If there is something the WWE has been known for in recent years is they can go from best to worst in the blink of an eye. Last month’s WrestleMania broadcast was an exceptional achievement. A milestone in the history of pro wrestling pay-per-views. Weeks later and the WWE is back to the mundane brand of sports entertainment that has been the company’s calling card since they attained a virtual monopoly on the industry.
BackLash failed at the moment it was conceived on paper. An uninspired card with predictable results was not the way to follow-up a exemplary WrestleMania show. All of the positive momentum WrestleMania generated was sapped by BackLash. Once again, the WWE has made another disastrous business decision at a crucial time in the company’s fight to win back a steadily declining fan base. One wonders how much longer the trend in shoddy management can continue without severe fallout.
The WWE couldn’t even get it together when it came to BackLash’s main events. Spotlighted by the return of former WCW superstar Goldberg, the WWE dropped the ball once again by putting him up against one of their most popular wrestlers – The Rock. In doing so, the WWE has dug another hole they must somehow climb out of. Though fans may take pleasure out of mocking The Rock’s present heel character of the wrestler turned arrogant Hollywood movie star, in reality, many respect his in-ring abilities and his sense of humour. Any booker with a brain in their head looking to push Goldberg as a fan favorite, would’ve put him up against a prominent WWE wrestler who the fans despise. Since they didn’t, it was preordained that Goldberg, a man who was front and centre in the WCW versus WWE rivalry, would be booed and he was in a big way at BackLash. Unable to put the past behind them, the partisan crowd assailed Goldberg every time he turned the tables on The Rock. It was very clear whose corner the crowd was in. Due to their own foolish booking, now the WWE has two choices: either do some major damage control and resuscitate Goldberg as a face or side with the crowd and make him a heel.
With news of The Rock heading off to film the remake of “Walking Tall”, the end result of the “dream match” was elementary. Though the bout was by no means a classic confrontation, the two stars were as intense as they have ever have been before. To get across the message that the match was just another day at the office for Goldberg, he entered the ring chewing gum and smiling. Goldberg won two tests of strength to start things off. He tossed a bewildered Rock into a corner and then clear out of the ring. An embarrassed Rock shot back into the ring and slapped Goldberg in the face. Goldberg smiled, shoulder butted and clotheslined Rock out of the ring again.
“Come on, pretty boy! The match is in here,” jeered Goldberg as The Rock went for a stroll.
Although he crushed The Great One with his own Rock Bottom, Goldberg made the mistake of going for his trademark Spear too soon. The Rock deftly sidestepped the attack. Goldberg sailed into the ring post and through the ropes. The announcers, not really throwing their support behind Goldberg as the face, played up the mistake throughout the rest of the match and the resulting “injury” to his right shoulder.
Goldberg and The Rock traded two counts often. Goldberg was booed vigorously whenever it appeared he could be on his way to pinning The Rock. “Goldberg sucks!” chants rained down as he kicked out of The People’s Elbow and delivered two Spears. A Jackhammer gave Rocky a one-way ticket back to the land of “Lights! Camera! Action!”.
The co-main event, a hackneyed, throwaway six-man tag team match pitting Chris Jericho, Triple H and Ric Flair against Booker T, Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash served no purpose other than to ink another chapter in the inevitable and much dreaded Kevin Nash versus Triple H title match. It was a well-wrestled match by everyone involved but without anything really at stake, the interest just wasn’t there. Triple H spent the better part of the match fleeing from Kevin Nash by tagging out or heading to the hills whenever Big Sexy stormed in his direction.
To anyone who has watched Raw for the last month or so, it should be no surprise that the match broke down into another one of those confounding and redundant melees. HBK labeled Ric Flair with Sweet Chin Music but Jericho landed a bulldog to prevent him from pinning The Nature Boy. Flair locked Michaels in the Figure Four while Jericho sprinted to the ropes. A lionsault on a figure-foured HBK, caught the attention of Kevin Nash who was readying Triple H for a possible powerbomb through the announcer’s table. Seeing his pal in a world of hurt, Nash dropped HHH and charged back into the ring. Flair knocks the ref outside. Jericho receives a Jack-Knife Powerbomb. Digging out that sledgehammer for the millionth time (Yawn!), HHH clobbers Nash in the head, throws it out of the ring and waits for the ref to count three. Booker T and Michaels check on Nash as Jericho, Flair and HHH raise their hands in victory as they break for the showers.
The next WWE pay-per-view is Judgment Day on May 18th.
BackLash 2003 Results
Los Guerreros (challengers) versus Team Angle (champions) (WWE Tag Team Championship Match)
- Team Angle dedicates the match to their fallen leader by bringing a portrait of him to the ring. Team Angle blows the gimmick by not being able to put the easel together properly. Eddie and Chavo cheat…and then cheat some more. Team Angle follows suit by mirroring their infractions mere moments later. The highlight of the match is Eddie executing a series of crisp and clean snap suplexes on Haas. Eddie also Frog Splashes him. Too bad Chavo is the legal man and can only manage a two count. Eddie is thrown into the steel ring stairs. Chavo tries a suplex on Haas. From outside the ring, Benjamin pulls Chavo’s feet out from under him and then holds down his legs as Haas falls on top for the pin. Bobby Heenan would be proud. Benjamin almost flubs the finale. After the bell has rung, Chavo dives onto Team Angle taking out them and their portrait of Kurt Angle. Los Guerreros steal the tag belts and scamper off to the backstage area where their car is waiting. Los Guerreros speed off as Team Angle can do nothing but watch the happenings on the Titantron.
- Winners: … and still WWE Tag Team Champions…Team Angle at 15 minutes and 4 seconds.
- Match Rating: 6 / 10.
- Here begins the only backstage storyline of the night. You thought the cat fight at WrestleMania was bad. You ain’t seen nothing yet. Test harasses Torrie. She wants him. She knows it. Torrie wonders why Test can’t take “No!” for an answer. As she walks away, Test grabs her by the arm, yanks her back and forces a kiss on her. As Torrie escapes Test’s clutches, Sable looks on with satisfaction. The camera focuses on her butt as he saunters off pleased with herself.
Rikishi versus Sean O’Haire
- Piper comes to the ring first carrying a basket of coconuts. You know that can’t be good. Piper extols the virtues of O’Haire as “the wrestler of the new millennium”. He will be the man who teaches Rikishi that “everyone pays the Piper”. Why Piper can’t or won’t take Rikishi to school is not explained. The menacing O’Haire comes out to some cruddy dance song which really doesn’t bolster the sinister persona he is playing. As Rikishi and O’Haire pummel each other, most of the crowd is observing some altercation in the stands. Piper interferes often, distracting the ref and getting a few cheap shots in. When Rikishi goes for the Stink Face, O’Haire puts up his feet, pushes Rikishi and sends him flying. Rikishi and O’Haire take each other out with high kicks. Piper enters the ring with a coconut in hand. Piper gives the coconut to the ref. Rikishi takes it and smacks Piper in the head with it. O’Haire capitalizes and puts Rikishi out with a spinning slam. A bleeding Piper shouting…”This thing is not over!”… as he is led away are not the words wrestling fans don’t want to hear. Yikes!
- Winner: Sean O’Haire at 4 minutes and 54 seconds.
- Match Rating: 3 / 10.
- Staci is snacking. Sable stops by and it isn’t for some carrot sticks. She hates to be the bearer of bad news…but…her boyfriend’s kissing another woman. Staci doesn’t believe it. Sable wonders who Test got an advanced copy of Torrie’s issue of Playboy. That cinches things. Staci slams down her plate.
- With Chief Morley assigned as the guest referee for their match, RVD and Kane assume their collective goose is cooked. If they are going down, they promise to take everyone else with them.
The Dudley Boyz (challengers) versus Kane, RVD (champions) (WWE World Tag Team Title Match)
- As announced on Heat, Chief Morley is the guest referee. Morley’s counts are consistent although he allows the Dudley Boyz to double-team and bend the rules. An in-your-face tag bout with high-flying acrobatics by RVD to balance the rough neck stuff. Morley low-blows Kane as he prepares to Chokeslam Bubba. Morley heaves Kane through the ropes. Morley accidentally clotheslines Bubba. D’von takes exception to that. He lays a beat down on Morley. Lance Storm hits the ring and takes a Bubba Bomb. 3-D for Morley. Kane Chokeslams Bubba. D’von is tossed outside. RVD hits the Five Star Frog Splash on Bubba. RVD and Kane retain the straps.
- Winners: … and still WWE World Tag Team Champions…RVD, Kane at 7 minutes and 17 seconds .
- Match Rating: 7 / 10.
- Staci finds Torrie in the women’s locker room. Torrie doesn’t explain what happened with Test properly. Staci misinterprets the situation. Cat fight! Cat fight! We are wasting good match time with this drivel? Geesh.
Jazz (challenger) versus Trish Stratus (champion) (WWE Women’s World Heavyweight Title Match)
- Teddy takes the mike. Tonight is a night for vindication. Jazz will rise above the…ummm…bigotry of the WWE. “The bitch is back! The bitch is black,” bellows Jazz. Who writes this stuff? Trish heads to the ring holding her ribs. The announcers say that the trainers told her not to wrestle tonight. Solid action with both women showing some depth to their abilities. Trish even locks on an STF. How cool is that? Trish lands Stratisfaction but…get this…Teddy Long makes the most goofiest save in pro wrestling history….he stops the pin by throwing his shoe into the ring and nailing Trish in the head! Huh? Jazz puts the flustered Trish in a crab-like pin while holding onto the ropes.
- Winners: …and new WWE Women’s World Heavyweight Champion…Jazz at 5 minutes and 49 seconds.
- Match Rating: 6 / 10.
- Another example of the WWE staff not having their act together. Booker T asks Shawn Michaels if he is ready for the six-man tag match. Shawn says he is. Booker wonders if Nash is. No problems, says Nash. He just asks that Shawn and Booker leave HHH for him. Whatever. Why bother?
Rey Mysterio versus Big Show
- Just what you think it would be with Mysterio using hit and run tactics while the Big Show displays power moves. Mysterio suckers Big Show with three or four 619’s. He goes for the West Coast Pop. Big Show catches him in mid-air for the Chokeslam. Medics come to the ring to put an “injured” Mysterio on a body board. Big Show returns, picks up the body board with Mysterio on it and swings it into a steel post. Impressive. You can bet that Lesnar challenges Big Show for being a bully on the next edition of Smackdown!
- Winner: Big Show at 3 minutes and 46 seconds .
- Match Rating: 2 / 10.
- Torrie and Staci are still clawing at each other. Staci is pushed into a cabinet of sorts. A tray full of food falls and cracks her on the head. Scott Steiner rushes to Staci’s aid. Test shows up and wonders what Steiner is trying to pull. Steiner skulks off.
John Cena (challenger) versus Brock Lesnar (champion) (WWE Championship Match)
- Not a bad match…but not a terribly good one either especially when Cena is really no threat to Lesnar’s reign. Lesnar dominates rapping Cena’s head off the announce table and shoving the championship belt in his face. Cena finally gains the advantage by reversing an Irish whip into the ring stairs and then posts Brock. Brock is busted open. Cena gets a two count from a low blow. Cena retrieves his chain. The official yanks it out of his hands. Lesnar drops Cena like a bad habit.
- Winner: …and still WWE Champion…Brock Lesnar at 15 minutes and 3 seconds.
- Match Rating: 6 / 10.
Triple H, Ric Flair, Chris Jericho versus Booker T, Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash
- Winners: Triple H, Ric Flair and Chris Jericho at 17 minutes and 51 seconds .
- Match Rating: 6 / 10.
- Tazz and Cole have an update on Mysterio’s condition. His vital signs are good. Gee, thanks guys. That explains so much.
- The Rock cuts a promo on Goldberg. He mentions himself 19 times. No promo from Goldberg.
The Rock versus Goldberg
- Winner: Goldberg at 13 minutes and 6 seconds.
- Match Rating: 7 / 10.
- Total Event Time: Two hours and 45 minutes.
- Overall Event Rating: 5 / 10.