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Monday, 28 April 2008

Backlash 'as-live' reaction

A Rare viewing, for me, of Heat has just ended. It was a show dedicated to Tag Wrestling, and pretty cool to see some old PPV matches including, but not limited to, The Rockers, Hart Foundation, Money Inc, LOD and Demolition. Interesting that we do not see the Tag Team titles on the show tonight.

After a usual opening video, we are in the arena to say “Hi” to JR and The King who introduces us to Mike Adamle and Tazz (Adamle calls Tazz “my brother”) and then Cole introduces us to Foley. Mick is wearing the same brown jacket he always does these days.

I understand the theme music is by Kid Rock. Huh. Sounds like Brian Adams to me (not Kronik)

First up we have the US Title match, and they are continuing with the idea of announcing the title match with both competitors in the ring. Wonder where they got that from?

As soon as Cole and Foley started talking about this match being the biggest of Hardy’s career you fancied his chances. Decent commentating debut from Mick, by the way, although he did get caught giving a piece of colour or telling an anecdote when a big move hit a couple of times.

The match itself was really solid, without being spectacular. These two guys gel well, and the match was very fast-paced and logical, with MVP focussing on the abdomen of Matt Hardy, to wit his damaged appendix area.

Perhaps the only knock on the match was that ending came a little too abruptly, with MVP having slowed the pace completely and was working on kicking Matt’s head in, a woozy Matt had to be asked if he could carry on, before turning the tables and hitting the Twist of Fate.

Post match Matt gives a tearful speech to Eve (I only know it’s her because that’s what Matt called her. Until he did I didn’t know who it was.) and says that this is his most important title win and the best day of his life. And his house is in one piece (he may not have said that last bit). He then pauses for about 8 seconds before telling MVP he is better than him.

Speaking of 8 seconds, its Chavo and Kane next. It takes 8 seconds for there to be contact between the two, so the match is already a marathon by comparison. Before the match starts, though, Adamle gets the ref’s name wrong. Tazz covers, and says “good try” but sounds a tad annoyed.

Kane uses a submission move of Chavo that I remember him using when wrestling as Isaac Yankem, and he used it on Bret. If Adamle had referenced that, all his other mistakes would have been forgiven.

Kane wins a decent little match, made really by Chavo performing the match as if I’d pressed the fast forward button on my TV. More logical wrestling as Chavo worked the knee of Kane, but it was never really looking like Chavo would win. To be fair Adamle, although he sounded panicky, he didn’t make too many more errors.

Logical, I should say, until the end. Although Kane came out of a Chavo Frog Splash with a goozle, he did still take the Frog Splash so it didn’t really make sense.

Generic promo from Orton, and then Cole and Foley have to try to build some excitement for the two big lummoxes Big Show and Great Khali. They show a tale of the tape which shows Height, weight, reach, shoe size, ring size and so forth. Not chin size, however. I think Khali may have edged that one.

This really is the ‘irresistible force v the immovable object’. The immovable object is me, and it is my job to watch this, however the irresistible force is gravity trying to close my eyelids. I don’t know who I want to win.

Show is trying to win the chin war by letting his goatee grow long. Can’t fool me, Paul.

I love how the commentators kept talking about how Khali is bigger than Show, but two things stand out. Firstly, how do you define ‘big’? Height-wise, Khali is taller, but Show weighs more. Second, they always talk about Big Show being The World’s Largest Athlete, but now they are saying how he isn’t as big as someone else.........consistency, FTW!

Another reasonably easy prediction comes in as Show cleanly defeats Khali after what seemed longer than it probably was. Show won, but Khali was put over huge by Foley and Cole on commentary.

Interestingly, that’s three matches and three clean, babyface wins. Things are stacking up for Orton.

Orton and Cena engage in some more generic chat about the title match backstage, which was probably less about hyping the title match and more to help the segue into pimping the text vote for the WWE Title winner. Why would you text that? A) it’s a pre-determined show, guys (sorry to prick the bubble) and b) there isn’t a prize. I could understand texting if you won something. Maybe. Anyway, Orton got like 8% last time and won, so it’s complete garbage.

A superb video airs hyping the HBK/Batista feud, and explains the situation very well indeed.

Y2J is out to referee the match, and is greeted with a mainly positive reaction, but not wholly so. Definitely a few who are unsure of how to react to Jericho.

HBK and Batista are out for this one, with Michaels getting a far better pop than Big Dave. Mind you, the people were cheering Umaga at Wrestlemania rather than Batista, so I really shouldn’t be surprised.


This is a strange one. I think we may have a legit injury for Shawn Michaels.

The entire match was Shawn working on Batista’s arm. Part of the reason that Shawn is one of the greats is that he just turns the dials right up (to 11?) when it comes to PPV. I love seeing HBK change his style completely on PPV, and he wrestled this as a totally scientific affair, with the story being that the smaller and less powerful Michaels used his wrestling knowledge to negate and wear down the stronger, more powerful opponent.

However, as the match was obviously drawing to it’s conclusion, Batista was going for a Powerbomb which Michaels was to counter. He did, but drew attention to an injured knee. I didn’t think it was legit at first, since HBK hit the Superkick out of nowhere, which to me suggested that he was playing possum.

However, if this were the case, surely JR and King would have played it up, and I’m damn sure Michaels would not have sold as much as that post-match unless something was really wrong. Batista did no work on the knee, so there was no need to make it look good.

I think Shawn’s hurt folks, and since he’s as good as there is on the roster, that could be a major blow.

Should also note that Jericho did not get involved in any meaningful way. I think we saw a hastily rewritten ending there. Still, not to worry, pointless match (w/tits) next.

All the girls are out (literally and figuratively) for a 12-diva tag match. Beth is surrounded by ‘ah’s. I mean the sound Melin’ah’, Nataly’ah’, Victori’ah’, Layl’ah’ and, erm, Jillian. A sing’ah’.

It’s over, after what was, I suppose, a passable effort. I do really like some of the acting of the girls, and the interaction between them. Especially Cherry. I’m not sure she will ever be a genius in the ring, but I could see her character becoming a little like an early Molly Holly or a female Crash Holly. She could get loved for being plucky.

Towards the end of this one they basically just hit a chain of finishing moves – Kelly actually hit a really nice dropkick but Michelle totally botched taking Melina finisher – with Beth beating Ashley eventually.

Edge and Taker next, and this will be interesting to hear the call as Foley is big pals with both men.

Well.............not bad.

While I’m an admirer of Undertaker’s, I’m not a fan, because I find his matches, typically, to be very formulaic. This one was at the better end of the scale, but never shifted away from being a typically Taker-match.

Edge’s henchmen came in for the predictable assist, but got nowhere, and a nice finish came about as Taker turned a sunset flip into a gogoplata.

Post match, Taker didn’t release the hold and they made a big thing of Edge selling an internal injury as he bled from the mouth.

Quick note for the commentary – I thought Foley did a fantastic job as colour guy, and in turn Michael Cole was just fine, as he allowed Foley to do much of the legwork.

As JR and King give the oh-so-important (note sarcasm) text poll results and throw us into the obligatory video package, backstage preceding this Orton was knocking on JBL’s door. He got no answer, but he did get CM Punk patting him on the shoulder, patting the Money in the Bank briefcase, and wishing Randy good luck. Nice tease of a potential Punk run in after the match.

So they did the switch. Damn my indecision making me pick Orton. I did say that I would book Trips to win though.

Pretty darn decent main event there.

It’s always hard to establish these multi-man matches, so the pace of the match didn’t get too far away from pedestrian while all four men were still alive in it.

There were a couple of spots which were just a little too contrived for me, such as when Cena had Orton in the STFU, and after JBL had berated Orton and urged him to tap, Triple H gave JBL similar treatment. I also don’t care too much, in this kind of match, for the Tower of Doom spots.

I liked the match once JBL went, and the Cena elimination coming so quickly was an interesting twist. The camera work during Orton’s initial beat-down of the Game was terrific. It was nice and close-up, with Trips really vocalising the pain he was in.

I’m guessing they’ll go with Trips v Orton for the next PPV, Judgement Day, in only 3 weeks time. Then perhaps Cena and Triple H for the summer. This is all barring trades of course.

Pretty decent show overall. Won’t go down as being ultra-memorable, but some really good wrestling in there, with some nice logic and working of body parts involved. Desperately hope I’m wrong about HBK’s knee, although I’m still wondering why Y2J did little to nothing in that one.

If you haven’t seen the show and can get hold of it, give it a watch, and it’s half decent, but I wouldn’t have thought it’s a DVD must-have.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Backlash preview

I’m running a little low on time today, and I apologise for the lack of updates on the blog, but I promise you that things will change this week. This is the Backlash predictions blog, but coming up within seconds (literally) of the end of the PPV you’ll have my ‘as live’ thoughts.

Also, at the start of the coming week I’ll be posting my diary from attending the UK tour for WWE and some thoughts on the difference between Raw and Smackdown that I noticed from attending the two shows in London.

Onto Backlash, and a Pay Per View which is one of the hardest to market in the whole year because everything builds up to Wrestlemania, so this show either becomes a breeding ground for new programmes, a continuation of Mania ones, and, most often, an amalgam of both.

Looking at the match list it would be easy to say that the show isn’t necessarily destined for big things, but WWE have produced three good to excellent Pay Per Views so far in 2008, so it isn’t beyond comprehension that this one could come off well.

Match by match, let’s take a look at the card.........

12 Divas Tag Match – Mickie, Maria, Ashley, Kelly Kelly, Cherry and Michelle v Beth, Victoria, Layla, Natalya, Jillian and Melina.

I’d expect this to have it’s normal slot right in between the two title matches, and the penultimate spot on the card.

I’ve read reports that Beth may be ready to have a feud with Michelle McCool, which sounds distinctly strange to me, especially since a) they are on different brands; b) Beth is no longer champion and c) well, Michelle isn’t very good.

I know it’s the typical comparison point, but when you see the TNA Knockout’s division doing such good business and putting on decent matches , you’d say that WWE’s equivalent is way behind. I fail to see why they couldn’t have given Mickie a few weeks more of chasing Beth and to have beaten her for the title here.

This won’t be much other than a great chance for the likes of Ashley and Kelly Kelly to show that they truly are abysmal in the ring, and it will likely be left to Mickie to get beaten down for a few minutes by the heels, who bar Layla can all work.

I would suspect that the winning victorious team will likely be there to further the storyline, and so for that reason, I’ll take Beth beating McCool, and believe the rumours.

Prediction: Beth Phoenix’s team to win.
I would Book: Does it matter? I’d perhaps give Natalya the match to establish her a little more.
And another thing.....Isn’t the heel team so much hotter than the babyfaces (as much as a love Mickie and Maria)

Big Show v Great Khali

Hmm. Ain’t gonna be a classic, folks, and I would suggest they’ll have half a brain and let it go short. I don’t see them having Show come back for a (losing) match with Mayweather at Mania and then to go down to Khali. Big Show isn’t my favourite wrestler, but his work rate is a million times better than the big Ox he has to face, so I have to say Show here.

Prediction: Big Show to win a short, painless one.
I would book: The same, pretty much.
And another thing.....Umaga isn’t booked on this PPV – a post match attack on Big Show could be on the cards for a Show v Umaga.

ECW Title: Chavo Guerrero v Kane

The shortest match at Wrestlemania took place between these two, showing us all just how highly regarded the ECW brand really is.

This programme has continued subsequently, but I truly believe the only reason it has done is to simply lend a different perspective to Undertaker v Edge. It is hard to see anyone on ECW really, genuinely, having a go at the title except for Elijah Burke and Shelton Benjamin, unless they push the boat out and give Kofi Kingston a shot, so unless they the Jamaican gets a quick opportunity at a belt, it’s likely to be a heel.

And since I think Burke or Benjamin will step up for title attempts, I have to go with Kane here.

Prediction: The Big Red Machine to retain.
I would Book: Hmmm. I would have had to have started earlier, but I’d have looked at a babyface Shelton to face Chavo. ECW isn’t drawing, so make it the home for Cruiserweights and so forth.
And another thing..........If CM Punk cashes in his briefcase on ECW, I will cry.

United States Title: MVP v Matt Hardy

This isn’t done. I think that these guys have had such a storied feud that a straightforward match should not end the programme. I see a potential match of the night candidate in this one, but I wouldn’t foresee a clean finish.

I’m going to suggest that MVP will retain his belt, possibly by virtue of getting himself disqualified, but more likely getting a 3-count by virtue of having feet on ropes or something similar. My theory is that another match, with a stipulation, finishes off the feud at Judgement Day.

Prediction: MVP to win in a very heel-like way.
I would book: The same outcome, but I’d have Matt pick up a visual fall during the match, and go on to book a best two-out-of-three falls match for the next PPV.
And another thing.........Jeff Hardy is due back from suspension on May 10, just over a week before Judgment Day – could he get involved in a feud-ender between these two?

World Heavyweight Title (Smackdown) Undertaker v Edge

I’m really switched off to this feud, to be honest. I love Edge, and I respect what Taker has achieved, but I was very underwhelmed by their Wrestlemania match, and see very little value in a rematch if Edge is not going to win the title.

Which, of course, he won’t. The shout was that Undertaker was to be given a long-term title reign last summer, but of course he got injured, so this has been switched to 2008. My opinion is that Taker is big enough that he doesn’t really need the title, and that Edge is seriously under-booked as a genuine wrestler.

The beauty of Triple H being a strong heel champion, especially going back to 2000 or so, was that he was good in ring (just like Edge), he was a total prick on the microphone (just like Edge – and that’s a compliment by the way) and he was booked as a seriously good wrestler who you legitimately believed could win titles alone (.........)

I don’t think that anyone can believe that Edge can legitimately beat the Undertaker, and I don’t see why, just because he is a heel, Edge can’t be pushed to the same degree. I understand that the heels are supposed to be hated, and quick heat can be received by virtue of having lackeys helping you and a crooked authority figure on your side. However, I don’t see why he can’t look good at the same time.

That’s a tangent. For tonight, I’d suggest that we’ll likely see similar events as at Mania. I’d expect to see Hawkins and Ryder, I’d expect to see Vickie, but I’d expect to see Undertaker prevail.

Prediction: Yawn, Taker wins in his standard type of match.
I would book: Edge to win, to win in an absolute “knock-down drag-out” (as Bret would say)and to win with a move like a small package or something, so that Taker just got caught out by “the ultimate opportunist”.
And another thing...........I don’t see many challengers for the title stepping up after this one. (hmm, Maybe Big Show) As a bit of a wildcard, what if Chavo helped out Edge, but Kane assists his brother? You could even throw in a tag title switch, and then do one of those matches where whoever pins who gets their belt, like when Yokozuna and Owen hart took on HBK and Nash way back in the day.

Shawn Michaels v Batista. Special guest referee – Chris Jericho.

I’ve left this one late because I think it’s been built up better than anything else on the card. Plenty of people I speak to don’t like the addition of Jericho as a special ref, but I love a tease of heel turns and so forth, so seeing all three men act like they could turn heel intrigues me.

I don’t see Jericho being a ref for no reason, so he has to get involved. I would seriously doubt that Batista will be thrust into the Smackdown title scene again after having two consecutive matches with Taker in recent weeks, so I’d suggest that this one could drag on past this PPV. I’d suggest that there is even a possibility that a triple threat for Y2J’s Intercontinental title could be on the horizon.

This goes one of two ways. Jericho tries to screw one and screws the other, which means both men are gunning for a (probably heel) Chris Jericho. The other way is that Jericho (maybe in conjunction with the other) screws one man, beginning a Jericho v “screwed guy” feud.

Following up the second theory is that it would require a double heel turn from Jericho and one other, which would likely be Batista. This is less likely, because although it could be revealed that this is the reason that Jericho is involved and that Batista enlisted him to help take out Shawn, it isn’t likely and also Y2J has been beaten down by both men.

Prediction: Y2J gets knocked down accidentally by Michaels, and when he attempts retaliation, he lays out Batista. He then is forced to count Big Dave out. This means that both Batista and HBK have a reason for hating Y2J. This idea isn’t watertight, but it’s the best I can do.
I would book: a way of getting Jericho to turn on Shawn. These two should be able to put on some great bouts, and I’d welcome a back story of how HBK beat Jericho at Mania.
And another thing........It will be interesting to see, if they continue the programme between all three men, if Ric Flair’s name will be continually used, or whether they try to move away from this.

Fatal Fourway Elimination Match for the WWE title: Randy Orton v Triple H v John Cena v John “Bradshaw” Layfield

I have two theories once again, but the problem here is the opposite of the match above.

For HBK/Batista, both theories I have both have deep flaws. For this match both ideas seem really plausible to me. I can’t decide which one is most likely.

See what you think – firstly, I’ll say to you that Randy Orton is a heel champion. He would be very likely to pick up the win in a multiple man match on a fluke, or at least a piece of capitalisation, just like he did at Wrestlemania. But one key aspect lends itself to a title change. The Fatal Fourway stip has now been changed to an Elimination format. This means that the element of surprise and capitalisation has been taken away for Orton, and that you have a bigger likelihood of a legitimate, babyface title change.

This could mean that either Cena or Triple H is left with Orton to claim the strap off of him, or even that they team up briefly to oust the other two and then it’s down to them.


Orton could retain. If the belt was going to change from Orton to Cena, or from Orton to Triple H, then they could just do it in a singles match. They want Orton to keep the belt and have a long title reign, and Triple H and Cena are hurt less by losing multiple matches, and the credibility of the belt is kept high by virtue of their being clean finishes and not DQs and run-ins, which there would be if Orton retained in a singles bout.

And Orton can win this match without hurting the two babyfaces. Let’s see JBL beaten first, and let’s have Orton hide out most of the time that Triple H and Cena beat the hell out of each other. When one finally drops the other, with both men almost flat out, Orton hits an RKO out of nowhere. Still champ.

I have noticed that the RKO has been increasingly built as a devastating finisher, so I’d say there is a fair chance that could be used when one man is distracted.

It has to be one of those two theories, and both seem to have solid cases. I’m going to plump for Orton retaining, for the sheer fact that I like the build to that ending more, and that I can’t see Orton dropping the strap in a match which isn’t one-one-one.

Prediction: Orton to retain
I would book: Probably Triple H to take it. I think he is at the height of his popularity, and I can see a heel turn not far away. Therefore, give the fans what they want with The Game now, before the chance is lost.
And another thing...........William Regal is not booked to be doing anything, and he just won the King of the Ring and he is GM, he could yet impose himself don’t think......?

Some other things about Backlash to consider:

  • Mike Adamle is making his PPV announcing debut – I hope RD and Blade at Wrestlecrap are recording the show.
  • Mick Foley is rumoured to be replacing Coach. Should be interesting. Coach to go back to Raw as GM with Regal becoming a full-time wrestler?
  • No Santino and Carlito? I thought the tag titles would be defended by Rhodes and Holly on this show against Morella and......erm, Caribbean Cool. Hopefully we will still see (or rather hear) Santino in some capacity.
  • No Hornswoggle? Too much to ask?

Enjoy the show, guys!