With the 2020 version of Backlash just around the corner, Matthew Roberts took another trip in the TWM Time Machine, this time heading back fifteen years for Backlash 2005.
As strange as it might seem to newer fans accustomed to an era, at the moment, where there is a definite brand split that nonetheless sees some people on three brands in the same week (hello Charlotte) at times there was a duration when the WWE were a little more strict on these things. Indeed the 2005 Backlash event was a Raw exclusive PPV. Was it any good though? Let’s see.
After the usual opening video and, yes, pyro, we got straight into an Intercontinental Championship match as Shelton Benjamin defended the strap against Chris Jericho. There hadn’t been much of a storyline going into this one, with both being on the babyface side of things here. If we’re being kind we could hark back to the fact that Benjamin had won the title from Jericho at 2004’s Taboo Tuesday.
With this being two babyfaces going at it without any real build-up it was a struggle for the two at first but the dependably good work from both brought the crowd into it, as did the convincing near falls and exciting closing stretch. The finish was cool too. A competitive match did what it had to and opened up the show on a high note. Jericho cut another of his “upset and walk away saying nothing” promo’s afterwards.
If they had little hope of following that on match quality maybe the thinking was that if we throw a load of tag teams out for a “Tag Team Turmoil” match there might at least be enough going on to distract us. If you guessed that the WWE would wheel out the trope that the last tandem to enter the match wins, grab yourself a prize. The real issue with that here is that it was the babyface combination of The Hurricane and Rosey who took that route which goes against all face/heel logic. But there you go.
I’d forgotten that the Heart Throbs duo of Romeo and Antonio were a thing and their quick elimination in the first section against incoming champions William Regal and Tajiri did not lead me to lament that I had forgotten their existence. I’d also no memory that the next team of Simon Dean and Maven had ever been “a thing”. They were filler in this match and were dispatched in fairly quick order again.
The La Resistance team of Conway & Grenier were next in and they defeated the champs to ensure that the final leg of the match between them and the aforementioned Hurricane & Rosey would see new champions crowd. Despite what I’ve said above, the match wasn’t that bad at all. It went by quite quickly and, perhaps most importantly, gave the fans a result they wanted. Not everything has to be a five-star classic to be enjoyable, after all.
Next up was a Last Man Standing match between Edge & Chris Benoit. The video package of the feud leading up to it whet the appetite, even if it did miss out some of the more long-term aspects of it from the previous year.
At this stage of his career, even though he had just won the Money In The Bank match at WrestleMania 21 the previous month, Edge had more heat over the Lita/Matt Hardy situation than he had ever had for his in-ring work. The sign of genius of course was that Edge capitalised on this perfectly. Quite what the knowledgeable fans of 2020 would think about using that as a storyline these days is another matter. Bottom line is, though, it worked. And helped to catapult Edge up the card.
The match itself was a good effort from both men, albeit with the usual caveats about a referee counting down both men for spots we know won’t be the end of the contest meaning that it gets a bit “samey” at times. Still a good win for Edge.
Dismissing a Kane/Lita backstage promo, the next thing was an in-ring plug for a Diva’s magazine, hosted by Jerry Lawler. Fifteen years ago Lawler’s “jokes” were already two decades out of date so this was interminable until Chris Masters came out to interrupt (to get all that heel heat) and slap the Masterlock on a plant from ringside, Melissa Coates. Although she was under a developmental contract this was, as far as I can tell, the only thing of note she ever did in WWE.
Another interlude between Viscera and Trish Stratus was next which segued into the “much anticipated” Kane/Viscera match with Lita and Trish at ringside. Even at six minutes it was six minutes too long. The post-match angle where Viscera attacked Trish which saw her go off on a stretcher wasn’t any better. The whole thing was a reminder, if nothing else, that if you think some of the WWE’s storylines from 2020 are “bad” you would do well to consider some of the past material.
Of course, the sight of Hulk Hogan teaming with Shawn Michaels to take on Muhammad Hassan and Daivari might make that point too. Being his first WWE match in a couple of years, the fans were all over Hogan (at the time it was even thought that Hulk didn’t have too many appearances left in him). Being that Hassan and Daivari were relatively new to TV no-one thought they had a chance of winning against the two bonafide legends. And so it proved. This was all “formula” but it’s HBK so it was still fun.
If you’ve ever wanted to see Christian rap then his in-ring promo is the moment for you to pull up your seat. It was good though, I’ll give him that.
We ended with the Batista and Triple H main event for the World Heavyweight Title that Dave had won the month before at WrestleMania (in a HUGE commercial success) and was making his first defence here. It was a decent match (an improvement on Mania) but even with the opponent being HHH there was no drama over the result and these two couldn’t quite drag enough out of it to keep us guessing.
Overall this was a fun show. It dragged at times, but other than Kane/Viscera it never really plumbed the depths of awfulness. It was lacking the killer match that would have elevated it from the pack in terms of WWE “B” shows over the year, but nevertheless, this was three entertaining hours that flew by.
Photos courtesy of WWE
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