WWE Backlash (OR, is Jade Cargill the new Goldberg?)

Following my WWE Wrestlemania XL TWIST Wrestling debut;

WWE held their first ever PPV PLE in France, specifically at the LDLC Arena in Lyon.

Kevin Owens is out first. A smart move. While not a native ‘Frenchman’, he’s the closest WWE has to one, as far as I’m aware and, as Corey Graves stated, he (Owens) does tend to have that connection with the fanbase. He took his time but it felt right, it was not forced, it was not milked more than necessary. He seemed genuinely moved by the reaction, and boy were France LOUD.

Randy Orton was out next and I don’t think I’ve heard a crowd sing along with quite so much of an entrance before. The Bloodline are out next, Solo Sikoa slapped the ring steps on the way into the ring, which reminded me of the late Umaga. Am I correct that he would do that? Correct me (or not) in the comments. Sikoa though has grown out his bleached-blonde mohawk a little too far and it’s gone sort of ‘floppy’. I’ve never actually seen Tama Tonga wrestle so this is a first. In a funny moment, at least to me, Tonga and Owens squared up although rather than immediately pressing foreheads as is the traditional foreplay in my native Glasgow among those partaking in street violence, Owens instead went for what can only be described as a ‘belly thrust’ before the meeting of the foreheads and punching.

Nick Aldis interrupts the illegal brawl to make it legal and instructs the referee to ‘ring the damn bell’ and Backlash France is officially underway.

WWE have obviously invested in more robust announcer tables, several times now wrestlers have just been bouncing off them rather than having them collapse under the weight of a bottle of Prime. Several unprotected headshots follow, though the bins used seem to be made of the same material of those disposable roast trays you can buy from your local pound shop so it’s all good.

Owens with a crotch chop followed by a frog splash from the apron through a tabled Tama Tonga. Just a few seconds later, Mohawk Sikoa Samoan Drop’s Randy Orton through another table in the ring. Sikoa’s mohawk is really prominent at this point and he looks like a cockatoo. Tama Tonga though, looks like a rabid chihuahua as Michael Cole namedrops ‘Bullet Club’ and ‘Shinto’ (presumably supposed to be ‘Shingo’) during his frenzied attack of Kevin Owens.

Kevin Owens wails on Tonga with chair shot after chair shot as Paul Heyman looks on, a facial expression indicative of chronic trapped wind. One Top-Rope Brainbuster through some chairs later and France is one their feet as Owens is sure to get the win but, no! Tanga Loa makes debut pulling* the referee from the ring to break the count.
* A later ‘different angle’ video surfaced showing that while referees are instructed to ‘count for real’ i.e. as R-Truth can confirm, if you don’t kick out, that’s on you, they are not instructed to not break from counting after 2 to roll out of the ring because your colleague had an issue getting out from under the ring to make his planned spot.

One Ura-nage (onto a chair) followed by a Samoan Spike later, and Sikoa pins Owens for a Bloodline victory. A post-match replay shows that Kevin Owens’ head struck a chair during the Top-Rope Brainbuster so hopefully there are no lasting effects as a result.

Next up, it’s ‘Tiffy Time’ as Bayley defends her Women’s Championship against Tiffany Stratton and Naomi. I’m not trying to do Play-By-Play and no disrespect is intended by not listing each move made by each of the competitors. There was one awkward moment though when Naomi was simply waiting for a roll up so she could then break up it with one of her own, and a questionable (though largely unavoidable) camera angle following ‘Tiffy’ attempting to pin both Bayley and Naomi at once. The crowd’s insistence in chanting what sounds a bit like ‘Nakamura’ after every 2-count is starting to grate a little.

Often a handspring elbow into the corner can be a little ‘ooh, don’t f*ck this up’ but with Stratton’s background it looked rather crisp. The double stop-starts which followed, did not. I do also wonder (I notice these things alright?) did Tiffany’s ‘enhancements’ initially throw her off? Did she have to recalibrate herself to account for the her diminished aerodynamic-ness?

I both believe I’m starting to Naomi has fallen asleep outside and that cameraman has a bet going for the number of crotch shots he can get of Tiffany Stratton… Don’t believe me? Get a copy of the match and start keeping count.

Following Alabama Slams to an announce table each for Bayley and Naomi, Stratton is then somehow the one to spend time outside the ring as Bayley reverses Naomi’s small package into one of her own for the win and retain. It was a match of mis-steps and crotch shots (seriously, count the number of times the camera lingers for more than a second).

The World Heavyweight Championship match is up next and ‘Main Event’ Jey Uso has never felt more ‘Main Event’. The ‘Bi-Sexual Undertaker’ and Champion is out next. “Yeet’s” to each cardinal direction and we are underway.

Virtually every strike made by Jey Uso is met with a ‘YEET!’ from the crowd, which is almost as irritating as the ‘Nakamura’ chants. As much as I understand where they are headed with it, JD McDonagh’s unprompted arrival at ringside felt unnecessary. Moreso as The BSU made it clear he told him not to get involved.

A picture perfect Razor’s Edge leads to yet more ‘Nakamura’ chants because finisher’s mean nothing these days unless they are hit multiple times in succession… ‘Main Event’ counters a choke slam into a spear (yes, you read that right) to more ‘Nakamura’ chants. Finn Bálor hops the rail to do nothing more than take an apron bump following a ‘Main Event Super-Yeet-kick’ (reckon that’ll catch on?) before ‘Main Event’ is turned inside out with a BSU clothesline. Choke Slam, no dice. ‘Spinny kick(s) met with 4 (FOUR) Super-Yeet-Kicks (Try it. Say it a few times, give it chance) and a frog splash and we almost have a ‘Main Event’ champion, except JD has suitably recovers enough to play BSU’s foot on the bottom rope, then call out to the ref and point (needlessly it turns out because the referee could see the foot but not the JD…).

France lets JD know he’s an “ASS-OLE” repeatedly. ‘Main Event’ dives on JD and then spears Bálor but, back in the ring is hit with a Top-Rope-South-Of-Heaven-Choke-Slam for the 3. Still “El Campion” The Bi-Sexual Undertaker,

I will admit, the Bianca Belair & Jade Cargill Vs. Kabuki Warriors bored me sufficiently that I started to skip ahead until I landed conveniently on the finish however, on the prompting of a friend, I went back and re-watched the match properly. I haven’t read any opinion on the match, whether positive or negative. So I’m not being influenced one way or another. I’m not a big fan of Asuka’s constant shouting but she was somewhat muted during this match so that was a nice change.

Cargill gives strong ‘Goldberg’ vibes. It took him 210 days, though admittedly more ‘matches’ to win the WCW US Championship from Raven almost exactly 26 years ago to the day, where it took Jade Cargill, 211 days to win the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship.

Like Goldberg, Cargill needs to learn how to sell, and perhaps more importantly, how to let her opponent sell, rather than simply throwing them around. I bet Kairi Sane is hurting today…

It wasn’t a terrible match but also wasn’t a good match. 3/4 of those in it were perfectly capable and that helped considerably.

It’s Main Event (serious this time) time. ‘Don’t-Say-Phenomenal-The French-REALLY-Like-It-When-You-Say-Phenomenal’ AJ Styles who is looking less jacked but still far too jacked Vs. Cody (but no Brandi) Rhodes. France is in fine voice as they sing Cody’s theme music, word-for-word, if slightly out of time.

Cody’s neck tattoo does not look any less ludicruous than it did when I first saw it however we’re off as Michael Cole suggests both AJ Styles and Cody Rhodes were former Bullet Club leaders which I don’t believe is true. Am I wrong? Correct me in the comments. Or agree with me in the comments. Just leave a comment, I need the validation… Anyway, there’s a match, and some head scissors, and a gratuitous Cody ass-shot. A cartwheel and hand gesture, followed by genuinely affectionate ‘Stardoost’ chants (and a nasty curseword from Mr Jones). A very dangerous looking back body drop follows, followed by delayed ‘vertical suplex’ (what would a horizontal suplex look like?). The announcers bring up Cody’s shoulder injury however other than this specific point in the match, it never again seems to be an issue. At this point the crowd are just doing their own thing, which consists mostly of singing the ‘Phenomenal’ song broken by occasional ‘Nakamura’ chants. Cody’s head is bounced off the annouce table, which is somehow still intac… Just as I say this, Mr Jones has started to clear the French announce table. Is this a case of Chekov’s, uhm, Table? A poorly conceived delayed vertical superplex doesn’t come off as Mr Jones skips out and Cody simply falls from the 2nd turnbuckle into the ring, hurting his back. Rather like a dog which has been hit by a car, Cody springs to his feet and runs to the corner to lean into the top turnbuckle for a bit. Countered by Mr Jones into a release-child-sitting-on-dad’s-shoulders-plex. Second rope springboard moonsault onto Cody’s knees precludes any pin attempt. Disaster kick followed by a nonchalant cover for a ‘Nakamura’.

Mr Jones with an attempted ‘Stinger Splash’, missed. Cody with a Bulldog. Cody with an attempted vertical-apron-suplex, reversed by Mr Jones into a release-jump-off-the-apron-vertical-suplex. Cody goes from ‘not moved’ to ‘I’ll see your attempted knee and counter you with a release powerbomb through the French announce table because there’s no Spanish announce table’. The French count along (in French) with the 10-count but both are in at 9. Punches traded and then each kicks the other in the head and both are down. Referee keeps her distance rather than counting either man down so that’s a thing. Both are up and Cody jabs followed by Bionic Elbow for a ‘Nakamura’. Both are down, again. Mr Jones with a springboard 450 for a Nakamura. Mr Jones with a Burning Hammer for a half Nakamura before Cody “Hulk’s Up” and hits a Cody Cutter for a Nakamura because, say it with me ‘Finishers Don’t Matter’. ‘Fight Forever’ is the chant as Mr Jones charges straight into a clothesline. Cody Cutter reversed into a Pele Kick. Phenomenal Forearm countered by super-cody-kick.

Cody with a Kimura. Mr Jones powers his way out. Styles Clash countered into Cross Roads, countered into the Styles Clash, counted into a sunset flip pin attempt for a Nakamura.

Cody with a hop-from-top-rope-to-top-rope-super-Cody Cutter, followed by a Cross Roads for the retain. Cody is announced as STILL Undisputed Champion as Mr Jones rolls from the ring, much in the same way the referee did earlier in the night, as Cody kisses the ring.

Backlash France is in the books and that’s, The Way I See Things.

T.W.I.S.T. Wrestling

A curated list of opinions on all things Wrestling.

1. Wrestlemania XL