The SmarK Rant for WWE Backlash 2020 – 06.14.20
Live / taped from the Performance Center
Your hosts are Michael Cole & Corey Graves
They’re literally comparing the GREATEST WRESTLING MATCH EVER to heavy hitters like Savage/Steamboat in the opening video, so they’re going all out with the hype, at least.
Women’s tag team titles: Sasha Banks & Bayley v. Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross v. The Iiconics
Nikki slugs it out with Bayley and Billie to start and we get a bunch of clumsy stuff and a three-way standoff. Sasha takes Peyton down with a wristlock and they trade sunset flips for two, looking really clumsy again for some reason. The timing is all way off here. So they do another standoff and Nikki comes in and runs wild for a bit, but Peyton gets a spinkick for two. Bayley works Cross over in the corner, but misses a charge and Billie gets two. The heels double-team Cross for a bit and Kay gets a suplex (?) on Bayley, but Cross fights back on them both and makes the hot tag to Bliss. She runs wild and slugs it out with Banks on the apron, but everyone gets into place and then falls off in a heap in a ridiculously ugly “dive” spot. The fake crowd chants “This is awesome” but…no. Just no. Back in, Bliss hits the Twisted Bliss on Peyton, but Sasha comes in and steals the pin at 8:56 to retain. What is their obsession with booking triple threat matches and then using that stupid finish? Horrible opener where they missed just about every spot. ½* The Iiconics in particular were just tripping over themselves out there for the entire match.
Meanwhile, Braun Strowman arrives at the arena in his sweatpants, really maintaining that monster star mystique.
Jeff Hardy v. Sheamus
So according to the video package, the final build for the match was Jeff throwing his jar of urine at Sheamus. I feel like that’s a bad move in a pandemic. Plus who KNOWS the kind of stuff that’s in Jeff’s urine after years of hard living. Really, he’s kind of a monster. Sheamus pounds on him in the corner, but Jeff comes back with a running body attack in the corner and chokes him out on the ropes. Sheamus puts him down with a clothesline and does his own choking, but Jeff backdrops him onto the apron and dropkicks him to the floor. Jeff follows with a dive off the stairs, but gets cuts off on the way into the ring and Sheamus drops him on the ringpost to take over. Sheamus tries a spinning slam deal, which they completely botch as Jeff falls like a sack of potatoes instead, and Sheamus goes up with a kneedrop instead for two. Two backbreakers get two. Sheamus with the chinlock, but Jeff escapes with a jawbreaker and Sheamus hits him with a knee for two. He stops to yell at the commentators and goes back to the chinlock, but Jeff escapes with a back suplex. Sheamus puts him down with a suplex and goes up for the clothesline, which misses. Jeff makes the comeback with the Whisper in the Wind for two. Jeff with the legdrop and short dropkick for two. Sheamus counters the Twist of Fate with a rollup for two, but Jeff clotheslines him and goes up. Sheamus cuts him off with a superplex attempt, but Jeff shoves him down and then falls down himself. They’re certainly had some rough spots here. Sheamus gets the White Noise off that for two. Sheamus with the cloverleaf, but Jeff makes the ropes as we’ve long passed the peak here. So Sheamus kind of stalls while Jeff goes to the apron, and then does the forearms out there. Back in, hits the Twist of Fate out of nowhere and goes up to finish with the swanton, but Sheamus is in the ropes. So Sheamus bails to the floor and Jeff tries to run off the railing, but Sheamus hits him with a Brogue Kick to block it. Back in, another one finishes at 16:44. They were having a good match for about 10 minutes and then it just kept going too long and fell apart because they ran out of gas, Jeff in particular. ** Jeff, my dude, it’s 2020. Time to change it up.
Meanwhile, Miz and Morrison learn that Otis could cash in his briefcase on one of them tonight.
RAW Women’s title: Asuka v. Nia Jax
I can only presume Charlotte walks out with the title somehow. Asuka tries for a sleeper and armbar on Nia and can’t get anywhere, but then wraps her up with an Octopus before Nia throws her off. Nia beats her down and follows with a corner splash, and a slam gets two. Nia stretches her on the ropes for a bit and gets a spinebuster for two. Asuka jumps into a guillotine, but Nia reverses into a kind of jackhammer for two. Asuka gets fired up and comes back with the shining wizard for two and a missile dropkick for two. Asuka with the kicks, but Nia hits her with a powerbomb for two. They head to the top and Asuka tries a hanging armbar, but they kind of fall to the floor with another botch in a series of them tonight. Asuka gets an armbar on the floor and they’re both counted out at 8:25. Well this was a match that happened. *1/2
Meanwhile, MVP is doing business deals but gets interrupted by Lana.
Universal title: Braun Strowman v. Miz & Morrison
We get a music video tribute from the challengers, which is…something. So the storyline here is that M&M thought that if they won, they’d be “co-champions”, but then they got swerved at the last minute and found out that only the guy who gets the pin gets the title. This is somehow news? Also how is this any different from a standard three-way match? Strowman overpowers Morrison and then boots Miz into the corner and throws him into Morrison. He tries his run around the ring spot, but Morrison cuts him off with a dive and Cole sounds like he’s ready to throw to a commercial. BACKLASH ROLLS ON! Back in, Miz gets a kick for two and goes to a chinlock, but Braun powers out of that. Morrison comes in and pounds away on the mat while we ZOOM AND CUT. It’s a good thing that motion sickness-induced nausea isn’t a symptom of Covid. Miz with the kicks and Morrison comes in with more kicks while Braun sells. Miz with a Skull Crushing Finale and Morrison gets two, but Miz pulls him off because he wants to be champion. So the story is that Braun nearly got beat cleanly by JOHN MORRISON but only got saved because they turned on each other?!? Strowman finishes with the powerslam on Morrison at 7:24 to retain, really dodging a bullet there. Really bad. ½* Strowman’s Universal title reign so far has to be in the conversation for one of the worst ever.
Meanwhile, on Smackdown, AJ wins the IC title over Daniel Bryan in what was apparently a great match, but not THE GREATEST WRESTLING MATCH EVER.
WWE title: Drew McIntyre v. Bobby Lashley
Lashley attacks before the bell and puts Drew down with the full nelson, then gets a suplex for two when they start. Bobby pounds on him in the corner, but tries a charge and runs into a knee. Lashley hits a clothesline for two, but Drew fights back with a northern lights suplex for two. Lashley puts him down with a neckbreaker for two. Bobby chokes him out on the ropes and they fight to the floor, where Lashley tries a death valley driver and nearly drops Drew on his head in a terrifying bump. But they do it again and Lashley runs him into the post this time, and then follows with a spear into the railing. But then Drew hits a suplex on the floor and they head back in, where they exchange chops and Drew comes back with clotheslines and a big boot. Drew goes up and hits a shoulderblock, then follows with a spinebuster into a jackknife pin for two. Lashley comes back with a spinebuster for one and runs Mcintrye into the post, but that again only gets one. So MVP instructs him to use the full nelson because Drew can’t kick out of it, and that’s pretty solid advice. So he tries that, but Drew blocks it and then whiplashes him out of the corner for two. Mcintyre goes up and lands in a crossface on the way down, but he fights out and tries a tombstone. That nearly goes really badly, but Lashley reverses into an anklelock. Drew fights out of that and Lashley tries a spear, but Drew blocks that with a kimura. They get to the ropes and fight to the top, where Drew gets a superplex. This brings out Lana, who gets bumped with Lashley for some reason, and Drew hits the Claymore kick to finish at 13:18. Good hoss fight, stupid finish. ***1/4
Meanwhile, the Viking Raiders and Street Profits are fighting in the parking lot, but they manage to wreck Braun Strowman’s car by accident and run away in terror. So I guess this leads to CINEMATIC WRESTLING? They grab various weapons and have a staredown in the tunnel with wacky music playing in the background, but everyone agrees to stop the insanity and put down their weapons. And then the Profits attack, but Hanson has a flashback to bowling in the midst of the match and we get the classic “bowling ball in the crotch” spot, complete with three different cuts before the impact. And then it’s more flashbacks to the Raiders eating turkey legs, and they head outside to finish things, but a motorcycle gang pulls up for some reason, which is apparently Akira Tozawa leading a group of ninjas. HAHA BECAUSE HE’S JAPANESE GET IT? So they decide to team up as the Viking Profits and we get various wacky spots complete with 80s transition effects. But then Tozawa calls in the giant ninja, at which point Hanson uses his Force powers to reclaim his turkey leg from the bushes and they all scamper up to the top of the trucks and run away. So then the fight continues up there and everyone somehow ends up in a dumpster. So then we get one last flashback from Hanson and lady ref wakes them all up before we finish with a tentacle chasing them off to end the “match”. This was not only a complete bait-and-switch after they advertised a tag title match for the show, but it wasn’t funny or particularly entertaining and came off more like something from Vince Russo’s WCW run. Or maybe I’m just watching it wrong.
THE GREATEST WRESTLING MATCH EVER: Randy Orton v. Edge
I’m not super OK with pulling up the dead Finkel recording for the introductions. They’re going for a certain sentimental feeling that I don’t think the match has earned yet. So the audio overdubbing of the crowd at the beginning is SUPER obnoxious. There’s just not enough people to make that much noise. They fight for the lockup to start and Orton grabs a headlock, but Edge takes him down with armdrags and Orton reverses him to a headscissors on the mat. Edge gets his own headlock but Orton trips him up and puts him on the floor. Back in, we get a chase around the apron and Edge boots him down on the floor and back in for two. Edge evades him for a bit and takes him down with an armdrag into a wristlock, but Orton stomps on the arm to escape. They fight to the top and Edge hits a clothesline to take Orton to the floor as Orton is busted open somehow. I dunno, for the GREATEST WRESTLING MATCH EVER it’s dragging pretty bad so far. So we head back in and Edge slugs him down and goes to a crossface, but Orton makes the ropes. Orton tries the RKO, but that misses, and Edge goes for a choke while the pre-recorded audio goes crazy. Come on, even real crowds don’t buy submissions at this point. Orton with a neckbreaker and they fight to the floor, where Orton runs him into various objects and the “crowd” continues to go crazy out of all proportion for how many people are in the building. Edge gets slammed on the announce desk and they head back in, where Orton uses the Garvin stomp and then goes to a chinlock. Orton with the rolling suplexes, but Edge gets his own and they trade chops before heading to the floor again. Orton runs him into the post and they head back in, where Orton gets a superplex for two. Orton tries the draping DDT and Edge reverses to his own DDT for two. Edge with knees for two, but he misses a charge and hits the post, which gets two for Orton. He manages to roll into another crossface on Orton, but Orton escapes with an Angle Slam for two. He actually tries a rana, but Edge blocks it with a powerbomb for two. Orton dumps him to the floor and brings him back in for the draping DDT, but Edge blocks the RKO with an Edge-O-Matic for two. Edge gets all fired up, but Orton dodges the spear, so Edge gets the Unprettier for two. Orton hits him with the Pedigree, and that gets two. Edge hits him with a Rock Bottom for two. They fight to the apron again and Orton tries another draping DDT, but Edge slides in with a rollup for two. Oklahoma Roll gets two, but Orton hits the RKO OUTTA NOWHERE for two. He sets up for the PUNT, but Edge blocks it with the spear and then hits another one for two. But then Orton hits another RKO to block a diving Edge, and gets two. I should note that we get a camera angle of the announcers at ringside at this point and you can see them sitting silently while you can hear them talking. Edge tries his choke again, but Orton kicks him in the nuts and then finishes with the punt at 45:00. And then Orton tells him to go home and let his kids know that “Uncle Randy says hello”. I mean, obviously this never could have been “the greatest wrestling match ever” for a variety of reasons including a lack of an actual crowd and a convoluted buildup. But even then, it didn’t need to go 45 minutes and it felt like it dragged until about the 20:00 mark. Still, a hell of an effort from both guys to give it a try, and I’d say it was a pretty great main event. Did it live up to the hype? No, sorry. ****1/4 More importantly is anyone really gonna remember this six months from now? I doubt it.
So yeah, a nothing undercard with one of the worst segments of the year was leading this into solid thumbs down territory, but the main event was at least worth watching if not the superlative GREATEST WRESTLING MATCH EVER that they advertised. They didn’t shit the bed but I wouldn’t say it’s worth watching the show just for that one match or anything. This one is a definite SKIM IT for me.