I really need the WWE to do much better than the show we got at the Greatest Royal Rumble because that was a disappointment and then some. Then again, I can let it go since this was something they had to put together to fulfill a contract they signed with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. To me, I can consider it a glorified house show that just so happened to be 5 hours long and televised to the entire world. I do have much higher expectations for Backlash as it is the “real” show after Wrestlemania. Also, it’s the WWE first attempt at reworking its pay-per-view shows as Backlash is the first co-branded one. This means that both Raw and Smackdown will have matches.
So, let’s go see if the WWE can make up for the atrocity that was the Greatest Royal Rumble with this year’s Backlash.
Match #1: Seth Rollins vs The Miz for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
It’s kind of a done deal that Seth Rollins will be walking out of Backlash with the Intercontinental belt because, if the Miz won, that would mean that Smackdown would have both the United States and Intercontinental Championships. I’m still interested if they put on a good show, though.
The WWE has done a fantastic job of putting some really good matches at the start of their pay-per-view lately. Coincidentally, these starting matches usually have Seth Rollins and/or The Miz in them. This match was no different as both Superstars pulled off a really exciting match. Despite the odds of The Miz walking away with the Intercontinental Championship because of what I mentioned earlier, there were some moments when I did second guess myself because the spots were really good and the near falls were excellent.
The finish came after The Kingslayer fought off The A-Lister from the corner but missed with a curb stomp from the second rope. The Miz then attempted a rollup but Rollins reversed it. The Miz kicked out but Rollins recovered fast enough to deliver a curb stomp and get the pinfall victory to retain his Intercontinental Championship.
This was a good back-and-forth match between the two. My only real criticism is that The Miz did come off a little weak as he did connect with a Skull Crushing Finale, his patented finisher, but Rollins kicked out. Yet, somehow, Rolling connects with one curb stomp and, despite him not able to go for the cover immediately, manages to get the pinfall victory. Still, this was a really good match and something worth a second watch.
Rating: 8.0 of 10.0 kickouts from the Skull Crushing Finale
Match #2: Nia Jax vs Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship
Is it just me or is there a part of you deep inside that does believe The Goddess’ “A Moment of Bliss” PSA? Just me? … Okay.
I have to start off this match review by saying the WWE did a good job in making me believe that Alexa Bliss had a chance of winning. This was my biggest issue with the match they had at Wrestlemania as Nix Jax just seemed too unstoppable. This time around, Little Miss Bliss did the smart thing by doing the classic “take down the big wrestler by targeting the legs” schtick. Nia still looked strong but at least it looked like Alexa Bliss learned from what happened when she lost her Raw Women’s Championship. However, the match as a whole looked rather clumsy.
The finish came after Bliss managed to drag Nia Jax into the ring and went for the pin. Jax kicked out and Bliss went in with a flurry of strikes. The Unstoppable Force snatched The Goddess and tried to do a samoan drop from the second rope but Bliss wiggled out and kicked Jax’s legs from under her. Bliss kicked her opponent’s head into the bottom turnbuckle. Little Miss Bliss then went for Twisted Bliss but Jax caught her in midair. One samoan drop and three second later, Nia Jax gets her hand raised in victory to retain her Raw Women’s Championship.
This was an enjoyable match but there were a lot of lulls in the action. Also, like I said, some of the moves looked rather sloppy. Decent match overall.
Rating: 6.0 of 10.0 Moments of Bliss
Match #3: Jeff Hardy vs Randy Orton for the United States Championship
Why they decided to break up the Hardy Boyz and not rename Jeff Hardy to Brother Nero like before is beyond me. But at least he has a singles title again?
It’s kind of hard for me to give an unbiased review for this match as I don’t really care for Randy Orton anymore as his approach to in-ring wrestling has really become stale and boring. It’s because of this apathy for Orton that, whenever he’s in a match, I subconsciously think it’ll be a boring match automatically. But, from what I saw, it was definitely more of the same. While both Jeff Hardy (Brother Nero) and Randy Orton did their thing, everything just felt like a standard match. The action never got really exciting or to a point where I thought things were going to the next level.
The finish came after The Viper dodged Hardy’s corner dropkick attempt. Orton connects with his trademark draping DDT and signals for the RKO. Hardy reverses it into a rollup but Orton kicks out. Almost immediately, the guy who used to be called Brother Nero nails a Twist of Fate out of nowhere. This stuns Orton long enough for Hardy to scale the corner and land a swanton bomb for the pinfall victory. Jeff is still your Intercontinental Champion.
This was very standard fare with very little heat. I can’t help but feel both Superstars were just coasting along as there was virtually no creativity shown throughout the entire match. They did their moves and that was pretty much it. Nothing to write home about.
Rating: 5.0 of 10.0 ho-hum matches
Match #4: Daniel Bryan vs Big Cass
I was a big can of the Enzo Amore and Big Cass duo. But even with the bonafide stud being released from the WWE for allegedly forcing his studness onto women, I do hope Big Cass gets to shine as a singles competitor. This match was a baby step in the right direction.
This was your classic David vs Goliath match, with Daniel Bryan playing the little guy and Big Cass playing the 7-foot tall monster. I do have to say it’s hard to consider Big Cass as someone who’s really intimidating. Don’t get me wrong. Being tall is great but he doesn’t exactly have the muscle mass that would send shivers down someone’s spine. He still did come off as rather menacing but most of why it worked was because of Daniel Bryan. Bryan played his part as the “underdog” really well and this did make Big Cass come off better than he really was.
The finish came after Big Cass stopped Daniel Bryan’s burst of offense with a sky high flapjack slam. The 7-footer followed it up with a couple of short arm clotheslines. Big Cass then tries a big boot but Bryan ducks under it and connects with a kick of his own. This stuns Cass long enough for Bryan to lock in the Yes Lock. Cass eventually taps out and Bryan gets his hand raised in victory. However, Big Cass blasts Bryan afterwards, suggesting that their feud is far from over.
This was much better than I expected but mostly it was due to Daniel Bryan’s work and charisma. Big Cass needs to add a few moves to his repertoire to make him more menacing because, right now, his moveset is just traditional big man moves. He needs to add something unique to make him stand out. Right now, he feels rather generic. Still, good match but not a great match.
Rating: 6.0 of 10.0 Daniel Bryan obvious comebacks
Match #5: Charlotte Flair vs Carmella for the Smackdown Women’s Championship
So, Charlotte was ready for Asuka but she wasn’t ready for Carmella? That’s really weird!
I wasn’t expecting all that much from this match but I did expect Charlotte to at least provide some entertaining moments since she is really good in the ring. Unfortunately, she didn’t really get to do anything as this was mostly Carmella’s match. That wouldn’t be that bad but it looked like Carmella just graduated from wrestling school as practically most of her moves were rest holds of basic submission moves. She did deliver a few kicks but that was it. The only real entertaining part was Carmella trying to run away from the match. Other than that, it was a borefest.
The finish (which couldn’t come quick enough) after Charlotte nailed Carmella with a big boot. The Queen went for her Figure Eight leglock but the Staten Island Princess blocked it but shoving Charlotte into the corner. Charlotte scaled the ropes and attempted a moonsault, which Carmella dodged. Charlotte managed to land on her feet but she tweaked her knee on the landing. Carmella then kicked the injured knee and covered Charlotte for the pinfall victory, keeping her Smackdown Women’s Champion.
Terrible, terrible match. Carmella did nothing to make it even remotely interesting and I was really disappointed with Charlotte’s performance as she didn’t do anything. The finish was just the cherry of this crappy sundae of bad. Really? Charlotte tweaked her knee even though Carmella didn’t do anything to it throughout the entire match? Lame!
Rating: 2.0 of 10.0 did I mention this was terrible?
Match #6: AJ Styles vs Shinusuke Nakamura for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in a No Disqualification match
AJ Styles and Shinusuke Nakamura already have had two rather lame matches. Maybe the third one’s the charm?
The match started slow, with Nakamura playing coy initially. Things did get heated quickly and there was honestly some really good back and forth between the two Superstars. The action did escalate at a good pace and, while they didn’t really use the no disqualification stipulation to its fullest potential, they worked it it in some creative ways. There were a few moves with a chair. Styles actually injured himself because of a somewhat botched blocked chair throw by Styles as it ricocheted off Nakamura’s knee and into The Phenomenal One’s face. But it did seem odd that the chair was the only foreign object used throughout the match.
The finish, while rather lame, was actually kind of fun in my opinion as it deepened the feud in a way. Nakamura managed to reverse a Styles Clash attempt with a low blow but Styles retaliated with a low blow of his own at long last! They both recover and they go at each other with strikes. They both decide to kick each other at the groin at the same time. Both men can’t answer the 10-count. This means AJ Styles retains.
This was better than their Wrestlemania outing and their match at the Greatest Royal Rumble as things really got good at the end. While the double low blow finish was a cop out, I liked it because it shows that AJ Styles is now willing to stoop to Nakamura’s level and do some dastardly things to win. A clean finish and a decisive victor would’ve been better but I guess they’re going to stretch this feud out a little longer.
Rating: 6.5 of 10.0 low blows
Match #7: Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley vs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
This match cemented my thought that the WWE is misusing Bobby Lashley and I’ll elaborate on this later…
As much as I like Braun Strowman, Kevin Owen and Sami Zayn (I didn’t mention Bobby Lashey and I’ll tell you as to why later again), I just couldn’t get into this match. The problem was this was an obviously filler match with very little stakes to who wins or who loses. This felt like a very standard match, with the muscular faces dominating early but the heels eventually getting the upper hand with a couple of underhanded tactics, with Lashley being the punching bag until he gets the hot tag to Bruan to clean house.
The finish at least had some storyline repercussions in the future. Owens dodges a battering ram by Strowman. Zayn gets in and attempts a Helluva Kick but Braun snatches his opponent and goes for a running powerslam by Sami Zayn wiggles free. Sami Zayn wants to leave but Owens stops him, saying they can take Strowman and Lashley. Sami then tosses Owens into the waiting arms of Strowman. Kevin Owens escapes and throws Zayn into the ring as revenge. Zayn gets upset and slaps Owens! He tries to apologize but Owens will not have it as he climbs into the ring himself. Sami Zayn rolls out of the ring and tries to warn Kevin Owens but it’s too late. Lashley performs his standing suplex on Owens and Lashley gets the pinfall… but I think Zayn was the legal man. Nevertheless, Braun gets his hands on Owens and does a running poweslam. Braun does catch Zayn and drags him into the ring and he does a powerslam to him.
The match itself was lackluster but the finish does hint at the duo of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn fracturing in the future, which is a nice touch. My main problem wasn’t the match itself but Bobby Lashley’s function as he’s just another powerful face and that’s now what the WWE needs at the moment since they already have Braun Strowman and even Roman Reigns filling that role. I would buy Lashley as a heel bully right now and he would be a good match for Braun as he does look like he can match him in the power department.
Rating: 5.0 of 10.0 pleas to make Bobby Lashley a heel
Match #8: Roman Reigns vs Samoa Joe
Unlike the Charlotte vs. Carmella match, this match did show how to effectively use submission holds throughout the majority of the match and make it look okay. The match still wasn’t good but it was better than the one for the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
The match started with Samoa Joe blasting Reigns before the bell, leading to Joe dominating The Big Dog for most of the match with submission holds. Reigns would try to fight back but Joe would strike his opponent and then lock in another submission hold. While I would normally dislike this kind of wrestling, at least they broke up the holds with some action! The problem is that they relied on this pattern too much and there should’ve started with the actual action much earlier. Because of the incredibly slow start, they lost any kind of momentum from Joe’s cheap shot at the start.
The finish came with Samoa Joe setting up Roman Reigns for a Muscle Buster but The Big Dog jumps over The Samoan Submission Machine and connects with a spear. Reigns goes for the cover and gets the pinfall victory.
As much as I dislike Roman Reigns, I know he has the ability to do a good match. It’s just that he has to be in the ring with someone that can make him look good. He can’t carry the match himself. This match was bad as it looks like Samoa Joe doesn’t compliment Reign’s style. Bottom line: this was a stinker overall.
Rating: 3.5 of 10.0 hours in a submission hold
Overall rating for Backlash (2018):
What else can I say? There was only one really fantastic match, which was the start of the show and everything just went downhill from there. The majority were just around average but the two awful matches, the one for the Smackdown Women’s Championship and the “main event” involving Reigns and Joe really dragged the entire thing into the crapper.
Rating: 4.0 of 10.0 and this is a rather generous rating
What did you think of this year’s Backlash? Let me know in the comments below!