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Dark Pegasus Video Review: Backlash 2001

May 27, 2008 | Posted by J.D. Dunn
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Dark Pegasus Video Review: Backlash 2001  

Backlash 2001
by J.D. Dunn

I mentioned a few reviews ago how the cracks were starting to show in the booking. This is the first PPV where you could see water starting to spurt through those cracks. After an epic PPV at WrestleMania X-7, Austin had finally sold out to Vince McMahon. The problem was that they needed a strong babyface to be a foil for him. The Rock left for Hollywood, so he was out. Triple H, a natural choice, wound up joining *with* Austin – the guy he was trying to kill only a year and a half earlier. Not only that, but it seemed that Triple H was the butch to Austin’s femme in this power couple.

So, what do you do? Do you elevate a long-time babyface like Chris Jericho, who was once the #2 babyface in your promotion? Or maybe elevate newly turned Chris Benoit, who the fans were buying into as a legitimate badass? Work in some of your newly bought WCW talent? Well, if you’re the WWF in 2001, you simply reshuffle the deck chairs on your own personal Titanic and push Undertaker and Kane back into feuds with Austin and Hunter, even though those feuds had been done to death.

Not surprisingly, this was around the time where the ratings slide began to get *really* noticeable. Oh, and this is also right around the time that people began to notice that Triple H was being made to look very good at a lot of other guys’ expense.

  • April 29, 2001
  • Live from Chicago, Ill.
  • Your hosts are Jim Ross and Paul Heyman.

  • Heat Match, Light-Heavyweight Title: Crash Holly vs. Jerry Lynn.
    This is Lynn’s WWF debut (if you don’t count the Light-Heavyweight Title Tournament). Crash gets two off an early powerslam. Crash stomps Lynn’s back and locks in a bow-and-arrow. Lynn works in the Crucifix-to-school-boy rollup for two, and they do the blowjob sunset flip sequence. Lynn rolls through a reversal and grabs a handful of tights for the win and the title at 3:35. Lynn’s run would be exceedingly short, as he’d wear out his welcome and be gone by the end of the summer, barely even figuring into the Invasion. 1/2*

  • Heat Match: Lita vs. Molly Holly.
    Lita was starting to look less skanky and more glam at this point. Molly hits a series of wristlock takedowns and drops some elbows. Lita comes back with a neckbreaker. She slips out of a slam and hits a reverse DDT. Molly counters the Twist of Fate to a Northern Lights Suplex for two. A crossbody gets two more. Lita fights a backslide and turns it into another Twist of Fate. That sets up a crappy Litasault at 2:40. Too short to be much fun. *1/2

  • Opening Match, Six-Man Tag: X-Factor vs. The Dudley Boyz.
    X-Factor, if you didn’t already know, was X-Pac’s attempt to form his own stable. You know how Michael Richards, Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus have all had failed sitcoms since Seinfeld? This was like that. X-Pac is a supporting guy, not the star. Big brawl to start. Spike hits a doublestomp, and the other Dudz toss him out on X-Pac and Justin. It settles down into Spike and Justin. Spike gets two off a Crucifix and avoids a corner charge. D-Von gets the tag, but Albert nails him from the outside to set up the heat segment. X-Factor crotches him on the post. D-Von hits a double clothesline and tags to Bubba. Bubba Bomb to Justin. Albert tries to save X-Pac from a pinfall and squashes him. Oops. Justin takes the Wazzup Drop. Bubba misses a charge, though, and gets double-superkicked at 8:01. So, X-Factor goes over the stale Dudleyz and has some credibility, right? Pfft. Fool. The Dudz make their own save from a beatdown and put X-Pac through a table to reassert their dominance. Not a bad tag match and a decent opener to get the crowd in it. **1/4

  • The Duchess of Queensbury arrives and accepts some toadying from William Regal.
  • In the locker room, Kurt Angle is cool as a cucumber because he knows he has Chris Benoit’s number.
  • Hardcore Title: Rhyno vs. Raven.
    Rhyno charges but gets drop toeholded right into a road sign. Raven hits a running trashcan shot for two. To the floor, Rhyno tries to run up the ring steps and clobber Raven in a chair, but he misses. Raven comes off the steps with a clothesline for two. They fight up into the aisle where Rhyno gets two off a security sign shot. A shopping cart gets involved as Rhyno tosses it in but takes a drop toehold into it. That’s some craziness right there. Raven fires off a few shots and gets two off the bulldog. Cool spot as Rhyno lifts the shopping cart over his head, but Raven jabs him with the trashcan, and the shopping cart falls on Rhyno’s face. Rhyno fights back and sets up for the gore. Raven ducks out of the way, and Rhyno traps himself inside the shopping cart. AWESOME! Raven goes nuts on him with the kitchen sink, but Rhyno comes back with a spear and picks up the win at 8:12. It ambled a bit in the beginning, but the spots down the stretch were great. ***

  • Shane McMahon reads “Shane and the Beanstalk” to hype his match with the Big Show. Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley interrupts Shane and asks him to save himself and apologize to Vince for buying WCW out from under him. Shane gives the request its due respect.
  • Steve Austin arrives and tells Kevin Kelly he’s not losing a damn thing tonight.
  • Jonathan Coachman tries to get a handle on the rules for the Duchess of Queensbury match, but William Regal interrupts and chases him off.
  • Duchess of Queensbury Rules: William Regal (w/The Duchess of Queensbury) vs. Chris Jericho.
    Jericho “besmirched” Regal and whizzed in his tea, so Regal made this match where only he knows the rules. Jericho chops away and lands on the apron as Regal tries to toss him. He comes off the top with a missile dropkick. A second one misses. Regal goes up but gets dropkicked and rana’d off. The Duchess looks worried – or constipated. A flying forearm sets up the Lionsault, but the Duchess informs us that the first round has expired. Regal rolls up a protesting Jericho to start Round Two. Regal catapults Jericho into the ropes and drops him on his head with a suplex. That sets up the Regal Stretch. Jericho makes the ropes and counters a waistlock to the Walls of Jericho. Regal taps, but according to the Duchess, submissions don’t count. Regal nails Jericho with a scepter, and we find out there are no disqualifications. Jericho comes back with an enzuigiri and stomps a mudhole. Regal gets knocked into the Duchess’ lap and gets freaked out by her booty cooties. Jericho tosses the Duchess and puts her in the Walls of Jericho. That allows Regal to hit him with a chairshot and pick up the win at 12:34. Sequels are rarely as good as the original, and by this time, the Over the Edge ’98 formula had been done to death in all promotions. **1/4

  • Vince McMahon tells Big Show not to hold back tonight.
  • 30-Minute Ultimate Submission Match: Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit.
    First Fall: Here’s a crazy premise: Kurt Angle thought he was a better wrestler. Chris Benoit thought he was a better wrestler. They had a match to figure out who the better wrestler really was. No drag queens. No exploding limos. Most of the early going is unrecappable because it is so much UFC-by-way-of-amateur-wrestling. They fall to the floor, and Kurt taps to the Crippler Crossface, but it doesn’t count. Back in, Angle suckerpunches Benoit and snares him in a leglock for the first fall at 6:30. Benoit tapped quickly to avoid long-term damage. Angle leads 1-0.

    Second Fall: Benoit chops away, but Angle goes to the knee and clips him. Benoit avoids a charge and rides him down into a Crippler Crossface. Angle rolls through, but Benoit rolls him over into a cross armlock. Angle taps at 8:02. Tied 1-1.

    Third Fall: Benoit posts Angle’s shoulder and goes back to the cross armlock. Angle clutches the ropes, and the ref tries to keep Benoit from pulling him off, so Benoit tosses the ref. Angle hits a chairshot and applies the Anklelock for another quick submission at 10:17. Angle goes up 2-1.

    Fourth Fall: Benoit is out, so Angle mockingly applies the Crippler Crossface and gets another submission at 11:02. Angle is up 3-1.

    Fifth Fall: Angle stomps him down and takes it to the floor again. Back in, Benoit backdrops Angle to the floor. Benoit follows but gets sent into the steps. Anklelock on the outside, but it doesn’t count. Back in, Angle tries the cross armlock, but Benoit rolls to the ropes. Benoit gets his own cross armlock. Angle makes the ropes, but Benoit turns him over into the Sharpshooter. Big pop for that. Angle makes the ropes, but Benoit turns it into a single-leg crab with his knee on Angle’s neck to close the gap at 18:03. Angle’s up 3-2.

    Sixth Fall: Angle runs but gets sent into the steps. He jumps Benoit on the way back in and suplexes him. Benoit grabs the ropes just in case. Back to the floor, Angle whips him into the barricade. Back in, Benoit hits a surprise Dragon Screw, but Angle is in the ropes. A missed dropkick allows Angle to set up a chinlock. Benoit counters to a jawbreaker but gets clotheslined. Angle hits a pair of belly-to-belly suplexes, but Benoit whips him into the buckle on a third. ROLLING GERMANS! Angle counters the final one to an Anklelock, but Benoit reverses to his own at 27:49. Tied 3-3.

    Seventh Fall: Benoit goes after the knee, but there’s less than two minutes left. Angle goes low and applies the Anklelock. Benoit struggles to the ropes but gets backdrop suplexed. Anklelock, but time expires! We’re tied at 3-3. Benoit taps well after the bell, so Angle thinks he’s won. Instead, the ref rules we have to have sudden death overtime.

    Sudden Death Overtime: Angle stomps Benoit’s ankle and belly-to-belly suplexes him. They take it to the mat, and Kurt grabs a guillotine stretch. Benoit pushes off the ropes and turns it over into the Crippler Crossface at 1:30! I LOVED the work involved, but this is a case where trying to go too realistic hurt the match. Sure, if wrestling were real, you’d want to give up a quick submission here or there to preserve the rest of the match, much like taking a safety late in a football game. Here, it was more like a football team not sending out their defense at all. Unfortunately, there was never a high-profile rematch like this because I think they could have learned from their mistakes and made it a true classic. We’ll just have to settle for their awesome Rumble match a few years later. Definitely check it out to see two workers at the tops of their games, but it’s not without some problems. ***1/2

  • In the back, Stephanie and Triple H joke about Taker, Kane and Shane.
  • Last Man Standing: The Big Show vs. Shane McMahon.
    This is a rematch from last year’s show, although the face-heel roles are reversed. Show is being sicked on Shane by Vince for buying WCW out from under him. Shane evens things up with a kendo stick. Show shrugs it off, so Shane wears him out with a chair. That leads to THE ETHER-SOAKED RAG! Where do you even get ether these days? Vince McMahon comes out and hits Shane with a chair to break up the ether sleeper. Big Show recovers and hauls Shane up. He tosses Shane across the ring. Chokeslam, but Show picks him up at eight. Test (Shane’s buddy) runs in and boots Show in the face. Show tosses Test into the steps. Shane attacks from behind and leads Show up the hook-like Backlash superstructure. Test goes low and beats Show down on the platform. Shane, by now has climbed all the way to the top of the Titantron. He comes off with an elbow to kill them both. Test helps Shane up to give him the win at 11:54. That spot at least made the match interesting. This was just a rehash of their 2000 match, complete with Test interfering. *

  • Backstage, Vince disowns Shane and claims Triple H is his only son. Does the leprechaun know about this?
  • Steve Blackman joins us from WWFNY. Grandmastah Sexay interrupts his meal and acts all squirrelly. He’s like the Andy Dick of wrestling.
  • European Title, Triple Threat: Matt Hardy vs. Christian vs. Eddy Guerrero.
    This was the beginning of an angle to have Eddy insinuate himself in between the Hardyz and Lita. Eddy and Christian team up to toss Matt, and then Christian double-crosses Eddy. The heels try a Doomsday Device, but Matt rolls up Eddy for two. Christian cuts off the Twist of Fate. Cool-spot-in-theory: Eddy sets up for a Mexican Surfboard on Christian, but Matt sunset flips over him. Sadly, they wind up bouncing off the ropes because there’s only so much area in the ring. Matt works in his handspring DDT on the outside, but Eddy hauls him in with a brainbuster. Another brainbuster gets two. Christian helps Matt block a huracanrana, and Matt drops Christian on Guerrero. The legdrop gets two. Matt gets tossed and speared by Edge. Back in, Eddy gets two. Jeff Hardy attacks Edge on the floor. That distracts the ref long enough for Christian to hit Eddy with the Unprettier. Jeff breaks it up with a Swanton, allowing Matt to hit Christian with the Twist of Fate at 6:52. Fun and energetic, but Eddy would be gone a few weeks later, and Christian would be playing second fiddle to King of the Ring Edge so this didn’t go anywhere. **3/4

  • WWF Heavyweight Title, Intercontinental Title & Tag Team Titles: Steve Austin & Triple H (w/Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley) vs. The Undertaker & Kane.
    Whoever gets the pin wins the title, so, let’s say Kane pins Austin, his team would retain the tag titles and Kane would be the WWF Champion. Then, he’d defend it in Hell, which would no doubt have frozen over. By the way, if you haven’t seen the match, don’t read the results and see if you can guess the finish and who pins who. Ross notes that Triple H may have broken his arm, but it was Austin who broke his heart. Ain’t nobody’s by gawd business but ours, Rattlesnake. The heels stall forever, refusing to get in the ring. They take a walk, but the Brothers of Destruction chase them down. Back in, Kane chokelifts Hunter. Austin gets smacked around by Taker and begs off. Taker stomps a mudhole and whips him from pillar to post. Austin offers a handshake but gets smacked around some more. Hunter and Austin take a walk again, but Kane tracks them down and tosses Austin back in. Hunter breaks up the Last Ride. Finally, the heels take over and work Taker’s knee. Taker comes back with a DDT but refuses to tag Kane because Kane has an injured arm. Kane tags himself in anyway and cleans house on Austin. It backfires, of course, and pretty soon Kane is masked-face-in-peril. Austin nails his arm with a chair and runs away from the Undertaker. I kind of zone out for the next few minutes because the heels work Kane’s arm to the point where it really should just be dangling there. Hunter hits the Pedigree but lets Austin go for the cover instead. Taker makes the save. Steph hops up on the apron to distract Hebner, but he shoves her off. Kane comes back with the Kanezuigiri, bumping the ref in the process. Taker gets the tag, but the ref didn’t see it. Taker cleans house and gives Hunter the Last Ride. He’s not legal, though. Austin goes low on Taker and Stunners Kane. Taker and Austin brawl on the floor as Steph slides in the title belt to Hunter. Funny-in-a-sick-way spot: Steph runs in to break up a chokeslam, and Kane boots her right in the face. Vince McMahon brings Hunter his sledgehammer, and the sledge shot is enough to finish Kane at 27:11. Hunter and Austin capture the tag titles as well as the major singles titles. This might seem like a big deal, but you’ll recall that it was Edge & Christian dominating the scene less than a month earlier, so they had to hotshot the titles from them to the BOD and then to the Two-Man Powertrip, so the titles were rapidly losing meaning. Of course, this would set up individual matches between all these guys, which just meant that for one more month, the roster was stagnant as they reshuffled the main event among the same guys. The match was a good 17-minute match stretched to 27 minutes. **1/4
  • The 411: The fall of the WWF from national prominence started happening right around this time. Granted, Vince had a monopoly now, so he didn't have to worry about competition from a wrestling sense, but that also led to glass ceilings and less effort from an undercard who knew they had no way up and no way out. There's just enough good to call this a mild thumbs up, but this show is also a reminder that many of Vince's worst habits were about to return.

    Mild thumbs up.

     
    Final Score:  6.5   [ Average ]  legend

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