WWE PPV Flashbacks: Backlash (4/18/04) - "Randy Orton Has His Breakout Match"

Submitted by John Canton on May 10, 2017 - 1:16pm
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I reviewed Backlash live in 2004. I have edited some of it (mostly my excitement for the guy that won the main event), but most of what was written back then has been left in. I have also added in more thoughts in orange font as well. Let's get to it.

WWE Backlash
Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta
04/18/04

The opening video package focused on the WrestleMania 20 main event featuring Chris Benoit beating Triple H and Shawn Michaels to win the World Heavyweight Title. The main event for Backlash was a rematch of that outstanding match.

It looked like a packed house as they showed the crowd in Edmonton, which was Chris Benoit’s hometown. The announcers are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. They go to the Spanish table. I bet it gets broken. Just a hunch.

Shelton Benjamin vs. Ric Flair

(Pre-match notes: Shelton Benjamin was a face on the rise that beat Triple H a few weeks earlier. Flair was the heel that was part of Evolution and one half of the tag champs with Batista.)

Benjamin comes out first to a fairly big pop. That’s good to see. Huge reaction for Flair, just as he deserves. He’s wearing the tag title belt. Wow, those belts are still alive. Good thing they aren’t being defended.

(I guess this was during a period where there weren’t a lot of tag title defenses.)

Benjamin tackles Flair at the start, but the ref pulls him off. Flair strut. Fireman carry takeover by Benjamin. Into the ropes again and a break. Benjamin WOO’d at him, takes a slap and slaps Flair, sending him down face first. Punches by Flair, Benjamin whips him in, Flair moves, Benjamin jumps to the top. Into the ropes, Benjamin with a duck down, leap frog and then a dropkick. Clothesline sends Flair over the top to the Flair. Flair gets a punch to the gut. He charges at Benjamin, takes a backdrop on the floor. Flair is crazy, but I love him. Benjamin rolls him back in as Flair begs off. Poke to the eye! Chop! Flair to the top and as usual gets thrown off. Clothesline by Benjamin, and another. Whips Flair in, Naitch grabs the ropes so Benjamin’s dropkick only gets air. Figure four reversed to an inside cradle for two. Crowd chants two. I love them already. Clothesline by Benjamin followed by punches in the corner. Ref pulls him off, so Flair kicks him in the knee. Flair with a running knee to the back of Benjamin’s left leg. Flair works over the knee, dropping his shin across the leg. He twists the knee between the middle ropes, and then chops the hell out of Benjamin. Benjamin is stumbling around, selling the injury perfectly. Figure four by Flair six minutes in now. Benjamin turns after about forty seconds. He stands Benjamin up, and then gets a hard chop to send him down for two. Flair goes to the outside, grabbing a chair. Ref blocks him from using it. They exchange blows with Benjamin winning. Flair blocks a kick, so Benjamin hits an enziguri kick on him. Kick to the gut, Flair catches it again and Benjamin hits the Dragon Whip. Flair is up first again. Into the ropes, they change blows again. Benjamin whips him into the corner, Flair takes the patented Flair flop over the turnbuckle to the floor. Suplex by Benjamin. He charges in, Flair gets another big chop. To the top for Flair, but Benjamin fights out. Flair tries to use brass knucks, but Benjamin splashes him in the corner knocking them loose. To the top, Benjamin gets a top rope clothesline for the one…two…three at 9:29.

Winner by pinfall: Shelton Benjamin

Analysis: **1/2 The match was okay. It was exactly what it needed to be. They put Benjamin over clean, which is just what it should be.

(They wanted to elevate Benjamin by giving him wins over established names. Even though Flair was well past his prime, it was still a good idea to book Benjamin over him. The finish could have been better because a top rope clothesline by Benjamin didn’t come across as a big ending to the match.)

Todd Grisham interview with Randy Orton. Orton says he’s the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion in seven years. Orton says tonight he’s going to earn the respect of Mick Foley. He says he’s going to do a beatdown that causes Foley to retire once and for all. He’s not scared of Foley. He said Mick is like an old, sad, toothless dog. He said you put an old dog down, out of his misery. That’s what he’ll do tonight.

(Orton talked about being a long reigning IC Champ, but I don’t even recall that many memorable title defenses.)

Tajiri vs. Jonathon Coachman

(Pre-match notes: Tajiri was the face while Coach was the heel announcer that wrestled once in a while.)

Coach comes out first. Tajiri is next. Coach is wrestling in a shirt and shorts.

Coach hits an armdrag to start. Waistlock, Coach escapes. Tajiri kicks him in the legs twice. Big kick is ducked. On the floor, Tajiri tries to kick him, but he ducks so he hits the post with his left boot. Coach whips the leg into the post. Covers for two. He works on the knee more, kicking it. Back heel trip by Coach. Leg grapevine by Coach on the ground. Tajiri turns it. Coach gets ropes. Another kick to the leg. Crowd is getting restless. Pick up for a knee breaker, but Tajiri flips out and gets a rollup for two. Another kick to the knee for Coach. Leg grapevine for Coach. Holds ropes. Tajiri kicks his way out. Coach kicks him down again. He heads to the top. Tajiri kicks the ropes as he’s on top. Tajiri hangs him down and hits a running dropkick to the back of the head. Coach grabs ropes. Thumb to the eye for Coach. Into the ropes, handspring elbow by Tajiri and a low dropkick. Kicks into the corner. Coach trips him up, covers with feet on the ropes and gets only two because the ref saw it. He charges Tajiri, who puts him in the Tree of Woe. Garrison Cade comes down, punches Tajiri in the face and Coach rolls him up for the pin at 6:25.

Winner by pinfall: Jonathon Coachman

Analysis: * Better than any Coach match has a right to be. It should have been a few minutes shorter because it was boring. A punch to the face is a finish? That’s it. I guess Cade is with Coach now.

(That was a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! finish even though I didn’t write it that way at that point. It was just done to put Garrison Cade with Coachman. One of those matches where you can say it was more of an angle than a match.)

They showed Triple H arriving on Heat earlier in the night.

They showed the video package highlighting the Chris Jericho feud against Christian and Trish Status. When Jericho faced Christian at WrestleMania 20, Trish turned on Jericho and sided with Christian. Good video package as usual.

Christian and Trish come out first. She’s wearing a lovely outfit as usual. I love that woman. Jericho is out next to a huge pop. They’re all Canadians, but Jericho’s the one getting the pop here. They called him a “native of Winnipeg, Manitoba,” which was good to hear. Crowd is really hot now.

(Heel Trish is an all time favorite, that’s for sure.)

Chris Jericho vs. Christian & Trish Stratus

(Pre-match notes: Jericho is the face while Christian and Trish are the heels.)

The men start out, Jericho decks Christian with a punch. Trish runs away, back into the ring, back elbow on Christian for Jericho. Back body drop by Jericho. “Slut” chant already. She can be whatever she wants as far as I’m concerned. Long vertical suplex for Jericho. One legged pin gets two. Christian gets a clothesline to the back as Jericho is talking to Trish. Whip in, Christian slides under his legs, so Jericho throws him out the floor. Springboard dropkick sends Christian to the floor. “Y2J” chant starts up. He goes after Christian, Trish tries to kick, but he sees it, then decks Christian. Back in the ring, Jericho with a back elbow off the top. Chops by Jericho, whip into the ropes and he knocks heads with Trish. Suplex onto the top rope leaving Jericho on the apron. Christian charges at him, sending Jericho chin first into the railing. Back in the ring, Christian kicks away.

Christian tags in Trish. Christian holds Jericho up, so she slaps him in the face. He gets up and she hits a huge chick kick. Then she mocks the Jericho shuffle. He lunges at her leg, so she quickly tags in Christian. Reverse chinlock for Christian. “Y2J” chant inspired Jericho back up, whip in, dropkick is caught into a Walls attempt. Christian pushes him off, Jericho hits the corner and “accidentally” headbutts Christian in the groin. Plenty of shots of Trish’s cleavage, which is always a welcome sight. Rollup for Jericho gets two. Into the ropes, clothesline, then a shoulderblock for Jericho. Into the ropes, Jericho gets a neckbreaker for two. Christian’s reverse DDT attempt turned into a Northern Lights suplex for two for Jericho. Trish gets a slap to the face. Out of the corner, Christian hits a reverse DDT for a long two. Charge is blocked into a Walls attempt. Trish saves him. Jericho catches her, whip into the rope and he spanks her over his knee. Christian comes in, hits the Unprettier. Tag to Trish, but Jericho kicks out. Christian tags back in. Cover gets two again. Whip in, Jericho gets a kick to the face. Trish comes in and Jericho gets a clothesline on her to a big ovation. Christian hits a clothesline. All three are down in the ring now. The men exchange blows, Christian whips him in, Jericho hits a forearm. Jericho drops him throat first on the second rope, then hits his running splash to the back. Bulldog in the center of the ring by Jericho. Lionsault by Jericho is blocked by Christian with knees. Christian goes for a Texas Cloverleaf submission. Jericho grabs the leg, turns it into a cradle, then a Walls of Jericho. Trish comes in, she gets the Walls. Christian rolls Jericho up for a long two. Unprettier by Christian blocked. Slingshot by Jericho sent Christian into Trish. Running enziguri for the one…two…three at the 11:12 mark.

Winner by pinfall: Chris Jericho

Analysis: *** Good stuff. I enjoyed it because it was what I expected with Jericho getting the win. The crowd was really hot for the whole thing, especially when Jericho got his hands on Trish. It was basically a one on one match with Trish only tagging in for some key spots, which were well done in terms of getting a big reaction.

(A Jericho win was expected here since he lost to Christian at WrestleMania one month earlier. It was a fun match with a lot of cool moments that drew strong reactions from the crowd. Sadly, the Christian/Trish story didn’t last that long although Trish was the top heel woman in WWE for over a year.)

Backstage, Eugene is walking around reading the Divas magazine. He looks at Gail Kim, who’s in the locker room. Gail screams. Eugene screams. Molly comes in, he touches her hair and he screams more. William Regal comes in to take him out.

(It was mildly funny while putting over the silliness of the Eugene character.)

They show a video package talking about how today in Edmonton was Chris Benoit day. This was on Heat. They have comments from his family. They show him going back to his old high school. They show the WrestleMania moment again when he’s hugging his parents, his wife Nancy (formerly Woman in WCW and ECW) and his kids. They show the mayor announcing Chris Benoit day. He does a speech, tearing up as he’s talking. The mayor of Edmonton wishes him luck. Benoit says he’s proud to be from Edmonton.

(This was edited out of the WWE Network version of the show.)

They showed Benoit arriving earlier tonight on Heat wearing a suit and the belt on his shoulder. Everybody around him is clapping. At ringside they show his wife, kids, parents and the rest of his family.

(This was also edited off the WWE Network version of the show. Easy to see why.)

Women’s Championship: Victoria vs. Lita

(Pre-match notes: Both women were faces.)

Lita begins with a headlock, tossing Victoria across the ring. Side headlock by Victoria, then a takeover. Leg scissors by Lita. They flip out for two, Lita bridges up, arm drag takedown by Victoria. Lockup. They hang on, heading to the floor. You don’t see that much. Whip into the turnbuckle by Victoria, Lita comes out, Victoria backslides her for two. Lita counters for two. Into the ropes, sunset two for Lita. They go into a nearfall sequence that has been done many times before. Powerslam by Victoria. Standing moonsault gets two. King says Lita made that move famous in the WWE. Um, no. It was done long before Lita. Victoria gets two on something, I think it was a suplex. Victoria hits a surfboard submission. Crowd is pretty dead. Maybe it’s because they have no storyline. Victoria goes for an airplane spin, Lita reverses to the headscissors. She gets a bodyslam and elbow for two. Suplex by Lita. Into the ropes, sideslam countered to a headscissors by Lita. Lita gets a sleeper. Vic gets ropes. Lita charges in, Victoria with a drop toehold onto the bottom rope. Victoria gets an airplane spin into a slam. No idea what that is called. To the top, Victoria goes for a moonsault. Lita moves out, but Victoria still hits her back. I guess it was supposed to miss. Lita hits a neckbreaker for two, that’s basically a reverse Twist of Fate for two. Lita goes for a DDT type move, Victoria counters with an inside cradle for the three count at 7:22.

Winner by pinfall: Victoria

Analysis: ** Okay match, but nothing special. I just don’t think Lita is that good in the ring right now. She’s over, though, so she’ll always get a chance. I think she was better in this match than most matches she’s been in. Victoria is great as always.

(Lita was out for a while from major neck surgery, so she was getting back into ring shape here. Also, the crowd wasn’t into the match that much since they were both faces.)

Post match, Molly Holly and Gail Kim come in, attacking the two women. They do a double team on them, whipping them hard into the turnbuckles. Looks like there’s a tag match in the near future.

(Cheap attack by the heel women to get some heat after a face vs. face match. Easy heat.)

A video package aired to set up Randy Orton vs. Mick Foley, which was a great feud that fit Orton’s Legend Killer gimmick. Orton was only 24 years old and Foley retired as a full timer four years earlier, so it was about a rising star against a legend. As usual, the video package was awesome.

Orton comes out first to some good heel heat and he’s got a trash can. Mick Foley is out next and he’s wearing Cactus Jack gear. He comes out to the Mick Foley music, though. Where’s the Cactus music?

(Orton entered to the Evolution music rather than his own song. I don’t know why didn’t use the Cactus music.)

Intercontinental Title – No Holds Barred: Randy Orton vs. Mick “Cactus Jack” Foley

(Pre-match notes: Orton is the heel on the rise and Foley is the legendary face.)

Foley attacks to the start. Orton bails out of the ring. Foley’s got the barb wire bat (“Barbie”) and he goes after Orton with it. Drop toe hold by Orton onto the steps. Foley grabs Barbie. Orton smacks him in the head with a trashcan. I missed about two minutes of action as my connection decided to screw up. When I come back, they’re on the ramp. Orton gets a back suplex for two on the ramp. He gets a backslide for two. Imagine winning a No Holds Barred match with a backslide? He whips Foley by the back of his head into the ramp for two. They head back toward the ring. Foley grabs Barbie, then tries to gouge Foley, but he blocks it. Low blow by Foley. Clothesline by Foley. He brings out Mr. Socko. He looks at Barbie, introduces it to Socko, tosses Socko down and decides to go with Barbie. Running Barbie shot to the face. Never thought I’d type a sentence like that before. Orton is busted open. Barbwire elbow for Foley. He follows up with fists to the head. He pounds him down in the corner. Running knee in the corner. Patented Foley.

Foley picks up Barbie again. At least calling it Barbie is easier than saying “barbwire bat” every time. He gouges Orton some more. Awesome visual there, even if the wire is plastic material. He places Barbie over Orton’s genitals so that the wire is on his genitals, then drops a leg onto it. Crowd liked that, chanting “Holy Shit” at the spot. Foley goes under the ring, getting a can of gasoline. He pours it over bat. He’s gonna light it. Bischoff comes out on the ramp, saying if Foley lights that then the fire marshal will stop the show, preventing millions from watching the show. He tosses the bat away. He picks up a cookie sheet, drilling Orton down. He goes under the ring, pulling out a board with metal sticking out from it. Mick’s probably going through that. Never seen that material in a WWE ring before. “Holy shit” chants start from the crowd. Foley punches Orton, trying to get him on the wire. Orton counters by throwing powder in his face. It’s Fuji Dust! Orton powerslams him onto the barb wire board. That gets him two. He pounds Foley in the corner, then stacks up the barb wire board vertically in the corner. He tries to whip Foley, but he holds on. Orton pounds him down. Orton whips him, Foley counters and Orton counters that, sending Foley back first into the bard wire board. His left arm is cut open. Nasty cut. Foley tosses the board on the arm.

Orton reaches into a box that he had brought into the ring. He pulls out a bag that turns out to be thumbtacks. He pours them out all over the ring. Orton charges in, goes for an RKO, but Jack counters, dropping Orton back first onto the tacks. The tacks are sticking in his back. Foley gets a cradle for two. Foley’s arm is bleeding a hell of a lot. Orton rolls out, pulling the tacks out of his hands and arms. He goes up the ramp. Foley charges at him. They head behind the curtain. They come back out. Foley tosses Orton off the stage through some tables that just happened to be there! Huge pop. JR is saying that the match is getting out of hand. A trainer checks on Orton.

They show replays, then some refs tell Foley that the match is over. Nothing official yet. I doubt this is it. Foley knocks the refs down, then charges on the ramp and drops the HUGE elbow off the stage onto Orton down below. He nailed it perfectly. Awesome visual again. Foley covers him there, but it only gets two. Crowd seems shocked by that. Foley walks Orton back down the ramp, beating him on there a bit with some kicks. He tosses Orton back into the ring. Double arm DDT by Cactus only gets two. Crowd is shocked by that too. Orton escapes to the floor, looking for some kind of weapon. Foley stands up the barbed wire board once again. He comes after Orton, but Orton hits him in the head with Barbie. Cactus is busted open now. Orton did a couple more shots with Barbie. Foley puts the sock on his hand again, putting the mandible claw on Orton. A “Socko” chant starts up. Orton fights out with a punch and low blow. Foley puts the claw on again. Orton counters with an RKO right in the middle of the ring. That gets two. Orton only has a few tacks in his back now. Back up, Orton gets an RKO on Barbie so that it was right on the barbwire. One…two…three for Orton. It’s over at 23:03.

Winner by pinfall: Randy Orton

Analysis: ****1/2 Wow that was an awesome match! That was pretty wild. I thought the match was outstanding for the most part. It was also a big match because Mick Foley put Randy Orton over huge. The biggest win of Orton’s career, definitely. Lots of huge spots to remember in this one too. Really good stuff. Major props to Foley for being so good in his first singles match in four years and to Orton for putting on the best show of his young career.

(It really was the biggest match of Orton’s career at that point. He had plenty of good ones before this, but this was the first one that really stood out as a special match. Keep in mind also that Orton was only 24 years old at the time, so it’s impressive that he was part of such a good match so early in his career. As for Foley, he was in great shape for this match, they were given a lot of time and he did what he was supposed to by putting over the younger guy. This match holds up very well 13 years later. It’s definitely one of the best matches in the career of both of these legends. We didn’t know it at the time, but Orton was four months away from being the youngest World Champion in WWE history.)

After showing replays, they go to Orton backstage. He’s with Batista and Flair. Triple H sees him, saying he just became a legend tonight. Todd Grisham interviews Hunter backstage, asking his chances. Hunter says it doesn’t matter what the fans think of him. Hunter says he’s been waiting for this day since WrestleMania and a win over Michaels would be sweet, but beating Benoit on Chris Benoit Day would be huge. He says we shouldn’t bet against him. Pete Rose, I hope you go against that advice.

La Resistance (Sylvan Grenier & Rob Conway) vs. Rosey & Hurricane

(Pre-match notes: La Resistance were the heels and Rosey/Hurricane were faces.)

I guess this was added on Heat. I never saw it. Lawler picks Hurricane to win. I needed a bathroom break. I missed about one minute. When I came back, Rob Conway hit a swinging neckbreaker on Hurricane off the top. Grenier gets tagged in. He whips Hurricane into the ropes, and then grabs a bearhug. Eugene comes to ringside, slapping hands with the fans. Hurricane tags in Rosey, he gets clotheslines and a big slam. Nobody cares because Eugene is out there. Samoan drop on Conway gets two. Hurricane tags in as Rosey does a double clothesline. Rosey’s charge misses. Hurricane clotheslines Grenier out. Hurricane goes to the top, hitting a bodypress off the top to the floor. Eugene goes into the ring, runs the ropes and during this Hurricane exchanges punches with Conway. Regal comes out for Eugene to take him. Hurricane hits the Eye of the Hurricane move on Conway for the pin at 5:02.

Winners by pinfall: Rosey and Hurricane

Analysis: 1/2* Weak match. Not much to it other than to put over the uniqueness of Eugene, I guess.

(It was tough for them to follow the match before it.)

They show Shawn Michaels arriving earlier in the night during Heat. The Wayne Gretzky statue outside the arena is shown.

They show highlights of the Edge/Kane feud leading to their match. They make sure to play the clip of Johnny Nitro telling Edge that if he uses the cast he’ll be suspended on the spot. Kane comes out first. Edge is out second. Ref is Earl Hebner, not Johnny Nitro.

Edge vs. Kane

(Pre-match notes: Edge was the face and Kane was the heel without a mask. It was Edge’s first televised match in 14 months. He returned after neck surgery.)

They exchange punches to start. Edge gets the advantage with punches in the corner. Kane comes out with a chokehold, then a hard slam. Into the turnbuckle goes Edge. Kane hooks Edge’s left arm, with cast on the wrist, over the rope. Edge hits a clothesline. Spear attempt is dodged by Kane, who goes to the floor. Edge slams Kane headfirst into the ringpost. Edge takes the accessories off the Spanish announce table. Punch by Kane, then he whips Edge’s hand into the steps. Back in, Kane stomps on the hand. He bends the hand some more. Psychology in a Kane match? I guess so. He drops another knee onto the hand for two. Crowd is pretty quiet. Kane holds the hand in a rest hold spot. Crowd is trying to get into it, but there’s nothing to be excited about. Edge charges in and Kane hits a sidewalk slam. Into the ropes, Edge hits a flying forearm, then a spinning heel kick. Kane gets up quick, giving him a boot. Crowd is still quiet. Edge meets Kane on the top, gets shoved off and Edge ducks the Kane clothesline. Kick to the gut and a jumping DDT for Edge. No cover. Crowd is still not reacting. Not a good sign. Spear attempt by Edge is ducked avoided. The ref is out on the floor from Kane bumping into him, so Edge hit a low blow. Edge with a cast to the head as the ref is out on the ground and Edge hits a Spear to get the three count after ref Earl Hebner got back into the ring. It went 6:25.

Winner by pinfall: Edge

Analysis: * Pretty bad match for the time given. The only thing the crowd popped for was the Spear at the end. I’d call it a poor return match for Edge. Kane was not the right opponent for him.

(I had completely forgotten about this match and was shocked by how bad it was considering the performers. They just didn’t click here at all and the finish was flat as well. It took another year and a heel turn for Edge to really take off as a performer.)

Awesome video package aired to set up the main event noting it would be their final encounter. It showed the Benoit win at WrestleMania and the build to this match one month later.

Triple H is out first wearing the black trunks and boots. Shawn Michaels is getting booed more than cheered. Benoit is out last, billed as “Edmonton, Alberta’s own.” Awesome ovation for him in his hometown. Thunderous. They show his kids at ringside. Benoit walks up to both men, holding the title in their faces. Ref is Mike Chioda.

World Heavyweight Championship: Chris Benoit vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels

(Pre-match notes: Benoit was the face World Champion in his hometown. Triple H was a heel. Michaels was a face in most places, but the Canadian fans didn’t like him, so he was seen as a heel as well.)

Benoit starts out stomping on HHH. He and Michaels double team to start. Double back body drop on HHH. Michaels clotheslines Hunter over the ropes. Whip into the corner, Benoit gets the feet up and a clothesline on Shawn. Whip into the ropes, Michaels gets a swinging neckbreaker. HHH is in now, he gets the high knee on Michaels and Hunter goes after Benoit, tossing him blatantly over the top rope. HHH whips Michaels in, boot the face, atomic drop by Michaels and Michaels knocks Benoit back down. Pedigree is ducked out by Michaels. They both knock Benoit back down. Shawn and HHH exchange punches, Benoit comes in and hits release German suplexes on both men. Chops to both, knocking them down. Back body drop by Benoit on Triple H. Michaels chops Benoit in the corner, but Benoit fights out, whips Michaels in and he takes the Flair bump in the corner to the floor. HHH off the second rope, but Benoit gets him in a Crossface. Michaels is up, Benoit knocks him down, then tosses him into the railing on the floor. Another hard whip back first into the railing. Benoit to the top, HHH punches him up there, Hunter gets a few headbutts and he goes for a superplex. Michaels comes in, hits HHH and Benoit goes flying off the top to the floor. Michaels drops HHH with an electric chair drop.

Michaels opens up with chops on Hunter, whip into the rope and HHH gets the facebuster to counter. Benoit to the top, headbutt on Michaels. HHH saves it at two. Benoit tosses HHH to the floor. Benoit goes for German Suplex on Michaels, but he holds the ropes. Irish whip, Benoit drops down, Michaels goes for the forearm and decks referee Mike Chioda with the forearm, sending him down. Benoit knocks Michaels out of the ring. HHH back in, Pedigree is blocked. Benoit put Hunter in a Sharpshooter and there was a HUGE ovation for that. Michaels comes in and Benoit gets him in the Crossface. Nobody taps out. The ref is still out. Benoit goes to the floor, trying to revive him. He’s still out. Back in, Michaels gets the Sharpshooter on Benoit. Crowd is booing like crazy because of the Survivor Series 1997 flashbacks. There’s Earl Hebner. Lawler is telling Hebner to ring it like he’s done it before. HHH comes goes after Michaels to break it up. Nice Survivor Series tease there. Michaels gets a cradle for two on Benoit. “You Screwed Bret” chant. Michaels chops Benoit down. Michaels just looks around. Bodyslam attempt by Michaels is reversed into a Crossface in the center. HHH with an elbow to the back of Benoit’s head. “Let’s Go Benoit” chant starts up again. Benoit and HHH slug it out, HHH wins it with a DDT for one, two and that’s it. “You Tapped Out” chant starts up as HHH works over Benoit in the corner, but the champ fights back. He whips HHH into the corner and HHH takes the Flair bump to the floor. Michaels counters a German with a clothesline for two. Another “You Screwed Bret” chant. Michaels just stares. Benoit gets tossed out by Michaels because he grabbed his trunks on the way out. Another “You Screwed Bret” chant. Michaels to the top, Benoit and HHH slugging on the floor. They both duck and Michaels goes right through the Spanish table. That’s always going to be a sick bump, no matter how often it happens. It’s a good thing Edge set it up for him, I guess. HHH whips Benoit into two different ringposts. He pounds on Benoit in the ring.

Triple H whips Benoit shoulder first through the middle and top ropes straight into the ringpost. Then he whips him into the other side. Benoit’s on the floor. HHH rolls him back in. “Asshole” chant starts up for HHH now. This crowd is great. Triple H sinks in the Camel Clutch in the center of the ring. JR references Iron Sheik. Benoit fights out after about thirty seconds, so HHH drops an elbow to his back. Michaels is still out on the floor. “Let’s Go Benoit” chant again as HHH works on him in the corner some more with a barrage of punches. Benoit counters with a snake eyes (dropping the head on the turnbuckle), which puts them both down. Back up, HHH gets another facebuster. Clothesline is ducked, Benoit hits three rolling Germans, releasing the third one as usual and signals for the end. Benoit goes up top where the headbutt misses. That’s the second top rope move that has missed. Boot to the gut, Pedigree right in the center. HHH falls on his back, slowly crawls over, covers for one…two…and Michaels saves out of nowhere. All three are down in the middle of the ring.

Michaels and HHH are up first, exchanging blows again. Knee to the gut for HHH, Michaels gets the flying forearm. All three are down again. After about ten seconds, Michaels nips up to boos. Body slam by Michaels on HHH. Shawn stumbles up to the top and hits the top rope elbow to Hunter to a lot of heel heat from the crowd. Michaels goes to the corner, warming up the band for the Sweet Chin Music. Crowd is booing it big time. Benoit is stumbling on the apron. Superkick on Benoit on the apron sends him down. Triple H hits the low blow on Michaels. That gets two. Pedigree attempt by Hunter. Michaels with a back body drop on HHH over the top. HHH gets a hold of his sledgehammer. The ref never sees it until he drills HBK in the back with it. “They have Home Depot in Canada?” King asks. Yes they do. Benoit pulls HHH out of the ring. HHH rams him head first into the top of the steps. HHH clears the top level of the steps, dragging the lower half over. He sets Benoit on it for the Pedigree. Benoit counters, slingshotting HHH into the pole. HHH bumps off the post, over the railing and into the crowd. Great bump!

Back in the ring, Michaels is waiting for Benoit with the superkick. Benoit catches it, putting Michaels into the Sharpshooter. The crowd is going nuts! This is the moment they wanted! Michaels is crawling to the ropes. As Michaels gets close to the ropes, Benoit pulls him out to the center of the ring. HHH is slowly getting back up. HHH crawled into the ring, but Michaels taps out to the Sharpshooter clean in the center of the ring at 30:12. Huge ovation for Benoit.

Winner by submission: Chris Benoit

Analysis: ****1/2 Outstanding match. I loved the action from start to finish with a lot of little things being done right. They had obvious chemistry. The crowd was fantastic since they booed Michaels and HHH for everything they did while rooting for the hometown guy in Benoit. The ending was masterfully done. Michaels tapping clean to the Sharpshooter was the perfect finish since a lot of Canadian fans hated Michaels for the Survivor Series 1997 finish. Very satisfying ending. Amazing job again.

(I thought Benoit making Michaels tap out was a great idea considering Benoit made Triple H tap out at WrestleMania. It really elevated Benoit as a guy that was seen at the level and even above two of the best of all time in Shawn and Hunter. That’s the smart way to book a finish like this. I loved how they teased the Survivor Series ’97 ending with Hebner out there just as Michaels hit the Sharpshooter. I loved how they all took turns having the advantage throughout the match. It made it believable that anyone could win, which is what triple threat matches are supposed to do. From a booking perspective, that result put Benoit over in a big way that proved he was a legitimate World Champion.)

Post match, Benoit taunts HHH and Michaels with the title, telling them that he’s still the champ. He poses with the belt. The crowd is going wild for him. Somebody tosses a Canadian flag in the ring. Benoit poses with the belt and the flag. Show ends with Benoit posing with the belt and flag.

The WWE Network version of the show has a run time of 2 hours, 35 minutes.

 

FIVE STARS

1. Chris Benoit

2. Randy Orton

3. Mick Foley

4. Triple H

5. Shawn Michaels

I really think all five guys were equals at this show, but if I have to rank them that’s how it would go.

 

Best Match: Chris Benoit vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels (****1/2 out of five) – I had that match and Orton/Foley with the same rating, but I think the main event is slightly better.

Worst Match: Rosey & Hurricane vs. La Resistance (1/2*)

Show Rating (out of 10): 7.5

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Backlash was an excellent follow up to WrestleMania. It was basically a two match show with the main event and Orton/Foley and I thought both matches carried the entire night well. Look at the match times with the two long matches each going over 23 minutes, the third longest match was 11 minutes and everything else felt rushed.

The show was well booked since the wrestlers that needed the wins (Benjamin, Orton, Edge, Benoit) all won their matches in convincing fashion. While some of the matches could have been better, I liked the booking throughout the night.

This was the third straight PPV that ended with a match of the year contender in the main event (Eddie/Brock at No Way Out and Benoit/HHH/Michaels at WM20). I think the WrestleMania main event was a bit better than the Backlash main event because it was the first time Benoit won, but this main event was well booked too.

Orton vs. Foley was a physical match that accomplished a lot by putting over Orton in a huge way. They killed themselves for us. This wasn’t a carry job by Foley at all. Orton hung in there the whole way and climbed a rung higher to prove how great he can be. It was a breakout performance for him.

The rest of the show was pretty average and if you want to watch it all again, I’d focus on the main two matches for a good hour of entertainment.

Next up: Judgment Day 2004 presented by the Smackdown brand. I assure you the streak of great shows ends with that one.

Thanks for reading.

John Canton – mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport




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