When the nWo angle was the hottest thing World Championship Wrestling had going for it bitter and bored fans rightly complained every time Nitro or a pay-per-view ended with an massive run-in. WCW kept on concluding main event matches that way and weary fans went elsewhere to seek more original and less predictable entertainment. You would’ve thought that the World Wrestling Federation would’ve learned from WCW’s mistakes yet here we are at Backlash 2001 and just like they have done time and time again, it is interference by the McMahons that pretty well determine the result of a main event title match. Gosh, how original is that? Not very is the answer.
You can always tell when the booking well is getting dry in the promotion because it’s the stock angle they fall back upon. The McMahons protecting their designated champion as someone rises up to challenge their authority. It began with Bret Hart’s screw-job and has been recycled over and over since with different faces like Steve Austin or The Rock playing the same redundant roles.
Fans have seen Vince or Stephanie take out a referee, hand their champion a weapon, call for the bell to be rung, create last minute stipulations or take out the challenger themselves so many times that without any assistance from the Psychic Friends Hotline, they can foresee the outcomes before the matches even air. As was the case with the Backlash main event in which WWF Intercontinental Champion Hunter-Hearst Helmsley and WWF World Heavyweight Champion Steve Austin faced WWF World Tag Team Champions Kane and The Undertaker in a match where all the belts were up for grabs and a title change of some kind was guaranteed. The majority of fans predicted that Austin and Triple H would come out on top and they did with support from the McMahons. Gosh, how original is that? Not very is the answer.
With his elbow heavily bandaged due to a sneak attack on Raw by Triple H and Austin, Kane was the weakest link. Protecting his “brother” as best he could, The Undertaker fought the majority of the match. He single-handedly stood his ground against both members of the Anti Mega Powers. This fact alone might signal another WWF World Title run for The Phenom. Whenever Kane got tagged in, Austin and Triple H worked on his injured elbow smacking it with steel chairs or ramming into the ring post or stairs.
In the match’s finale, The Undertaker and Austin paired up brawling on the arena floor, leaving Kane and Triple H alone in the ring. Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley slid one of the title belts to Triple H. As Triple H charged in with it raised high above his head, Kane caught him with a boot to the face. Stephanie climbed into the ring and met with the same fate so Vince McMahon jumped in carrying Triple H’s sledgehammer. Kane caught McMahon by the throat before he could cave his skull in but McMahon handed the sledgehammer to Triple H. The Game bonked Kane with it and pinned him. Austin and Triple H (and subsequently the heel McMahons — Stephanie and Vince) now hold the three most important titles in the World Wrestling Federation. Gosh, how original is that? Not very is the answer.
Luckily at Backlash there was enough excellent booking and wrestling in the undercard that the main event screw-job didn’t have the impact it should have had on the show as a whole. In particular, Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle’s Thirty Minute Submission Match was sheer brilliance and should be ranked as one of the best bouts ever in World Wrestling Federation history. The level of sophistication and proficiency required to cleanly pull off the intricate reversals and counters Benoit and Angle performed is extraordinary to say the very least. It is rare that a single match is worth the price of an entire pay-per-view but the Submission Match deservedly ranks as such a bout thanks to Benoit and Angle’s unbelievable work rate and skill.
The next WWF pay-per-view is Judgment Day on May 20th.
WWF Backlash 2001 Results
The Dudley Boys versus The X-Factor
- Same old routine from The Dudley Boys here. Of note is Justin’s ditching of his T-shirt and jeans for a look similar to X-Pac’s…sort of. Albert puts his foot into D-Von’s kisser and so do Credible and X-Pac for the win. Heyman says…”the war has just begun” between these two teams. Oh, goodie.
- Winners: The X Factor at 8 minutes and 2 seconds.
- Match Rating: 6 / 10.
- The Duchess Of Queensbury pulls into the arena. She’s decked out in medieval English attire and accompanied by two “bodyguards”. Regal greets and praises her. Kurt Angle is shining his medals in the locker room. He will prove to Benoit tonight who the best technician is in the WWF.
Rhyno (champion) versus Raven (challenger) (WWF Hardcore Title Match)
- Very reminiscent of an ECW match and the hardest-hitting hardcore title match as of yet in the WWF. It was the kind of bout where you cringe and actually say “Ouch!” out loud every few minutes. Rhyno and Raven really wail on each other with street signs, chairs and even a kitchen sink. Rhyno brings a metal shopping cart into the ring. He attempts to brain Raven with it. Raven hits him in the gut with a trash can and the cart falls hard onto Rhyno as he hits the mat. The cart is placed in a corner. Rhyno tries to Gore Raven. Raven steps out of the way and Rhyno ends up stuck inside the cart. As he is, Raven whacks him some more with a kitchen sink. Raven prepares to swing it once again at Rhyno’s head. Rhyno goes low and Gores him to retain the title.
- Winner: …and still WWF Hardcore Champion…Rhyno at 8 minutes and 7 seconds.
- Match Rating: 7 / 10.
- WWF road schedule, a commercial for a WWF Divas tape and the entire Shane And The Beanstalk segment from Smackdown! airs. Who in God’s name greenlighted that ridiculous promo? Stephanie asks Shane to apologize to Vince. He declines. Steve Austin and Debra are interviewed. Austin says he “won’t lose a damn thing”. Coachman asks The Duchess Of Queensbury to explain the rules surrounding the match named in her honour. Regal halts the interview before she can.
William Regal versus Chris Jericho (Duchess Of Queensbury Rules Match)
- All in all, the match turns out to be nothing more than a complete rip-off of the Canadian Rules match in WCW not too long ago with the heel making up the stipulations as he goes along. The angle is really lame though the wrestling is quite good. Jericho scores a Lionsault. The Duchess calls for the bell saying the first round has ended and the pinfall doesn’t count. Jericho wraps Regal in the Lion Tamer. As Regal taps out, the Duchess announces that submissions don’t count in the match. Regal hits Jericho with the Duchess’ scepter. The Duchess rules this a No DQ bout. Regal is thrown out of the ring and land in the Duchess’ crotch as she sits on her throne at ring side. Jericho puts the Lion Tamer on the Duchess. Regal hits Jericho with a steel chair about three or four times to pin him.
- Winner: William Regal at 12 minutes and 36 seconds.
- Match Rating: 7 / 10.
- Raw Is War and WWF CD ads. Vince encourages The Big Show not to hold back in his match-up with Shane.
Chris Benoit versus Kurt Angle (Thirty Minute Submission Match)
- Fantastic bout and Match Of The Year candidate. The winner is the one to score the most submissions during the time limit. Benoit makes Angle tap out in the Crippler Crossface on the floor but it is ruled the submission doesn’t as it had to have taken place in the ring. At 6:29, Benoit taps to a knee-lock type of submission. At 8:09, Angle submits to an arm-wringer like move. Angle uses a chair and his Ankle Lock to notch another submission. Angle also makes Benoit tap out to his own Crippler Crossface. Trailing by two, Benoit employs a crab-like move at 18:01 to close the gap. Angle protects his lead by fleeing and wasting precious time. Benoit forces Angle to tap to his own Ankle Lock at 27:48. The score is tied. Angle slaps the Ankle Lock on Benoit. Benoit submits but only after the time limit has expired. The official calls for overtime in the match. The first one to submit loses. Benoit’s Crippler Crossface wins him the thirty minute challenge.
- Winner: Chris Benoit at 32 minutes and 26 seconds.
- Match Rating: 10 / 10.
- A commercial for WWF New York. Question…if WWF New York is so popular why aren’t there any others across America or around the world? Triple H and Stephanie discuss strategy.
The Big Show versus Shane McMahon (Last Man Standing Match)
- No WCW superstars make an appearance. Shane goes it alone using a Kendo stick and even a (Bah. Ha. Ha.) cloth soaked in Chloroform to gain the advantage. Vince comes out and chair shots Shane, then splits with a smile on his face. Big Show could let Shane lay for a ten count on several occasions though he keeps picking him up and inflicting more punishment. Test does a run-in at 7:34. Test hits Big Show with a sign about the head as Shane climbs up the entrance way structure which is about 50-feet high. While Show lays motionless on an inflatable stunt bag topped with wood, Shane drops an elbow from the top of the structure. He misses the Big Show completely but not the stunt bag. Big Show can’t seem to get up. Test props Shane up on the arm of a tracking camera so he is victorious. In a replay we see the words Air Filter written on the side of the stunt bag.
- Winner: Shane McMahon at 11 minutes and 55 seconds.
- Match Rating: 3 / 10.
- Vince is dismayed at Shane’s win. Stephanie comforts him. Steve Blackman and Grandmaster Sexay babble on at WWF New York.
Christian (challenger) versus Eddie Guerrero (challenger) versus Matt Hardy (champion) (WWF European Title Match)
- These three men aren’t given the time they need to really go full-tilt. Edge interferes as does Jeff Hardy. Matt holds on to the European Title with a Twist Of Fate.
- Winner: …still WWF European Champion…Matt Hardy at 6 minutes and 50 seconds.
- Match Rating: 5 / 10.
- The WWF plugs the new Kurt Angle and Mick Foley videos.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin (champion, challenger) and Triple H (champion, challenger) versus Kane (champion, challenger) and The Undertaker (champion, challenger) (WWF World Tag Team Title, Intercontinental Title and World Heavyweight Title Match)
- Winners: …and new WWF World Tag Team Champions….”Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Triple H at 27 minutes and 16 seconds.
- Match Rating: 6 / 10.
- Total Event Time: 2 hours and 50 minutes.
- Overall Event Rating: 7.5 / 10.