Reviews

WWE Backlash 2001 Review

wwe backlash 2001 main

There were a lot of changes in WWE post-WrestleMania in 2001. The biggest change was that WWE purchased World Championship Wrestling in late March and that likely meant there was some crossover with WCW coming, but it wasn’t happening at the time of Backlash 2001.

There was also a huge change on screen because Steve Austin turned heel four weeks earlier at WrestleMania 17 after being the top babyface for over three years. It was probably too soon for it to happen and Austin has said many times that he regrets turning heel when he did. From a business standpoint, it wasn’t a smart move because ratings would decline in the months ahead while there were a lack of top faces to fill the void.

The main event saw Austin team up with his fellow heel Triple H against the Brothers of Destruction duo of The Undertaker and Kane. The selling point was that Austin would put up the WWE Title, Triple H would put up the Intercontinental Title and Undertaker/Kane would put up the Tag Team Titles for a Winners Take All match.

When I mentioned the lack of top faces, a big reason why there was a void is because The Rock was on a break from WWE. The Rock was off filming The Scorpion King (his first starring role in a feature film), but he would be back by SummerSlam.

Backlash did a solid number on pay-per-view with 375,000 buys. It was around average for that year although it wasn’t at the level of the top shows. No Way Out from two months earlier did over 200,000 more buys in part because of how strong the Austin/Triple H feud was. Here we were two months later and they were on the same side. Here is the synopsis on WWE Network:

“”Stone Cold” Steve Austin joins forces with Triple H to battle Kane & the Undertaker with the WWE Tag Team Championship on the line. Matt Hardy defends the European Championship against Christian and Eddie Guerrero in a Triple Threat Match. The Big Show faces Shane McMahon in a Last Man Standing Match. Kurt Angle competes in a Submission Match.” 14+ (D,L,V)

The VHS looks like this:

WWE Backlash
From Allstate Arena in Rosemont (Chicago), Illinois
April 29, 2001

The opening video package focused on the main event with the idea that whoever has the gold has the power.

The pyro went off and it was a packed house in Chicago full of signs along with vocal fans. They showed the fans at WWF New York having a good time as well. The great announce team of Jim Ross and Paul Heyman were on commentary.

There was a big ovation for The Dudley Boyz trio of Bubba Ray Dudley, D-Von Dudley and Spike Dudley. They were all “half-brothers” with the same father. The X-Factor trio of X-Pac, Justin Credible and Albert were next as the opponents.

The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray, D-Von & Spike Dudley) vs. X-Factor (X-Pac, Justin Credible & Albert)

Pre-match notes: The Dudleys were faces while X-Factor were heels.

It started out as a brawl with all six guys fighting in the ring, but then Bubba and D-Von hit a double suplex on Albert. Spike jumped off the top with a double foot stomp on Albert. Bubba and D-Von press slammed Spike over the top onto X-Pac and Credible. Spike started with Credible with a Spike getting two counts. Credible with a body slam, Albert tagged in and missed a leg drop. Albert tossed Spike across the ring when Spike was looking for the Dudley Dog. Credible got a slam out of the corner for a two count. Credible missed a sliding corner attack leading to Credible hitting the ring post. X-Pac tagged in, D-Von with a shoulder tackle, hiptoss and punches. Albert got in a cheap shot on D-Von leading to a spin kick by X-Pac. Albert tossed D-Von out of the ring leading to Credible and X-Pac sending D-Von groin-first into the ring post. Albert with a slingshot move that sent D-Von throat first into the middle rope. X-Pac back in with a body slam and a leg drop. X-Pac with a chinlock, D-Von got out of it with elbows and X-Pac hit another spin kick. Credible tagged in with a spinning sidewalk slam on D-Von, who continued to be isolated from his team. Albert with a kick to the ribs followed by a double underhook suplex with Spike breaking up the pin attempt. Credible and X-Pac made quick tags leading to D-Von hitting a double clothesline on both guys. Bubba got the hot tag with body slams on X-Pac and Credible with Bubba hitting a Bubba Bomb on Credible. Bubba with a sidewalk slam on X-Pac and avoided a splash by Albert. D-Von took out Albert on the floor. Bubba with a body slam on Credible, then D-Von up top and the Wassup Drop headbutt by D-Von hit Credible in the groin. Bubba shoved D-Von leading to the popular line: “Get the tables!” Albert kicked D-Von while he was going for the tables. Bubba missed a corner splash on X-Pac, who moved and Albert hit a corner splash on Bubba. X-Pac and Credible with a double superkick on Bubba for the pinfall win at 8:07.

Winners by pinfall: X-Factor (X-Pac, Justin Credible & Albert)

Analysis: **1/4 A basic tag team match with D-Von as the face in peril, Bubba getting the offense going after the hot tag and Spike was barely a factor in the match. I’m a bit surprised by how Spike didn’t have much of a role in the match. X-Factor got the win, but post match they did not stand tall.

X-Factor brought in a table to try to put Bubba through it, but D-Von took care of Albert by sending him into the ring post and Spike hit a Dudley Dog on Credible. That left X-Pac all alone to take a 3D through the table with D-Von lifting X-Pac into the Cutter of Bubba right through the table. The fans popped huge for the table breaking.

Analysis: Breaking a table was such an easy way to get a big crowd reaction. It was back easy back then and it still works decades later.

They showed a limousine arriving at the arena. Some guys in suits arrived with the Duchess of Queensbury. William Regal greeted the Duchess, who ripped on the city they were in and Regal told the security guys to take her to her quarters. Regal told the Duchess she looked great.

Kurt Angle was in the locker room with Lilian Garcia asking him about his match against Chris Benoit. Angle said that he owns Benoit since he beat Benoit at WrestleMania. Angle said that the clock will show 30 minutes, but Benoit will be in the fight of his life. Angle said he had to shine his medals.

Rhyno made his entrance as the Hardcore Champion going up against Raven, who was the challenger. Raven brought a shopping cart full of weapons.

Hardcore Championship: Rhyno vs. Raven

Pre-match notes: Rhyno was the heel champion while Raven was the face. They were both former ECW World Champions.

Raven with a drop toe hold sending Rhyno into a stop sign. Raven whipped Rhyno into the turnbuckle leading to a trash can smash for two. Rhyno with a shoulder tackle in the corner, then a trash can and Raven got a trash can up, but Rhyno kicked the can into Raven’s head. They were on the floor with Rhyno sending Raven into the steel steps. Rhyno sat Raven on a chair, Rhyno jumped off the steps and Raven moved, so Rhyno went crashing onto the chair. Raven with a leaping clothesline on the floor for two. Raven sent Rhyno out of the other side of the ring and then whipped Rhyno into the barricade. Rhyno grabbed the shirt to send Raven into the ring post. Rhyno smashed Raven in the head with a trash can lid. Rhyno used a “Keep Off” sign to hit Raven in the head and Rhyno got a two count out of that. Rhyno sent Raven into the ring leading to Rhyno hitting Raven with the shopping cart to the head. The shopping cart was in the ring, so Raven did a drop toe hold that sent Rhyno into the shopping cart. Raven hit Rhyno with a sign three times in the head. Raven with another sign to the head. Raven with a corner splash into a bulldog for two. Rhyno picked up the shopping cart, Rhyno hit him with a trash can and the shopping cart landed on Rhyno leading to a two count for Raven. That was a creative spot. The crowd came alive for Raven as he drove the shopping cart into Rhyno’s ribs. Raven charged in the corner, Rhyno moved and Rhyno hit Raven with a sign for two. Rhyno with two more trash can shots to the head. Rhyno set up in the corner, he went for the Gore, but Raven moved and Rhyno went crashing into the shopping cart! Raven hit Rhyno with the dreaded kitchen sink leading to a two count. Raven picked up the kitchen sink again, but Rhyno was back up with a Gore! Rhyno pinned Raven for the pinfall win at 8:11.

Winner by pinfall: Rhyno

Analysis: *** A good match with some hard shots using the weapons. They were more creative than some of the spots in these kinds of matches. I liked the shopping cart spots that led to Raven nearly winning, but Rhyno fought back and it all it took was one Gore to put Raven away. The crowd was into it. Good job by both wrestlers putting on an entertaining match.

There was a video of Shane McMahon reading a book called “Shane and the Beanstalk.” It was a story mocking Big Show and Shane’s father Vince McMahon. This was from Smackdown.

Shane McMahon was interviewed by Michael Cole with Stephanie going up to Shane suggesting maybe Shane should apologize to their dad. Shane said he’s not doing that. Stephanie said that Shane lives in a fantasy world while dad lives in the real world. Shane said that this story will have a happy ending.

Steve Austin, the WWE Champion, was shown arriving with his wife Debra. Kevin Kelly asked a question, Austin told him to shut up and Austin said everything is going to be just dandy.

The Duchess of Queensbury was interviewed by Jonathan Coachman asking for the rules of the match. William Regal interrupted the interview while telling Coach to get out of there. Regal apologized for that. Regal said that the fans are jealous of her good looks. Regal told her to enjoy herself.

The video package aired for the William Regal/Chris Jericho match. Regal was the Commissioner of WWE, Jericho was a thorn in his side and it led to this rivalry. There was a famous moment where Jericho peed in Regal’s tee, then Regal drank some of the tea and had some funny facial expressions.

William Regal made his entrance and he was the WWE Commissioner at the time. Regal was booed when he said hello while the fans chanted “Asshole” at him. The Duchess of Queensbury entered with two security guards, who were probably young indy wrestlers. The Duchess sat down on a throne at ringside. Chris Jericho made his entrance to a big pop since he was one of the most popular guys in WWE at the time. Jericho ripped on the Duchess of Queensbury saying he thought she looked more like this…a picture of Regal making a funny face. Jericho said he didn’t know which one of them looked like more of a man. Jericho said Chicago’s the Windy City while it looks like Queensbury is the Ugly City.

Analysis: Fun pre-match promo by Jericho as usual with the fans strongly behind him.

Duchess of Queensbury Rules Match: William Regal vs. Chris Jericho

Pre-match notes: William Regal was the heel WWE Commissioner while Jericho was the babyface. The rules of the match were not announced before it began.

The rules for the match were not known, so the bell rang and the announcers wondered if the referee Tim White even knew the rules. Jericho with a shoulder tackle, Regal got a wristlock, Jericho got out of that and hit a forearm to the head. Jericho with chops, Regal sent Jericho to the apron and Jericho jumped off the top with an elbow to the head. Jericho hit a dropkick that sent Regal out of the ring. Jericho sent Regal into the barricade. Back in the ring, Jericho went for a missile dropkick, Regal moved and Jericho hit the mat. Regal hit a suplex for two followed by some rising knees to the head. Regal grabbed a chinlock with Heyman saying Regal may be knighted for his efforts. Jericho charged at Regal, who kicked him down. Regal to the turnbuckle for some reason, so Jericho hit a dropkick and Jericho hit a hurricanrana off the top rope. Jericho with chops, then a jumping forearm to the head and Jericho hit the bulldog. Regal moved into position for Jericho to hit the Lionsault. The bell rang. The Duchess told Finkel something, so Finkel announced that the time limit for round one expired. Jericho was angry while the fans booed.

Regal got a rollup for two. Jericho with a boot to the chest, then a running clothesline and Regal catapulted Jericho into the ropes. Regal with a German Suplex leading to Jericho doing a flip bump to sell it. Regal applied the Regal Stretch, Jericho was near the ropes and Jericho managed to get his hand on the bottom rope. Jericho countered a Regal move into a Walls of Jericho attempt and Regal tapped out quickly. We thought the match was over, but it was not. The Duchess talked to Finkel, who announced that you cannot win by submission. The fans booed.

Jericho went towards the Duchess, so Regal went after him and Jericho grabbed the scepter that the Duchess had. Regal nailed Jericho with the scepter. The Duchess told Fink something again, so Fink announced there are no disqualifications in this match.

Regal sent Jericho into the ring for a two count. Regal sent Jericho into the ropes leading to a back elbow. Regal with a double arm suplex for two. Regal went for a slam, Jericho landed on his feet and hit an enziguri kick to the head. Jericho worked over Regal with chops along with kicks while against the turnbuckle. Jericho hit a corner clothesline. Jericho stomped Regal in the groin since there were no disqualifications. Jericho dropkicked Regal, who landed face first onto the lap of the Duchess. That led to some funny Regal faces. Jericho knocked down the security guys. Jericho brought the Duchess into the ring and Jericho applied the Walls of Jericho on the woman. Regal went back in with a steel chair leading to three chair shots to the back and Regal pinned Jericho for the pinfall win at 12:34.

Winner by pinfall: William Regal

Analysis: *3/4 The match was okay with some good work in the first part of it before the silly rules took over. Doing a match where the rules aren’t announced was WWE’s way of doing a match with a cheap finish. Regal and Jericho did work hard in the match. It’s just that the booking was so over the top that it affected the match. I’ll wrap it up by saying that I’m happy they need a Duchess of Queensbury match ever again.

Vince McMahon was shown in his office with Big Show. Vince asked Show if he was ready, Show said he is and Show said he won’t hold anything back. Vince went over it again, Show said he won’t hold back, Vince offered congratulations and they shook hands with Show saying he would be the last man standing. They laughed together.

A video aired about Kurt Angle facing Chris Benoit in a WrestleMania rematch. This time it would be a Submission Match with a 30-minute time limit, so they put over Benoit’s Crippler Crossface and Angle’s Ankle Lock submission.

They showed Chris Benoit getting a final warmup prior to his match.

Kurt Angle made his entrance with the fans booing the Olympic Gold Medal winner as pyro went off by the entrance. Angle said ever since Michael Jordan quit in his prime rather than play another minute in this town, he noticed that Chicago was short on winner and long on fat, sweaty pigs. Angle mentioned some celebrities from Chicago who were known for being a bit overweight. Angle said he’ll make Benoit squeal like a pig and ripped on the fans some more. Chris Benoit made his entrance to a decent ovation although it wasn’t that loud.

Analysis: A cheap heat pre-match promo for Angle. Benoit was popular at the time, but not a huge babyface.

30-Minute Ultimate Submission Match: Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit

Pre-match notes: Kurt Angle was the heel while Chris Benoit was the face. The most submissions in 30 minutes wins.

There was a clock in the bottom right corner that was counting down from 30 minutes. They spent the first couple of minutes going for takedowns with counters without either man getting the advantage. Angle with a double leg takedown, Angle went for the foot, Benoit got out of that and Benoit rolled Angle towards the ropes. When they got back up, they locked up again with Benoit going for his submission, but Angle got to the ropes to break the hold. Angle regrouped by going to the floor. Benoit went for the arm, Angle got out of it and Angle went for a takedown again. Benoit nearly applied the Crossface, Angle fought out of it and Angle left the ring. Back in the ring, Benoit got a waistlock takedown, then they ended up fighting on the floor and Benoit slapped on the Crippler Crossface on the floor with Angle tapping out. The referee told them they had to go in the ring. The tap didn’t count because it had to be in the ring. Angle took a long time out of the ring, then he went back in, got a takedown and applied a kneebar submission. Benoit tapped out to give Angle the first fall.

Angle 1 – Benoit 0

They had a 30-second break between falls. Angle got a chop block to the knee, then back up and another chop block to the knee. Angle charged, Benoit got a takedown with the arm and Benoit applied a cross armbreaker on the left arm. Angle tapped out.

Angle 1 – Benoit 1

Benoit sent Angle shoulder first into the middle turnbuckle leading to an armbreaker on the left arm again. Angle flipped out of the hold and his legs hit the bottom rope to break the hold. Benoit sent Angle into the turnbuckle with Angle taking the bump sternum-first. Benoit got a hold of Angle, the referee Mike Chioda wanted Benoit to let go, so Benoit shoved Chioda on his ass. When Benoit went over to Angle, Kurt hit him with a steel chair to the head! Nice spot. Angle capitalized with an Ankle Lock, Benoit tapped out and Angle was leading 2-1 after about ten minutes of action.

Angle 2 – Benoit 1

Following the 30 second break, Angle slapped on the Crippler Crossface. Benoit tapped out quickly.

Angle 3 – Benoit 1

Angle worked over Benoit by the ropes leading to a forearm to the chest while Benoit was on the apron. Angle worked over Benoit in the ring some more, then Angle sent Benoit out of the ring and slammed Benoit’s head onto the commentary table a few times. Back in the ring, Angle charged at Benoit, who did a back body drop over the top to the floor. Benoit rammed Angle into the ring post. They were battling on the floor with Angle whipping Benoit into the steel steps. Angle applied the Ankle Lock on the floor with Benoit tapping, but the tap had to be in the ring for it to count. The referee Chioda was on the floor with the wrestlers instead of doing a countout, so there was likely no countout in this match. They never really made it clear. Back in the ring, wanted an armbar and Benoit managed to get to the ropes. Angle with an abdominal stretch, Benoit countered with a hiptoss and Benoit went for a cross armbreaker, but Angle got to the ropes. I think Angle said “Sharp” and that led to Benoit getting a takedown right into the Sharpshooter submission, which the crowd loved. Angle managed to get to the bottom rope to break the hold. Angle went for a German Suplex, Benoit managed to counter that and Benoit applied a single leg crab submission with his knee against Angle’s neck and Angle tapped out with about 11 minutes left.

Angle 3 – Benoit 2

Angle rolled out of the ring after the 30 second break. Benoit chased Angle around the ring, so Angle rolled into the ring and out of the ring again. Benoit went after Angle with a forearm to the back while they were on the floor. Angle left the ring again, Benoit went after him again and Angle stomped on Benoit to keep him down. Angle with a rake to the face followed by Angle sending Benoit out of the ring. When Benoit got back in the ring, Angle stomped on him a few times. Angle with a suplex across the ring. Angle went for the leg, but Benoit go to the ropes. Angle charged, Benoit got the foot up and Angle did a drop toe hold leading to Benoit getting to the ropes again. They left the ring where Angle hit a suplex on the floor. Angle with a whip into the barricade. Angle looked back at the clock to see it was at 6:40 as Benoit went back into the ring. Benoit with a leg whip takedown, Benoit went for an Ankle Lock and Angle managed to get to the ropes. Angle was sent into the ropes, he held onto the ropes and Benoit went for a dropkick, so Benoit hit the mat since Angle was up against the ropes. Angle tried to choke Benoit with a sleeper on the mat. Angle had the sleeper locked on Benoit while Angle stared at the clock with 5:00 left in the match. When Benoit tried to get up, Angle did a leg grapevine to keep Benoit down and Benoit elbowed out of that. After about two minutes in the sleeper, Benoit was back up with a jawbreaker. Angle got back up with a clothesline. Angle hit two overhead belly to belly suplexes across the ring. Benoit sent Angle into the corner sternum-first followed by Benoit hitting two German Suplexes, Angle blocked a third suplex and they were fighting over submission holds again. Benoit applied the Ankle Lock on the left ankle, Angle was near the ropes and Angle tapped out at 2:05.

Angle 3 – Benoit 3

The match was all tied up with about two minutes left. Benoit kicked the back of Angle’s leg followed by a chop block to the leg. Benoit with German Suplex, Angle went into the ropes, he held onto the ropes and Angle did a kick to the groin that the referee never saw. Angle applied an Ankle Lock, but Benoit rolled out of it and got to the ropes. Angle with a belly to back suplex followed by Angle applying the Ankle Lock with about ten seconds left, the crowd counted down and Benoit held on until the 30 minutes expired. Benoit tapped after the bell rang.

The ring announcer Howard Finkel announced that the referee Mike Chioda has demanded that the match will continue in sudden death.

There was no more clock. The first submission wins. Angle knocked down Benoit with punches, followed by a belly to belly suplex across the ring. Benoit was selling a left ankle injury. The fans were chanting “Angle Sucks” as Benoit drove Angle into the ropes and got a takedown. Angle grabbed Benoit around the head/neck by the ropes, Benoit broke free and Benoit applied the Crippler Crossface. Angle tried to fight it, but Angle was unable to keep going and tapped out to give Benoit the win. The match went 31:36.

Winner: Chris Benoit (4-3)

Analysis: ***1/2 It was a very good match with a dramatic finish to give Benoit a big win. With that said, it fell below the expectations that I had for it. I think it’s hard to do a match like this where you can’t do nearfalls to build up excitement because only submissions were allowed. Another thing that hurts a match with a clock is that the fans really didn’t show much interest in it until near the end of the match because they know they were unable to end the match before that. I like how it was booked with the heel Angle in full control for most of the match, so then there was a lot of drama and interest as Benoit made the comeback to win. When you book a match with a clock like that, the right move is to have the heel get the lead and the babyface make the comeback because then it’s more exciting. If you’re looking for the best Angle-Benoit match, check out Royal Rumble 2003. That’s a classic.

The Undertaker and Kane were shown talking strategy in some hallway.

Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were shown watching The Undertaker/Kane talking about the match. Hunter said that he and Austin will prove they are the dominant team. They talked about Shane’s match with Shane living in a fairytale world.

A video package aired about Shane McMahon facing Big Show in a Last Man Standing Match. Vince McMahon wasn’t happy that Shane stole WCW from him. Vince got Big Show involved asking if he would go with Shane to WCW or remain loyal to WWE. Vince put Shane in a match against Big Show at Backlash.

Big Show was up first followed by “Here Comes The Money” leading to Shane McMahon’s music.

Last Man Standing Match: Shane McMahon vs. Big Show

Pre-match notes: Shane McMahon was the face while Show was the heel. In order to win this match you had to keep your opponent down for a ten count.

Shane used his speed to avoid Show leading to Shane hitting Show with repeated kendo stick shots to the back. Shane even hit Show with the book he brought to ringside. The fans were strongly behind Shane as Show blocked a kendo stick attack leading to a huge clothesline. They went back into the ring, Kane with multiple chair shots to the body and three chair shots to the head with Show getting his left hand up each time to try to block it a bit. Shane grabbed some black bag, put on a mask and some towel with chloroform or something on it. Show sold it like he was fighting it, but then he slowly passed out on the mat. The referee was selling the smell. The referee was counting Show down, so then Vince McMahon went down to ringside and hit Shane with a steel chair to the back. Vince hit Shane in the head with a steel chair. Vince left with the chair along with the black bag that Shane had brought into the ring. The referee counted both guys down, but Show was up and picked Shane up before the ten count. Show gave Shane a sidewalk slam. Shane used the ropes to pull himself back up. Show chopped Shane in the chest followed by a toss off the middle ropes across the ring. Show hit the elbow drop to the chest that sent Shane into the mat. Show picked Shane back up again and hit a huge Chokeslam, the referee Jack Doan counted up to eight, Show picked Shane up again and Show lifted up Shane on his back. Test ran into the ring with a running boot to Shane’s face. Show tossed Test out of the ring. Show and Test went fighting up the aisle with Test hitting Show with a sign. Show drove Test back first into the steel that was part of the entrance. Shane grabbed a “Keep Off” sign and hit Show in the back repeatedly. Show grabbed a steel pipe, Shane ran away from him and when Show tried attacking with the pipe, Shane climbed up part of the steel structure that was by the set. Test pulled Big Show down from climbing and Show had a steel cookie sheet of some kind. Show was going for a Chokeslam, Test with a low blow kick and Test punched Show some more. Show was out on some wooden platform by the entrance while Shane was about 30 feet high on the steel structure. Shane jumped off with an elbow drop on Show although when you watch the replay, it almost looked like Shane barely touched him. The referee was counting Show and Shane down, Test, grabbed a camera crane and put Shane’s arms over it, so Shane was standing…sort of. The referee continued to count Big Show down until he reached ten, so Shane won the match. It went 11:55.

Winner: Shane McMahon

Analysis: ** It wasn’t a great match or anything like that, but it was entertaining and fun to watch. The crowd was really into it as they rooted for Shane while Show did a nice job of getting heat as the dominant big man. The interference by Vince McMahon and Test wasn’t that surprising since it was so common in this era while also fitting in the story because it meant that Shane needed help to win. The ending was a spectacular spot since Shane was so high up there and landed hard on his back while he barely touched Show.

Test carried Shane away. They replayed Shane’s leap off the steel structure with JR saying it may have been over 50 feet. I’d guess a bit lower than that, but it was very high up there. When they showed a replay from the floor, you can see Shane barely touched Show on the landing.

Vince McMahon was in the locker room with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Vince complained about whatever Shane just did. Vince said that as of this day forward, he only has one son and his name is Triple H.

Steve Blackman was shown at WWE New York eating some food while talking about Shane McMahon having some guts and he was impressed. Grandmaster Sexay joined Blackman for some awkward interactions.

Matt Hardy made his entrance as the European Champion after he beat Eddie Guerrero to win the title on the previous episode of Smackdown. Christian was the first challenger followed by Eddie Guerrero entering to his classic “Latino Heat” theme song.

European Championship: Matt Hardy vs. Christian vs. Eddie Guerrero

Pre-match notes: Matt Hardy was the face European Champion, Christian was a heel and Eddie was also a heel.

Matt was targeted by the two heels, who hit a double back elbow on Matt followed by Eddie/Christian sending Matt under the bottom rope to the floor. Christian hit Eddie with a forearm to the back followed by a toss into the air leading to Eddie hitting the mat. Christian hit a powerslam for two. Eddie hit an impressive hurricanrana on Christian, then Eddie set up Christian on the top rope and Hardy tossed Eddie down. Eddie had Matt on the shoulders, Christian jumped off the top and Matt got a front roll into a pin on Eddie for a two count. Christian knocked Matt down with a clothesline followed by Eddie hitting a belly to back suplex on Christian. Eddie with a drop toe hold on Christian, Matt with a sunset flip on Eddie that was too close to the ropes, so Matt sent Eddie out of the ring. Matt with a running clothesline on Christian. Matt was sent into the ropes, Eddie pulled him out of the ring and Christian hit a baseball slide on both guys. Matt hit a creative DDT on Christian after Matt bounced off the ropes. Eddie with back to back brainbusters on Matt for a two count. Matt with a back body drop as Matt took the shirt off leading to the females screaming in excitement. Eddie wanted a hurricanrana off the turnbuckle, but Christian held onto Matt and Matt suplexed Christian onto Eddie. Matt jumped off the top with a double clothesline on both guys. Christian with a running cross body block on Eddie and Matt tossed Christian out of the ring. Matt with a body slam on Eddie followed by a leg drop off the middle rope for two. Christian fought with Matt on the floor, Christian distracted the referee and Edge hit Matt with a Spear on the floor. Edge sent Matt back into the ring, Eddie shoved Christian out of the ring and Eddie got a pin attempt for two. Jeff Hardy went down to ringside to fight with Edge, the referee lost control and Christian hit an Unprettier on Eddie. Jeff went up top and hit a Swanton Bomb on Christian although Jeff barely touched him. Matt with a kick to the gut on Christian followed by the Twist of Fate for the pinfall win at 6:54.

Winner by pinfall: Matt Hardy

Analysis: *** A fast-paced and exciting match by three talented wrestlers. They did a nice job of taking advantage of the fact that it was a triple threat match with a lot of nearfalls for everybody involved. I think Matt retaining made sense since he was a popular champion, he just won it on the previous Smackdown. Since Christian was still a tag team wrestler and Eddie was already a champion, Matt winning was the right call. I wasn’t surprised by the interference either. You know that’s coming considering the affiliations of some of these wrestlers.

There were more replays of Shane McMahon’s massive leap on Big Show.

The video package aired for the main event. It showed “Stone Cold” Steve Austin turning heel at WrestleMania 17 to become the WWE Champion. The next night on Raw, Austin aligned with Triple H as a team called the Two Man Power Trip. Together, they dismantled The Rock in a steel cage (to write The Rock out of storylines so he can film a movie) and Triple H beat Chris Jericho to win the Intercontinental Title. The Undertaker and Kane didn’t like what Austin and Hunter were doing, so they targeted them. Undertaker and Kane won the Tag Team Titles from Edge & Christian before Backlash. It led to Vince McMahon informing the wrestlers that Austin/Hunter had to put the WWE & IC Titles on the line while Undertaker/Kane put the Tag Team Titles up for grabs.

Triple H made his entrance first as the Intercontinental Champion Triple H along with his wife (just in the storyline at this point) Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley joining him at ringside. JR noted that Triple H had never been a WWE Tag Team Champion in his career, but if he won then he’d join Shawn Michaels as the only men to hold the WWE Title, IC Title, European and Tag Team Titles. The WWE Champion “Stone Cold” Steve Austin made his entrance. Nice sign in the crowd: “Vince’s bitch 3:16.” Heyman put over Austin a lot while JR said that Austin whipped JR’s ass in front of his family in Oklahoma. True. Kane was up first as one-half of the Tag Team Champions followed by his “brother” The Undertaker, who made his entrance on a motorcycle. Kane had his left arm/elbow taped due to an attack leading up to this match.

WWE Tag Team, WWE Intercontinental, and WWE Championships Match: The Undertaker & Kane vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin & Triple H (w/Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley)

Pre-match notes: Austin and Hunter were the heels while Taker and Kane were the faces. If Austin was pinned then he loses the WWE Title, if Hunter was pinned then he loses the IC Title and Undertaker or Kane were pinned, they lose the Tag Team Titles.

Austin and Hunter were reluctant to get into the ring to start the match. Referee Earl Hebner was counting them out, Hunter went into the ring to stop the counter and Taker punched Hunter, who bailed to the floor again. Undertaker and Kane left the ring to punch Austin/Hunter repeatedly. The referee left the ring with them. Taker sent Austin into the ring while Kane rammed Hunter’s head into the commentary table. Austin took some punches from Taker, then he left the ring and Taker worked on Austin with more punches on the floor. Kane choked Hunter and sent him down. Kane with a two-handed choke on Austin as well. Kane with a running clothesline on Hunter, but Hunter came back with a jumping knee to the face. Hunter pulled on Kane’s injured left arm, and Kane came back with a clothesline. Austin tagged in against Taker, who stomped a mudhole on Austin. Taker with elbows, then four whips into the turnbuckles and Austin wanted a handshake, but Taker kicked him. Kane tagged back in with punches, Austin decked Kane with a clothesline and Taker was back in. Hunter got the tag leading to Hunter running right into a punch by Taker. Hunter ran right into a big boot from Taker. There was a rope walk from Taker leading to a jumping Old School punch to the back. Taker slammed Austin leading to the Old School rope walk and punch to Austin as well. Taker clotheslined Hunter out of the ring. Hunter and Austin tried to leave again, so Kane knocked them both down with clotheslines to the back. Kane brought Austin back into the ring where Taker wanted the Last Ride, but Hunter was back in with a punch. Austin with a hard clothesline on Taker on the floor. Back in the ring, Austin jumped on Taker’s back against the ropes followed by a knee drop by Austin. Hunter and Austin took turns punching Taker in their corner. Taker fought back, but Hunter hit the facebuster into the knee and then Taker ran the ropes leading to a DDT. Taker looked like he would tag out until he told Kane he won’t do it because of Kane’s injured arm. Austin worked over Taker a bit, then Taker fought back and hit a double clothesline on Hunter/Austin at the same time. Kane tagged himself in with a boot to the face of both guys. Kane clotheslined Hunter out of the ring and gave Austin a sidewalk slam. Kane went up top, jumped off and hit a clothesline. Kane slammed Hunter off the top rope. Hunter punched Kane in the arm/elbow, so that slowed Kane down a bit until Kane delivered elbow shots, a boot and a clothesline. Austin got a single-arm takedown. Austin worked over Kane’s left arm some more by stretching it against the bottom rope. Hunter was back in as he wrenched on Kane’s arm against the top rope. Austin grabbed a chair and hit Kane’s elbow that was against the hood of the announce table. The referee never saw it. Hunter rammed Kane’s left arm into the steel steps.

They went back into the ring with Hunter working over Kane with an armbar. Kane fired back with punches, the crowd was into it, Hunter pulled on Kane’s arm and Austin tagged in to work over Kane some more. Kane came back with punches, so Hunter illegally went into the ring to stomp on Kane. Austin applied another armbar to Kane’s left arm, Kane fought back with punches and Austin managed to shove Kane into the turnbuckle with Kane’s left side hitting the turnbuckle. Hunter pulled on Kane’s arm by the ring apron. Hunter tagged in, he applied another armbar and Kane managed to send Hunter out of the ring. Hunter pulled Taker off the apron to prevent the tag and then Austin prevented Kane from tagging out. Austin was illegal in the match and Austin hit a belly to back suplex. Hunter tagged in, he went up top, jumped off with nothing so that Kane could kick him in the face. Austin back in, Kane countered a sleeper attempt into a belly to back suplex attempt and Hunter was back in to prevent Kane from tagging out. Hunter with a kick to the gut and a Pedigree with no pin. Austin tagged in to pin Kane for a two count. It was weird that Hunter didn’t go for a cover. The referee Earl Hebner made Hunter leave the ring, so Taker hit a Chokeslam on Austin, which Hebner didn’t see. Stephanie was arguing with Hebner, so Earl shoved her off the apron to the floor. Kane covered Austin for a two count. Good nearfall. Kane with an enziguri kick on Hunter, who bumped into the referee. Taker tagged in, but the referee never saw it as Taker worked over both opponents. Taker with corner clotheslines on Hunter and Austin along with big boots for both guys. Taker knocked Austin out of the ring. Taker hit the Last Ride Powerbomb on Hunter, but Hebner didn’t count the pin because he never saw the tag. Huge boos for that. Austin back in with a forearm to Taker, then Hebner bumped to the floor. Austin with a low blow kick on Taker and Austin hit a Stone Cold Stunner on Kane. Taker tossed Austin out of the ring while Hunter and Kane were legal in the ring. Taker knocked Austin over the barricade at ringside as they brawled into the crowd. Hunter went for a belt shot on Kane, but Kane kicked Hunter in the face. Taker and Hunter were fighting in the crowd. Stephanie into the ring, so Kane kicked her in the face and the fans popped huge for that! Vince McMahon went into the ring with a sledgehammer, Kane went after him, Hunter got the sledgehammer and hit Kane in the left arm with the sledgehammer! Hunter hit Kane in the back of the head with the sledgehammer. Vince threw Hebner back in the ring and Hebner counted the pinfall win! New Tag Team Champions! It went 25:02.

Winners by pinfall AND NEW WWE Tag Team Champions:Steve Austin & Triple H

Analysis: ***1/4 It was pretty good. I just thought it was too long and lacked excitement even though the fans were into it for the most part. That’s probably because there was a lot of star power. The match made sense with the heels Austin and Hunter working over Kane’s left arm throughout the match. That was the smart thing to do since Kane had a visible brace on his arm. The result of the match was obvious since they weren’t going to take the WWE Title off Austin just one month after he won the title at WrestleMania. There was some good action by the end, but it did drag on a lot earlier in the match.

Austin and Hunter celebrated with the Tag Team Titles that they added to their individual titles. Taker looked on from inside the ring and was pissed off about what happened. They replayed some of the key spots in the match. Austin and Hunter continued to celebrate their win. That was the end of the show.

This event had a runtime of 2:43:16 on WWE Network.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Show rating (out of 10): 6.5

It was mostly just an average show with some pretty good matches, but overall not some amazing show or anything like that. I rated several matches around the same level with Benoit/Angle as the best match, then the Austin/Triple H vs. Undertaker/Kane match that was a really long main event and then I liked the Rhyno/Raven Hardcore Match a lot. The triple threat Euro Title match won by Matt Hardy was solid too, but it was kept short.

Shane McMahon’s match with Big Show was not that interesting until Test helped Shane and Shane hit a huge leap off the set onto Show. That was a memorable spot. I didn’t really care for the Duchess of Queensbury Rules Match with Regal and Jericho, but they worked hard in the match.

There was no sign of women’s wrestling on the show. Sadly, that was common sometimes in this era.

 

FIVE STARS

  1. Steve Austin/Triple H
  2. Kurt Angle
  3. Kane/The Undertaker
  4. Rhyno
  5. Matt Hardy

 

OPINIONS

Best Match: Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle (***1/2 out of 5)

Worst Match: William Regal vs. Chris Jericho (*3/4)

Most Memorable Moment: Shane McMahon’s leap off the set from about 30 feet high onto Big Show. That was a memorable moment for sure.

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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John Canton

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