The “greatest wrestling match ever,” which WWE billed as Backlash‘s main event between Randy Orton and Edge, ended the way most people expected. Orton cheated, hitting Edge with a low-blow and then punting him in the head — hardly a wrestling move — to pick up the win in about 45 minutes.
But that doesn’t mean the match was poorly done. In fact, quite the opposite. Given the limitations Edge has due to his age and injury history, and the fact that Orton has been the king of the three-star, just-good-enough-but-never-great match, the match at Backlash delivered in a way that both men should be very proud. They went nearly an hour, and for much of those 45 minutes the match was more of a traditional wrestling match. There were holds, wrestling moves, and the pace was a tad slower. But despite that stark contrast in style, the match worked on television. It was different, but still exciting.
The match worked. Orton and Edge delivered. WWE’s production enhancements? Well, that’s another story.
Word is that WWE taped this match one day last week. Given Orton and Edge have some limitations physically at this stage in their career, it made sense for WWE to tape the match early and then post-produce any missteps and botches out of the match altogether. But WWE, unfortunately, took the editing a step further.
Despite just about a dozen NXT wrestlers in the “crowd,” very visible on the outside (and they were there all night), WWE for some reason added ridiculous-sounding crowd noise for the main event. Again, despite it not being present for the entire show, all of a sudden in the main event, crowd noise was added to the show to make it sound like the match was in front of a few thousand people, rather than the couple dozen who were actually at the WWE Performance Center.
It was jarring. And as a viewer, it was silly. It sounded ridiculous, fake, and it was hard to get over as a viewer. It was an unneeded distraction. To think that over the last three months producing empty-arena shows, WWE went from no crowd, to a crowd of wrestlers (similar to AEW) to now pumping in fake crowd noise, has been an odd evolution.
WWE also used some different camera angles, which was OK. That was nothing more than a production element the WWE crew could have tried even in an arena with a full crowd. But the pumped-in, fake crowd noise was jarring. And the match didn’t need it, because it was good enough on its own.