The Backlash pay-per-view has a history of being the best of the “B-level” shows, so with 2007’s edition having to follow one of the better Wrestlemanias, the pressure was on to provide a great show. Add in the fact that this was the first PPV to be broadcast as tri-branded (officially at least), a direct result of the disastrous December to Dismember show from the previous, um, December.
Running time: 165mins (approx)
- World Tag Team Championship Match: The Hardys vs. Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch
- Shane & Mr. McMahon Pump Up Umaga for Their Match
- Women’s Championship Match: Melinda vs. Mickie James
- Maria Interviews Edge
- The Condemned: Behind the Scenes Look at the Fighting
- United States Championship Match: Chris Benoit vs. MVP
- Todd Grisham Interviews John Cena
- 3-on-1 Handicap Match for the ECW Heavyweight Championship: Bobby Lashley vs. Umaga, Mr. McMahon & Shane McMahon
- The Condemned – The Critics Response
- Umaga, Mr. McMahon & Shane McMahon Celebrate Victory
- Last Man Standing Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Batista vs. Undertaker
- Fatal 4-Way Match for the WWE Championship: John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Edge vs. Randy Orton
- Todd Grisham interviews Mr. Kennedy
- Rob Van Dam comments on Vince McMahon becoming the ECW World Heavyweight Champion
Probably under the most pressure were The Undertaker and Batista. Just four weeks previously, in their contest for the World Heavyweight Championship that brought ‘Taker to 15-0, both men performed miracles and had a fantastic contest. Probably Undertaker’s best match of his streak and maybe Batista’s best match ever. There was a lot of concern over whether the two giants could pull it off a second time.
But Backlash was about more than the Smackdown behemoths locking up for the second time in what proved to be an engrossing year-long feud, as every match on the card had a title at stake, meaning we were pretty much guaranteed at least one new champion when the show came to a close.
As is the norm with Backlash, the show featured a few rematches from Wrestlemania 23. MVP and Chris Benoit clashed over the US title in the feud that, in this writer’s opinion, set Montel Vontavious Porter on his rise to stardom and credibility. As mentioned earlier, Undertaker and Batista laid into each other again, this time under Last Man Standing rules. HBK and Cena fought again, with the added interest of Rated-RKO being added to the mix after having banged heads in the Money in the Bank match at ‘Mania, in a Fatal Four-Way match. Rounding out the rematches, we had Bobby Lashley and Umaga going at it, this time for Lashley’s ECW title in a three-on-one handicap match that featured Shane and Vince McMahon (the latter out for revenge after being shaved bald at Wrestlemania) on siding with the Samoan savage.
There were also two matches that weren’t retreads from the previous PPV as The Hardys (no longer boys) took on the team of Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch. In the lead up to this match, Cade & Murdoch had been showing great sportsmanship towards the brothers, giving them praise and shaking their hands, even when losing. Rounding out the card, we have the WWE Women’s title being defended as Melina (champion) takes on long-time nemesis (and former champion herself), Mickie James.
After the opening video package and the introduction of the various announce teams, we blast straight into the show with a huge pop for the entrance of Jeff & Matt Hardy as they prepare to defend the tag belts against the underrated (to me at least) team of Cade & Murdoch.
Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler do a good job of putting over the challengers as well as the tag-team legacy of the champions at the opening of the match, which is controlled for the most part by the cowboy and the trucker.
This match was the perfect opener to the show, featuring as it does some nice exchanges by both teams as well as being given enough time to develop and showcase the talents of all four men. Highlights include a stunning Poetry in Motion over the top to the floor that takes out the challengers, a sit-out Rock Bottom from Cade (that JR insists on calling a powerbomb) and the finish sequence itself. This was a great back-and-forth contest that really showed that WWE can do good tag-team wrestling when it wants to.
Following a short skit where Shane tries to fire up his dad, we come back to the arena for the next match on the card. The WWE Women’s Championship match would always have a hard time following the opener, but credit to Melina and Mickie James for pulling out one of the better WWE female matches of 2007.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Mickie James, so I was looking forward to this match regardless. With Mickie going against Melina (another underrated in-ring talent), I knew it wasn’t going to be MOTN, but I also had hope that it wouldn’t stink up the joint… I wasn’t disappointed.
Melina showed some technical wrestling with a nice headlock takeover, but went to her heelish heart and landed a sucker-punch to the challenger to her title after using a loose fake eyelash to create a diversion. Melina also utilised a gorgeous double-chickenwing hold using her legs under the arms and behind James’ head.
With no blown-spots and good action, with none of the Diva-esque slapping and poor kicks, this was a breath of fresh air in WWE’s Women’s division and made a mockery of those who say that none of the WWE females know how to wrestle. Given a decent amount of time, this was a great showcase for what the females can do when allowed… it’s just unfortunate those opportunities are so few and far between.
The action is broken up with Edge being interviewed backstage by Maria (pre-Santino) and then a promo about the fighting in the Steve Austin-starring movie, The Condemned.
Up next was the match that had the potential to steal the show if their previous encounter was anything to go by; MVP v Chris Benoit. This was actually the second rematch from ‘Mania, as they had a match on Smackdown two weeks previous, and that too was a great match.
The one thing I did take from this match was how awesome JBL’s commentary was, and how badly he’s missed today. Bradshaw had an uncanny ability to remain a heel, yet put both heels and faces over throughout his commentary, and it was rarely more evident than it was during matches between MVP and Benoit.
I honestly believe that this was the role Chris Benoit was born to play; the old master who brings out the best in those with the potential to be great. MVP was given a credibility in his series with The Wolverine that pervades to this day, and it’s just a shame that what happened in Chris’ personal life has meant that this feud has all but been forgotten. This feud should be required viewing for rookies looking to see how you build a feud, but just like Randy Orton’s first World Title win, it’ll be brushed under the rug, never to be mentioned again.
MVP diversified his repertoire with some new submissions, using them to supplement his Chono-esque kicks that are, in my opinion, the crown-jewel of Montel’s offence. Benoit learned from the previous contest as well, and realising that three German suplexes didn’t get it done, decided to go with five instead. The action was intense, the counters were logical extensions of the action from the previous encounters (which is how you tell a story in a wrestling-based feud) and the finish was out of nowhere. All in all, this was a stunner of a wrestling match, marred slightly by watching a double-murderer who tarnished his HoF career.
So far, we’re three-for-three when it comes to good matches. A break from the in-ring action is forthcoming as we have a backstage promo as Todd Grisham (the hardest working backstage announcer on the roster) interviews the WWE Champion, John Cena. Unfortunately, Todd doesn’t get to say a word as Randy Orton interrupts and becomes the straight-man in Cena’s homosexual comedy hour. It did allow Ron Simmons to make his obligatory “DAMN” appearance though, so it wasn’t all bad.
A lengthy recap of the Bobby Lashley/Vince McMahon situation follows, bringing everyone up to speed on the goings on between Wrestlemania and Backlash. The ECW Champion was at a disadvantage as his ‘Mania opponent, Umaga, had help in the shape of The Boss and his son.
Surprisingly, Shane starts the match against Lashley, but gets completely manhandled in an exchange meant to showcase the power of the ECW Champion. Shane-O-Mac doesn’t stay in the ring for long though, choosing to tag out to Umaga at the first opportunity. Umaga and Lashley had been feuding since ‘Mania (including a fantastic cage match spot where Bobby leapt through the cage to get at the Samoan), so the anticipation for them colliding once again was there.
Joey Styles and Tazz do a good job of pushing the strengths off all four competitors, in particular the two full-time wrestlers, without it coming across as too forced. Combining the glowing commentary with the reaction of the fans and you really start to believe that Bobby Lashley would become what Vince wanted him to be; the next big thing in WWE. As we all know, that didn’t pan out for reasons still not disclosed, but in April of 2007, it looked like Bobby was going to come good on his promise.
The best decision of the match was keeping Vince out until the end. This meant that when he did come in, the fans were chomping at the bit for Bobby Lashley to rip him a new you know what. This led to the finish, with a belt shot and two Umaga splashes (a thing of beauty) leading to Doo-rag Vince becoming the ECW Champion. A lot of people didn’t like Vince being champ, but it did lead to a few good skits and didn’t really do any harm in the long run.
With only two matches left on the card, we go to another pre-taped segment to hype The Condemned. This time it’s the reaction of the critics (or at least the critics who gave good reviews) that we get to waste another 90secs on.
Batista’s entrance music reverberates around the arena, heralding the arrival of the man with the hardest job of the night; trying to top “the match of his career” (thanks JBL) at Wrestlemania. Undertaker also had a hard job in this match; showing the world that the performance at Wrestlemania wasn’t a fluke.
Batista gets a good pop from the fans, but this is drowned out by the reaction of The Deadman as the gongs ring out and the lights go out. No matter how many times you’ve seen it, ‘Taker’s entrance is still something special, and most likely will remain so until the day he hangs up the boots.
Last Man Standing matches are usually good, and this was no exception. In fact, that may be the understatement of the year… this match was phenomenal. The tension and atmosphere in the arena was off the charts, and the aura surrounding both men adds to the occasion. All of this would be enough to do the match justice, but with JBL and Michael Cole (the best announcing duo at the time in my opinion) calling the contest, you had the potential for Batista and Undertaker to outdo their ‘Mania encounter.
Watching the match almost a year removed, you get the sense that had Undertaker not gone out with an injury; this feud would have run all the way from Wrestlemania 23 to Wrestlemania 24. It’s as if they thought to themselves that the only way to top the best big-man brawl in decades was to have the best big-man brawl of all time. They don’t quite achieve that accolade, but they aren’t far off it.
Highlights of the match are plentiful, but some stand out more than others. A superplex on Batista, for example, was a sight to see due to the sheer size of both men. That was nothing when compared to Undertaker leaping from the ringside barricade and legdropping his opponent through the Smackdown announcers’ table at the halfway point in the match. This really woke up the crowd, who booed the crap out of Batista for having the gall to want to continue.
From there we have Batista spearing Undertaker out of his boots and then going on a spinebuster frenzy. It has to be said, for all of Dave’s limitations, he has the best damn spinebuster in wrestling today. Obviously tiring, both men deserve a boatload of credit for the high-octane finish to the match. Batista-bombs, steel chairs, a tombstone and a spear to end all spears are highlights of the last few minutes, with the finish itself being the only result that keeps both men strong and the feud rolling along.
Batista and Undertaker can look back on the series of matches they had (Wrestlemania 23 until Survivor Series 2007) and be proud of their efforts. Main event wrestlers giving main-event level effort is a beautiful thing, and Batista proved to the world that, when motivated, he deserves every second of his main-event push.
Having wrestled myself (albeit on a much, much lower level), I didn’t envy anyone having to follow the Last Man Standing match, so it was a good job it wasn’t just anybody who was out next. The Showstopper himself, Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton, Edge and the WWE Champion, John Cena went above and beyond in providing a stellar four-way contest.
Cena v HBK at ‘Mania was a great wrestling match, followed by a classic in London that lasted the entire second half of Monday Night Raw, so the addition of the former World Tag Team Champions, Rated-RKO, was an interesting diversion. Of course, by this point, Team Rated-RKO was done and dusted; World Title aspirations taking precedent over team unity.
The fans were electric throughout this match, with each of the four wrestlers having, at least, a pocket of fans cheering them on. The action was top-notch from bell-to-bell, and this title contest was at least on a par with the previous bout. Everyone got a chance to shine, with HBK moonsaulting from the top to the floor being a highlight for the fans of Shawn Michaels. Not to be outdone, Cena goes one better and lands a Sicilian Slice/Top-rope Famouser on both HBK and Edge not two minutes later.
The one thing these guys did really well was time their powders to the floor, making it seem fluid that one or two wrestlers would be on the outside for good portions of the middle part of the match.
Rated-RKO uniting brought out some nice 2-on-1 exchanges, punctuated with a two-man Boston Crab on HBK that was broken up by an “out-of-nowhere” double Throwback faceplant from Cena on the heels. The Edge/Orton alliance ended soon after with a vile chairshot to the head of Randy on Edge. This led to a non-stop charge to the finish, with big move after big move (a four-man tower out of the corner and a snap RKO being highlights) taking us to a close.
This match was a worthy main-event and had a finish that made sure everyone came out looking good.
There are only two extras on the DVD, with neither of them being “must-see” segments. The first, Todd Grisham interviewing Mr. Kennedy is nothing special, whereas the second, Rob Van Dam (shoot?) commenting on Vince McMahon becoming ECW World Champion is a good watch, but was available to view on WWE.COM.
Backlash 2007 continued the tradition of fine PPV events, with this show having a good case for being the best “non-Big Four” pay-per-view in history. From top to bottom, every match was worth watching, with the World and WWE title matches far exceeding their potential.
With only six matches on the card, each bout was given time to tell a story; a luxury that a lot of WWE matches don’t receive. This gave the likes of MVP, Benoit,
Undertaker, etc the chance to take their time and showcase their talents in an environment conducive to storytelling inside the ropes.
The WWE had a great year in 2007 when it came to pay-per-views, and Backlash, being the first show after the traditional post-Wrestlemania lull, deserves a lot of credit for keeping the momentum going. The roster also deserve credit for bringing their working boots to Atlanta, especially Batista for proving the doubters wrong for a second time.
Points: 9.5/10 (1/10 for the extras)