Backlash 2008: For A Wrestlemania Replay, This Is Pretty Awesome

Backlash 2008
Date: April 27, 2008
Location: 1st Mariner Arena, Baltimore, Maryland
Attendance: 11,277
Commentators: Mike Adamle, Tazz, Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Mick Foley

We begin the final set of PPV reviews here with the next to last Backlash. The main events are mostly Mania rematches, as JBL has been added to the Raw triple threat from Mania 24 and Edge faces Undertaker again. Other than that we have Shawn vs. Batista which is fallout from Shawn vs. Flair and sets up the Shawn vs. Jericho feud. Dang Shawn had a lot going on here. Let’s get to it.

The opening video says Mania was the beginning and tonight is the revenge. Or the backlash you might say.

The announcers welcome us to the show and Mick Foley is revealed as the new commentator.

US Title: Matt Hardy vs. MVP

This is the culmination of a feud that went on for almost eight months as Matt and MVP both got hurt so they had to keep waiting. We get a clip from five months ago where MVP attacked Matt’s leg. Matt returned last month to cost MVP the MITB match and tonight it’s FINALLY the blowoff. We get some big match intros and we’re ready to go. MVP goes for the knee of Hardy and Matt looks a bit ginger on it.

Hardy comes back so MVP bails to the floor. Back in and Matt takes him to the canvas with a headlock. A middle rope elbow to the back of the head gets two but MVP gets in a shot to the back to slow Hardy down. They go to the corner with MVP’s belly to back superplex being broken up. Matt’s moonsault hits knees though and the champion takes over. He works on the back/midsection which was injured as well apparently.

Off to an abdominal stretch but Matt escapes with a hip toss. He lands on MVP, meaning MVP probably has broken ribs. The champ comes back with a belly to belly for two. A clothesline finally gets Matt a breather and allows him to hit a bulldog out of the corner for two. The Playmaker is countered into the Side Effect for two. The crowd is really getting into this.

Hardy goes up but gets crotched due to a dropkick to the ropes. They go up top and Matt hits a top rope Side Effect for no cover as both guys are down. It eventually gets two as does a backslide from the champ. Matt grabs a fast rollup for two but the Twist of Fate is countered. MVP hits the Drive By (running boot to the face) and Hardy is knocked to the floor. He barely gets back in at 8 and MVP is stunned. Another boot to the face puts Matt down but a running one in the corner hits buckle, allowing Matt to hit the Twist for the pin and the title.

Rating: B-. The idea here was to give the fans something to get all fired up over and that was certainly accomplished. This feud went on forever but the ending was the perfect kind, as the fans were all behind Matt and wanted to see him end the nearly year long reign that MVP was on. Good opener here and I was getting into it by the end.

Matt talks about how great this is and how hard he’s worked. It’s been worth all the injuries too. And to MVP, I am better than you.

ECW Title: Kane vs. Chavo Guerrero

Kane is defending after having won the title in 8 seconds at Mania. Chavo has his bodyguard Bam Neely. Edge attacked Kane’s knee on ECW on Tuesday so the champ is coming in injured. Chavo goes for the knee so Kane hits him in the face. The low dropkick hits Chavo’s face but it hurts the knee even more. Kane chokes Chavo over his back and hits a gorilla press to follow up. Guerrero finally takes the knee out and sends him face first into the buckle.

They head outside but Kane catches Chavo in the air and rams his back into the barricade. They head back in but Kane has his knee kicked out to give the challenger control. Neely gets in some shots and we go back in. Adamle is totally lost in calling this, getting basic things wrong and even having Tazz make fun of him. Chavo goes up but winds up on Kan’e shoulders for an electric chair drop.

Both guys are down now but Chavo kicks the knee out again. Kane is all cool with that and grabs him by the throat. That gets released so it’s a big boot to the face instead. Side slam gets two and Adamle actually called it the right name. He’s getting a little better at least. Kane goes up and hits the top rope clothesline for two. Chavo goes up as well and a missile dropkick gets two. He takes out the knee again but goes up, only to get caught in a chokeslam position. Chavo escapes but the Frog Splash is caught in the chokeslam for the pin and Kane retains.

Rating: C-. Not much here but it wasn’t that bad I guess. Kane needed to get a clean win here instead of making it look like a fluke/meaningless win as it was at Mania, but at the end of the day there’s almost no way you can spin Chavo as a credible threat to someone like Kane. Not a great match but it could have been a lot worse.

Orton says he’s been through a lot lately but he’ll come out of this as world champion still.

Great Khali vs. Big Show

No real story here. They’re just fighting for the sake of fighting because they’re both massive. They stare each other down and slug it out a bit with Big Show moving much faster than Khali. Show headbutts him but it doesn’t have much effect. They trade chops and a clothesline puts Show down. Show fights back and tries a slam, only to get clotheslined to the floor.

After nothing of note happens out there they head back in with Khali chopping him down again. A big boot puts Show down and Khali hooks on, I kid you not, a Crippler Crossface. Show fights up but can’t slam Khali. Off to a nerve hold which causes a lot of screaming from Big Show. That gets broken pretty quickly but Show gets chopped down for another two count. Khali cranks on the arms as the fans think this is boring. Big Show fights up and slams Khali for two. The Punjabi Plunge is countered into the chokeslam for the pin.

Rating: D-. Next. Seriously, next. This match came, it went, there’s nothing to think about here at all. Khali was big and slow and once he lost the world title, it was all downhill from there. Show may be big and slow, but at least he has some skill and a tiny bit of speed to throw in there to make his matches seem like they’re actually happening instead of a series of still photographs. Horribly dull match but given who was in there, what else were you expecting?

Cena gives country music advice to Jimmy Wang Yang when Orton comes up. Orton says Cena will lose again tonight but Cena says tonight Orton will go home broken. Cena’s hair looks a lot darker here than usual.

We recap Shawn vs. Batista. The idea here is that Shawn retired Flair at Wrestlemania and Batista isn’t happy about that. During Flair’s retirement ceremony, the camera panned over to Batista for a quick shot, which showed him being very unhappy when Shawn came out. Jericho is involved in this too, as he thinks Shawn wanted to retire Flair which Shawn doesn’t like the idea of. He thinks Batista wanted to retire Flair too, which got him beaten up by both guys. Jericho is the guest referee tonight.

Shawn Michaels vs. Batista

Feeling out process to start as Batista tries to figure out how to counter the strength advantage. He tries chops which get him nowhere other than into a Batista Bomb attempt. Back in now as Shawn fires away some kicks to the legs which don’t have much effect. Big Dave is like screw this and runs Shawn over to gain control. Shawn gets him down by taking out the leg again and hooks a shortarm scissors.

They actually hit the mat for a bit with Batista trying to roll out, only to get caught by some knees to the arm. Since it’s a Shawn Michaels shortarm scissors though, you know the counter that’s coming. It takes awhile but there it is, as Batista lifts him off the mat and throws Shawn over the top and out to the floor. Dave goes with him though and both guys are down on the outside.

Shawn rams the arm into the post as Batista is in trouble. Shawn is kind of wrestling heel here which is a natural fit for him if he needs it to be. Back in and he cranks on the arm, tying it up in the ropes for more leverage. Batista tries to take it to the corner but Shawn locks on a standing cross armbreaker which he bends over the ropes as well. That looked sick. Shawn goes up and drops a double ax to the shoulder as he’s totally focused on one body part.

Batista finally comes back with a Samoan Drop to put both guys down and buy himself a breather. Shawn gets sent into the corner and flips upside down, followed by a big clothesline from Batista’s good arm. The Batista Bomb is countered into a Crossface which is pretty soon after Benoit. The Animal almost gets to a rope but Shawn floats over into a cover followed by another Crossface back in the middle of the ring. That was slick.

Batista gets the rope and the fans are booing loudly. Jericho has to physically break the hold and Shawn isn’t pleased. Batista gets a side slam with the bad arm for two and we get a quick breather. Shawn hits the forearm and nips up but he walks into the spear for two. Shawn goes up and after shoving Batista down he hits the big elbow for no cover. He loads up Sweet Chin Music but Batista counters that into a spinebuster. The Bomb is escaped but Shawn’s knee gives out. Jericho checks on Shawn and it’s ok to continue. Batista walks over and gets his head kicked off, giving Shawn the pin.

Rating: B. Shawn was on fire in 2008 and this was no exception. This was getting very good when it ended but the ending was fine. It’s actually the beginning of a much bigger storyline as Jericho didn’t believe the knee was really hurt and called Shawn out on it. These two would feud until October and it was without question the top feud of the year. Good match here but the best hadn’t even started yet.

Jericho has to help Shawn to the back.

Buy the Wrestlemania DVD.

Orton comes to see HHH now and says tonight HHH won’t succeed. Orton says he’ll win but HHH says pride comes before the fall.

Beth Phoenix/Melina/Layla/Jillian Hall/Victoria/Natalya vs. Mickie James/Michelle McCool/Ashley/Cherry/Kelly Kelly/Maria

Mickie won the title from Beth a few weeks ago in a huge upset. There is something to be said about putting 12 good looking women in a single tag match. Beth, with curly hair, starts with Michelle, who looks GOOD in black. Beth counters the speed moves and powerslams her down for two. Off to Melina who hooks a bridging front facelock with a choke. Michelle rolls through a sunset flip and dropkicks Melina in the face.

Off to the champ (Mickie in case you forgot) who hits a rana out of the corner but Melina tags off to Natalya who is in a black and yellow body suit. It’s her PPV debut so it’s understandable I guess. Victoria comes in and misses her shaking moonsault. Mickie hits an enziguri and the brawl breaks out on the floor. Ashley comes in for a HORRIBLE rana on Jillian, getting two. Thankfully Beth comes in to give her a beating for how bad it was. Ashley escapes the Glam Slam but can’t tag. Mickie comes in illegally and the parade of finishers begin. After everyone hits something, Beth pins Ashley with a fisherman’s buster.

Rating: D+. The match sucked, but MAN were the girls better back then. They were better in the ring and they looked a lot better too. The girls here actually looked like their outfits weren’t made by the same people which is a big upgrade. Also them having more than 90 seconds a week is a big improvement too. Screw them being role models. They exist because they look good in tight spandex that shows off their bodies. Don’t try to over complicate this stuff.

Some Baltimore Ravens are here.

We recap Edge vs. Undertaker. Edge tapped away the title at Mania and says he hasn’t felt right ever since. Vickie, corrupt authority figure #847, has stacked the deck against Taker by making him have hard matches while Edge has basically had a month off.

Smackdown World Title: Edge vs. Undertaker

Taker actually says I’m going to hurt you to Edge during the big match intros. Edge gets thrown to the floor to start and then is run over by a shoulder block. It’s still in the feeling out period here. Taker charges into a boot and gets clotheslined down as Edge takes over for the first time. And never mind as Edge gets thrown into the corner and Taker pounds away even more. Taker cranks on the arm and sends the shoulder into the buckle.

The champ loads up Old School but Edge rakes the eyes to escape. Taker gets clotheslined to the floor and a baseball slide sends Taker into the barricade. Edge dives off the apron but is easily caught and rammed into the posts. That’s similar to what Kane did earlier so maybe it runs in the family. The champ pounds him down some more and drops the leg on the apron but it hurts Taker’s bad back.

Back in the ring a slam and legdrop get two, brother. What might have been the tombstone is countered into the Edge-O-Matic for two. With Taker in the corner Edge hits a spear to the back for two. Edge hooks a body scissors and Taker is getting ticked off. The Dead Man pounds away at Edge’s face to escape but Edge hits a dropkick to the back to put him down again. Another baseball slide puts Taker on the floor and we head outside for another bit.

That goes nowhere so we head back inside for a Canadian camel clutch. Taker fights out of that by standing up but Edge hooks another body scissors and right back into the camel clutch. That gets broken up exactly the same way and a double clothesline puts both guys down. Now a double big boot puts both guys down in case you’re a leg man instead of an arm man. Taker wins a slugout much to the fans’ delight and a big boot puts Edge down again.

A running corner clothesline hits Edge and it’s snake eyes into the big boot. An elbow drop gets two and Taker is getting a bit gassed. Old School is broken up again and Edge pounds away in the corner. That would be because he’s an idiot in case you’re wondering. Taker gets him in Last Ride position but Edge THINKS and climbs down as no one else has thought to do. Taker shoves him off and tries a top rope elbow (I’ve seen him do that live and it’s awesome) but Edge moves and gets two.

The challenger rolls to the floor and grabs the belt but Taker grabs the chokeslam. Edge counters that as well, this time into a Russian legsweep for two. Edge goes up again but gets chokeslammed down for a delayed two. The tombstone is countered as Edge grabs the ropes. He pulls on them so hard that the buckle comes off. Taker gets rammed back first into it but manages a Last Ride attempt anyway.

Curt Hawkins of the Edgeheads runs in and hits Taker with the belt but that only gets two as well. The spear is countered into a DDT for two. The chokeslam is abandoned because of Zach Ryder interference (man that would be different today) so Taker opts for the Last Ride again. Edge rolls through into a rollup but Taker grabs Hell’s Gate for the tap out to retain. Sweet finishing sequence.

Rating: B. I was digging this one as it was the kind of interference filled match that you expected at Mania but didn’t quite get. The Mania match is better due to the atmosphere and the significance of the win, but this was still a solid match with both guys showing off some solid chemistry together. Edge would eventually get the title back and it would of course be in another good match.

Taker doesn’t let go of the hold for awhile. Vickie has to come down and the horror of her running (after being in a wheelchair) makes Taker let go. Edge gets wheeled out on a stretcher.

Orton goes up to see JBL when Punk pops up. He holds up the MITB case and says good luck tonight.

Cena and HHH combine for over 80% of the four person poll of the main event.

We recap the main event. Basically it’s the triple threat (Orton defending against Cena and HHH) from Mania with JBL thrown in. This gets the music video treatment.

Raw World Title: John Cena vs. Randy Orton vs. HHH vs. John Bradshaw Layfield

This is no DQ and no countout with elimination rules. HHH gets a big pop and Cena gets a mixed yet louder reaction. Orton gets a lot of booing and no one cares that JBL is here too. Orton immediately gets knocked to the floor by HHH and looks like he’s about to throw up a frog. JBL jumps Cena but HHH says he’s mine and gets in a fight with Cena on his own. Orton is still hiding on the floor so Cena takes him down.

JBL knocks Cena off the apron and onto the announce table with a LOUD landing. Orton and JBL beat on HHH in the ring with the Game being in trouble. He comes back with a double clothesline and sends JBL to the floor. Orton’s shoulder hits the post and HHH goes to the floor. He sends JBL into the steps and loads up a Pedigree but JBL escapes. Cena hits the Throwback on Orton followed by the top rope Fameasser into the STFU. JBL comes back in and sets to break it up then realizes there’s no reason to do so and tells Orton to tap.

HHH grabs JBL and puts him in a Crossface right in front of Orton who is still in the STFU. JBL pokes Cena in the eye for some reason which breaks the STFU, allowing Orton to shout at JBL to tap in a funny bit. Cena knocks Orton into HHH and JBL, breaking the Crossface. Orton throws Cena to the floor again but JBL kicks Randy down for two. Orton comes back with a clothesline and goes up but gets crotched.

JBL loads up a superplex but JBL and Cena make it a Tower of Doom. Cena and the Game slug it out until Cena hits a release fisherman’s suplex for two. ProtoBomb takes HHH down again but the Shuffle is broken up by a spinebuster. HHH loads up the Pedigree but JBL tries the Clothesline for some reason. That results in an FU for him followed by the STFU for the tap. We’re down to three but Orton immediately punts Cena for the pin and we’re down to two.

So it’s Orton vs. HHH in a one on one match for the title. HHH throws him to the floor where Orton lands with a thud. Randy goes into the table but HHH goes into the steps, meaning advantage champion. Orton launches him into the barricade and into the crowd. A suplex brings HHH back to ringside and Orton poses a bit. Orton stomps on HHH back in the ring and poses some more before covering for two.

HHH tries a comeback but walks into the backbreaker for another near fall. We hit the chinlock for awhile but HHH fights out of it. Orton takes him down AGAIN, this time with the powerslam for two. The RKO is countered and they slug it out. HHH hits the high knee and both guys are down again. Facebuster gets two for the Game. He clotheslines Orton to the floor and throws him over the announce table.

Orton comes back by sending HHH into the barricade and loads up a piledriver on the steps but gets countered instead. Back inside and a spinebuster puts Orton down again. The Pedigree is countered as is the RKO and the referee goes down. The RKO hits out of nowhere but the slow cover only gets two. The Punt is countered into the Pedigree for the pin and the title for HHH.

Rating: B-. The match was good although you could pretty easily write out Cena and JBL and have the same thing. They added a bit but more than half of the match was the one on one stuff. That being said it’s probably the best match Orton and HHH ever had and is certainly better than the Mania main event they would have the next year. Not a classic or anything close to one, but for a B-level main event this was perfectly fine.

Overall Rating: B+. The show isn’t a masterpiece or anything but when almost all of the matches are good save for one which is relatively short, that’s a pretty solid show all around. Good stuff here but the year would go downhill a bit as the feuds would get driven into the ground with the same three guys dominating everything. Still though, this was a solid show and while it’s not a classic, it’s worth checking out.

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