Backlash 2020 promised to deliver the “Greatest Wrestling Match Ever” whilst also disguising a card that looks fit for weekly television.
Despite this, the performers involved looked as if they were desperate to deliver for the audience at home.
But could Edge and Randy Orton really deliver the lofty tag they were billed with?
Apollo Crews vs Andrade – United States Championship
WWE continue to show the importance they place on the United States Championship as this match is moved to the pre-show.
Despite the placement of the match on the card, both men worked well together and showed the chemistry they have developed over the few matches they have had.
Before the bell, Angel Garza comes to ringside and Kevin Owens sits on commentary, a nice touch as he helps to put over Apollo Crews. And the two men at ringside played into the finish.
Crews hits his press-slam into standing moonsault finisher, but Garza distracts the referee. Owens then hits a stunner to Garza on the outside as Crews hits the toss powerbomb to win.
A fast-paced match that opened the card well and helped to build the reign of Apollo Crews.
However, it’s another defeat for Zelina Vega’s stable who seemingly cannot get a win at the moment.
Sasha Banks & Bayley vs Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross vs IIconics – Women’s Tag Team Championship
The main card opened with the Women’s Tag Team Championship match. Before the match, Bayley and Sasha Banks are interviewed backstage as the dissention between the two continues to be teased.
The match benefitted from having three women in the ring at once instead of having two in the ring and the third team having to tag, allowing the pace to stay high throughout the opener.
There were some nice sequences between Banks, Bliss and Peyton Royce within the early stages as all three looked for a roll up.
Bliss and Cross hit a double team manoeuvre before a Twisted Bliss, but Banks ran in and rolled up Bliss before she could get the pin and got the three count.
The match was a fun opener that set the tone of the card well but had a couple of sloppy spots that dragged the match down a little.
We also didn’t see any progression of the Banks and Bayley story, but we do have a tantalising prospect as the champions will face Shotzi Blackheart and Tegan Nox on NXT this week.
Jeff Hardy vs Sheamus
The feud between Sheamus and Jeff Hardy has been a controversial one to say the least, leaning a little too heavily on the personal demons of the Charismatic Enigma.
Despite this, both men delivered an excellent wrestling match that displayed their storytelling talents that may have been forgotten due to this feud.
Sheamus overpowered Hardy throughout but the match told the story of him being unable to keep him down.
As we neared the end of the match, Hardy hit a Twist of Fate and a Swanton Bomb. It seemed as if Hardy had it won, but Sheamus got his foot on the rope.
Hardy looked for a dive off the barricade but was met by a Brogue Kick before taking another in the ring as he was defeated.
Many would have expected Jeff Hardy to get his redemption over Sheamus after the torment that he has felt from the Celtic Warrior. Hopefully this extends the redemption of Hardy and we will get a long road to recovery that ends in a huge moment.
This story has been offensive and distasteful for many, but this match in a bubble highlighted the incredible talents of the two veterans in the ring and will possibly lead to a rematch that could go to the next level.
Asuka vs Nia Jax – Raw Women’s Championship
The match proposed the classic monster feel vs underdog face story and it was told well throughout.
Asuka continuously had to fight the power of Nia Jax and continuously looked for inventive submissions to put away the challenger, including an Octopus stretch, a guillotine and a top rope arm bar.
But Nia continued to power out of these moves and dominate the Empress of Tomorrow.
As Asuka looked for a top rope arm bar, both women fell to the outside and continued brawling until the referee counted both women out, Asuka just missing the count.
A highly disappointing ending that sucked the energy out of the match.
Jax showed the ability that she has whilst acting as the monster heel and served as a good adversary for Asuka.
This match should have served as a legitimising start to the Raw Women’s championship reign of Asuka, overcoming the giant and putting her at the top of the mountain. But this match serves to make her look fortunate to still be champion and pulls the rug under her before her reign has got going.
Braun Strowman vs The Miz and John Morrison – Universal Championship
On the pre-show, it was announced that whoever gets the pinfall in this match will leave as the Universal Champion.
The Miz and John Morrison’s number advantage kept them in control throughout the match, utilising quick tags and double team offence to limit the offence of the Monster Among Men.
John Morrison was the star of this match, with his unique offence looking excellent against a larger competitor.
The Miz and John Morrison hit a Skull Crushing Finale – double foot stomp combination to down Strowman. Morrison goes for the pin but he is pulled off by Miz.
This mistake allows Braun back into the match, hitting a running powerslam to Morrison for the win.
Despite beating two men, Strowman didn’t look particularly strong in victory as he had very little offence throughout and was clearly beaten until Miz made the mistake of breaking up the pin.
In addition to this, the former Smackdown Tag Team champions have been beaten despite having a numbers advantage, leaving no one particularly benefitting from the match.
Drew McIntyre vs Bobby Lashley – WWE Championship
Bobby Lashley comes into the match with an extra feel of legitimacy due to the introduction of MVP as a manager and the Full Nelson being added to his arsenal, a nice reference to him beating the Master Lock challenge in 2007.
Lashley utilises his new weapon as he jumps McIntyre before the bell and locks on the Full Nelson, with the referee’s having to break up the hold.
He continued to dominate McIntyre as he makes the most of a worn-down champion, hitting a number of big power moves but Drew continued to kick out at one – the shock of which being sold well by MVP and Lashley.
Lashley continues to utilise his excellent submission skills that we haven’t seen much of during his WWE return, locking in a cross face and an ankle lock.
McIntyre looks to go for the Claymore but Lashley hits a huge spear, finally keeping Drew down for two.
This brings out Bobby Lashley’s “wife” Lana.
The distraction allows McIntyre to hit a Glasgow Kiss and a Claymore to retain the WWE Championship.
Another excellent match that highlighted the chemistry the two men have from their time in Impact. The distraction finish continues the story of Bobby Lashley but slightly diminishes a big victory for McIntyre.
Lashley’s new packing has made him a legitimate contender for a world championship, but this quality run has come at the wrong time for him as WWE are fully behind the Scottish Psychopath.
Street Profits vs Viking Raiders – Raw Tag Team Championship?
Do you remember that the Street Profits are the Raw Tag Team Champions? Me neither.
The cinematic match has been a staple of the pandemic era of wrestling, with the likes of the Boneyard match, the Firefly Funhouse match and the Stadium Stampede captivating fans in a difficult time. This match did not do that.
The opens with the two teams brawling in the car park, a strange juxtaposition to when we saw them seeming to be friendly just six days earlier.
The match references the feud that the two teams have had, with flashbacks to the bowling, golf and Viking challenges they have taken part in.
After some time brawling through the carpark, the two teams – and no I’m not joking – are confronted by Akira Tozawa and a fleet of motorbike ninjas.
The two teams come together to fight the ninjas – forming the Viking Profits – before running away once they are confronted by a giant ninja.
This match finally ends where it belongs as both teams fall into the trash.
Many will draw parallels to this match and AEW’s Stadium Stampede match – but they couldn’t be further apart for me.
The feud between the Inner Circle and the Elite had built for months and the blood feud culminated with some excellent comedy that almost all landed. This match referenced an underwhelming and baffling feud between two excellent tag teams, with the only comedic elements that landed being because of the charisma of the four men involved.
In addition to this, the competitors of the Stadium Stampede have also wrestled top tier matches throughout the feud instead of playing golf and throwing axes.
This highlights the anger that FTR/The Revival felt about how tag team wrestling is treated and I would love to see these teams join them in AEW.
Edge vs Randy Orton – The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever
WWE built this match to be the “Greatest Wrestling Match Ever”, a lofty tagline for both men that they were always unlikely to overcome. This was NOT the greatest wrestling match ever… but both men should be incredibly proud as they delivered an all-time classic, despite the ridiculous pressure applied by the booking committee.
The introductions to the match gave it a big match feel that hasn’t been felt in a long time, with the introduction by the late great Howard Finkel for both men, accompanied by the old school Madison Square Garden microphone, made this match feel incredibly important.
The match opened by showing the audience the doubts in the mind of Edge, telling the story that Orton was always a step ahead and that Edge would have a mountain to climb to overcome the in-ring acumen of the Viper.
Orton showed less heelish tendencies in the early stages of the match as he was looking to prove that he can beat Edge fair and square without having to resort to cheating, allowing Edge the time to enter the ring and breaking cleanly from the corner. Edge sold this brilliantly throughout, with a look of doubt written across his face as Orton controlled.
But as Edge comes back into the match, Orton realises that he may well have his number and begins to take a more heelish approach, working the surgically repaired neck of Edge and tossing him around the ringside area.
As the match progressed, Edge was whipped into the ropes and both men collided as they met in the middle with a crossbody, showing that they are equal and Edge can still wrestle to Orton’s level.
The finish came as Edge looked for a submission but was low blowed by Orton both being hit with the punt kick – showing that Orton had to resort to cheating to beat Edge.
The match was not the greatest wrestling match ever and no one thought it would be.
However, this match had some of the best storytelling we have seen from a match in WWE in years and should be viewed with the ridiculous tagline handed to it by the writers firmly in the back of your mind. It is a highly enjoyable match that paid homage to wrestling throughout and told an excellent story that both men will be proud of.
Despite a number of the matches involved looking to be glorified television matches on paper, the competitors involved impressed and looked to go above and beyond to deliver an entertaining card.
This card also shows that WWE still have the ability to tell compelling stories with their wrestling as we head towards Extreme Rules.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @Dom_Hynes. Thanks for reading!