WWE Backlash 2007 4/29/2007

April 29, 2007
Phillips Arena
Atlanta, GA
Attendance: 14,500
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield, Joey Styles & Tazz

Dark Match

Carlito (Carly Colon) defeats Johnny Nitro (John Hennigan)

Pay Per View

1) Matt & Jeff Hardy defeat Lance Cade (Lance McNaught) & Trevor Murdoch (William Mueller) when Matt pinned Murdoch after a Jeff Swanton Bomb at 15:18

Fun Fact: On Raw the night after Wrestlemania, World Tag Champs John Cena & Shawn Michaels won a ten-team Battle Royal to retain their titles, but Jonathan Coachman came out and said they had to wrestle a second ten-team battle royal for their titles, which they lost and the Hardys won, last eliminating Cade & Murdoch. It’s the Hardys’ sixth reign as tag team champions and their first since November 2001. The following week both teams won their respective matches, and then on the 4/16 Raw from Italy Cade defeated Jeff Hardy in a singles match.

Scott: Once again, the Hardys are opening the show. It seems like since September when Jeff defended the IC Title against Johnny Nitro that a Hardy, or both Hardys, have opened the monthly PPV. Cade and Murdoch were a solid tag team and had a nice reign back in 2005-06 with the pretty boy Cade, and the…well ugly grizzled Murdoch. The Hardys were working very well together as a team even though both have singles aspirations. They won the titles in a battle royal to get the straps off of Cena and Michaels. Cade and Murdoch broke up for a while but with MNM shelved, some new blood needed to be injected back into the tag division. The action went back and forth and neither team really had a foothold on the momentum. The Hardys used their quickness and fast tags, whereas C&D used their strength and double-teaming when they were in control. Eventually the challengers took control for a good period of time and had the look that they were going to regain the titles they once dominated. Their tempo was much quicker than expected and it became a really entertaining match seeing the Hardys fighting but just not being able to get the upper hand. Finally Matt hits the Twist of Fate, Jeff hits the illegal Swanton and the champs take the victory from the jaws of defeat. I really liked this match and even though they lost, Cade & Murdoch showed me a lot now that they’re back in the tag team title chase. Grade: 3

Justin: The Hardy resurgence continues to dominate the WWE midcard, and the crowd was loving every minute of it. The love of the fans was really motivating Matt and Jeff, who were starting to peak as in ring talents by this point. They also continue to rule the tag division, taking on the roughhousing cowboys, Cade and Murdoch. The Hardys utilized their classic teamwork, mixing in aerial and mat maneuvers to control the action. I liked watching Cade and Murdoch’s throwback southern style offense and they worked it quite well here, especially when mixed with some great Hardy selling. Since 2006, WWE has really seen a tag team revival and the division was really cranking for the first time since late 2002. Cade had developed a pretty good arsenal, and he would use it to help work a lengthy heat segment on Jeff. The match unfolded in the classic WWE tag format, showcasing power against speed and building the crowd heat minute by minute through fluid action. These teams were a perfect fit for the type of match they set out to deliver, and their chemistry was impressive. The Hardys fought their way back and used another double team, this time behind the referee’s back, to pick up the win. I am a mark for rock solid televised title defenses, so these guys won me over here. This was a solid opener and it keeps things humming along in the tag division as the Hardys continue to reign supreme. Grade: 2.5

2) Melina defeats Mickie James to retain Women’s Title with a Reverse DDT at 9:03

Fun Fact: The night after Wrestlemania on the 4/2 Raw, WWE Women’s Champion Melina came out and said guest Timbaland would want her for his video and talked about her win over Ashley the night before. Melina then posed for a photo-op with the ringside photographers until Mickie James attacked Melina and laid her out with a jumping DDT. The following week Mickie & Candice defeated Melina & Victoria in a tag match. On the 4/16 Raw from Italy, during a Divas Fashion Show, Melina attacked Torrie Wilson until Mickie made the save. Later in the show this match was announced.

Scott: After a subpar, somewhat forgotten title match at Wrestlemania, Melina faces a much more capable opponent than Ashley the centerfold. I just realized that tonight is one of the few instances where the entrance ramp is to the right on the camera side. Nassau Coliseum is like that too. Anyway, back to the match. Mickie has been positioned as the top babyface on the women’s roster since Trish Stratus left and Melina continues to be one of the top heels. One thing I like about Mickie is that at times she wrestles like a guy, with shoulder blocks and the occasional power move. Melina is quite flexible as her entrance to the ring indicates, and she put Mickie in a unique move where she almost put her in a full nelson with her legs. This match was head and shoulders better than Melina’s match at Wrestlemania with the less talented Ashley. Then they did the double split and started punching each other, which was pretty cool to watch. Mickie almost got the win a couple of times including after a sweet neckbreaker. This match is much longer than a normal women’s match but that’s because both women really are bringing the goods here. I think this match is almost as good as any of the title matches Mickie had with Trish. Melina actually wins this match clean with a reverse DDT, which is good because after these two really brought it, a cheesy ending would have ruined it. For the second straight match the champion eeked out a win but the challenger gave all they could. Mickie will be back but Melina earned this one. Grade: 2.5

Justin: The two top Divas in the division square off here with the gold on the line. Melina has been a solid heel champ and it was clear that Mickie was the number one face, but in the ring and with the fans. Both could go, and we saw it early on as they worked some chain offense on the mat. Both were pretty aggressive as they traded control, with the crowd really into Mickie. Once she grabbed control, Melina turned to a unique submission based offense, using some nifty little holds to wear down Mickie. As in the opener, I thought these two had good chemistry together, working a tight fluid match. The highlight came late when both women tripped up the other, leading to both slamming to the mat in split position and then trading blows while there. Mickie looked like she would be bringing home the gold, but Melina was able to counter her, drop a DDT and pick up the clean win to keep her claws on the title. This was pretty good and one of the better Diva matches we have seen in a while. With these two on top of the division, things were looking solid for the future. Grade: 2.5

3) Chris Benoit defeats Montel Vontavious Porter (Hassan Assad) to retain United States Title with an inside cradle at 13:10

Fun Fact: On the 4/6 Smackdown, Chris Benoit was facing Miz in a non-title match when MVP came out and pulled Miz out of the way of Benoit’s flying head butt. Miz rolled onto Benoit and won the match in a big upset. The following week MVP defeated Benoit in a twenty-minute non-title match with help from the ropes. On 4/17, the 400th Smackdown episode, Benoit and the Hardys defeated MVP, Chavo Guerrero and Gregory Helms in a six-man tag match. On 4/24 MVP won a squash match and announced he would get another US Title shot with Chris Benoit at Backlash. Benoit came out and the two men would have an impromptu non-title match, which Benoit would win when MVP walked out.

Scott: These two had a surprisingly good match at Wrestlemania, and it wasn’t because the expert technician Benoit had to do all the work. MVP really got himself ready for that match and even though he lost, he made a statement. Now he gets another shot here and again he keeps with both Benoit’s intensity and pace. This was a great feud for MVP to get into because it really helped him develop and gain some credibility with the fans. Benoit still gets a real big pop from the crowd, but here is where you start to see that Benoit sometimes…isn’t all there. We’ll stay off that topic for the time being, but I just wanted to point that out. MVP dictated the pace in the middle of the match until Benoit reversed out of armbar into the Crossface. MVP was near the ropes and grabbed it to break the hold. Michael Cole helped MVP out here by continuously saying that MVP was targeting Benoit surgically repaired neck from 2001. It looked like Benoit had the match wrapped up with multiple German Suplexes but MVP reversed the flying headbutt and it seemed that maybe MVP would pull the upset off. However in the end the more experienced Wolverine caught MVP going for a Boston Crab and wrapped him up for a small package and the victory. Two straight PPVs these two have met, and even thought the favorite won, the challenger brought it to the stage. Three straight title matches, three straight solid matches. Grade: 3

Justin: This solid upper midcard feud rolls on another month as Chris Benoit continues to do his best to elevate the always-improving MVP. At Wrestlemania, the young gun hung in with the crafty veteran but came up just short in the end. This has been an excellent title reign for Benoit, defending often against a variety of tough challengers. They would feel each other out early, not wanting to rush into things at all. Once they tangled, however, things really picked up. They put on a show early with a great flurry of holds and reversals transitioning into a run of stiff countermoves and holds. Looking back at his debut, it really is impressive to see how much MVP has improved in the last six months. He went from being a joke afterthought to a legit title contender that could hang with the best in the ring. MVP would target Benoit’s neck throughout the match and Michael Cole was sure to play that up on commentary as well. When Benoit was able to get some offense in, he would try for the crossface, but MVP kept eluding it. This was a really smart match, very well built and the story was nicely extrapolated upon, with MVP bludgeoning the neck and Benoit going for his ace finisher. Unable to hook in the crossface, Benoit went for the diving headbutt but MVP got his knees up and Benoit took a sick bump across them as he came flying down. Benoit recovered and proved to be one step ahead of MVP once again, fighting off a crossface reversal and hooking the challenger into a cradle to pick up the win. I loved the story here and the match was really damn good. In both his career and in storyline, MVP was learning more each time out, but still not enough to overcome the veteran. Benoit’s lengthy reign rolls on and MVP heads back to the classroom to keep honing his craft in hopes to finally take home some gold. Grade: 4

4) Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon & Umaga (Eddie Fatu) defeat Bobby Lashley in a Handicap match when Vince pins Lashley after an Umaga top rope splash at 15:45; Vince McMahon wins ECW World Title

Fun Fact: After having his melon shaved at Wrestlemania, Vince McMahon began wearing a fedora to cover up his baldhead. The next night on Raw he said the hat would be “cemented” to his head. Well, that lasted until ECW Champ Bobby Lashley came out and chased McMahon off, who lost his hat in the process. Later in the night Lashley defeated Umaga and Alejandro Estrada in a handicap match. On the 4/9 Raw, Lashley was facing Shane McMahon in a title vs. hair match when Lashley was attacked by Umaga and was given multiple splashes. Lashley would get his revenge the following week on Raw from Italy when he helped “unknown fan” Santino Marella defeat Umaga in an impromptu no-holds barred Intercontinental Title match. Lashley hit Umaga with three chair shots and a spear to help Marella win the title. On the 4/24 episode of ECW on Sci-Fi, Lashley defeated Umaga in a non-title match. Vince McMahon came out after the match to watch Lashley take out Estrada, putting him on the shelf.

Scott: First off, I loved Vince walking around with the Italian Fedora like some crazed mob boss. After having his head shaved in front of millions at Wrestlemania, the Boss wanted revenge in a big way. So he decides to really stack the deck against the man who was the cause of it all, ECW’s top dog. I didn’t have great expectations for this match since we had two lumbering power guys that we’ve already seen one-on-one, and now we add two non-wrestlers. However, Vince and Shane have been in the ring a lot in the past six months as they took a good beating at the hands of D-Generation X. This match is incredibly boring as the crowd’s pretty flat seeing Umaga work Lashley over, and they have Shane give him an armbar and hammerlock for three-four minutes. Lashley is a top-notch specimen, but his workrate isn’t beyond average and his promos are not great. So even facing the greatest heel of all time in VKM, Lashley’s deficiencies are being exploited here since this is a top three feud in the company right now and the sizzle really isn’t there. The ECW diehards were pretty much finished caring about this third brand. Most of them felt the product was another joke for Vince to poke fun at and embarrass. Putting Vince’s name under greats like Terry Funk, Sabu, Shane Douglas and Raven really pissed the old school ECW fans off and a lot walked away. Vince really didn’t do much here as Shane and Umaga did almost all of the yeoman’s work until Vince breaks a count as was about to eat a Dominator when it was broken up. I thought if any of the heels on the other side were going to win this match you’d figure it would be either Umaga or perhaps Shane. Vince kept trying to steal pins as his partners keep hitting their finishers. After the second Umaga splash, Vince stole the last pin, and Vince became the ECW Champion. The match was pretty dull and half of me was disgusted by the joke that the ECW Title became. Then again, we were in for an entertaining couple of months. Vince can add this to his WWE Title and Royal Rumble win on his resume. Grade: 2

Justin: Ah, the dawning of Extreme Insane Vince McMahon, one of my favorite characters of all time. After getting shaved bald and being humiliated at Wrestlemania, Vince lost his mind and decided to go all in to get revenge on Lashley and ECW. So, he donned a do-rag, decked himself out in a black sweatsuit, enlisted his son and the resident Raw monster and set out to embarrass the ECW legacy. The first step of that plan was to stack the deck here, ensuring that ECW gold would come home with Team McMahon. Behind the scenes, however, this was Vince’s attempt to legitimize Lashley even further and help turn him into a mega-face star. Lashley manhandled Boy Wonder early, but Umaga got into the match and evened the tide, forcing Lashley to succumb to the numbers game. Umaga’s assault was fun to watch, as usual as he picked Lashley apart with power strikes, slowly wearing him down more and more. Lashley would muster up enough energy to snap Shane down with a stiff powerbomb, but as Vince looked on from his perch on the apron, Shane and Lashley alternated keeping Lashley grounded. Umaga would bring the heavy artillery and Shawn swooped in and would hook on wear-down holds to capitalize on the attack. Lashley powered his way into a comeback, but it was short-lived and he was smashed right back to the mat. With Lashley prone on the mat, Vince finally demanded to be tagged in. His teammates obliged and he covered Lashley for a close near fall. The assault continued and despite how game and strong Lashley looked, he finally fell to a barrage of Umaga splashes and Vince stole the pin and the championship. Even though the match itself was a bit bland, I thought Lashley looked strong in defeat and Umaga looked like a beast, running through the champ throughout the match. After the bell, we got a crazy long celebration that was so over-the-top and ridiculous that it ended up being pretty funny. I won’t apologize for it, but I loved the Vince character and thought it was great heel work and was happy to see him win the strap here, hoping it would lead to a fun feud with Lashley and the ECW Originals. Grade: 2

*** Backstage, Vince & Shane run into Rob Van Dam, Sandman, Tommy Dreamer and Sabu and proceed to taunt the ECW Originals with their holy grail. ***

5) Batista and Undertaker (Mark Callaway) wrestle to a no contest in a Last Man Standing match at 21:27; Undertaker retains World Heavyweight Title

Fun Fact: On the 4/6 Smackdown, Batista came out and congratulated the Undertaker on a great match at Wrestlemania. He also said he’s using his rematch at Backlash. Taker was then attacked from behind by King Booker, but he recovered and delivered a tombstone on the announce table. The following week GM Teddy Long announced the title match at Backlash would be a Last Man Standing match. Taker and Batista would team up at the end of the show to defeat Kennedy and Finlay. On the 4/20 Smackdown, Taker and Batista defeated Kennedy and Finlay, respectfully in singles matches. On the 4/27 Smackdown in London Taker & Batista defeated Kennedy & Finlay in a no-DQ tag team match.

Scott: After what was an awesome match at Wrestlemania that no one saw coming, we have the obligatory rematch, complete with the gimmick. I was concerned that lightning couldn’t strike twice and these two could not put on another great match. This time the point is to not have your opponent get up at the count of ten. Therefore this match was about just bludgeoning your opponent over and over again. A gimpy hamstring hampered Batista, so he was moving a little slower than he normally does. Right from the bell, both men continued the entertaining war that went down in Detroit by pummeling each other with rights, lefts and power moves. Taker hit a crazy superplex off the top rope while Batista was hitting multiple power slams. The crowd wasn’t as lively as at Wrestlemania but both guys still went at each other 100%. Taker was dominating the action during the middle portion of the match as the Animal couldn’t move much with the bad right leg and he was also busted open by a Taker steel steps shot. Taker then returned the power bomb Batista delivered on the broadcast table at Wrestlemania by destroying the Smackdown table with a leg drop onto the challenger. Batista somehow got up at nine after that move, one leg and all. He would then take over with a plethora of spinebusters and spears but the Deadman kept getting up. My favorite spot was when Taker was delivering right hands to Batista in the corner, but the Animal would walk Taker to the middle of the ring and drill a Demonbomb. Taker barely got up at nine and Batista was exasperated. I think this match should have been the main event of the card, both guys deserved that opportunity after delivering on the big stage at Wrestlemania. So the match ended in a no-contest, big deal. That ending came when both men walked up to the top of the stage, and eventually Batista spears Taker off the stage, taking himself with it, and into a pile of stuff. We get the obligatory cheesy sparks and smoke and all that crap but we end with a no-contest. Both guys once again gave everything they had and even though the ending was not the greatest choice, the match was still awesome. Not as great as their Wrestlemania match, but still the best match of the night. Grade: 3.5

Justin: For the second straight month, these two Smackdown stars square off in another title bout with a big match feel to it. I think that atmosphere could be attributed to the star power of Batista and Undertaker. Taker was aggressive, getting off to a fast start and looking to put the Animal down early. This was a basic brawl, with the two titans hammering on the other with power strikes and anger. The story here surrounded the injuries of both men with Taker nursing his arm and Batista hobbled by a sore quad. Each man would target the other’s injury, adding drama as the bout wore on. The first major blow came via a nasty Taker superplex that shook the ring upon landing. As impact strikes and blows were traded, we were treated to a series of ten-count attempts by both men, who were both in some serious pain by this point. The brawl eventually spilled out to the floor, and it was there that both tables and Batista were busted apart. The bloody Animal was sent crashing through a table courtesy a crazed Taker legdrop that popped the crowd big time. The teases really started to come at this point, as the heavyweight slugfest continued, leading to more ten-count attempts. The hot crowd got amped up even more after both a Batistabomb and a Tombstone tease that both men were able to survive. The war raged on and the tanks were clearly on empty as they battled up the ramp. As they got perilously close to the edge, Batista speared Taker and they crashed off the ramp and through a staging, where the metal set crashed over them, leading to a weak double count-out. I really enjoyed this match and thought it was on par with their Mania battle as it felt like more of a true empty-the-tank war, despite the non-finish. Taker’s twilight title reign continues but it’s clear that his feud with Batista is not quite over just yet. Grade: 4

6) John Cena defeats Randy Orton, Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) & Edge (Adam Copeland) in a Fatal Four-Way to retain WWE Championship when he pins Orton after collapsing on top of him following a Michaels Superkick

Fun Fact: On the 4/9 Raw, Shawn Michaels and Randy Orton wrestled in a #1 contenders match to decide who would face WWE Champion John Cena at Backlash. The match ended in a no-contest when Shawn Michaels hit Sweet Chin Music but fell on the prone Orton. Two referees counted both men to three. Edge then came out and speared Orton. He then said that since the match ended in a no-contest, he should be the #1 contender. However, Honorary General Manager Michael Pena, from the Make-a-Wish Foundation, announced that Michaels, Orton, and Edge would face Cena for the title at Backlash in a Fatal Four-Way match. On the 4/16 Raw in Italy Cena defeated Edge and Orton in a handicap match, to which he dropped Shawn Michaels with an FU before pinning Orton. Michaels had dropped Orton with Sweet Chin Music.

Fun Fact II: In what many consider the greatest match in Raw history, Shawn Michaels defeated John Cena in a non-title match on the 4/23 Raw from London with Sweet Chin Music. The match was just under fifty-six minutes.

Scott: It’s funny; I must really have been into the Batista/Taker feud, because I really had no interest in this match. It’s very rare that a title changes hands at Backlash, outside Rock in 2000 and Hogan in 2002, and since Cena retained the title in the main event at Wrestlemania why would he lose it here? In 2000 it was a booking decision for a Steve Austin return, and in 2002 it was taking advantage of the Hogan nostalgia. So to be honest I wasn’t expecting much to happen in this match, for me it was more just being entertained. You knew Shawn would bring the goods, so it was more how the other three guys could bring their strengths to the table. Michaels did an awesome plancha onto all three guys on the outside, and then on the other side Cena tried to do a double leg drop off the top rope to Edge and Orton…and he missed them both. To me the whole Edge/Orton alliances were getting old, I felt like Edge was the conniving worm and Orton the gullible meathead. I guess the philosophy was that they all hate Cena and the double teams will come when convenient. It was the usual four-way formula where everybody gets a sizable heat segment, including Cena putting the STF on everybody in succession. As much as I would have loved to see Michaels win the title, I can’t see him winning here if he wasn’t going to win at Wrestlemania in a bigger match on a bigger stage. One cool spot was when Cena had Edge in the FU, Shawn got on top of Edge but then slid off, and was about to hit Sweet Chin Music when Orton came from off screen and drilled him with an RKO. However, in one of the most idiotic endings I’ve ever seen Cena FU’s Edge after Edge spears Orton, but then Michaels cracks Cena with Sweet Chin Music and Cena falls on Orton and gets the cheap three count. I don’t know if this was supposed to be the “lucky win because everyone was gunning for him” ending, but I thought it was kind of a cop out. The crowd seemed pretty flat to it and so do I. After watching this match I definitely thought Taker/Batista should have been the last match, particularly after that lame ending. Grade: 2

Justin: In a night filled with title matches, this is our main event, loaded with top-notch talent. The four top dogs on Raw all step in the ring to wage war over John Cena’s WWE Championship, a title he has had wrapped around his waist since dethroning Edge the previous September. After dominating most of the last six months, Rated RKO had crumbled since Wrestlemania and the superteam is now dead. I was really digging the Cena/Michaels rivalry that had budded since January, and coming off their all time classic on Raw, I was hoping for more of the same here. All four men would rotate off throughout the match, but the most intrigue may have come when Edge and Orton squared off face-to-face. All four combatants were also quite opportunistic during the match, never wasting a chance to land a crushing blow and going for a pin attempt. Smelling a chance to whittle the field down and improve their chances at the gold, Orton and Edge would reunite, knocking Cena to the floor and focusing their attack on Michaels. That partnership quickly fell apart on the floor, when Edge grabbed a chair, bashed Michaels across the back and then crushed Orton in the face with it. It was hard to tell if Orton got his hands up, but regardless it was another sick, reckless chair shot that just wasn’t needed. Despite Orton writhing in pain, the non-stop pace of the match continued on. At one point, Cena ascended the top rope, hoisted Michaels on his shoulders and came crashing down to the mat with an assist from Orton and Edge, who had grabbed his legs from behind. From there, we got the standard finisher sequence, with each man either attempting or landing his marquee move. After a pair of STFU attempts, all hell broke loose and RKO was laid to waste. Before Cena could capitalize, he walked into Sweet Chin Music. However, the move backfired, as Michaels collapsed from exhaustion and Cena fell backwards on to Orton, allowing him to retain his title. I didn’t mind the finish, because the story of Raw was that these four men were all on the same playing field and any could be champion at any time, so it came down to the man who got the luckiest break, and in this case it was Cena. The match wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was still pretty good just based on the talent of the competitors involved. All four look destined to remain the main event picture, but Cena’s epic reign lasts another day. Grade: 3.5

Final Analysis:

Scott: Overall a really good show that had a bevy of great title matches with not only good performances by the champions, but game outings by all of the challengers made these matches very entertaining. We must give special props to Mickie James, MVP and even Cade & Murdoch for really bringing the goods even though they fell just short of their goal. The Vince/Lashley stuff was ok, but I know a large population of old school ECW fans disgusted by that and stopped watching for a while. The Taker/Batista match was the match of the night even with the non-finish. The main event really aggravated me because it felt very predictable and dull, with that lame ending emphasizing it. I think they should have kept the Michaels/Cena feud going as I thought it really had some energy to it but alas Cena went back to the Hogan route. Overall the show is good but I enjoyed the first three matches and Taker/Batista much more than the other two matches. Bobby Lashley now must find his inner Steve Austin and do his best chasing of the carrot that Vince McMahon is dangling out at him. 2007 has been a very entertaining year so far, but coming off a great Wrestlemania, this show was about down the middle. Final Grade: C+

Justin: Our first true multi-brand off month PPV is one loaded with title matches, great talent and some interesting feuds. And I must say that as a whole the show delivered. We got three matches that were very good to great and the remaining three were all solid in ring or featured excellent character development. Based on the results, it was clear that combining the brands on PPV full time was a shrewd move as we no longer have to deal with lower card filler matches with little to no heat. Here, everyone on the card was over or involved in a hot feud. The majority of champions retained, so the company as a whole stays with the status quo, but as we will see, things would begin to change quite rapidly as the weeks of 2007 roll along. For now, we get a solid PPV to follow up a red hot Wrestlemania. Final Grade: B-

MVP: Undertaker & Batista
Runner Up: Chris Benoit & MVP
Non MVP: Bobby Lashley
Runner Up: Shawn Michaels & Rated RKO

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