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By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
KELLER'S WWE BACKLASH PPV REPORT
APRIL 26, 2009
LIVE ON PAY-PER-VIEW
-After a video packaged focused on the six-man main event, Jim Ross introduced the show.
1 -- JACK SWAGGER vs. CHRISTIAN -- ECW Hvt. Title match
Michael Cole then spoke during Christian's ring entrance from ringside, saying he was honored to be joined by Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross. With Tazz gone, and Matt Striker without much tenure, we might actually get one announce team throughout the entire show, which I like better, although having Ross and Cole negotiate who calls the action throughout the show could get clunky. The thing about Ross is that as good of a play-by-play announcer as he is (the best ever, actually), he's also very a good analyst. Swagger began as he does, by outwrestling his opponent on the mat, then acting cocky afterward. Christian slapped him in return and went on offense.
Ross said Swagger has been winning wrestling matches since he was six years old. Swagger pressed Christian over his head and threw him to the floor. Lawler's reaction was hilarious as his voice just got higher and higher with sheer shock at his power and throw. Swagger threw Christian back into the ring. Lawler said Swagger should have waited to see if Christian was going to end up counted out. Swagger dominated Christian with several variations of a bear hug for several minutes which took the crowd out of it.
By 8:00 in they were fighting back and forth for sustained control. Swagger tried to back suplex Christian off the ring apron edge to the floor, but Christian held on and elbowed himself free. He then dumped Swagger into the ring and climbed to the top rope. Swagger caught him up there with a headbutt and then backdropped Christian to the mat. He followed up with a corner swing splash for a two count. Swagger came back with a running powerslam for a convincing near fall. Ross referenced "Cowboy" Bill Watts saying Swagger's powerslam was a modified Oklahoma Stampede. Swagger tried to remove the turnbuckle. The ref caught him. Meanwhile, Christian did the same, avoided a charging Swagger, and Swagger went head-first into the exposed buckle. Christian followed immediately with a Kill Switch finisher for the win. Cole said that was Christian's first ECW Title win ever and his first title win ever in over five years. He paused, perhaps someone yelled in his ear, and then Cole added, "...in the WWE."
WINNER: Christian in 11:00 to win the ECW Hvt. Title.
STAR RATING: **1/2 -- Not sure who to blame, but that wasn't the match it could have been or should have been for both of these two to get more over with fans and move up the card. It wasn't a bad match at all, but it wasn't overall the type of match that people remember at the end of the night, either. Maybe that's by design if they were told to warm up the crowd but not tear the house down given their slot on the card.
-Christian celebrated his title win backstage with Tommy Dreamer, Finlay, and Evan Bourne. Edge then walked up and told him he must think he's better than him now that he's won a title. He said it's only a matter of hours. Christian asked him what happened to him and what's his deal. He said he used to be fun, but now he's this bitter raving lunatic. Edge said what's wrong with him is John Cena. He said he was a lot of fun before John Cena, but Cena changed all of that and turned him into this bitter raving lunatic he says is standing before him. He said he'll be fun again by the end of the night when he's World Heavyweight Champion one more time and get Cena out of his life forever. Cool to see Christian and Edge share the screen again.
2 -- CHRIS JERICHO vs. RICKY "THE DRAGON" STEAMBOAT
Ross said the last time Steamboat competed in a one-on-one match on pay-per-view was 15 years ago at Bash at the Beach when he "battled a guy by the name of Steve Austin for the U.S. Title." Cole said the question remains whether Steamboat should be wrestling after Jericho goaded him into coming out of retirement. Steamboat slid to the floor and then avoided a Jericho slide at him. He then returned to the ring and slingshot himself onto Jericho at ringside. The crowd chanted "You still got it!" after a chop and an armdrag into an armbar. The announcers talked about WrestleMania III, of course. At 4:00 Steamboat managed to skin the cat back into the ring, a signature move of his. Jericho knocked him to the floor immediately afterward, though. Jericho springboard dropkicked Steamboat on the ring apron. Jericho trash-talked Steamboat and slapped him in the corner, then told him to "give it up." Lawler said he'd always been a Jericho fan until his recent attitude change. "Burning out someone else's candle doesn't make yours any brighter," he said. Cole said he's attention-starved and needs the spotlight on him. Cole added that Ross has to deal with him on Smackdown now. Jericho settled into a chinlock at 6:00. Ross said the longer the match goes, the more it favors the younger Steamboat.
At 8:00 Steamboat back suplexed Jericho off the top rope to the mat. He was slow to make the cover, and Jericho rolled his shoulder up at two. Steamboat chopped Jericho with his signature style leading into a backfist and another two count. Jericho caught a charging Steamboat with an elbow, but Steamboat countered with a powerbomb for another two count. Lawler asked Cole if the match was far more competitive than he anticipated. Cole said he thought it'd be a blowout. Lawler said he had faith in Steamboat putting up a fight, but he's been impressed. Ross said veterans always have one more card they haven't played, "right, King?" Lawler said, "You bet." Steamboat lifted Jericho onto his shoulders to counter a Lionsault attempt. Steamboat rolled through, but Jericho rolled out of it and applied the Walls of Jericho mid-ring. Ross said he's never seen Steamboat submit. Steamboat chopped out of it and applied a very clumsy figure-four leglock. Come on, I could do that on my friends in fourth grade smoother than that. Jericho rolled Steamboat into the ropes. Ross acknowledged that Steamboat never got the figure-four applied quite right. Lawler said he never liked that move - having it applied to him or even applying it himself. Steamboat climbed to the top rope, but Jericho charged at him. Steamboat moved and Jericho's head hit the ringpost. Steamboat hit a top rope bodyblock for a very near fall. The crowd popped for it. Steamboat went for a second rope move, but Jericho caught him mid-air with a Code Breaker. Jericho slowed moved in for the cover, but Steamboat put his leg over the bottom rope. Jericho followed with a bodyslam attmept, but Steamboat rolled through with a cradle for a very near convincing near fall. Jericho then came back with a Walls of Jericho mid-ring for the tapout win.
WINNER: Jericho in 13:00.
STAR RATING: **3/4 -- A good match that both Steamboat and Jericho can be proud of. There were some not-so-smooth moments, not the least of which was the figure-four by Steamboat, but the crowd into it and they told a good story.
-Backstage Beth Phoenix, with Rosa Mendez, walked up to Santino Marella supposedly talking to Santina on his phone. She told Santino to just admit he dressed up as Santina to become Miss WrestleMania. Santino blew off such an outlandish accusation and said she's ashamed of losing to his twin sister at WrestleMania. Santino said she should kiss the Great Khali to prove she's more woman than Santina. Phoenix said that won't happen, and she's not kissing him anymore. She stormed away. Santino shouted at her that he faked every "you know what" while they were together.
3 -- C.M. PUNK vs. KANE
Kane took control early with some punches. Ross said you have to dig pretty deep into the WWE Encyclopedia to find someone who had a better year than Punk did in 2008. From a title win standpoint, that's true. But far from it if they published salaries or tallied TV and PPV main event wins. Punk leaped off the ring apron and clotheslined Kane on the floor at 2:00. Kane whipped Punk into the corner. Punk was supposed to slide hard into the ringpost, but he stopped just short of it. Kane followed up with a slidekick that sent Punk into the post hard. Kane settled into a bearhug on the mat. Ross said, "Kane is a very intelligent monster." Punk charged at Kane a minute later, but Kane knocked him down with a hard clothesline. He then bent Punk over his knee. Lawler said he's not just trying to win, he's punishing Punk for the joy of it. Kane followed with a chokeslam attempt. Punk supposedly countered mid-move by driving Kane's arm into the mat, although it's one of those moves that looks ambiguous and depends on who sells afterward. Kane came back a minute later with a big boot, then he climbed to the top rope. Punk kicked him off balance and the lifted him for the Go To Sleep. Kane escaped. Punk gave him a running knee and a running bulldog for a two count. Kane punched Punk as he flew off the top rope leading to a near fall. Punk came back with an armbar submission attempt. Kane escaped with a sideslam for a near fall. Kane blocked a Punk kick with a driving chokeslam for the win.
WINNER: Kane in 9:00.
STAR RATING: **1/2 -- One of the better Kane matches in a while. Well paced, believable near falls from both, and good finish. Well, I'm not sure I'd be giving Kane wins over Punk at this stage, especially since they gave Punk the MITB win which he still has to cash in, but otherwise a satsifying match.
4 -- JEFF HARDY vs. MATT HARDY - I Quit Match
Jeff Hardy came out first. Is it his last WWE PPV match ever? Barring a late contract renewal agreement, there's a chance WWE will hold him off of PPV pay bonuses until his contract expires this summer. Lawler said Jeff's not wearing facepaint for tonight's match. He said that takes time, and he has been concentrating solely on this match and beating his brother. A minute in Jeff swing-kicked Matt to the floor and then slingshot himself onto Matt. Ross noted that the ref didn't count because there are no countouts. Jeff leaped off the ringside steps and dove into Matt, driving him into the barricade. Jeff continued on offense including a swinging double stomp into Matt's chest in the corner at 3:00. Matt shoved Jeff off the top rope. He clutched his ankle in pain after landing, then the ref asked if he had enough. Jeff said he wasn't quitting.
Matt worked over Jeff's legs and several times the ref asked Jeff if he quit and Jeff exclaimed, "No!" At 10:00 Matt hung Jeff upside down in the corner and choked him from behind. The ref again asked and Jeff again said no. Jeff came back with a Whisper in the Wind at 12:00. Cole said that matt had cut off all communication with his father over the past couple of months. Jeff applied a Texas Cloverleaf, and Matt tapped, but when the ref asked if he wanted to quit, he gasped and said no. Jeff hit a Twist of Fate to almost no pop, then he climbed to the top rope which began to wake up the crowd. He hit a Swanton Bomb. The ref asked Matt again. He gasped and said no.
At 15:00, with a table set up in the ring, Jeff grabbed some duct tape and rope from under the ring. He taped Matt's wrists together, then wrapped his body in rope. The announcers joked that Jeff has given this match a lot of thought. The ref asked Matt if he wanted to quit now. Matt said no. Jeff pulled a ladder out from under the ring. He set it up in the ring. Matt began pleading with his brother. Jeff milked the moment and climbed the ladder. Matt took the mic and apologized for everything. He said, "I love you. We're brothers. Brothers is the strongest bond you can have in the world." He told him not to listen to the fans. He said they're the Hardy Boyz and they can do it all again. "Our mom wouldn't want this. She's look down at us from heaven. Our dad's at home sick. Please, daddy wouldn't like it if you did this. Jeff, I love you." Jeff stood on the top rung. Matt then said, "I quit, I quit." The ref called for the bell. Jeff began to climb down the ladder, but then leaped anyway and legdropped Matt through the table, which broke in half.
WINNER: Jeff Hardy in 20:00.
STAR RATING: **1/2 -- The I-Quit format replaces dramatic near falls with the repeated mic in the face "yes or no" moments. This was okay, but the crowd wasn't as into it as you'd expect, and at 20 minutes it dragged at times.
-Todd Grisham interviewed Randy Orton, with Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase in the background preparing for the match. Orton said he has nothing else to say to Shane McMahon or Triple H. He said he does have something to say to Dave Batista. He said he may think he has everything figured out. He said he is his own man and has Legacy, yet after all of these years he's still doing Triple H's dirty work. He said he can take out all of his anger in a matter of minutes, but he told him not to get DQ'd. "I mean, you wouldn't want Triple H to lose his title, would you? I mean, that's what's important here, Triple H and his title." He said it's amazing that after all of these years, it's still all about the game - "for some people, anyway." Orton is so good now. After a few years of trying to figure out his interviews, he's arrived and he's so compelling to watch each time.
-The Great Khali walked out with Ranjin Singh for the "Khali Kiss Cam" segment. Santina walked out and looked reluctant to be there. She said she can't kiss The Great Khali because she has been representing herself as something she's not. She said she's been passing herself off as single. She said she's not. Singh asked who has her heart. Santina stammered and then pointed at ringside and said Jim Ross. Santina said he's been calling her repeatedly lately. Singh said she won't have to kiss Khali provided she proves her love for J.R. by kissing him. Ross said, "That ain't gonna happen." Cole encouraged him and called him Mr. Barbeque Man. Ross asked where he came up with that. Santina began getting light-headed with pressure. Out walked Beth Phoenix and Rosa Mendez to save this segment that really started to drag and get uncomfortable. Phoenix challenged Santina for her Miss WrestleMania crown right now. She said Santina never should have been in the battle royal.
Singh asked how she dared interrupted a moment of love. Phoenix explained to Khali that Santina is a man. She asked if all the women in his hometown are so damn ugly that he finds "that" to be attractive. Santina said, "I'm pretty!" Phoenix said either that or he is the biggest idiot walking the face of the Earth today. Khali chopped her on the head and then shoved her to the mat. Santina then covered her and the ref counted to three. Apparently Santina retained her Miss WrestleMania crown. Lawler said he's almost as speechless as J.R. Lawler ribbed Ross, saying his girlfriends bra strap is showing. Afterward, Khali smiled at Santina. Santina tried to escape. Khali tore off her top. Santina ran around covering her breasts, uh, pecs and ran to the back. Khali sniffed her top and signalled it stunk. "I guess we've seen it all," Lawler said. Cole asked J.R. if he has a pet name for Santina. There's one person laughing harder than anyone at that ten minute joke - Vince McMahon.
-A video package aired on the six-man tag match.
5 -- SHANE MCMAHON & BATISTA & TRIPLE H vs. RANDY ORTON & CODY RHODES & TED DIBIASE
Shane came out first, then Batista, then Triple H, then Legacy. Six-way chaos broke out before the bell rang. Triple H went after Orton at ringside and all the way to the back. Triple H returned to the ring and Orton was nowhere in sight. The ref ordered the bell to start the match, even without Orton at ringside. Batista opened against Cody. Triple H and Shane took turns beating on him. At 3:00 Cody raked Batista's eyes and tagged in DiBiase. They double-teamed Batista in the corner. Ross said Rhodes and DiBiase are two building blocks in the future of WWE in his estimation. Batista came back at 4:00 wth a spinebuster on DiBiase. He set up a Batista Bomb, but DiBiase slid out of the ring. Batista went after him at ringside. Orton charged Batista from behind and shoved him into the ringpost. The ref didn't see it. Back in the ring, Orton stomped away at a stunned Batista. Orton DDT'd Batista off the second rope. Batista tried to tag out a minute later, but Orton stopped him just in time at 8:00. Ross said that may be looked back on as a key moment in the match.
At 10:00 Batista came back with a spearing headbutt. Batista hot-tagged Shane who went to work on a fresh Rhodes with a barrage of punches. He hit a neckbreaker for a two count, then threw him to the floor. Shane began disassembling the announcer table. DiBiase went after him. Shane tackled him. Rhodes returned to the ring. Shane snapped his neck over the top rope, then climbed to the top rope and leaped of with a flying elbow. He rolled Rhodes over twice to get closer to the ropes, which looked ridiculous, and then predictably DiBiase yanked him out of the ring during his pin attempt. Orton whipped Shane into the ringside steps, but the ref was distracted by Triple H who left his corner. Orton went to work on Shane, suplexing him into the ring. Shane scurried toward his corner for a potential tag. Orton stopped him and then stared down Triple H.
The heels isolated Shane for several long minutes. Shane finally hot-tagged Triple H at 18:00. Triple H went to work on Orton with a barrage of punches. It was relentless. Orton reversed Triple H into the ropes, but Triple H came back with a kneelift. When DiBiase and Rhodes charged at him, he tossed them out of the ring, then gave Orton a spinebuster for a near fall, broken up by DiBiase who a split second later than ideal. Triple H set up a Pedigree, but Rhodes broke it up and DDT'd him. Shane dove at Rhodes and clotheslined him over the top rope. He did the same to DiBiase, knocking him over the ringside barrier into the crowd. Cody fired back at Shane with a chairshot to the shoulder. When Batista went after Rhodes, Rhodes jabbed him in the throat with a chair.
Both Orton and Triple H were down for an eight count in the ring. Both got up. As Batista was about to hit DiBiase with a chair at ringside, Triple H pulled the chair from him. Orton then gave Triple H an RKO for a convincing near fall. So convincing the bell ringing rang the bell mistakenly. Orton then gave Triple H a punt kick for the pin. The bell ringing must've known the finish, but rang the bell too early. He's in trouble tonight. Orton then grabbed the WWE Title and left with DiBiase and Rhodes.
WINNERS: Orton & DiBiase & Rhodes in 22:00 so Orton becomes the WWE Champion.
STAR RATING: *** -- They gave it time to be an epic match, but the early-match long selling by Batista and the mid-match long selling by Shane got a little tedious. Other than the early bell ring, though, the final minutes hit a great crescendo. Good to see a title change in this match take place with the new champion scoring the pin on the incumbent.
-Afterward, Triple H was out cold on the mat. Medics tended to him. The crowd (and this was pretty funny given how much time was invested in this storyline, pushing Triple H as avenging his family) sang the "Na na na, good bye" song briefly. The ref of the crowd was silent as the announcers solemnly talked about how this could be career-ending. Lawler said it depends on where the punt kick connected on Triple H's skull. They put him in a neck brace as Batista and Shane looked on with concern. They replayed it and it looked good in slo-mo, with solid looking contact and a neck snap by Triple H. Shane was welled up with concern as he talked to Hunter as he was slipped onto a gurney at ringside.
-A commercial aired hyping the next WWE PPV, Judgment Day, on May 17. The voiceover said WWE is "the best value in pay-per-view entertainment." That's a dig at UFC, especially relevant after the negative reaction to the Anderson Silva title defense last Saturday.
-They went to Ross, Cole, and Lawler at ringside to talk about the Triple H injury. You knew that match wouldn't have a happy ending when it came before the lesser-hyped Edge vs. John Cena match. Lawler said what happened to Triple H "could destroy the McMahon family."
6 -- JOHN CENA vs. EDGE -- World Heavyweight Title match
The announcers talked about this being the final chapter in an epic feud. Edge bailed out to ringside at 1:00 for a breather. Cena chased after him. Cena went for an early Attitude Adjuster in the ring. At 6:00 Edge applied a sleeper that took Cena down and out. There was some spot-calling, it seemed, going on late in the sleeper by Edge into Cena's ear. The ref began to count toward ten. He got to seven. Edge charged, but Cena ducked and hit a flying shoulder tackle. Cena went into his You Can't See Me routine, which is one of the man reasons half the crowd boo him because it's such bad strategy to play to the crowd at the 20 yard line and let the defense catch up to you. Edge recovered enough to kick Cena in the head as Cena bent over to wave his hand obnoxiously in his face.
At 8:00 Edge knocked Cena off the ring apron to the floor, ten set him up against the ringside steps. When he charged, Cena moved. Edge stood. Cena tried to whip Edge into the ringside steps, but Edge reversed him. The ref counted to eight. Cena then reversed Edge into the steps. The ref began counting him down. He got to five. Edge rolled into the ring. Cena tried to toss the ringside steps into the ring over the top rope. He struggled, but finally pushed his way onto the ring apron with his legs to get the spring. He could have blown out a shoulder doing that. Cole said the match has taken a big toll on both men already. Edge hit a charging Cena with a boot to the face. Edge shoved the steps into Cena in the corner, then he dropkicked the steps into Cena. Cena backdropped a charging Edge over the top rope to the floor. Ross said it was Cena's "unbelievable, inhuman strength." Cena picked up the steps, ran across the ring, and threw them like a dart at Edge. Ross asked, "If that doesn't do it, what will?" The ref began another count toward ten. The ref got to eight.
Cena went after Edge at ringside, then threw him into the ring. They exchanged punches, with the crowd cheering Edge's punches and booing Cena's punches. WWE has a big money run coming whenever they find that right moment to turn Cena, but they have to be careful when and how and against whom they do it. When fans have permission to boo Cena, and when he decides to turn up the natural obnoxiousness in him to a new level, it could be huge. They need that right babyface opponent to make it worth it, but they don't have him right now. They both went down and the ref got to eight as the both got up.
Cena went for an Attitude Adjustment. Edge countered. Cena tried again. Edge countered again. Cena tried a third time. Edge back suplexed out of it. Nice sequence, which drew some applause from the crowd. Edge mocked Cena with the You Can't See Me hand wave. Cena countered with an STF. Edge tapped out, but the announcers pointed out it's irrelevant. Cena released the hold so the ref could begin to count down Edge. Lawler complained that the ref started his count three seconds later than he should have. He got to eight and then Edge stood. Cena followed with another Attitude Adjustment attempt. Edge grabbed the top rope to block it, then connected with a spear. Both men were down and the ref began to count. The both got up.
Edge climbed to the top rope. Cena met him up there and gave him an Attitude Adjuster off the top rope. Ross touted Cena's strength given what he had been through in the match to that point. Cena got up at the count of six as the ref continued to nine for Edge at 19:00. Edge collapsed right away again. Cena went for a top rope move, but Edge got up and caught him mid-air with a spear. It's one of those moves where you had no idea what Cena was going for since he was just positioning himself to be speared. The ref got to six before Edge stood up, and then he got to nine before Cena used the ropes to climb up. Cena fell to the floor. Lawler noted Cena was bleeding from his mouth.
Edge cleared the announce table and then set up a suplex. Cena countered with an Attitude Adjuster into the crowd. He literally tossed Edge onto a crowd of fans (hopefully - and certainly - plants). The crowd chanted "Holy sh--!" The ref counted to nine before Edge dramatically stood. Cena shook his head in disbelief. Edge ran from Cena into the crowd and up the stands. Ross said there are no countouts. They went all the way into the concourse area. A camera happened to be there, which was a reality-breaking moment. No need for that. Let fans use their imaginations, since they came down through another concourse tunnel back into the main area of the arena. Cena gave Edge a running bulldog off the steps onto equipment cases near the entry stage. The ref began counting again. Edge got up before ten and the match continued.
They fought on the stage. Edge DDT'd Cena onto the steel stage platform. Edge ran backstage briefly, then came back with a chair and nailed Cena in the back. Cole said he was trying to "rattle the brains" of Cena - apparently via the back. Edge then did bash Cena across the back of his head with a chair, although it's one of the safer ways of doing it since the chair actually hit the stage before Cena's head to make a loud noise. The ref began his count on Cena. He got to nine and barely made it. Edge countered with a charge, but Cena lifted him. Big Show yanked Edge down and chokeslammed Cena off the stage, despite Cole yelling, "Put him down!" Cena crashed through a huge spotlight that was set up off the stage. There was an explosion sound and a small fire behind it. Some people came out and sprayed out the fire with an extinguisher. The made it to ten.
WINNER: Edge in 27:00 to win the World Hvt. Title.
STAR RATING: ****1/4 -- Very good, satisfying main event. The finish with Show interfering to cost Cena the match would have seemed like a copout screwjob if not for the novel place he landed. Brawling up through the concourse and back to the stage was also a nice touch, something they shouldn't do more than once every couple of years for maximum effectiveness. Before the climactic final minutes, they kept up a good pace and had a lot of believable near ten counts, which is tough to pull off when fans are conditioned to wait for the big memorable finish.
-As Cena was put in a neck brace and helped out of the spotlight, Cole said it's been a disturbing night. Cena wasn't bleeding from his back, which really was called for in this instance since he was thrown through a huge plate of glass of the spotlight. They made it all the way to the end of Edge's song, which you don't hear often. The event ended with Edge holding the belt, more replays from more angles of the final bump, and Cena wincing in the neck brace as he was stretchered away. This obviously accomplishes two important needs - getting a world title belt back to Smackdown and setting up a new feud for Cena with a top level player out of the heel group of Legacy.
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