Written By: Alexander Settee
Backlash 2009, April 26, 2009, Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Providence, RI
Announcers: Michael Cole, Jim Ross, & Jerry “The King” Lawler
With only three weeks since Wrestlemania, and the Draft being given a great deal of attention in the interim, Backlash seems like it may well be an afterthought. The card that was announced did look good going into the show though and for some reason Backlash seems to almost always deliver, so I’m actually excited for it.
Opening Match, ECW Championship: Jack Swagger vs. Christian
Christian won the Elimination Chase to get the Title shot here. He also beat Swagger in his first match on ECW, so there’s also some history here. Pretty back and forth to open things up. Then Swagger takes control by pressing Christian above his head and simply dropping him to the floor. That gets a 2 count in the ring, and then Swagger keeps control on the mat. He tries the press slam again, but this time Christian gets out, although he then runs into a gutbuster for 2. A couple more comebacks keep getting cut off, but the Swagger’s pump splash attempt hits knees. Christian gets a sunset flip for 2, but then takes a modified spinebuster. Christian blocks the gutwrench powerbomb and connects with a tornado DDT for 2. Swagger catches him going up and backdrops him down, then hits the pump splash this time for 2. They trade a couple more falls, and then Swagger goes to pull a turnbuckle pad off. The ref sees this and while he’s dealing with it, Christian pulls the pad off of the opposite side. Swagger charges, Christian moves and Swagger hits the steel. Killswitch follows and gets the 3 to give Christian the ECW Title at 13:00. I’d like to say that Swagger didn’t really get enough of a chance as champion, but I also can’t argue with putting the belt on Christian, so it’s all okay I guess. Good match and a nice way to open things up. ***
Backstage we see Christian get congratulated by his fellow ECW babyfaces, and then he runs into Edge, which would be their first interaction since Christian’s return. Christian accuses him of not being fun anymore, but Edge assures us that he will be so again once he finishes off John Cena.
Chris Jericho vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
After seemingly dropping Steamboat after the post Wrestlemania Raw, he’s back again to continue the issue with Jericho in a one on one match, which, as noted, is Steamboat’s first singles match since he won the US Title from Steve Austin on August 24, 1994 at Clash of the Champions XXVIII. Steamboat outsmarts Jericho in the early going and hits a dive to the outside. Back in, he goes to the armdrags. Jericho tosses him, but he skins the cat, only to get clotheslined right back out again. Springboard dropkick puts Steamboat down again. Jericho goes to a chinlock as I note that the crowd isn’t really that into it. Bulldog is countered by sending Jericho to the corner with his own momentum. Steamboat gets 2 with a back suplex from the top, and another 2 with a powerslam. Jericho is back with the ensiguiri for 2. Bulldog hits this time and Jericho goes for the Lionsault, but Steamboat is there and gets him on his shoulders. Jericho rolls through and goes for the Walls, but Steamboat escapes that and hooks a figure four. It looks like Steamboat was better at being in the move then using it himself. Jericho makes the ropes, so Steamboat goes up and connects with the bodypress, but it only gets 2. Steamboat comes off the ropes again, but gets caught with the Codebreaker for 2 after just getting the foot on the ropes. Jericho goes for a slam, and Steamboat rolls him up in the tribute to Wrestlemania III spot, but Jericho kicks out at 2. He then hooks the Walls right in the middle and Steamboat has nothing he can do but submit at 12:29. In my Wrestlemania review I said that the novelty of seeing Steamboat wrestle would wear off quickly, and I still think that’s true. That being said, he’ll probably be back as a regular soon enough. The match was good and I give it **1/2. Let’s have Jericho move on though.
We go backstage now with Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix. Beth tries unsuccessfully to get him to end the Santina charade, and then cuts him off from sex when he refuses. The Miss Wrestlemania Title means that much to him I guess.
Kane vs. CM Punk
They’ve both pinned each other once during the buildup, so here’s the rubber match. Punk starts working on the arm in order to negate the chokeslam, and then dropkicks Kane to the floor. Clothesline from the apron hits and then they get back in. Corner whip is reversed and Punk goes sliding back first to the post. Then Kane baseball slides him and gets 2 from it. Chokeslam gets countered to a DDT. Punk then hits a springboard clothesline, but runs into a boot. Kane goes up, but Punk kicks him. GTS is attempted, but he can’t hold Kane up due to the injured back. He does get a bulldog for 2 though. He goes to an armbreaker, but Kane gets out and hits a side slam for 2. Punk connects with some kicks to the head, but Kane then catches him. Chokeslam hits and Kane gets the 3 count for the clean win at 9:24. Now, Punk has a guaranteed Title shot coming up. If you’re going to put the belt on him soon, this result is fine because you then have Kane as a ready made challenger and Punk can get the win back. If that’s not the plan though, and it seems like that there’s a good chance they have no plan whatsoever, let alone that one, then this was just a waste of time. Of the six actual matches on the show, this one was definitely the weakest, but still only bottoms out at *1/2
I Quit Match: Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy
The draft results would suggest that this feud is over after tonight, and it went just about as well as everyone expected it would. Jeff controls to start, diving on Matt on the floor and whipping him to the barrier. He then gets Poetry in Motion off the stairs. In the ring, he gets the seated dropkick, but Matt won’t quit. He goes to a sleeper, but Matt still won’t give. Jeff breaks it and goes up, but Matt shoves him to the floor in his first significant offence of the match. Matt posts the leg and then hooks a figure four. Cole uses this time to let us know that there’s a difference between tapping out and saying “I quit”. I know that technically only one of those can end this particular match, but for all intents and purposes the mean the same thing, right? Why would someone be willing to tap out, but not to say “I quit”? It really makes no difference. In any case, Jeff does neither and ends up reversing and the hold gets broken. Jeff hits the Whisper in the Wind, and then hooks a Texas cloverleaf. Then, just to annoy me after my earlier observation, Matt taps out, which is definitely noted by the announcers, but won’t quit when the ref sticks the mic in his face. Sigh. They get out of that eventually and Jeff hits a Twist of Fate, although he basically just grazed Matt, who was kind enough to take the bump anyways. He then does it again, properly this time, and hits the Swanton, but still no quitting. Jeff goes for a table, so Matt rolls out, but Jeff follows and hits another Twist on the floor. Back in, he duct tapes Matt’s hands and feet together, and then ties him to the table. Jeff then climbs a ladder, but before he can jump Matt gets on the mic and starts pleading with him. He says that he loves him, that their parents wouldn’t want to see this, and that they can always be the Hardy Boyz again. Then, seeing that Jeff isn’t moved by his words at all, Matt says “I quit” to end it at 19:06. The fans boo this, as they wanted to see the table spot, so Jeff obliges and comes off the ladder anyways, breaking his brother’s hand in the process. Jeff got put over crazy strong here, so that may be an indication that they feel he will resign with them soon. Another good match here, and if the main events deliver, then we’re looking at one great show. ***1/2
Randy Orton cuts a locker room promo directed at Dave Batista. He sarcastically warns him not to get disqualified, because the most important thing is not revenge, but rather keeping the WWE Title around HHH’s waist. Ain’t that right Dave?
And then we have the one real low point of the evening as Great Khali and Ranjan Singh are out for Khali’s public make out session with Santina Marella. Santina comes out to Billy & Chuck’s old music. How nice of the production guys to not only do that for her, but to make sure she has a Titantron video as well. Anyways, Santina claims she can’t kiss Khali because she’s in love with another man…… Jim Ross. Khali agrees to call it off, provided Santina and Ross prove their love right here right now. Obviously this was a rib on JR, who says in no uncertain terms that he’s having nothing to do with this, while Cole and Lawler are trying to sell like this is the funniest thing they’ve ever seen. I will admit that this part was kinda funny, but it seems like every time they have something that’s kinda funny, they go so over the top with it that it ends up becoming annoying, and that’s just what happens here as Cole and Lawler won’t stop hammering home the joke. Beth Phoenix comes out to save the day and challenge Santina to a match for the Miss Wrestlemania Title right here. Khali objects, so she insults him for not being able to see that this is obviously a man. Khali bonks her on the head, in basically cartoon like fashion and then shoves her down. Santina demands that the match begin now and covers her for the immediate 3 count to retain the Title. She still has to get away from Khali though, and gets her bra ripped off in the process which sends her running back to the locker room. This dragged on way, way too long, and was nowhere near good enough to justify the amount of time devoted to it. Fortunately the rest of the show was more than enough to pretty much cancel it out.
WWE Championship Match: Triple H, Dave Batista, & Shane McMahon vs. Randy Orton, Ted Dibiase, Jr., & Cody Rhodes
HHH’s WWE Title is on the line here. If his team wins, he retains. If Legacy wins, regardless of who scores the fall, and even if it’s by countout or disqualification, Orton becomes the new WWE Champion. HHH starts out by chasing Orton to the back, and he appears to be gone, leaving Priceless to start the match 2 on 3. They of course get dominated, but the crowd is out of it because it’s three major star babyfaces against two mid level heels which just makes Team HHH look bad. They were watching their old tag team tapes to get ready for this one though as they use both a Demolition Decapitation and a Hart Attack in the beatdown process. Dibiase and Rhodes have had virtually no offence so far, but finally Orton sees an opportunity and returns at the six minute mark to jump Batista on the floor and send him to the post. Orton immediately gets the tag and now Legacy has Batista isolated in their corner. Orton gets the hanging DDT for 2. After working Batista over a bit more, Batista finally gets a comeback that sticks and makes the hot tag to Shane who comes in and destroys Cody Rhodes. Shane hits a top rope elbow, but Dibiase pulls him out of the ring at 2 and sends him to the stairs. Now we get a second face in peril period with Shane as the victim. Orton gets a dropkick for 2. The beating continues for quite awhile, but Shane is pretty good for this role. Dibiase goes for Dream Street, but Shane counters to a DDT. Tag to Orton, while Shane makes the real hot tag to HHH. HHH takes out everyone. Spinebuster gets 2 with Dibiase saving at the last second. Pedigree attempt is broken up by Rhodes, but the Shane takes him out. On the floor, Rhodes gets a chair and nails both Shane and Batista. In the ring, the RKO is blocked and HHH sets up the Pedigree again, but sees that Batista has gotten the chair from Rhodes and is about to use it right in front of the ref, so he goes to stop that. That lets Orton hit the RKO, but it only gets 2. The bell actually rings by mistake, and in all the confusion, Orton connects with the punt, covers, and gets the real 3 count at 22:48, and win the WWE Title. HHH sells the punt big time, getting stretchered out and not moving at all. Considering he’s supposed to be one of the top babyfaces, and some fans were singing the goodbye song at him, it’s probably a good thing for him to take a break for a bit. It boggles my mind that they don’t give tag team wrestling a chance anymore because if you give the fans any reason to care about them, then they’re practically idiot proof in terms of drawing heat and having good to great matches. ***3/4
Main Event, World Heavyweight Championship Match: John Cena vs. Edge
The announcers are selling this as the last time they’ll ever meet and the final blowoff of an epic three year feud. I’ll give odds of 95% that they will wrestle on TV or PPV again at least once within the next twelve months. The other 5% is the chance that they’ll both spend too much time on the shelf for it to happen, but barring that I’ll say it’s practically guaranteed. They go on even terms to start, establishing that they know each other really well. Edge takes control by dropping Cena on his head, which is vulnerable following the Conchairto on Raw last week. He then puts Cena down with a sleeper, but Cena is up at 7. Cena comes back, but the Five Knuckle Shuffle is blocked. Edge gets a Sharpshooter, even using the ropes as leverage to establish the no rules aspect, and then breaks it, but Cena is up at 5. He then knocks Cena to the announce table for an 8 count. Charge to the stairs misses and Edge is down for 6. Cena then gets whipped to the stairs for 7. Cena recovers and sends Edge back to the stairs again for 6. He brings the stairs in the ring, but Edge boots him and hits him with them instead for 6. Edge charges, but gets backdropped to the floor for 6. Cena then picks up the stairs and throws them out of the ring at Edge for 8. Slugfest sees both guys go down and get back up at 8. Edge avoids the Attitude Adjustment three times, and nails a back suplex. He then tries his own Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Cena counters and hooks the STF. Edge taps, which means nothing, and then stays down for a 7 count. Edge avoids the AA yet again and hits a spear. Both are down again, this time for 7 counts. Edge goes up, but Cena meets him there and hits the AA off the ropes. That gets a 9 count, so now Cena goes up, but leaps right into a spear for 9. They tumble to the floor, where Edge preps the announce table, and gets Cena on it, but Cena counters to another AA, which sends Edge flying into the crowd. They had some indy workers planted there to catch him, but in any case, that’s a great spot. It gets a 9 count, and now Edge takes off running into the crowd. The chase actually goes all the way up the stairs and out into the concourse before making its way back down. Cena bulldogs Edge onto some equipment for 8. Edge comes back with an implant DDT on the stage for 9. Two chair shots only get 9 as well. Cena sets up the AA one more time, but now Big Show runs in and breaks it up. He then chokeslams Cena right through a large spotlight, which looked really cool. This time Cena fails to beat the count and Edge is the new World Heavyweight Champion at 28:24. Not unexpected with Smackdown needing a champion and all since the rosters are theoretically locked now, but even so, this was an awesome match. It’s a pretty easy stip to draw heat with and these guys did a great job with it. ****1/2
Wow, this was really a great show, especially considering how quickly it was likely slapped together. Only six matches, but that means that they all go the time that they needed, and really only Punk/Kane failed to produce something good, but even then it wasn’t terrible. The Khali/Santino/Phoenix segment was long and stupid, but like I said, I don’t think it cancels out all the good we got everywhere else. Thumbs up for Backlash 2009, and if you’re one of the people who understandably skipped it, I’d highly recommend getting your hands on a copy one way or another.