A note to our faithful SLAM! Wrestling readers before we begin. Even though I was born, raised and reside in Toronto, Canada, from this moment on I will henceforth hail from Astana, Kazakhstan.

With that said, none of our fellow Canadian readers should be miffed at or take exception to this development. Why? Well, ummmmm. As WWE Canada President Carl DeMarco told Kevin Engstrom of the Winnipeg Sun this week about a similar situation which has evolved in the WWE, “I don’t think anyone is trying to take away the history, the heritage and the roots that our Canadian wrestlers have,” said DeMarco. “I don’t think Canadian fans should be offended — they should be very proud.”

There you have it. You should be PROUD that myself and the WWE Canadian talent will no longer be labeled as Canadian despite the fact that all of our SLAM! Wrestling contributors will still retain their hometowns (with two possible exceptions – more on that later) and that there are a number of American WWE wrestlers whose hometowns are fudged in their ring introductions.

Hell, at least I didn’t make my change one month before launching a major tour in Canada. That would just be completely moronic.

As for the rumour that our own Raw/Smackdown! tag team of Nick Tylwalk and Dale Plummer are pondering changing their hometowns to either ?Intercourse’ or ?Beersville’ PA…I will leave it to them to address that situation.

Stay tuned.

With the controversial Canadian name change controversy still fresh in everyone’s minds, fans in Edmonton, Alberta, gave WWE Champion Chris Benoit a rabid welcome in his hometown as the WWE presented its Raw-only BackLash pay-per-view tonight. Having somewhat of a change of heart (at least while still touring in Canada), the WWE returned to announcing Benoit and other Canadian talent from their hometowns in the Great White North. In a schizophrenic move, the WWE even made a point of hammering home Benoit’s Canadian roots by airing a video diary of his return to Edmonton and made it a crucial plotline in Benoit’s title defence against Triple H and Shawn Michaels in their recycled main event match from WrestleMania XX….complete with the same predictable outcome.

It seems that the rumours which have haunted the creative and managerial team in the WWE since the whole brand separation deal are true. Winged monkeys who routinely over indulge in alcoholic beverages have indeed taken over. How else could you explain the whole Eugene and Big Show angles?

Though all three participants worked their collective butts off in the half-decent main event, the match was marred by the return of the unrealistic knock-the-third-guy-out-of-the-ring booking and an angle that the unmotivated WWE creative team has continually trucked out time and time again whenever there is a pay-per-view in Canada. Yep. You guessed it. It’s that whole “Bret Got Screwed” storyline…for the one millionth time. Sigh. It is good to know that the creative juices are overflowing in the WWE. This time, however, it was Shawn Michaels who was the foil turning slightly nasty when the Canadian fans showered substitute referee Earl Hebner and HBK himself with the usual, finger-pointing chants.

Hebner ended up taking over when the starting official was inadvertently hit by a flying forearm from HBK that The Rabid Wolverine deftly ducked. As chants of…You screwed Bret!…echoed, HBK further enraged fans by slapping Bret Hart’s Sharp Shooter finishing maneuver on Benoit. HBK would pay for the obvious insult later when he would miss a flying bodypress and crash into…what else?…the Spanish Announcing team’s table…and lay there unmoving until Tuesday morning.

With fans calling HHH an “asshole”, Benoit missed his Swan Dive headbutt off the top rope and would suffer a Pedigree for his mistake. HBK made the save before HHH – compared to Race, Brisco and Flair during his ring entrance by the shameless company shill Jim Ross – could go off on another wearisome title reign overseen and approved of by his real life father-in-law. HBK hit HHH with a flying elbow smash and began “tuning up the band”. Instead of hitting HHH though, Michaels clobbered Benoit in the chops knocking him back out of the ring. Backdropped to the floor, HHH went for his habitual odd-evener. Yep. You guessed it again. It is the whole sledgehammer routine. HHH slammed the hammer into HBK’s back but was stopped from executing another blow when Benoit tripped him up.

With HBK comatose again, HHH turned his attention to Benoit pummeling him on the outside and slamming him head-first into the ring stairs. Benoit came up fighting slingshoting HHH into the steel post. HHH went over the security fence and into the first row.

Hustling back into the ring, Benoit blocked HBK’s Sweet Chin Music and retained the title when HBK tapped out to….you got it….The Sharp Shooter…at just over the half-hour mark in the match.

Notwithstanding the strong work-rate of the main event, the gruesome hardcore confrontation between a trimmed down Mick Foley and Randy Orton totally stole the show not just because of the insane-o violence but because of the great storytelling moments which can probably be attributed to Foley himself. You just knew (or at least hoped) things were going to go completely off the chart when Foley came to the ring carrying a barbed wire baseball bat and dressed as Cactus Jack. The fearsome bat itself figured prominently into the match and ironically would lead to Cactus Jack losing a hardcore rules bout.

After some action which included Foley chasing a running scared Orton with the bat and Foley being cruely slammed on the steel entrance ramp, Orton gained possession of the bat for a micro second. Foley put him down before he could deal a deadly blow. As Foley slipped on Socco, he paused and eyed the discarded bat. In a cool moment, Foley raised both Socco and the bat into the air asking the fans to choose which one he would employ. Survey says: Use the bat, knucklehead! And boy, did Foley ever do so. Foley grinded the barbed wire into Orton’s head busting him open and then delivered a groin shot with the bat resting on Orton’s “sensitive area”. Ouch! Upon turning Orton’s forehead into hamburger some more, Foley retrieved a gas can from under the ring and teased setting the bat on fire. Spoil sport Raw GM Eric Bischoff put a stop to that though stating that if Foley lit the bat, he would lose the match and the fire marshal would end the show. Foley dropped the barbecue lighter much to the dismay of the fans in attendance.

Moving on to Plan B, Foley pulled out a wooden plank covered with barbed wire from under the ring and laid it on the mat. Orton foiled Foley’s backdrop by throwing that “blinding powder” in his eyes and slammed him on the barbed wire plank. Foley rose with deep lacerations to one of his arms. Formulating some evil intentions, Orton poured out an extra large, Grade A bag of thumbtacks onto the mat. Orton’s plans were thwarted though when Foley slammed him onto the tacks. Orton hightailed it out of the ring looking like a human pin cushion. Orton and Foley teased a backstage brawl (which was greeted by boos) then emerged seconds later through the curtain. Foley threw Orton off the entrance ramp onto a wooden structure. EMTs arrived to cart away Orton’s carcass as officials tried to hold Foley back. Shoving them to the ground, Foley leapt off the rampway onto Orton. Orton kicked out of a Foley pin.

Back in the ring, Foley gave Orton a Double-Armed DDT. Orton again kicked out and fans loudly booed. Orton took the barbed wire bat and brained Foley busting him open. One regular RKO and one on the barbed wire bat to put Foley away. Orton was back-patted by Evolution and praised by Triple H backstage as a legend killer. Since Shelton Benjamin defeated Ric Flair earlier in the evening, a feud for the Intercontinental Title between the two upstarts could be in the works.

The next WWE pay-per-view is Judgment Day on May 16th.

WWE BackLash Results

Shelton Benjamin versus Ric Flair

  • Benjamin equals no personality and an unrealistic push. Your standard Monday night Raw match…only a little more lethargic. The crowd was often behind Flair turning on Benjamin when he mocked the icon. Flair hurt and then focused on Benjamin’s knee. The bout ended awkwardly with Flair reaching for brass knuckles, Benjamin knocking them away and then splashing Flair for the pin.
  • Winner: Shelton Benjamin at 9 minutes and 39 seconds.
  • Match Rating: 4 / 10.

    The Coach versus Tajiri

  • An unbelievable match and another in a long line of bumbles by the WWE booking team. Coachman is the surprise here. He at least wrestles fairly well. The whole bout focuses on a leg injury Tajiri suffered when he VERY WEAKLY missed Coach with a kick and hit the steel ring post instead. Bad spot. With Tajiri hurt, Coachman dominates. Tajiri puts Coachman in the Tarantula but Garrison Cade does a run-in and clocks Tajiri. Coachman scores the pin.
  • Winner: The Coach at 6 minutes and 28 seconds.
  • Match Rating: 1 / 10.

    Christian, Trish Stratus versus Chris Jericho

  • It is a sad commentary on the WWE that this is one of the hottest storylines right now. Good grief. Christian and Trish are announced from Toronto while Jericho is a native of Winnipeg. Improving upon their WrestleMania encounter, Jericho and Christian work hard putting together some killer spots. Trish tags in periodically when Jericho is down or has Christian in the Walls of Jericho but quickly tags out when he appears to mount a comeback. Jericho eventually catches her, puts her over his knee and spanks her. The finale occurs when Jericho slingshots Christian into Trish and then hits a running Enzuigiri on Christian. Lawler: He won the match but still can’t get a date.
  • Winner: Chris Jericho at 11 minutes and 6 seconds .
  • Match Rating: 7 / 10.

  • Ludicrous and tasteless segment featuring Eugene reading the Divas magazine and then stumbling into the women’s locker room. Gail Kim and Molly screech. So does Eugene. Regal leads Eugene away. Who says the WWE is sensationalizing and exploiting the disability for cheap laughs? Eugene is being portrayed as a “hero” not just degrading comic relief, don’t you know?

  • The Chris Benoit video diary airs.

    Victoria (champion) versus Lita (challenger) (WWE Women’s World Heavyweight Title Match)

  • A mixed bag. At times, there’s red-hot action. At times, the match is sluggish. It is clear that Lita just can’t go any more like she used to. Sad but true. Wicked work on some close, roll around pins. After escaping a Twist of Fate, Victoria rolls up Lita to retain. Gail Kim and Holly administer a beat down on Lita and Victoria.
  • Winner: …and still WWE Women’s Champion…Victoria at 7 minutes and 21 seconds.
  • Match Rating: 2 / 10.

    Mick Foley (challenger) versus Randy Orton (champion) (WWE Intercontinental Title – Hardcore Rules Match)

  • Winner: …and still I.C. champion…Randy Orton at 23 minutes and 5 seconds.
  • Match Rating: 9 / 10.

  • Promo hyping the Stone Cold Truth PPV. HHH praises Orton then cuts a promo on Benoit saying it would be sweet to beat him on Chris Benoit Day.

    The Hurricane, Rosey versus La Resistance

  • Why doesn’t someone give Hurricane the push he deserves? Dump the stale Rosey bit and move on. It could be fun to see him in the hunt for the I.C. belt or teamed with a far better partner and in the tag title hunt. This bout is a throwaway. Too short and too boring. To top it all off, Eugene comes down to the ring, admires La Resistance’s flag and then stumbles around the ring bouncing off the ropes again and again like a lunatic. The official ignores him. Eugene expresses his desire to wrestle as Regal takes him by the hand. Shameful. Shameful. Shameful. Oh yeah, Hurricane scores the win for his team.
  • Winners: Hurricane and Rosey at 2 minutes and 53 seconds.
  • Match Rating: 0 / 10.

    Edge versus Kane

  • Good to see him back but…Edge is pretty much the same as we lost saw him. There’s no hint of his grittier actions on Raw translating to his in-ring style or look. Edge does a lot of ducking and weaving. Kane works on Edge’s injured hand. Kane side-steps a Spear. Edge nails the ref. Edge conks Kane with his cast to pin him.
  • Winner: Edge at 6 minutes and 43 seconds.
  • Match Rating: 2 / 10.

    Shawn Michaels (challenger) versus Chris Benoit (challenger) versus Triple H (champion) (WWE World Heavyweight Title Match)

  • Winner: …and still WWE World Heavyweight Champion…Chris Benoit…at 30 minutes and 08 seconds.
  • Match Rating: 8 / 10.

  • Total Event Time: Two hours and 37 minutes.
  • Overall Event Rating: 8 / 10
  • A spectacularily weak card bolstered by two outstanding matches. Without the hardcore and main event matches, BackLash wouldn’t be worth the price of a subway token. The WWE gets off lucky this time around. Same price, less broadcast time? What?!?!? What?!?!