Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: Backlash 2007

Chris Benoit vs. Montel Vontavious Porter for the WWE United States Championship

So after returning back to 1985 almost exactly 5 years ago, we pivot back to the original timeline and head back to 2007 following what ended up being a pretty great Wrestlemania. It was pretty clear coming out of that show that MVP had established himself as a future player with how he took Benoit to the limit and nearly won the US Title, and you figured that it would only be a matter of time before MVP won the title. Given that Backlash usually had a few feuds carry over from Wrestlemania, it seemed like this would be the best time for MVP to potentially win the title especially if they wanted Benoit to have his moment at Wrestlemania and leave with the title. The only hope was that his performance at Wrestlemania was not a fluke and it was simply a carry job by Benoit, but we can only wait to see how that would play out.

The feud between the two continued on the 4/6 Smackdown when MVP cost Benoit a match against the Miz and then the next week on 4/13, the two had a non-title match that went 20 minutes and MVP would get the clean win over Benoit to earn a title match here. On the 4/20 Smackdown, Benoit teamed with the Hardy Boyz to defeat MVP, Gregory Helms, and Chavo Guerrero in a 6-man tag match, and 2 nights ago MVP defeated a jobber named Hamlet McBeth to taunt Benoit which led to a match between the two which Benoit won. With both men now having a victory over the other heading into this show, it was going to be interesting again to see which direction they would end up going.

Benoit gets a good pop from his second hometown crowd while MVP was pretty hot as a heel, and it was good to see this match make the card since it was such a small card. The two men square off to start the match and they lock up with MVP backing Benoit into the corner and Benoit pushes back, and MVP again backs Benoit into the corner and gives a clean break before grabbing the leg only for the ref to force him back. They square off again as MVP gets a kick in to Benoit’s leg twice before diving for the leg only for Benoit to ride him, and MVP escapes and hooks a front facelock on until Benoit fights to his feet and escapes by sending MVP to the mat. Benoit hits an armdrag and a drop toehold as he looks for the Crossface only for MVP to quickly grab the ropes and he rolls outside to regroup, and he returns to the ring and they lock up again with MVP hooking a headlock and he takes Benoit to the mat. He pounds on Benoit as he grinds down on him and Benoit hits a series of knees to the back though MVP keeps the hold on, and Benoit escapes with a headscissors and he grinds down on MVP who flips on top of Benoit for a two count. Benoit bridges up and hooks a backslide for a two count as MVP grabs the arm only for Benoit to roll through, and MVP hooks a headlock only for Benoit to escape with a back suplex and he trips MVP up before hooking the Sharpshooter on. MVP grabs the ropes to force a break and Benoit drives the knee into him before ramming the knee into his head, and he pounds on MVP in the corner and MVP reverses a whip into the other corner before hitting a big boot to the back of Benoit’s head for a two count. He pounds on Benoit on the mat for a two count and hooks a submission on as Benoit fights to his feet and breaks the hold, but MVP gets a knee in only for Benoit to hold the ropes to avoid a big boot and he catches MVP with a back elbow. MVP catches him with a belly-to-belly suplex for a two count and goes back to the submission though Benoit quickly grabs the ropes, and MVP kicks him in the back and drags him to the center of the ring as he goes back to the submission. Benoit tries to fight to his feet and MVP pounds on him as he drives the elbow into the back of the head, and Benoit tries to battle back only for MVP to get a shot in though Benoit ducks a short clothesline and he hits a trio of German suplexes. Benoit looks to go up top only for MVP to grab at his leg and Benoit pounds on him before hitting a Northern lights suplex, and he stomps on MVP only for MVP to hotshot him on the top rope for a two count and he hits a swinging neckbreaker for a two count. Benoit escapes a suplex attempt and hooks the Crossface on as MVP manages to grab the rope and force a break, and MVP stomps on Benoit repeatedly and rams him into the buckle before hitting a snapmare and he goes back to the submission. He uses the ropes for leverage until the ref catches him and forces a break as MVP stomps on Benoit and hits a boot to the face for a two count, and Benoit ducks a big boot and hits six more German suplexes before going up top only for MVP to get the knees up on a splash attempt. MVP hooks a half Boston crab on Benoit who grabs the ropes to force a break and MVP attempts a suplex, but Benoit hits a series of knees and takes MVP to the mat as he attempts the Crossface again and MVP rolls through and trips Benoit up only for Benoit to hook a small package which gets the three and he retains the title.

The match itself was great as both men worked hard and put on a solid title match. Benoit was hitting his peak by this point in the ring and it was amazing to see how much MVP has improved since his debut back in October. For a guy who seemed to be nothing but a joke when he came in back at No Mercy, he has made tremendous strides and now seems like a guy who was going to be a future main event player between his character, his promos, and his improving in-ring work. Obviously, working with Benoit has helped him greatly as he has kept up with him and he looks like a credible threat between the Wrestlemania match and this match, but I do think I would’ve had him steal the win and the title here even though they didn’t want to job Benoit out in his hometown. But even though he has now lost twice on the big stage, MVP still looks like a legit challenger and you figured that he would probably get at least one more chance to finally break through and win the title. The crowd was into the match and popped big for Benoit when he won. Benoit retains the title over a game MVP, but this issue isn’t over yet.

Final Grade: ****