I really hate the concept of Wrestlemania Backlash. To me, it’s like the WWE is trying to extend the hype of Wrestlemania for an extra month after the event itself. The WWE also has a habit of just throwing together rematches from Wrestlemania at Wrestlemania Backlash, which makes it feel very anticlimatic. If we’ve already seen them fight, what’s the point of having them fight again in a month’s time?
Then again, all of those problems I have can be forgiven if they actually put together a spectacular show. Even if it’s all rematches, that would be okay if the matches were better or, at the very least, add something new to what we got at the Wrestlemania proper. So let’s see if this year’s Wrestlemania Backlash is worth it all.
The first match of the night was a rematch between Cody Rhodes and Seth “Freakin'” Rollins. I do get the premise of this rematch as the returning American Nightmare was the surprise opponent for Rollins. This time, The Visionary has some time to prepare for Cody Rhodes and what he can do. They really did kind of milk this idea really well as Rollins was able to block and reverse some of Cody’s offense. Even so, both WWE Superstars did get to show their signature offense and they both got to show their stuff.
The finish came after Rhodes kicked out of Rollin’s Pedigree at the count of 2. Rollins then punts Rhodes in the head several times before mocking Cody my imitating his father Dusty Rhodes’ punches. The American Nightmare ducks under the final punch and lands his Cross Rhodes neckbreaker. He goes for another one but The Visionary gets out of the hold. Rhodes then goes for a vertibreaker but Rollins slips out of the move and then goes for a rollup with a handful of tights. Cody reverses it, however, and, with a handful of tights of his own, manages to get the 3-count on Rollins to win the match.
I really liked the entire match as it was very exciting and, while running for a significant length, never really felt slow. The finish could have been better. Rhodes using Rollins own tactics against him to get the win did feel satisfying but I just wanted a more definitive finish and not something as controversial as a rollup using the tights for leverage to close it out.
The next match had Bobby Lashley take on Omos, who was accompanied by MVP, in another Wrestlemania rematch. I’ve been generally on the fence regarding Omos. He’s a big, opposing looking guy but he still feels a little green, making his matches more dependent on the guy he’s facing to make him look good. So I get why pairing him with Lashley again is good because their Wrestlemania bout was, at the very least, watchable. As expected, there was a lot of big man offense but no real big spots like the All Mighty suplexing the bigger Omos. Lashley did do this weird flapjack slam on Omos but it definitely didn’t look too impressive.
The finish came after the awkward slam. Lashley went for a spear but Omos countered with a big knee before slamming the All Mighty into the ring post. Omos staggered towards Lashley, leading to the referee moving the big man to the middle of the ring. This allowed MVP to smack Lashley in the throat with his cane. Omos then finished the job by hitting Lashley with a two-handed choke powerbomb to get the pinfall victory.
This was a generally okay match but it just didn’t have the same pomp and circumstance as their Wrestlemania bout. I do like the finish as it allowed Omos to get revenge for his loss at Wrestlemania. I get why they had to get the cheap shot victory as, if they didn’t, Lashley might look weak. Even so, definitely not the best card of the night.
The next match of the night was the Wrestlemania rematch between Edge and AJ Styles. Even though it was basically a repeat of what we saw last night, I had high hopes for this as both Edge and Styles are great in-ring performers and I really liked their match at Wrestlemania. With Damien Priest banned from ringside, I was also hoping this wouldn’t end in a screwjob finish and have someone win clean. Like at Wrestlemania, there was some really good storytelling, with The Ultimate Opportunist going after Styles’ injured shoulder. I do think they wasted the exposed turnbuckle spot as they used in immediately instead of waiting until the end. Even with that, there was some really good intensity in the match, which I really liked.
Unfortunately, the WWE really botched the finish here. Despite being banned from ringside, Damien Priest appeared on the top of the ramp. Okay, fine. That’s not exactly “ringside” so that gets a pass due to a technicality. However, when Finn Balor entered the picture and started brawling with Damien Priest all over the ringside area and even through the middle of the ring, then that breaks the stipulation, no matter the reason! Anyway, this allowed for a masked individual to interfere by yanking Styles off the top turnbuckle. Edge then locked on the crossface, which led to the Phenomenal One passing out, giving the victory to Edge. The masked individual then revealed her face; it was Rhea Ripley and she formally joined Edge’s faction.
Another Edge vs. AJ Styles match. Another screwjob finish. While I do appreciate the surprise of turning Rhea Ripley heel (she does have the look for that), I just can’t bear another screwjob finish between the two. The match itself was good and the finish did deliver a level of surprise, I just wish it was executed better.
The next match was another Wrestlemania rematch but the twist is it’s an I Quit match between Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair for the Smackdown Women’s title. Strangely enough, this is the first and only match with a belt on the line. Weird. I really didn’t know what to expect here because, for one, there are no disqualifications and I knew weapons would be involved. I wasn’t sure how Ronda Rousey would handle it. Thankfully, she didn’t act like a diva as she really got into the act and gave as much as she took. There were a lot of creative spots, such as kendo stick duels and Charlotte chucking a camera at Rousey to disarm her. Haven’t seen that before!
The finish had Charlotte Flair lock in the Figure Eight on Rousey but The Baddest Woman on the Planet hits the Queen with a chair to break the hold. Charlotte then set up the chair in the middle of the ring and taunted Rousey by saying “Happy Mother’s Day” to her. This riled up Rousey and she pulled Charlotte arm through the middle of the chair. When Charlotte refused to quit, Rousey wrenched on the arm even harder, leading for her opponent to finally quit. Ronda Rousey is now your NEW Smackdown Women’s Champion!
This was a really good match because it did look like a genuine fight. It still followed wrestling logic but both Rousey and Charlotte didn’t hold back. The finish was nice and dramatic, adding the exclamation point to the action. I will say I found it annoying how many times the official asked if Rousey wanted to quit almost after every move at the early going of the match. It’s the only really nitpick I have with this match.
The penultimate match had Madcap Moss taking on Happy Corbin. Let me be frank and say this early on I wasn’t looking forward to this match. I just don’t like the Happy Corbin gimmick and Madcap Moss hasn’t exactly impressed me in the ring yet. It does make sense to have these guys go at it just before the main event as this has “cooldown” match written all over it. This was mostly a brawl and it did feel as if Happy Corbin dominated most of the time. Madcap Moss did get to show off his athleticism quite a bit, even though it wasn’t all that noteworthy. At least they were trying.
The finish came after Moss kicked out of a Deep Six from Corbin. Corbin hit an avalanche on Moss and went for a 2nd one. Moss sidestepped the 2nd attempt and Corbin when for his “slide under the ring, turn around, slide back into the ring with a clothesline” signature move. Moss saw this coming as Corbin already did it earlier in the match. He ducked under Corbin’s clothesline and performed a sunset flip… to get the pinfall victory from out of nowhere.
This definitely didn’t have to be on a pay-per-view. It could have been on either RAW or Smackdown, wherever these guys are from. There was no big match energy in the slightest but it wasn’t a terrible match. They did put on a decent show here overall. I am perplexed they didn’t have Madcap Moss do his finisher instead to close this one out. The finish didn’t exactly make Madcap Moss a must-see WWE Superstar because of the surprise pinfall win.
The final match of the night had Drew McIntyre teaming up with the RAW Tag Team Champions, RK-Bro (Riddle and Randy Orton) taking on the WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns and the Smackdown Tag Team Champions, The Usos. The instant I saw none of the belts were on the line, I really lost interest in this match as there was nothing at stake! Maybe the WWE is saving the title defenses for the next pay-per-view. That doesn’t make it suck any less. In contrast with my feeling for the match, the action here was really hectic and exciting. Lots of hard hitting moves and everyone took a licking and gave a licking. I’m not sure if that’s a term but I’m sticking with it!
As good as the action was, the finish was unsurprising, which came after Drew was smashed through the announcer’s table. Jey Uso superkicks Riddle to the mat and sets up for a samoan splash. Riddle, however, climbs the ropes to hit the Uso brother with an RKO from the top rope. What Riddle failed to see, unfortunately, was Reigns tagged himself in as he was executing the RKO. This made Reigns the legal man and, one massive spear later, Reigns gets the pinfall victory, winning it for his team.
Now, I really liked this match. The action was super exciting and there wasn’t a slow moment. The biggest problem I have with it is it’s of little consequence in the grand scheme of things. The RAW and Smackdown Tag Team Champions are still feuding and Reigns and Drew are still going to continue their feud as well. Nothing was really accomplished here. Good match, though.
Overall, I really liked Wrestlemania Backlash this year. The only real needle moving event is Ronda Rousey winning the Smackdown Women’s championship. I guess you can say Rhea Ripley joining Edge’s stable is of some storyline importance but that reveal didn’t have to happen on a pay-per-view. The good matches did make it a very worthwhile watch, though.
What did you think of this year’s Wrestlemania Backlash? Let me know in the comments section below!