Well, I'm not sure what just watched in that last match between the Viking Raiders and the Street Profits, but now it's time for the main event of WWE Backlash: Edge vs. Randy Orton in The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever! Orton and Edge come to the ring. The announcements of both competitors are done weirdly, with the This is the Greatest Show music playing in the background and a microphone descending to the middle of the darkened ring, the voice coming seemingly out of nowhere since there was no ring announcer talking into it. Was that a recording of Howard Finkle? Then the match jarringly cuts to a brightly lit performance center and begins right away.
Edge vs. Randy Orton in the Greatest Wrestling Match Ever at WWE Backlash
First of all, it sounds like WWE either put more wrestlers in the crowd or sweetened the noise in some way, as they were really loud. After the intro, and aside from possibly sweetened crowd noise, the match was relatively normal. After circling and testing each other a bit, Edge hit Orton with some quick arm drags until Orton dodged one and they went back to circling each other.
This is a wrestling match, the greatest one ever in fact, so we need some actual wrestling, right? Edge and Orton exchanged submission grapples on the ground, with Orton focusing on Edge's surgically repaired neck. After a while Orton dumps Edge out of the ring. Then we get a lesson in shady tactics and Edge and Orton try to outmaneuver each other by sliding in and out of the ring until Edge gets the best of it and sends Orton into the ring post.
Back inside, it's time to exchange some stiff blows. Then some Irish Whips and leapfrog and slides and dodges before Edge gets another arm drag into an arm submission on Orton, which the announcers point out affects Orton's surgically repaired shoulder. The announcers are selling the psychology in the match like WWE announcers haven't sold psychology in twenty years. They're calling every single move, focused on the action in the ring. It's really disconcerting. I'm not used to this in WWE.
Edge switches to a headlock for a while. Orton finally forces Edge to the corner, getting a break from the ref, but after a brief exchange, Edge sends Orton to the outside with some head scissors from the top rope. But as Edge heads to the top rope to prepare for a dive to the floor, Orton climbs up and stops him. Orton wants to suplex Edge to the floor, but that's not happening. Edge beats him back then hits a diving clothesline on Orton on the apron. The crowd, both in the ring and from whatever past show they're sweetening the noise with, chants "this is awesome."
Edge punished Orton's shoulder some more on the apron. Orton crawls into the ring and Edge follows, laying in punches to the head. Edge hits several Irish Whips into knees on the ropes and then a side Russian leg sweep. Edge puts Orton in a crossface. Orton gets the break and tries for an RKO out of nowhere, but Edge escapes and tries the Anti-Venom submission, but Orton reaches the ropes.
Orton gets Edge in a headlock and gets a modified neck breaker/backbreaker, which Edge sells like crazy. Edge rolls out and Orton follows. He rams Edge's head into the plexiglass a few times and tosses him around the ringside area. Then he rams the back of Edge's head into the stairs a few times. Orton keeps rolling into the ring to reset the ref's count. The crowd is booing the crap out of this and I'm certain they are piping in this crowd noise. It sounds like a packed arena.
Orton brings Edge in for a pin attempt, but Edge kicks out. Now Orton works Edge's hand, stomping it as Michael Cole explains Edge also has a surgically-repaired wrist. Is anything on either of these guys not surgically-repaired? Orton is really punishing Edge now with stomps to the hands and face. Now he puts on the headlock again. Orton looks like he got cut on his eyebrow somewhere. Edge tries to fight back, but Orton tosses him neck-first into the turnbuckle. He picks him up for Three Amigos, but after just Two Amigos, Edge takes over and hits three of his own.
Edge is too exhausted to cover Orton, so they just lay around for a while. Then they start slapping each other's chests from the ground. Then they slap each other's chests from their knees. Then their feet. Edge tosses Orton into the corner and hits a bunch of chops, but Orton dodges then hits a dropkick on Edge. Edge rolls outside and crawls on the ground as Orton follows. Both men slowly make their way toward each other. Orton gets ahold of Edge between the ropes at the corner and pulls Edge's neck into the metal turnbuckle connector.
Orton brings Edge up to the apron and up to the top turnbuckle. Orton hits the superplex, and then he slowly makes his way over for a pin attempt and a two-count. Orton drags Edge to his feet and whips him into the ropes, and Edge and Orton hit simultaneous crossbodies on each other. The ref starts a ten-count.
They get to their feet. Orton charges Edge in the corner but Edge kicks him in the face. Edge goes to the top but Orton stops him. Orton goes for his draping DDT from the top rope, but Edge fights back and hits the Edgecution DDT for a two-count. Edge hits a few running knees on Orton. Edge is fully in control now and hits a running elbow for two.
Edge tries for the top rope again. He hits a crossbody, again getting a two-count. Edge goes for a spear in the corner but Orton dodges and rolls him up for a two-count, but Edge reverses into another crossface, which Orton rolls over into a pin. Edge tries for another but Orton rolls out and hits the Olympic Slam for two.
Orton gets to his feet first and tosses Edge into the ropes. Orton goes for a hurricanrana (what?) and Edge reverses into a powerbomb. Edge charges Orton near the ropes and Orton drops him over the top rope right to the floor. Orton pulls Edge up and this time he hits the draping DDT. Orton prepares for the RKO, but when he goes for it, Edge reverses and hits the Edge-o-Matic, but Orton kicks out at two. Edge has crazy-eyes. Orton gets to his feet and tries a powerslam, but Edge reverses into the Unprettier and gets a two-count.
Orton picks up Edge and tosses him belly-first onto the top rope. Then he hits him with a pedigree, which gets a two-count. Edge hits Orton with a Rock Bottom for two. Edge goes for the "Edgecator," but Orton avoids it. Edge tries a backslide for two, but Orton kicks out and hits Edge with a huge uppercut.
Orton goes for the draping DDT again, but Edge drops off the apron and jams Orton's face into the ropes. Edge tries a bunch of rollups and pinning combos in the ring, and Orton hits the RKO out of nowhere, but Edge manages to kick out at two. Now Orton argues with the ref, giving Edge some time to recover.
Orton stands over Edge, who can't even get to his feet. You can see it coming over his sadistic face. He's gonna go for the punt. Orton lines it up. But when he charges, Edge hits him with the spear. Edge gets back to his feet and he's totally fired up. He hits another spear, but Orton kicks out at two.
Edge tries an Irish Whip on Orton, who reverses it, tossing Edge into the corner. Edge bounces off the second rope and right into an RKO, but Orton once again can only get a two-count. Edge gets the Anti-Venom neck submission on Orton again. Orton hits a low blow and a punt and gets the three-count. WWE is piping in boos from WrestleMania by this point. Orton tells Edge to go home and tell his family Uncle Randy said hi. Officials come out with a stretcher for Edge, but Edge insists on leaving under his own power. This disappoints Randy as the show ends.
How Can WWE Screw Up the Greatest Wrestling Match Ever?
I don't really know how to feel about this match. Was it a good match? Yeah. Maybe even a great match. If WWE had just ran this match with a regular buildup, built around Edge's ability to compete in a main-event quality PPV wrestling match with no gimmicks after nine years away, it would have definitely over-delivered and people would be walking away from this PPV really impressed with both competitors.
But billed as "The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever," with the weeks of hype, and then the piped-in crowd noise, and it was hard to just watch and enjoy the match. The match started out like if someone made a checklist of all the elements that make for a great wrestling match and then ran through them one-by-one. But toward the end, the abilities and charisma of Edge and Orton managed to overcome all of that and tell a really classic story of both men pushing each other to the limit, only for Orton to cop out and get the cheap win at the end.
I may feel differently after watching it again, but as it stands, I think this was a really great match and both Edge and Orton killed it, but WWE did them a major disservice with both the ridiculous buildup and the extremely distracting piped-in crowd noise. So @#$% you WWE. But props to Edge and Orton though, and it's nice to see Edge can truly still go in the ring.