off the top but Jericho breaks up the kick. Figure Four goes on and Jericho adds the Lionsault. Nash comes in for the save and the second Jackknife attempt gets even less of a reaction. There go Flair and the referee and the Jackknife kills Jericho to a moderate reaction. Not that it matters as HHH hits Nash with the hammer for the pin.

Rating: C. The match was ok but Nash’s reactions were downright embarrassing. No one cared about Nash and there’s no other way of looking at it. The pop for his entrance got nothing, his hot tag got nothing, his finisher got nothing. Also, why in the world would you have HHH pin him here? Why in the world would I want to see Nash vs. HHH now if HHH just pinned him? You have Nash pin HHH here to set up the PPV match that you just have to have. Ok match, stupid booking.

We don’t know much about Mysterio now other than he’s hurt.

We recap Rock vs. Goldberg. Rock beat Austin at Mania and had his appreciation night until Goldberg debuted and speared him to death. They had Goldberg talk too, which defeats the purpose of him.

Rock says he’s done it all and that when he got speared, it hurt but he’s here. Rock is a heel here but he’s so energetic that no one will boo him. Goldberg is next.

The Rock vs. Goldberg

Goldberg’s music is changed. You know, because Goldberg wasn’t over with what he had. We also get the full on Hollywood Rock entrance which is still awesome. Goldberg’s music is MUCH softer and it doesn’t work at all. Lawler keeps talking about how Goldberg was a big fish in a small pond and makes sure to make people remember that WCW was NOTHING. The fans chant Goldberg as we’re in full stall mode.

We’re going very slowly with Goldberg knocking Rock out to the floor. Rock stalls on the floor but guillotines him on the rope and hits a clothesline for a pop. Goldberg hits a Rock Bottom and sets up for the spear but Goldberg crashes into the buckle which Lawler says “may be the greatest thing he’s ever seen.” Now it’s Sharpshooter time which is broken eventually. For some reason the referee looks away and Rock hits Goldie low.

Rock sets for the Rock Bottom but Goldberg hits a weak spear. Time for more laying around as this match is WAY too boring. Rock tries some clotheslines but Goldberg won’t go down. A spear from Rock puts Goldberg down and King is losing it. Rock Bottom gets two. The Great One punches him so Goldberg clotheslines him down. Another spinebuster sets up the Elbow but it only gets two and the fans are mad. Spear hits, Rock swears, spear again, Jackhammer and we’re done thank goodness.

Rating: F. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? This was GOLDBERG VS. THE ROCK! Goldberg literally did nothing but punches, clotheslines, spears and the Jackhammer. Not close to it, not an expression, literally that’s it. This match was absolutely awful with them spending at least four minutes (out of 13) laying around. It’s one of the worst debuts I can remember in years and it was completely unacceptable.

Overall Rating: D-. I was thinking this was an ok at best PPV until the main event. Then the bottom fell out of that idea. This was AWFUL with a terrible main event. Nash’s reactions are some of the most embarrassing I’ve ever seen but he would be in the next THREE Raw PPV main events for the title until Goldberg took over. You know, the guy who got a lukewarm reaction at best. There’s a reason people call 2003 the worst year in company history. IT WAS TERRIBLE.

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  1. Wayne says:

    I remember watching this PPV with some friends at the time, and neither one of us were satisfied with this show. Time has clearly NOT been kind to this show at all. And speaking of which, it still boggles my mind that they put the first ever Rock vs. Goldberg match on BACKLASH, and the buildup wasn’t spectacular either. Had this match happened circa 99-2001, it would’ve been a bit better, but what we got was something totally forgettable.

    Rocko Reply:

    Well with Rock leaving, when exactly did you want this to happen?

    Wayne Reply:

    Not really sure to be honest with you. It could’ve been saved for a much bigger PPV instead of hot shotting it to the next show.

    Rocko Reply:

    But they had to. Rock was leaving so it wasn’t like they could do this any other time.

  2. Derek Hamel says:

    No way was 2003 WWE’s worst year ever. (Try 2009, or 2010, or 2011…). Sure, Raw sucked, but some of the Smackdown stuff was pretty great. You had Heyman booking with Lesnar, Angle, Benoit, Eddie and others.
    But just thinking about all of those horrible RAW PPV main events with Trips facing Nash and Steiner over and over is pretty horrible.
    It’s amazing to think that a few years ago Nash was constantly ridiculing CM Punk both in real life and storyline. After this atrocious comeback, he had the nerve to insult anybody, much less an actual talent? Of course this is the guy who gave us the infamous ‘vanilla midgets’ quote, so there you go.

  3. Heyo says:

    How much can you blame the main event sucking on bad booking or Goldberg himself?

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Probably a tossup. Neither was really worse than the other.

    Heyo Reply:


    And I’ve seen the Rock vs. Goldberg promo. I didn’t think it was THAT bad when Goldberg talked, because he said all of two lines, and they were extremely direct and to the point. Granted, I never see Goldberg talking, ever, but for what it was, it was alright and didn’t kill him for me.

    Now…the rest of his WWE run…