ĎSup CF? Itís been a while hasnít it, but new country and new board means Mazza is back with a new column. Now I am not quite ready to innovate column writing again just yet. I am sure I will get to it before summer is out but right now I have a bit of unfinished business to take care of. About eleven months ago I started a series where I would create the best card possible using WWE PPV matches for each calendar month. Unfortunately, the fact that I have moved 6,000 miles recently meant that the series came to a grinding halt after the WrestleMania edition. On the bright side, I am ready to catch up now so I shall be dropping the final three monthly cards over the next couple of weeks, starting with...
THE ULTIMATE APRIL PPV
As it has been a while, I will explain this edition again. Despite plenty of WrestleMania events taking place in April, the last edition of this column was a Mania edition rather than a March edition. As such, the April edition will not include any Mania matches. That said there is still plenty to choice and some memorable matches at the Backlash (and other) events over the years. If you are new to this series, please note that I have not made the choosing of the matches easy for myself. There are quite a few different elements involved and here is a quick run through of what they are...
So now everybody should be clear on what is going on, it is time to present you Backlashís finest moments with...
Originally Posted by The Ultimate July PPV
THE ULTIMATE APRIL PPV
Tajiri (With Torrie Wilson) defeated Billy Kidman in 9:08 to win the Cruiserweight Championship (Backlash 2002)
As a major supporter of this (and almost all) series, I have to give a nod to Mizfan with Aprilís dark match. WWE never really capitalised on the talent of the cruiserweights but there were some good matches over the years and these were two guys that caught the eye more often than most. This was definitely a good example as they opened the show and set the pace for a card that was stacked with star names. The action, as you would expect, is fast flowing mixing Kidmanís high flying with Tajiriís beautiful leg strikes (I see your educated feet, RVD and raise you). On top of that we had some nice eye candy at ringside too with Torrie Wilson all decked out in Japanese gear. The match went just about the perfect length and ended with the Japanese Buzzsaw winning the title with a stiff old boot to the long-lost Hart brotherís head.
CPR Rating: B-
Chris Jericho defeated Ricky Steamboat in 12:32 (Backlash 2009)
When Y2J went up against 3 men well past their prime at WrestleMania 25, people didnít expect much but Ricky Steamboat surprised the world by showing that he still had ďitĒ, 22 years after being part of arguably the greatest match in Mania history. In fact, he had people on such a nostalgia trip with his deep arm drags, he was given a final one-on-one PPV match a few weeks later. Whilst Jericho and Steamboat may not quite have the name value of Austin and Hogan, this was still very much a dream match. Whilst the Dragon still had the talent, his limitations were more apparent without Jimmy Snuka to make him look younger. Luckily he was working with Jericho who does a good job of selling Steamboatís offence and nursing him along. Obviously slower than it would have been if Ricky was in his prime but a great story of the old lion versus the young lion was told, complemented by some moves that were far crisper than they had any right to be. When dream matches actually happen, they rarely get anywhere near the hype because of age differences but this delivered enough to earn a spot on the card, even if some of that is down to the nostalgia of a teased rerun of the Mania III finish before Jericho picked up the submission victory with the Walls.
CPR Rating: B-
The New Age Outlaws defeated Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett (With Debra) in 10:34 (Backlash: In Your House)
I am a massive Outlaws fan but during their peak the tag titles werenít getting much respect and as a result they have very few really strong PPV matches. This however was definitely one of them. Owen and Jeff were great opponents for them and I think were a team that could have been legendary given a bit longer together but this would unfortunately be Owenís final PPV match. Whichever way you look at it, you had some great tag team wrestlers in this match and even though they werenít in the title hunt, they managed to really make the most of the time they were given and put on a great show. The Outlaws were still ridiculously over with the fans here and we were on the verge of Billyís failed run as King of the Ring. However you cannot blame WWE in the slightest for attempting the push because Gunn looked a superstar in the making in this match. He had speed, he had power, he looked a million bucks (slight homo) and had the crowd popping. Sure, it turned out that it was actually Road Dogg and the team gimmick that had the crowd but he looked a dead cert as a future world champ at this point. As a team The Outlaws knew each other inside out by this time and when combined with a seemingly natural understanding between Jeff and Owen as well as a fun cameo from Debraís humungous Attitude era sized melons, it made for an excellent match with some very entertaining sequences including the final one which saw Billy hit Owen with a Fameasser whilst he had the Sharpshooter on Road Dogg. In fact, if it wasnít for Billy dropping his drawers to show everyone his ďA-Double Crooked LetterĒ (and thong!) it might have just made it to the A category.
CPR Rating: B
Chris Benoit defeated Kurt Angle in 31:31 in an Ultimate Submission Match (Backlash 2001)
This is definitely a strange one for me. I always list it amongst my very favourite matches of all time but I have not watched it again since the night it happened. It made it very interesting to see if it would live up to the hype I have given it in my own head. The first ten minutes was really a feeling out process but it ends at one-a-piece as both men tap quickly (Benoit to some kind of leg lock and Angle to ADRís gay hand lock but done better) to escape worse injury. Angle makes the most of a ref bump to land a chairshot which he follows up with an Ankle Lock and then a Crossface to take a 3-1 lead. Kurt controls things for a while but eventually The Crippler digs deep to pull one back with a Lion Tamer but Angle is soon back in charge. He looks like he successfully winding the clock down but Benoit pulls level with an Ankle Lock with two minutes left after a beautiful sequence of counters. It is all Angle from here and he has his finisher locked in as the time runs out and he walks off. We then get the Mania 12 finish and overtime is announced. Kurt looks pissed and rightfully so as he finds himself tapping moments later to the crossface. So does the match live up to my initial reaction eleven years ago? Not quite but it really isnít far off at all. It is still definitely an ďAĒ but it just lacked that bit of extra magic from getting the very top CPR rating.
CPR Rating: A
Team Angle defeated Los Guerreros in 15:03 to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship (Backlash 2003)
I will always have a big soft spot for Haas and Benjamin because they really hit the ground running in the WWE. From their debut they looked like a team that had been wrestling together for a decade. This wasnít long after their start as Kurt Angleís young Jedi and who better to pair the fresh champs with than the Guerreros. Both teams definitely held up their end of the bargain and this is another in a long line of tag matches from around that period of time that have made other editions of this series. Whether it was TWGTT, The Guerreros, Edge and Rey or Angle and Benoit, these matches hit home every time. On show was excellent counter wrestling, great athleticism and an understanding of tag team wrestling psychology that was sorely lacking in the supposed golden era of a couple of years earlier. The champs ended up bossing a large part of the match with Chavo playing the face in peril. Eddie was golden as he got more and more frustrated with the ref missing tags. He eventually lands a Frog Splash but Chavito can only get a two count before the champs retain thanks to a spot of seasoned veteran double teaming. Really strong tag match that was totally different to the other one that made this card yet just as good in its own right.
CPR Rating: B
Randy Orton defeated Cactus Jack in 23:03 in a Hardcore Match to retain the Intercontinental Championship (Backlash 2004)
Here we have one of the most successful carbon copy matches in WWE history. Just over four years earlier, Mick Foley reached for his Cactus Jack persona to elevate Triple H to a level he would never step down from. We all know Orton eventually failed to stick the landing, but that isnít because of this match. In fact there is a potential argument that young Randall was prematurely rushed to the world title because of just how good Foley made him look here. Of course it wasnít a case of it being a technical masterpiece, it was the story of the young clean cut stud really putting his body on the line in the name of getting over. And make no mistake about it, the big spots looked brutal and came thick and fast. Young Randall really took a lot in this match but withstood everything Mick could throw at him to eventually take the victory with an RKO onto thumbtacks. This was one of the the best hardcore matches you will ever see in the WWE and whilst I donít think it was quite as good as the match it was trying to emulate, it really wasnít that far off at all. Kudos has to go both men here even if history shows that Mick could wrestle a broom to at least a four star hardcore match.
CPR Rating: A-
The Undertaker fought Batista to a No-Contest in a Last Man Standing Match for the World Heavyweight Championship (Backlash 2007)
Batista takes a lot of shit in the IWC for being, well, shit. Whilst I am not going to sit here and claim that the guy is a great ring general, I think you would be hard pressed to find many hosses with the number of very strong matches that Big Dave has. I think a lot of his issue was that he was stale for so long, stuck as a dominant and boring goody two shoes. His work as a heel just before left was excellent, his work around his initial face turn was entertaining but there wasnít a great deal of excitement in between. Apart from this feud. Maybe it was the fact that he was the semi-heel for the feud (and you can tell ďarseholeĒ seems a more natural role for Dave), maybe it was because of the legendary status of his opponent, or maybe it was the fact that they werenít given the final match at Mania, but for whatever reason, Batista just seemed to click with The Undertaker. They stole the show a few weeks earlier but to me this match was even stronger. Now Last Man Standing matches in general were being used too much around this period and the double countout finish is probably universally despised, but I think it worked here more than anywhere else. You had the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. The guy that had owned Smackdown for the last couple of years against the guy that had owned it (at least on a part time basis) from pretty much the time it started. The legend had just gone over at Mania (as he always does) but here there was absolutely nothing between them. They were both in the mood as well, having a very strong battle which saw big impact move after big impact move. With neither man able to put their opponent away, it took Dave hitting a spear off the stage and into some kind of equipment to keep both men down for a count of ten. I kind of get the feeling that The Animal would have taken the next match in the series had it not been for Takerís injury to leave them walking away looking totally equal and leaving the door open for another massive feud down the line. I guess we will never know now and it just got a bit messy by the time Edge got involved in things. That said, they did manage to leave us with this often-overlooked gem. If you can get past the dusty finish then it really is an enthralling encounter.
CPR Rating: A-
John Cena defeated Triple H and Edge (With Lita) in 17:33 to retain the WWE Championship (Backlash 2006)
I go from a dusty finish last man standing to a triple threat main event. Boy, I may get some stick this month. Just like the previous match, this one is also guilty of following the template for how the gimmick should work, but you know what, there is a reason why it became the template in the first place. Sure, the standard elements that go into a triple threat have become pretty predictable over the years but when you have the right men involved, there is no reason it canít be as good, or even better than a one-on-one. Hunter, Edge and Cena were definitely the right men and this all came together at a very intriguing time. We were in the very early days of it being cool to boo Cena and on the flip side, Trips was starting to get some love again despite still being on his half-decade run of pure evil. The Champ had made The Game tap out at Mania and was booed out of the building so why not insert a not-so-old rival into the mix. Edge was finally beginning to get kayfabe heat (as opposed to fucking Matt over heat) and was earning more and more respect in large part thanks to Mick Foley doing a similar job at Mania to the one he did for Orton in 2004. In short, Cena was the face, Edge the heel with Trips hinting at moving from the darkside but the crowd reactions were all over the place. The match itself saw all the old favourites. Heel trying not to get involved, one upmanship beatdowns, last gasp pin and submission saves, short lived alliances and, of course, the big three man spot. We even had a spot of woman beating and a pretty gruesome crimson mask from Hunter. All men played their role extremely well in the match but in the end it was Cena who retained his title with a roll up on Trips before The Game heeled it up by taking out both men and the ref with a sledgehammer and teased his upcoming face turn and DX reunion (the match followed Vince and Shane vs HBK and ďGodĒ!) by giving the crotch chop. If you want to know why crowds are so confused over how to react to Cena, you know exactly who to blame now.
CPR Rating: B+
And there we have the Ultimate April PPV. Once again I am pretty happy with how it turned out. There were a couple of ďmust-havesĒ for the card but the one I really fretted over was the WWE title match. I had quite a few candidates here including HBK vs Diesel from In Your House 7, Austin vs Dude Love from 1998, Hunter vs Rocky from 2000, the fatal-four way elimination from 2008 and Cena vs Batista from 2010. All would have made for a strong main event but most would have had a knock on effect on the rest of the card. We have had some big names miss out however with the most notable being Shawn Michaels, who has been a lock for most of this series so far. Massive stars like Bret Hart, Steve Austin and The Rock also missed out this month but rest assured they will be challenging again for May, with one of the four ready to slot into the main event. But that is a story for next week.
Thatís right, May will be coming next week and June should be the week after that. I have something a little special planned for that one too. Once that is done I shall probably wrap the whole series up with a best of the best column that will look at some of the trends that have occurred over the series. So if you are interested in seeing the other monthsí cards, I shall give you a recap of them all then. In the meantime, I shall leave you with some links to the matches on the April card before going off to have a celebratory drink over my return to column writing. Until next week, peace!