The Crossface: Backlash 2003 Preview
By The Smart Marks
Apr 25, 2003, 22:57

This PPV looks bleak. The wrestling landscape looks bleak. Before we take a look at one of the worst looking cards on paper, lets introduce the players…

Bryan “bps” Staebell: Read Bryan’s latest preview of NWA:TNA Week 41 Preview and his cry for THE TRUTH!

Matthew Ditaliano: Eight hours after this article was published, Jeff Hardy was fired. You do the math.

Peter “Fake Razor Ramon: Check out Razor’s latest tape review, examining the Very 1st WCW Nitro!

William Hemlick: William will moderate the discussion.

Goldberg vs. The Rock
William: On Sunday, WWE hosts one of the worst looking shows on paper I have ever seen. Headlining this monstrosity is Goldberg vs. The Rock. We are almost assured a Goldberg victory but how do you think the match will turn out? Can Rock use his magical carrying powers once again?
Matthew: I don't think the match will be awful, but nothing good. Goldberg can certainly be carried to decent enough matches and Rock will sell like a motherfucker. Plus, the atmosphere should be great. This is one of those Rock/Hogan “love it or hate it” matches
Bryan: Woah woah woah woah woah. The Rock doesn't have carrying powers of any kind...he has entertainment powers. He has the power to make people look good in an certain setting even if it’s nowhere realistic. This isn't going to be like Rock vs. Eddy on RAW because Goldberg isn't a worker. This is a match that has been laid out by Patterson and we all know exactly what it will look like. It won't be bad...but it won't be anything new
Razor: Yeah, it's definitely going to have a hell of an atmosphere behind it, which will mask some of the suckiness of the match. The Rock doesn't really CARRY people to good matches; he just has certain intensity about his matches that make them watchable. It'll be *** at best.
William: Do you really think the Rock can get a *** match out of Goldberg?
Razor: I doubt it'll be ***. I'm just saying that it won't go over ***. I predict a **1/4 - **1/2
Matthew: I say closer to **1/4. Rock can't get a *** out of the guy. You really need someone like DDP to lay the match out for him. But Rock is probably your best bet on Raw. Rocky may want to go out on something special if he's going to be filming for a while.
Bryan: I think the Rock can get a ** match out of Goldberg and the crowd heat should be fantastic.
Razor: *** is if The Rock pulls off some sort of miracle, but I doubt that.

William: Ok, speaking of Goldberg, word on the Net is that his run has already been botched. Do you feel the same way just three weeks after his debut?
Matthew: Goldberg got up after a Rock Bottom and was actually getting up after the chairshots. All of this against the top star in the WWF? He's doing fine.
Bryan: His run was botched at WrestleMania when they showed video packages saying he'd come back. That was a terrible idea. Who cared? Were they trying to make the people that paid for Mania feel bad that they couldn't see him? Then he just waltzed out the next day on RAW and it surprised no one.
Matthew: That was done so they could at least try to pop a rating
Bryan: It worked wonders. What was it that week? 3.4 for a post Mania raw?
Matthew: They were making it obvious that he was showing up and hoping people would care. I didn't say it was successful
Razor: I agree with BPS on this one. I mean, I'm all for vignettes for debuting wrestlers, but when an established star like Goldberg is making his way to the company, you have to have some element of surprise.
William: Realistically, with all of the money invested in him, do you think it would be a wise idea to eventually put the belt on Goldberg?
Razor: The RAW title is pretty meaningless as it is. I don't think it would have any effect on anything.
Matthew: I think they're going to have to. Just throw shit at the wall and see what sticks.
Bryan: Sure they should put the belt on him. It's not as if the RAW title means anything to anyone but HHH anyway. Since the guys like Booker and RVD who work every show can't touch it...keep passing it to the people you pay a ton for.
Matthew: Bryan, Booker can't touch it. He's black. And RVD is...well… over?

Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena
William: On the Smackdown side, the main event is Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena. I think they made Cena look like a putz in the process. Do you think Cena has any chance of winning the belt from Brock?
Matthew: Cena has no shot. As well it should be. Give Brock a nice reign before he drops it to Angle, if he is working by then, at Summerslam.
Razor: There's no way they'd have Lesnar job the title away after one month. As much as I like Cena, having Lesnar job to him so early would not be good for his image.
Bryan: Cena has less than no chance in this one. However, I am glad to see him in this spot. He worked hard and got over with a gimmick that I personally thought was going to be terrible. It's nice to see them reward him with a big match. Hopefully they won't bury him right after.
William: While some of us may not look forward to this match, I personally think this is THE showcase for the new generation of WWE stars. If they fail, then Vince will push even more geezers on us. Do you guys personally hope these guys steal the show?
Razor: I hope they steal the show. It'll give Vince more confidence in pushing Cena in the future.
Bryan: I hope they steal the show but I don't know what that gets you these days. How many times has Benoit stole the show? HE's not even on the card!
Matthew: I don't think they will. They have had two past meetings, one awful, one that was simply okay. Of course, with this card, it could still be Match of the Night. If they did, I wouldn't be upset.
Razor: Lesnar's spot isn't in question at all with this match. If it's heatless or the match doesn't go well, the fault will be placed on Cena.
William: That's my point, Razor. BOTH of these guys have to succeed in order for the fed to have any hope for the future, especially with Vince looking to the past for quick fixes.
Razor: Ugh... I shudder at the thought of Luger and Warrior possibly returning
Bryan: I could see this going *** or more. There's no reason they shouldn't have a clean finish and there is no reason that this match shouldn't be to make Cena look like a star...even though he's losing
Matthew: Bryan, there was no reason for half the shit that has happened to happen. I hope they beat that, though I don't have faith in them to do so. **1/2-***.

Bryan: My point is that this match doesn't have the stink of politics on it. There's no RVD or Booker T...they’re both WWE guys.
Razor: It's really hard to pin a star rating on this one. Neither guy has really shown what they can do in a big match. Lesnar really has only had one very good match and that was with Angle, who has good matches with everyone. This match will be a real test for both guys. I'm hoping for a *** performance at least.

HBK, Booker T, and Kevin Nash vs. Triple H, Ric Flair, and Chris Jericho
William: The next match on the card is the perfect example of everything that is wrong with RAW... Triple H, Chris Jericho, & Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, & Booker T. We know that a clique member will get the pin BUT... who pins who?
Razor: Nash reluctantly pins Hunter, leading up to some stupid angle between the two of them. Nash ultimately gets his hands on the belt. If he doesn't get injured, that is.
Matthew: Nash pins HHH to give some illusion of putting someone over without the effort. Jericho and Booker will be a non-factor
Bryan: Nash will get the pin...probably after spending most of the match on the ring apron. I'd think HHH would be pinned...but it must be tempting to let Jericho or Flair take the fall.
Matthew: Flair will be the water boy. He's too busy rubbing HHH down to get pinned. The real question here is how will Booker be treated? I can see him being Pedigreed to hell somewhere before the finish and being forgotten
Bryan: Booker is in Benoit limbo. Do you remember Benoit in the Smackdown Six-Man going into Mania? No one else does either.
Matthew: Benoit? Is he the guy who carries the Singapore cane around? As for Benoit’s former tag partner, Jericho will be superkicked out of the match at some point.
William: Ok, with quality guys like HBK, Booker and Jericho, could this match be decent despite its disadvantages i.e. Nash?
Matthew: It could hit ***. Depends on who works the majority of the match. Jericho vs. Booker and Jericho vs. HBK could be good.
Bryan: This match is going to get an awful lot of time. Given the quality of workers involved...this could be a big mess. Whenever Jericho is out of the match it will be boring. I can't imagine it being anything better than ** myself. Too much ego in one ring.
Razor: I don't think it'll be any better than **1/2. The only entertaining parts of the match involve Jericho being in the ring. Actually, I'm going with *1/2 to **.
Matthew: My official star rating is going to be *3/4 with a huge upswing possibility… Will Hurricane show up?
Bryan: Hurricane? On a Pay Per View? Blasphemy

Los Guerreros vs. Team Angle
William: The next match on the card is Los Guerreros vs. Team Angle. Is there any team in WWE more misused than the Guerreros? With that said, who wins this match?
Bryan: I think Team Angle retains since this match was just thrown on at the last minute. What happened to Rey and Tajiri? Either way the match should be good.
Razor: This is the only match on the card that might be good, but they're not going to give it enough time. It's not enough of a selling point to me anyway, I've seen this match about 74 times on Smackdown. I say Team Angle retains.
Matthew: If they keep Eddy in a tag team role, he can't become a main event player Eddy and Chavo win to keep Eddy from doing anything. And to piss me off anymore, they'll only give it seven minutes.
Razor: Yup, because the RAW main event needs a good 45 minutes at least
Matthew: And Rock/Goldberg could be a good 18 to 20 minutes. Very little time for the good match.
Bryan: I think it could be *** if they want to give it time. It could be even higher if they really got behind it.
Matthew: ***1/4, Match of the Night honors.
Razor: It'll probably land somewhere in the *** range.
William: You know this is a horrible PPV when you predict the best match will be ***.
Bryan: They've set themselves up so most of the things can be decent or better...but I just don't see any reason for people to give that extra effort.

RVD and Kane vs. The Dudley Boyz
William: The RAW tag titles are also being defended. Do you think RVD and Kane will be on Heat again this month? Will they actually win the match this month?
Razor: I couldn't care less about the RAW tag titles match. I've seen the match about 87 times on RAW, and the Dudleys are hella stale. I really, REALLY don't like the Van Dam/Kane pairing. This pairing has caused me to be apathetic about Van Dam for the first time.
Bryan: They won't put that match on Heat this time. For Pete's sake, they've been making them wrestle 15-minute matches on RAW except for last week when they didn't even appear, save for a run-in.
Matthew: Does anyone care about RVD and Kane vs. The Dudleyz? Rob Van Kane wins when D-Von walks on Bubba Ray.
William: My God, do you think D-Von joins Teddy Long's group...or even worse... goes back to the preacher gimmick?
Bryan: When it comes to RAW I prefer not to think at all.
Matthew: I think D-Von goes face to Bubba's heel
William: Since we all think this match will amount to nothing, will the ring work amount to nothing as well?
Bryan: The crowd will like it. I can't imagine it going above ** and that's if everything really clicks. There's no real worker in the match.
Razor: It'll be the opener. Van Dam's spots will get the crowd hyped, but otherwise it'll be pretty boring. *1/2.
Matthew: This match is easily bottom of the barrel. Kane sucks, Bubba sucks, D-Von sucks, and RVD needs help. **
Bryan: It's like I always say...RVD isn't going to carry himself out there! Play to your star’s strengths dammit!

The Big Show vs. Rey Mysterio
William: The next match is another example of why I hate the WWE so much... The Big Show vs. Rey Mysterio. Is this a Big Show squash or does Rey get the upset like Juvi over Reese?
Razor: I'd like to see an upset by Mysterio but I see Show going over here.
Bryan: Well...Big Show is winning so he can get another push to the top. This match makes me HATE more than anything else on the card. Rey will get a couple of fluke near falls then get beat like a jobber.
Matthew: Yes, the epic "You knocked me down" match. This is a Big Show squash to set him up for the title shot at Judgment day
Razor: The Smackdown main event for Judgment day is being rumored as being Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar so how can Big Show lose?
William: Please tell me it isn't so!!!!
Matthew: Meltzer reported it, Will.
Bryan: Did you know that Meltzer said the original plan was a Benoit vs. Rey feud. But they had to get Big Show on the PPV. Thank God they saved us from a match like Benoit vs. Rey.
Matthew: You can't make this shit up
William: Christ, well Rey is known to make people look good but can he get a decent match out of the Big Show?
Razor: I doubt it. It's a big time clash of styles.
Bryan: No. * at the absolute best. Extended squash.
Matthew: This match will feature Tajiri, Funaki and Albert run-ins, so it will just be a clusterfuck. Show squashes Rey but Rey hits a 619 to keep people happy. DUD
Razor: Rey will pull off a nice spot here and there out of desperation, but for the most part Show will squash him. *.

Trish Stratus vs. Jazz
William: The next match is Trish Stratus vs. Jazz. I have a feeling this will be better than most of the mens’ matches. How do you guys think this will turn out?
Razor: They'll get 7 minutes, put on a decent match by women's standards and Jazz will go over.
Bryan: They've had good matches in the past. Trish is quite the little bumper out there. It should be pretty good but I don't know who wins. Maybe Jazz because I don't think the other titles are switching.
Matthew: This is the one Raw match I want to see. The ladies will work their asses off and top most of the other matches. Jazz goes over and possibly moves to Vicky.
William: Is the overall card so bad that this match has a realistic shot at Match of the Night or are we just really down on the entire card?
Razor: I doubt it. Team Angle vs. Los Guerreros will be Match of the Night.
Matthew: I say it's at least the third best match but it can reach second best. That's how bad this card is.
Bryan: I don't think it could be Match of the Night. Between the Guerreros/Team Angle match and the Smackdown title match one of them will step up
Matthew: Remember, Trish/Molly almost stole the show at King Of The Ring, bested only by Jericho/RVD. Give the ladies some time and they can really go.

Rikishi vs. Sean O’Haire
William: In another horrible match on paper, Rikishi faces Sean O'Haire. I haven't seen O'Haire since Taker and Kane squashed him in a cage two years ago. Is this match just a showcase to put O'Haire over?
Razor: I really hope so. I like O'Haire, as far as hosses go since he is one of the better ones. His gimmick is pretty sweet and pairing him with Piper shows that they've got some faith in the guy.
Bryan: This match has Velocity written all over it. Mark my words...people will stop seeing anything special in O'Haire as soon as the bell rings. Garbage.
Matthew: We miss Benoit for this crap? Awful match as both guys need to be carried to have a good match. Piper wins it for O'Haire.
Razor: I'm not saying the match will be anything good, it'll probably be about 1/2*.
Matthew: Razor, he really kind of sucks at doing the gimmick live without the benefit of edited vignettes.
William: Does anyone else feel it should be Benoit in Rikishi's place to show the young guy how a match should be worked?
Matthew: That's a waste of Benoit, jobbing him to O'Haire. But if it gets him on the card…
Razor: I wouldn't put him up against Benoit yet. He needs more buildup. This match should be on Smackdown at best, and O'Haire should squash him. Then move him onto more credible guys like Benoit.
Bryan: I'm sorry, I can't find the words to express my opinion on Benoit's options being missing the show or jobbing to O’Haire for fodder for a Piper/Hogan match.
Matthew: I would take just about anyone over O'Haire in this role. Of course, they'd give me Albert.
Razor: Speaking of Hogan, I don’t know how they will handle this Mr. America gimmick. I hope it's just Hogan in a mask, for comedy's sake. I mean, imagine Cole and Tazz pretending to have absolutely no idea who that 6'8 guy with orange skin with a mask on is.
Matthew: I think it has to be Hogan. Or Jim Duggan.
Bryan: Maybe it will be HHH just so he can be on both shows. You lead the locker room while Taker is injured.

Matt Hardy vs. Brian Kendrick
William: Finally, the last match on the card is Matt Hardy vs. Spanky... er... Brian Kendrick. Given the amount of time they gave the cruisers at Mania, I don't see this one going much longer. Who wins this match?
Matthew: Hardy wins because I think they are setting up Mattitude/Moore for the belt in a couple months. Spanky might get it for a month or so.
Bryan: Matt will win. Match won't get enough time to make a difference in any way.
Matthew: When was this match added?
Razor: Yeah, I didn't know this match was on the card. Hardy will win either way, in a 5-minute match.
William: The fact that you guys didn't even know the match was on the card speaks volumes about how much the WWE thinks about the cruisers. Will this fact ever change? Will the cruisers EVER get due respect from the Fed?
Razor: They never have gotten respect from Vince, why would they start now?
Matthew: I don't know. I'd kind of rather the cruisers be pushed as more than cruisers anyway. As in not just guys who are so small that they can only hold a lightweight belt. I'd like to see them fight over a new TV title or something.
Bryan: It will never happen. In Vince's mind a small man can't beat a big man...and that will always be final. The business passed Vince by long ago and nothing will change that.
Razor: Actually, Matthew, I'd like it if they were pushed as cruisers… if they were actually pushed and wrestled each other on a regular basis. Instead you have guys like Jamie Noble jobbing to A-Train regularly, after dominating the division last year. They could easily have fans interested in the division if they gave Matt Hardy and Rey Mysterio some direction.
Matthew: Rey and Matt will bring attention to the division. I'd still rather they fight each other over a belt that is not regulated by weight.
Razor: Sort of like the X Division? I could see that working since they need a midcard title anyway.

Overall Thoughts
William: Well, going into Wrestlemania last month, it seemed like a sure winner. This month's Backalash card seems like a sure loser. Do any of you disagree?
Razor: Backlash will easily be the worst PPV of the year thus far. This will probably the worst PPV in a while, and that's saying something.
Matthew: Backlash should and will bomb. The real question is… who gets the blame?
Razor: Everyone except for HHH, Kevin Nash, Shawn Michaels and Brock Lesnar could be blamed.
Matthew: Cena might get blamed. I don't know. Jericho and Booker are possible
William: I would think the master politicians would blame it on Goldberg.
Bryan: No one gets blamed. If people got blamed then they wouldn't be on top every month. This is another reason this company pisses me off. Why when I watch TV do they sell me Hogan, Goldberg and Rock and then try to get me to come to the arena for house shows when these guys don't work? Or...HBK and Nash who I think just worked one house show.
William: You know, WCW used to pull the same shit and it killed their business. The old guys are what Vince relies on for public exposure. At house shows, only the fresh legs are capable of the grind.
Bryan: Are they that unwilling to make new stars?
William: Absolutely, they have NO faith in allowing the crowd or the ringwork to dictate who becomes the new stars.
Razor: Vince lets those guys do what they want when they clearly do less.
Bryan: …And pays them MORE!
Matthew: It hurts my head to try and figure that out. WWF has driven me to my weekly blitzed state.
William: Finally, will any of you be ordering the show?
Razor: Hell no.
Bryan: No chance in hell. In fact...I suggest everyone skip this show and order TNA on Wednesday instead. Raven vs. Jarrett has had better build than anything here...and I think the XXX vs. Red and Lynn rematch is this week...which has a good shot at being better than anything here.
Matthew: I might get it off illegal cable. I'm not going out of my way to get it.
Razor: I was thinking about ordering TNA this week, I haven't ordered in a while.

Quick Hits, Notes, and Sundry Asides (for Dr. Tom)
William: In other WWE news, Jeff Hardy was released this week. Is anyone else sad to see him go?
Razor: No. Good riddance.
Bryan: Not at all.
Matthew: I miss him. Okay, no I don’t. But in case anyone wants to say Vince never listens to the fans, he fired Jeff EIGHT HOURS after my article.
Bryan:'re not a fan. You use the you can't be a fan.
William: Who is to blame for his deterioration... himself or a company that promotes abhorrent behavior and piss-poor entertainment?
Matthew: Jeff himself should be blamed. Vince didn't force the heroin into him. At least, I hope not.
Bryan: I think him having to kiss a hot chick finally pushed him over the edge.
Matthew: Hey, he said that he and Trish were the hot young couple everyone wanted to see together.
William: Do you think there is a chance he will show up in an indy promotion or will he disappear from wrestling for good?
Razor: I doubt he'll show up anywhere for a while. He's said it himself that he's lost his passion for wrestling.
Matthew: Maybe in a year he'll come back. Will he be EXTREEEEME?

William: Another news item over the last couple of weeks is the Goldberg-Jericho backstage fight. Who was right and who was wrong in this situation, all smart mark bias aside?
Bryan: I still don't understand...NASH and GOLDBERG were talking about Jericho's ring work? That just can't be accurate.
Matthew: Honestly, if you talk shit about someone, they have the right to confront you. And Goldberg made first contact, correct? He's in the wrong.
Razor: Yeah, I guess Goldberg was the instigator.
Bryan: I feel for Jericho. He was in WCW and saw what he looks around and sees the same guys in the WWE...with HHH as the ring leader...marrying the head writer.
Razor: Now we're stuck with HHH for life. I just pray that Vince doesn't leave the company to Steph.
Matthew: 10/25/03. The date from hell

William: This is completely irrelevant to anything going on today but does anyone else miss Mick Foley. Not just the wrestling matches but Mick Foley the person, the on-screen personality?
Razor: I miss Foley but I wouldn't want to see him wrestle again. However, I wouldn't mind him on TV again in some capacity. He's damn entertaining but he should stay home with his family like he wants to.
Matthew: The Face commissioner role really started to bother me. I never quite understood why Edge and Christian couldn't get a shot against Matt and Jeff
Bryan: I haven't thought about him in a while. I'd rather he write another book than pop up back in wrestling. The bottom line for me is I don't care if your name is Hogan, Austin or Foley...all you'd be doing is taking time from new stars’ matter how big you once were.
Matthew: I'd like to see him again though. I want to read another book by him, as well.
Razor: Foley would easily be a better face GM than Steph though.

William: Speaking of face GM's, Steve Austin's new role with the company is suposed to be as Eric Bischoff's foil. Does anyone think this is a horrible idea? Why or why not?
Bryan: It's terrible. I've seen it before and it won't put heat on any talent that actually works matches. It’s a waste of time.
Matthew: Horrible. I can't take another authority figure. Who can over rule who and why and who can make what match? It's hard to follow.
Razor: Yeah, WAY too many authority figures. Vince, Steph, Bischoff, Morley, and of course... LINDA

William: Finally, I came to the conclusion that WWE is no longer LIKE WCW. WWE IS WCW. Will things ever turn around?
Razor: Not with HHH at the helm. Things won't be turning around for a LONG time.
Matthew: It will get worse before it gets better. But Vince will eventually do SOMETHING. What that is, I have no idea.
Bryan: I guess it would be easy to say yes...but I say no. There just won't be a time when there is no HHH or Taker or Hogan or Austin or Nash or whoever to truly let the next generation take over. And even if they did, the next generation will be hand picked by Vince and shoved down our throats. Fans have no say.
William: To be honest, I can see WWE going out exactly like WCW. They will eventually be dumped by their cable company with no one else willing to pick them up.
Matthew: They still have good ratings
William: So did WCW. WCW was still one of the top rated programs on cable... even in the dark days.
Razor: Yeah, but WWE isn't losing millions every year… Yet.
Matthew: Well, now they have a goal to try and reach!

William: Do you think wrestling, as a past time could survive if WWE went under?
Bryan: Sure. Not on TV...but Indy wrestling would probably do better since it would be all that's left
Razor: All of the wrestlers would have to go somewhere. Things would be more like the regional days and eventually a network would take a gamble with a wrestling show.
Matthew: No. Not on TV. WWF is what people think of when they hear wrestling. If that goes under, no station will take the gamble. Without TV, I think wrestling could die.
Razor: I think someone would take a gamble. I mean, wrestling has always brought in decent ratings, even if the promotion itself is on the way out.
Bryan: If WWE were drawing 6’s still, TNA would have a TV deal the day after they started looking. With WWE drawing 3’s, TNA is screwed!
William: On this very bleak note, days before a very bleak Pay-Per-View, the! Be sure to join us late Sunday Night for The Smart Marks Backlash reactions!

Warning… most of us will probably be drunk in an attempt to get through this show.

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