Question: What do Vince McMahon and the producers of the Friday The 13 horror movie series have in common? Answer: They’ve run with the same exact storyline for years and made a killing off of it.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Vince McMahon turns on his biggest star throwing his support behind the opposing heel. McMahon fixes the main event match so that a member of his family will officiate the contest and that he himself has a legitimate reason for being at ringside so he can run interference. Through all the fast counts, distractions and cheating, our hero defies the odds beating McMahon and his legion of stooges at their own game.
Whether it starred Steve Austin, Mick Foley or The Rock, what I have just described is the program the WWF has run as its centerpiece angle for what seems like an eternity. The voices may have changed but the song still remains the same. It is bad enough when you recycle what has worked for the other federations. What’s even worse is when you start repeating yourself because the creative well has run dry.
Fans balked at another tiresome round of nWo angles in WCW. Why they support another uninspired McMahon-screws-someone storyline confounds me. Yet, here we are again. Vince McMahon tipped the scales against The Rock at the Backlash pay-per-view from the MCI Center in Washington, D.C. His son Shane is the special guest referee. Having put his stamp of approval on the WWF World Heavyweight Champion – Triple H – McMahon himself is in the champ’s corner with daughter Stephanie. The Rock’s former adversary, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is watching his back…or is he? That’s was the set-up of the Backlash main event which despite the injection of Austin as an unknown factor, still unfolded in a very predictably dull manner.
Though they never explained what exactly happened to delay Austin or why he finally made it to the arena, Vince McMahon asked the crowd in attendance to check the fine print in their programs. Especially the part about the card being “subject to change”. With Triple H awaiting the arrival of The Rock in the ring, McMahon announced that Steve Austin wouldn’t be appearing at BackLash.
Setting a new record by referring to himself eleven times during his pre-match promo, The Rock stared down Triple H from his perch on the top turnbuckle. A slugfest broke out (the favorite move of the night being the European Haymaker Punch) and Triple H backed The Rock into a corner so he could stomp him. The Rock did the same to the champ hitting him with a back elbow to the jaw. An over-enthusiastic Triple H attempted a Pedigree. The Rock back dropped out of it laying the boots to Triple H in the corner. Showing his bias, Shane McMahon physically forced The People’s Champ to stop his attack.
Triple H re-aligns The Rock’s vertebrae by applying a neckbreaker then threw him over the top rope. On the outside, The Rock’s had an up-close and personal encounter with the steel ringsteps as Triple H slid back into the ring so he and Shane could mock argue and hug. Vince McMahon posted The Rock. More slugfests. More stomping. Triple H suplexed The Rock and dropped a running Ric Flair knee drop on him for a quick two count. Another slugfest erupts. Time for a rest hold after working a mere six minutes. Triple H puts a headlock on The Rock for what seems like forever. Rocky European Haymaker Punches him in the gut to break the hold. Triple H clotheslines him and gets another two count. Vince McMahon yells at Shane to “count faster”.
Both men double-clothesline each other granting McMahon the opportunity to smash The People’s Champion in the head with the WWF World Heavyweight Title belt. Another two count for The Game. The Rock Irish whips the champ. The momentum sends Triple H over the top rope. He lands on the floor hurting his arm. The Rock inflicts further punishment by ramming his arm into the announce table. A DDT in the ring and Rocky makes the cover. His hands on his hips, Shane refuses to make the count. The Rock European Haymaker Punches Shane over the top rope. The sole creative spot in the match has Shane and Triple H Rock Bottomed through the Spanish announce table at the same time. Pretty cool, that.
Back in the ring, McMahon goes for another sneak attack. The Rock gives chase. Triple H low-blows him from behind. McMahon calls in Brisco and Patterson (Yes, they are on Mister Mac-Man’s side…once again. Yawn.) who come down decked out in referee attire. Everyone beats on The Rock. With Triple H holding him, McMahon chair shots The Rock in the head. The sound of breaking glass. It’s Stone Cold…Stone Cold…Stone Cold! Austin brains everyone who isn’t The People’s Champ with a steel chair…then leaves.
With the recently “fired” official Hebner at her side, Linda McMahon walks out. Stephanie gets in her mom’s face. Linda shoves Stephanie to the ground. Meanwhile, The Rock punishes Triple H with an innocent-looking elbow drop (called the People’s Elbow). Linda orders Hebner to slap the three count. He does. The Rock is the new WWF World Heavyweight Champion. Austin returns driving a tow truck. Attached to it is the scrap heap once known as the DX Bus. Austin and The Rock drink some beer.
- The next WWF pay-per-view is Judgment Day on May 21st.
WWF Backlash Results
- Jeff Jarrett’s old music is cued up. Out comes Debra McMichael to make the ring introductions for the first contest.
DX (challengers) Vs Edge, Christian (champions) (WWF Tag Team Title Match)
- Lively tag-team match has Edge using the ring bell to waffle X-Pac. A bloody X-Pac gets pinned. No matter how hard they try, the bookers can’t make Edge and Christian heels. The fans cheer them anyways.
- Winners: …and still WWF Tag Team Champions…Edge and Christian at 9 minutes and 22 seconds.
- Match Rating: 7 / 10.
Scotty Too Hotty (challenger) Vs Dean Malenko (champion) (WWF Light Heavyweight Title Match)
- The sleeper match of the pay-per-view. Who knew Scotty would have it in him to put on a superb match with wrestling-machine, Malenko? Now if he could just drop the lame “Worm” move, he’d be onto something special. It’s a crime fans pop for that crap when it takes so long to execute making his foes look like morons as they lay on the mat. Forget the pops, Scotty. It ain’t worth it. After an amazing battle, Malenko DDT’s Hotty off the top rope to retain the strap.
- Winner: …and still WWF Light Heavyweight Champion…Dean Malenko at 12 minutes and 57 seconds.
- Match Rating: 7.5 / 10.
- Brisco and Patterson are shown burying the hatchet with McMahon.
The Big Bossman, Bull Buchanan Vs The Acolytes
- Again I ask, why are The Acolytes still wearing their Ministry Of Darkness garb? Someone should tell them the angle is over. Get some new duds, guys. You look out of place. The Big Bossman waffles both Acolytes with his trusty nightstick. BossMan Junior (Buchanan) does his flying legdrop thing for the upset win.
- Winners: The Big Bossman, Bull Buchanan at 7 minutes and 32 seconds.
- Match Rating: 3 / 10.
- The Hardy Boys and The Hollys agree it’s “every man for themselves” in the upcoming Hardcore Title bout. Though Hardcore Holly convinces Crash by slapping him in the head.
Crash Holly (champion) Vs Jeff Hardy (challenger) Vs Matt Hardy (challenger) Vs Tazz (challenger) Vs Saturn (challenger) Vs Hardcore Holly (challenger) (Hardcore Title Match)
- A pointless brawl devaluing the Hardcore title even more than it already is. Matt Hardy does do a sensational high-spot. Along the entrance way, large swinging scythes (per the Backlash motif) swing side to side. Matt climbs up one and splashes everyone from like 20 or 30 feet above. Wicked. The Hardy Boys clear the ring…with what else?…a ladder. Saturn connects with a Stop sign on Tazz’s noggin. Crash pins Tazz and runs off like a thief in the night…again. Poor Tazz. So close, yet so far.
- Winner: …and still WWF Hardcore Champion…Crash Holly at 12 minutes and 16 seconds.
- Match Rating: 3 / 10.
The Big Show Vs Kurt Angle
- I haven’t been fond of Show stealing Stevie Richards’ old WWF gimmick but, this one’s pretty funny. Show comes out to Hogan’s old Real American ditty and is dressed in the red and yellow of Hulk-A-Mania, only he’s the Showster not the Hulkster. Heh. Heh. Show cuts a typical Hogan promo on Angle mimicking his sayings (You know, brother…whatcha gonna do…etc.) and voice. What a riot! The fans even chant Hogan! Hogan! Bah. Ha. Ha. The rest of the bout is a let down. Big Show gets peeved, tears off his Hogan wig and chokeslams Angle to infinity and beyond.
- Winner: Big Show at 2 minutes and 35 seconds.
- Match Rating: 2 / 10.
The Dudley Boys Vs T and A
- The Smashing Pumpkins are shown at ringside taking in the action. T and A win the match though Trish loses the war. The Dudleys take out T and A. Trish kisses Buh Buh as he reaches for her. The lip lock dazes Buh Buh….only for a moment. He grabs Trish by the hair and Buh Buh Bombs her through a table. Countless minutes are wasted as Trish is carted off to an ambulance. Buh Buh shouts…”I got you b–ch! I got you b–ch!”.
- Winners: T and A at 11 minutes and 7 seconds.
- Match Rating: 3 / 10.
- The ambulance splits. Eddie Guerrero and Chyna pull in. Guerrero is in his “promo tux” and Chyna in a red dress. They drive his car out into the arena. Guerrero wrestles in his bow-tie, dress pants and shoes. Eddie is still doing that demeaning Cheech and Chong voice. Why Eddie? Why?
Eddie Guerrero (champion) Vs Essa Rios (challenger) (European Title Match)
- Best technical match of this evening’s festivities though by the fans sitting on their hands and not taking any notice, you’d never know it. I guess the sight of an actual wrestling match stunned them. Who knows? Eddie holds onto the title. Sore loser Rios drop kicks Guerrero and Chyna. Lita rips Chyna’s dress off. Embarrassed at first, Chyna poses in her bra and panties. Jerry Lawler can’t contain his glee. Lawler needs a cold shower and lots of them. Is it just me or is he starting to sound like an under-sexed adolescent?
- Winner: …and still WWF European Champion…Eddie Guerrero at 8 minutes and 37 seconds .
- Match Rating: 8 / 10.
Chris Benoit (champion) Vs Chris Jericho (challenger)
- Compared to their contests in Japan and elsewhere this match isn’t up to their usual standards due to its finish, though Benoit and Jericho work really hard incorporating some inventive ring psychology. Both escape from the other’s trademark submission move. As Tim White lays napping, Benoit wallops Jericho using the title belt. Benoit does his Swan Dive head butt. Jericho protects himself with the belt. Benoit is busted open. White wakes up, sees what Jericho does and disqualifies him. Jericho goes on a rampage a la Ken Shamrock and puts White in the Lion Tamer – Walls Of Jericho.
- Winner: …and still WWF Intercontinental Champion…Chris Benoit at 15 minutes and 9 seconds. .
- Match Rating: 7.5 / 10.
The Rock (challenger) Vs Triple H (champion) (WWF World Heavyweight Title Match) )
- Winner: …and new WWF World Heavyweight Champion..The Rock at 19 minutes and 23 seconds .
- Match Rating: 3 / 10.
- Total Event Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes
- Overall Event Rating: 7.5 / 10.