Each and every Thursday I will look back at a different pay-per-view event from the past via the WWE Network. Want to see a certain event covered? Send your suggestions to @VaughnMJohnson on Twitter.
Last time, I covered the WWE Backlash 2000
WWE Backlash 2004
Date: April 18, 2004
Venue: Rexall Place, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Some random notes
This was the sixth annual Backlash event. It was the first and only Backlash to date to take place in Canada.
This particular Backlash was unique because it was essentially a coronation for Edmonton's own Chris Benoit.
Benoit had reached the summit of his career the month before when he won the World Heavyweight championship at WrestleMania. BEdmonton, known as the city of champions in Canada, saw this as a chance to celebrate yet another championship for the city.
Like the Oilers (five Stanley Cups) and Eskimos (14 Grey Cups) before him, Benoit received a hero's welcome his first time back in his hometown since winning the title. He was honored in the town's city hall and April 16, 2004 was even declared Chris Benoit Day in Edmonton.
All of this may make some cringe given what we know about Benoit in hindsight, but at this point, he was another crown jewel of Edmonton — right alongside Wayne Gretzky and Warren Moon.
With that said, let's get to the matches.
Shelton Benjamin def. Ric Flair
I still don't understand why WWE use Flair's lame music from his first WWE run on WWE Network? It's not like the company doesn't own his more iconic music, but for some strange reason, his way more lame version is still being used on the network.
It is a real shame Benjamin's injured shoulder prevented him from making his return to WWE this year. I would love to see him against the wealth of talent WWE has to offer today.
This match was a reminder of just how athletic Benjamin was and still is. At one point of the match, Benjamin ran to one of the corners and jumped all the way to the top rope without using the ropes to help him. It looked like something from out of a movie.
Benjamin hasn't lost a step during his time away from WWE. If anything, he's gotten even better during his time wrestling in Japan.
The match was good and told the story of Flair working over Benjamin's left knee. Benjamin winning was the right decision, but it occurred in a bit anti-climactic fashion with a clothesline from the top rope.
Jonathan Coachman def. Tajiri
Brand-exclusive pay-per-views bring about matches like this, which barely belong on television, but somehow land on pay-per-view.
Why Coach got so much offense in on Tajiri is beyond me. I'm sure Tajiri would like this match to be stricken from every video library imaginable. Unfortunately, WWE owns the vast majority of wrestling history so this match still remains.
To Coach's credit, he looked pretty good performing the wrestling moves he had no business doing.
Garrison Cade eventually came out and interfered on Coach's behalf to help him win.
Handicap match – Chris Jericho def. Christian & Trish Stratus
Despite all three involved being tremendous talents in the ring, there wasn't much to see from this match.
Jericho did manage to get a hold of Stratus to spank her, which is cool if you're into that kind of thing. I'd rather not see her bent over a man's knee and spanked, but that's just my taste.
Jericho also clotheslined her a couple of minutes later to even things up I guess. He also managed to win.
WWE Women's championship – Victoria def. Lita
After Stratus' spanking, it was nice to see an actual wrestling match between two of the best women's wreslters of all time in Victoria and Lita.
The match was pretty good, but since both women were babyfaces, there wasn't much heat involved in this match.
Molly Holly and Gail Kim attacked Victoria and Lita after a pretty good match. Holly had her head shaved at WrestleMania after losing a Women's championship match to Victoria.
I guess she was using this opportunity to gain a measure of revenge and showoff her ridiculous blonde wig.
WWE Intercontinental championship (Hardcore match) – Randy Orton def. Mick Foley
Foley had helped a lot of people gain credibility as ruthless tough guys during his career – Triple H and The Rock are a couple of names that immediately come to mind.
On this night, Foley was tasked with lending credibility to the young Orton, who was seen as a pretty boy surrounded by tough guys in Triple H and Batista and a wily veteran in Flair.
In order for Orton to be taken seriously as a future main-event star, he had to go through Foley in his own style of match. Orton looked ready at the start by bringing down a trashcan full of weapon, but it was quickly apparent that he was in over his head, as Foley started the match swinging around a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire.
It didn't take long for Foley to catch up to Orton and slice his head open with the bat.
Foley was even ready to set the bat on fire, but Raw general manager Eric Bischoff talked him out of it, saying that it would be a fire hazard. That never stopped Foley before, but I guess he thought better of it here.
Orton did his best to fend off the crazed Foley and even managed to introduce a slew of thumbtacks into the match. However, the introduction of the tacks backfired on the young Intercontinental champion, as Foley dropped him onto a bed of them.
Orton fell back first into the tacks without a shirt on and rose up with a look of sheer terror on his face. Orton's horrific expression was compounded by Jerry "The King" Lawler's reaction on commentary, as he shrieked at the sight of the handsome star being punctured by dozens of tacks.
The fans in Edmonton also roared in approval, completing a truly awesome moment in the careers of both men.
At this point, Orton was ready to get out of dodge and attempted to flee backstage. That plan didn't work either, as Foley caught up to him again and threw him off the stage onto some staging equipment.
Officials and medical personnel attempted to end the match and haul off Orton to the nearest hospital, but Foley would have none of it. He punched out a couple of officials and went flying off the stage, driving a picture perfect Cactus Jack elbow through the chest of Orton.
Despite the onslaught from Foley, Orton managed to stay alive and eventually used Foley's barbed wire bat to his advantage. Orton struck Foley with the bat multiple times and even landed an RKO on top of it for the win.
Orton's victory cemented his place as a future main-event player in WWE and lent him the credibility of being more than just a pretty boy surrounded by men tougher and smarter than him.
This match proved that he was indeed smart and darn sure tough enough to survive at the top.
The Hurricane & Rosey def. La Resistance
This match was the epitome of bringing the crowd down after a very exciting one.
The match really had nothing to do with any of the four men in the ring. It was really another chance to showcase Eugene. He came out during the middle of the match and began running the ropes.
He didn't have an affect on the outcome, but he was there nonetheless.
Edge def. Kane
This was Edge's first match in more than a year, as he had been sidelined with a serious neck injury that required surgery.
Despite the talent involved, there wasn't much to see here. There wasn't much of a story heading in besides Edge's long awaited return to the ring. There was also the added aspect of Edge's broken hand being wrapped in a cast.
As expected, the cast did come into play, as Edge hit Kane with it when the referee wasn't looking to gain the victory.
World Heavyweight championship – Chris Benoit def. Triple H & Shawn Michaels
Watching a Benoit match today will always make me cringe just a little bit I cringed even more watching this one, as we got shot of his family sitting in the front row, including his wife Nancy and his son Daniel.
The match itself was good, but it did not come close to the one these three men had at WrestleMania. That one had way more drama and the added historic feel of it being the main event of WrestleMania.
Even in Benoit's hometown, this match didn't quite live up to that drama.
During the course of the match, Michaels used the sharp shooter in Canada, and to top it off, in Bret Hart's home province of Alberta. This was promptly met with a "You screwed Bret!" chant.
However, Michaels use of the sharp shooter proved to be poetic, but in the negative way for him, as Benoit locked him into a sharp shooter and forced him to tap out — in Canada and in Hart's home province of Alberta.