WWE PPV Flashbacks: Backlash (04/30/06): Cena vs. Triple H vs. Edge


The WWE Backlash name was used for the pay-per-view that followed WrestleMania from 1999 to 2009. In 2006, it was a Raw branded show meaning it came after WrestleMania 22, which had the John Cena win over Triple H in the main event and Edge stealing the show with Mick Foley in a Hardcore Match that ended with a Spear through a flaming table. Three of those men were set for Backlash’s main event with Cena defending the WWE Title against Triple H and Edge.
The other notable thing about Backlash 2006 is that Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon wrestled Shawn Michaels and “God” as his tag team partner. I put His name in quotes because we didn’t know what that meant during the show, but we sure found out.
I wrote the review of this show live back on April 30, 2006 and somehow still have it saved on my laptop even though it was several laptops agao. I’m going to keep the majority of that in here and add some new comments in a blue font just to give you more of my thoughts while also trying to explain some of it.

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WWE Backlash
April 30, 2006
From the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky

The show earned the TV-14 rating and the dreaded “S” for Sexual Content.

The video package to start the show started off highlighting the Michaels/McMahon(s) feud. The clip of Vince giving the finger while on the stretcher is a classic. Then the video package focused on the triple threat main event. As always, the video packages are of top quality.
The announcers are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. No Coach apparently. We learned earlier in the day that Ross was replacing Styles. I guess they just aren't using Coach for this PPV.
Chris Masters comes out first to boos, as expected. They show a video of four weeks ago when Carlito turned on Masters, then two weeks ago when Masters put him in the Masterlock. Carlito is out next to a pretty good ovation from the fans. JR mentions Carlito is 27 years of age and the son of Carlos Colon.

Chris Masters vs. Carlito 
Pre-match notes: Masters was the heel and Carlito was a face since they turned him after a few years as a heel.

Carlito starts off with a slap to the face, but Masters punches him and chokes Carlito with his own shirt. Whip in by Masters, duck by Carlito, dropkick to the knee and then a facebuster gets one. Punches in the corner, whip in, Masters with a back body drop for two. JR wonders if Vince McMahon checked God's schedule. Another whip in by Masters, Carlito kicks him in the face and counters a press slam into the Masterlock of his own. The Carlitolock! Crowd went nuts for that and Masters breaks it. Then Masters charges in, Carlito ducks and he goes to the floor. Plancha to the floor by Carlito. This crowd is pretty hot. That's always nice to see. Back in the ring, Carlito punches him in the corner ten times, whips him across, gets a back elbow and Masters counters that, then goes for a Powerbomb. Carlito tries to fight out, but Masters chucks him into the turnbuckle. I love the powerbomb into corner. Masters sucks chant starts and he gets two. He chokes him on the middle ropes and then hits the butt splash on the neck. Then a legdrop gets two. He's no Hogan apparently. The match slows down with a neck twist by Masters. Carlito fights back, but Masters slows him down with an elbow for two. Then more neck wrenching. He hits a neckbreaker for two. Good psychology anyway with the moves on the neck to set up for the Masterlock. Thumb to the eye by Carlito, but Masters clotheslines him down and pounds him down. Snake eyes by Masters. He signals for the Masterlock. Carlito slides through and gets a nice rollup for two. Off the ropes, springboard back elbow by Carlito sends both of them down. Carlito gets his apple, throws it over Masters head, Chris looks and he dropkicks the knee. Ha. Three clotheslines for Carlito, counters a neckbreaker with a shove and he hits a dropkick for two. Masters whips him sternum first into the turnbuckle, then he puts him on the top rope. He goes for a back suplex, Carlito elbows out of it and hits a moonsault for two. It didn’t really connect that well. Masters looked to have been going down before the move hit. Another Masterlock, counter by Carlito, Masters powers him up and Carlito drives him to the turnbuckle. Carlito hits the backstabber (Lung Blower) near the ropes. He puts his feet on the ropes, the ref counts and Carlito gets the win at 9:58.
Winner by pinfall: Carlito
Analysis: **3/4 It was a fun match that was a good choice for an opener with the crowd getting it. It was not great or anything, but a solid opener featuring two young guys that are always improving. The crowd was into both guys, so that's nice to see. The Carlito turn is working. Even though Carlito was a face, he cheated to win because that’s the kind of guy he was.
(I had no memory of this, but I enjoyed watching it again. They were both in their 20s at this point and if you would have told me that WWE would give up on both within a few years after this I would have told you that you were crazy. Both guys should have had longer careers in WWE.)

Backstage, Maria cued up a video package where fans predict the WWE Title match. Lita comes in and says the fans don't matter. Lita says she's kept her mouth closed, but Maria says she liked to keep her mouth open. Lita says she's going to be laughing when Edge wins the title. She also says she's having a private sex celebration because unlike the fans…she gets some.
(They liked to push the limits in this era with the suggestive dialogue, that’s for sure. Lita and Maria looked great as usual.)
"My name is Armando Alejandro Estrada and I present to jou, the man who is going to destroy the Nature Boy Ric Flair...haha…ladies and yentlemen…Uuuuuuumaga!" Saying the name Umaga is fun. Admit it.
They show a quick video showing us why the match is happening. Umaga attacked him out of nowhere. Now we got a match. At least they're not calling the former Jamal a rookie. Umaga is out first. Flair is next to a good pop.

Umaga (w/Armando Alejandro Estrada) vs. Ric Flair
Pre-match notes: Umaga was the heel and Flair was the face.
They meet in the aisle. He takes Flair in the ring, then pounds him in the corner and Flair gives him a thumb in the eye. Estrada argues allowing Flair to hit a low blow. Then he gets another one as he puts the ref in front of him. Apparently, Umaga's onions are ripe because he decks Flair. He goes for his running corner splash, but Flair moves out to the floor. Flair chops him a bunch of times, Umaga goes for a splash on the post but again Flair moves. Flair rolls him back in. Shoulder to the back of the knee for Flair. Figure four attempt by Flair countered by an Umaga kick and then Umaga hangs Flair upside down in the corner. Flying headbutt to Flair while he's in the Tree of Woe. With Flair down in the corner, Umaga hits the running splash with his ass. Middle rope headbutt by Umaga. Umaga with the thumb to the throat. Flair goes down and Umaga pins to win. It's over at 3:29.
Winner by pinfall: Umaga
Analysis: *1/4 A dominant win for Umaga. The action was okay for what we got. They did what was basically a squash win in a PPV match. It was all about building up Umaga as a big threat on the Raw roster.
(There’s not much more to add to what I wrote back then. They wanted to get Umaga over as a heel monster, so a lot of the faces put him over. The match didn’t need to be much longer than that.)

Backstage, Vince and Shane McMahon talk about their match. Vince says it's not a handicap match. It's a tag team match. He says Shane should take care of Shawn and Vince will take care of God. "There's nothing God can do that I can't do." He gives us an example. He pours water on the ground, then he walks on it. "I'm walking on water." Not as funny as Vince probably thought. Vince breaks bread. Vince looks up and then bread and fishes fly towards he and Shane. Then he looks at the fish to deliver the "Holy Mackerel" line. Then Shane drinks some sort of cola and acts like it's gross. This wasn't that funny.
(This was ridiculously over the top and cheesy. Vince’s tan was also over the top because he was darker than ever with a brownish hue.)
The announcers set up the Women’s Title match with Mickie James defending against Trish Stratus. There was no video package for them. There was just a video of the end of the WrestleMania match. Also, if you're wondering, they've given no reason why JR is there instead of Joey Styles or why Coach isn't there. I'm not complaining. Just saying. Mickie comes out first. She's looking like Mickie for those wondering. Here comes Trish Stratus looking like herself. Oh man, what an outfit. Mickie acts shocked that Trish looks like herself again.
(The reason I mentioned "looking like herself" is because they did a bit in the build to the match where they dressed like the other woman in order to play mind games with eachother.)

Women's Title: Mickie James vs. Trish Stratus
Pre-match notes: Mickie was the heel champion doing the crazy gimmick where she idolized Trish. Stratus was the babyface former champion getting her rematch after losing the title to Mickie at WrestleMania 22.
Arm wringer by Mickie, Trish trips her and gets a two count. Trish with the Matrix move and then the headscissors. She gets some forearms, whip into the ropes and a clothesline. Dropkick by Trish. Unlike at Mania, the crowd is for Trish and against Mickie. Trish kick is ducked, but she hits a kick with her left foot to the mouth. Trish leaps on her on the floor with a press. Mickie crawls back in, Trish covers for two. Corner splash by Trish. I'm jealous of Mickie during that move. Actually, I'm jealous of both of them during that move. Trish went to punch her in the corner, Mickie shoved her off and Trish awkwardly landed on her right arm when she bumped from the apron to the floor. It looked nasty. Mickie made three quick covers for two. The ref Jack Doan made the "X" sign with his arms signaling an injury, but the match kept going. Trish is holding her arm, Mickie chokes her with her belt/sash thing and holds it for a five count earning the DQ win for Trish. The match went 4:03.
Winner by DQ: Trish Stratus
Post match, Stratus made angry faces while James pointed out that she still had her title. It was obviously not the planned ending since Trish got hurt, but kudos to them for improvising on a finish that allows the story to continue. The replay of the bump shows her arm bent at an awkward angle.
Analysis: * The match was incomplete due to Trish’s shoulder injury, so it's hard to really rate this thing. I hope Trish is okay. And I also hope she wears that outfit again.
(Trish’s injury was a shoulder dislocation and she was out of action for about two months. She had her retirement match at Unforgiven in September of 2006, so about five months after this. It’s too bad that Trish got hurt when she did because she was as popular as ever and this feud could have ended in a different way.)

Shawn Michaels is interviewed by Maria backstage. She asks Shawn if God is going to show up tonight. He says it's a handicap match. He said he doesn't shove his religious beliefs down our throat. Then he ended it saying "if you're not down with that we've got two words for ya" and the crowd finished it off yelling "Suck It." There's some more DX teasing.
(They did DX teasing at WrestleMania and Michaels was doing it here. It was a tease for the return of DX that happened a few months later.)

It’s Shelton Benjamin facing off with Rob Van Dam up next. The winner of this match gets both the IC title and the MITB briefcase. Benjamin comes out first. RVD is next. Good reactions for both, especially RVD. In talking about Mama Benjamin being out with surgery, they mention JR's "surgery" at the hands of McMahon with JR joking that it was good television. It certainly was not.
(Thanks for reminding me of the Dr. Hiney and Miss Slobberknocker comedy with Vince mocking JR for having a surgery.)

Intercontinental Title vs. Money In The Bank: Shelton Benjamin vs. Rob Van Dam
Pre-match notes: Benjamin was the heel IC Champion and RVD was the face Money in the Bank contract holder.
Benjamin taunts him at first with his mat wrestling skills. Lots of "RVD" and "ECW" chants to start it off. While RVD has him in an arm wringer, Benjamin springboards to the top to counter it. Nice athleticism there. "Mama's Boy" chant starts up to taunt Shelton. Whip in, shoulderblock by Benjamin, they do some running and RVD gets a pinning attempt with his legs. Couple of arm drags by RVD, then Benjamin avoids a back kick. RVD is busted up above his right eye a bit. Back in the corner, Benjamin gets a knee to the gut. Whip in, RVD gets a spinning kick to the face. Shelton bails out to the floor. Back in, RVD gets control with his spinning kick, a clothesline, a slam and when he goes for Rolling Thunder Benjamin rolls to the floor. RVD comes over the top with a plancha onto Benjamin's face. Back in the ring, with RVD on the apron going for a shoulder block, Benjamin leaps over the top and hits a sunset flip powerbomb on the floor. Holy shit! How hard was that? He's gotta leave over the guy, land on his feet and then grab him snugly so he can deliver the move. Wow. He pulls RVD back in the ring for two. Benjamin squashes his head on the middle ropes with a butt splash type move. Rear chinlock as the RVD chant starts. RVD goes to break it, so he uses his hair to whip him down. Another draping across the ropes, then he hits a high knee to the face after charging on the apron. Cover gets two. A "Mr. Wrestling 2 kneelift" is what JR called it. When was the last time he was referenced in WWE? Backbreaker by Benjamin and then a camel clutch type maneuver. RVD gets ropes as we near the ten minute mark.
Bodyslam by Benjamin in the middle of the ring, then another one as he focuses in on the lower back. Another rear chinlock by Benjamin. JR just said Shelton ran a 4.25 in the 40. The fastest time of any NFL draftee this weekend was 4.30 by Tye Hill, who now plays for my St. Louis Rams. Back to the match, RVD fights out of the chinlock, goes for a Rolling Thunder, but Benjamin counters to a Samoan Drop. Great counter. I love these guys. To the top, Benjamin talks up on there and JR says he's doing some Oratory. Thanks JR, we love you to. RVD pushes him off, but Benjamin jumps flat footed to the top for a superplex. I repeat again, I love these guys. What an athlete. Benjamin gets a chinlock again. Too many chinlocks, man. RVD fights out with back elbows, whip in, Benjamin's dropkick doesn't connect because RVD holds the ropes. RVD with a nice boot to the face to counter the face first turnbuckle smash attempt by Benjamin. Stinger Splash by Benjamin is avoided, RVD hits two clotheslines and a sidekick. Whip in, RVD with a back elbow and then a springboard back kick. Then a spinning heel kick and a Rolling Thunder hits for a nice two count. Good stuff. RVD with a bodyslam and then a Split Legged Moonsault hits for two. He charges in with a shoulderblock and a monkey flip but Benjamin lands on his feet. Step over heel kick by RVD. To the top, Five Star Frog Splash misses everything. Benjamin hits a sick DDT that RVD sells great because he does a headstand when taking it. Cover only gets two because RVD's foot is on the bottom rope. Another two covers get two for Benjamin. Out on the floor, Benjamin charges in and he goes head first into the barrier because RVD hits him with a drop toe hold. Benjamin grabs the briefcase, RVD slides out, misses and Benjamin nails a sick kick to the face. RVD back in, Benjamin up top and he hits a crossbody. RVD rolls through for one…two. Dragon Whip by Benjamin countered into a hurricanrana. Great speed and quickness by both men in that sequence. There was a ref bump with RVD accidentally elbowing him, Benjamin gets the briefcase and RVD avoids it. RVD gets the briefcase, tosses it to Benjamin and hits the Van Daminator. To the top, RVD with the 5 Star Frog Splash that gets the one, two, three at 18:42.
Winner by pinfall: Rob Van Dam
The win means that RVD wins the Intercontinental Title and retains his Money in the Bank Contract.
Analysis: ***3/4 Great match and athleticism shown by both guys. I liked this one a lot. Some of the spots were awesome, specifically the powerbomb on the floor by Benjamin and the finish was creative too. I love the Van Daminator spot. The crowd was really into it because it was an exciting match for much of the time, but the chinlocks did slow it down at times. I'm glad they got 19 minutes. They deserved it and they did well by telling an entertaining story. I also think the right guy went over because the crowd was really supporting RVD and wanted him to win.
(That was a lot of fun to watch again. That’s one of the cool things about going over these shows again because I didn’t remember that match at all, so it felt like I was watching a nearly four-star match for the first time. Great work by both guys and the crowd was hot for most of it. RVD went on to cash in Money in the Bank at ECW One Night Stand 2006, which was a rumor at this point. Benjamin won the IC Title back two weeks after this.)

A video package aired showing how Kane/Big Show split up as a team with Kane going nuts after the Spirit Squad beat them to win the Tag Team Titles. Kane went crazy as he repeatedly said “May 19” and how “it’s happening again” while Big Show tried to help him, but Kane kept on attacking him including an attack against Big Show’s eye.
(It did summarize Kane’s heel turn well. The video lasted longer than the Umaga/Flair match.)
Big Show is interviewed by Todd Grisham. Show's wondering why Kane is going crazy just because he’s got a movie coming out. Show says we all got problems, so he doesn’t know what is wrong with May 19th and Kane needs to get over it. Show said that last week Kane crossed the line and now it's an eye for an eye. That's because Big Show's eye got busted open in their fight from Raw last week.
Kane's out first. Lillian Garcia is scared of him. Some fans have a "May 19th" sign. I guess WWE has done a good job in promoting the release date of the See No Evil movie. Big Show is out last.
(They mentioned the May 19 release date so much that every time May 19 comes around, even today over a decade later, people will reference this storyline. It was cheesy, but it worked!)

Kane vs. Big Show
Pre-match notes: Kane is the heel and Show is the face. These two men probably combined for about 30-40 turns in their careers. I’m not even joking. It was a lot.
They slug it out to start, then Big Show hits a press slam. Headbutt, then some chops in the corner. No shushing. He's serious now! Whip across the ring, Kane hits him with a boot and then goes for the eye. Show hammers at his elbow. He whips the hand into the top rope. He picks him up by the left hand, then shoulderblocks him out to the floor. Fans are yelling "May 19th" at Kane. Guess they want to see the Da Vinci Code like I do. Kane redirects Show into the ringpost. Back in the ring, he stomps away. Crowd is pretty quiet while Kane works on Big Show's right arm. Clothesline in the corner by Kane and then he charges the ropes for a big clothesline. Crowd is still dead. Show gets back up, then misses an elbow. Kane boots him in the arm again. The announcers are spending more time talking about May 19th and voices in the head. Show counters an arm bar with a headbutt, then Show works on his elbow more. Five minutes in and this is a very slow match. Crowd is absolutely silent. Show gets some sort of arm drag, Kane hits a boot to the face and goes up top for something, but Show catches him and hits a fallaway slam. Whip into the corner, he hits the Umaga butt splash and then a shoulderblock. The chokeslam yell wakes up the crowd. He goes for it, but Kane counters with something that was supposed to be a DDT. Didn't look good at all. Crowd is again dead. Whip into the rope, Show gets a boot to the face and a big legdrop. He's no Hogan. "This has not been a pretty match or a catch as catch can classic," says JR. You're not kidding. Show hits a bodyslam. Show goes to stick his finger in the eye. Kane blocks it and boots him out to the floor. The voices are back! The arena lights were red. With Show on the floor, Kane's voice is on the speakers and he's saying: "You can't stop it. It's happening again. May 19th. They're all going to know. You can't control it. Hahahahahaha. It's happening again, Kane." Kane is beating himself up on the mat. All the comments are repeating. The match is continuing despite the voices and the red lighting all over the arena. Show gets a chair and smashes Kane in the head with it. The regular lights are back. Show walks away. JR says Show was trying to help Kane cope with the voices (sounds like orders from Vince McMahon to try to get the story over) and I guess it worked because the lights came back on and those voices have stopped. No winner or loser or decision here. The referee left. It went 9:30.
Match Result: No contest
After Big Show left, Kane sat up and fans cheered that. It ended with Kane making crazy faces.
Analysis: -* I think I need to go with a negative star here. It was really bad. Also, it's nice to know that chair smashing is a way to change light color. It was tough to watch this and try to pretend like this was some good wrestling match because it was awful.
(These two had several terrible matches together, so this is just another one to add to their “legacy” of bad matches. I might have been generous going only one negative star because it was worse than that.)
Backstage, Candice Michelle talks to Vince in his office. She has a chest cold. She asks Vince to lay a healing hand on her. He puts his hand on her head and she says it's a chest cold, so he should go lower. He goes to the shoulder, but she says lower. Then lower. Vince holds his hands on her back. Then she poorly yells out that she's getting healed while Vince yells out: "Heal! Heal this woman’s breasts! Heal this woman’s voluptuous breasts!" Candice starts yelling too. Shane comes in while Candice holds herself on the couch and she rolled to the floor. Vince's only good line was when he was said "Damnit" when he was over. JR puts it over by saying Vince has lost it. That's saying something. That match is next.
(That was ridiculous and showed how over the top Vince was during this era. Candice is one of the best-looking women in WWE history in my opinion, but not a good actress.)
The video package aired showing Shawn Michaels beating Vince McMahon at WrestleMania 22, but Vince said that this was a war with Shawn teaming with God against Vince and Shane. Vince did some “McMahonism” skits as well because that was his new religion.
Shane is first followed by his team followed by daddy Vince. Vince introduces God: "He is the Holy Roller, he is the Hipster from Heaven, he is the man upstairs, from the Kingdom of Heaven please welcome God." God's entrance is heavenly music, then a spotlight that goes down the ramp. Vince to God: "This is not your house, this is mine. Let's do it WWE style, get jiggy with it." Now hip-hop music plays as the spotlight moves closer to the ring. "God" makes his way around the ring, then takes his place "in" the ring. I can't believe I'm recapping this. Vince tells the ref to check "God" out. "There's no telling what God has up his sleeve," says Vince. Then Vince slaps Mike Chioda. Vince tells God to bring it because there's no DQ, no Countout and it's No Holds Barred. Since when, asks JR. Since Vince can't wrestle a real match. HBK's music starts up and here he comes to a big ovation.

(That was the most surreal entrance in wrestling history with the spotlight for God.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMGWWpyFGFU

Vince McMahon & Shane McMahon vs. Shawn Michaels & "God"
Pre-match notes: Vince and Shane were the heels. Shawn…and God…were the faces.
The spotlight has disappeared. God has left the building…maybe. Shawn pounds on Shane and then hits a crossbody on Vince on the floor. Shane and Shawn punch it out in the ring. Clothesline sends Shane over the top and then a slingshot plancha onto Shane. HBK and Shane fight all the way up the ramp. Shane goes for a piledriver, HBK with a back body drop on the ramp. Vince comes up the ramp, Shawn kicks him. He slams Shane into the Backlash set. Then he charges at Vince, hits a crossbody and they go off the ramp onto the protective mats conveniently placed underneath it. Cool spot although it's been done in different formats. HBK climbs up the steps to get up the ramp, but Shane meets him with a hard chair shot to the face. Shane helps Vince up from the floor while HBK is busted open. Not surprisingly. Shane boots HBK down the ramp literally. He whips him "face first" into the steel post. Shane hits an arm drag on the floor that sends Michaels into the security wall. In the ring, more kicks from Shane. Then he hits his trademark punches followed by a back suplex. He goes up top for an HBK-like elbow, but he misses. Vince, meanwhile, is standing on the apron. I thought it was No Holds Barred? Why would there be a need to make a tag? Shawn and Shane slug it out in the middle of the ring with Shane winning with a DDT. He tags Vince. If there's no rules then why would a two on one not be allowed here? I'm confused. Vince whips Shawn with the belt a bunch of times. Shane fetches a garbage can, then Vince crashes him with it. He wants the microphone. "Oh God, now he's going to talk him to death." Ha, JR, I agree. Vince talks to "God" in the corner and points at some open space as if he's talking to God asking him where he's going. Vince announces: "Ladies and gentlemen, God has left the building." JR says it's "uncomfortable." I got another word for it, starts with "cr" and ends in "ap." Vince tells Shawn he's going to knock his teeth down his throat.
Superkick by Vince is blocked by HBK. He nails Shane off the apron and hits Vince with the flying forearm. HBK gets up, Shane in with a chair, Michaels moves and Vince takes the chair to the head. Michaels goes after Shane with punches, then another flying forearm and kip up. Atomic drop, clotheslines and a bodyslam by HBK. To the top, he hits the big elbow. Superkick to Shane. Vince gets up. Another Superkick to him. Then he does some DX chopping. Michaels gets a table out, then slides it into the ring. Then a second table. He sets both of them up in the ring. "We Want Ladders" chant by the fans. He lays Shane across one table. Then he gets Vince back into the ring to put him on a table. Now HBK gets the ladder. Neither McMahon has moved in about two minutes now. Michael climbs up the huge ladder (Chioda was nice enough to hold it for him) like at Mania and comes off near the very top to splash on the five-man Spirit Squad as they were coming down to the ring. Michaels punches them all, but he can't outnumber them. They go in the ring to help the McMahons off the tables. It’s 7 on 1 at this point. The Spirit Squad grab Shawn’s limbs and hit the High Spirits powerbomb like maneuver through the table. The Spirit Squad put Vince on top for the cover. One…two…three. It's over at 19:54.
Winners by pinfall: Shane & Vince McMahon
"That's bullshit" says JR. "Excuse my language," he says. King makes the joke about the "Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit Squad." Cheesy line that fit this silly storyline.
Analysis: **3/4 It was fun at times, but there was lots of laying around at other times. I really hope the "God" angle is over. I doubt it, though. It's not offensive. It's just bad. That's all. JR's announcing was a highlight here. I'll say that at least. Michaels put on an incredible performance.
Vince and Shane were helped out of the ring by the Spirit Squad while Shawn was down in the ring selling the table bump. When they got to the ramp, the Spirit Squad put the McMahons on their shoulders.
(It was a long and grueling match with a unique story due to the “God” usage. Notice I didn’t say “good” story because I thought it was dumb back then and I still think it was dumb. This was just done to give Vince a win over Shawn even though it was essentially a 7 on 1 match.)

John Cena was interviewed by Todd Grisham. Mixed reaction from the fans. Cena thanks him for realizing the fans aren't all with him. He recaps all the handicap matches and how everybody in this three-man match has taken a loss. Cena says he doesn't have to get pinned to lose the belt. He says the sports entertainment community is down the middle. There is silence from the fans that want Edge to win. There are those who want Hunter to win and some fans cheer. "Tonight, through it all, through the ho's and through the hammers and through the haters there's one voice that will stand tall when that final bell tolls and that's Lilian Garcia…when she announces your winner and still WWE champion, John Cena." Nice promo.
(It’s so awkward listening to him say “sports entertainment community” when he should just say “wrestling fans” but as we found out in later years, the company would shove the phrase “WWE Universe” down our throats.)
It’s 10:05pm with one match left and they need to fill some time, so here comes Matt Striker. "Please welcome from the classroom, Matt Striker." I guess the Kane and God stuff weren't the most ridiculous things on the night. From the classroom? Anyway, he does a promo ripping the Kentucky fans. Then the condescending introduction. Then he welcomes Kentucky's own…Eugene. I guess this gimmick is still going on. It seems like it was forever when he was against Triple H, but that was Summerslam 2004. One and a half years ago. He makes the "don't marry your cousin joke" that is about as original as the Striker gimmick. Striker is willing to bet Eugene can't spell his own name. Eugene thinks he can. Striker gives him chalk and rips on Kentucky some more because they got quiet. Then Eugene writes on the board and it says, "Matt Striker Loves Poop." The Matt Striker part was written by Matt earlier. Then a "You Love Poop" chant starts up. I like that better than Kane's voices. Eugene picks his nose and they do a closeup on a booger. Eugene is about to eat it, but Striker stops him. Striker says you should not pick your nose and eat it. As Striker goes to talk again, Eugene shoves the booger into Striker's mouth. Feel the comedy! Eugene hits a Stunner on Striker. And there's your WrestleMania 23 main event! Or not. Aren't you glad I did play by play of this? That ate up about ten minutes. Instant replay of that.
(Waste of time. It was not, in fact, the WrestleMania 23 main event. Sorry fans.)
There was a long video package to set up the WWE Title main event with John Cena defending the title against Triple H and Edge. Cena beat Triple H in the WrestleMania 22 main event to retain the WWE Title in a close match. Triple H wanted another title match, but Edge said he is next to get a title shot because he won at WrestleMania. The triple threat match was set up after that. In the weeks leading to Backlash, all three men got victories over the others.
(The build was standard stuff. Triple H wanted a rematch, Edge was a former champion and he got added to the match. At least it felt like a fresh triple threat match.)
Edge is out first with the lovely Lita. JR notes that it was 29 years ago when Superstar Gram won the title. Triple H is out next to the "Game" theme song. No King of Kings song tonight. I like that one. He gets "an impressive ovation" as JR calls it. Cena's up last as the WWE Champion. Too bad it's not like Mania where they announced the guys when they were in the ring. They just did it the normal way. The match starts at 10:23pm so they'll get around 20 minutes or so.
(You may notice there that I mentioned when they would do the in-ring intros when the guys were in the ring for the big championship matches. That is something that WWE has done regularly this 2010s decade, but not as much in the 2000s decade.)

WWE Title: John Cena vs. Triple H vs. Edge (w/Lita)
Pre-match notes: John Cena was the face WWE Champion that was booed sometimes, Edge was a heel and Triple H was a heel although he was starting to get cheered due to doing the DX taunts.
Edge steps outside the ring, wanting Hunter and Cena to fight. Hunter and Cena slug it out in the center and Cena wins an exchange with some flying shoulder tackles, then a corner whip and the vertical suplex gets two. Edge breaks up the count. Hunter with an atomic drop to a nice pop. They punch some more, then Hunter hits the high knee for two because Edge pulls him off. He's still on the floor. With Edge standing on the apron, they punch some more and then they stop, looking at Edge. They lift him in, then trade punches on him. Edge gets knocked out to the floor, then Cena rams him into the announce table. They do the competing head into the announce table spot. Not necessarily a new spot in triple threats. It's always fun, though. Back in the ring, Cena gets attacked from behind by Hunter. Then Trips chucks Cena out. Edge puts him head first into the turnbuckle. Edge works on Hunter on the apron, goes for a suplex in, but Cena grabs Hunter's legs and he goes face first into the apron. Nice spot. Cena to the top, he hits a top rope splash (yes, a top rope splash from Cena!) onto Edge for two. Spinning back suplex. Five Knuckle Shuffle time for Cena is stopped by Lita as she pulls down the top rope when Cena goes sailing over the top. Hunter follows up by whipping Cena into the steps. In ring, Hunter with a facebuster on Edge and a clothesline gets him two. Whip into the corner, Edge gets the big boot up on Hunter's face, but Hunter gets a Spinebuster for two. Edge with his neckbreaker into a slam move for two. Whip in by Hunter and then he catches Edge with a sleeper. Edge counters into one of his own. Cena's in, goes for a double FU, but Edge sneaks off and Edge spears Cena while he's got Hunter up in the air. Cool spot leading to all three guys going down. With Hunter on the floor, Edge meets him there while Cena is out in the ring. Edge with a slingshot into the ringpost and Hunter starts to bleed. You could see it coming since he had his hands on his forehead. What's a PPV without Hunter bleeding, right? Edge sets up the Spanish announce table and hits the jumping DDT on the table. The table does not break, though. I'm guessing it was supposed to. Hunter is bleeding huge, reminding me of Royal Rumble 2000 against Cactus Jack.
Edge goes to the top and hits Cena with a missile dropkick for two. Whip into the corner, Edge with a shoulder tackle. It's not a spear if it's in the corner is it? Edge goes for something, Cena slips out and puts him in the STFU submission hold. Edge is getting close to the ropes and Hunter catches Edge's hand before he could tap out (think WM20). Hunter then smashes the microphone into Cena's head. Man, Hunter's blood loss is massive. He's got a chair now and he creams Edge over the rail to the concrete on the floor. Hunter staggers back in, then gets hooked into the STFU. Wow, look at his face. It's completely red. Hunter looks to be out, so ref Mickey Henson raises him arm once, twice and no, Hunter pushes out of it while yelling like the Incredible Hulk. He got to the rope. This match is fun. Cena's up, FU is countered into a Pedigree, no, and Cena slips out into another STFU. Hunter is close to the ropes. Edge is up, he goes to the top rope and Cena gets up to slug with Edge. Ref bump. Why does that matter if a mic has been used and a steel chair? Cena puts Edge on his shoulders and Hunter ducks under Cena's legs in the Electric Chair, so Cena dropped Edge with a move like a Samoan Drop. They all tumble down at the same time. With the ref down, Lita gets in the ring with a chair, charges at Hunter, but he gives a spinebuster to her. The fans loved that. Hunter chucks the chair out of the ring, then ducks out for Sledgie the sledgehammer. Always a good pop for that. Lita's out on the floor, no DX chop for her surprisingly and while Hunter is waiting to hit Cena, Edge spears Hunter. Edge grabs the hammer, charges into Cena. Cena counters to the FU, Hunter hits a low blow on Cena while Edge is dumped to the floor. Pedigree attempt by Hunter, Cena counters, rolls through and covers with a jackknife pin for the one, two and three at 17:33. The fans cheered as Cena’s music played.
Winner by pinfall: John Cena
Analysis: ****1/4 That was an excellent, physical main event match with a lot of drama and it was well booked. I enjoyed this one a lot. They did a good job with some of the spots in this match. There were lots of counters, some innovative spots involving the finishers and the blood loss by Hunter helped tell the story. I'm a little surprised by the finish, but not that match. I thought Hunter was winning by beating Edge to keep Cena’s feud with Hunter going, but it’s never a surprise when Cena wins.
(It was a very good match and I agree with rating that I originally gave it. I liked the intensity of the match, the blade job from Triple H added to the story. I forgot how much Hunter bled in this match, but it was a lot of blood. While I didn’t love the finish back then, I get it more now because it showed that Cena was crafty enough to survive to win without using a finishing move. The ref bump was an odd choice in a match with no rules and there wasn’t a pin spot right after it, so it felt unnecessary. It was still an awesome match with a lot of great moments.)
Post match, Hunter hit Cena in the back with a forearm. Hunter decks the ref with the hammer, then Edge and then Cena. Hunter poses with the hammer to some cheers. There's the DX chop for everybody in the ring. There also is the King of Kings theme song. You lose the match, yet you get your song playing at the end because you illegally knocked everybody down with cheap shots? That's some funky logic. The show ends at 10:44pm with Hunter at the top of the ramp doing the DX chop while everybody in the ring is out.
(Those were more heel actions from Triple H even though he was on the brink of a face turn. I think it was just done to show that Cena barely won and Triple H was standing tall after the cheap attack he did.)

The show had a run time of 2:40:38 on WWE Network.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS
Show Rating (out of 10): 6
Two really good matches with the main event and IC Title, one average match counting the McMahon craziness, the opener was solid, tough injury for Trish hurt her match and the rest was pretty much junk.
I don’t know why, but there was a lot of silliness on this show with Kane's voices, Vince talking to a shadow, the Vince stuff with Candice and a guy being introduced as being from the classroom I think I'm losing my mind a bit. It's one thing to be over the top. Some of this stuff is way over the top to the point where it's embarrassing.
To summarize this all: The two men's title matches were good while HBK's match was alright considering he had to carry two guys. Other than that, this was a mixed bag. Did I mention Trish's outfit? That's watchable. Too bad she got hurt, though.

Best Match: John Cena vs. Edge vs. Triple H (****1/4 out of 5)
Worst Match: Big Show vs. Kane (-*)
Five Stars of the Night
1. Triple H - I thought all three guys did a good job in the main event, but as the veteran in the match he did his part in leading the other two along. His bloody face was awesome to see. One of the better triple threats I can ever remember.
2. Edge - He was in a zone as a heel and knew how to get heat as well as anybody.
3. John Cena - It was early in his run as a top guy, so he would get better in the big matches, but this is one of his better matches from this point in his career.
4. Shawn Michaels – He did his part with the McMahon boys again. I miss seeing HBK in real matches, though. Too bad it looks like another spotfest with the old guy is likely on the horizon again.
5. (tie) Shelton Benjamin – This felt like one of his better singles matches and showed how comfortable he was as a heel.
5. (tie) Rob Van Dam - His popularity was really high (yes, I chose my words wisely) and it was a fun match.
Next up: Judgment Day 2006.
Thanks for reading.
John Canton – mrjohncanton@gmail.com
Twitter @johnreport