Assorted April PPV Countdown: WWE Backlash 2005

The SmarK Rant for WWE Backlash 2005 (2012 Scott sez:  This is the point where my PPV archives start to get REALLY thinned out as I lost more and more interest in WWE.  As such, there’s only this one and 2007 left in the Backlash series.)  – So last year I got to be at this PPV live, which means that the Backlash name now holds a special place in my heart. OK, not really. – Live from Manchester, NH – Your hosts are JR & King. – Opening match, Intercontinental title: Shelton Benjamin v. Chris Jericho. Shelton takes him to the mat to start and they do the bridge/backslide segment, which gets two for both guys. Shelton grabs an armbar and Jericho turns it into a wristlock, so Shelton does the Owen Hart ropeflip escape and goes back to the armbar. They take it to the mat and catfight, but Jericho starts throwing chops to take over. JR notes that Shelton grew up on the hard streets of Orangeberg, South Carolina. I’ve heard bad things about those streets. They fight for a suplex and Jericho lands on the apron, but Shelton springs over and tries to powerbomb him off the apron! Jericho reverses that to a rana to escape and then drops him on the railing to take over. Back in the ring, he lets the mean streak grow a bit by punting Shelton in the ribs and doing the Arrogant Cover for one. We hit the chinlock and Shelton comes back with a flying forearm, but Jericho retains control with a low dropkick and starts choking, like, uh, himself in a major title match. (Or the Bruins in the first round of the playoffs this year!  If us Canuck fans can’t be happy, NO ONE CAN!)  Shelton comes back with a stinger splash out of nowhere into a backdrop suplex, but another trip to the corner proves ill-fated, and Jericho bulldogs him. Shelton is again one step ahead, however, clotheslining him in the back of the head while trying the Lionsault, and they head up. Jericho pushes him down, but Shelton pops up with an incredible vertical leap and superplexes him off instead. That gets two. Shelton stays on him with a faceplant for two. Shelton takes him down with a bodyscissors, but misses the stinger splash and Jericho comes back on him. He takes him down for the lame running choke, but Shelton is ahead of him THERE, too, and catches Jericho with a samoan drop for two. Shelton tries another splash, but Jericho elbows him and catches the enzuigiri for two. I’d say Shelton went to that proverbial well once too often. Shelton gets tossed, but hangs on and springboards in with a crazy hangtime bulldog for two. This guy is gonna blow his knees out by 35. Oklahoma Roll is countered by Jericho for two, however, and he tries the Walls. Shelton counters, so Jericho catapults him into the corner, and Shelton springs back with the exploder for two. Nice sequence. Jericho’s foot was on the ropes, so he drags him into the middle and gets two again. Another try at the exploder is blocked by Jericho, and then an attempt at the dragon whip kick is caught and reversed into the Walls in a SUPER slick sequence. Shelton makes the ropes. If Jericho didn’t win off that, he’s not winning. Shelton comes back with a superkick out of nowhere while Jericho gets upset, and that gets two. Shelton whiffs on a rana and Jericho tries the Lionsault, but hits knees. However, he rolls with it and tries the Walls, and they go into a crazy pinfall reversal sequence that ends with Shelton on top for the pin to retain at 14:29. Shelton is like the one-man show these days. I’d actually like to see a motivated RVD challenging him, because it’d probably be the greatest spot show seen in years. ***3/4  (I’d like to see a motivated RVD these days PERIOD.)  – RAW World tag titles: William Regal & Tajiri v. The Heart Throbs. (Oh my, the Heart Throbs.  The metrosexual tag team where the point of the gimmick got lost in translation between callup and TV debut.)  It’s TAG TEAM TURMOIL. Regal starts with Romeo and they fight over a headlock, as Regal keeps him on the mat. Romeo flips out of a wristlock and brings Antonio in, and Regal handles him with ease, too. Tajiri comes in with a seated dropkick and fires the kicks at Antonio, then takes him down with a hammerlock submission. Standing moonsault gets two. He stops to go after Romeo, however, and gets caught in the wrong corner. Double-team elbow gets two for Antonio. Tajiri fights out of there, but gets taken into the corner, where he reverses into a sunset flip for the pin at 3:09. – William Regal & Tajiri v. Simon Dean & Maven. (Simon Dean and Maven, ladies and gentlemen.  What a tag team division 2005 produced.)  Maven & Dean now have matching purple outfits, so that’s a relief. Dean takes Tajiri down for a kneedrop that gets two, and the heels do some pushups to celebrate a double-team. Maven pounds away on Tajiri and Dean chokes him down, but Tajiri comes back with a high kick and makes the tag to Regal. I guess it was the hot tag, because Regal is certainly a house of fire. Regal suplexes Dean around and finishes him with a running knee at 2:22. – William Regal & Tajiri v. La Resistance. La Rez attacks quickly and stomps the champs down, but Tajiri kicks away at Grenier. Back to Regal for a double-team kick and he puts Grenier down with forearms. Tajiri comes in for more kicks and a legdrop that gets two. Conway comes in and goes nuts on Regal with forearms, and that gets two. Lawler praises the stamina of Regal & Tajiri, although the entire match has gone maybe 8 minutes at this point. Tajiri comes in and tries the Tarantula, but Grenier necksnaps him and Conway rolls up Regal for the pin at 2:56. Bleh. – La Resistance v. The Hurricane & Rosey. Hurricane comes in with a high cross on Grenier. Blockbuster gets two. He tries to spring out of the corner, but Grenier dumps him, smashing Hurricane’s knee into the post in the process in a scary move, and gets two in the ring. Conway pounds on him in the corner and Grenier hits the chinlock. Backdrop suplex gets two. He goes up and misses an elbow, looking like a dying gazelle in the process, and it’s hot tag Rosey. Rosey misses a splash, but slams Conway for two. La Rez tries a double-team, but Hurricane breaks it up. La Rez recovers with a double-team chokeslam on Rosey for two. Rosey shoves them into each other and Hurricane goes up with a splash off Rosey’s shoulders, and we have new champions at 4:05. As if the titles weren’t already a gigantic joke, this match pretty much confirmed it, with a series of jobbers and novelty acts doing 3-minute matches. ** overall for the whole thing. (The tag division at this point was so hopeless that the creative team basically forgot that Hurricane and Rosey were the champions and they ended up holding the belts for months and not even being on TV at the time.)  – Last Man Standing: Edge v. Chris Benoit. (AKA the battle of the men with a combined spinal age of 192) Benoit dives at him and slugs away on the mat to start, and fires off a knee to the gut, then a bunch more to the head. Can some please explain to JR that “dehabilitating” is not pronounced that way nor really even a word? Edge comes back with a shoulder in the corner and stomps away, as the crowd lets him know that they want Matt. So does Jeff Jarrett, apparently.  (Be careful what you wish for, TNA.)  Edge chokes him down and sets up for a quick spear, but Benoit takes him down with a drop toehold and gets a back elbow. Benoit dives in with the crossface, but really that’s useless. Benoit throws some vicious knees on the mat and tries a suplex, but Edge fights out and boots him down. He starts going for the plunder, but Benoit baseball slides a garbage can out of his hands and they brawl on the floor. Into the crowd we go, and back into the ring, which gives JR a chance to use his other favorite dumb word: “Surcease”. And then MORE of the dehabilitation , as Benoit gets the Sharpshooter and Edge taps for no reason. Benoit releases and starts throwing the german suplexes, and after five of them Edge rolls out. The ref counts him down, but he’s up at 8. Benoit waits until he gets up, and then elbows him off the apron again. Back up at 8 and Benoit tries to knock him down with the suicide dive, but Edge counters with the lid as Benoit takes another sick bump. That puts him down for 7, but he’s up again. Edge puts him down again with the lid for 6. Back into the ring, as Edge puts him on the top rope and they slug it out up there. Edge wins that battle and superplexes Benoit on a garbage can. Everyone’s out, but Edge is up at 7 and Benoit is up at 8. Edge hits him with a running knee and some lid shots, but Benoit is up again quickly. So it’s ladder time now, as Edge means business. Benoit fights back and gets slammed as a result, allowing Edge to climb the ladder. Benoit follows him up there and brings him down with a german suplex from the ladder. And they wonder why guys have serious neck injuries. Benoit fires off another german suplex and goes up the ladder, but Edge moves and avoids the diving headbutt. Edge tries to hit him with the Magic Briefcase, but Benoit counters into the crossface and JR is again with the dehabilitating. Edge taps again for no purpose and both guys get counted down, but both up quickly. Benoit throws more suplexes, but gets DDTd on the briefcase. Benoit is up at 9, however. Edge spears him down again, and it’s another 9. Another spear, another 9. Edge goes into the briefcase now, finds a brick, and hits Benoit with it to finish at 18:47. Good brawl, but all the counting spots dragged it down. The storyline at the end with Edge wearing him down and then desperately finishing with the brick worked well. ***1/2 – Lawler interviews a bunch of divas in a pointless segment, which is then interrupted by Chris Masters in an even more pointless segment, as he does a Masterlock Challenge and abuses a woman. Yeah. – Kane v. Viscera. They slug it out in the corner and Kane boots him to the floor to start, and follows with a flying clothesline to the floor. Into the ring, Kane drops a few elbows and gets a legdrop for two. Viscera comes back with the leg lariat, however, and takes over. The elbow misses and Kane goes after Trish, but that allows Vis to get a corner splash and samoan drop for two. Bossman slam gets two. Kane comes back with a DDT after Vis puts his head down for like 5 minutes on an irish whip, and the flying clothesline follows. Chokeslam is blocked, sadly, and Vis clotheslines him to the floor. He tries a splash on the post, but Kane moves. I’m shocked. Trish tries to use a chair to turn the tide, but Lita stops her with a crutch. Back in, Kane goes up again, and gets caught with the tree slam for two. Lita comes in and Viscera stops to put the moves on her, but that allows Kane to get the big boot and chokeslam to mercifully finish this thing at 6:06. Well, at least it was short. 1/4* Viscera takes out his pent-up sexual frustration on Trish, which I guess is supposed to have turned him face. (He did actually end up as a babyface in ECW, didn’t he?)  – Shawn Michaels & Hulk Hogan v. Muhammad Hassan & Khosrow Daivari. Hulk starts with Hassan, who is of course overpowered. Next up, the deadly headlock. Hulk works the arm, but Hassan brings him into the corner and KNOCKS OFF THE DOO-RAG. Oh man, they’re in trouble now. And indeed, Hulk clotheslines both heels down and hits Hassan with the Ax Bomber. Over to Shawn now, and the Balding Egomaniacs do a double boot and Shawn works Hassan over in the corner. He misses an elbow and Daivari comes in and throws some chops on Shawn, but gets double-teamed in the face corner and pounded by Hogan outside. Back in, Hogan chokes him down and drops the elbows. Back to Shawn, who puts his head down and gets into a chop war with Daivari. Flying forearm for Daivari and atomic drop, and Shawn goes up for the flying elbow pretty early. Superkick looks to finish well ahead of schedule, but Hassan interrupts the stomping and hits him with some sort of international object. And as expected, now begins the segment where Shawn sells until he’s on death’s door. If it was Saturday Night’s Main Event, we would have taken a commercial break right about now. Hassan & Daivari work him over and Daivari chokes away in the corner and goes to a surfboard, dehabilitating him and offering no surcease. Oh, great, now he’s got ME doing it. Hassan comes in and hits the chinlock, exposing Shawn’s huge bald spot in rather ugly manner. Shawn fights back with a sleeper on Hassan, but gets taken down with a backbreaker as a result. And now it’s camel clutch time, as Hassan continues to do the tasteless throat-slitting gesture before the move. If he was doing it himself, ala Benoit & Anderson, then it’s fine as a generic gesture of his intensity, but doing it to Shawn is supposed to evoke specific images, and that’s not cool. (Can you believe that Hassan was originally intended as a babyface character?)  Shawn powers out of the deadly rear chinlock with an electric chair, and it’s hot tag Hogan. Much punching results. Big boot for Daivari, but Hogan can’t do the legdrop, so they do a spot where Hassan hits HIM with the object to break it up. Daivari gets two, but it’s Hulk Up time of course. Hassan breaks up the legdrop again, so Shawn finishes Daivari with the superkick, as Hogan gets the pin at 15:14. This was very, very SNME formula, but the heels were no threat so it lacked any of the punch you’d think it would have had. It should have had Shawn bleeding all over the ring and selling some dramatic injury, but instead the heat segment was like 5 minutes long and they finished them off more like they were a minor impediment to their posing routine rather than any kind of serious threat. **  (Of course, Shawn quickly turned on Hogan, the next night if I’m thinking correctly, to set up their Summerslam main event.  The intention was for Hassan to get the rub here and go on to beat Batista for the title at the PPV in Washington, I kid you not. )  – And now Christian joins us, upset that he’s left off the PPV. It might be the last time he’s on a RAW PPV, so he’s going to express himself via a rap aimed at all his fellow main-eventers. “On RAW you’ve got Batista with muscles to spare, but he’s got charisma like Tomko’s got hair. You’ve got HHH and Ric Flair, their legend still grows. 26 titles between them, and the world’s biggest nose. Have you heard the one about JBL, you know the rich guy on Smackdown? Well I hear his taxes are still soaring, but he’s no wrestling god, just a god of boring. Seems to me I’m forgetting somebody. Who am I forgetting? Oh yeah, he’s the guy who inspired this little rap, the WWE champion, John Cena. Well I got a little something for him. Hey Cena, you think I’m jealous of your fortune and fame. Well you talk like Snoop Dogg, but you look like Corey Haim. So after the draft, whether it’s RAW or Smackdown, JR or Michael Cole, I will be champion, because that’s how I roll!” Well, it’s not a match, but I feel enriched. 10 points for effort on the Corey Haim reference, minus several million for current pop culture relevance.  (RIP Corey Haim, of course.)  – RAW World title: Batista v. HHH. Flair trips up Batista to start, and HHH attacks. He quickly goes for the Pedigree, but Batista counters out. Into the lockup and Batista slugs away in the corner, and they fight over their finishes with no one able to get it. Batista indicates that HHH was “that close” to losing, although he might be referring to his penis size judging by the years of steroids and self-centered booking. HHH slugs away in the corner and gets backdropped as a result, and Batista slugs away again. HHH tries another Pedigree, but this time Batista backdrops him over the top and to the floor. Batista follows him out and charges, but walks into a spinebuster into the railing. Guess it’s time for the monster World champion to start selling for HHH again. HHH suplexes him on the floor and starts working on the back, in the ring. He charges and hits elbow and Batista tries his powerbomb again, but HHH counters him into the corner and works the back. Batista gets whipped into the corner and Flair gets some cheapshots in from the outside. Back to the corner, HHH fires away, but Batista fires back. HHH gets the main event spinebuster for two, however. They head back to the corner and Batista catches him with a lariat, then follows with a sideslam. He dumps HHH with a clothesline and they brawl on the floor. Back in, Batista works him over in the corner and gets the powerslam and does some rope-shaking. Batista got over by doing DIFFERENT power stuff, not the same crap that people were doing 15 years ago. That’s one reason why this title reign is dying. (WWE was actually doing really well with Batista as champion.  Of course, with the swapping of Batista and Cena later in the year, they were doing even better.)  Flair tries to interfere, but that allows HHH to get the belt and use it to counter the powerbomb. That gets two. Pedigree is countered again by Batista, and the ref is bumped. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE follows, but there’s no ref. I love how HHH makes sure to get his move and the visual pinfall, just so we know that if there HAD been a ref, it’d be over. HHH tries to wake up the ref, to no avail, so another one comes out to see Batista counter the Pedigree into a spinebuster for two. HHH comes back with a facecrusher for two. Another try at the Pedigree, but Batista powers him into the corner for a clothesline. He gets two more, but HHH kicks the ref in the nuts and we’re minus another one. Flair interferes and gets creamed, and Batista catapults HHH into the corner. He tries the demon bomb, but didn’t give the thumbs down, so HHH counters with a low blow. Did Kevin Sullivan book this? HHH pounds away in the corner, but Batista powerbombs him for the pin at 16:22. I think this was actually worse than Wrestlemania, with a dull main portion and a lot of silly overbooking and ref bumps during the finishing sequence. HHH is just not the guy to selflessly put over a new star and make him into something special. (Well that’s exactly what happened, so I guess 2005 Scott can shut the hell up now.)  *1/4 The Inside Pulse: Really good first hour, but the rest of the show just kind of dragged to a finish. I’d even call the Hogan match a disappointment, as the heels didn’t get enough offense in to really build drama. Two matches over *** is good enough for a thumbs in the middle, and nothing else was bad enough to bring it below that, but I can’t recommend going out of your way to see this one.  (Agreed.  Totally forgettable show.)