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[2004-04-18-WWE-Backlash] Randy Orton vs Cactus Jack (Street Fight)

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WWE IC Champion Randy Orton vs Cactus Jack - WWE Backlash 2004 Street Fight

 

Never seen this one before, but remember it getting raved about even from those that hated Orton though they pinned it all on Foley for carrying it. This was a pretty awesome violent spectacle. This is just great old school booking putting the young pretty boy against the maniacal sadist to prove his mettle to all the fans that he is a man. The crowd was clearly cheering for Foley and Orton is a great obnoxious douche tool, but this match was clearly crafted to get Orton over as a babyface, which within four months he would be the babyface World Champion (way too soon, one of the more boneheaded decisions). Pretty much the whole match was wrestled with Orton taking heat and building sympathy for him against the crazed lunatic. Foley comes out swinging that crazed barbed wire wrapped baseball bat and Orton learns quickly if he does not fight back that he will be killed. This is Foley's domain and he weathers the three brutal trash can shots to keep moving forward. Orton blades and there is something about the blood flowing on his very young, smooth face that is very disturbing. You really garner a lot of sympathy for him. Jack is playing to the crowd, but in a lot of ways he feels like the Cactus of the early WCW shows that is just absolute violent psycho. Foley is looking svelte and I don't think I have seen his normally huge ass so skinny. He is moving well. Foley takes two of his patented back of the head cracking against the steel bumps that always sick and shows Orton is willing to fight fire with fire. Foley is the horror movie monster that keeps coming back.

 

The most famous part of the match is the Orton thumbtacks spot on the failed RKO. It was pretty nasty finally seeing it. I remember this earning him a ton of street cred, which was clearly the point of this match was to build him into the next big face. Orton trying to get the hell out of Dodge plays more to his heel tendencies and natural inclination to abandon the mission. ;) Cactus's false finishes are Cactus Elbow from the ramp and the Double Arm DDT in the ring. The crowd bit hard on both. I really liked the RKO out the Mandible Claw and thought that should have been the finish. The RKO onto Barbie was fine but the point of diminishing returns had been reached.

 

This was great old school booking proving Orton was not just another pretty face that he could some serious punishment and earn the fan's respect. Jack was awesome and had a real old school performance in him. Orton needed to prove that only could take the punishment but he could dish out and I think one big run of offense would have helped. The one-sided ultimately was counter-productive and hurt the match, but still one of the better matches of the era, ****1/4

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A personal favorite of mine and still holds up quite a bit today. For my money, this is probably Orton's finest performance. He is just a textbook smarmy, cowardly heel in this match. Seeing him bump and sell and bleed for Jack in this match is still incredibly satisfying after all these years. In fact, he probably puts in a better performance than Jack here. Jack puts in all the big spots and bumps of course but it's Orton's selling that really makes Jack shine. Credits to Jack though for taking some seriously nasty bumps even this late into his career. I think this match might be the strongest case Orton has though to display his ring work.


****1/2

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Man, Foley was just the master at constructing this types of matches. Violent, creative, and filled with excellent storytelling. Great narrative here as the cocky and arrogant young champion quickly realizes he is way in over his head and has to adapt and match the violence level in order to survive. Best Orton match ever and probably Top 3 for Foley. Holds up as one of the best matches of 2000s WWE. **** 1/4

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This is Randy Orton's coming out party and it seems that this is the point where they start pushing Orton as a credible main eventer. He takes a massive beating at the hands of Foley and sells it like death. The image of Orton sitting up with a look of utter terror after being thrown onto the thumbtacks will be forever etched in my mind as one of the best facial reactions in wrestling. This match is 80% Foley beating on Orton, but they keep the crowd completely engaged because of Foley's immaculate crowd control. None of the big weapon spots feel forced and I'm so glad this holds up.

★★★★½

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