Tonight, it’s WrestleMania Backlash! Yes, I’m still not sure why they needed the ‘WrestleMania’ part before ‘Backlash,’ but hey, treat the audience as stupid and we will eventually become stupid! I looked at watching past Backlash matches, and there are some great ones, aren’t there? Austin vs Rock, HHH vs Rock, Orton vs Foley, Benoit vs HHH vs HBK…but I decided on Stone Cold vs The Undertaker from Backlash 2002. Yes, from twenty years ago! Both are legends, both have had lots of 5* matches…but have they had a 5* match together? Well, this one definitely isn’t a 5* match…
I’ve reviewed Undertaker vs Triple H from the same year, and this match is just as dull as that one. Biker ‘Taker was surely his worst incarnation in terms of in-ring effort? Yes, mid-90s ‘Taker had awful matches, but he was straddled with awful wrestlers like Mabel and Diesel. Here, I think ‘Taker had just become worn out, full of niggling injuries and the like. He’s about 2/3 years away from his in-ring peak. And Austin…well, behind the scenes, Austin was disgruntled and also hurting from niggling injuries. He didn’t think his character was being handled well. Sometimes, in the ring, he looked like he just didn’t care. A few weeks later, he’d leave WWE in a famous bust-up.
Just look at this storyline he was involved in: yet another feud with a boss, this time Ric Flair instead of Vince McMahon (yes, Ric Flair was storyline co-owner of WWE in 2002)! ‘Taker had beaten Flair the month before at ‘Mania X-8 (in a watchable match, actually). So why was Flair involved at all? He’s more of a distraction than anything. His pinfall counts are absurd, clearly telegraphing when ‘Taker or Austin will kick out! He gets in the way of the action a few times, standing on the apron in front of the ringpost when ‘Taker whips Austin into the ringpost…meaning Austin runs into Flair’s legs! And Flair can’t react because he’s in the wrong position! Absolute stupidity.
The NWO in the form of X-Pac and Scott Hall show up halfway through the bout as well, serving absolutely no purpose but to watch the match…I mean, what the hell?
The match itself is dull, livening up for a few minutes here and there, kicking into second gear but mostly staying in first. It’s a basic kick/punch brawl that lasts fifteen minutes too long. Both wrestlers are going through the motions, wasting time until their allotted half and hour is up. At half an hour, it’s the longest match on the card. When you have Edge/Angle and Guererro/RVD tearing it up for fifteen minutes a piece, you have no excuse to let Austin and ‘Taker bore everyone to death for half an hour! Trust me, watch those two matches rather than this one for the same amount of time! Oh, you can probably fit in Brock Lesnar’s in-ring debut as well.
The killer is that this is for the Number One contendership to the Undisputed Championship! And who is fighting for the Undisputed Championship, you ask? HHH and Hulk Hogan, who put on a worse bout than this one! Stay away from that bout, and stay away from this one. Hopefully going back further into the past I’ll find a better Austin/’Taker bout that this one.
Hammy’s Rating: ** (out of 5)
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