Reviews

TJR Retro: WWE Backlash 2008 Review (Triple H vs. John Cena vs. Randy Orton vs. JBL)

The tenth edition of WWE Backlash took place at a time when the brand extension was fully in place with two pretty good rosters going at the same time…plus ECW. Yeah, there was still ECW, but it was hardly extreme and they usually got one match on PPV cards. I always thought of 2008 as a strong year for WWE with consistently strong PPVs for most of the year. It was also a year of change because this event took place about three months before WWE officially went PG meaning a more toned-down product was coming soon.

Backlash 2008 did a reported 200,000 buys on pay-per-view, which was one of the worst PPVs of the year. I think sometimes following WrestleMania is tough because people will get WrestleMania and then Backlash doesn’t feel like a big deal even if it’s a good card.

This show followed WrestleMania 24 and the next one was Judgment Day 2008.

Here is the synopsis on WWE Network:

“Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match for WWE Championship pits defending champion Randy Orton against John Cena, Triple H, and JBL. The Undertaker defends the World Heavyweight Championship against Edge. Shawn Michaels battles Batista with Chris Jericho as the special guest referee. The Big Show faces The Great Khali and more.” (14+ D, L, V)

The DVD looks like this:

Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Let’s get to the show.

WWE Backlash
From 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore, Maryland
April 27, 2008

The opening video was the usual thing where it covers the main matches on the show.

There was an impressive pyro display to start the show, plenty of signs in the crowd and the fans were ready to go. They showed the Raw announce team of Jim Ross & Lawler at ringside, the ECW announce team of Mike Adamle & Tazz and Smackdown’s announce team was Michael Cole with Mick Foley making his announcer debut. The Smackdown guys called the first match.

Matt Hardy got a big pop for his entrance. They had a rivalry going back to the summer and they even won the Tag Team Titles together. MVP turned on Matt, then Matt missed several months with an injury and Matt cost MVP the victory in the Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania. That was a cool moment that drew a big pop. That led to this match. Montel Vontavious Porter made his entrance as the US Champion as the longest reigning US Champion in WWE history.

United States Championship: Montel Vontavious Porter vs. Matt Hardy

Pre-match notes: MVP was the heel US Champion while Hardy was the babyface. MVP was champion for 343 days at this point, which meant he held the title for nearly one full year.

The match began with MVP going after Matt’s left knee and Matt managed to avoid it at first. Matt avoided a punch, then Matt connected with punches and MVP bailed to the floor. Matt with a hiptoss followed by an elbow drop. MVP charged, Matt got his boot up and Matt hit an elbow smash off the middle rope for a two count. MVP with a forearm to the back followed by a belly to back suplex to take control. Matt was able to knock MVP down near the ropes and Matt went for a moonsault, but MVP got the knees up to hit Matt in the ribs as MVP took over again with a knee drop. When Matt tried to get some momentum going, MVP slammed him down. MVP did the abdominal stretch while holding the ropes until the referee saw it. Matt was able to pick MVP up and drop him to the mat for a two count. Matt charged right into an overhead throw by MVP although it didn’t look great. The announcers pointed out that Matt had his appendix removed earlier in the year as well, so MVP might have been targeting that. MVP had Matt on his shoulders and then he tossed him to the mat. MVP with a charging attack and Matt stopped him with a clothesline. The fans were getting into it as Hardy delivered clotheslines along with a bulldog for two. MVP came back by sending Matt throat first into the top rope. MVP went for the Playmaker, Matt slipped out and hit the Side Effect for two, which is a move that usually got two for him, but always got a good reaction. Matt went up top with MVP stopping him with a dropkick. Matt was seated on the top rope, MVP went after him and Matt hit the Side Effect off the middle rope. Good spot there for a two count. The fans bought that as a nearfall. MVP with a backslide pin with feet on the ropes, but referee Mickey Henson caught it. Matt with a rollup for two. Matt wanted the Twist of Fate, MVP drove him back first into the turnbuckle and hit a knee to the ribs. MVP with a running kick to the head to knock Matt out of the ring to the floor. Matt did a nice job of selling and barely getting back in the ring before the ten kick. MVP delivered multiple kicks to the ribs. MVP with kicks to the head of Matt to stun the challenger. MVP charged with the running kick, Matt moved and MVP stretched his leg against the turnbuckle. Matt hit the Twist of Fate for the pinfall win at 11:24.

Winner by pinfall AND NEW United States Champion: Matt Hardy

Analysis: ***1/4 It was a good match that was competitive from the start of it. The fans were really into it, so it was a smart choice for an opener especially because there was a title change as well. They kept the match in the ring for most of it aside from Hardy doing a bump to the floor. MVP did very well as the aggressive heel that didn’t let up until Matt found a way to put him away. This feud had a long-term story that the fans were familiar, so they popped big when Matt won to finally get the US Title off MVP.

Matt Hardy celebrated with the US Title with the announcers put it over as a big deal. Hardy was happy about the win while MVP was furious in the ring. It’s always important to sell during the match and after it too. They did it well.

The Raw announce team of Ross and Lawler encouraged fans to vote in a poll about who will win the WWE Title match in the main event.

Matt Hardy was interviewed backstage by Eve Torres, who was pretty new in the company. Matt said he’s been European Champion, Hardcore Champion, Cruiserweight Champion, 8-time Tag Team Champion, but this is the biggest championship win of his career. Matt said he worked so hard to get here. Matt said that this was the biggest win of his career and the best day of his life. Matt stared into the camera with a message to MVP: “I am better than you!” That was it.

Analysis: Nice speech by Matt. I think it would have been even better if they did that interview on the stage so the fans could pop for it with Matt in front of them.

The ECW announcers Mike Adamle and Tazz were on hand to call the lone ECW match on the show.

Chavo Guerrero entered first with his ally Bam Neely with him. Kane was up next as the ECW Champion after they showed replayed of Chavo and friends attacking Kane’s left knee on the last ECW show prior to this event.

ECW Championship: Kane vs. Chavo Guerrero (w/Bam Neely)

Pre-match notes: Kane was the babyface ECW Champion while Chavo was the heel. Bam Neely had a short run in WWE. Kane won the ECW Title from Chavo at WrestleMania in about eight seconds.

Kane used his size advantage to lift up Chavo up on his back and choke him a bit. Kane was limping to sell the left leg injury. Kane did a press slam. Kane with a whip into the corner, but Chavo came back with a drop toe hold and he went after the left knee with kick. Kane tossed Chavo over the top to the floor. Chavo jumped into Kane’s arms and Kane drove Chavo back first into the ring apron. Back in the ring, Kane went up top, so Chavo shoved him down to the floor and Kane was favoring the left knee injury. Chavo rammed the left knee into the ring apron and then jumped over the top onto the knee. Chavo continued to work over the left knee of Kane and then Neely got in a cheap shot sending the knee into the ring post while the referee distracted the referee. Chavo twisted the left knee of Kane, Chavo went to the middle rope and Kane put Chavo on his shoulders. Kane did the Electric Chair drop sending Chavo to the mat. Kane with a boot to the face, two corner clotheslines and a sidewalk slam for two. Kane with a back body drop across the ring. Kane went up top and jumped off with a clothesline although it was more like a punch because Chavo wasn’t in the right spot. Chavo choked Kane across the top and then Chavo jumped off the middle rope with a DDT for two. Chavo did a shake like Uncle Eddie, the suplex attempt failed, so Chavo clipped the back of the left knee. Chavo went up top, Kane grabbed him by the throat and Chavo did an eye gouge followed by a headbutt. Chavo jumped off the top with a Frog Splash, Kane no sold that, grabbed Chavo by the throat and delivered a huge Chokeslam for the pinfall win at 6:50.

Winner by pinfall: Kane

Analysis: **1/4 It was just an average match to put over Kane as the champion. The story of Chavo working over the left knee helped them have a longer match, but I don’t think anybody thought Kane was losing this match. The finish was clever with Chavo hitting a Frog Splash, but then Kane was able to counter right away and Kane put him away with the Chokeslam.

Randy Orton, the WWE Champion, was interviewed by Todd Grisham. Orton said that as of late, he has been through a lot of adversity, yet we’re living in the Age of Orton and Randy said he’ll walk out of Backlash still the WWE Champion.

They showed a Tale of the Tape for The Great Khali vs. Big Show with Khali weighing at 7’3” and 420 pounds and while Big Show was at 7’0” and 441 pounds. Khali made his entrance to almost no reaction. Big Show made his entrance to a decent reaction from the crowd.

The Great Khali vs. Big Show

Pre-match notes: Khali was the heel and Show was the face. The Smackdown guys called this match. My excitement level for a match like this is very low while Vince McMahon loves this kind of thing.

They had a big staredown to start the match, Khali with punches, Show came back with punches and a headbutt. Khali with a headbutt, then Show with a headbutt, Khali came back with a headbutt and they exchanged chops. Khali with a clothesline that Show sold well. There was a fan with a “Khali Can’t Wrestle” sign in the background and then fans chanted “you can’t wrestle” at Khali. There were elbow smashes by Khali, then Show came back with headbutts and Khali connected with a clothesline that sent Show over the top to the floor. Khali shoved Show back first into the ring post. Khali with a kick to the head. Khali did some weird-looking chinlock, Show tried selling it as best he could and Show got out of it. Show tried a body slam, he couldn’t lift Khali up and then Khali landed on top of Show for a two count. Khali did the nerve hold to the shoulder. Show broke free, ran the ropes and Khali did the dreaded chop to the head for a two count. Khali pulled back on Show’s arms for a submission hold. Show got out of that, kick to the gut and Show hit a body slam for two. Khali tried going for a two handed choke into a slam, but Show was able to power out of that and delivered a big Chokeslam for the win at 8:05.

Winner by pinfall: Big Show

Analysis: *3/4 It was a bad match although I wouldn’t say it was some all-time bad match or anything like that. Show worked hard as the babyface selling for most of the match. They got through it and had a strong finish at least. Big Show winning the battle of the giants was the right call since Show was coming off a WrestleMania loss against Floyd Mayweather, so Show needed the win. That final Chokeslam was impressive too because Khali got a lot of height on it, which was a bit of a surprise. Good way to finish the match with a clear winner.

John Cena was shown backstage talking to Jimmy Wang Yang about country music. Randy Orton walked up to Cena, so Jimmy left. Orton told Cena that he’s not going to win and John will go home disappointed just like he did at WrestleMania. Cena said win, lose or draw, whatever does happen, Randy will go home a broken man. Cena left while Orton stared off into the distance.

A video package aired about Shawn Michaels facing Batista. It featured Shawn doing a promo about ending Ric Flair’s career at WrestleMania 24. Batista said it bothered him that Shawn is the reason we won’t see Flair in a WWE ring again. Shawn said he gave Ric what he asked him. Batista was mad at Shawn about it. That set up the match at Backlash. Chris Jericho got involved with some statements that upset both guys, so Jericho took the finishing move of both men. Michaels said good luck because you’re going to need it. It was also announced that Jericho was the special guest referee for the match.

The entrances took place with Chris Jericho up first as the special guest referee. Batista was next and he got a big pop from the crowd. Shawn Michaels got a loud babyface reaction as usual.

Shawn Michaels vs. Batista (Chris Jericho is the special guest referee)

Pre-match notes: Michaels and Batista were both babyfaces. Chris Jericho was also a babyface although this was the start of his heel turn. Michaels and Jericho were Raw regulars while Batista was a Smackdown guy.

Batista was eager to lock up with shiner around his left eye. Michaels with punches, Batista shoved him down and Batista avoided a superkick while Shawn slipped out of a Batista Bomb attempt. After Shawn regrouped a bit, he went back into the ring and Batista delivered a huge clothesline. Batista charged at Michaels in the corner, Shawn got the feet up and did a chop block to the left knee. Michaels jumped up leading to an awkward-looking takedown into an armbar on the left arm. Michaels with knee drops on the left arm followed by a short arm scissors submission on the left arm. After more than a minute of that, Batista managed to get back to a vertical base and they went tumbling over the top to the floor. Michaels shoved Batista’s left arm into the steel ring post. Back in the ring, Michaels was in control with an arm wringer on the left arm. Michaels continued attacking the left arm as he pulled on the left arm against the top rope. Michaels jumped off the top with a double axehandle to the back. Michaels went for an armbar again, but this time Batista countered with a Samoan Drop. Michaels with chops to the chest, Batista with a hard whip into the turnbuckle for Shawn’s flip bump and then Batista came back with a huge clothesline. Batista with shoulder tackles to the ribs along with a powerslam for two. Batista lifted Shawn up, but Shawn slipped out right into a Crossface submission while hooking the left arm with the legs. Michaels got a two count of that and then Michaels went back to the Crossface submission, Batista got to the bottom rope, so Jericho pulled Michaels off Batista. With Shawn going after the arm again, Batista powered out of it into a sidewalk slam. Michaels was able to come back with a forearm, then Shawn kipped up and Batista took Michaels down with a Spear for two.

Batista set up Michaels on the top turnbuckle, Michaels shoved Batista down and Shawn hit the elbow drop off the top. The crowd came alive as Michaels set up for the Sweet Chin Music, but Batista caught Shawn and delivered a huge spinebuster. Batista lifted Shawn, who slipped out of a Powerbomb attempt and Michaels grabbed his left knee. Jericho made Batista move back as Shawn was selling the left knee injury. When Batista approached again, Jericho made Batista move back. Michaels used the ropes to get back up and Michaels hit the Sweet Chin Music superkick for the pinfall win at 14:59.

Winner by pinfall: Shawn Michaels

Analysis: ***1/4 A good match with a controversial ending since Shawn only got the win because Batista thought that Shawn had a knee injury. The first part of the match with Michaels working over the left arm a lot dragged on a bit too much, but I think they wanted to tell the story that Michaels was able to use his technical wrestling skills to wear down the bigger guy. Things picked up as the match went on with some good nearfalls like when Batista hit that Spear for two. I thought the finish was terrific in terms of putting over the Sweet Chin Music as a deadly finisher.

Post match, Jericho raised Shawn’s hand as the winner of the match. Michaels was limping on the left knee and then two referees showed up to help Michaels to the back.

Analysis: The story between Jericho and Michaels would build from there. It was the best WWE feud of 2008.

Triple H was shown in the locker room with Randy Orton walking up to him. Orton said he will beat Triple H and leave as the WWE Champion. Triple H reminded Orton of the saying “pride comes before the fall.” That was it as Orton left.

It was time for a 12-diva tag team match. They showed highlights of Mickie James beating Beth Phoenix to win the Women’s Title on Raw two weeks later. They were the unofficial captains of their teams.

Beth Phoenix, Melina, Jillian Hall, Victoria, Layla & Natalya vs. Mickie James, Ashley Massaro, Michelle McCool, Cherry, Kelly Kelly & Maria

Pre-match notes: It was a mix of women from all three brands. Mickie’s team were the faces while Beth’s team were the heels. Mickie was the Women’s Champion at the time. The only woman that’s active on the roster as of this moment is Natalya, who was making her PPV debut in this match.

McCool with a dropkick on Phoenix and an uppercut, but then Phoenix hit a powerslam. Melina tagged in to send McCool’s face into the mat. Melina with a sunset flip, but McCool rolled out of that and hit a dropkick. James tagged in with a headscissors on Melina followed by a clothesline. Natalya tagged in as she exchanged forearms and Natalya hit a neckbreaker. Natalya did a hair whip to take over. Victoria with a body slam, but then James avoided the moonsault. James with an enziguri kick on Victoria. Cherry went over to Natalya and pulled her off the apron (since Natalya hit her earlier), so the women got into a brawl on the floor. Ashley hit a sloppy hurricanrana on Jillian for two. Beth with a boot to the back of Ashley when the referee wasn’t looking and the heels took over with Beth applying in a chinlock on Ashley. Beth tried a Glam Slam, Ashley slipped out of that, she kicked Layla and Beth prevented a tag as Beth knocked James off the apron. James went into the ring with a Mick-DT and Victoria hit a Widow’s Peak on Mickie. McCool with a kick to Victoria and Melina with a leg drop across the chest of McCool. Kelly with a dropkick on Melina, Jillian with an X-Factor on Kelly, Cherry with a bulldog and Natalya hit a snap suplex. Maria with a bulldog on Natalya, Layla with a spin kick on Maria and Ashley hit a Spear on Layla. Phoenix was left alone with Ashley with Beth hitting a Fisherman’s Buster for the pinfall win at 6:31.

Winners by pinfall: Beth Phoenix, Melina, Jillian Hall, Victoria, Layla & Natalya

Analysis: *1/2 It is tough to book a match with 12-women involved where they only get about six minutes, but they got through it fine. Beth Phoenix looked impressive wit the win over Ashley, who wasn’t being pushed at the time, so it was a way to make Beth look like a strong contender going after Mickie’s title. By keeping Mickie out of the pin sequence, it kept her strong. They also didn’t have everybody tag in, which was smart and then it led to all of them doing moves to send people out of the ring. That’s typical of WWE tags with a lot of people.

Beth left happily with the heel women. There was a rematch of this 12-Diva tag team match the next night on Raw with Mickie’s team getting the win.

They showed some players from the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens sitting at ringside.

The video package aired for the World Heavyweight Title match between champion Undertaker and former champion Edge after Undertaker won the title in the main event of WrestleMania 24. After that, Edge promised his girlfriend, the Smackdown GM Vickie Guerrero that he would get the title back. Vickie booked Undertaker in tough matches every week on Smackdown while Edge relaxed and rested his body. It wasn’t much of a story other than to show it was about the heels in power making it tough on the babyface champion.

Edge made his champion first as the challenger at a point in his career when he was a four-time World Champion. Cole and Foley were calling this since this was a Smackdown match.

The Undertaker made his slow walking entrance with the World Heavyweight Title around his waist. I always like a champion that wears the title around their waist. It just looks more impressive to me instead of when people carry it on their shoulder. Good ovation for Undertaker as usual.

World Heavyweight Championship: The Undertaker vs. Edge

Pre-match notes: The Undertaker was the babyface World Heavyweight Champion on Smackdown. Edge was the heel challenger. The Undertaker was a six-time World Champion at this point and was 43 years old.

The Undertaker mouthed to Edge: “I’m going to hurt you.” The match began with a lockup with Taker shoving Edge out of the ring. Taker followed up with a shoulder tackle. Taker charged, Edge hit a boot to the face and a clothesline. Undertaker came back with punches along with stepping on the chest of Edge to keep him down. Taker worked over Edge’s left arm/shoulder with punches and headbutts. Edge came back with punches, then a clothesline over the top to the floor and Edge kicked Taker into the barricade. Edge jumped off the apron, Taker caught him and drove Edge back first into the ring post. Taker broke the referee’s count, then back out and he whipped Edge into the barricade. Taker sent Edge chest first across the barricade and also face first onto the edge of the ring apron. Taker set up Edge across the apron for the classic leg drop across the chest, but then Taker was selling his lower back a lot. Taker with a body slam followed by a leg drop. Edge countered a slam into a sitout neckbreaker. Edge hit a running shoulder tackle to the lower back of Taker for a two count. Edge applied a leg scissors around the waist for about a minute with Taker fighting back with punches. Edge hit a dropkick to the lower back and a baseball slide dropkick that sent Taker to the floor. They went back into the ring with Edge applying a Camel Clutch submission for about a minute, then Taker powered up and got to the rope to break it. Edge applied a chinlock, Taker powered out and dropping back to slam Edge to the mat. They did a rope running spot where they each hit a double clothesline to knock both guys down. They both got back up and did double kicks to the face to knock them both down again.

The match turned into a slugfest with Taker winning that battle and knocking Edge down with a big punch to the head. Taker with a running splash, then Edge ran into his arms and Undertaker sent Edge into the turnbuckle for Snake Eyes. Taker followed up with a big boot to the face followed by an elbow drop for two. Taker went to the turnbuckle for the rope walk, but Edge greeted him with a boot to the face. Edge went up top, Taker teased a Last Ride and then Edge got out of that, but Taker knocked him down. Undertaker went op top, which is rare and he jumped off with an elbow drop, Edge moved and Taker hit the mat. Edge covered for a two count. Edge grabbed the World Title from ringside, then dropped it, then a necksnap across the top rope and Edge countered a Chokeslam attempt into a Russian legsweep for a two count. Edge went up top, so Taker slammed him off with the Flair bump for a two count as Edge got his foot on the bottom rope. Taker picked up Edge, who ripped the turnbuckle pad off and then Edge drove Undertaker’s back into the steel turnbuckle. Taker came back with a clothesline. The referee Charles Robinson went to put the turnbuckle back on, so Edge’s buddy Curt Hawkins showed up at ringside and hit Taker in the head with the World Title. Edge did a slow cover for one…two…and no! Huge pop for that kickout. That was great. Edge went for a Spear, Taker caught him and hit a DDT for two. Zack Ryder ran down to ringside and went on the apron, so Undertaker tossed Edge into him. Edge countered a Powerbomb into a sunset flip, but Taker applied the triangle choke submission (later known as Hell’s Gate). The fans were screaming and freaking out as Edge tapped out to give Undertaker the win at 18:23.

Winner by submission: The Undertaker

Analysis: ***3/4 Great match here especially towards the end with the crowd really getting into it for some of the nearfalls they did. I liked how relentless Edge was in terms of working over the lower back and Undertaker did an excellent job of selling it. The Undertaker wasn’t able to hit one of his big finishing moves for the pin, but this was about putting over the submission move as a deadly way to end a match. Edge tried a lot of different things, he even tried cheating and it wasn’t enough to win. The biggest pop of the match was the nearfall after Hawkins hit Undertaker with the title and Edge got a two count. The fans bought that as a potential finish. The fans also enjoyed Edge tapping out to give Taker the win too.

After the match, The Undertaker held onto the triangle choke for another minute. That led to Vickie Guerrero being wheeled out to the ring by Teddy Long and Vickie went into the ring to check on Edge. They sold it as a devastating move with Edge bleeding from the mouth. Two WWE doctors went into the ring to check on Edge and they were the actual doctors instead of just indy wrestlers that sometimes are put in that spot. They also had a stretcher come out to help Edge out of the ring. Vickie was screaming as Edge was placed on the stretcher while the crowd was cheering for The Undertaker as he left with the World Title. Edge had his hand around the neck to try to sell the injury. Vickie was doing some over the top acting where she was screaming. Edge was wheeled to the back of the arena.

Analysis: Good sell job by Edge in terms of putting over how deadly Undertaker’s submission move was. On the next episode of Smackdown, Vickie stripped Undertaker of the World Heavyweight Title for refusing to break the submission hold. That meant that Undertaker’s World Title reign lasted barely over one month.

Randy Orton was shown outside of JBL’s locker room knocking on the door. CM Punk walked up to Randy with Punk holding the Money in the Bank briefcase. Punk to Orton: “Good luck tonight.” Nice tease.

The fans voted on who will win the WWE Title match:

John Cena – 48%

Triple H – 36%

Randy Orton – 12%

JBL – 4%

Analysis: The fans picked the two babyface wrestlers. What a shock.

A video package aired to promote the WWE Title match. It showed Randy Orton retaining the WWE Title over Triple H and Cena at WrestleMania 24. It also featured a lot of staredowns by all four of these guys. Orton spoke about how all of his successful title matches, he’s going to remain champion and we’re in the Age of Orton. There wasn’t much of a story here.

The introductions took place for the main event. Triple H was out first to a pretty good ovation since he was in babyface mode at this point. JR noted that the WWE Title has been defended seven times at Backlash and changed hands only twice. John Bradshaw Layfield was up next in a limousine and he had the Mama Juana Extreme logo on his jacket because that was a beverage he was selling at this point. John Cena got a big pop for his entrance although there were some boos in there too, but it was mostly cheering. It was definitely the loudest reaction of the four guys. Randy Orton walked in last as the heel WWE Champion still in the “Hey nothing you can say” song days. All four guys waited in the ring for Lilian Garcia to do the championship introductions.

WWE Championship Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match: Randy Orton vs. Triple H vs. John Cena vs. John Bradshaw Layfield

Pre-match notes: All four men were former WWE Champions while Orton was the current champion. Triple H and John Cena were babyfaces and the heels were Orton and JBL. Orton was the WWE Champion for 203 days going into this match going back to October 2007.

There are no countouts or disqualifications in this match. Orton tried attacking JBL with the WWE Title, so JBL decked him with a kick to the face. Orton grabbed a steel chair from ringside. Hunter with a suplex on JBL, Cena with a clothesline on Hunter and that drew boos from the crowd. Hunter battled JBL in the ring while Cena ran at Orton on the floor and tackled him with punches. Orton was whipped into Cena on the apron leading to Cena bumping onto the announce table. That led to the heels Orton/JBL with a double shoulder tackle on Hunter. JBL took a bump to the floor after a punch from Hunter and then Hunter sent Orton into the ring post. Hunter sent JBL shoulder first into the steel steps. Hunter wanted a Pedigree on JBL on the floor, but JBL countered with Hunter hitting the back of his head on the steel ramp. Orton battled Cena in the ring with Cena hitting a face first blockbuster neckbreaker. Cena went up top and connected with the leg drop to the back of the head for the mixed reaction. Cena slapped on the STFU submission on Orton, JBL was going to break it up and then told Orton to tap out, so then Hunter slapped on the Crossface submission on JBL. That led to JBL poking Cena in the eye, then Orton taunted JBL and Cena hit Orton into the submission to break that hold. Orton tossed Cena over the top to the floor. JBL with a boot to the face of Orton for a two count. Orton got the boot up to block a charging JBL and then Randy hit a clothesline. Orton went up top for some reason, so JBL hit the top rope to knock Orton down and JBL kicked Orton to stagger him a bit. Cena and Hunter went over to both guys for a Tower of Doom spot out of the corner leading to two pin attempts at the same time since they had two referees out there. Cena with punches on Hunter leading to a Fisherman’s suplex for two. Cena with two shoulder tackles followed by the spinning slam. Cena teased the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Hunter was back up with a spinebuster. Cena avoided a Pedigree, Hunter ducked a Clothesline from Hell and then Cena gave JBL the FU. Hunter wanted a Pedigree on Cena by the ropes, but John did the obvious back body drop over the top to the floor. Cena did the STFU submission on JBL in the middle of the ring and then JBL tapped out.

John Bradshaw Layfield eliminated by John Cena

Right after JBL tapped out, Orton did The Punt to Cena’s head and pinned him for the pinfall elimination.

John Cena eliminated by Randy Orton

That led to WWE Champion Randy Orton facing off against Triple H one more time. Hunter with punches leading into a suplex and the running knee drop. Hunter sent a charging Orton over the top to the floor. Orton came back by whipping Hunter into the steel steps. Orton did a catapult on the floor where he sent Hunter ribs first into the barricade with Hunter bumping over the top to the floor. Orton with a suplex on the floor leading to a two count back in the ring. Orton slowed the pace down with knees and kicks to the ribs. Orton worked over Hunter some more with knees to the ribs. Orton hit a modified backbreaker right into a chinlock. This took about two minutes for Hunter to get back going again with punches, then Hunter ran the ropes and Orton hit a powerslam for two. Orton set up for the RKO, Hunter managed to push him off and Orton took a big bump onto the mat. After both guys were down for a nine count with the announcers wondering why referee Mike Chioda was counting, Hunter hit a jumping knee to the face. Hunter hit the facebuster into the knee for a two count. Hunter with a clothesline that sent Orton over the top to the floor. Hunter sent Orton over to the ECW announce table at ringside. They were battling by the Smackdown announce table with Hunter standing, but Orton managed to send Hunter into the barricade. Orton teased a piledriver on the steel steps and then Hunter tripped up Randy so that the back of Randy’s head hit the steps or at least that’s what he was selling. They were back in the ring with Hunter firing up with a spinebuster. Hunter wanted a Pedigree, but Orton countered with a back body drop. Hunter countered the RKO by shoving Orton into the turnbuckle to bump into referee Mike Chioda. When Hunter turned around, Orton hit a cover, then bumped to the corner and Orton did a slow counter for just two. Orton attempted The Punt, Hunter moved out of the way and Hunter hit the kick to the gut, Orton slipped out, Hunter kick to the gut again and Hunter hit the Pedigree for the pinfall win at 28:30. The fans popped big for the finish.

Randy Orton eliminated by Triple H

Winner by pinfall AND NEW WWE Champion: Triple H

Analysis: ***1/2 I thought it was a very good match that was well-paced early on with the four guys, then it got too slow with Orton’s offense, but at least they picked it up in the final few minutes. They were smart enough to use weapons when needed although it wasn’t enough to take away from the match. I think eliminating Cena early could be considered an upset considering how they did it, but fall made sense since it fit Orton being the one to take advantage with The Punt to knock Cena out of the match. JBL was there to get beat and I doubt anybody watching thought that he would have a chance to win.

Triple H celebrated with the WWE Championship with fans cheering him. It was the 12th WWE World Championship win for Hunter. They showed replays of the finish. Hunter kept on celebrating as the pyro went off behind him. That was the end of Backlash 2008.

Analysis: This was the beginning of a long title reign for Triple H, who held the title for about seven months.

This event had a runtime of 2:48:55 on WWE Network.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Show rating (out of 10): 7

It’s a pretty good wrestling show from top to bottom. There isn’t one standout match or anything that makes it memorable overall, but most of it is entertaining and easy to get through.

I think the two major title matches were both great with Undertaker/Edge continuing their rivalry and the Fatal 4-Way main event was put together well. Triple H won the WWE Title again to put an end to Randy Orton’s long reign as champion. The opener with Matt Hardy beating MVP was the right call because the fans were really happy about that MVP title loss. There wasn’t anything that bad, either. Even Big Show/Great Khali was passable and the 12-Diva tag went by quickly, so there weren’t that many bad moments.

I thought it was an enjoyable show overall.

 

FIVE STARS

1. The Undertaker

2. Triple H

3. Edge

4. Randy Orton

5. Matt Hardy/MVP

 

OPINIONS

Best Match: The Undertaker vs. Edge (***3/4 out of 5)

Worst Match: 12-Diva Tag Team Match (*1/2)

Most Memorable Moment: Triple H hitting the Pedigree on Randy Orton to win the WWE Title.

That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.

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My contact info is below.

John Canton

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport