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Opinion

Mishal’s Top 5 Takeaways: WWE Backlash 2020

Mishal is here with the Greatest Top 5 Takeaways Ever! (This is totally unrelated to the Backlash tagline…promise.)

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WWE Backlash 2020 Viking Profits

Mishal is here with the Greatest Top 5 Takeaways Ever! (This is totally unrelated to the Backlash tagline…promise.)

Another month, another WWE show in the books!

Since days are simply longer than they seem due to the climate we live in it feels like the last major WWE show I covered was well over two months ago, but we’ve only had roughly five weeks to recover since last months Money In the Bank event, which is no time if we really think about it.

WWE had a pretty heavy task carrying a show that can follow up how fun & eventful Money in the Bank ended up being compared to what was expected. Despite the circumstances, it was a show filled with creativity, stellar storytelling, good action, dozens of surprises & a clear sign of WWE finding their footing while performing in front of an arena without their traditional fanbase. And to follow up that show, the creative team (and everyone’s favourite, Vince McMahon) went all out, some would say too far out.

On a night of not built up of not just a solid match card but an endless amount of potential, we were promised a match billed to be ‘The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever’, a tagline so absurd that every corner of the wrestling community has written about it at this point in time. It was a tagline so absurd that the hype was likely never to be met, and with this match following up the incredible finals of the Intercontinental Title tournament between AJ Styles & Daniel Bryan on SmackDown, the weight this match carried was heavier than ever.

I, along with most fans, can say this was a show that defied my expectations on most levels. It was an evening packed with entertainment value & some steps that showed the product going in a direction I’d be on board with should they continue. That doesn’t mean it was a show without its problems, of which it had many in retrospect.

After doing the same for NXT Takeover: In Your House last week I thought the same should be applied to last nights show, and listing my five biggest takeaways from WWE Backlash would only be suitable.

Let’s take a dive into the biggest takeaways from WWE Backlash!

5. Jeff Hardy & Sheamus need to stop pissing around

Heading into a show marred with controversial decisions, the build to Jeff Hardy vs Sheamus holds the title for the most controversial build to a match in a long, long time. Not just a match billed as Hardy’s big comeback following a series of injuries that hindered the momentum of his singles run with the company, but one built on personal struggle & his need to bounce back from all the personal trauma he’s been through in real life over the last decade or so.

On paper, this could work under the right circumstances & careful booking, but this is WWE we’re talking about.

In all honesty, the match itself was quite solid for what it was. Despite the length resulting in things taking a bit of time to really get interesting, both rivals put on a solid contest with enough action, nearfalls & selling to invest you, for the most part, but the one pivotal factor that held this back was everything that had come before it in the weeks prior.

As hard as the commentary team and both men tried to sell this as a deeply personal, bitter grudge match, it’s incredibly difficult to buy into a match where the biggest selling point either heat or tension between the two was the fact that a jar of pee was hurled at the other just two nights prior. Completely undercutting the seriousness they tried to evoke.

Not only does a segment like we saw on the SmackDown prior hinder the investment of the feud, but it also makes the entire scenario difficult to take seriously, at least to the extent we were being told through all the hype leading into it. Should this feud continue, as most signs point to, WWE needs to ensure that they treat the feud in the manner it deserves & focuses on actually building the heat between the two rather than aiming to deliver the highest level of controversy possible.

4. The blandest babyface in all the land

It’s no secret that I’m no fan of the direction they’ve taken the Braun Strowman character. As talented as the big man is when given the right material, WWE’s handling of ‘The Monster Among Men’ has been underwhelming at the very best. Following a random start to the year as Intercontinental Champion, Strowman found himself receiving a Universal Championship Match against Goldberg at Wrestlemania following the abrupt exit of Roman Reigns due to health concerns, a match in which he finally ascended to the top of the mountain to become a big-time champion under the company banner.

All of this is fine in theory, as well as his follow-up feud with Bray Wyatt which ended up better than I wanted to give it credit for, the main issue with the new direction of this giant is simply how stale he’s become as a character, especially one that is meant to be the face of an entire brand.

Sunday at Backlash only re-affirmed my stance on the current Universal Champion, as he slogged his way to a title defence over The Miz & John Morrison that meant nothing to any of the men involved by the time the bell rang. Putting aside the match quality, which was sub-par at best, Strowman has clearly been deprived of the very traits that once made him so imposing. Rather than be a gigantic, unstoppable (at times hilarious) force of nature that tears through the competition regardless of their size, it seems like Strowman is your standard babyface champion in a 7-foot frame. He admittedly did flip a car over two weeks back in the build-up to his match at Backlash but beyond that brief stint, what does he have to offer besides his size at this stage?

Strowman has never been known for his long-form promo work & his in-ring ability is based more on him bulldozing opponents rather than actual wrestling, something that babyfaces in this day & age generally don’t do based on the current formula, and is something he executed far better as a heel back in the day. I’m all for Braun Strowman as the leading brand in the company, it’s just never been more clear that the longer his reign goes, the blander his character becomes as he morphs into your prototypical big man holding a championships belt. My main concern is what happens to the man once ‘The Fiend’ makes his inevitable return to WWE programming, which will require Strowman to be at this very best, something I can’t for the life of me say is on display right now.

3. Bobby Lashley is back!

It’s taken WWE’s creative team a staggering two years. A painful, annoying, confusing two years. But at long last, I think we can restore some level of faith in the companies creative team, as they’ve finally found the formula to making Bobby Lashley as dominant as he once was not too long ago.

Backlash was the ultimate chance for Bobby Lashley to make his comeback in the company, whether through a victory or another untimely defeat if there was one night where performance mattered it was this faithful evening in the WWE Performance Centre with the world watch. And much to my own delight, we got the Bobby Lashley we were promised upon his return back in 2018. This wasn’t the Lashley we’ve seen over the last 24 months, this was a new man. This man wasn’t resorting to complementing his ‘sisters’ to garner a reaction, show off his abs, pose as if wrestling fans care about aesthetic, steal another man’s wife or get shoved into a meaningless stable that amounted to nothing, or arm wrestle, this was the Lashley that resurrected himself in TNA (the 2nd time around), a true obstacle to overcome on any roster.

To add to the improvements in his character work, his match against Drew McIntyre over the WWE Championship was incredibly physical, exactly what these two men need with their in-ring styles. It was a contest with the biggest of moves, a breakneck pace & the good ol’ fashioned hoss fight we were expecting & thankfully received. Even in his loss, Lashley’s character is finally being pushed to a place where he seems comfortable, displaying cracks in the dreadful on-screen tandem with Lana, instead shifting his managerial efforts towards MVP in hopes of further success under the RAW brand. A move that virtually everyone is getting behind. Some of the shenanigans outside the match itself were a bit irritating since I wish they would just reboot the character on the spot rather than briefly prolonge it, but any change for the man is a positive one at this point. It was the first time since his return that he’s actually come across as a threat to anyone, a feeling I also give major props to MVP for helping to convey with his fantastic facial expressions at ringside.

While I seem to give the company a hard time in their portrayal of particularly newer or returning talent on a consistent basis, seeing them finally notice the strengths within previously mishandled characters is something I’ll always get behind as opposed to continuing to tarnish their records.

2. Another cinematic masterpiece

This point won’t be as long as the others, simply because it’s a shorter point that a good chunk of the online community has already beat to death well before I write this down.

If there is one major positive, one aspect of WWE programming that I’ll never criticize considering the circumstances, it’s their masterful cinematic storytelling as of late. In an attempt to diversify its program beyond the ring the company has fully embraced ‘cinematic matches’ to not just keep the momentum of their shows alive but offer fans at home something entirely different. And while it is different, I think the one thing people fail to touch on is how useful these matches are in helping acts that simply aren’t as popular or rivalries that aren’t clicking (such as The Street Profits vs Viking Raiders in this case) develop beyond being a feud purely set in the ring.

Sunday’s show was easily the most bizarre cinematic match to date, and that’s saying something. This could be due to it being completely out of the blue & unannounced prior to the event itself, giving off a shock value that was really needed for a show many (myself included) deemed as predictable. Their match was a completely fresh experience as opposed to what the company has done before it, rather than being a sophisticated platform of character work or character building, this was simply insane. All four competitors flew everywhere, used weapons to their advantage, were slammed through vehicles, off of platforms & even battled an army of ninjas lead by Akira Tozawa of all people. It made absolutely no sense and that was the best thing about it, it embraced the bizarre nature of wrestling by simply having a blast doing its own thing, and remains one of the funniest segments I’ve seen this year.

Whatever the company has planned for these matches next, consider me sold.

1. I was wrong (for the most part)

Let me first say, I take back most the criticism I gave this match in the weeks leading up to it.

On Sunday, Edge & Randy Orton exceeded every expectation I had going into the ”Greatest Wrestling Match Ever”. That’s not to say I don’t have my issues with it, because despite trying to enhance certain elements of the match, not all of those enhancements worked for me.

Certain additions such as the chimed in crowd noises, the overly edited style of some moments in the match & the overall length which went upwards of 40 minutes did drag this down from being an absolute classic, but still ended up being a pretty great match that I wasn’t expecting in the slightest. Clearly the company, as well as the wrestlers involved had seen the ‘mixed’ reception their marketing strategy received across the board and made it a point to excel beyond what we expected, and they did just that in spades.

Beyond being what it was meant to be, this felt like a glorious tribute to the industries greats. From The Rock, Bret Hart, ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair, Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat, Christian, Triple H & even ‘The Fink’ Howard Finkel of all people, this was a gigantic nod to the inspirations that lead both Edge & Orton to this point in their legendary careers. As a wrestling fan, you couldn’t help but be moved by what was on display, the levels of passion & knowledge on display were incredible sights to see, coming across as almost a wrestling fans wildest dream match. A small part of me thinks of this match as what I would have come up with playing with my action figures at a young age with my toy wrestling ring, a match with every big move you could muster until absolute exhaustion, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

If you remove the tagline of this aiming to be ‘The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever’, I’d go as far to call this a classic in its own right, but sadly it just can’t compete with the matches I deem worthy of holding that actual tagline in my own mind, but it was fantastic nonetheless. My favourite thing is to be proven wrong when my mind is made up, and Sunday night was a humbling feeling of how cool wrestling can be when you least expect it to be. Hats off to Edge & Randy Orton.


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Opinion

AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

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With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass



Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed



The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!


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Opinion

King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy

As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!

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Jeff Hardy WWE Smackdown

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI.  Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.

Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.

I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”

Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match

Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!

Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect

On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.

Swanton Bomb From The Heavens

When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.

Hardy Wins The WWE Championship 

In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.

Straight Edge Problems For Hardy

The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.

The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE

Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.

Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut

From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.

This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.

As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.


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