The pay-per-view after Wrestlemania has always been rather uninteresting for me. You already had all of the more interesting matches just a month or so ago so you do have to cool things down. I have a feeling a lot of wrestling fans have the same thought as mine and even the WWE knows it. This is likely the reason why they renamed Backlash as Wrestlemania Backlash this year. They needed something to remind the WWE Universe Wrestlemania just happened and they’re trying to make Backlash akin to Wrestlemania Lite.
With the card they had on hand, I don’t think it’s working.
So, let’s go check out Wrestlemania Backlash and how, well, average it is when compared to the actual Showcase of the Immortals.
The first match was a Triple Threat match featuring reigning RAW Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley, Asuka and Charlotte. This was more or less your standard Triple Threat match. One wrestler would be taken out so the remaining couple of wrestlers can duke it out for a while. They change partners once in a while and we get to see the trio of participants share the ring for a big spot now and again. It’s not like the match was bad in any way. It’s just that the action itself felt cookie cutter. I mean, I’ve seen Charlotte moonsault from the top turnbuckle to the outside so many times. It’s still a phenomenal move but, after seeing it so many times, it just doesn’t have the same impact as it did before.
The finish was rather confusing. Basically, Charlotte was sent to the ring apron and Asuka attempted to charge at her but was met with a big boot. This led The Empress to tumble to the middle of the ring, which allowed Ripley to nail Asuka with her Riptide pumphandle slam to get the pinfall victory and keep her RAW Women’s Championship. Where was Charlotte in all of this? I dunno. She seemingly stumbled to the outside after the big boot but was too frazzled to break up the pin? It doesn’t make a lick of sense.
I can’t really hate on the match as it was entertaining for what it was. There were some good spots but the entire affair was ultimately not memorable. We’ve seen all of this happen before so it just blends together with all of their previous matches. It was good but definitely nothing great.
The next match had Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler defending their Smackdown Tag Team Championships against the father-and-son duo of Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio. Well, that’s not how it started as the heels brutalized Dominik backstage before the match so, for the opening moments of the match, Rey Mysterio had to go it alone. The heels basically brutalized the elder Mysterio until, of course, the younger came in to make the heroic last stand.
The finish came after Dominik made the hot tag to Rey and the elder Mysterio hit a 619 on Roode while the latter was laid out on the second turnbuckles. Rey took out Dolph with a sunset flip to the outside barricade. This allowed Dominik to nail Roode with a frog splash to get the pinfall victory and become the NEW Smackdown Tag Team Champions.
This turned out much better than I expected. I don’t think Dominik is entirely ready for the big time yet and I believe he could’ve spent some time expanding his skills in NXT before moving to the main roster. It kind of shows as he really didn’t do much and it was his father who did all of the heavy lifting here. They could’ve trimmed down a few minutes when Rey was being beat down by the Roode and Ziggler but things did pick up when Dominik made it to ringside. Once again, a good match but not a great one.
We then get to the nonsensical Army of the Dead crossover match. This had Damien Priest vs. The Miz in a lumberjack match, with the twist that all the “lumberjacks” are zombies. Basically, Batista sent his “friends” to be at ringside and, since he’s promoting the Army of the Dead film, they all just had to be zombies. Honestly, this was mostly a blur because of the absurdity of actual zombies and not people in zombie makeup working in the match. Adding to the insanity is both Damien Priest, The Miz and, eventually, John Morrison taking out the Army of the Dead with wrestling moves.
The finish came after Morrison was “eaten” by zombies. Priest stunned The Miz with a double clap around the ears and then hit his Hit The Lights finisher to get the pinfall victory. Damien Priest does his silly bow and arrow pose outside the ring while the zombies enter the ring to “devour” The Miz. Yeesh.
I don’t have any problems with silly comedy matches. The hitch is they have to be funny. This wasn’t it. Everyone played it straight so it just gave mixed signals if I’m supposed to be horrified or find it hilarious. Topping this crap sundae was the wrestling; it was definitely nothing to write home about. Terrible match but I do hope The Miz and Morrison somehow mine it for comedic gold in the future.
The next match had Bianca Belair defending her Smackdown Women’s Championship against Bayley. This had the potential to be a really good match and, for the most part, it was. Both Belair and Bayley got to strut their stuff. The issue is I’m still getting of the high that was Bianca Belar vs. Sasha Banks at Wrestlemania a month ago. Compared to that, this just felt like there was something lacking. The intensity just never reached that level but the overall flow was still good.
While the match was better than average, I have to dock it some points for the finish. Bayley raked Belair across her face and connected with a Bayley-to-Belly suplex using Belair’s hair for extra leverage. The EST of the WWE managed to kick out at the 2 count. The Role Model then set Belair up for her Rose Plant finisher but Belair used her long braid to tie up Bayley’s legs. Belair then rolled Bayley up and used her hair for leverage for a moment to get the pinfall victory and keep her Smackdown Women’s Championship.
The match itself was really good and highly entertaining. Both Belair and Bayley worked well with each other and managed to play to their strengths. The finish was something left to be desired as The EST of the WWE had to essentially cheat to win, even if it was for a moment. I’m betting the WWE is going to set up something like a “hair vs. hair” match between the two since Bayley’s new thing is embossing her opponent’s name into her hairdo.
The second-to-the-last match of the night was another Triple Threat match but, this time, it was Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Braun Strowman for the WWE Heavyweight Championship on the RAW side of things. I’m normally not a fan of big man matches as they’re usually slow and lumbering. As this had the likes of Braun Strowman, Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre, this wasn’t the case! This was a fairly fast-paced brawl with a strong focus on actual wrestling rather than just people bashing each other with punches and kicks. I also love how, while it did follow the traditional Triple Threat structure of only have 2 of the 3 guys fighting at a time, it didn’t feel that way because of how much action there was. There were even some surprising high-flying moments. Well, high flying when it comes to these guys, anyway!
Unfortunately, the finish could’ve been a smidge more logical, considering the circumstances. The finish came after Braun Strowman caught McIntyre out of the air during a Claymore kick attempt and powerbombed the Scottish Warrior through the announce table. The Monster Among Men threw McIntyre into the ring and the latter promptly smashed Braun with a Claymore kick. Lashley snuck into the ring, tossed Drew to the outside and hit Braun with a spear to get the 3-count and retain his WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Color me surprised but I was expecting a swath of finishing moves to close the match out.
The match itself was highly entertaining with everyone doing something unique to make things stick out in your mind. My problem with the finish is how McIntyre recovered so quickly from being powerbombed through the table. Also, the instant he did hit the Claymore kick, I already knew Lashley would slither in the ring to steal the win. It suits the new character of the All Mighty to win at any cost but I just wish it was a much cleaner win.
The final match of the night had Roman Reigns defending his WWE Universal Championship against Cesaro in the Smackdown side of things. Some really smart in-ring storytelling was done here with Roman Reigns attacking one of Cesaro’s arms. This allowed them to really sell Cesaro as the heavy underdog here as he would attempt moves but couldn’t complete them because of his injured arm. Still, Cesaro managed to mount some really good offense, such as doing his old second turnbuckle suplex.
The finish was surprisingly clean. Reigns managed to power out of a Sharpshooter by Cesaro and he then pummeled the Swiss Cyborg with punches before connecting with a sitout powerbomb for a 2-count. The Head of the Table then locks a guillotine headlock. Cesaro tries to wriggle free but Reigns’ grip is too strong. Cesaro passes out, giving Reigns the submission victory to retain his WWE Universal Championship and stay at the top of Smackdown. After the match, Jey Uso attacked Cesaro before Seth Rollins music hit. Rollins came out in a very flamboyant suit and then continued to assault Cesaro’s arm, even hooking it in an arm and slamming it into the ringpost. Rollins then put Cesaro out of his misery with a Stomp.
This was an excellent match and a great way to close out the show. I’m rather unhappy that, of all the people Reigns didn’t have to cheat to win, it had to be Cesaro. However, this was an exciting match and, even though I knew Cesaro wasn’t going to win, I did want to believe he could so I was really into the match. The post-match beatdown was a little gratuitous but it’s supposed to signal that Cesaro will continue his feud with Rollins for now.
All-in-all, Wrestlemania Backlash was pretty okay but only because of the final 2 matches. The rest of the card, besides the Army of the Dead lumberjack match, was fine but nothing exceptional. I do say it’s worth a watch but skip ahead to the WWE World Heavyweight and Universal matches only.
Did you see this year’s Wrestlemania Backlash? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!