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Monday, May 7, 2018

Backlash: A Sleepy Show and Other Thoughts

I am very fortunate that pay-per-view events are aired live on the WWE Network. For $9.99, not only does it not feel like a major commitment, but I can conk out when I need to.

As with the case Sunday night with Backlash.

After a long day that involved doing a charity walk, I fell asleep right when the AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura clash was about to happen.

Apparently, that was a good thing. A no disqualification match ended on a double countout.

Let me repeat that.


Both men performed a Bobby Hill to one another and this is the result? This is the kind of crap you do to midcarders on Raw or Smackdown as a feud enhancer, not with the prestigious WWE Championship at stake!

Before I get to the rest of the card, the disgraced WWE Championship must be contrasted with the other championship whom is chronically MIA: the Universal Championship as held by Brock Lesnar.

There was a piece somewhere on a forum that proclaimed Brock’s championship reign is a lot like Triple H’s “Reign of Terror” that happened between 2002-2005. It has to do with the length of the run(s), the amount of ridiculous predicaments they somehow got out of, and “burials”.

Okay kids let me get this straight off: These two title reigns cannot be compared apples to apples nor oranges to apples.

 In the year 2003, Triple H was more or less the diamond in the rough of this business. You don’t need to take my word for it, its more or less what he said every week at the top of Raw in those monotone 20 minute promos he cut. Most of his feuds revolved around WCW talent (Booker T, Scott Steiner, Kevin Nash, a little splash of Chris Jericho), which I’m convinced Vince McMahon wanted to look bad. Triple H’s ego is huge, but you need one to solidify yourself on a business level. I’ve addressed this in the archives in other posts.

By the same token the World Heavyweight Championship in 2003 was given a new life and thus a new identity. Keeping the belt on Triple H, an established talent, would make it a big deal for whomever would dethrone it. A long reign was needed, even if that meant doing some unpopular business. Hunter in this regard was always a company man and was also dabbling in certain aspects of production. He was looking to secure his future as early as then.

In the year 2018, Brock Lesnar was more or less an attraction that Vince invested heavily in. The fruit rollup of a championship belt showed up only on certain episodes of Raw and the PPV’s. Brock spoke very little, fortunately that assignment was passed off to his eloquent Advocate Paul Heyman. Brock’s feuds have seen him get his share of getting his ass kicked, but when it comes to PPV matches, it takes only one F5 to put most people down. It’s the sort of thing that ruins the credibility of the rest of the roster to keep Brock strong. The less said about Roman Reigns the better.

With minimal work, Brock is about to pass the 434 day reign set by CM Punk between 2011-2013 as the longest running in modern day WWE. Has Brock drawn? Sure, but he’s devaluing the championship by being an absentee figure. Brock is not the same character as he was in 2003, but he doesn’t need to be. He’s literally calculating every move with a dollar sign. This sounds GENIUS, but there’s only so many suplexes you can throw before you get called out on it.  WWE paid Brock a ridiculous amount for a set amount of dates. Any more dates would mean more $$, and that could be catastrophic too.

Back to Hunter for a moment. As noted, his reign was more or less conceived to value the World Heavyweight Championship as a bastard heel a la Harley Race or Ric Flair. In 2002, the WHC was resurrected to be the championship the Raw brand could fight for after the WWE Championship became exclusive property to Smackdown. With the exception of Shawn Michaels winning the belt at Survivor Series 2002, Triple H held the championship for about a year straight. Some of that time also included painful injuries, like a hematoma on his left thigh, crushed trachea, and a torn groin muscle. He still appeared every week making contributions wherever he could.

At the end of the day, here’s the final take: Brock Lesnar is a businessman who doesn’t really love the business, but Triple H is a businessman who actually loves the business. There is almost no fair comparison. I handicapped the situations as seen above, and any other opinions can be formed from the eyes of the reader. If only Brock and Hunter had a feud in 2002-2003, because those matches with Lesnar as a bump machine would have kicked ass.

Speaking of things that rhyme with ‘ass’, that’s the cue to segue from segment to segment, let’s go to the match with Big Cass and Daniel Bryan from Backlash. It was exactly what I thought it was going to be, and that’s not a knock. Cass is not exactly three dimensional in the ring, but he has the size that can’t be taught to his advantage. After 8 minutes of getting his ass whooped, Bryan slapped on his lock. Did Cass tap? YES! Cass would also beat down Bryan post-match to get his heat back. That being said, I think that feud is over, time to bring on Miz for DB.

Referring back to The Miz, he had his contractual rematch for the Intercontinental Championship against Seth Rollins at the top of the show. For as much as I rag on Miz for being bland in the ring, I have to give the guy credit for delivering moves with calculating effects. Rollins had his right knee buckle on him at times where he should have lost the title, but he didn’t. This bout lasted 20 minutes, and it was by far the best match on the show.

Another highlight was the Elias segment which turned into a cluster. New Day flap jacked the segment, followed by Aiden singing in English about Rusev Day, followed by an appearance by that new guy from NXT? No Way Jose! The punchline led to Bobby Roode coming out of nowhere giving Elias a Glorious DDT to end the segment.  I thought this was going to turn into an impromptu 6 man tag between New Day plus Rusev/English/Elias, but once the conga line came out it wasn’t going to be a trip. At least not for Titus O’Neil and crew. #titusworldslide

The women’s matches sucked generally, which was a shame. The pre-show bout with Ruby and Bayley was nothing home to write about, but Ruby gets the duke and a stroke of confidence. Alexa and Nia was more or less a small rehash from ‘Mania, but it gave Alexa more of a fighting chance. Nia’s promo post-contest seemingly brought back Be a Star from the ashes and got booed for it. That’s what happens when you deliver that white meat babyface promo in front of a Jersey crowd. Carmella beat Charlotte in a weird finish. No finisher, just Carmella takes advantage of Charlotte's knee and pins her. At least the pin combination made Grandpa Gustafson proud.

Of course Brashley won their tag squash against Kami, and a Samoan named Joe beat Samoan Joe in a “ROMAN MUST BE STRONG” match. That latter match was so captivating people left while the contest was in progress! Someone had to spear the midnight traffic.
Speaking of things that can’t go wrong, here’s a video of zen:

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