Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Tagged Classics No Way Out 04/Backlash 04|
Director: not provided
Studio: Genius Products Inc Release Date: 05/05/2009 Run time: 360 minutes
Two Good PPVs & A Reflection On Fallen Heroes
R.A. McKenzie | New York | 03/17/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have to give the WWE a lot of credit for releasing these TAGGED CLASSIC combos, because it gives fans a chance to visit the recent history of the WWE for an affordable price. This particular set --- featuring the 2004 editions of NO WAY OUT (a "SmackDown" event) and BACKLASH (a "RAW" event) --- showcases two superstars who reached their greatest success in 2004, but tragically passed away within a few years afterwards. It's easy for longtime fans to notice the irony of how Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero won the championships, and were unexpectedly taken away from us.
But you probably didn't come to read about that. If you're reading my review, you're probably either more interested in the PPVs themselves, or just want a debate. If you're coming for a debate, bring it on...I Love `Em! If you never got a chance to see these two 3-hour events, I think you're in for a good time if you spend the money.
*****NO WAY OUT 2004****
After an odd in-ring intro from Torrie Wilson and Sable to welcome us to the show, we finally get the traditional video package and pyro before the first match. Ironically, the opener has five superstars no longer with the WWE: Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty defending the WWE Tag Team Titles against The Basham Brothers & Shaniqua in a 3-on-2 Handicap Match. I actually really like this opener, mostly because it's WAY better than anybody could've guessed. Shaniqua hangs in there with the men well enough, the Rikishi "butt comedy" is kept to a minimum, The Bashams use good teamwork, and Scotty actually got some believable offense in. The match was a nice crowd energizer, in my opinion.
Then, the PPV kinda sinks for over an hour. Jamie Noble and Nidia finally split up permanently through their grudge match, where Noble had to wear a blindfold. You either enjoy these silly Blindfold Matches, or you don't. This one was entertaining enough for me. The next tag contest between The APA (not one of my faves) and The World's Greatest Tag Team (it's pretty close, in my book) was boring, mostly because the two styles don't mix. Seeing Bradshaw and Faarooq in rest holds is dull TV, especially when you want Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjmain to explode with their creative offense.
Next up is an interesting segment where Goldberg takes his seat in the front row, which prompts WWE champion Brock Lesnar and "SmackDown" GM Paul Heyman to taunt and yell at the "RAW" superstar. The whole thing ends when Goldberg jumps the barricade and attacks Lesnar, which gets Goldberg arrested. In a neat booking segue, Hardcore Holly comes out to punch Lesnar (his opponent from last month), which inspires to Rhyno slug it out with Holly to start their schedule match for NO WAY OUT. Too bad the Holly/Rhyno is a lifeless sleep-inducer. Other than a few counters involving the Alabama Slam, I couldn't tell you what happens.
Okay, the bad news is over! NO WAY OUT 2004 from this moment on is a rousing success, with a "triple main event" of sorts. First, Chavo Guerrero challenges Rey Mysterio for the Cruiserweight Title, in my personal favorite match of 2004. With respect to their impressive match at GREAT AMERICAN BASH a few months later, THIS one should've been on Mysterio's 3-disc set. Frankly, it's a shame that the WWE shelved the Cruiserweight division a few years ago, because matches like this can be show stealers. At this PPV, Chavo & Mysterio delivered a crisp near-perfect match with plenty of high-risk spots, flips & twirls, and smart submission wrestling. One of my questions for Cruiserweight matches is, "Do the high risks make sense?" In this Chavo/Mysterio classic, they do, and they're practically flawless. Will you call it your Match-of-2004? Probably not, but I promise you'll like it a lot.
Next is a very solid triple threat match to determine the #1 Contender for WRESTLEMANIA XX (Chris Benoit defected to "RAW" after winning the Royal Rumble). The participants are Kurt Angle (need I say more?), John Cena (when he was increasingly popular), and Big Show (the United States champ). The match starts off pretty funny when Cena and Angle keep daring each other to go one-on-one with Big Show. Eventually, the match becomes a very entertaining 3-way competition, in which any of the three wrestlers could've won. I think the key to a good triple threat match is when you can't predict the winner; from bell to bell, I can still imagine how Kurt Angle almost didn't win.
And our main event needs no introduction. Eddie Guerrero was always a hot commodity for "SmackDown", but this night instantly epitomized everything he worked so hard for, including his own life. Brock Lesnar was among the most physical of WWE champions, and really tossed & beat Guerrero's body for most of the match. I think people forget just how dominant Lesnar was in this match, with Guerrero barely hanging in there. I personally hate that Goldberg set up Lesnar's demise, but then again, Guerrero's opportunism fits the character. After all, why wouldn't that character take the WWE Championship for the very first time.
In the end, NO WAY OUT 2004 was probably the only good PPV to ever come from "SmackDown" that year. But more than that, it's a good show that any wrestling company would be proud of. It has a really slow patch in the middle, but the last three matches are among the year's best.
It seems that whenever WRESTLEMANIA fails more than it succeeds, BACKLASH is counted on to "make up for it." So, it's appropriate that when WRESTLEMANIA XX was a disappointment to most (albeit with a few very bright spots), BACKLASH 2004 was received as a breath of fresh air. For the most part, I agree with most fans on this one.\
We begin with Shelton Benjamin getting his push on "RAW" to face Ric Flair in the opener. The two have an entertaining match, although Flair doesn't sell Shelton's unique offense very well on a few occasions. Even funnier is that (if I heard right), the Edmonton crowd seemed to hate Shelton Benjamin more than Evolution's "Nature Boy". From there, we get a match that nobody wanted to see: Tajiri versus Jonathan Coachman. Folks, "The Coach" was annoying, and not in a good way. To be fair, "Coach" actually wrestled decently, but I still fail to see how Tajiri didn't just wipe the floor with him. Oh, and Garrison Cade tagging along with Coachman was almost as lame as Lance Cade tagging along with Chris Jericho in late 2008. Could they be the same person? ...Hmm...
Next, we get what may be my favorite Handicap Match that I've seen: Chris Jericho attempts to get revenge on Christian and Trish Stratus for being embarrassed at WRESTLEMANIA. This grudge match allows three gifted Canadians to tear the house down with good physical action and some nice heel work from Trish & Christian. This looks like just another match on paper, a "flavor of the month", if you will. But time has been good to this one, and this Handicap Match is a lot of fun to watch.
Another decent contest puts Lita against Victoria for the latter's Women's Championship. While this won't go down in history or anything like that, it's a pleasant way to kill about 10 minutes before you get to what many call the show-stealer of BACKLASH 2004. The show-stealer I'm referring to is Randy Orton defending his Intercontinental Title against Mick Foley in a Hardcore Match. I think most loyal fans know the story of how Foley was so disappointed with his WRESTLEMANIA performance (I wasn't, FYI) that he desperately wanted to make this match as special as possible. Looks like Foley's agony paid off, because if Orton was a big time player before this match, he certainly was after that. Simply put, Orton and Foley weren't afraid to hurt each other, and were willing to make the other look like a million bucks. Barbed wire, tables, 2x4 clubs...you know the drill. Now, I personally don't think this match is as great as have made it out to be. It's good, and definitely PPV material. But "show stealer" is a bit overkill; there are much better Hardcore matches in Foley's career, and forgive me for sounding snobbish...but I was entertained by Randy Orton long before this match came around. His run with Evolution was good enough that he didn't need to be "made" in my eyes. But perhaps the ends justify the means. In any event, I still really like the Hardcore Match, and chances are newcomers will love it a more than I did.
Next up are two forgettable matches: one a forgettable match between La Resistance and The Hurricane & Rosey, the other is an overhyped disappointment. Edge makes his long-awaited in-ring return to challenge Kane. In my opinion, they couldn't have done a more anticlimactic job of bringing Edge back. He was hyped as some sort of agonizing aggressive competitor, but he didn't get to use his mean streak until months later. And I really don't like matches where wrestlers have casts on their hands. Come on, if you're not Owen Hart or Cowboy Bob Orton, just don't even try, okay? Anyway, the Edge/Kane match is passable and not a total letdown. It's just shockingly average.
And now, we get to the main event with the "Best Match With Laziest Booking" award. Chris Benoit defends his World Heavyweight Championship in his hometown of Edmonton, against WRESTLEMANIA opponents Shawn Michaels (truly one of the greats) and Triple H (the former champion). In many ways, this match isn't very different from the WM 20 Triple Threat. It's a given that Benoit will win the match, nobody wants Triple H to win, and for the most part the match progresses with more one-on-one skirmishes than 3-way action. But then again, there wasn't much wrong with the WM 20 main event to begin with, so why not take those familiar elements and just put new spins on them? If I remember right, a lot of people guessed that Chris Benoit would make Canada's most hated wrestler --- Shawn Michaels --- submit to win the match. Sure you guessed it, but isn't what you wanted? Of course, you know that a finisher won't end the match until every wrestler gets a chance to show off their signature moves, but don't you still get a huge rush when the ref's hand BARELY misses the three-count? I actually prefer this "Final Encounter" over the legendary WRESTLEMANIA contest, because not only is the crowd even more rabid than the NY MSG audience, but I think there's more high impact offense, more false finishes, and a little more three-way action than before. This might have been a fairly predictable scenario, but come on...deep down, didn't the WWE give you what you want? To me, this main event is my favorite match on the card, and that's the way it should be.
BACKLASH 2004 is another solid PPV in a year in which Monday Night's "RAW" was king.
This TAGGED CLASSICS is probably the strongest two-pack that WWE has released to date. Both PPVs have compelling main events, overall solid cards, and some ironic historical significance in recent WWE history. I realize some agree with Kurt Angle's shoot interview comments that Eddie Guerrero's heart condition should've been caught long before he died. More importantly, I completely understand that the murders of Nancy & Daniel Benoit and suicide of Chris Benoit have completely tarnished the wrestler's legacy. But to me, I pay to watch what occurs onscreen. What Eddie and Chris did in the ring was performance of the highest artistry.
NO WAY OUT 2004 was the uplifting climax of a compelling story. And BACKLASH 2004 was the continuation of a similar story. It's too bad those stories had such tragic endings. But wrestling has the effect to make me forget about the endings, because the tragedies don't make our memories back in 2004 any less real. Our unbelievable enthusiasm to have two fighting champions was real. Our passion to see them use their abilities & gifts was real.
I choose to watch this collection of TAGGED CLASSICS as a trip to the past. I think if you haven't watched these two events and give them a chance, you'll feel it too."