Backlash (2008) - Background


See also: Professional wrestling

This event featured seven professional wrestling matches with outcomes predetermined by WWE script writers. The matches featured wrestlers portraying their characters in planned storylines that took place before, during and after the event. All wrestlers were from one of the WWE's brands – SmackDown, Raw, or ECW – the three storyline divisions in which WWE assigned its employees.

Wrestlers from the Raw brand were featured in the main event at Backlash: a Fatal-Four Way Elimination match, in which four men wrestled each other and could be eliminated only by pinfall or submission. The match was contested for the WWE Championship, and featured the champion, Randy Orton, defending against Triple H, John Cena, and John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL). The build up to the match began at WrestleMania XXIV, where Randy Orton defended his title against Triple H and John Cena in a Triple Threat match, in which the three men competed against each other, and the first man to score a pinfall or submission would win. Orton won the match and retained his title after pinning Cena. On the following night's edition of Raw, with the WWE Championship shining on his shoulder, Randy Orton crowed about defeating both Triple H and John Cena at WrestleMania, declaring his reign as champion the “Age of Orton.” But John “Bradshaw” Layfield had other ideas, telling Orton that he deserved a title match as a reward for proving that he was the toughest Superstar on Raw in his Belfast Brawl victory over Finlay also at WrestleMania. On the following week's edition of Raw, WWE Champion Randy Orton began the night believing he would go one-on-one with JBL at Backlash, but the tide quickly turned on him. Due to Triple H's complaint about himself being kicked in the head by Orton when he was about to pin Cena to win the WWE title at Wrestlemania, Raw General Manager William Regal placed Triple H into a Handicap match against Orton & JBL, and when Triple H won, Regal made the Triple Threat match for the title. Not to be outdone, John Cena also pleaded his case to Regal, who gave him the same Handicap Match ultimatum. After Orton’s intended interference failed, Cena pulled out the win, thus, the championship match at Backlash is now a Fatal Four Way starring three former WWE Champions challenging Orton. On the following week's edition of Raw, after his victory over William Regal, Orton felt compelled to meddle in the bout between Triple H and JBL. In an attempt at eliminating Triple H from Backlash, Orton ran in and nearly took off Triple H’s head. He administered an RKO before then teaming with JBL against him. As Orton was set to punt Triple H’s noggin again, however, JBL turned on him and laid him out with a vicious Clothesline From Hell.

The main feud heading into Backlash on the SmackDown brand was between The Undertaker and Edge, over the World Heavyweight Championship. In February, at No Way Out, Undertaker won an Elimination Chamber match to become the number one contender to the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXIV. At WrestleMania, Undertaker defeated Edge to win the World Heavyweight Championship and extend his WrestleMania undefeated streak to 16–0. On the April 4, 2008 episode of SmackDown, SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero booked a WrestleMania rematch between Undertaker and Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship at Backlash.

The primary feud on the ECW brand was between Kane and Chavo Guerrero, with the two battling over the ECW Championship. Before WrestleMania XXIV aired live on pay-per-view, Kane won a 24-Man Battle Royal to earn an ECW Championship match against Chavo Guerrero later that night. Kane would go on to defeat Guerrero and become the new ECW Champion. On the April 4, 2008 edition of SmackDown!, SmackDown! General Manager Vickie Guerrero booked Kane to defend the ECW Championship against Chavo Guerrero at Backlash. The feud intensified on the April 8, 2008 edition of ECW, where during a contract signing for Backlash, Guerrero, with assistance from Bam Neeley, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder, delivered a Frog splash on Kane through a table. Two weeks later on April 22, 2008, the feud again intensified during an edition of the Cutting Edge, in which Edge, Hawkins, Ryder, and Neeley ganged up against Kane. The gang-up allowed Guerrero to attack Kane with a steel chair.

Another feud leading up to Backlash was between Shawn Michaels and Batista. Upset over the retirement of Ric Flair at the hands of Michaels at WrestleMania XXIV, Batista interrupted Michaels' address on the April 4, 2008 edition of SmackDown! and called him a "selfish" person for what he did at WrestleMania. Batista blamed Michaels for not laying down for Flair and thus protecting his career instead of retiring him. Michaels defended his actions by saying Flair had called upon him to bring his best to WrestleMania, which he did. The conflict continued on an edition of Chris Jericho's "Highlight Reel" interview segment that featured both men on the April 7, 2008 edition of Raw. Following another tense verbal standoff, Batista left the ring saying he had something in store for Michaels. Moments later, Raw General Manager William Regal said he had confirmed a match with SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero between Michaels and Batista at Backlash. In addition, the following week Jericho had a confrontation with Shawn Michaels who ended up kicking Jericho in the face. Frustrated, Jericho went to Regal in an effort to possibly add himself to the match. Regal did indeed add Jericho to the match, but not as a competitor. Instead he announced Jericho as a Special Guest Referee for the match.

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