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The 10 most epic WWE Backlash matches
For a decade from 1999 to 2009, WrestleMania was followed by Backlash, an event that often featured rematches from The Showcase of The Immortals as well as many matches the WWE Universe previously could only dream about.
WWE.com examines 10 of Backlash’s biggest bouts and their impact on both WWE history and the WWE Universe. See which matches we picked and let us know your favorites in the comments below.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker
In the late 1990s, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Undertaker were embroiled in a bitter rivalry that was as personal as it was professional. There was no love lost between the two legendary Superstars but their animosity toward one another also created a level of mutual respect between them. In 2002, both competitors were vying for an opportunity to challenge for the Undisputed Championship.
The Superstars squared off at Backlash, giving the WWE Universe flashbacks to the glory days of The Attitude Era. The added variable to the mix was WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair as special guest referee, but the objective remained the same — the Undisputed Title. Ultimately, The Deadman bested The Texas Rattlesnake and went on to beat Hulk Hogan for the title.
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat vs. Chris Jericho
At the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania, Chris Jericho battled WWE Hall of Famers Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka and Ricky Steamboat in a Handicap Elimination Match. As the bout raged on, Y2J eliminated Piper and Snuka but had a difficult time removing “The Dragon” from the equation. While certainly past his prime, Steamboat proved age was not a detriment and performed many of signature maneuvers. However, Jericho was ultimately successful.
At Backlash the following month, Jericho and Steamboat locked up one-on-one as the WWE Hall of Famer believed he still had the clout to defeat WWE’s first-ever Undisputed Champion. In his first singles match since 1994, Steamboat proved he still had “it.” Displaying the same agility and technical skill he used in mat classics against Ric Flair and Randy Savage, The Dragon pushed Jericho to the limit before submitting to the Walls of Jericho.
Mankind vs. Big Show
The inaugural Backlash featured a WrestleMania rematch between The Rock and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, but it wasn’t the only Show of Shows repeat of the evening. At WrestleMania XV, Mankind defeated Big Show by disqualification to become the special referee of the main event between Rock and Austin. The animosity between Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy and The World’s Largest Athlete did not subside and they once again battled the next month.
With the rivalry intensified, however, the bout took place on Mankind’s turf — the boiler room. In only the second Boiler Room Brawl featured on pay-per-view, Mick Foley’s deranged alter-ego used the underground environment to his advantage against his giant opponent. The brutal and dangerous contest ended after a stack of pipes fell on The World’s Largest Athlete, allowing Mankind to escape.
Hulk Hogan vs. Triple H
Following Hulk Hogan’s defeat at the hands of The Rock at WrestleMania X8, he ditched his nWo black and whites and donned his classic red and yellow, revitalizing Hulkamania. The Hulkster was back and better than ever and set his sights on Triple H’s Undisputed Championship.
The WWE Universe witnessed generations collide as two of the greatest WWE Champions squared off only a month after Hogan’s historic encounter with The Rock. The Immortal One and The Game fought back and forth and both Chris Jericho and The Undertaker got involved. Ultimately, The Cerebral Assassin could not find an answer to the wave of Hulkamania pulsating throughout Kansas City, Mo.’s Kemper Arena and an Atomic Leg Drop ultimately sealed Hogan’s sixth WWE Championship reign.
John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar
In 2003, John Cena earned his first opportunity to challenge for the WWE Championship. Since his debut on SmackDown against Kurt Angle, Cena proved he had the ruthless aggression and drive to become a champion in the future. At Backlash that year, though, he faced off with another young Superstar who enjoyed a meteoric rise to the pinnacle of WWE — Brock Lesnar.
The first-ever meeting between Cena and The Anomaly was just as intense as their 2012 confrontation at Extreme Rules. The Cenation leader was still in the process of establishing his reputation and threw caution to the wind against Lesnar. They battled in and out of the ring and engaged in a brutal brawl that only foreshadowed their future collision. Unlike their match nearly a decade later, it was Brock Lesnar who emerged victorious and retained the WWE Championship.
The Two-Man Power Trip vs. Brothers of Destruction
In 2001, WWE Champion “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Intercontinental Champion Triple H forged a powerful and dominate alliance known as The Two-Man Power Trip. At the top of their class in singles competition, Austin and The Game set their sights on the WWE Tag Team Champions — The Brothers of Destruction, Kane and The Undertaker.
The duos collided at Backlash 2001 with the WWE Tag Team Titles at stake. Austin and Triple H also put their titles on the line, however, so if one of them was pinned, they would lose their respective title. The bout undoubtedly stole the show as The Two-Man Power Trip emerged victorious after The Game took out The Big Red Monster with a sledgehammer. As a result, The Texas Rattlesnake and The Cerebral Assassin became only the second pairing ever to hold — what at the time were — WWE’s three major championships.
Goldberg vs. The Rock
The night after The Rock defeated “Stone Cold” Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIX, The Great One didn’t think there was anyone left for him to challenge. That changed at the end of Raw when former WCW Champion Goldberg made his WWE debut by informing The Rock, “You’re next!”
A certifiable dream match between two of the biggest stars of the fabled Monday Night War occurred at Backlash 2003. In a battle the WWE Universe could only imagine, Goldberg immediately made an impact in WWE and proved his dominance by defeating The People’s Champ and unceremoniously sending him off to Hollywood.
Shane McMahon vs. Big Show
Backlash 2001 will long be remembered for the Last Man Standing Match between Shane McMahon and Big Show. After Shane McMahon purchased WCW and defeated his father at WrestleMania X-Seven, Big Show set out to prove his loyalty to WWE by battling Shane-O-Mac.
The match itself was everything the WWE Universe expected from a Last Man Standing Match, it was brutal and both competitors pulled out all the stops. As they brawled toward the TitanTron, though, Test assisted Shane and knocked out Big Show. At the encouragement of Test, McMahon scaled the giant screen and proceeded to leap off, dropping an elbow on Big Show from more than 50 feet in the air. Test helped an unconscious Shane to his feet to ensure the victory, but the giant leap of faith remains a testament to McMahon’s fearlessness.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. The Rock
The first Backlash event took place in April 1999 and featured a WrestleMania rematch between “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock for the WWE Championship. One month earlier, Austin defeated The Brahma Bull to claim the WWE Title. The rivalry between the two Superstars had become so intense that Shane McMahon declared the battle a No Holds Barred Match. Shane-O-Mac also added fuel to the fire by stealing Austin’s personalized “Smoking Skull” title and making himself the special guest referee.
The odds seemed stacked against The Texas Rattlesnake, but Austin seemed poised for victory after executing a “Stone Cold” Stunner through the Spanish announce table. Shane McMahon did not count the pinfall, though, and fled the scene, resulting in Mr. McMahon coming to ringside with a new referee. Ultimately, a Stunner followed by a whack from the “Smoking Skull” title allowed The Texas Rattlesnake to retain the WWE Championship.
Randy Orton vs. Cactus Jack
At WrestleMania XX, Mick Foley and The Rock teamed up for the final time to battle Evolution’s Ric Flair, Randy Orton and Batista. Foley was particularly a target of Orton who was in the midst of establishing himself as “The Legend Killer.” After The Show of Shows, Foley challenged The Viper to a Hardcore Match for Orton’s Intercontinental Champion. Although WWE’s Apex Predator accepted the challenge, he didn’t realize he would have to face Foley’s alter-ego Cactus Jack.
The battle at Backlash 2004 was anything but a typical match. It was brutal and gave Orton a taste of the type of extreme contests where Foley established his reputation. The Viper was introduced to Cactus Jack’s unorthodox style and use of thumbtacks, tables, chairs and various other foreign objects. Nonetheless, Orton persevered and added Cactus Jack to his list of defeated Legends.