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Monday, 30 April 2007

Backlash Thoughts

A few thoughts then, on last night’s Backlash Pay Per View, and in summary, I am glad it was NOT Pay to view here in the UK.

The show itself was not wholly bad, but they really will have a problem if they continue to try to retain the Tri-branded feel to the events.

Every match on the Pay Per View was a title match. That might sound like a good thing, but actually there are so many titles now that the novelty value diminishes, and that matches become a little less special. Let’s take it match by match…….

The Hardys def. Cade & Murdoch
Although Matt and Jeff are a major hand for the WWE, there is now a problem because there are no credible challengers. When The Hardys were on top before, you had Edge and Christian, The Dudleys, The Acolytes, Too Cool and The New Age Outlaws/Road Dogg & X-Pac at various times. Now, Cade & Murdoch on RAW, and Deuce & Domino and Kendrick & London on SD are the only real teams out there. I can only see Matt & Jeff having to feud at some point.

The match itself was fairly solid, but I don’t think anyone thought for a second that Cade and Murdoch would go over, did they? Sound opener, though, I suppose, and standard fare to allow an early face pop.

Melina def. Mickie James

Another retention by the champion, and Melina is looking increasingly sound as a worker. Mickie is probably the most technically sound female in the company, and I would like to see whether, now that all PPVs will be tri-branded, whether the Woman’s title will be open to all, because Jillian is fast improving. Remember Victoria is in the equation, and actually the division isn’t looking all that bad.

The match, once again, was fairly average, but then there has been relatively no build up except for the fact that Mickie wants the belt back. Melina is best rounded character in the Divas division though, so understandable that she retained.

Before the US title match, there was a backstage interview where Maria quizzed Edge, but he was interrupted by Ken Kennedy. He teased that he would cash in the money in the bank after the fatal fourway for the WWE championship. He ultimately didn’t, but I kinda like the idea that he might continually tease this. I like running threads that play out eventually, but take a while to culminate. Hopefully this will be used well enough – I think that Kennedy has the potential to be the next Rock. I genuine rate him that highly.

Chris Benoit def. MVP
A third consecutive title is retained, but MVP, both here and at Wrestlemania, has really impressed me. This was the bets match of the night, and Benoit utilizing a small package to win reminded me of Bret Hart, who very often did not win matches with the Sharpshooter, instead often finding pinning combination to close bouts out.

Benoit is floundering a bit though. I’m begging to see him be given a run at the top, especially on RAW. Benoit taking on Edge or HBK would be a money feud, and Cena does need fresh competition.

Onto the “World” titles then, and…………….wait for it………….

Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon and Umaga def. Bobby Lashley – Vince McMahon is the ECW champion.
I am now fully convinced that the whole ECW experiment has all along been for four purposes. One was to give various talent something to do, especially RVD, who management is tired with despite the fact the fans are not, and others that the fans have not accepted, like Snitsky, Striker and Thorn. The second function is that future stars like CM Punk and possibly Elijah Burke and Monty Brown can gradually get themselves ready for the big time – like a bigger version of OVW. Thirdly, it’s a chance to figure Bobby Lashley as a main eventer, which he clearly isn’t, because he has about as much personality as Boogeyman’s worms, and wrestles exactly the same as Batista.

And fourth, and most importantly, ECW is to be used as Vince’s plaything, to be buried, in exactly the same way that WCW was, and that Eric Bischoff was. Mission accomplished. God knows where they go from here. The fact is, hardly anyone cared about the ECW championship anyway, and now even less will. Sure, Vince is entertaining, and the whole Trump thing was good stuff, but do we really need Vince as 2-time world champion, which technically is what he is?

Undertaker and Batista draw a last man standing match. Taker retains the title.
You know what this means don’t you? A third go round of this feud, and I’d suspect that a Hell in a Cell match might be on the horizon, although they might go with a ‘Taker special’ like a Buried Alive or a casket match. This match was good for what it was. It was never going to be like an Angle/Michaels, or a Jericho/Benoit affair, so to be fair these guys, it served its purpose well, if the ending was a little contrived.

The beauty of having Taker as the World champ is that there is an opportunity to really elevate someone who makes it to the top. Let’s say for example Edge, or Kennedy, or someone challenges The Undertaker for his belt, and takes it, they can always have that claim, just like Jericho could talk about the first ever Undisputed title, having beaten Rock and Austin. The trouble is, they’ll make it bloody Mysterio, who I think is a fabulous performer, but do you buy the fact that he could beat the Undertaker? No. Please don’t let it be Rey who finally kills off the Deadman.

John Cena def. Randy Orton, Edge and Shawn Michaels
I don’t know whether I liked the ending of this or not. Firstly, I thought ths might be the opportunity WWE would take to take the belt off of Cena, because I really think they will soon, only to have it him take it back quickly, like previously with Edge and Van Dam. However, they didn’t, and managed to book the match to make HBK look like the star, so I sense another Cena v HBK match, because that’s now RAW and then Backlash where HBK has looked the better man, but Cena still has the strap.

Cena is good for business, simple as, so for those that don’t like him, get used to it. It’s a major trump card for the WWE, because on one hand you could have the old Ric Flair in NWA syndrome, where the hated Flair was on top, and was so despised that people turned out and tuned in to see him get toppled. Some may do this with Cena. Others (kids, mainly, but some others) love him so their most over superstar is the champ.

Personally, I admire Cena for what he has achieved. He isn’t very technically sound, but neither is Batista. Neither is Taker anymore, but they because they are big men, they wrestle differently. I witnessed Cena v HBK live in London, and it was outstanding, and it takes two to tangle.

Judgment Day is three weeks away. Expect Cena v HBK in some sort of gimmick match (Ladder? Iron Man?) and Taker v Batista in a cell or Casket. You hear it here first.

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