So with WWE Backlash 2018 in the books, I decided to go back in time to another Backlash event for this week’s Retro article, that being the one from 2000. This was an interesting period for the (then) WWF, as they were doing incredible business, even with #1 star Stone Cold Steve Austin sitting out on the injured list.
With Austin being out, The Rock stood up to take the crown as top baby face, whilst a constantly improving Triple H secured himself atop the heel mountain. Triple H was so hot as a heel in fact that, for the first time in the company’s history to that point, they decided to end their annual WrestleMania event with the heel champion retaining his title in the main event.
This, combined with a below average undercard and a terrible Anaheim crowd, had left a rather sour taste in the mouth following the biggest show of the year. Thus, Backlash was in essence a “make good” show, where some of the wrongs of Mania could be righted and the fans could get a better overall quality show. Was it a success? Let’s read on to find out!
The event is emanating from the MCI Centre in Washington DC on the 30th of April 2000
Calling the action are the guy with the black hat and the guy with the crown
WWF Tag Team Championships
Champions: Edge & Christian Vs Road Dogg and X-Pac w/ Tori
Debra is here to do guest ring introductions and, not that I want to offend anyone, but it seems like there was plenty of tequila on the plane she travelled to the event on. Just saying. Edge, Christian and Road Dogg were all essentially tweeners at this point in time, whereas X-Pac was hated by everyone from kids, to adults, to tribe’s people in Africa who don’t even own TV’s. Case in point, a big “X-Pac Sucks” chant begins immediately before anyone even locks up.
Edge and Mr. Waltman start us out with some chain wrestling that serves the purpose of establishing E & C as the faces for tonight. X-Pac spits in Edge’s face (I hope Edge promptly got a tetanus shot following the end of the match) and tags in Road Dogg. Christian maintains the advantage on Road Dogg, but a cheap shot allows an X-Pac tag. Christian gets a power slam and stupidly goes up for a 10 punch in the corner, allowing Road Dogg to drop his neck on the top rope for the cut off. Not content with just that, the challengers then fling Christian spine first into the ring steps on the outside. That’s just mean!
Road Dogg goes to a front facelock, leading to the ever popular false tag spot. Tori gets her two cents in by choking Christian in the corner and miraculously does it without messing up. Must be less peroxide in her hair tonight, those fumes are mother grabbers. Christian attempts to fight back but the Shake, Rattle and Roll knee drop puts a stop to that. Christian eventually manages to go for a cross body on Dogg, but Roadie goes for his own at the same time and both men are down.
X- Pac tries to stop the tag but, whilst the ref is getting him out of the ring, Edge sneaks in with a diving head butt onto Road Dogg. Christian gets two from that and makes the tag shortly after. Edge is in and he’s a casa un feugo!. Sit Out Powerbomb from Edge gets him a two count. X-Pac hits Tori by accident allowing an Edge roll up for two. X-Pac gets the X-Factor in the ring, but the ref is too distracted tending to Tori which allows Christian to wallop X-Pac with the ring bell to give the champions the three count.
WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: EDGE & CHRISTIAN
A solid opener there, with Dogg and Pac essentially passing the torch of “top heel team” to the champions with that finish, as they get out cheated and out thought by their younger foes. Christian must have really laid that ring bell shot in as X-Pac appears to be bleeding hard way from it.
Meanwhile, The Rock arrives in a limo. Would it kill to show up before the show considering you’re getting a title shot Dwayne?
WWF Light-Heavyweight Championship
Champion: Dean Malenko Vs Scotty 2 Hotty
Ah yes, the Light-Heavyweight Title. If you thought WWE mismanaging its lighter weight division was a new thing, I can assure you it’s something they’ve been doing for decades. Malenko had jumped to the WWF along with Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn and Chris Benoit a few months before this and had quickly captured the title. This initially gave the title a bit of a shot in the arm, as Malenko was a high calibre worker who could make the other guys in the division look good. This mini-feud with Scotty was probably the most important the belt had been since it’s inception.
Malenko had screwed Scotty out of the belt to set this up. It’s a slugfest to start and that goes Scotty’s way. Scotty gets a back suplex, but stupidly stops to Moon Walk, allowing Malenko to jump him. Scotty fights back but eats a clothesline on a bulldog attempt. Malenko takes Scotty outside for some punishment and brings him back in for some slugging in the corner. Scotty tries fighting back but Malenko dropkicks him in the leg to stop him in his tracks. Malenko goes to town on the leg, giving it a vicious beating in his clinical Ice Man fashion. Crowd stays with Scotty though, which is a testament to his overness at the time. Scotty gets a desperation enziguri, but Malenko soon cuts him off again and stays focused on working the leg.
Scotty gets a roll up out of nowhere for two but Malenko is again quickly back in control. Eventually, Scotty and Malenko take a double tumble to the outside, which gives Scotty an opening. Scotty struggles to the top rope, which ends up being a mistake as Malenko stops him and brings him down with a superplex. Scotty manages to surprise Malenko with a backslide attempt, but he can only hold him down for a count of two.
Malenko goes for the Cloverleaf but Scotty counters with another roll up for two. Scotty makes the big comeback and gets The Worm, but angers me by hopping on the injured the leg. I mean, would it have killed him to hop on the other leg? Malenko tries using the ropes for an illegal pin but the ref spots him. Undtettered, Dean drops Scotty with both a Tiger Driver and a powerslam, but can only get a two on both occasions. Malenko guillotines Scotty on the top rope and heads up, but Scotty manages to fight him off. With Malenko up top on the turnbuckle, Scotty tries to superplex him down but Malenko is able to turn it into a DDT on the way down and, not surprisingly, that’s enough for the three count. I should say so!
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: DEAN MALENKO
This was one of the best matches in the titles history, as Malenko kept working Scotty over and Scotty just kept selling until the people cared. Scotty hopping on the injured leg was terrible though, and the only poor part of the match. The rest was excellent and very enjoyable.
The McMahon Family Regime are backstage plotting an evil scheme to bring down the Justice League. Oh yeah and Triple H wants to retain his title or something…
Big Bossman and Bull Buchanan Vs The Acolytes (Bradshaw and Faarooq)
Bull had only recently been repackaged after a terrible stint in the long gone “Truth Commission” stable. The gimmick of “flak jacket wearing buddy of Big Bossman” was as generic as they come, but he played the role well enough. Indeed, Bossman and Bull look like a prototypical version of The Shield here. Bradshaw and Faarooq had already begun their “Protection Agency” by this point, but weren’t yet going by the name “APA” yet. JR is practically drooling at the potential slug fest that awaits us here!
Bradshaw wastes no time smashing some mouths with his “unique smash mouth style” by getting a top rope shoulder block on Bull for two. Bull shows some nice agility to flip out of a back body drop, but Bradshaw doesn’t take kindly to such insolence in his matches and Bull is soon getting destroyed in the corner. Bossman comes in to and also gets pummelled, this time by the smash mouthing style of Faarooq. Bradshaw adds some extra Smash Mouthage on the outside, as The Acolytes didn’t come here to play around.
Bossman continues to get worked over, but Faarooq misses a charge in the corner and that’s enough for Shield beta to get the heat. Bull and Bossman go through their usual dazzling array of punches and rest holds, but the fans aren’t especially thrilled. Faarooq makes the tag and the match pretty much falls apart, with everyone not just on different pages but in different libraries. Bull gets two from a superplex on Bradshaw, so Bradshaw nearly kills him with the Clothesline from Smash Mouth in retaliation, but Bossman breaks the count at two. Bossman hits Bradshaw with the nightstick, which allows Bull to hit a Scissors Kick for the win.
WINNERS: BIG BOSSMAN AND BULL BUCHANAN
Not an especially thrilling bout, and the crowd didn’t seem too invested in what was going on either.
The Hardys are backstage and they agree that there’ll be no friends tonight in the upcoming match. Cut to The Holly’s, who agree the same, although in a less harmonious manner.
Single Fall Six Person Hardcore Match
WWF Hardcore Championship
Champion: Crash Holly Vs Matt Hardy Vs Jeff Hardy Vs Perry Saturn Vs Tazz Vs Hardcore Holly
This was during the “24/7 era” of the title, which came about because champion Crash said he would defend the title anyplace, anytime against anyone. Cue Crash fleeing from challengers in airports and even soft play centres. Crash was getting pretty over as a scrappy underdog during this period as consequence. Tazz was still relatively new to the WWF at this stage and was still over, as it was before his disastrous heel turn and feud with Jerry Lawler.
The rules here are that the challengers can only pin Crash to win, whereas Crash just has to pin one of his challengers. Crash immediately attempts to bail, as he runs down the ramp and climbs the stage. That ends badly for him as he’s thrown off by Matt. Matt then fills his quota of insane moves for the night by diving off the stage onto everyone. They all no sell it and are up fighting 2 seconds later, but I appreciate the thought nonetheless. Everyone comes back to ring and then promptly proceed to hit each other with a smorgasbord of weaponry.
Everyone of course fights over who gets to pin Crash, and the action gets pretty hard to call as consequence. They really should have done the whole diving off the stage thing at the end of the match because there’s just no way to follow something like that. Jeff gets a ladder from under the ring, and that finally wakes the crowd up. Everyone takes a beating from the ladder and Jeff Swanton’s Crash from the top rung, but fights with Matt over who gets the pin. Tazz gets the Tazzmission on poor Crash to a big pop, but Saturn nails him with a stop sign to put an end to that. With everyone else taken out, Crash is able to drape an arm over Tazz and picks up the win.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: CRASH HOLLY
This was pretty lacklustre aside from the big spots. It stands as a testament to how they wasted Tazz however, as he was mightily over here and they really should have put him in the European or IC Title mix.
Jonathon Coachman is backstage with Shane McMahon, who will be refereeing the main event later. He promises he will be an impartial ref later, but few are convinced.
Kurt Angle Vs Big Show
Following his utter failure as a top level star during the previous few months, Big Show was repackaged as a fun loving big guy who spent his time dressing up as Rikishi and Fat Bastard from Austin Powers. Angle was disgusted by this, which set up a minor feud between the two for this pay per view. Angle had only been on the main roster for little more than 6 months at this point and he was already one of the most composed wrestlers and promos in the entire company.
Big Show decides to up the ante on his usual fancy dress here by coming out dressed as Hulk Hogan and calling himself “The Showster”. He cuts a hilarious promo, doing a perfect Hogan impression, and the crowd are loving it. Angle jumps Show to start, with Show doing the old Hogan no sell (called so by J.R). Big boot and Leg Drop only get two for Showster though. Who does Angle think he think he is? Sid Justice? Angle channels Mongo McMichael with the chop block and goes to work on Showsters’ leg. This serves only to anger Showster, momentarily turning him back into Big Show again with a chokeslam for the win.
WINNER: THE SHOWSTER/BIG SHOW
The match was basically nothing and over in about three minutes, but it was really fun and did Angle no damage whatsoever, so it gets a big thumbs up from me.
Trish Stratus is backstage with Test & Albert. Trish taunts Bubba Ray Dudley about not being able to put her through a table. We cut to The Dudleys, and see that Bubba is entranced by Trish. D-Von tells Bubba to be a man and get down to business.
The Dudley Boyz Vs Test & Albert w/ Trish Stratus
So the story line here is that Bubba has been putting women through tables, in a weird sort of sex allegory, but thus far Trish has eluded him because she always manages to flirt her way out of it at the last minute. Yes, it’s a thoroughly bizarre story line but it worked pretty well for what it was. The Dudleyz jump start the match and Bubba chases Trish, only to get clotheslined by Test. Albert and D-Von go at it in the ring, with the action going D-Vons way. Bubba comes in and pounds away also. The Dudleyz were on the cusp of being the top Babyface team in the company here, whilst T & A were established as heels by this point after an horrendous start as faces which saw them stink the joint up at Mania with Al Snow and Steve Blackman.
The Dudleyz continue working over Albert and get the wassup head butt, back before they started yelling “WASSUP?!?!” before delivering it. Albert manages to catch D-Von with a bicycle kick, and that’s enough to get the heat, even though D-Von isn’t technically a face yet. T & A actually have some good team offence. If only Test had followed Albert’s lead and gone to Japan to hone his craft rather than abusing enough steroids to gets veins in his arms the size of cucumbers. Not only would he have probably been a better worker but he would also have stood a much better chance of being alive right now. D-Von gets a spinning neckbreaker on Test but the ref doesn’t see him tag, so the heat continues. As this match has worn on The Dudleyz have pretty much turned face and the fans are now even chanting for tables.
D-Von gets a nice top rope sunset flip for two but Albert stays in control. Albert heads up to the second rope, but stops to yell at Bubba and that allows D-Von to suplex him down. That was something like the 5th time someone has used that move on this show. Bubba gets the tag and It all breaks loose, with The Dudleyz getting the upper hand. It looks like it might be time for a 3-D on Albert, but Trish causes a distraction and this allows Test to get a big boot in Bubba for the win.
WINNERS: TEST & ALBERT
This was a solid match, but it’s not the match that matters now, as The Dudleyz clean house and grab Trish. She tries to kiss her way out of danger like she has in the past, but this time it doesn’t work and she takes a powerbomb through a table from Bubba. This is an important moment as it officially turned the Dudleyz face and laid the table for them to become the top team in the WWF. Credit to Trish for taking a big move like that so early into her career.
Meanwhile, Eddie Guerrero and Chyna show up in their Chevy after getting back from Eddie’s prom. The referee tells them that it’s time for Eddie’s match, so he makes history by driving his car to the ring so he can make it in time.
WWF European Championship
Champion: Eddie Guerrero w/ Chyna Vs Essa Rios w/ Lita
Chyna had originally disliked Eddie upon his WWF debut, but she eventually succumbed to his “Latino Heat” and they became a very entertaining pairing. Eddie doesn’t have time to change so he has to wrestle in suit pants. In a nice touch, he leaves his bow tie on though, thus making him look like Brickowski from WCW/nWo Revenge. Rios has only just been repackaged from being Mr. Aguila and Lita had been added to his act to give him an edge. Being that she was the archetypal tomboy, who did moonsaults and mixed it up with the guys, she immediately became more over that her new charge almost instantly.
Eddie starts things off with a dropkick, but Rios counters a tilt a whirl by flipping out then getting one of his own. That was a very nice spot; these two men are excellent athletes. Rios sends Eddie outside but he’s able to dodge the resulting body press, sending Rios to the floor. Eddie sends Rios back inside and then follows up with a springboard senton. Eddie sends Rios outside, where Chyna gets a few cheap shots in before returning him to the ring. Rios fights back with a dropkick and heads up with another one for a two count. Rios counters a Powerbomb with a lucha arm drag and nearly kills Eddie with a monkey flip. Possibly annoyed at this, Eddie sends Rio back outside again for some more damage from Chyna.
Eddie follows Rios out with a plancha, as the pace is starting to pick up. Eddie goes for a powerbmb on the floor but Rios is able to counter it with a back body drop. Lita prepares to dive out onto Eddie, but Chyna shoves her off the top to the outside. Rios gets an Asai Moonsault onto Eddie, similar to the one Shawn Michaels and Flair at did at WrestleMania 24. Not content with just that, Rios dives onto Eddie again for a big pop. Chyna makes her presence known again by crotching Rios on the top, allowing Eddie to get the 77th superplex of the night for two. Was there some sort of bet on backstage that involved everyone doing that move tonight or something? Eddie gets a Brainbuster and heads up top, but Rios recovers in time to leap up with an arm drag. He attempts the moonsault, but Eddie gets his knees up, and follows that with spinning Splash Mountain Bomb for the win.
WINNER: EDDIE GUERRERO
This one started slow but got really good towards the end. Again, it’s amazing how over even lower mid card guys like Rios were at this point in time. It’s a testament to how hot the company was as a whole in 2000. It’s also a nod in favour of writer Chris Kreski, who probably was the best writer the company ever had. Lita strips Chyna of her evening gown post-match, but she doesn’t seem to mind too much and neither does Eddie. You could see both Eddie and Chyna’s face turn coming here as they had great chemistry and the fans clearly wanted to cheer them both.
Triple H and Stephanie are hanging out backstage and seem very confident. Vince McMahon is there too and suggests that Steve Austin might not be here tonight.
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Champion: Chris Benoit Vs Chris Jericho
The outspoken and loud Jericho was always a natural foil for the clinical and serious Benoit. I’m honestly shocked WCW never tried doing a long term program with the two when they had both of them under contract, because it practically writes itself. Benoit had won the IC Title at Mania, pinning Jericho in a triple threat double title match that also included Kurt Angle. Jericho had “endeared” himself to Benoit by incorrectly pronouncing his surname and declaring that Benoit was a robot due to his lack of personality. Benoit’s response to this was to pummel Jericho mercilessly at every opportunity, because…
Lock up leads to both men tenaciously struggling over the advantage, and even causes them to tumble out of the ring. Back inside, it’s time for the chop fest and that goes Benoit’s way. Jericho decides to fight back with fists, but finds himself on the wrong end of two German Suplexes from Benoit. Jericho is able to grab the ropes to stop the third one, so Benoit just back drops him over the top rope to the outside. What a dick! Benoit attempts a tope, but misses and his head bounces off the floor, sending shivers down my spine in the process. The fight continues on the outside, as Benoit dropkicks the ring steps into Jericho’s knees. Back inside, Benoit takes over and targets Jericho’s midsection, which is taking one heck of a beating here.
Benoit uses the abdominal stretch, which isn’t part of his usual arsenal but makes sense here. Jericho fights out and gets a running elbow followed by the Lionsault, but his midsection hurts too much to capitalise. He finally gets a two from it, but Benoit is soon up and bringing the pain again with some vicious chops. Jericho gets two from a bulldog and delivers some chops of his own, but Benoit keeps fighting. Jericho drops Benoit ribs first on the top rope, but gets swatted away on a second rope dropkick. Both men end up scrapping on the top rope, with Jericho going for a Super Back Drop, but Benoit shifts his weight to fall on top for two.
Jericho counters a Benoit backslide with the Double Powerbomb, which he hasn’t even tried in years. He should try bringing it back in New Japan. Jericho goes for the cover but Benoit counters with the crossface, in some slick counter wrestling. Jericho makes the ropes but Benoit drags him back to the middle to lock it in again. Jericho is able to fight him off however and is then able to lock in the old school Lion Tamer onto The Crippler. Benoit manages to make the ropes, at which point the ref gets bumped, allowing Benoit to nail Jericho with the title belt for two. Benoit snap suplexes Jericho on the belt and heads up for the Swandive Headbutt, but Jericho holds the belt up, causing Benoit’s face to land on it for the DQ.
WINNER VIA DISQUALIFICATION AND STILL CHAMPION: CHRIS BENOIT
Shame this had such an awful ending as it was a super intense scuffle between two men who weren’t afraid to beat the stuffing out of one another. The finish at least allowed for further rematches between the two without changing the belt, but it was still a pretty lame way to end such a great match.
The Rock is backstage and cuts his usual awesome promo ahead of the main event tonight. I was so pumped for this match back in the day.
Guest Referee: Shane McMahon
Champion: Triple H w/ Stephanie and Vince McMahon Vs The Rock w/ Stone Cold Steve Austin
As mentioned at the top of the review, Triple H had been the first heel to escape WrestleMania with the title thanks to Vince McMahon turning on The Rock. Rock managed to earn himself another title shot here, but Vince and the rest of the McMahon-Helmsley Regime have done their best to stack the deck against the People’s Champion. Linda McMahon, seeing that Rock was outnumbered, decided to step in and assign Austin in Rock’s corner to even the odds. However, Austin hasn’t arrived yet and, even if he does show, can Rock trust him? This is the sort of tight storytelling WWE can’t seem to do anymore, which is a shame.
Going in to this show The Rock was one of my favourite wrestlers and I just hated Triple H, so both men were doing an excellent job in their given roles. The crowd wants Austin but the match starts without him. Slugfest to start and that goes Rock’s way. HHH goes for the Pedigree early but Rock back body drops out. Shane causes a distraction however, which allows HHH to get a neckbreaker. Undeterred, Rock fights back with a back suplex, but HHH sends him over the top to the outside. Interesting that Triple H has thus far held his own without much interference, showing that he perhaps doesn’t need all the help, a point JR enforces.
Anyway, Vince McMahon makes a nuisance of himself by sending Rock into the post outside, allowing HHH to take over. Its sleeper time for Rocky and this allows HHH a perfect chance to cheat by using the ropes. Rock fights out of the Sleeper but gets immediately clotheslined in response, allowing HHH to talk some smack. Rock counters a 10 punch with a stun gun and fires back with some punches but it’s a double clothesline for the double down. Shane counts both men but also tries to revive HHH slyly in a funny spot.
While Shane is accidentally-on-purpose distracted, Vince nails Rock with the title belt, which gets a count of two for Triple H. Rock keeps fighting and sends HHH to the outside, before following him out and slamming his face onto the announcers table. Back inside, Rock gets a DDT but Shane refuses to count, so Rock decks him! HHH knocks Rock outside and sends him shoulder first into the steps. HHH sets Rock up for a Pedigree on the Spanish table but Rock fights back and ends up Rock Bottoming both Shane and Triple H through the table for a massive pop. Vince’s look of shock at that is awesome. Rock throws HHH back in the ring but now it’s Vince’s turn to get involved, and he quickly regrets it as Rock grabs him. HHH saves with a low blow and gets the Pedigree but there’s no ref. Cue Pat Paterson and Gerald Brisco running down to the ring in ref shirts.
Rock kicks out at two so Brisco and Patterson help put the boots to him. Vince grabs a chair and splatters Rock with it.
However, just before Triple H is able to splat Rock with one more Pedigree, Stone Cold Steve Austin shows up with a chair, as the fans lose their minds! Austin beats the living pish and vinegar out of anything that moves with the chair, as the crowd goes insane. After Austin has left a trail of broken bodies in his wake, Linda McMahon makes her way to the ring with referee Earl Hebner. Hebner has previously been unjustly fired by the regime, so this is his chance for pay back. Stephanie tries to intercept her mother, but gets shoved down before she can do anything. Back inside the ring, Rock catches Triple H with a spinebuster and then drops the People’s Elbow to FINALLY end Triple H’s reign of terror, as the fans go positively mental!
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: THE ROCK
This was not only a great match but also served as a release valve for the fan base, which had had to put up with Triple H destroying their favourites for months. Finally someone levelled the playing field and Triple H was beaten, thus returning hope to the main event scene.
Rock and Austin share a beer post-match and then Rock celebrates to close out the show
What more do you want? It’s Backlash 2000! It’s possibly the best non-Big Four pay per view the WWF has ever done. If you haven’t seen it then log onto WWE Network and watch it RIGHT NOW. Go on, get moving!!
Thanks for reading