Backlash

WWE Backlash 2017: Triple H vs. The Rock and Best Title Matches in PPV’s History

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For years, WWE Backlash proceeded WrestleMania, following up on the events of The Showcase of the Immortals with the latest chapters in the biggest and best storylines WWE had to offer.

In 2009, the company presented what was thought to be the last of that particular event before resuscitating it in 2016 as a SmackDown Live exclusive.

On May 21, the blue brand will have the opportunity to build upon the rich legacy of extraordinary matches Backlash has produced when the 2017 edition hits the WWE Network airwaves.

While only time will tell if Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal or AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens one day rank among the best title bouts produced at the spectacular, it will not be easy for either to crack the top 10.

Some of the greatest, most underappreciated even, championship bouts of the last 20 years have taken place at the event. From The Rock vs. Steve Austin to the aforementioned Styles’ battle with Dean Ambrose, few events have spawned as many legitimate Match of the Year title bouts as Backlash.

Where does your favorite championship clash from the ‘Mania follow-up land in the rankings?

Take a look now with a recap of the 10 best title bouts in Backlash history.

 

10. WWE Championship Match: John Cena vs. Edge (2009)

 

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John Cena and Edge rose to stardom together, two stars seeking main event greatness at the same time. By 2009, they were at the top of the industry and once again feuding over the World Heavyweight Championship. At Backlash, they squared off in a Last Man Standing match.

A hard-hitting battle that ended with Big Show arriving and tossing Cena through a spotlight to give Edge the win, it was not without its flaws, which explains its spot at the bottom of this list.

While the action was intense, it also was considerably disjointed thanks to the layout of the match. Cena or Edge would land a big move and both men would lay around waiting for the referee to continue his count. What it did was kill the momentum and prevent the match from ever becoming the truly great encounter it could have been.

Still a strong wrestling match, it should have been so much better given the rich history of the two and their talent.

9. WWE Championship Match: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. the Rock (1999)

 

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Just weeks after an explosive WrestleMania XV main event that single-handedly saved that awful presentation, The Rock challenged new WWE champion Steve Austin in the main event of Backlash.

With Shane McMahon as the special guest referee, it appeared as though the fix was in, that The Rock was on his way back to championship glory.

The match was a wild and chaotic brawl in the same vein of the WrestleMania match. The steel mesh at the entrance, anvil cases and the hard, unforgiving concrete of the aisle way became implements of pain and punishment for both Superstars.

Rock put Austin through the Spanish announce table with a Rock Bottom. The Texas Rattlesnake returned the favor with a Stunner on the English announce table.

At one point, Shane attempted to blast Austin with the WWE Championship but accidentally caught Rock instead. Vince McMahon appeared alongside Earl Hebner, who counted the three following a Stone Cold Stunner and awarded Austin the title.

The match improved upon the WrestleMania match and re-enforced the style of main event the Attitude Era would become synonymous with.

8. World Title Match: Undertaker vs. Batista (2007)

 

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The Undertaker and Batista stole WrestleMania 23 out from underneath The Battle of the Billionaires and Shawn Michaels and John Cena, delivering a heavyweight battle in which both Superstars were hellbent on sticking it to management after their match had been booked significantly lower on the card.

Fans already knew what they were capable of as they took to the squared circle for their rematch, a Last Man Standing match where Undertaker would defend his title against his budding rival.

The Superstars pummeled each other in hopes of keeping each other down for the count of 10. Eventually, the action spilled on to the entrance stage, where Batista would spear his opponent to the arena floor below, igniting a series of pyrotechnics that reflected the duo’s landing on the electronic equipment.

Neither man was able to answer the official’s count, resulting in a no contest.

While the outcome may not have been the one fans wanted, it allowed the feud to carry on.

The match itself was brilliant, a battle of two brutes who saw only gold. It was intense and reflected the growing hatred the two felt for each other. The fast-paced nature of the bout, without the two laying around for ungodly periods of time and killing the heat, benefited it exponentially and helped it achieve its spot on this list.

7. WWE Championship Match: John Cena vs. Edge vs. Triple H (2006)

 

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Fresh off a titanic clash at WrestleMania 22, John Cena and Triple H found themselves opponents for the second consecutive pay-per-view event at Backlash 2006. Joining them was Edge, a young star who firmly established himself as a main event draw on the strength of his Hardcore match with Mick Foley at The Showcase of the Immortals.

Together, the three Superstars would deliver a Triple Threat match that not only met lofty expectations, but also proved to management it had three credible Superstars around whom to build its flagship brand.

Triple H bled buckets to put over the grueling, violent nature of the match, and Lita got involved on behalf of The Rated R Superstar, only to eat a spinebuster by The Game.

The match, which had seen the action spill on to the arena floor and featured the same wild, chaotic nature of so many other Triple Threat bouts, ended with Cena once again getting the best of Triple H. This time, he countered the Pedigree into a rollup to improve his win-loss record against The King of Kings on pay-per-view to 2-0.

6. WWE Title Match: John Cena vs. Edge vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton (2007)

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John Cena and Shawn Michaels had battled each other in two classic matches ahead of Backlash, the first being WrestleMania and the second their 50-minute Match of the Year candidate on Raw from London.

Throw in Edge and Randy Orton, whose own tag team was disintegrating before the eyes of the WWE Universe, and you have a Fatal 4-Way match likely to captivate fans and add to the legacies of all involved.

The strong execution of sequences and the telling of the stories that were intertwined within helped elevate the contest beyond the typically good multi-man matches and into the realm of a legitimate classic.

Late in the bout, Edge charged Orton for a spear but was wiped out by his former Rated RKO partner. From there, Cena planted Orton with the Attitude Adjustment. He would turn right around into Sweet Chin Music…but fell on to the prone Orton for the pinfall victory as Michaels had no choice to look on in disbelief, realizing he had indirectly cost himself the title he so sought.

A phenomenal match that continued what may be Cena’s greatest stretch.

5. WWE Championship Match: Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles (2016)

 

In his first opportunity to perform on the Backlash stage, AJ Styles did what he has done so many times before: he stole the show with a phenomenal performance.

Challenging WWE champion Dean Ambrose for the title, Styles turned in another frenetically paced match that never slowed or felt bogged down by unnecessary rest spots. The match kept the fans in Richmond, Virginia, invested throughout, even if they did not necessarily throw their support behind the babyface Ambrose.

Styles, seeking his first singles title in WWE, blasted Ambrose with a low blow and finished him off with a Styles Clash to pick up the win and championship in just under a half-hour.

It was a triumphant victory for Styles, Ambrose’s finest performance as champion and a fine way for SmackDown Live to announce to the world that their exclusive pay-per-views would be every bit as good, if not better, than Raw’s.

4. WWE Light Heavyweight Title Match: Scotty 2 Hotty vs. Dean Malenko (2000)

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Perhaps the most unexpectedly great match in WWE pay-per-view history occurred at Backlash 2000, when Dean Malenko defended his Light Heavyweight Championship against Scotty 2 Hotty in the night’s second match.

Malenko was a celebrated in-ring mastermind whose technical prowess was undeniable. Hotty, though, was a journeyman competitor who was one-half of a majorly fun act in Too Cool but had yet to prove he could wow audiences with anything he did between the ropes.

That all changed on that April night in Washington, D.C. as Hotty and Malenko nearly stole the show out from underneath the rest of the stacked Backlash card.

Malenko worked his opponent’s surgically repaired knee, picking it apart like a mat surgeon. The charismatic good guy fought back into the match, even if he ignored the established knee injury to deliver The Worm, and appeared on his way to regaining the title.

The Man of 1,000 Holds would prove adept at counters as well, turning a superplex off the top rope into a midair DDT that obliterated Hotty and helped him retain his title.

The match was a beautiful display of in-ring psychology, superb sequencing and a mind-blowing finish that proved the quality of wrestling that could come from the light heavyweight division if WWE Creative put forth even a little effort.

3. WWE Championship Match: The Rock vs. Triple H (2000)

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The main event of Backlash 2000 had been building for months.

The Rock had been a thorn in the side of the McMahon-Helmsley Faction for months, and when Vince McMahon betrayed him at WrestleMania weeks earlier, The Great One was hellbent on not only relieving Triple H of the WWE Championship, but also gaining a measure of revenge from the shocking event that turned his WrestleMania dream into a nightmare.

With “Stone Cold” Steve Austin advertised to appear, all of the pieces were in place for an epically chaotic marquee bout.

Rock was forced to deal with interference from Shane McMahon, Pat Patterson, Gerald Brisco and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, most of whom interjected themselves after a referee bump.

Eventually, Austin hit the ring and blasted everyone he could with a steel chair. Linda McMahon, the heroic matriarch of the otherwise villainous family, shoved spoiled brat Stephanie to the ground, and previously fired referee Earl Hebner counted the fall that gave Rock the WWE Championship.

The main event of Backlash is one of the finest examples of WWE Creative bringing stories from across the card together to create a masterpiece of sports entertainment. The match took fans on a rollercoaster ride of emotion and delivered the happy ending they had sought for so long.

It may not be the best match on this list from an in-ring perspective, but Rock-Triple H from 2000 is, arguably, the most epic and memorable match in Backlash history.

2. Intercontinental Championship Match: Cactus Jack vs. Randy Orton (2004)

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The Backlash 2004 pay-per-view, emanating from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, featured the culmination of months of storytelling as Cactus Jack returned to challenge Randy Orton for the Intercontinental Championship in a Hardcore match.

Beginning 10 months earlier when Orton disrespected Mick Foley and kicked him down a flight of steps in Madison Square Garden, the story had taken many twists and turns, leading to Foley reintroducing the WWE Universe to his deranged Jack persona.

Having been humiliated and treated like garbage, Jack would seek to defend the legacy of wrestling’s Hardcore Legend while simultaneously punishing Orton and relieving him of the one title Foley had never captured.

The bloody, violent war waged by the Superstars not only served as a phenomenal conclusion to their program, it also elevated Orton’s star. The pain and punishment the third-generation star endured, including a back bump into thousands of thumbtacks, earned him the respect of an audience that never really saw him as anything more than a lucky bastard whose daddy got him his spot on the roster.

Orton proved that preconception wrong, showing incredible toughness as he bled and withstood everything Jack threw at him, then ended the onslaught of his opponent with an RKO.

The Legend Killer became a star capable of ruling over WWE, while Jack once again demonstrated his selflessness, putting him over in the grandest fashion imaginable.

1. World Title Match: Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H (2004)

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At WrestleMania 20, Chris Benoit stunned the wrestling world by defeating Triple H and Shawn Michaels in a Triple Threat match, winning his first World Heavyweight Championship under the WWE banner. His emotional celebration on that night was the culmination of decades of hard work and dedication to his craft and a reward for everything he had done to help make stars of others.

One month later at Backlash, live from Benoit’s hometown of Edmonton, The Rabid Wolverine would be forced into defending the title against those same two competitors in a rematch of their five-star classic.

The Superstars would once again wow the WWE Universe, the sequencing of their rematch as good as their original. The crowd was red-hot, 100 percent behind the hometown hero as he thwarted attacks from both Michaels and Triple H.

Late in the match, Benoit sent The Game face-first into the ring post with a catapult that eliminated the former champion from the contest. With the action down to him and Michaels, Benoit repaid ol’ HBK for seven years of tormenting Canada with reminders of the Montreal Screwjob, tapping him out to the Sharpshooter.

It was a triumphant return home and a phenomenal wrestling match that only lacked the aura of WrestleMania to help put it over the top as a bout superior to the first.

 

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