WWE Backlash 2020 (6/14/2020)- Orlando, FL
KAYLA BRAXTON INTERVIEWS SASHA BANKS & BAYLEY- fine
Bayley wants to be called “Bayley Dos Straps.” I laughed at that. Kayla’s question was so blunt that it felt like she was asking it with the intention of getting Sasha and Bayley to stop being friends if they lost the titles rather than just asking a question to get an answer.
WWE WOMEN’S TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Sasha Banks & Bayley(c) vs. the IIconics vs. Alexa Bliss! & Nikki Cross- 4.25/10
The rules here were like the rules we recently had in the NXT Tag Team Title #1 contendership match where we’ve got a member of all three teams in the ring at the same time and you can only tag in a member of your own team.
Alexa, Billie and Sasha tried some wacky three-way spot with a pin early on where everything that wound up happening made sense so I’m not going to hold it against the match, but it was also pretty clear that they’re timing was off and what actually happened was not exactly what they were intending. The whole match actually felt rather planned out. The highlight was Alexa and Nikki debuting an actual double-team move, which was a flapjack into a reverse STO. After they hit this move Alexa hit Twisted Bliss but Sasha ran in and rolled her up for the win.
JEFF HARDY vs. SHEAMUS- 7/10
The first third of this was pretty meh, but they really started to ramp things up well in the last two thirds, leading to a hell of a finish.
WWE RAW WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH: Asuka(c) vs. Nia Jax- 5.75/10
These two were having what seemed like it was on its way to being a very good match with Asuka paying the slippery little person using leverage to her advantage and climbing all over the big giant to lock in submissions… and then it abruptly ended with an obnoxious double-count-out. Knock it off with the f*ck finishes, and especially on PPV!
LANA & MVP BACKSTAGE- snore
MVP is already arranging Lashley’s victory celebration. Lana claims that she is the reason Lashley is having this success and thus tries to give him advice. MVP points out that it was Lashley who has aksed Lana to stay in the back and not him, so Lana should be talking to Lashley about this, but won’t because she’s scared that he’ll just reiterate that request. Lana walks off. This is either going to be have been a pointless waste of time, or it will be a necessary part of a story that ends in a f*ck finish in a PPV main event world title match. This puts me in the awkward position of hoping that it winds up being the former, which is worse artistically, but will piss me off a lot less.
MIZ & MORRISON TRY TO SHOW THEIR MUSIC VIDEO AGAIN- Oh my G-d they actually wasted time playing this on a PPV. I didn’t watch it because IT’S A F*CKING PPV AND I CAME HERE FOR WRESTLING, NOT BULLSH*T! I don’t care if this was the best music video ever, it shouldn’t be here!
HANDICAP MATCH FOR THE WWE UNIVERSAL TITLE: Braun Strowman(c) vs. John Morrison & The Miz- 2/10
Moments before the match, Miz & Morrison were apparently told that instead of being “co-champions” like they thought, only the one of them who got the pin would be the champion. This means that either WWE let them go around not only not understanding the rules but actively promoting the incorrect rules on WWE TV and making no attempt to correct them, or that WWE changed the rules on the heels at the last moment for no conceivable reason (well… the reason would be because the idea of “co-champions” is tremendously stupid, but WWE has no excuse for not realizing that from the get-go).
They tried with the handicap match story, and on the one hand I guess I’m thankful that they didn’t drag it out with multiple “one guy pulls the other off because he wants to be the champion and they argue a lot” spots, but on the other hand, you’re giving us a PPV with just seven matches on it and this is a world title match and you give us THIS? Just do this on TV, give the PPV more time and let great workers (Nakamura, Cesaro, New Day, Owens, Garza, Rollins, Murphy, Aleister, Gulak, and AJ all have ready-made matches you could throw on this PPV and no one would blink) have an actual great match!
KAYLA BRAXTON INTERVIEWS AJ STYLES- Why are you wasting time ON A F*CKING PAY-PER-VIEW with a promo hyping up a g-d damn “championship presentation” segment on a TV show? That is sooo f*cking backwards it’s… well… it’s something that TNA used to do! That’s how backwards it is!
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH: Drew McIntyre(c) vs. Bobby Lashley (w/MVP)- 7/10
MVP distracted Drew, allowing Lashley to lock him in the full nelson before the bell. He held it on for a while, then let it go so that the referee could actually start the match. Drew assured us that he was okay, and the referee started the match. I didn’t like this start between two guys who are supposed to be equals if the babyface is going to win because it winds up making the heel look really bad and I don’t think an ass-kicker babyface who is already a world champion has much to gain from fighting back after a pre-match attack.
I was actually worried that they were going to go so over the top with Drew and have him win another short match and make Lashley look like total crap, but instead they actually had a real match! They brawled and hit big power moves and traded submission reversals and all of that great stuff… and then, when Lashley was firmly in control of the match, Lana decided that this was a good time to come out and bother him. Drew bumped Lashley into her and she bumped down onto MVP (and, like most female wrestlers in an on-screen relationship, seems to magically lose all of her toughness the moment she needs to the damsel in distress and get bumped to distract her significant other, allowing Drew to hit the Claymore and get the win.
Did this ruin a match I was otherwise greatly enjoying? Yes. And I annoyed at yet another f*ck finish, and in a world title match on a PPV no less? Absolutely. And yet, for some reason, I’m still feeling inclined to be generous here. Maybe it’s because I see this easily building up to a rematch with no Lana involved (possibly at SummerSlam), but for whatever the reason, I don’t feel like ranting even though intellectually it seems like I should.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- fine
Lashley walked right past the downed Lana and glared at her, but didn’t help her up. Quite frankly, she should consider herself lucky that he didn’t tell her he wanted a divorce right then and there.
THE STREET PROFITS AND THE VIKING RAIDERS ARE BRAWLING IN THE PARKING LOT- NEGATIVE 70 BILLION/10
So after weeks and weeks of this idiotic bullsh*t meant to show us these teams becoming friends, I’m supposed to believe that they started brawling in the parking lot? F*ck off!
In the course of their brawl, someone got hip-tossed onto the windshield of Braun’s car, breaking it (again). The alarm goes off, and they stop brawling and run away, like teenagers when someone hit a foul ball that smashed mean old Mr. Jones’ window.
Once they’re in the building, they just start brawling again, and now there is f*cking music playing. The Street Profits are being over the top goofs and smiling while grabbing golf clubs that are randomly there… and then the become scared when the Viking Raiders suddenly have shields, and axe, and a bowling ball that were also randomly there. They look at each other (taking their eyes off of their enemies in the middle of a fight) and Ivar, who has the bowling ball, shrugs. Then they put their mean faces back on and turn towards the Street Profits.
The Street Profits run away, then turn around and decide to make a stand in a sort of tented hallway, even though the situation hasn’t really changed. This is clearly one of these stupid cinematic matches at this point. If they’ve come to a dead end and thus now have to fight because they can’t run anywhere, F*CKING SHOW IT TO US!
Erik is just banging his axe on his shield, because it’s a f*cking murder weapon so we know he won’t actually use it. Montez proposes that they put their weapons down and “fight like men.” What’s unsporting about fighting with weapons when both sides are armed? Montel then gets a joke that amuses third-graders in (“what did the five fingers say to the face?”) and restarts the fight.
Montez and Erik did a cool little action sequence that made me despise every other moment of this even more because they could have been doing sh*t like that but did dumb comedy instead. Dawkins and Erik brawled away and we got to see Ivar having a flashback to their bowling game to give him the idea to roll the bowling ball at the supine Montez’s crotch. Montez gets hit in the nuts by a rolled blowing ball, and eight-year-olds everywhere, Vince McMahon, and several people in the AEW office laugh their butts off at it because this is the height of comedy to them. Then, because that wasn’t enough, Ivar says “STEEE-RIKE!” and all of those people minus maybe the one sin the AEW office burst into another fit of giggles.
Ivar then f*cking APOLOGIZES to a man he is in the middle of a brawl with and then goes off… to help Erik, I guess? WHY? It’s a f*cking brawl. Theoretically you’re doing this because you hate each other, right? So why not stay and beat up the guy you’ve already got the advantage on?
He comes across Erik slouched over against a wall on a sidewalk. He asks him what happened, but gets speared through a glass door by Dawkins who I guess was hiding behind something? Anyway, they went through a glass door and looked really cool… so of course WWE has to kill that by then showing us Erik daydreaming about turkey legs after having been knocked silly, because he’s a comedy Viking. We then see clips from their previous bullsh*t involving turkey legs, because at this point WWE and AEW are doing dumb sh*t like this in these matches in what appears to be a combined effort to give me an aneurysm.
Ivar wakes up and says “anything you can do” and Dawkins finishes his sentence with “we can do better.” Erik and Montez show up, look at each other across the broken glass door, then go in and help their partners up. They start asking each other why they did all of the things they just did. Logical answers are given. The question that isn’t answered that needs to be, though, is why any of this started.
Ivar declares “let’s take this outside” and storms away. The other three look at each other and point out that they’re already outside. They’ve been brawling on camera for quite a while now. Where is security?
They go over to the production truck in the parking lot, only to suddenly find themselves staring down what by their garb appeared to be a multi-racial gang of biker ninjas. The one in the middle (and thus, by the laws of blocking in fiction, presumably their leader) takes off his helmet to reveal himself as Akira Tozawa. He shouts “ANYTHING YOU CAN DO, WE CAN DO BETTER! CHECK!” in Japanese, and there are subtitles on the screen, now. The others apparently don’t need them, because they understood him just fine. He throws his helmet at them. Ivar catches it and throws it away. They (the Street Profits and Viking Raiders) huddle up. They agree to work together.
Lightning strikes, and now they’re holding a solo cup (Ford) a turkey leg (Ivar) a shield (Erik) and a golf club (Dawkins), and a graphic identifies them as the “Viking Profits.” Tozawa makes a long and goofy hand gesture while making a goofy face, which is apparently the signals for his men to attack in an order that makes it easiest for the camera to see everything. Their opponents help out by also not moving until the ninjas assigned to each of them start running at them, so we got a shot of Ivar fighting a ninja in the fireground while Dawkins stood frozen, across from two equally frozen ninjas.
They had a boring and stupid cartoon fight with screen effects to make the cuts even more clear. The Viking Raiders squashed someone on top of a car, resulting in the rear windshield shattering. Even though the alarm went off, they just stood there and posed this time, because I guess they’re scared of Braun but not scared of anyone else, so they don’t give a sh*t about smashing up this person’s car.
They do a “yay team!” pose and we get more graphics on the screen. Tozawa then goofily summons his final minion- a gigantic man with a katana, who he kept in reserve so the good guys could fight him four-on-one instead of sending him in when his team had the numbers advantage and the babyfaces were distracted, because I guess Tozawa is an idiot.
The giant starts to unsheathe his katana, and Ivar uses the force to call his turkey leg- previously knocked out of his hand and into a bush- back to this hand. He takes a bite out of it, because he’s a moron, then brandishes it like a weapon. The big guy finally gets around to fully unsheathing his katana and raises it high in the air, and Ivar drops his turkey leg and becomes scared because I guess he didn’t realize the big long thing in the sheath was a weapon. Also, the shot of the guy holding his katana up reveals a full moon in the background, which exposes the fact that this can’t even be kayfabe live because the full moon was last week. And yes, that does matter, because as dumb as these things are, if I’m supposed to pretend that I’m seeing them happen in real time, then you can’t show me anything that exposes that this isn’t happening in real time.
Erik wants to go fight the guy bit the Street Profits hold him back, and they all run up to the top of the production truck via an extremely conveniently-placed staircase of a equipment cases. Also visible was a garbage can labelled “WWE props,” because there is no quality control at all anymore. They briskly jog from one end of the truck to the other, but Ivar is quickly winded even though he wasn’t even selling his bump through the glass door when he was fighting the ninjas forty-five seconds ago.
We cut to Ivar getting to the other side of the truck with the others, because G-d forbid we waste ten seconds on this show by showing him walking there slowly. They babyfaces argue over who beat up more ninjas. This is torture. Erik goes for the same dumb joke from earlier but the Street Profits beat the Viking Raiders to the punch (literally) because they’re not dumb. Or at least they’re less dumb than the Viking Raiders.
We would soon learn that least Dawkins is very dumb, because he had Erik’s back turned to him, and instead of just shoving him off the truck, he decided to grab Erik and do a bulldog off of it so that he went flying off the truck too. They landed in a conveniently-placed dumpster, and WWE couldn’t even be bothered to add any kind of dull thud sound effect. Montez and Ivar see this and stop fighting temporarily. Montez starts talking about how this has “gone crazy” and which point Ivar proves that he is smarter than Dawkins by simply shoving Montez off instead of grabbing him and diving. Then, of course, he does a f*cking dive off the truck into the dumpster because DIVES ARE COOL (assuming you haven’t seen them a million times before, which everyone has at this point so they’re really not).
We finally got a thud this time. We then cut to showing them all in the dumpster, spread around on garbage backs (which would have created a muffled thud, but still a thud nonetheless). They argue about who started it. Ivar daydreams some more.
They’ve been on camera fighting for what feels like forever at this point but only now has a referee found them. She asks “what are you guys doing? Your match is next!” Well then where the f*ck have you been, lady? And don’t tell me y’all didn’t know about this. The “it’s cinematic” bullsh*t isn’t even an excuse because this whole thing started with the announcers telling us “oh no! There’s a brawl going on in the parking lot! Let’s cut to our camera that is already back there,” so you knew where they were from the beginning. The referee tells Ivar that he’s cute. This is now on tape, so I had better not see her ever refereeing one of his matches.
Montez starts singing about the referee wanting Ivar and not Erik. F*ck this stupid bullsh*t.
And now it’s getting dumber, as we hear growling and “there’s something alive in here!” and we see what I guess was supposed to be an alligator’s tail, and the Viking Raiders and Street Profits scream in fear and try to climb out of the dumpster and we cut to black. Then we get a commercial for the next bit of their big Undertaker documentary, then it’s back to the announcers and business as normal.
This might be the single worst thing I’ve ever seen on a wrestling show, and I’m not letting it off easy just because it wasn’t technically a match. In fact, that actually makes it worse because after WEEKS AND WEEKS AND WEEKS OF STUPID BULLSH*T, we finally got to the PPV where they were going to do the championship wrestling match that was supposedly going to justify having wasted so much time on this idiocy… and then, instead of giving us the wrestling match, they gave us THIS.
And this is not a “BRM doesn’t like comedy” thing. As I’ve said several times, I enjoy comedy when it f*cking makes sense. This didn’t even come close. It was just a random series of f*cking dumb occurrences, with no objective or MacGuffin driving the participants from one dumb thing to the next other than the desire of the writers to have another dumb joke.
This isn’t a “BRM doesn’t like these cinematic matches” thing, either. Although I haven’t found one I really liked yet (though the Final Deletion came the closest), I am open to the possibility of really liking one of these matches, too. But it needs to have a clear and obvious objective, and the wrestlers need to feel like they are constantly in pursuit of that objective. And if this is just a random brawl and the goal of it is to beat the other team down until they can’t keep fighting, the wrestlers need to constantly be doing that! You can’t keep going back and forth between friends and enemies at the drop of a hat, just for the sake of comedy!
Having an objective actually helps with storytelling because it helps you structure a story with highs and lows based around a goal that is understandable to the audience. And yes, there needs to be a story, because this is pro wrestling, and pro wrestling is performance art attempting to tell a story. This was dumb horse sh*t with no objective or logical, coherent story. And don’t try to tell me that this was a wrestling version of a parody martial arts movie or whatever because if you watch one of those, you’ll find that the good ones (and even the mediocre ones) ACTUALLY HAVE A F*CKING STORY!
And that, quite frankly, is the worst part of this. It exposes the fact that the people who write this sh*t have no idea what a story is or how to tell one. A story starts at point A- let’s say that’s the first TV show after the previous PPV, and continues on each show, with the events of each show building on the events of the previous one until you reach a climax (followed by your falling action and conclusion, but in pro wrestling, those are all pretty much just the aftermath of the blow-off match, AKA the climax). In the case of these two teams, the story so far has been that they have spent the past six weeks or so engaging in various competitions that have been full of shenanigans, but as a result, the two teams who were formerly rivals have developed a friendship. And yet tonight they ignored all that had come before this and I’m supposed to believe that they randomly started brawling in a parking lot? At least have the f*cking respect for your audience to show us what made these two teams who we have spent weeks watching develop a friendship suddenly start fighting each other! That’s a pretty f*cking important point to your story!
And this story doesn’t exist in a vacuum, either! You can’t just involve Tozawa because you think it will be funny and then not explain what Tozawa was doing there. Commanding ninjas and bikers as your minions tends to be a heel thing, as does having a big monster minion (especially when you have them all fight your battle in your place). Tozawa has been a babyface up until now. Why did he bring a gang along and order them to assault these four men, seemingly without provocation? That’s also a heel thing to do. You now need to deal with Tozawa’s actions here!
This was SOOOO infuriating and dumb! As I said during my review of Cena vs. The Fiend, I don’t like to say this sort of thing, but I said it there and I’ll say it here, too, and even more so: If you liked this, you’re an idiot and you’re part of the problem. If you want to enjoy your stupid goofball comedy action movie parodies, then that’s fine, but do it somewhere else. There are a million dumb things like this all over YouTube for you to watch. Just watch those and stop advocating for and supporting integrating that sh*t into pro wrestling.
RANDY ORTON vs. EDGE- 8/10
Umm… what the f*ck is going on? What is there a hanging thingy that says “MSG with an old-fashioned descending microphone for the ring announcer who isn’t even on screen to use it? And why is the referee dressed like an old-timey referee? Please don’t tell me we’re doing another one of these f*cking things!
The ref gives them instructions like they would in the olden days. In fact, this is all supposed to be like the olden days. Oh. I get it. All this time when they were building this up as “the greatest wrestling match ever,” I was worried they were doing it just to have Orton get DQed on purpose in the insane belief that fans would be angry at Orton for “ruining the greatest wrestling match ever” rather than angry at WWE for wasting our time with all of this hype for something that would have a bullsh*t finish, but it turns out that what they were really doing was mocking people like me for liking professional wrestling by making the “wrestling” match seem like something old-timey. Because that’s much better. F*ck you very much, assholes.
And now they're pumping in fake crowd noise that seems like it's supposed to be from the 80s, too. It's not good.
Oh my G-d they just cut a camera underneath the lock-up, for no f*cking reason than that they could do so. The only thing this accomplished was rub in that this is in no way legitimate, in which case, why should I care who wins?
After that point, there was almost nothing they did that bothered me. Some of the camera angles at times seemed like someone had to be in the ring, but I guess it’s possible that a crane-cam got them. But that just raises the question of why do that first shot if you weren’t going to do anything else like it?
What these two did was have a REALLY long match, paced a lot slower than the usual WWE match. It built very well, they each worked over a body part, and the announcers stayed focused on the match and analyzed it like a sport, not talking about other bullsh*t. It went long and built well, it was an enjoyable change of pace form the usual WWE match, and it wound up being an awesome professional wrestling encounter, with a finish leaving the door open to a rematch to a shot by Orton right before the finish that was questionably low.
And the sad part is that I would have enjoyed it a lot more if they hadn’t hyped it as a gimmick.
That has nothing to do with expectations. This is WWE. I expect their hype to be bullsh*t. Earlier in the show Michael Cole called Miz & Morrison, with their three title reigns lasting barely over a year combined, “one of the greatest tag teams of all time” (yes, Miz was apparently part of “one of the greatest tag teams of all time,” and WWE never even mentioned it any of the million times they have run down the list of his accolades over the years). I went into this not expecting anything close to “the greatest wrestling match of all time,” but willing to be pleasantly surprised.
The issue here was that they hyped this up and seemed to treat it as a gimmick when it really wasn’t. It was just a wrestling match. If you don’t put the referee in the old-fashioned outfit and don’t spend weeks telling me that this is going to be “the greatest wrestling match of all time” and then they go out there and have a forty-five minute match, I’m going to be surprised and enjoy it more because I’m not going to see it coming. But when you keep hitting home that this is going to be “the greatest wrestling match of all time” and then these guys start off with spots that are so out of the ordinary for WWE and which if I saw in the beginning of a main event or world title match in most other companies my immediate thought would be “okay, so they’re going at least thirty here,” it makes a lot of the stuff you do to slow the pace of the match down feel a lot artificial than it otherwise would. What would otherwise feel like a natural slowdown in an organic fight starts to feel like padding for time because the booker told them to go a certain length.
The other thing I didn’t like in this match was pulling out various people’s finishers for nearfalls. That, too, felt like padding more than anything else, because we know that a match between Randy Orton and Edge isn’t going to end with a Pedigree or a Rock Bottom or an Angle Slam.
This was a f*cking weird show from WWE, but I think I’m going to have to give it a thumbs down, just because of the pain and anguish that that Street Profits/Viking Raiders atrocity caused me. Throw in the fact that there wasn’t anything on this show that was really worth going out of your way to see (maybe than other the main event), and the multiple bad finishes on a PPV, and you’ve got a disappointing three hours, even wit some great matches sprinkled in.
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FIP in 2005
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DGUSA Open the Northern Gate
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FIP in 2005
PWG All-Star Weekend V: Night 2
DGUSA Open the Northern Gate
CHIKARA Hot Off the Griddle
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