Backlash has been widely recognized to be the annual fall-out PPV from the events that transpired at WrestleMania. Now, we find that Backlash is a Smackdown-exclusive PPV. The Backlash name began in 1999 and ran until 2009. After the brand split last year, Backlash made its return in September of last year, and seems to be on the annual PPV line-up for the foreseeable future. While WrestleMania is the home to more of the memorable moments, Backlash isn’t lagging far behind in great matches. With that said, here are ten of the top matches in the history of the Backlash PPV. I’ve also taken the liberty of pasting the links to the matches for your own nostalgic viewing pleasure.
10. 2000: Dean Malenko (C) vs. Scotty 2 Hotty – WWF Light Heavyweight Championship
A lot of people may not remember this match, with good reason, because most people don’t remember the stint Dean Malenko had with WWE, and Scotty 2 Hotty was just a comedic character, but I just happened to find this rare 12-minute gem just the other day. I was watching Backlash 2000 on the WWE Network, and I came across this match thinking nothing of it. Despite that, however, I was vastly entertained. We saw some good storytelling with Dean working on the leg of Scotty 2 Hotty, and S2H had o find ways to compensate for the lack of his leg being able to be used. There were also some great spots from the top rope and that ended up factoring into the finish. The match didn’t have supreme star power, but this was a damn fine outing if you ask me. Highly overlooked. Give it a watch why don’t you?
9. 2006: John Cena (C) vs. Edge vs. Triple H – WWE Championship
This match featured three of the top stars that RAW had to offer. John Cena had just come off arguably the biggest win of his career, making his opponent, Triple H, tap out in a match for the WWE Championship in the main event of WrestleMania 22. However, Edge, who had defeated John Cena earlier in the year for the WWE Championship, claimed that he deserved to be inserted back into the title picture due to the fact that he had the best match at WrestleMania, a hardcore match with Mick Foley, by his own admonition. This resulted in a triple threat match with many variables factoring in. I think these three worked together to make the main event that was highly entertaining. John Cena won the match by getting a fluke pin on Triple H towards the end of the match, but Triple H had the last laugh by striking both Cena and Edge with his trusty sledgehammer. This would later facilitate another singles feud between Edge and Cena that would last through the summer and all the way into the fall.
8. 2016: Dean Ambrose (C) vs. AJ Styles – WWE World Championship
AJ Styles just came off the heels of the biggest win of his brief WWE career, by defeating John Cena squeaky clean in the middle of the ring on WWE’s second biggest PPV of the year, Summerslam. He claimed that he was then the new face that ran the place on Smackdown, and because of his victory, he inserted himself into the WWE Title picture and had his eyes set on Dean Ambrose. Ambrose came off a lackluster performance at Summerslam, beating Dolph Ziggler in a match everyone would forget sooner than later, and the two would inevitably meet at Backlash. One of the reasons I call AJ Styles the LeBron James of the WWE is that he is able to make his partners better, and he made Dean look like a million bucks here. These two would have better matchups down the line, but this would set the standard of excellence these two would have. AJ styles would defeat Dean in a sense of imagery of what they did to each other in the weeks leading up to this match, when AJ low blowed Dean and finished him off with a Styles Clash, giving him the WWE Championship. With that victory, AJ Styles became the only superstar in the history of the world to win the top title in every major wrestling promotion on the planet.
7. 2009: John Cena (C) vs. Edge – World Heavyweight Championship (Last Man Standing)
John Cena and Edge’s rivalry did not end in 2006, as they crossed paths once again in 2009. At WrestleMania 25, John Cena defeated The Big Show and Edge in a triple threat match for the World Heavyweight Championship. However, seeing as how Edge wasn’t pinned in the match, he was due for a rematch, and the two vowed to end their rivalry in a match that demands physical punishment to the point where one man cannot get up. John Cena and Edge are two individuals that have proven to have great chemistry with each other, and the two brought out everything in their arsenal and more. Cena and Edge absolutely brutalized each other for so very long and the storytelling that both men told each other was phenomenal. Edge said before the match that he hated Cena with every fiber of his being and everything he stands for. Cena told Edge that he was tougher than him and he would have no chance in this match. So based on their words, neither man wanted to lose, and with help from the third man in their WrestleMania match, The Big Show, Edge walked away victorious and with the World Heavyweight Championship in hand.
6. 2007: John Cena (C) vs. Edge vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton – WWE Championship
John Cena and Shawn Michaels faced off in a great match at WrestleMania 23, which ended the same way the previous year’s main event ended, with John Cena making his opponent tap out with the WWE Championship on the line. Shawn Michaels was ashamed of himself and vowed redemption by taking the title off of Cena. However, the tag team of Rated RKO, Edge and Randy Orton, also wanted in the WWE Title picture after the two had a rivalry with John Cena and Shawn Michaels, who were tag team champions earlier in the year. Now, all four of them squared off in a match were rivalries intensify and olive branches collapse. All four men did what they could to win the WWE Championship, and I did love some of the tag team combination moves that all four men did to complement each other. John Cena knowing that he could lose the title without being pinned caused him to have an increased sense of urgency, Shawn Michaels wanted to beat Cena so bad so you saw his eyes light up, Randy Orton played party to Edge for most of the match and Edge, ever the opportunist, turned on Randy the moment he saw the chance. The match ended with John Cena retaining out of sheer fortune when HBK hit Sweet Chin Music on him but landed just in the right spot, on Randy Orton’s shoulders. A lot didn’t like the finish, but I thought it worked because it protected both men and facilitated more feuds.
5. 2002: Kurt Angle vs. Edge
Edge is making a lot of appearances here, isn’t he? Kurt Angle and Edge had great chemistry with each other, and if you don’t believe me, hop onto the WWE Network and watch some of the matches these two had representing the Smackdown brand in 2002. Both Angle and Edge won their matches at WrestleMania 18, and both men were moving on to new directions. Edge and Kurt Angle got involved in the controversy surrounding Triple H and Hulk Hogan over the Undisputed Title, and the two looked to settle their differences that went all the way back to King of the Ring the previous year. The two went back and forth and showcased how great a wrestling pair these two were. What’s even more astonishing is considering how lackluster the main event matches was, and seeing that these two stole the show. The Undertaker faced off against Stone Cold Steve Austin in a number 1 contender’s match for the WWF Championship, and Triple H had to defend that very same WWF Championship against Hulk Hogan. These four top tier level superstars were outclassed by Angle and Edge on this night, and it is more than worth your time.
4. 2000: Triple H (C) vs. The Rock – WWF Championship
Two pioneers of the Attitude Era, The Rock and Triple H had one of the greatest rivalries in the history of the WWE, and Backlash 2000 was merely one chapter of a long list of memorable moments between these two. Due to interference from the entire McMahon family, Triple H was able to retain his Fatal Four-way match at WrestleMania to live with the WWF Championship for another day. However, The Rock demanded a rematch at Backlash, but the odds were once against stacked in The Great One’s favor due to the McMahons being in Triple H’s favor. This was further exacerbated due to the fact that Stone Cold Steve Austin, who had been out of action in WWE since the fall of last year, pledged to be in the corner of The Rock at Backlash, but he hadn’t shown up. The Rock had to fend for himself and eventually Shane McMahon as referee, making it highly unlikely that The Rock would walk away as champion. However, the glass shattered and Stone Cold came out with a chair, laying waste to anyone who got in his way, including Pat Patterson and Gerald Briscoe, along with all the McMahons as well as Triple H. The Rock was then able to take advantage with a People’s Elbow and got his redemption. The match beforehand, however, was very well played.
3. 1999: Stone Cold Steve Austin (C) vs. The Rock – WWF Championship
Here, The Rock found himself in the opposite role as the heel, but in the same role in chasing the WWF Championship after his WrestleMania 15 loss. Here was another feud that shook the foundation of the Attitude Era and is arguably the greatest individual rivalry in WWE history. While these two would have better matchups, this one was more than entertaining with the No Disqualification stipulation being added. Shane McMahon was the guest referee yet again, and that added the extra dynamic. As with every Rock/Austin matchup, the action took place all across the arena, from the stands by the stage to the announcer’s table. Stone Cold had the match won numerous times, but Shane decided to flip the bird at him at every turn, and Shane left the ring out of fear of Austin, until Vince McMahon came back with the WWF belt. Vince knocked out Shane with the title, a replacement ref came, Stone Cold hit a stunner and a title shot to the face, and that was history and ended yet another chapter in the credible rivalry that was Stone Cold and The Rock.
2. 2004: Randy Orton (C) vs. Cactus Jack – Intercontinental Championship (No Holds Barred)
Randy Orton was a legend killer back in his younger days, and while being Intercontinental Champion, he had pinned Mick Foley at WrestleMania 20 with an RKO from behind. Randy Orton claimed that he was once again better than FOley in every concevable way, and Foley began to lose respect in the locker room for turning down Orton’s challenge for a rematch at Backlash. However, he did come back, but as one of his extreme alter egos, Cactus Jack. The match was made to suit Cactus Jack’s environment, a Hardcore match, and Orton’s Intercontinental Title was up for grabs as an extra incentive. However, Orton had to prove himself in that he could hold his own and wouldn’t need the help of his fellow Evolution members to win a match. The two walked out there and simply brutalized each other. It was freaking amazing. The barbed wire, the thumb tacks, Jack just chucking Orton off the stage like it was nothing and others made this match amazing. Orton going over here was the only logical decision and this was made better by the fact that Orton took Jack’s best shot and was able to kcik out of every one of his finishers and his attempts at using hardcore weapons. Orton finishing the match by hitting two consecutive RKO’s, the latter being on the barbed wire, and that proved to do Cactus Jack in. This would set up Orton as one of the top faces of RAW and would lead to his World Heavyweight Championship victory over Chris Benoit in the summer later that year.
1. 2004: Chris Benoit (C) vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels – World Heavyweight Championship
2004 gets two entries on this list, which is what I think makes the 2004 edition the best edition of Backlash. Chris Benoit had won the Royal Rumble as the number 1 entrant as 2004 and earned the right to face the World Heavyweight Champion, Triple H, at WrestleMania. However, later, Shawn Michaels would defeat Chris Benoit and inserted himself into that title match. Their triple threat match at WrestleMania was one of the greatest WrestleMania title matches ever, and it ended when Chris Benoit had the Crossface on Triple H locked in on what appeared to be a century before Triple H finally submitted. However, people called the victory a fluke, primarily Triple H, and the three vowed to go at it again at Backlash. The interesting thing here was that the event was held in Canada, Chris Benoit’s home state. This also worked against one Shawn Michaels, who is on Canada’s most wanted list after the Montreal Screwjob. This match at Backlash was every bit as good as their WrestelMania match, just in that, it didn’t have the big feel that the WrestleMania stage provided them. However, the ring work was phenomenal, the storytelling was elite, and the ending was appropriate. Chris Benoit made Triple H tap out, and this match at Backlash ended when Chris Benoit hit Bret Hart’s signature move, the Sharpshooter on Shawn Michaels, and gave Canada a moment to remember, by having Shawn Michaels tap in the middle of the ring and ending any of the claims oft he doubters that Chris Benoit deserved to be World Champion. Required viewing for any real wrestling fan.