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As we gear up for an intriguing looking Backlash (or WrestleMania Backlash if we must) in Puerto Rico, off the back of an up and down WrestleMania this year I started thinking of those times that the follow up Pay-per-view was actually better than WrestleMania itself. Surely that is unthinkable!! Well, not always. In fact when Backlash was the post-Mania staple it had a pretty reliable quality over the years (see Backlash 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008), heck even some of the lesser ones had their plus points. But despite its comeback of late, Backlash was not always the first step in WWE’s departure from Mania season. So, lets take a look at those events that surpassed that year’s grandest stage of them all, and gave WWE a rollicking post-Mania rollercoaster!
Extreme Rules 2011
Let's not mince words WrestleMania 27’s reputation is poor for a good reason. Perhaps the worst ever Mania main event, and worst ever - and one of the worst booked - Mania match in Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole. If it were not for some brief bright spots and of course The Undertaker and Triple H’s show-saving No Holds Barred Match, this Mania would have been the undisputed worst ever. However, WWE were able to rebound a bit with a show that is maybe more famous for John Cena’s post event announcement of Osama Bin Laden’s death oddly enough but the show itself was great. Barring Heel Michael Cole’s interminable commentary and a further expansion of that wretched feud where they had Cole and Jack Swagger go over - AGAIN?!!? - against Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross in a Country Whippin’ Match that is, still at least this time they didn’t give all this 20 friggin’ minutes! Kharma made her WWE debut on this show following Michelle McCool and Layla’s No Dq, No Count-out Loser Leaves WWE Match, Big Show and Kane defended their tag titles against The Corre in a Lumberjack match, Kofi Kingston won US Title gold in a Table Match with Sheamus, John Cena, The Miz and John Morrison had a good Triple Threat WWE Title Cage Match. Meanwhile Rey Mysterio and Cody Rhodes improved upon their already good Mania match in a Falls Count Anywhere Match, as did CM Punk and Randy Orton in a bruising Wrestlemania rematch this time with the trusty Last Man Standing stipulation. Though the show’s most beloved moment was seeing Christian finally get the big gold, as he claimed Alberto del Rio’s World Heavyweight title in a fantastic ladder match, filled with emotion as it came not long after Edge’s then retirement.
WrestleMania 2000 is not the complete write off many assert but is full of so many overindulgences, especially the ‘McMahon in Every Corner’ main event! Backlash 2000 however is a far tighter and more excellent show, which really delivered a card that, with a few added missing stars (like Kane, Mick Foley, etc.) could have been a Mania one. The WWE Championship main event between The Rock and Triple H is what WM should have been, especially with Stone Cold Steve Austin’s crowd raising, chair-swinging appearance at the finale of it! Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit had a bruising IC Title match that was intensified further actually by a DQ finish, the late great Eddie Guerrero and Essa Rios (in his only ever PPV match in WWE) was a fun European title clash, with the legendary Chyna and Lita at ringside in respective corners! The enjoyable Six pack Hardcore Title match challenge was a far more streamlined affair than Mania’s cluster “Battle Royale”. Edge and Christian’s tag title match with DX was good, and Big Show (in piss taking mode as ‘The Showster’, ripping on then WCW’s Hulk Hogan) against Kurt Angle was not great wrestling per se but was joyously silly entertainment! The dark horse of the night though was Dean Malenko and Scotty 2 Hotty’s banger of a WWE Light Heavyweight Title match! The only real downers were a set of forgettable APA/Bull Buchanan & Big Bossman and Dudley Boyz/T&A (remember them?) tag matches.
Top to bottom, Backlash 1999 is a superior show to the often derided WrestleMania XV. The first Backlash ever, would start this fan favourite PPV off hot, with a show that advanced Undertaker’s Ministry of Darkness angle well, but which actually gave us a better Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin main event than their Mania clash. Pure glorious No Holds Barred chaos, with so many memorable spots and Shane McMahon as the special referee. Elsewhere on the card, X-Pac and Triple H had an emotionally charged wrestling match, with the disintegration of DX, Seeds of Triple H’s corporate stardom to come and Kane/X-Pac’s developing friendship all being teased/built at once. Mankind and Big Show had a gnarly as hell Boiler Room Brawl, Undertaker had an unusual but good submission holds based match with Ken Shamrock, which is one of The Phenom’s most unexpected PPV matches. While the undercard is loaded with talent, as The Ministry of Darkness faced The Brood, The Godfather defended his IC Title against Goldust, Al Snow had a great Hardcore title match with Hardcore Holly and The New Age Outlaws faced Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart, in what would be Owen’s last PPV match before his tragic death a month later.
Extreme Rules 2014
WrestleMania XXX is celebrated for two reasons, the heartbreaking end of The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak (don’t get me started?!) and Daniel Bryan’s World Heavyweight Championship triumph. But aside from those factors, it is a show with some ups and downs really, many of which that get easily forgiven. However Extreme Rules 2014 which followed it, has few such problems, and is arguably one of the best Extreme Rules events WWE have ever done. Starting with a ridiculous pre-show “WeeLC” match which has no business being as good from a ring standpoint as it actually was, the event itself is off and away early and never lets up. Cesaro, Rob Van Dam and Jack Swagger’s triple threat elimination opener is great, Rusev’s handicap squash against R-Truth and Xavier Woods does its job, Bad News Barrett’s IC Title win over Big E was fab, The Shield vs. Evolution was a star-loaded red hot riot of a six-man match, Bray Wyatt actually got to beat Cena in a Steel Cage, albeit with unfortunate haunted choir child shenanigans (a sign of Bray’s booking to come) and Paige had her first Divas Title defence against Tamina, and the Extreme Rules match World Title main event between former Team Hell No mates Kane and Daniel Bryan was a barn burner. A hardcore match throwback, in which both men looked great, and which finished the show with a huge bang.
Simply put, if you had a Money in the Bank match and placed that legendary Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels encounter on this same card, you would have had a Mania card all timer. Backlash 2009 fine tunes every wrinkle the WrestleMania 25 had and the only sore point on it is the easily skippable Beth Phoenix/Santina Marella nonsense, which could’ve easily been swapped out for an actual women’s match (gasp!). Still, despite that one minor blemish, this show was amazing. Kane and CM Punk had a fun match, Christian and Jack Swagger’s ECW Title bout was good, the Six man tag (Randy Orton and Legacy vs. Triple H, Batista and Shane McMahon) WWE Championship match offered a far more tantalising concept than Mania 25’s neutered main event did, Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy’s fantastic “I Quit” Match improved on their already good WM25 match, and the sterling Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs. Chris Jericho match is the bout they should’ve had at Mania and was such sight to see! While Edge and John Cena’s World Heavyweight Title Last Man Standing Main Event tore the house down, almost literally with the explosive finish too. Backlash 2009 is how you follow a Mania!!
And that's our list. Were there any PPVs that immediately followed WrestleMania that you loved more than the show of shows itself? Let us know in the comments below...