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Promotional poster featuring Triple H
|Promotion||World Wrestling Federation|
|Date||April 29, 2001|
Backlash (2001) was a professional wrestling pay-per-view event produced by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) promotion and presented by Castrol GTX. It took place on April 29, 2001, at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, and was the third event under the Backlash chronology. Seven professional wrestling matches were scheduled on the event's card.
The main event was a "winner take all" tag team match in which the reigning WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin teamed with his Power Trip ally, the reigning Intercontinental Champion Triple H, to take on the reigning WWF Tag Team Champions, The Brothers of Destruction (The Undertaker and Kane). The stipulations were that if Austin and Triple H won, they would become the new tag team champions. If Undertaker and Kane won, the WWF and Intercontinental Championships would be awarded to them based on who scored the winning fall. The Power Trip won the match after Triple H hit Kane with a sledgehammer, thus gaining control of the tag team championship and retaining their own titles.
Featured matches on the undercard included a Last Man Standing match between Shane McMahon and The Big Show, which McMahon won, and an Ultimate Submission match featuring Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle, which Benoit won. Backlash 2001 is also the last WWE pay-per-view event to feature the WWF Intercontinental Championship in the main event.
The event featured seven professional wrestling matches that involved different wrestlers from pre-existing scripted feuds and storylines. Wrestlers were portrayed as either villains or fan favorites as they followed a series of events which built tension, culminating in a wrestling match or series of matches.
At WrestleMania X-Seven, Stone Cold Steve Austin took on The Rock for the WWF Championship. During the match, Vince McMahon interfered, which eventually led to Austin attacking The Rock with a steel chair to win the WWF Championship and in the process align himself with his long-time enemy. The next night on Raw is War, a rematch between the pair took place in a steel cage. Triple H interfered in the match, attacking The Rock and partnering up with Austin and McMahon. Briefly known as The McMahon Alliance, the pair began being referred to as "The Two Man Power Trip" (or "The Power Trip" for short). On the episode of SmackDown! following WrestleMania, Austin assaulted his long-time friend Jim Ross after Ross criticized his alliance with Triple H and McMahon. Triple H then defeated Chris Jericho to win the Intercontinental Championship for a third time in the main event, bringing both of the major singles titles in the company to the new alliance.
Shortly after this happened, the Brothers of Destruction began feuding with Austin and Triple H (in between, Triple H traded the Intercontinental Championship back and forth with Jeff Hardy for a brief period). A match between the two teams was signed for Backlash, but in the meantime Undertaker and Kane were given a title shot at the reigning WWF Tag Team Champions, Edge and Christian, on the April 19, 2001 edition of SmackDown! from Nashville. The brothers won the match, but were attacked by the Power Trip afterwards. With the two units now in control of all three major WWF titles, Austin and Triple H thought that this meant that they would be facing Undertaker and Kane for their titles at the pay-per-view.
However, on the next Raw, McMahon told them the situation was more complicated. At the time, he and his wife Linda were going through (kayfabe) problems in their marriage and Linda, who McMahon had demanded a divorce from in December 2000, was seeking a divorce that he refused to give her. Since Linda was still the (on-screen) CEO of the company, this gave her power to veto her husband's decisions and force compromises. As such, McMahon informed Austin and Triple H that he had to make a compromise with his estranged wife. They agreed that the two champions would be able to compete at Backlash for the tag titles. However, McMahon was forced to agree that in order for the titles to be at stake, both the Intercontinental and WWF Championships would also have to be defended in the match; therefore, if either Austin or Triple H took the loss in the match, the team would lose both titles. If Austin would lose, whichever Brother of Destruction defeated him would receive the WWF Championship while Triple H would forfeit his Intercontinental Championship to the other. The reverse applied if Triple H was to lose.
The feud between The Two Man Power Trip and The Brothers of Destruction continued. The next night on Raw is War, Austin and Triple H broke Kane's arm in storyline. It was then announced Kane would face Triple H in a Chain match for the Intercontinental Championship and Undertaker would face Austin for the WWF Championship at Judgment Day. At Judgment Day, Austin accidentally hit Triple H with a steel chair during his chain match with Kane, causing Triple H to lose his Intercontinental Championship. Triple H did not return the favor, however; instead, he helped Austin retain his title against the Undertaker. The next night on Raw, the Two-Man Power Trip faced Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho with the tag title on the line. In this match, Triple H suffered a legitimate and career-threatening injury when he misstepped, causing him to suffer a tear in his left quadriceps. Despite his inability to place any weight on his leg, Triple H was able to complete the match. Near the end of the match, Jericho tried to pin Austin, but Triple H got in the ring and tried to hit Jericho with the sledgehammer. Jericho avoided the blow and the sledgehammer instead hit Austin in the chest, a situation Jericho and Benoit took advantage of to win the match and the titles.