When WWE promoted their upcoming pay-per-view show, Backlack, was going to feature “The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever,” I thought it was the WWE doing their usual overpromising of something. It still did make me intrigued as the Backlash card looked rather plain so having something as big as “The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever” was kinda needed to really sell the show to the audience.
Did Edge and Randy Orton deliver? Well, before we do answer that question, we do have to talk about the rest of the show, which, as I mentioned just above, wasn’t all that enticing. Still, let’s go see what the RAW and Smackdown Superstars had to offer, huh?
The first match was a Triple Threat for the WWE Women’s Tag Team titles. This had Bayley and Sasha Banks defending their titles against Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross as well as the IIconics. Now, I’m still not totally in favor of just having Alexa Bliss as part of a babyface tag team as she was much better as the heelish singles competitor but I guess it’s much safer for her because of all of her previous injuries. Even as much as I’m a fan of The Goddess, I really hoped the IIconics would win.
This was a more hectic Triple Threat tag match as 1 participant per team would be legal so none of that sneaking in a tag just to get in the match, which is preferable. The match was actually pretty good with everyone getting their time to shine. It’s still pretty weird to be that we have tiny Alexa Bliss cleaning house after a hot tag but I can get with it.
The finish had Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross nailing Payton Royce with a flapjack DDT combination move but Billie Kay tried to run interference and set her and Cross to the outside. Bliss then connected with Twisted Bliss on Royce and went for the cover but Sasha Banks came from out of nowhere to roll up The Goddess for the pinfall victory and retain her team’s WWE Women’s Tag Team belts. This was a good way to start off Backlash but I do wish just a couple of more minutes were devoted to it to really allow for more spots.
The next match was a “grudge match” between Jeff Hardy and Sheamus. I put “grudge match” in quotes because it certainly didn’t feel like it because Jeff Hardy was a little too calm and collected throughout the bout. Still, Sheamus did a fantastic job of acting like a bully by pummeling Hardy around the ring and even tearing a few more holes out of his foe’s already fishnet shirt. This did make it more satisfying once Jeff Hardy made his comeback against The Celtic Warrior.
The finish came after the action spilled to the outside. Jeff Hardy tried to run the barricade and nail Sheamus was some form of jumping attack but he ran right into a Brogue Kick. Sheamus then brought the fallen high flyer into the ring in order to strike him with another Brogue Kick and getting the pinfall victory.
This wasn’t a bad match but it certainly didn’t feel like there was any real bad blood between the two. It felt like a good old wrestling match with very little stakes. If only Jeff Hardy actually matched the brutality that Sheamus was inflicting on him instead of performing some really well-timed graceful attacks, I would’ve been more invested.
The next match had Asuka defending the RAW Women’s title against Nia Jax. Look, I’m sorry but I’m now always afraid when Nia Jax has a match because of her tendency to not have full control over her strength and mass. She’s injured quite a few women’s wrestlers during her career and she also might have injured herself! I guess pitting her against someone like Asuka who’s a generally safe performer is great but that doesn’t mean I’m all that confident she won’t get hurt accidentally.
The finish for this match was lousy, to say the least. Both performers slid to the outside since Asuka couldn’t lock on a top rope armbar properly. Asuka did lock on a flying armbar on Jax on the outside but Jax used her power to slam Asuka into the barricade. It looked like Jax was trying to toss The Empress of Tomorrow into the ring before the count but Asuka wiggled free and nailed The Irresistible Force with a big kick to the head. Askua tried to run in and break the count but it was too late. Double count out. Boo.
While not a terrible match, a double count out just made it seem like both of them will have unfinished business. This means the feud will continue and, honestly, I get it because the Women’s main roster looks rather slim right now. However, maybe have Sasha Banks try to go after the RAW Women’s title so that her and Bayley can try to claim all the Women’s belts?
The next match was Braun Strowman defending the WWE Universal title against both Miz and Morrison. Now, I’ve loved how they brought back Miz and Morrison together as a unit because it allows the duo to do some weird and entertaining stuff. However, I knew the WWE wouldn’t have the guts to put what is essentially the Smackdown title on either of them at this point so all the suspense is gone from this match. There were some good moments peppered throughout the bout and I can’t say I wasn’t bored at any point.
The finish was classic heels going against each other. Miz and Morrison connected with a Skull Crushing Finale and Double Foot Stomp combination. Morrison went for the pin but Miz, realizing that his partner would be the new champion and not him, instinctively pull Morrison off Strowman. The A-Lister did realize his mistake and promptly have The Shaman of Sexy go for the pin once again. By this time, however, The Monster Among Men had recovered enough, made a comeback and connect with a running powerslam on Morrison to get the pinfall victory and retain his WWE Universal Championship.
This was an overall fun match because, well, there’s some bias on my part. I love everyone in here and they all did get to do the stuff that made me love them. Miz and Morrison played the cocky heels well and Strowman was, once again, just a powerhouse that could take on 2 competitors at the same time. While nothing really special, I say it’s entertaining.
The next match has the grand prize from the RAW side of things with Drew McIntyre defending the WWE Heavyweight belt against Bobby Lashley. I am in favor of giving Lashley a manager in MVP but the entire storyline with Lana feels like it’s getting out of hand. I’m getting ahead of myself as the match itself was pretty good with both heavy hitters hitting hard. Not every spot was executed flawlessly, such as Lashley failing to completely lift McIntyre for a fireman’s carry slam at the outside. Still, I did love the reversals into submissions done by both men as they did surprise me.
As good as the match was, the finish was just terrible. For some unexplained reason, Lana decided to come out and say someone was cheating or something to that effect. She got on the ring apron and the All Mighty just stopped himself from smashing into her on-screen wife. The Scottish Psychopath took advantage and connected with a Scottish Kiss headbutt to Lashley, which did lead him to knock Lana from the apron and into MVP. McIntyre then puts down Lashley with a Claymore kick for the pinfall victory and to retain his title.
We now get to a match for the RAW Tag Team Championship with the Street Profits facing off against the Viking Raiders… or so we thought. Instead, what we had was an unexpected “cinematic” wrestling match. Look, I’m sorry, but I actually liked this. Sure, it was random with things that don’t make sense. There were flashbacks where we could see what Ivar was remembering. A bowling ball rolled into Montez Ford’s balls. Ninjas on motorcycles. The Street Profits and the Viking Raiders teaming up to become the Viking Profits. Ivar calling for his turkey leg ala Thor. A female referreee calling Ivar cute and Erik… not so much. Braun Strowman’s car getting destroyed… again.
The finish, if you can call it that, had both teams in a trash dumpster but they realize there’s also a giant monster lizard with them. The end. What the heck did I just watch?
God help me, I liked it. Not all the jokes landed but the randomness of the humor and bits was just insane enough that it worked just enough for me. I guess it helped that they both built it up with the “anything you can do I can do better” vignettes between the Street Profits and the Viking Raiders. Seeing both of them team up against the ninjas was oddly satisfying since they did build a friendly relationship between them. I know pure wrestling fans should hate this but the gal who likes stupid stuff had too much fun with it.
We finally have the “Greatest Wrestling Match Ever” with Edge taking on Randy Orton. I gotta hand it to the WWE, Edge and Randy Orton for going all out on this and even the heavy handed promotion. While it didn’t exactly live up to the name, it really is one of the best matches I’ve seen in a while. This was a marathon of a match and, while it did feel like it stretched a little bit too long, both Edge and Randy Orton put on a clinic on how to put together a match.
The WWE did a few tricks to elevate this to seem like “The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever.” They boosted the limited crowd noise to make it sound it was a packet stadium. There were also a few moments when I could swear the cameraman would go into the ring to get a better close up or angle of the wrestlers. This could also be considered as a “cinematic” match since this was essentially a pre-taped match so moments which didn’t come off as flawless could be reshot and performed again. This is probably why Edge tore his tricep as he had to keep doing a move over and over again until his body gave out.
The finish came after Orton took out Edge with a mid-air RKO out of nowhere. Edge managed to kick out and then lock in his Anti-Venom submission. Orton gets out of it with a well hidden low blow. The Viper then connects with a punt to take out the Rated-R Superstar to get the pinfall victory. This was, all-in-all, a great way to get around the fact live shows aren’t a thing anymore. The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever was brilliant and made full use of the situation to their benefit.
As good as The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever was, the rest of the show was just slightly above average. No stinkers in this year’s Backlash but there was nothing else which would make this a highlight of the year. Still, this was a fairly good show.
What did you think of this year’s Backlash? Did the Greatest Wrestling Match Ever live up to its name? Let me know in the comments section below!