Backlash 2002

Backlash 2002
Date: April 21, 2002
Location: Sprint Center, Kansas City, Missouri
Attendance: 12,489
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

It’s the first pay per view after the Brand Split and it really is a tale of two shows at this point. Raw is absolutely horrendous at the moment with an unmotivated Undertaker vs. Steve Austin as the main feud (and the Raw main event here) for the next WWF World Title match. That would be your Smackdown main event here as HHH is defending against Hulk Hogan for reasons of pure nostalgia. Let’s get to it.

The opening video is all about HHH vs. Hogan with Hulk talking about how he needs the title one more time to validate his career after being away for so long. HHH says that was then and this is now, meaning it’s no longer Hogan’s time.

Cruiserweight Title: Kidman vs. Tajiri

Kidman is defending after taking the title from Tajiri a few weeks back. Tajiri also has Torrie in the geisha outfit. Standard cruiserweight style to start with an exchange of armdrags as Lawler complains about Torrie being covered up. Tajiri goes with the kicks and choking to take over, including the required chinlock. A baseball slide dropkick in the Tree of Woe makes it even worse and Tajiri starts in on the back. That means the Tarantula goes on but Tajiri can’t hit the Buzzsaw Kick.

Instead he gets two off a bridging German suplex as the crowd is already dying. A big kick to the head gets two on the champ but for some reason Tajiri tries a powerbomb. The shooting star misses and Tajiri’s Buzzsaw gets two. That actually earns a KIDMAN chant as the fans can get behind someone who keeps fighting through adversity. Tajiri loads up something off the top but gets pulled down with a sitout powerbomb. Kidman tries a powerbomb of his own but KIDMAN CAN’T POWERBOMB YOU as Tajiri mists him in the eyes for the pin and the title.

Rating: C. The back and forth action was fine but there wasn’t much heart to this one. The fans got behind Kidman for all of ten seconds before Tajiri misted him to take the title back. It’s not a bad choice for an opener but this felt like something out of WCW: give them a little time and have the fans forget about it so the real stars can take over. It’s no wonder Kidman did that “no one knows who I am” promo on Smackdown.

The APA have a very quick reunion.

Scott Hall vs. Bradshaw

Remember a month ago when Hall was fighting Austin at Wrestlemania? The NWO (as in X-Pac) is at ringside so here’s Faarooq to have Bradshaw’s back. Bradshaw punches Scott in the jaw to start and a DDT sends him outside. That means a beating from Faarooq, followed by something like a right hand to X-Pac who can barely sell that properly. Back in and Hall does his discus punch with almost no pop behind it.

An APA chant doesn’t do much for Bradshaw but he gets in a shoulder to put both guys down. We get the Bowling Shoe line from JR as Hall is stumbling around, leaving Bradshaw of all people to carry this mess. The Clothesline knocks Hall’s head off but X-Pac puts the foot on the ropes. Faarooq takes care of X-Pac, leaving Hall to hit a horrible low blow to set up a rollup for the pin.

Rating: D-. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m feeling very sorry for Bradshaw around this time. The guy is stuck taking care of the veteran star and Hall has no business being on a major show at this point. It’s very clear he doesn’t care and is just out there for a paycheck and that leaves Bradshaw in over his head (not his fault) against someone who can’t help him through the match. The result is a disaster, save for the fans being VERY excited for an APA reunion. You know, less than a month after their split.

Vince laughs at Flair for screwing up Raw so far but Ric says he’ll never be like Vince at the helm of the show. Hands are NOT shaken and this goes nowhere.

Women’s Title: Trish Stratus vs. Jazz

Trish is challenging and I keep forgetting how great she looked around this time. Actually hang on a second as here’s Molly Holly instead of Jazz. Molly says the Women’s Champion shouldn’t have to flaunt her body and hits Trish in the face with the mic. A whip sends Trish into the steps and here’s Jazz to get things going.

Trish is ready to go and drops Jazz throat first across the top rope. Jazz starts punching and we get some Mike Tyson comparisons. The Stratusphere puts Jazz down again but since that’s just a glorified hurricanrana, a sitout powerbomb gets two on Trish. The Stratusfaction is broken up (because it’s a bulldog) and a dragon screw legwhip sets up an STF to retain Jazz’s title.

Rating: D+. Time hurt them here but the story before the match really didn’t help. Yeah Molly did some damage but Trish tried her signature move and Jazz did the leg damage that set up the STF. Jazz really doesn’t serve much of a purpose here other than being a dragon for Trish to slay at some point in the future and that’s really not interesting. It was better than the previous match though so things are looking up.

We recap Jeff Hardy vs. Brock Lesnar, which is mainly over Paul Heyman stealing Lita’s underwear on Raw.

Heyman gives Lesnar an unnecessary pep talk.

Jeff Hardy vs. Brock Lesnar

Lita is in Jeff’s corner and this is Brock’s in ring debut. Jeff goes after him to start and is thrown outside like a fly. A high crossbody gives Jeff two and it’s time for the beating to begin. We go to the yet to be built Suplex City before some backbreakers make it even worse for Jeff.

A pair of Irish whips have Jeff reeling but he comes back with a Whisper in the Wind to put Brock down. JR calls that a rare occasion, which is technical true due to Brock having about three minutes of ring time in the WWF at this point. The Swanton only gets two and that’s about it for Jeff. Hardy gets a chair so Brock scoops him up for an F5 onto the steel. Heyman: “DON’T PIN HIM! HURT HIM!” Lesnar gives him three straight powerbombs and the referee stops it.

Rating: D+. That’s all Lesnar needed to do here though you could argue it should have been against Matt and Jeff at the same time. Heyman telling Lesnar to hurt him was the perfect line and Brock looks like an unstoppable monster. On top of it all though is Jeff’s selling as he makes you think he’s been shot every time he takes another big shot.

We recap Kurt Angle vs. Edge in a rematch after Edge beat Angle in their first match. That’s not cool with Kurt so it’s time for revenge. This is a way for Edge to look great and move up the ladder and almost no one can help him better than Angle.

Kurt Angle vs. Edge

I love those big pieces of metal that swing back and forth to go with the Backlash name. You don’t see that kind of stuff enough anymore. Angle makes the mistake of charging at Edge to start and runs into some right hands. A flapjack sends Kurt outside and he’s rather upset by these circumstances.

Back in and a wicked German suplex sends Edge flying and an overhead belly to belly gets two. It’s already off to the chinlock and things slow down a bit. Edge fights back again and gets in a belly to belly of his own to buy a breather. The yet to be named Edgecution gets two on Angle but Edge takes too long on top, allowing Angle to run the corner for the superplex. That always looks great.

Some rolling Germans give Angle more near falls but Edge gets in something like a release German suplex of his own. A backdrop puts Angle on the floor again (Why is that floor so shiny?) and Edge dives down onto him for a lighter pop than I was expecting. Back in and an Angle Slam sets up a quick ankle lock but Edge rolls through for a near fall. Angle brings in a chair (Why does the referee never even try to stop that?) but walks into an Edge-o-Matic. The spear is blocked by a knee to the face and the Angle Slam gives Kurt the clean pin.

Rating: B. I know he’s run a lot of his legacy into the ground but dang Angle was good back in the day. It’s crazy to think that he had only been in the WWF about two and a half years at this point because he’s been great for so long. Edge is getting a heck of a rub out of this feud and it’s doing a lot to make him into a bigger deal. That’s such an important key to his career: they didn’t go nuts and hot shot Edge because they knew he was going to be something special. Let him season in this role and then move him up when he’s ready.

Here’s Chris Jericho who doesn’t have a match tonight. Just thirty days ago he was the WWF Champion but now he doesn’t have a match. Billy Kidman, Trish Stratus and MAVEN can get matches but he’s left off the show? JR: “What a bitter young man.” Actually what a person with a point. It’s ok though because Jericho knows he’s better than Hulk Hogan. Since he doesn’t have a match tonight, he’s out of here. Standard “hey I’m here and I’ll be back” segment.

Undertaker comes in to see Flair (and Arn Anderson) but just stares at him.

Intercontinental Title: Rob Van Dam vs. Eddie Guerrero

Eddie is challenging after returning recently and this is a battle of the frog splashes. Van Dam tries the kicks but gets taken down by the leg in a smart move. Rob’s shoulders in the corner don’t do much good either so he kicks Eddie down for two. It’s way too early for a splash though as Eddie crotches him down. Eddie can’t get a superplex though and Van Dam drapes him throat first across the top rope to really take over.

They head outside with Van Dam moonsaulting off the apron to set up the spinning kick to the back. Rolling Thunder is blocked, probably because it involves so much time and noise. A surfboard with Eddie bending Van Dam back into a dragon sleeper makes things even worse for the champ. That’s playing to Rob’s natural assets as most people can’t bend that way.

The Gory Stretch is countered into a sunset flip but Eddie stomps him down all over again. Eddie takes too long setting up his own frog splash so he sunset bombs Van Dam off the top for two instead. The near fall makes Eddie bring in the title and a neckbreaker onto the belt sets up the frog splash to give us a new champion.

Rating: B-. Oh yeah Eddie is back and that’s a great thing. Eddie looked awesome here and was obviously way ahead of Van Dam in the ring which had to be expected. Van Dam is always one of those guys who was there to drop the title to a better option as champion and that’s a role he played as well as anyone else. Good match here and most of that is due to Guerrero.

We recap Austin vs. Undertaker which is somehow mostly about Ric Flair. Undertaker beat Flair up at Wrestlemania so Undertaker wanted to make him miserable. Austin doesn’t like authority figures in general so Flair has made himself guest referee for this #1 contenders match.

Steve Austin vs. Undertaker

Flair is guest referee and has on red shoes that probably cost more than Nikita Koloff’s house. They start with technical stuff which means this is probably going to have a lot of time for reasons I don’t want to comprehend. A shoulder puts Austin on the floor for an early breather before doing that weird checking his watch thing.

We stop for some Austin push-ups (I don’t get it either.) before a clothesline drops Undertaker. An armdrag (???) and drop toehold (?!?) put Undertaker down into a Fujiwara armbar as we flash back to 1992 for some reason. Back up and Undertaker’s big boot takes over but we slow it down with a wristlock. Old School is broken up and Undertaker is knocked outside to finally makes this the brawl people expected to see.

Austin sends him into the announcers’ table but we have to stop for a knee brace adjustment. A slugout sends Undertaker into the crowd and here’s the NWO to help validate their contracts. Undertaker takes over again and hits the apron legdrop. It’s time to work on Austin’s leg as this is just dying. A Figure One Leglock sends Austin over to the ropes but I can’t stop looking at Flair’s stupid red shoes. Really you have two guys in all black and a referee in a striped shirt, black pants, and bright red shoes. Who let him get away with that?

A chinlock keeps Austin in trouble and a belly to back suplex gets two. In case that’s too exciting for you, here’s another chinlock and a forearm rubbed across Austin’s face. The announcers keep talking about the NWO, who haven’t done anything in the six or seven minutes they’ve been out here. Austin comes back with right hands so weak he’d criticize them on the podcast when he’s being all picky about a match but the jumping clothesline puts him down again.

Undertaker takes off a turnbuckle pad but gets whipped into it, followed by a double clothesline to put both guys down AGAIN. Geez end this nonsense already and bring Van Dam and Guerrero out here for round two. Some WHAT right hands have Undertaker in trouble but the referee, as in RIC FLAIR gets bumped off a collision. The Stunner connects but Flair is down for over thirty seconds.

Undertaker gets in a low blow and the chokeslam as Flair is on his feet after a minute. A slow two count ticks Undertaker off and a snap spinebuster gets the same for Austin. The Stunner is broken up and Flair is bumped again, leaving Undertaker to crack Austin with a chair for another slow two. Austin stomps a mudhole and grabs the chair, which is kicked into his face for the pin to make Undertaker #1 contender, despite Austin’s foot being on the rope.

Rating: D. Once we got past the point where they were obviously stalling for time, this got into the regularly not great Undertaker vs. Austin match. These two just don’t work that well together and they never have. Unfortunately this was much more about Austin than either wrestler and that’s almost never a good sign. This went on for twenty seven minutes but Van Dam and Guerrero couldn’t even get twelve. That sums up so many of Raw’s problems in one match. Oh and the NWO never did a thing and really just came out to take attention away from the match.

Austin Stuns Undertaker again.

Flair is shown the footage of Austin’s boot on the ropes and swears.

Tag Team Titles: Billy and Chuck vs. Al Snow/Maven

Snow and Eyebrows Huffman are challenging. The champs jump them at the bell as JR makes gay jokes. The fight heads to the floor and Maven whips Billy into Snow to knock him off the apron. That means nothing though as the tag brings Snow in for some right hands until Chuck punches him down.

As expected, the announcers talk about Tough Enough instead of the match. That’s closer than they usually get at least. Snow gets in a drop toehold and it’s time for wacky unintentional sexually suggestive poses. Everything breaks down again and Rico kicks Chuck by mistake. Maven’s high crossbody gets two but another Rico distraction sets up the Jungle Kick to retain the titles.

Rating: D+. This was fine for what it was as they were only supposed to bridge the gap between the main events. You’re only going to get so much out of this student/teacher team and now it’s time to go somewhere else for the title shot. Unfortunately I have no idea who gets that shot as there really isn’t a division at the moment.

We recap HHH vs. Hulk Hogan which is the big finale to the Hogan nostalgia train. Vince gave Hogan the title shot for no real reason other than Hogan is popular and there’s nothing wrong with that. What has been wrong has been the horribly dull feud with HHH being serious and Hogan being Hogan. They really don’t have a reason to hate each other and the lame attempts to build up issues haven’t worked.

WWF World Title: Hulk Hogan vs. HHH

HHH is defending and the graphic still has both belts for some reason. They do the big shoving match to start so I guess HHH is Ultimate Warrior in some weird revenge for Wrestlemania XII. Now it’s the lockup as JR keeps reminding us what a physical matchup this is. Like, did you know that HHH is really strong too?

Now it’s a fight over a top wristlock and then a headlock from Hogan. It would be nice if they approached first gear any time now. Hogan loses the bandana and presumably his strength as HHH hammers away in the corner. A backdrop and clotheslines give Hogan some offense and it’s time for brawling on the floor. HHH gets the better of it as a weak chant for the champ starts up.

A catapult sets up a rollup to give Hogan two and in the only moment of this match that I remember, Hogan uses a Diamond Cutter for two more. Of all the moves Hogan can use (and by that I mean about five), a Diamond Cutter? HHH starts in on the knee and gets booed out of the ring for it. Well to be fair would you want to start another phase of this match? As expected HHH turns into Ric Flair, who always had so much success against Hogan.

We hit a leg lock for a bit until Hogan kicks off the Figure Four. It’s right back to the knee though as the boring continues with some choking from the champ. The Figure Four goes on to make this match go on even longer in some form of torture. Like really, who was putting this show together and though “Hogan should get twenty minutes! That’s the ticket!”?

The hold is turned over and broken so we hit a sleeper as JR keeps trying to push the idea that the fans are the only thing keeping Hogan alive here. Two arm drops later, Hogan starts fighting up and gets in a belly to back suplex so he can have another rest. A running ax handle (Holy Japan!) sets up the big boot but here’s Jericho (duh) to take out the referee.

Jericho hits a loud chair shot to Hogan’s head but HHH would rather beat on Jericho instead of covering. It’s Hulk Up time and Hogan does the usual, only to miss the legdrop. There’s a Pedigree but here’s Undertaker to take out the referee. A chair to HHH’s head looks to finish but we get ANOTHER Hulk Up so Hogan can beat on Undertaker. With the big man dispatched, Hogan drops the leg to get the title back.

Rating: D-. While not as bad as some of Hogan’s WCW stuff (Mainly because of HHH. Ok all because of HHH.), this was REALLY boring as it went on probably ten minutes longer than it should have. Hogan is pure nostalgia and everyone in the company (save for him of course) knows it but for some reason we’re stuck watching him go out there for the better part of half an hour like he’s done…..maybe twice ever? Oh and well done on having HHH’s big title run last about a month. I’m so glad we spent months building that up for this kind of a reign.

A bloody HHH shakes Hogan’s hand so posing can take us out. Ignore the belt being nowhere in sight.

Overall Rating: D. There’s only so much you can do to get past the double main event. Angle vs. Edge and Van Dam vs. Guerrero are both good but they don’t combine to go as long as Austin vs. Undertaker. The rest of the show isn’t great either and there’s nothing worth going out of your way to see, save for maybe Angle vs. Edge. They really need a breath of fresh air on top and Hogan going out there and resting for more than half of an already too long match isn’t going to do it. There’s good stuff down the card but there’s no way around that double main event.

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