Wednesday, April 18, 2018

WWE Backlash 2003

So here's a bit of a twist; a fresh new musings some 15 years after the original airing of this PPV took place.

Turns out I never did a predictions on either Backlash or the following month's Judgment Day PPV. I don't recall the reason for this; I'm sure it's mentioned in the old Bite commentaries I used to post, but in any event, that means I get to watch this show with fresh eyes for the first time in years. And I can honestly say that I'm not really looking forward to it.

This is the PPV that would feature the first WWE match of Bill Goldberg as well as the final WWE appearance (for a short while at least) of the Rock. Also, your reigning WWE Champion for Smackdown is Brock Lesnar while your reigning RAW World champion is HHH, otherwise known as McSon-In-Law.

Oh, and Kevin Nash is here too... oh boy, what fun are we about to have.

Fuck me.

Smackdown Tag Team champions Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas defeated Eddie and Chavo Guerrero to retain the titles. This is a good match that has the unfortunate duty of opening this PPV event and giving the audience false hope that this was going to be a good show. I'd dwell into more details, but I'm not a detail person; I simply say I like what I see and I certainly enjoyed this match.

Sean O'Haire defeated Rikishi with help from Roddy Piper and his coconuts... because Rikishi is Samoan and Piper once hit Jimmy Snuka with a coconut and... fuck it. I don't care.

How did Sean O'Haire go from the devil's advocate gimmick that he was playing in those vignettes to playing second fiddle to RODDY PIPER? There's something to be said about not speaking ill of the dead, but I'm gonna do it anyway because Roddy was a fucking heel and he wouldn't have it any other way. Piper's whole stint here was just bad; instead of being treated as a legend to give the rub on the younger fellow, he's more of a major character despite being nearly immobile. I'm sorry, but 2003 Dave did not care for old man Roddy to be a major player on WWE TV and this hasn't changed much fifteen years. If anything, it's making me more irritated that there was promise in what O'Haire was originally supposed to be that was squandered so he could play second fiddle to Hogan vs. Piper circa 2003 and... okay, I'll shut up now.

Kane and Rob Van Dam defeated RAW Tag Team champions the Dudley Boyz to win the titles. Sean "Chief" Morley (the former Val Venis) was your special referee here, but the pinfall count was done by a regular referee when Morley was incapacitated. I'd look into what happened afterwards, but I honestly don't care. All I know is that Kane and RVD hold onto the titles until June-ish, where they'd dropped them to... well, that's jumping ahead here, folks.

Jazz defeated Women's champion Trish Stratus with the help of Teddy Long's shoe (I don't know; just go with it) to win the title. This was a perfectly acceptable match. Not great, but not bad. Unfortunately, a match that is "not great, but not bad" is perhaps the show's biggest highlight thus far and only on account of having a finish that isn't shit.

Big Show squashed Rey Mysterio in a short match that saw him eat three 619s and still manage to chokeslam the living shit out of Rey. Rey then gets pushed on a stretcher, which leads to show picking up the stretcher and smashing it against the ringpost. It's a cool little visual, though I'm not sure if this is Rey's most painful experience (the lawndart from Nash in 96 looked pretty sick too, but I digress.)

WWE Champion Brock Lesnar defeated John Cena to retain the title. In a stark contrast to their later encounters, this was just a perfectly acceptable wrestling match to give Brock a big win. John Cena has yet to reach that level of "hotness" for lack of a better term and I never could buy into him being so much as a threat to Lesnar's tattoos. Brock needed a convincing win and he got that here, but the ending was never in doubt. Sorry, John, but #CenaWinsLOL won't be a thing for a couple years.

McSon-In-Law, Ric Flair, and Chris Jericho defeated Kevin Nash, Shawn Michaels, and Booker T in a six-man tag team match that saw McSon-In-Law hit Big Poochie with a sledgehammer to steal the win. I don't want to spend too much time talking about this match, but to put a finer point to it, it was boring, it ran long, and rather than use the match to try and build one of the fresher faces like Jericho or Booker T - the latter REALLY needing a big win after that embarrassing loss at Wrestlemania - we're building towards a McSon-In-Law vs. Big Poochie feud.

I wasn't excited about this feud back in 2003 and I sure as hell wasn't excited about this feud when it was revived in 2011. And it's not just me, either; watching the show again, I noticed that the reactions for Nash are almost non-existent. If this was today, you'd at least get a shit chant like "Tear A Quad" or something, but this is 2003. Nobody cared about Nash. The only reason he got any semblance of a main event push was because he was butt-buddies with Hunter and neither man was willing to give people a reason to give a shit about any of their egomania-driven horse shit.

And in the main event, Bill Goldberg makes his long-awaited WWE debut and defeated the Rock in what could only be described as a gigantic miscalculation on the part of whoever booked this match to go twenty minutes or so. Look, if you needed a sign that Goldberg's run in WWE was going to be the drizzling shits... well, the wig should've been that sign, but if that didn't convince anyone in the slightest, then you had this fucking match. What should've been a quick and easy squash for ol' Bill (as in spear, jackhammer, done in a couple minutes) instead ended up a typical long match that exposes Goldberg as a less than stellar worker. The one thing that WCW did right was Goldberg; the company that WWE likes to say is run by idiots did Goldberg right... at least until they made him lose to a fucking cattle prod, but that took a year and a half to kill. So it should've been easy to book a quick match that disposes Rock easily and establishes Goldberg as a dominant force that should be able to carry WWE on his back while Rock made movies. But instead, they went with this long-ass shit.

 It's funny that at some point, then-CEO Linda McMahon would describe Goldberg as a "disappointment" and considering the way he was presented in his first outing, it's not hard to see why. In his first match, "Da Man" of WCW - who mowed through opponent after opponent after opponent and went on the most impressive winning streak of the time - found himself struggling to take on the Rock, who was on his way out, was essentially the Hollywood sell-out that everyone was supposed to hate, and yet found himself being cheered because he was holding his own against the newcomer Billy Boy, who was serenaded with loud chants of "GOLDBERG SUCKS. Now that sentence ran a bit long... just like this match ran long.

Contrast that with the match Goldberg had with Brock Lesnar a couple years ago at Survivor Series, which featured Brock giving Goldberg a nudge, then Goldberg hitting his stuff and beating Brock in less than a couple minutes. If he had done that with the Rock (and subsequently all his other opponents as well), then chances are he wouldn't have been a disappointment.

Also... really, guys? You changed his entrance music? Why? Invasion was fucking perfect and then you go ahead and replace it with some crappy knock-off that makes the crappy knock-offs from those dollar store discs sound good in comparison. Thankfully, when Goldberg came back in 2016, they kept Invasion throughout his run... if he stuck with the bicycle shorts.

There is no going around this; Backlash 2003 is a fucking terrible show. Once you get past that opening contest, there is very little to look forward. The matches are either boring, uninteresting, or just plain bad. Not mention this is show where Goldberg has his first WWE match and it's not that match he needed to have. The stench on Goldberg was strong; so much so that he wouldn't even have a match on the next PPV. I might not have been the biggest Goldberg fan in 2003, but at the very least, if done right, he would've been SOMETHING to look forward at a time when WWE needed something truly worthwhile and not just have suffer through the egomania of McSon-In-Law.

An absolutely horrible shitfest of a PPV. Terrible.

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