TJR Retro: WWE Backlash 2007 Review (Plus Michaels vs. Cena April 23, 2007 Raw Classic)

The WWE Backlash 2007 event was the ninth straight year where WWE used the Backlash name. It was usually a Raw brand show, but by this point in 2007, WWE gave on the brand exclusive PPV idea and that led to Smackdown matches plus one ECW match being on this card too. The show only featured six matches on the main card, which is low, but it’s because they gave the wrestlers time to have longer matches. The shortest match was just over nine minutes while the last two matches were around 20 minutes. There were also two WrestleMania rematches on this show.

This event did a poor number in terms of PPV buyrates with 197,000 buys. It was one of the lowest numbers of the year. The better non-big four PPVs in 2007 were around 230,000 buys, so it was a disappointing show in that regard. I’m surprised that the number was poor because I thought it was a great card on paper. A reason why the number may have been low is that a 4-Way main event match isn’t as interesting as a singles match.

There was a bit of news going into this show regarding Randy Orton. On the European tour prior to Backlash, Orton was sent home early due to “unprofessional conduct” and because he trashed a hotel room. There were rumors that Orton would be fired, but that didn’t happen although Orton did pay hotel room damages and likely something else as a fine. Orton wasn’t suspended and he still got to be in the main event of this show as advertised.

I’m going to have a bonus match review here because one of the best matches in WWE Raw history took place six days before Backlash and I’ve never reviewed it. It’s a classic match between Shawn Michaels and John Cena that went nearly one hour. I’ll include that below and then the Backlash review is right after it.

For the last few years, I have been reviewing WWE PPVs starting in 2003 through the mid-2000s. Check out my WWE 2003-2007 PPV archive here if you want to read any of the reviews during that period. Let’s get to it.

Here’s a review of the classic Raw match from April 23, 2007 in London, England on Monday Night Raw with Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler on commentary. This was not for Cena’s WWE Championship.

John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels

Michaels with a fireman’s carry takeover, Cena countered and then they got back up to their feet. They did something similar to that again to show they were starting at a slow pace. Michaels with an armbar on the left arm into a suplex and then Cena tripped up Michaels, but Shawn was able to get to the ropes. Cena with another drop toe hold to set up the STFU with Michaels getting to the ropes again and Cena told him he was “this close” to locking it in with the announcers pointing out that Michaels tapped out to that move at WrestleMania. When Cena tried it again, Michaels once again managed to get to the ropes. Michaels did a shot to the face, so Cena punched him and that led to a break. It’s on WWE Network with no commercials, but I will note when the commercials aired.

(Commercial)

The fans were loud as the match returned with Cena grabbing a headlock for a few minutes, then Cena ran the ropes, Cena hit a shoulder tackle and grabbed another headlock to ground Michaels. When Michaels broke free, he wanted a hiplock, but Cena stopped him with a clothesline and Cena grabbed another headlock. Michaels finally got some momentum going with a reverse elbow to the jaw. Michaels sent Cena into the turnbuckle followed by chops to the chest, then Cena hit a boot to the face and a running clothesline for two. Cena grabbed a side headlock again, but this time it wasn’t as long as Cena hit two shoulder tackles. Cena picked up Michaels, who got off the shoulders, went to the apron and bailed to the floor.

(Commercial)

Michaels got some offense going with elbow smashes to the head along with a stomp to the face. Michaels ran in the ropes with Cena hitting a front slam for a two count. Cena with a whip into the turnbuckle followed by the fisherman’s suplex for a two count. Cena hit a blockbuster neckbreaker for a two count with Cena shocked that it wasn’t enough to win even though he never won matches with that move. Cena hit a back body drop for another two count. Michaels countered a suplex into a snap neckbreaker with JR busting out his “quicker than a hiccup” phrase that he likes so much. After they exchanged strikes, Michaels bounced off the ropes and connected with a flying forearm to the head. Referee Mike Chioda counted them both down, Michaels kipped up at six and hit an atomic drop followed by a body slam with Shawn selling a lower back injury. Michaels went up top and he connected with the top rope elbow drop as the crowd came alive a bit more. Michaels set up for Sweet Chin Music, Cena got back up, Michaels with a backslide pin for two and Cena went off the ropes for a shoulder tackle, but then Cena missed, which led to Cena going out of the ring to the floor. Michaels went for a slingshot attack over the top to the floor, Cena caught him, but Michaels shoved Cena left shoulder first into the steel steps.

(Commercial)

The match returned with Cena selling the left shoulder/arm injury as Michaels drove Cena’s shoulder into the ring post. Michaels wrenched on the left arm of Cena. There was a body slam from Cena, but when he tried a lefty elbow, Michaels moved and Cena hurt his left arm again. Michaels with a kick to the left arm, but then Cena came back with two clotheslines and two shoulder blocks. Cena with the spinning slam, the “you can’t see me” taunt and the Five Knuckle shuffle fist drop. Michaels went for the superkick, Cena avoided it and Cena hit the FU for a two count. The fans popped big for that kickout by Michaels and the announcers were shocked by it.

(Commercial)

Cena dumped Michaels under the bottom rope to the floor. Cena picked up Michaels back first into the ring post, but the way it was shot you could clearly see that only Cena’s hand hit the ring post and that led to a two count in the ring. Cena hit a delayed vertical suplex for a two count. Cena slapped on a bearhug on the lower back of Michaels to wear down Shawn some more until Shawn sent Cena into the corner. Cena whipped Michaels into the ropes leading to Shawn doing an impressive drive over the top to the floor. Back in the ring, Cena went up top and hit a leg drop to the back of the head for a two count with the crowd reacting well to that as a nearfall. That’s always been an impressive move for Cena and it looked good when he hit it. Cena tried to set up Michaels on the top rope for a FU, but Michaels got out of it and Michaels hit a Powerbomb out of the corner. That was a cool spot that drew a big reaction from the crowd as both guys were down again. It was essentially a Powerbomb off the middle ropes. Cena with a drop toe hold, Michaels turned out of it and kicked Cena into the ropes. Cena to the apron, Michaels shoved him off and Cena bumped into the announce table at ringside. Michaels left the ring and he teased a piledriver on the bottom half of the steel steps like he did at WrestleMania, but this time Cena hit a back body drop on Michaels on the floor.

(Commercial)

The match returned with Cena tackling Michaels on the announce table and he was working over Michaels with punches while referee Mike Chioda tried to break it up. Back in the ring, Cena was finally able to fully lock in the STFU submission in the middle of the ring. Michaels was in the hold for about a minute when he finally made it to the bottom rope to break the hold. Michaels went for Sweet Chin Music, Cena blocked it, Cena put Michaels on his shoulders, but then Michaels hit the Sweet Chin Music superkick. Cena rolled over near the ropes, Michaels crawled over with an arm across the chest and Cena got his left arm on the bottom rope before the three count. Lawler: “What a damn match this is!” Yep. That was great as JR called it one of the greatest matches in the history of Raw. The fans popped huge for Cena getting his hand on the rope. You could tell it was coming, but it worked as a nearfall. Michaels worked over Cena with chops with both guys looking exhausted. Cena sent Michaels into the ropes, Michaels went upside down and then back to his feet, right into a FU attempt by Cena, but Michaels landed on his feet and Michaels hit Sweet Chin Music superkick and fell on top with his back on top of Cena for the pinfall win. JR said “Michaels wins” three times. The match time was 55:49 including the commercials. It went 38:08 on WWE Network without commercials.

Winner by pinfall: Shawn Michaels

Analysis: ****1/2 This match is outstanding and really is one of the best matches in Raw history. It was one of the best WWE matches of 2007 too. I think going nearly one hour on Raw is very impressive, but going that long also hurt it a bit because if you were to fast forward through the first 15 minutes then you might like it more. Cena kept going for pinfalls throughout the match, then he would get so mad when it was a nearfall and it told the story of how competitive Cena and Michaels were. The fans reacted to some of the kickouts in a big way like when Cena hit his first FU for only a two count. They didn’t leave the ring that much, but when they did it was part of the story to inflict more punishment on the other guy. I loved the finish with Michaels hitting the superkick while he was exhausted and landing on top of Cena for the pinfall win.

I wasn’t writing much in 2007, but if I was then that match might have been the WWE Johnny Award for best match. It was that good.

John Cena faces Shawn Michaels in non-title WrestleMania rematch: Raw, April 23, 2007

After the match, Cena sold it for a few minutes as if he was knocked out. Michaels held the WWE Title over Cena’s body and the fans cheered that. Cena placed the title on Cena followed by some crotch chops to end the show.

Here are some of Shawn Michaels’s comments about that Raw match in an interview with NBC Sports in 2018.

“I found out what we were doing when I got to the building and was like, ‘Oh my goodness!’ When you hear that the match is going an hour, it seems like a long time, but when you’re working with someone like John so much … I’ve had the opportunity to go back and watch that match and it just flows right by. That’s obviously a testament to John and heck I’ll even pat myself on the back a little for that one (laughs).”

“It’s amazing how trying to do that hour-long match didn’t seem like such a big mountain to climb. It really helps when you have a history with someone. John and I were coming off of the WrestleMania [23] match and because of that, we had a decent amount of story points to work around, so it was easy.”

“It obviously doesn’t hurt when you’re in a phenomenal environment as well. Let’s face it, the folks in the U.K. are pretty easy to wrestle in front of. They are a very passionate group. I gotta say that’s one of my favorite matches.”

I agree with all of that especially when it comes to the chemistry they had. They worked so well together. The crowd was really into it too, which is something that always helps. Now we move on to Backlash 2007.

===

The description on WWE Network looks like this:

WWE Backlash
14+ (V) | Fatal 4 Way for WWE Championship with John Cena defending vs Edge, Randy Orton and Shawn Michaels. Undertaker vs Batista in Last Man Standing Match for the World Heavyweight Championship. Mr. McMahon challenges Bobby Lashley for ECW Title and much more.

WWE Backlash
April 29, 2007
From Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia

The opening video package showed some highlights from WrestleMania 23 and said that it was only the beginning because of what will happen at Backlash. They showed some clips previewing the biggest matches on this show.

The Phillips Arena was sold out as Jim Ross welcomed us to the ninth edition of Backlash with Jerry Lawler joining Ross on commentary on ringside. The ECW team of Joey Styles and Tazz were there to call the ECW match while the Smackdown team of Michael Cole and John Bradshaw Layfield were also ringside to call the blue brand matches.

The Hardy Boyz duo of Matt and Jeff Hardy entered as the World Tag Team Champions. It was also a good idea to start a PPV off with them due to the love they get from the crowd. JR noted that the Hardys were defending the titles on PPV for the first time in six years. The team of Trevor Murdoch and Lance Cade were the challengers.

World Tag Team Championships: The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff Hardy) vs. Trevor Murdoch and Lance Cade

Pre-match notes: The Hardys were the babyface champions while Murdoch and Cade were the heel challengers. The Hardys won the titles in a battle royal four weeks before this show and Matt was actually a Smackdown guy at this point. This was their sixth reign as WWE Tag Team Champions although they won the WCW Tag Team Titles with WWE booking the show, so I think this would count as seven.

Cade used his power on Matt early, but then Matt came back with hip tosses leading to Matt grabbing a headlock on Cade. Hardy with a scoop slam followed by a fist drop. Jeff jumped over the top and hit a dropkick on Cade. The Hardys hit double back elbow followed by an elbow/leg drop combo. Jeff hit the Whisper in the Wind attack on Murdoch off the ropes. Matt knocked Cade out of the ring with a clothesline, Murdoch was sent to the floor and Jeff jumped off Matt’s back over the top onto both heels on the floor with a back first cross body block. Back in the ring, Matt with an elbow to the back of Murdoch for two. Matt with a clothesline on Murdoch, but then Murdoch came back with a clothesline to the back as the heels took control. Cade and Murdoch did some quick tags as they worked over Matt against the turnbuckle. Matt hit a neckbreaker on Cade and Jeff tagged back in with a forearm. Jeff with a running dropkick on Cade, a clothesline to Murdoch and Cade managed to pull Jeff from the apron to the floor.

Cade hit a sitout uranage slam on Jeff for a two count with Matt making the save followed by Cade with a body slam. Cade slammed legal man Murdoch onto Jeff with a leg drop for a two count. The fans were into the match with chants for the Hardys, but Murdoch remained in control with a neckbreaker. Cade used his power to keep Jeff down with a clubbing blow to the back followed by a lefty clothesline for two. Jeff managed to get an inside cradle on Murdoch, but then Murdoch hit a boot to the face for two. There were more quick tags from the heels as they worked over Jeff in their corner of the ring. Cade with a chinlock, Jeff with a jawbreaker and Murdoch tagged back in with belly to back suplex. Jeff hit a boot to the chest of Murdoch and a mule kick on Cade. Murdoch knocked Matt off the apron, then a body slam and Murdoch took way too long off the middle ropes, so Jeff broke free and Matt got the hot tag. Matt with a forearm to the face, back body drop, corner clothesline and a bulldog for a two count. Jeff went in for a double team move, but Cade saved Murdoch. Matt hit a Side Effect on Murdoch for two as Cade jumped off the top with a double axehandle onto Matt’s back leading to a two count for Murdoch. There was a sloppy looking sunset flip bomb by Murdoch for a two count. It didn’t look smooth. Matt came back with the Twist of Fate neckbreaker, Cade pulled Matt out of the ring and Jeff jumped off the top with a Swanton Bomb, which the referee did not see. Matt punched Cade and went back into the ring to pin Murdoch to win the match.

Winners by pinfall: The Hardy Boyz

Analysis: ***1/4 This was pretty good with the Hardys doing their usual awesome job of taking a beating and making the big comeback. Cade and Murdoch had developed well as a talented heel team, so it was fun to watch. The crowd was really invested in the match as they supported the Hardys and got louder as the match went on. The finish was clever with the faces actually finding a way to win thanks to some cheating due to Jeff’s Swanton Bomb that the referee never saw. I like how it was booked.

Post match, The Hardys celebrated with their titles while the heels left. The camera stayed on the Hardys for a few minutes after the ring with Lawler saying it was like being a rock concert when the Hardys were out there.

Analysis: The rivalry continued from here. Cade and Murdoch would go on to beat the Hardys for the titles on the June 4 episode of Raw.

Umaga was in the locker room doing some grunting with Shane McMahon hyping him up and telling him he was the Samoan bulldozer. Umaga left. Vince McMahon showed up with the do-rag on the head with Shane saying he liked the look. Vince said tonight is when a McMahon becomes ECW World Champion. Vince said people were wondering who it will be: Shane or Vince? That led to Vince saying it will be Shane and Shane said it will be awesome. Shane walked away briefly, Vince had an expression on his face as if he was fooling his son and then Shane said that it should be Vince since Lashley saved Vince’s head bald. Vince said he liked it, then he left and Shane walked away as if he fooled his father.

Melina was up next with the Women’s Championship for her title defense. Mickie James got a good ovation for her entrance since she was one of the most popular women in the company around this time.

Women’s Championship: Melina vs. Mickie James

Pre-match notes: Melina was the heel champion while Mickie was the face challenger. They are definitely two of my favorite women’s wrestlers in WWE history. This was about two months after Melina first won the title. Mickie won the title five days before this at a Paris house show in an unplanned moment where somebody in the triple threat (with Victoria) forgot the finish. Mickie pinned Victoria with a hurricanrana and Melina was supposed to break up the pin, but didn’t get there in time and the referee counted the pin. That meant Mickie won the title even though she wasn’t supposed to. After the unplanned title change happened, Melina won it back at the same house show.

James with a fireman’s carry takeover into an armbar leading to Melina getting an armbar of her. James with a monkey flip, then a side headlock takeover into a headlock. They did some more mat wrestling leading to a separation. Melina was down acting as if she lost a contact in her eye, the referee checked on her and Melina took advantage with forearms to the face. James came back with a monkey flip out of the corner. Melina got a punch to the throat, James with two boots to the face and when Mickie went to the ropes, Melina shoved her down and James took a hard bump onto the floor. James was down selling as they replayed the bump showing James took it hard on her leg. Melina with a hair whip followed by some choking and a leg scissors submission around the shoulders. There was an inside cradle by James, but then Melina took over again with choke hold against the ropes. Melina hit a Thesz Press off the ropes leading to big bump. Melina grabbed another headlock, James fought back with elbows and they both ended up doing the splits leading to an exchange of punches. James was on her butt as she kicked Melina followed by a low dropkick. James with two clotheslines followed by a hair whip across the ring that was payback for earlier and James hit a perfect neckbreaker for a two count. The crowd was getting into the match. Melina charged into a back elbow and James jumped off the top with a cross body block for two. James set up Melina in the corner, Melina kicked her in the head, then a blatant eye rake and Melina hit a reverse DDT for the pinfall win at 9:02.

Winner by pinfall: Melina

Analysis: *** Good stuff from two women that matched up together well. Going nearly ten minutes in a PPV match was a lot in these days whereas a decade later it would happen a lot more often. There was a slow pace early on with some cheating by Melina, but then when Mickie made her comeback the fans really got into it more. The finish was okay although I would have liked to see more nearfalls from both women before that finishing sequence. Melina didn’t use the reverse DDT as a finisher that often, but it’s fine to use as a finisher once in a while. It would have been nice if they got 13-15 minutes because it would really have stood out as one of the best women’s matches of this era.

Melina celebrated with the title while Mickie was selling the neck injury because that was the story of the match.

Analysis: Melina would go on to be a 5-time Women’s Champion (counting Divas Title as well) and Mickie has won six Women’s Titles counting the Divas Title. Mickie’s still active in WWE although she has missed nearly a year after knee surgery to repair a torn ACL, which was the first major surgery in a 20 year career. Mickie and Melina had a long history together, so this was a big match for them and they did well. I wish they got a few more minutes, but in this era, women’s matches rarely got over ten minutes.

Edge was interviewed backstage by Maria, who asked Edge about his Fatal 4-Way match for the WWE Title later in the night. Edge said that he was happy that he didn’t have to go through Orton on Raw and he was happy that Michaels and Cena tore eachother apart for nearly an hour on Raw because it makes his path easier to become a three-time WWE Champion. Melina pulled out a sheet of paper from her cleavage (good spot) asking Edge how he won his first WWE Title. Edge said he took a beaten John Cena, cashed in Money in the Bank and won his first ever WWE Championship. Edge asked Maria who asked her to ask that question. Ken Kennedy showed up with the Money in the Bank briefcase with Kennedy wishing Edge good luck tonight. Kennedy said that the winner tonight will be exhausted, so he said he hopes Edge wins his match while tapping his hand on the Money in the Bank briefcase. Edge stared at him while Kennedy left.

Analysis: This was just a tease that Kennedy may cash in Money in the Bank later in the show. It was eight days after this when Edge beat Kennedy for the Money in the Bank briefcase and then later that week, Edge won the World Heavyweight Title on Smackdown. The reason for that was because Kennedy had an injury, WWE thought he would miss a lot of time and it ended up only being two months

Montel Vontavious Porter made his entrance. This was at a time when he was my favorite future stars in the company. It was easy to get excited about his future. Chris Benoit entered with the US Title to a big pop because they said he was from Atlanta, Georgia. Benoit grew up in Edmonton, but he lived in Atlanta.

United States Championship: Chris Benoit vs. Montel Vontavious Porter

Pre-match notes: Benoit was the babyface US Champion while MVP was the heel challenger. It was about six months into Benoit’s title reign. This was two months before the heinous double murder suicide committed by Benoit. It’s tough to watch his matches today considering how big of a fan I was during his career.

There was a slow start with some mat wrestling as Benoit got a takedown and MVP bailed to the floor to get out of a crossface attempt. MVP grabbed side headlock, Benoit put his legs around MVP’s throat with a leg scissors submission and MVP powered out of it until Benoit got a backslide pin for two. Benoit with a belly to back suplex followed by Benoit going for a Sharpshooter submission with MVP crawling to the bottom rope to break the hold. MVP was able to get control after a whip into the corner followed by a kick to the back of the head. MVP slapped on a tight headlock on Benoit’s head with Cole pointing out Benoit’s neck surgery in his past. When Benoit broke back with an elbow to the face, MVP hit him with an overhead belly to belly suplex across the ring. MVP with another headlock and Benoit came back with three straight German Suplexes as the crowd came alive. MVP grabbed Benoit’s foot to prevent a top rope attack and Benoit hit a Northern Lights Suplex. Benoit ran the ropes right into a stun gun by MVP that sent Benoit neck first into the top rope. MVP hit a neckbreaker for two. Benoit came back with the Crippler Crossface, the fans came alive for it and MVP got his hand on the bottom rope to break the hold. MVP worked over the neck of Benoit again along with an armbar leading to a rope grab, but referee Jimmy Korderas forced the break. MVP bounced off the ropes with a boot to the face for a two count. MVP went for a running boot again, Benoit moved and Benoit hit five German Suplexes in a row as the crowd came alive again. Benoit climbed up top as the crowd got louder, Benoit jumped off with the headbutt, MVP turned his body and got his knees up to block. MVP slapped on a single leg crab submission with Benoit getting to the bottom rope to break the hold. Benoit used his knees to get out of a suplex, MVP got out of a crossface attempt, MVP with a trip, but then Benoit got an inside cradle pinfall for the victory at 13:10. MVP kicked out right after the three count and had a shocked look on his face.

Winner by pinfall: Chris Benoit

Analysis: ***1/2 This was better and longer than their WrestleMania match featuring some great technical wrestler. There were some points in the match where it was so slow placed that maybe some fans wouldn’t like it, but I liked the story they told as MVP worked on different body parts in the match while Benoit kept on coming back. The story was that MVP came close to winning a few times to get his first title in WWE, yet he was unable to get the job done because Benoit found a way to win again. The finish

Post match, MVP was shocked while JBL said that MVP was unable to figure out how to beat Benoit. JBL also said Benoit was a future Hall of Famer, which was true at the time, but obviously that’s not going to happen.

Analysis: The feud would continue after this with another title match at the May 2007 PPV called Judgment Day. That will be in the next review.

John Cena was about to be interviewed by Todd Grisham when Randy Orton showed up to talk to Cena. Orton said they are both young, they’re incredibly handsome (Cena looked at the camera like Jim from The Office), they’re extremely talented and they’re open for resentment from the critics. Orton complained about how guys like Shawn Michaels gets treated like royalty while they were treated like dirt. Orton suggested that they take out Michaels and Edge and then they can see who the better man is. Cena: “So you really think I’m handsome?” Cena joked about how Orton said they want to get together and mocked Orton’s posing. Cena said that’s not his thing. Orton said that Cena will be laying on his back in the ring with Orton on top, which was another awkward moment. That led to Ron Simmons with this “DAMN!” Orton looked frustrated.

Analysis: It was harmless fun with Cena using Orton’s words against him and then Simmons provided more laughs at the end. I doubt WWE would script something like that today.

The ECW announcers to talked about their one match on the show.

The video package showed Bobby Lashley beating Umaga in the Battle of the Billionaires match that led to WWE Chairman Vince McMahon getting his head shaved by Lashley, Steve Austin and Donald Trump. Vince said he vowed later that night that he would extract revenge and make Lashley’s life living hell. Lashley was also the ECW Champion, so this led to Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon and Umaga working together to go after Lashley to set up this ECW Title match.

The ring announcer Justin Roberts informed us that the first superstar to score a pinfall or submission will be the ECW World Champion.

The heel team entered first led by Shane McMahon wearing one of his “Shane O-Mac” jerseys. Umaga was up next without his manager Armando Alejandro Estrada after Bobby Lashley beat him out on ECW TV earlier in the week. The WWE Chairman entered in all black in a sweater, jeans and a black do-rag to cover his head that was shaved four weeks earlier. Bobby Lashley was up next as the ECW Champion that was forced to defend against three men. There was a pretty good pop for Lashley from the crowd.

ECW Championship: Bobby Lashley vs. Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon and Umaga

Pre-match notes: Lashley was the babyface ECW Champion for about five months going into this match with Vince, Shane and Umaga as the heels. Vince was trying really hard to get Lashley more over as a babyface, so he got in the ring with him to try to help as much as he could because Vince is one of the best heels ever. Vince was 61 years old at the time of this match.

Lashley with a double leg takedown on Shane followed by a huge spinebuster. Umaga worked on Lashley for a bit, but then Lashley hit a clothesline, he ducked a charge from Umaga and Lashley hit Umaga out of the ring with a clothesline. Lashley sent Shane out of the ring while calling for Vince to get in the ring with him. Shane went back in, so Lashley hit him with a delayed vertical suplex. Umaga was back in as the legal man with Lashley hitting a drop toe hold on Umaga against Shane. When Lashley went to the ropes, Shane pulled the top rope down leading to Lashley bumping over the top to the floor and Umaga followed up by whipping Lashley into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Umaga remained in control with some dreaded back rakes and a hard whip into the turnbuckle. Shane went back in with knee drops and elbow drops on Lashley. Shane worked over Lashley with a triangle choke submission for about a minute until Lashley got out of it with a Powerbomb and got a two count with Umaga breaking up the pin. Umaga was back in with a headbutt followed by a bearhug to wear down Lashley some more as fans chanted “Bobby” to show that the fans were behind Lashley. When Lashley went off the ropes, Shane hit a cheap knee to the back followed by a Samoan Drop by Umaga. Shane hit Lashley in the back with repeated forearms with Shane also slapping on Camel Clutch submission to continue working on the lower back of Lashley. When Lashley broke free, he hit a T-Bone Suplex on Show, then a shoulder block and back body drop after he knocked Umaga off the apron. Lashley hit a Torture Rack backbreaker for a two count because Umaga was in the ring and Lashley met him with a Spear. The fans popped big. Lashley hit a running powerslam on Shane for two as Vince broke up the pin for his first action of the match. Lashley picked up Vince, Shane held Lashley’s leg and Umaga punched Lashley down. The referee was distracted, so Shane hit Lashley in the head with the title. Vince made Shane tag him in, so Vince covered for a two count leading to a big pop from the crowd. Lashley rolled up two for Vince with Shane saving Vince. Umaga tagged back in with a Superfly Splash off the top rope, he wanted to do the spike, but Vince tagged in and covered for a two count. Umaga tagged back in, he went up top and hit another Superfly Splash on Lashley. Vince covered Lashley for the pinfall win at 15:45 to win the title.

Winner by pinfall AND NEW ECW Champion: Vince McMahon (Shane McMahon and Umaga)

Analysis: **1/2 This was an average match in terms of quality, but it was entertaining in terms of a storyline and the crowd was hot for it. Lashley worked hard in this match in a 1 on 3 setting while the heels were crafty and Vince got the cheap win without even taking a bump. Losing a handicap match like this didn’t hurt Lashley much since he was at the disadvantage the entire time. Vince barely was in the match, which makes his win cheap and got a lot of heat on him.

Vince did an over the top celebration with the ECW Title around his waist. The announcers were shocked by it with Tazz saying Lashley got screwed here. Vince and Shane shook hands with Umaga. Shane even hugged Umaga, who was not a hugging guy. Vince continued his celebration as the fans booed them. Vince ran around the ring with the title around his waist in an over the top celebration and even put JBL’s hat on briefly. Vince continued to celebrate the win as they went up the ramp. This celebration lasted about five minutes. Styles: “This may be the darkest day in the long and storied history of ECW.” Good statement.

Analysis: That was a ridiculous celebration designed to get heat. Vince winning the ECW Title was a surprise considering his age, but it was a way to get more attention on the ECW brand. I didn’t really like the decision at the time although I get it because Vince being on ECW was, in theory, supposed to help the struggling third brand. It didn’t help that much, though. The fans knew that WWE’s ECW brand was a failure.

Mr. McMahon defeats Bobby Lashley for the ECW Championship

There was apparently some backstage scene with Vince celebrating with the title in front of ECW Originals backstage, but that wasn’t shown on WWE Network for some reason.

The video package aired for the Last Man Standing match for the World Heavyweight Champion on the Smackdown brand. The Undertaker beat Batista for the World Title four weeks earlier at WrestleMania, so this was Batista getting his rematch. There wasn’t much of a story other than these guys trying to see who the better man was.

Batista made his entrance first to a pretty good ovation. Batista had his right hamstring taped up with some white tape on it. The Undertaker made his usual slow entrance to a big pop from the crowd with Taker holding the World Heavyweight Title in his right hand. The Undertaker had his right bicep/elbow taped up with white tape and a black cover on it.

Last Man Standing Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: The Undertaker vs. Batista

Pre-match notes: The Undertaker was the babyface World Heavyweight Champion that won the title four weeks earlier at WrestleMania. Batista was also a babyface that was the former World Heavyweight Champion.

Undertaker with a boot to the face to start the match with Cole noting that Undertaker had never lost a Last Man Standing match in his career. Batista hit an elbow to the face as JBL noted the hurt elbow/biceps that Undertaker was dealing with. Taker ran off the ropes with a jumping clothesline. Taker did the armbar leading to the rope walk and the Old School punch to the shoulder. When Taker ran off the ropes, Batista hit a powerslam where it looked like Taker almost slipped, but Batista was able to finish the move. They left the ring with Taker sending Batista into the steel steps. They slugged it out on the floor with Taker kicking at the damaged right leg of Batista. Undertaker did a running leg drop on the edge of the apron like he has done so many times before. Batista got the advantage back as he sent Taker knee first into the steel steps. Batista went up top, which he rarely does and Taker punched him down. Undertaker hit a superplex while standing on the middle ropes, which is okay considering it’s a near seven footer doing that move. Both wrestlers were down for about a seven count. They exchanged punches in the middle of the ring leading to Batista hitting a running clothesline, then there was an eight count and Batista hit another clothesline. Batista with a body slam while selling the right leg injury and a leg drop. Taker sent Batista out of the ring and cleared off the Smackdown announce table. Batista whipped Taker back first into the barricade. Taker blocked a slam attempt followed by a backbreaker. Taker hit Batista in the head with the top half of the steel steps, the camera stayed on Taker and that allowed Batista to do a blade job because he was now bleeding. Taker set up Batista on the announce table, Taker went to the barricade and he jumped off with a leg drop to put Batista through the table. The referee Mickey Henson counted Batista down until Batista got back up at a count of nine.

They went back into the ring with Taker hitting two corner clotheslines, snake eyes into the top turnbuckle and Batista came back with a Spear. When Taker got back up, Batista hit a spinebuster, then another spinebuster and a third straight spinebuster that led to the referee counting Undertaker down for a nine count. Nice flurry of offense by Batista there. Taker avoided a Batista Bomb and hit a Chokeslam as both guys were down. Taker worked over Batista with corner punches and Batista hit the Batista Bomb out of the corner. That’s a spot that happened in a lot of Taker matches with Taker delivering the Last Ride Powerbomb, but this time it was Taker taking the move. Undertaker got back up at the count of nine, which led to cheers from the crowd that the match would continue. Batista brought a chair into the ring and hit Taker in the head with it. Taker with a back body drop onto the chair with Batista selling the leg again. Undertaker picked Batista up and hit the Tombstone Piledriver near the ropes and Batista managed to get up at nine with Taker looking shocked about that. Taker kicked Batista out of the ring. Undertaker and Batista went brawling up the ramp towards the stage. They exchanged punches while on the stage and they went over to the right side of the set. Batista teased a Powerbomb off the stage, Taker got out of it by going after the right leg and took control. Taker picked up Batista on his shoulder, then Batista got off and Batista gave Taker a Spear off the stage. They went crashing through some tables on the floor and there was a wooden crash pad there as well. There were also some steel bars that fell down over them. The referee counted both guys down for the ten count, so the finish was a draw. That drew some boos since the fans didn’t want to see a draw. It went 20:23.

Match Result: Draw (The Undertaker remains the World Heavyweight Champion)

Analysis: **** This was a great match with the draw ending hurting the finish a bit, but I still really enjoyed most of it. Batista did an awesome job of selling the right leg injury while Taker was working hurt with a torn biceps and he showed no signs of looking hurt. This felt like a fight between two elite superstars that gave everything they had, they hit all their big moves (especially Batista) and there were a lot of believable near finishing spots. It’s rare to have a Last Man Standing match end in a draw like that and I think if it was the main event then it would be a different finish. However, in the spot they were in, I didn’t mind that kind of finish because it fit the story that they were even and the rivalry did continue after this.

Batista spears The Undertaker off the stage: Backlash 2007

Post match, The Undertaker managed to crawl out of the landing area and get back to his feet first. Shortly after that, Batista rolled off the structure. There were replays shown of the big bump towards the end of the match. The Undertaker walked away with the World Heavyweight Title in his hands with JBL calling the match an “epic battle.”

MORE TO THE STORY: The Undertaker’s Arm Injury

Two weeks after this show on the May 11 edition of Smackdown, The Undertaker and Batista had a third match – this time in a steel cage. After the match, Undertaker was attacked by Mark Henry. That was an angle because The Undertaker had a torn biceps that required surgery. The Undertaker was out of action until September. Meanwhile, Edge cashed in Money in the Bank on The Undertaker and became the World Heavyweight Champion on the Smackdown brand. There were reports around this time that The Undertaker was going to have a long run as World Heavyweight Champion on Smackdown and he was in tremendous shape at the time. The initial reports were that Undertaker would be back in about six to nine months, but he was back in less than five months because he wrestled at the September 2007 Unforgiven PPV.

Analysis: The injury was unfortunate because Undertaker was really performing at a high level and was in arguably the best shape of his career. As I noted earlier, he was 42 years old at this point and then throughout his 40s he would have some of the best matches of his career, especially at WrestleManias with the likes of Edge, Shawn Michaels twice, Triple H twice and CM Punk. When he came back later in 2007, he was right back in the upper mix on Smackdown and had a lot of awesome matches as a regular wrestler on Smackdown. It was a few years later when he started to slow down in terms of his schedule.

There was a poll asking fans who they think will win the Fatal 4-Way match for the WWE Title: John Cena at 50%, Shawn Michaels at 34%, Randy Orton at 10% and Edge at 6%.

Analysis: Cena retaining was the obvious choice and at least half of the fans knew it, but I think some people wanted Shawn to win since it had been five years since he won a World Title in WWE. No surprise that the heels Orton and Edge only got 16% of the vote.

There was a video package promoting the main event with John Cena defending the WWE Title against Shawn Michaels, Edge and Randy Orton. Cena beat Michaels in the WrestleMania event four weeks earlier, then Shawn beat Cena on Raw six days earlier in a non-title match while Orton and Edge were the top heels on Raw. The video didn’t do much to show the storylines between them. It was more about just showing highlights of all four guys in action while generic music played.

The entrances took place for the main event with Shawn Michaels out first to a strong reaction from the crowd that loves HBK with JR calling him perhaps the best big match wrestler in the history of WWE while Lawler noted that Michaels proved he can beat Cena on Raw. Michaels was a four-time World Champion in his WWE career. Edge was up next as a former two-time WWE Champion. It was weird seeing his entrance without the cool pyro display. Randy Orton was up next without getting much of a reaction. At this point, Orton was only a one-time World Champion in WWE. John Cena got the biggest reaction out of anybody on the show as he walked out with the spinner version of the WWE Title with Lawler doing his “The Champ is Here” line. The announcers went over the rules of the match.

WWE Championship Fatal 4-Way: John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Edge vs. Randy Orton

Pre-match notes: Cena was the babyface WWE Champion that was seven months into a title reign that lasted over one year. Shawn Michaels was a face that was the oldest guy in the match at 41 years of age while Edge and Orton were heels that worked used to work together as the Rated RKO tag team. A few weeks after this is when Edge became a Smackdown guy.

The rules for the match are there are no disqualifications and no countouts. The first man to win by pinfall or submission will be the WWE Champion.

Michaels talked with Cena, then Edge and Orton got involved, so all four guys started brawling with Cena and Michaels sending the heels over the top to the floor. Michaels connected with hard chops to Cena’s chest. Cena came back with a fisherman’s suplex for a two count. Michaels with a neckbreaker to Cena and then Orton and Edge went back in with clothesline followed by those two guys tossing Michaels and Cena out of the ring. Orton and Edge got into a slugfest with Orton hitting a dropkick to Edge to send him out of the ring. Michaels pulled Orton out of the ring, then Cena ran over to them and hit a double clothesline. Edge with a baseball slide dropkick to Cena’s back to knock him down on the floor. Edge whipped Orton shoulder first into the steel steps, plus a body slam to Cena on the floor and Michaels hit a body slam on Edge on the floor. Michaels went up top and hit an impressive moonsault press onto the three guys that were standing on the floor. Shawn’s left knee hit the head of Edge when he hit the move. Edge and Michaels went back into the ring leading to a double clothesline spot from them. Cena went up top and hit a double leg drop to the back of the heads of Michaels and Edge leading to a two count by Cena on Michaels. That was impressive by Cena although he may have missed both guys – they sold it anyway. Orton went back in with a clothesline on Cena followed by Orton dumping Shawn and Edge out of the ring. Orton with an inverted backbreaker for a two count. Cena got back up with punches, but when he charged at Orton against the turnbuckle, Randy moved and Cena hit the turnbuckle with his shoulder. Michaels chopped Cena repeatedly followed by a running forearm, but Edge went back in with a spinning heel kick on Michaels. Edge and Orton each tried pinfalls, then Edge suggested that they work together and that led to the heels punching Michaels followed by a hard whip that sent HBK into the turnbuckle. Cena was on the apron, so Edge punched him off the apron into the announce table at ringside. There was also a double team back body drop by Edge and Orton on Michaels, who sold it so well by grabbing his back. Edge and Orton applied a double Boston Crab on Shawn, who nearly tapped out until Cena was back in the ring for a double blockbuster on the two heels. Cena with a clotheslines, then running shoulder tackles and a spinning suplex on Edge. Cena hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle fist drop on Edge. Orton and Michaels pulled Cena out of the ring, then they shoved Cena into the ring post and Michaels sent Orton into the ring post. Michaels teased a piledriver on Orton on the announce table, but then Edge hit Michaels in the back with a steel chair. Orton gave Edge a thumbs up, so Edge hit Orton in the head with a steel chair.

Edge went back into the ring the steel chair as he charged at Cena, who tripped up Edge and slapped on the STFU submission with the fans screaming about it. Edge managed to get to the ropes. Cena slapped the STFU submission on Orton, but then he let go when Michaels was in the ring and Michaels got an inside cradle for two. Michaels with a running forearm to the face, then two atomic drops and a third atomic drop for Orton as well. Michaels sent Edge and Orton out of the ring followed by a body slam on Cena. Michaels went up top and hit an elbow drop to the chest of Cena. Michaels with a body slam on Edge and Michaels went up top leading to an elbow drop on Edge. Michaels with a body slam on Orton with Shawn selling as if he was exhausted. Michaels went up top again, but Cena was there to stop him with punches. Cena put Michaels on his shoulders, so Edge and Cena slammed Cena backwards so that it was like a double suplex and a Samoan Drop style bump. It’s a different kind of Tower of Doom spot. All four guys were down in the ring as the fans were standing all around ringside. Edge and Cena battled in the ring, Michaels went in and Orton hit a RKO on Michaels, but Cena hit Orton to prevent a pin. Edge hit the Impaler DDT on Cena for a two count. That was Edge’s finisher earlier in his career. The announcers put over the intensity of the match. Cena avoided Edge, then Cena shoved Orton right into a Spear by Edge. Cena picked up Edge and hit the FU on Edge. Michaels hit Cena with the Sweet Chin music superkick and Cena landed with the back of his neck onto Orton’s chest. Michaels was too tired to cover Cena, so Cena covered Orton with his back and referee Mike Chioda counted Cena’s pinfall to give John the win at 19:21. Michaels was half a second too late to break up the pin.

Winner by pinfall: John Cena

Analysis: ****1/4 This was a great match full of action and excitement. All four of these guys worked with eachother a lot, so there was a lot of chemistry between them and they built up to the false finishes well. It was actually a bit of a surprise that they didn’t use more weapons in the match other than a few chair shots. I always talk about how important the finishing sequence of a match is and I think this is one of the best finishing sequences with Orton, Edge, Cena and Michaels all hitting their finishing moves in succession. Cena’s victory was a bit fluky because of how he landed on top of Orton after a Michaels superkick, but I thought it worked really well. Just listen to the crowd. They reacted to it so well because it was a unique finish that really isn’t done much at all, so it felt fresh and unique. The win by Cena wasn’t a surprise, nor was Orton getting pinned since I mentioned earlier that Orton was sent home from WWE’s European tour for disciplinary reasons.

Post match, all four guys were still down in the ring selling the brutality of the match. The announcers put over how amazing that finish was. Michaels got in Cena’s finish saying “you don’t deserve that” and Michaels was saying “you know” as if he was telling Cena that he was better than him. Cena just looked at Michaels with a shocked look on his face. Michaels was furious about what happened as JR summarized it well by saying Michaels’ Sweet Chin Music led to Cena landing on top of Orton to win the match.

Michaels left up the ramp looking mad about what happened while Cena was left alone in the ring with the WWE Title still in his hands. Michaels looked back at Cena, who simply stared back at him and held up the WWE Title. That was the end of the show.

Analysis: That was pretty much the end of Cena’s rivalry with Michaels that began before WrestleMania and lasted through April. They both went on to do other things.

This event had a run time of 2:36:32 on WWE Network.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Show Rating (out of 10): 8.25

It’s an awesome show. I think this was probably the best PPV of 2007 (I’ll see when I get through the others) and also one of the better shows from top to bottom without any major weak links. The “worst match” on this show was still average, which shows how strong of a lineup it was. Plus, that young fella Vince McMahon got to show how extreme he was by winning the ECW Title! Okay so that’s not remembered fondly, but I thought his celebration was hilarious.

There were only six matches and all of them were title matches, so it was kind of like a Night Champions show although some of the other titles were ignored. When you have a nearly three-hour show with just six matches then you give more time for the wrestlers to have great matches. I thought the Fatal 4-Way with Cena/Michaels/Edge/Orton is one of the best 4-Way matches in WWE history (love the finish) while Undertaker vs. Batista was excellent too. Keep in mind too that Taker worked that match with a torn biceps! This isn’t an all-time great PPV although it’s close to that level. If you want to watch a very good PPV that may not be remembered that much then this is a solid choice.

Best Match: John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Edge vs. Randy Orton (****1/4 out of 5)

Worst Match: Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon and Umaga vs. Bobby Lashley (**1/2) – That is one of the best worst matches in a PPV in history.

 

Five Stars of the Night

1. Shawn Michaels

2. John Cena

3. The Undertaker/Batista

4. Edge/Randy Orton

5. The Hardy Boyz

 

Next up: Judgment Day 2007.

Thanks for reading.

John Canton – [email protected]

Twitter @johnreport

Check out my other retro WWE PPV reviews here as well.