With the “Greatest Ever Show” in the history books, could the WWE strike gold again a few weeks later at Backlash 2001? Matthew Roberts jumps into the TWM Time Machine ™ to have a look.
2001 and the Road to WrestleMania 17 certainly started off with a bang. A trio of top quality PPV’s had been served up, Vince had won the war with WCW to the extent that he had purchased them for a pittance and on screen it looked as if Shane McMahon was going to relaunch WCW as an ongoing entity… well we’ll get to that last one in the weeks and months to come.
So it was time for a BACKLASH 2001!
Leading into this show The Rock has gone, courtesy of the Two Man Power Trip Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H. Yes, both had attempted to murder each other in the past couple of years but this is wrestling. You just have to accept that things like that happen sometimes. The rather plain and generic video opening glosses over this.
WWE Championship, WWE Intercontinental Championship & WWE Tag Team Championship Match – Stone Cold & Triple H Vs. Undertaker & Kane.
The main event sees “all the titles” on the line as World Champion Steve Austin and Intercontinental Champion Triple H take on Tag Team Champions The Undertaker & Kane. The hook is that the tag team titles are on the line in traditional fashion but that if Taker or Kane get a pin on one of their opponents they would grab the title from that person. I guess it made the result somewhat less predictable at the time with a possibility at least that HHH might drop the IC belt. Of course he didn’t. This was all about cementing the new heel combo as THE very top of the WWE tree.
Unfortunately the match wasn’t brilliant. At around twenty seven and a half minutes it was at least ten minutes too long. The early stalling by Austin & HHH may have been an attempt to reinforce the new attitude but it just made for a very dull opening. It did pick up steam in the end and had some dramatic closing moments. It also had Steph taking a big boot from Kane. Vince brings out the sledgehammer, and the shot from that is enough to put Kane out. It is perhaps quite historic (though not without precedent) that Austin and HHH hold World, IC and Tag belts between them but when you look at how they had to hotshot the IC and Tag belts onto people before this match it does all seem like it’s all just a reason to push the same people again.
The rest of the card is similar in that it has it’s moments although perhaps not always being as good as it might have been.
Backlash: 30 Minute Ultimate Submission Match – Kurt Angle Vs. Chris Benoit
The match of the night is, as you might suspect from reading the line-up, the 30 Minute Ultimate Submission Match between Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit. It’s not as amazing as you might dare to hope and it’s clear that in a way the specifics of the stipulation and the number of falls in it hurt the match overall. Six tap-outs in thirty minutes doesn’t really do the match any favours. It’s cool that there’s an early tap out here and there as recognising that discretion may be the better part of valour and living to fight another fall is at least somewhat logical. But then the craziness of the WWE promoting a match around two men believing they are a better wrestler than the other is hurt by ref-bumps and chair shots. We go to overtime and Benoit wins. It’s definitely a great effort from both men but ultimately it just fails to completely overcome the issues.
Backlash: Hardcore Championship – Rhyno Vs. Raven
The Hardcore Title match between ECW Alumni Raven and Rhyno is one of the better examples of the genre and features some amusing spots with a shopping trolley/cart and some big bumps. It’s the Hardcore formula really but it’s fought with intensity and goes down well. The Three Way Match for the European Title between Matt Hardy, Christian and Eddy Guerrero is a fun sprint that feels thrown together to give some good people something to do but is nevertheless entertaining enough whilst it lasts.
Backlash 2001: Duchess of Queensberry Match – William Regal Vs. Chris Jericho
Like the Ultimate Submission Match the “Duchess of Queensbury Rules” match between Chris Jericho and William Regal is hampered by the limitations of the stipulations. The hook with this one is that no-one except the Duchess and Regal seem to know what the rules actually are. So if you can’t see it coming that they will be changed as the match is in progress to aid Regal and thwart Jericho I will guess you’ve never seen wrestling before. Jericho thinks he has it won after a Lionsault but the Duchess informs us that the first round time limit has expired. Regal taps to the Walls Of Jericho in “Round Two” but we are then told submissions don’t count. Regal waffles Jericho with a foreign object and suddenly DQ’s don’t exist. In the end Regal does get the win, but not before Jericho has had the poor Duchess in the Walls of Jericho. It’s fine, it’s a bit of fun but we’ve seen it all before. At least it does mean that Regal got some backstage skits with the Duchess beforehand which were entertaining.
Backlash 2001: Last Man Standing – Shane McMahon Vs. Big Show
Those who know me will know my love for Shane McMahon so it’s totally pleasing to see his match pushed as one of the main reasons to watch this show given the amount of times we see him reading his interminable “Shane and The Beanstalk” poem to build his Last Man Standing match with The Big Show up. Oh the joys. Of course Shane can’t “wrestle” so this match only exists to Shane can do a trademark stunt. This time it’s Shane climbing to the top of the Titantron to deliver an elbow to Show, who has been put down by Test. Test also helps Shane up this giving him the win. It’s ridiculous. But it’s WWE. There is no sense in complaining about Shane McMahon and his nonsensical hard-man act (that carries on until this day). That I’d rather watch the six-man opener pitting X-Factor against the Dudley’s says it all. That at least has some wrestling in it and waits until after the match for the tables spot. It’s a fun opener.
There is always a little bit of the “after the Lord Mayor’s show” about the post-Mania PPV. Again, that’s just the way of the world but there can be no denying that after the fantastic Mania 17, Backlash 2001 was a big comedown. It has its moments and other than me personally never wanting to see Shane McMahon in a match aside there’s nothing terrible about it. But whilst it’s fine as a show and an acceptable watch today it’s not a PPV that I could recommend going out of your way to catch.