Welcome cats and kittens, to yet another emotionally stirring installment of Cewsh Reviews… It seems like only 3 weeks ago that we reviewed a WWE PPV (Hmm, actually…) but here we are again, to review another show from the biggest professional wrestling company in the known universe. Since our last WWE review, the annual Draft has come along and shaken everything up good and proper, and this show, Backlash 2009, is here to end the Wrestlemania feuds (for the most part), and to be the official end of the past year. Following this show, the landscape will be widely changed, and we will have the foundation upon which the next year will be built. Can you feel the excitement? Can you feel the intensity? Can you feel the adrenaline? Can you feel the love tonight? Tonight? It is where we are? It’s enough for this wide-eyed wanderer? That we got this far?
One day, perhaps we will do a review using nothing but songs and dialogue from the Lion King. But that day is not today. Sadly.
Cewsh: This video package was amazing.
Vice made a point about how it was similar to a TNA video package, with the epic narration, movie like background music, and promo cut ins, but the similarities also clearly mark out the differences in quality. While TNA’s video packages come off as repetitive doing the same EPIC videos before every show, the unique use here for WWE really makes the entire show seem absolutely emotional and intense. This show is all about vengeance (unlike Vengeance, which is all about puppies), and they did a fantastic job of showing that and hyping me up. Well done WWE production crew as always.
Vice: SWAGGER! This is a pretty cool…
(Editor’s Note: It is at this point in the review that Vice was stolen by the Midgar Zolom. He should have known better than to attempt to review without a chocobo. He will be gracefully replaced by the lovely Ms. Cewsh.)
Ms. Cewsh: Swagger doesn’t wrestle my style of match. He seems good at what he does, but “real” wrestling never works for me. Example, Swagger gives Christian some sort of bear hug. I’m sure it’s actually painful in real life, but this is a sport where Mark Henry routinely stands on people’s chests. A bear hug just doesn’t look…impressive.
I do really love Christian, though, and thus the match is perfectly serviceable, if a bit overlong. (Can someone recommend good synonyms to “overlong”; because this is not the last match I’ll need one for.)
Cewsh: This is the match that has been getting built to ever since Christian debuted in ECW months ago, and they already had a match on the ECW television program, that people have been calling an early match of the year candidate. Opening this show, which only has 6 matches scheduled on it, is a big responsibility for these guys, and especially for a rookie like Swagger. Can they handle the pressure and put on a show stealing match?
Um. Yeah. They can.
As the match begins, Swagger, true to his name, is all about brash confidence, as he muscles Christian all over the mat with his amateur wrestling skills, and the proceeds to bully him all over the place with power moves, including a press slam to the floor over the turnbuckle. People often forget, but Jack Swagger is about 6 foot 4, and a big muscular guy, so this match was essentially built on him just bullying Christian around like a fat kid at daycare, and Christian trying his best to avoid getting destroyed. As the match progresses, I noticed an interesting aspect to Swagger’s in ring style, and perhaps to his character as well. In the match, Swagger would try for a power move, Christian would counter it, knocking Swagger off guard, but then Swagger would recover, and then doggedly try to hit the same move again. I think it contributes to his brash, cocky character, in that he’s in such disbelief that someone could counter him, that he’s going to do the damn move again, just to make a point. I really like that. Assuming its intentional.
As the match progresses, Swagger starts to get frustrated with Christian, at one point even demanding that he give up, but Christian never quits, and he always has an answer for anything Swagger throws at him. Nothing Swagger can do will keep Christian down, and he starts to get visibly unnerved at Christian’s resilience. Then it’s a fast past charge downhill to the very amusing, and interesting finish, which seems to set up for a natural rematch between these two. Judging by their first two matches, I have to say that I can’t wait to see it.
This match was an absolute joy to watch from start to finish. From Swagger working over Christian with mat wrestling that Christian had no answer for, to Swagger absolutely punishing Christian with power moves, and just plain pushing him around with Christian refusing to quit either way, this was a star making performance for both men. These two have chemistry that is just off the charts, and Swagger looks more and more like a future superstar every time I see him in the ring. Christian, for his part, looks so much more focused and dedicated than he ever looked (or was allowed to look) in TNA, and has really settled in to the perfect style for himself. For a lot of years he didn’t really have an identity with his ringwork, but now with the wily veteran, plucky babyface angle, he has really, surprisingly, found his niche at last. Good for both men. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where things go from here.
76 out of 100.
Cewsh: Christian is backstage celebrating with his newly won belt, (Whoops, spoilerz!) when he sees who else but his old buddy/brother depending on the day Edge. Edge goes off on a tirade about how Christian must thinlk he’s better than Edge because he has a title and Edge doesn’t. Christian wants to know what happened to Edge to turn him from “Sodas Rule!” to the bitter lunatic we know today, and Edge lays it all at the feet of John Cena, assuring Christian that he will be a fun guy again the second that he beats John Cena and gets his belt back. Its okay readers, go ahead and clean out your pants at these two interacting. We understand.
Cewsh: It seems unbelievable that this match is even taking place.
If you had told me a year ago that Ricky Steamboat was going to come out of retirement and not only wrestle at Wrestlemania against Chris Jericho (Cewsh Dream Match), but do it so well, and to such a great response that he would get a rematch at Backlash one on one with Jericho, that gets 15 minutes, then I would have slapped you upside of your ridiculous head and told you to go sit in the corner, where liars belong. But lo and behold, here we are in 2009 enjoying Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat’s long overdue farewell tour, and I really couldn’t be happier about it.
As for the match itself, it was everything you could really ask for. Even if Steamboat does “still have it”, he’s very old, and has a tremendous amount of ring rust to work through, so there were times during the match where he seemed a little out of his depth against a world class performer like Jericho, and there were some botches and missteps, that could well be expected. But in situations like this, its really not about what goes wrong in the match, its about what goes right, and what went right here was the atmosphere. The fans were hot for Steamboat, and completely set against Jericho, and everyone seemed to be viewing it through the same eyes as I was, seeing Steamboat’s last match, and soaking it in. The near falls were great, the finish was what it needed to be, and Steamboat got his last moment in the spotlight.
Not many wrestlers get to leave the ring for good on their own terms to a standing ovation. If this is the last time we see Steamboat, I will forever be grateful that he could have this moment, and that the fans, sometimes, genuinely appreciate greatness when they see it. Thank you, Mr. Steamboat. For everything. Ride off into that rising sun and live on in my memories.
75 out of 100.
Ms. Cewsh: I wasn’t overwhelmingly positive about the Jericho/Legends match at Mania, but I’ll give the rematch credit. It was the match Jericho should’ve had the first time. Someone turned his speed back to normal, and while Steamboat looks like he struggles to keep up a bit, that makes significantly more sense than having one of the top talents bump in slow-mo. Speaking of Steamboat, with the bull stripped away, it’s clear the man is still very talented. I enjoyed his wrestling far more than I expected to.
Unfortunately, I’m still me, and I found the match a bit slow and dull. Significantly better than its predecessor, but still not my cup of tea.
Cewsh: A 7 foot Punjabi problem that like totally wants to make out with his twin sister and all that. Is Santino gonna take that mess? Hellllll no! He’s gonna get all up in Khasizzle’s face like whoa and show him what a real man is talkin’ about! And then his woman, that Beth bizzatch is all like, “Oh shit, I guess I’m a skanky ho and I be leavin’ yo ass.” And then Santino’s like “Say whaaaaaaat?”
Cewsh: Nowadays it really does seem kind of strange to see a singles match on a PPV with no stipulations, no gimmicks, and no real story. The background they’re using to justify this match is that Kane is angry because Punk pushed him off the top of the ladder in the Money In The Bank match at Wrestlemania, and grabbed the briefcase, and that doesn’t sit well with the Big Red Monster. Which isn’t a HUGE stretch, unless you consider that everyone else who had that happen to them in the match just let it go and moved on, in which case Kane looks like a huge crybaby. Not that I’d say that to his face of course. Just saying.
Anyway, the match starts and it just sort of…happens. Punk is a very strong performer who connects with the fans very well, but he’s never seemed at home wrestling guys significantly bigger than he is, and Kane can still be a very entertaining performer when he’s motivated and has someone good to work with, but these two simply don’t have a lot of in ring chemistry. They both try their best, and even have a few entertaining exchanges, but ultimately this match just winds up being tremendously forgettable. Its pretty much filler on this card, and serves its purpose as such.
Both men are capable of better, but circumstances worked against them tonight.
63 out of 100.
Ms. Cewsh: Here’s a bit of insight into the Cewsh Reviews… making. When I’m involved, Cewsh and I watch the show on tv, (either live or via more nefarious means,) taking notes in real, honest to god, notebooks. Tonight, I had my (Hello Kitty) notebook propped up on a stack of old video game magazine.
I chose to read an old review of Tomb Raider, rather than watch this match.
Ms. Cewsh: I loved the Hardys’ Mania match, so I had exceptionally high hopes for this. I wasn’t overly disappointed. Matt’s been on fire since his turn, and doing what I never thought possible: making Matt Hardy look like a badass. He’s just vicious.
Out of the ring, Jeff does something stupid and King comments that he frequently takes risks that hurt him more than his opponents. Someone read our WM25 review! Jeff gets tossed into the barricade, which looks legitimately brutal, and some little girl in the crowd starts shrieking like Matt boiled her pet bunny, or something. Speaking of while they’re out of the ring, Cewsh and I have determined the only possible way for this feud to go:
Cewsh: …and out from under then ring, the Boogeyman!
Ms.Cewsh: Aw, I was going to say Hornswaggle. A mysterious third Hardy!
Cewsh: So Findlay’s not really his…no wait, he’s everyone’s dad! Findlay Hardy.
Ms.Cewsh: And then everyone on the roster is actually a Hardy!
Cewsh: Kane Hardy…
Ms.Cewsh: Doesn’t make any less sense.
WWE, I know you’re reading this. I will take my position on the writing team now.
The match is good, but it’s clear what the crowd is waiting for. Jeff takes a beating for awhile, before going and getting the table.
Honestly, the end is the only disappointing part. Jeff lashes Matt to the table, before getting a ladder. He strips off his shirt, sending about a hundred young women in the first few rows through puberty, and then Matt begs his ass off. This is all good, except that Matt’s mic skills aren’t GREAT, but then Jeff doesn’t do a Swanton off the top of the ladder! Jeff missing the opportunity for a Swanton off the top of the ladder is like a summer without ice cream. It’s still summer, but it’s not reaching its full potential. (As an aside, I hate typing the word Swanton, because it’s not only the name of Jeff Hardy’s finishing move, but also my hometown, except the “ton” is pronounced like “Ms.Cewsh has a ton of fucking asides this time, because she wasn’t prepared at all for the is review.”)
I didn’t enjoy the match quite as much as the Mania match. 3 ¾ kitties instead.
Cewsh: I don’t know how other people have been feeling about this feud so far, but I feel like its been nothing short of miraculous.
Take both of these guys at the start of the year. Jeff was the WWE champion, but had really nobody to face. Matt was a midcard babyface as stale as month old bread. Jeff had all the momentum in the world, but was just going to twiddle his thumbs until they brought over someone new for him to feud with, and Matt was just casually eeking out an existence as “the guy who has 15 minute undercard matches”. Fast forward to now. Matt Hardy is one of the most hated, and dynamic heels in wrestling, Jeff Hardy has more personality and mic skills than he has ever exhibited in his career, and as such is capable of being a true main eventer, and the feud only took 4 months to conclude. Just amazing booking here, all the way through.
This match made me a little wary, though. I’ve never seen an I Quit match that I thought actually worked out well, with the whole microphone thing really putting a damper on what they can do. See, the WWE is all about impact finishers. The Stunner, the Pedigree, the Tombstone, that’s the specialty that they focus on, and they matches themselves are frequently built upon setting up for impact finishers. Here’s the problem, though. How do you make a guy say the words “I Quit” if you knock him out? You can’t. So the entire match is crippled by the idea that neither man can win with the finish that everyone expects to end their matches. Plus, the specter of the disgusting Mankind/Rock I Quit match hangs over the whole idea in my head. So yeah, I had my doubts.
The match starts with Jeff coming out sans facepaint (serious business!), and just beating the everloving shit out of his brother. I don’t think that Matt gets in so much as a punch in the first 5 minutes of this match, as Jeff gives him the chickenshit heel beating that the fans have been dying to see. Of course the crowd sits on their hands and completely no sells the entire match, as they would continue to do throughout the night. I truly don’t remember where they actually were tonight, but the crowd was packed with loud, obnoxious smarks all night. Chanting smarkish chants, wearing smarkish pants, doing the smarkish dance. But whenever they weren’t cheering the heels and booing the faces, they just sat quietly and sucked all the life out of all of the matches on the card (except for one, but we’ll get to that).
As a result, the match just didn’t seem as special as it probably could, as the fans complete failed to respond to Jeff getting his revenge. The brothers bust their asses for every inch of pop they can get though, with each man breaking out submissions they’ve never been seen with before, from the Figure Four (Matt) to the Texas Cloverleaf (Jeff), trying to make the other quit.
The end of the match. The end of the match was very interesting. Jeff literally tied Matt to a table and set a ladder up next to him, and perched on top of it, ready to dive, while Matt begged and pleaded with him to “Think about our dead mom, she wouldn’t want you to do this!” Just brilliant, brilliant heel work by Matt, pussying out of the end in an extremely satisfying way for Jeff. The end was pretty much exactly what it needed to be, as far as the result go, and I have no complaints as they move away from each other off to different shows. I hope to see this feud revisited someday down the line, but I am content with everything I got from it. This wasn’t as good as their Wrestlemania match or their Smackdown Stretcher Match, but it was exactly what it needed to be.
78 out of 100.
Cewsh: Orton is backstage and rather than talk about Triple H, he directs a few comments towards Batista about how he (Batista) is still doing Triple H’s dirty work after all these years since Evolution. He actually makes some great points that would make me sit up and think if I were Batista, and it had a very Jake Roberts manipulation feel to it.
So okay, Batista:
a) Has a motive to turn heel.
b) Has a top heel getting into his head and manipulating him.
c) Has “accidentally” harmed his teammates recently.
If there was a heel turn playbook, they’d be following it page by page so far.
Cewsh: Let’s go down the check list:
Man on woman violence? Check.
Gay jokes galore? Check.
A romantic entanglement featuring good ol’ JR? Check.
The top women’s wrestler in the world losing a match to a cross dressing jobber? Check.
Absurdity? Double check.
This segment had all of those things, but oddly enough, I didn’t mind. I even chuckled a few times at the absurdity of the whole thing. We, as fans, can have a tendency to take wrestling a little too seriously sometimes, and as a result, I’m certain that reviewers all over the world are shitting on this segment to scattered applause from the internetz. Not me. I had fun with this match, and, aside from a few too many gay jokes for my taste, I found it entirely harmless. All of the performers seemed to be having a ton of fun with it, especially Khali who has such a huge grin plastered on his face throughout, that its clear that he loves that this is what he does for a living. I like to see entertainers enjoying entertaining. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Ms. Cewsh: …What, we couldn’t make Santina a lesbian and have Mae Young out here?
Cewsh: Boy has this feud been a bone of contention between wrestling fans.
There are those who feel like the feud was disappointing and their Wrestlemania match was absolutely terrible and ruined the show (I.E. Everyone), and there are those who feel like this feud has been absolutely riveting for months and months now, and who would gladly watch 10,000 Triple H/Randy Orton matches (I.E. Me and conceivably Triple H and Randy Orton). The two sides have gone back and forth ever since Wrestlemania, and on paper, this match certainly seemed ready made to reinforce the former’s opinion, with the seemingly ridiculous stipulation that in this 6 man tag match, if Legacy wins, Orton wins the championship, whereas if Team Triple H wins, then Triple H retains? Why would Batista want Triple H to have the title? Why would Shane care either way? It seemed bound to become a mess.
It SEEMED that way. Man, reality has a way of surprising you, doesn’t it? This match was not only not a mess, it was easily the best 6 man tag match that I have ever seen. I’m not a fan of tag team wrestling at all, which I think has been well documented. I don’t like the style, I don’t like how formulaic the matches tend to be, and the more people you add to the tag match, the less I enjoy it. So as you might expect, 6 man tag team main event matches rank right up there with Constipated Pig On A Pole matches for me. So its even MORE impressive when such a match breaks through my pre-established doubts to be genuinely amazing. And that’s exactly what this match did.
From Orton holding himself aside until just the right moment to enter the match, the Legacy showing some of the smoothest most effortless chemistry as a team that I have ever seen, to Batista and Shane McMahon of all people playing great babyfaces in peril. This match was picture perfect in tone, atmosphere, and in the way it was wrestled and I was right along with it the entire way. The ending was absolutely perfect, with the result that everyone and their mother was down on their knees (especially YOUR mother. Oooooh!) begging for. I honestly have nothing else to say. This match was incredible, and everyone in it looked like an absolute god. This match was so good, that I want to pay to see another Orton/Triple H match. PAY. I may be biased to start with, that don’t let that take away from the match. It needs no bias. It needs no introduction. But it does need a rating. So…
86 out of 100.
Cewsh’s Download Seal of Approval.
Ms. Cewsh: My dislike of Batista was covered in the SS ’08 review, so we’ll pass on that. What I do want to touch on is the way WWE wants fans to remember the company history, particularly Evolution. This was touched off by Christian/Edge after the first match. E&C split in ’01. Christian left the WWE in ’05. They have not interacted on screen in 4 years, haven’t been a tag team in 8, but I’m supposed to immediately recall their history the second they give us a little fan service.
In this match, they make much ado about Batista/Orton in Evolution. They make an even bigger fuss about Triple H/Orton in Evolution. Batista/Trips is completely glossed over, even when Batista gives Rhodes and Dibiase the thumbs down and Triple H cheers. Two huge former- rivals have forgotten where that symbol came from? Really?
Anyway, the match. Shane comes out, causing much confliction in me. On one hand, I really think the Legacy deserves to win. On the other, Shane’s “The Game, The Animal, The Money, The End of The Legacy” shirt is awesome and I would totally rock it. Then Batista comes out, and finally Triple H. The man does know how to make an entrance. In contrast, the Legacy comes out together, as a unit. I don’t know if that was intentional, but I really like the way it highlights the difference between the teams.
The match starts a little rough. Orton flees to the back, leaving Rhodes and Dibiase to fend for themselves. I think they’ve grown a lot, but they’re still not good enough for a main event match sans Orton. Luckily he returns and there’s a lot of brutalizing of both Batista and Shane. Triple H doesn’t even make it in the ring until the match is ¾ over.
I want to make note of something brilliant. I know, I rave a lot about Orton, but every time he tagged out, he made a point to lazily kick his opponent in the ribs. At one point he even went so far as to step on Batista on his way out. It was perfect body language to show how little regard he has for his opponents.
Of course, Triple H does finally get tagged in and pulls the classic babyface tag move of decimating everyone within a mile of the ring. The rest of the match in the ring was great. Out of the ring…I could’ve done with a shade fewer shenanigans. Batista chasing Priceless about distracted me from the match, but of course it was all setting up for the end.
It was also a bit overlong, especially the middle portion where Batista was getting bitched out for like 15 minutes. The post-match also dragged on for ages. Regardless,
Ms. Cewsh: I previously mentioned how Cewsh and I review shows. I did not write a single note for this match. Normally, that would be a Very Bad Sign. It’s not.
This match was so amazing, so entertaining, and so perfect that I couldn’t bring myself to take my eyes off it for one second. I watched with rapt attention, and when it was over, I could’ve watched for 40 more minutes. It was beautiful.
It started with one of the best video packages I’ve seen. I was worried, though, because Cena didn’t really speak in it. Was he going to be as bland as usual?
No, he wasn’t.
I’m not up on all this chemistry and psychology and meshing styles and all. I know what I think looks good, but I can’t tell you why. Cena looks good with Edge. He always does. They’re just great together, and this match was not the exception. For the love of all that is good, watch this match. There is nothing more to say.
Cewsh: Holy Christ, where to begin?
This is the premiere feud of our generation of wrestling. You can make arguments for a few others here and there, good arguments even, but this is the money feud that will define this generation. The top star of this era verses the greatest heel of the 2000s, and not only are they massively over, and tremendously talented, and have fantastic history together, but they have better chemistry together than any two WWE main eventers that I have ever seen. Its one thing to have great matches sometimes with a few guys, and its entirely another for two great wrestlers to bring each other up to an entirely alien and incredible level each and every time they stand in a ring together. Just seeing them stand side by side, you can almost see sparks flying with how tangible their chemistry is, and WWE has to be so grateful, but I’ve never seen anything like it.
You put Edge and John Cena in the ring together, and you get greatness. Anytime, anyplace.
I couldn’t even begin to tell you how this match was incredible. How do you describe a match that takes 3 weeks of weak build, a momentumless and bland Cena, and turns it into the most compelling match that has been wrestled this year? I don’t know, guys. I just don’t have the words. I have never been speechless, but that’s what I am. I will give this match the greatest compliment that I have to bestow. I can’t remember the last time I said this about a match, but I wanted to be there. This match didn’t get a perfect score, and if it did not then I truly have no idea what possibly ever could. I truly do not.
I want to be more specific about the actual content of the match, but I don’t think I can possibly do it justice. It’s a 40 minute match filled with enormous spots, a million near finishes, and the most impressive finish of the year by far. I can’t be more specific than that, and I shouldn’t have to. You should already be downloading this. Treasure it for yourself.
97 out of 100.
Cewsh’s Download Seal of Approval.
Cewsh: Man, what a show.
Punk/Kane definitely brought the show’s overall score down, since there were only 6 matches, but it still had enough juice to be one of our highest rated shows ever from where I’m sitting, and it deserved every point. On paper this show looked like an afterthought, and a show I barely considered worth watching. Suffice to say that I have learned my lesson about assuming.
If only for the main event and nothing else, this is a must see show. A MUST see. As in, fucking go see it right now motherfuckers.
Ms. Cewsh: Cewsh asked me if I wanted to do Backlash for you guys, and I just looked at him like he was crazy. Swagger/Christian? Punk/Kane?! The Khali Kiss Cam?! A 40 min. LAST MAN STANDING MATCH?!?! Are you even kidding me? This is not the PPV for me.
I was very, very wrong. I am humbled. Contrite, even. I’m sorry. This was half the segments of Mania, but twice the show.
Sure, there was one clunker match, and the Kiss Cam was pretty…eh. But overall, it was something very special with endings that deserve to be talked about for years.
Alright boys and girls, your friendly neighborhood Cewsh Reviews… Team will hopefully be back next Tuesday, and a tad bit more on time this time, barring anyone else coming down with SuperAIDS or getting stolen by that dastardly Midgar Zolom. We’re proud to say that our next review will now actually be for WWE or TNA, or even a Japanese promotion, but will instead focus on the American Independent scene, with our review of IWA:EC’s A Need For Blood. Why that show, you might ask? Well we like to give attention to young up and comers, we like to give back to the wrestling community, oh, and there’s a barbed wire, light tube rope death match. Oh yeah. You’ll want to tune in. Until then, remember to keep reading, and be good to each other!