WWE held their Backlash pay-per-view last night from the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. The show was certainly news worthy as all three world championships changed hands. Furthermore SmackDown got a title and it looks like all three WWE rosters are poised to go through with the changes from the 2009 Draft which took place last week. Below are my thoughts on last night’s pay-per-view on a match by match basis:
Christian beat Jack Swagger to win the ECW Championship
WWE opened with the ECW Championship match and it was very well done. Swagger looked much better than he did with his first pay-per-view appearance at No Way Out earlier this year. Christian proved once again that he is one of the better workers in the world. Swagger worked a more grounded technical style but Christian complimented it well with his counters. The go-home sequence was great with Swagger hitting an Oklahoma Stampede and getting a two count only for Christian to counter with the Kill Switch. Christian pinned him to win the belt. After the match, they had Christian run into Edge backstage which I felt was a good tease for an angle in the future. I expect Christian to turn heel eventually.
Chris Jericho beat Ricky Steamboat
This match was booked because WWE didn’t have time to build a new angle for Jericho and Steamboat was very impressive at WrestleMania 25 and Raw the next night. Jim Ross noted it was Steamboat’s first singles match in 15 years as his last bout was at WCW Bash at the Beach against Steve Austin. You would have never have known it as Steamboat definitely still has it. Not only did he look great physically for his age but his ring work was spot on once again. The crowd at it up as Steamboat hit a cross body off the top rope into a lateral press. Jericho ended up countering with a Code Breaker and eventually locked in the Walls of Jericho to get the win. This was the blow-off with the Legends vs. Jericho angle but Steamboat got a nice farewell from the crowd. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Steamboat but it looks like he’ll go back to his role as a producer.
Kane beat CM Punk
The Money in the Bank winner did a job to Kane which really had to be done to save Kane’s credibility. It still made me wonder if there is a chance Punk could lose the MITB briefcase but this was a forgettable filler bout. I was told from in the arena this match lost the crowd and you could tell on pay-per-view. I don’t like the idea of Punk losing but that was really the only direction creative could take without completely burying Kane.
Jeff Hardy beat Matt Hardy in an “I Quit” match
Jeff finally got a win – which had to be done – but I was unimpressed. While I’m not a fan of gimmick matches, “I Quit” matches can be fun if booked correctly. There were some high spots and the match wasn’t terrible but both are capable of more. Hardy vs. Hardy on paper looks like a classic but the two PPV bouts they have worked have been uneventful and disappointing. The lack of color also doesn’t do this feud justice. The Draft has separated the Hardys once again so this looks to be over.
Santina Marella beats Beth Phoenix in an impromptu match
The Khali Kiss Cam segment, which was booked for comedy, turned into an impromptu match between Santina and Beth. The Great Khali did the dirty work for Santina, taking out Beth and allowing him/her to steal the win. I’m not crazy about comedic segments on pay-per-view, in fact, I hate them. However, I am such a fan of Santino’s work I lightened up and enjoyed the segment for what it was. If you can’t laugh at Santino’s female impersonation you need to lighten up.
Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes, & Ted DiBiase beat Triple H, Batista, & Shane McMahon to give Orton the WWE Championship
Let me first say I am thoroughly impressed with the work of Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. Both looked like main eventers last night and stepped it up working with the big boys. Shane was solid as well and kept the invisible punches to a minimum. The finish to the match was affected by an early bell on the false finish which had to have been a mistake. Orton hit the RKO and went for the pin but only got a two count, they rang the bell anyway. Orton quickly went for a second cover on Triple H to give him the title win. Batista looked solid with it being his first match back from injury. The decision to put the WWE Championship on Orton was inevitable and is absolutely the right move. Orton is the best thing going in WWE right now and deserved to be rewarded for all his hard work. Furthermore he is over more than anyone in the company and in my eyes is the top guy right now. Rhodes and DiBiase are developing nicely. They did a big Triple H injury angle at the conclusion of the match which could possibly keep him off TV for a couple of weeks.
Edge beat John Cena in a Last Man Standing match to win the World Heavyweight Championship
I will be the first to tell you John Cena’s gimmick comes off as cheesy to me, as it does to most male wrestling fans over the age of 14 or 15. That was clear last night as Cena had a lot of heat from the Rhode Island crowd. However, there is no way anyone can evaluate this match and say it was bad. The match was very well done and had a perfect finish to get the World Heavyweight Championship back on SmackDown. They worked in the ring, on the outside, in the crowd, and in the concourse before Big Show gave Edge the assist by chokeslamming Cena through the spotlight. They did another big injury angle and it should start a feud between Cena and Show on Raw. WWE is building Big Show up tremendously so it looks like a run at the top is imminent. I like Edge getting the dirty win because had he have done the dirty work it would have been impossible to continue the feud on separate brands. With Show costing Cena the title, it sets up a future program.
WWE Backlash 2009 was a solid effort that was very newsworthy. Christian vs. Swagger was the match of the night and Jericho vs. Steamboat was a respectable match to follow. Kane vs. Punk was a forgettable filler bout and the “I Quit” match was a big disappointment. The Khali Kiss Cam was nothing more than comedy to lighten the mood before the two main events. The main event matches did what they were supposed to do and I think the three right men came out as champions. I would recommend watching the show because of the title changes with some solid wrestling. Do not expect a classic from the Hardys as it was not what it could have been. Steamboat still has it and I’m glad he was able to prove it again.
Richard can be contacted at richard [at] grayinternet.com
Richard Gray is a professional wrestling journalist and frequent contributor to Rajah.com. He has been covering the world of professional wrestling since 1999 and has had the opportunity to cover ground breaking stories such as the demise of ECW, the WCW buyout, the Benoit tragedy, Bobby Lashley leaving WWE, and more. For more on Richard check out his web site, Wrestling News World.
– “Richard Reacts” Archive By WrestlingNewsWorld.com’s Richard Gray