We know WWE can be somewhat whimsical with their ‘B-Show’ brands, but that doesn’t stop us diehard fans from growing attached to them.
And very few managed to embed themselves into our hearts as much as Backlash.
The very first one took place in 1999 – and as the first PPV after Wrestlemania, the name was perfect for a show built around big rematches and aftermath.
Alas, it was pulled from the schedule entirely for a few years. And when it did return, its month would seemingly change each time, thus negating the ‘Mania fallout’ factor.
Nonetheless, some of these events have been among the very best not to fall under the WM, Royal Rumble, Summerslam or Survivor Series banner.
And with Backlash 2020 on the horizon, here are our absolute favourites:
Featuring the original Backlash theme (one they should have kept) and the iconic swinging pendulum set, the second annual Backlash was an absolute banger of a show, held during WWE’s peak.
The Rock finally regained the World title from Triple H in a Sports Entertainment(tm) melee featuring a cameo from the injured Stone Cold Steve Austin. Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit tore the house down in the Intercontinental title bout which kickstarted their lengthy feud. Dean Malenko and Scotty 2 Hotty likely sent WWE execs into a panic when their surprisingly-awesome contest made people care about the Light Heavyweight title. And, of course, The Big Show did his spot-on Hulk Hogan impersonation.
Mileage may vary on this one. With The Rock off to shoot movies for the first of many extended periods of time, WWE chose to exploit their newfound status as a mainstream monopoly and gave us Austin and HHH vs Undertaker and Kane in a Triple Header title match after gutting their still-over midcard like a fish for all of its plot devices. Fitting that this year’s Backlash offers Sasha Banks and Bayley in a similar situation.
That said, the match is heated and entertaining, as was Benoit-Angle in an Ultimate Submission war and one of the greatest matches for any sort of Hardcore championship when Rhyno faced Raven and wound up stuck headfirst in a shopping trolley.
Actually, we should have reserved the ‘mileage may vary’ line for this one.
What should have gone down as a brilliant PPV has been demoted by the actions of Benoit three years later. These days, his hero’s welcome back to Edmonton to rematch his classic crowning-moment triple threat match from WM20 isn’t the easiest watch for everyone.
Nonetheless, seeing Shawn Michaels tap out to a Sharpshooter in Canada remains highly therapeutic. And even if you have to switch off before the main event, there’s Mick Foley making an absolute star of Randy Orton while Ric Flair attempts to do the same on a lesser scale with Shelton Benjamin and the memorable Jericho/Christian/Trish feud rages on.
It is so easy to forget just how good a card this was. Featuring just six featured matches (remember when that was more of a thing?), Backlash ’07 has the unwanted distinction of being the night Vince McMahon became ECW World champion in his attempt to one-up the troll-job he pulled off the previous year when he ‘wrestled God’ in a tag team match. However, the other five matches were all really good.
The Hardys had an underappreciated feud with Cade & Murdoch, with their opener here serving up tag formula goodness. Mickie James vs Melina was much better than anyone expected, while Benoit raised MVP’s profile even though the newcomer was defeated.
Finally, the top two matches – Batista vs Undertaker in a Last Man Standing match and a Cena/Orton/Edge/HBK four-way – were a pair of top-shelf World title bouts to close a great show.
The show inexplicably disappeared after 2009, and its return from seven years in the wilderness came, oddly, in September. This made it the rebound show for Summerslam, as opposed to ‘Mania. On this occasion, it was also one of the first single-branded shows after yet another brand split.
Remember how fun Smackdown was for a little bit when that happened? This show was perhaps the peak of the Shane McMahon/Daniel Bryan era, as Becky Lynch and Heath Slater/Rhyno were crowned extremely popular inaugural blue-belt champs while AJ Styles added his name to the list of WWE World champions with victory over Dean Ambrose in the main event. Meanwhile, The Miz and Dolph Ziggler battled over the Intercontinental title in what would become quite the gripping midcard feud.