Let me start out by saying I’m sorry for this review for WWE’s Backlash coming out late. For once, this wasn’t my fault. You see, in the Philippines, Disney+ comes with some WWE shows. Just the pay-per-view events, to be more specific. I fully expected WWE Backlash, which does fall under the pay-per-view umbrella, to be available there. Other shows, like Survivor Series: Wargames, the Royal Rumble and both Wrestlemania days were made available the day after. So, why would Backlash be any different?
Well, for some strange reason, this year’s Backlash was not made available on Disney+. I’ve been waiting for a couple of days now and I finally gave up. I had to find more underhanded ways of watching Backlash because of this. Do better, Disney+ Philippines!
Anyway, I did eventually get to watch the show, very belatedly as mentioned, but I still got to see it. So, how did this year’s Backlash do? Let’s go check out each and every match and I’ll give my thoughts on them!
Match #1: Bianca Belair vs. IYO SKY for the Raw Women’s Championship
I guess I’m in tune with the live Puerto Rico audience as I too was rooting for IYO SKY to beat Bianca Belair to become the new RAW Women’s Champion. I think she deserves it and would do a lot for Damage CTRL to have an actual champion in their ranks.
Anyway, this match did start out slow, with IYO SKY surprisingly taking control early on by targetting Belair’s left arm. The EST of the WWE did try to wrest control by using her power but the Genius of the Sky still had control for most of the match thanks to her ability to reverse some of Belair’s power offense. There were some really impressive moments, like Belair hoisting IYO SKY in a gorilla press with “one arm”, Belair blocking a top rope hurricarana and connecting with a sitout powerbomb and IYO SKY’s beautifully executed moonsault from the top turnbuckle to the outside. Some really good stuff here.
The finish came after the aforementioned sitout powerbomb with Bayley and Dakota Kai coming out to help their Damage CTRL cohort. IYO SKY grabbed Belair’s ponytail but Belair used it to yank SKY into a forearm strike. Belail hoisted SKY into the KOD but Dakota Kai distracted the EST of the WWE long enough for SKY to get a rollup pin for a 2-count. Bayley then got involved, which distracted the official, allowing Kai to blindside Belair with a kick. SKY then set Belair up for her moonsault splash but the referee saw Bayley holding onto Belair’s braid. This allowed Belair to recover enough to roll out just before SKY connected with the moonsault. One KOD later and we have Belair getting the pinfall victory and retaining her RAW Women’s Championship.
This was a fun match with the crowd from Bizarro world as it was IYO SKY getting all the cheers and Belair getting booed. They both still manage to wrestle the match they wanted with a few adjustments, like SKY preening to the crowd more. The finish could have been put together better as Bayley holding on to Belair’s braid didn’t look all that significant as Belair didn’t struggle or anything. It was still a very entertaining match overall.
The next match had Seth “Freakin'” Rollins take on Omos. I used to be high on Omos and his developing in-ring skills but he has stagnated and hasn’t really shown much improvement for the past 2 years. If there was someone who can up his game, it would be Seth Rollins. So I approve of the match. Seth did make Omos look good, even overselling some of the Nigerian Giant’s power moves. Rollins did regain some momentum with the tried and true method of taking out the big man’s legs and using his opponent’s own power against him.
The finish came after Omos kicked out of the Rollins’ frog splash. Seth attempted his patented Curb Stomp but Omos simply had too much power as The Visionary couldn’t slam his head into the mat! Omos then chokeslammed Rollins to get a 2-count. Omos then went for a double chokeslam but Rollins blocked the attempt and then went for a sleeperhold. Omos seemingly broke the hold by smashing Rollins into the corner but The Visionary simply went up and went for another sleeperhold. Omos then reversed it with a side slam. MVP then distracted the official while tossing his cane to Omos. However, Rollins was too quick and connected with a foot stomp before Omos could use the weapon. Rollins went for another Curb Stomp but Omos still kicked out! The Visionary then pulled out all the stops by climbing the top rope and connecting with a Curb Stomp from there to finally take out the Nigerian Giant and get the pinfall victory.
This was also a fun match but mostly because of the closing moments. The opening and middle parts were just meh. The giant Curb Stomp was creative at least. Sadly, I don’t see Omos improving all that much anymore so I guess he’s already hit his peak when it comes to wrestling ability. Rollins did put on a good show of selling though.
The next match of the night had Austin Theory defending the United States Championship against Bobby Lashley and Bronson Reed in a Triple Threat match. I honestly have no idea how to call the match as this was just a whirlwind of action from the opening bell to the final pinfall. There were some creative spots, like Lashley throwing Theory into Reed and then clotheslining Reed, which led to Theory eating a DDT, Bronson Reed showing fantastic agility like with his Vader Bomb to Lashley to the outside and some dramatic spots such as when Theory almost connected with A Town Down to the massive Reed by lifting him up on his shoulders.
The finish came after Reed reversed Theory’s attempt at A Town Down and hit a powerslam on The Now. Reed then went for a moonsault but Theory rolled out of the way. Lashley then speared a stunned Reed but, as he went for the pin, Theory rushed in and tossed the All Mighty out of the ring to steal the pinfall for himself and retain his United States Championship.
This was actually much better than I expected. Sure, it was a quick match but it was also a no-frills bout with everyone just throwing offense after offense. There were no slow moments, just action upon action. It eschewed the classic Triple Threat format of 2 competitors in the ring while the other waits for their spot in the outside as everyone was involved in the spots most of the time. I appreciate the change of pace here. I guess you could complain with how short the match was but, from all the action they crammed in the amount of time they did use, you really shouldn’t.
The next match had The Judgement Day’s Rhea Ripley defending her Smackdown Women’s Championship against the homegrown challenger, Zelina Vega, of the lWo. I wasn’t going into the match expecting a whole lot because of how Zelina Vega has been handled since her return but she can put on a good show, especially when you consider she’s doing it with Rhea Ripley. This had the standard pace of having the more powerful heel dominate the tenacious hometown hero with the face eventually getting her licks in after forcing the heel to make a mistake. Nothing really much to say here, actually.
The finish came after Zelina Vega hit a meteora double knee strike from the 2nd turnbuckle and got a 2-count. Seemingly out of ideas, Vega rushed the ropes, only to eat a big kick from Ripley. Fed up, Ripley connected with the Riptide to get the 3-count and retain her Smackdown Women’s Championship. After Ripley left the ring, the Puerto Rico crowd gave Vega a standing ovation. Yay. There’s really not much to say about the match as the action seemed very typical and formulaic. The only thing it had going for it was how hot the live crowd was for Zelina Vega and the very, very, very slim possibility she could eke out a win here. It didn’t happen so… meh?
The next match was the San Juan Street Fight featuring The Judgement Day’s Damien Priest going against music artist Bad Bunny. Normally, I would be cringing over this kind of match as the WWE booked a non-WWE person to take on a legit wrestler. However, Bad Bunny had showed us time and time again he can hang in the ring and this time was no exception. Bad Bunny ate some vicious moves and, in retrospect, a lot of Bad Bunny’s offense was only effective as he used weapons and Damien Priest sold the moves well. Gotta give Priest mad props for selling like a madman as well as heeling it up massively, even picking up Bad Bunny after a sure pinfall victory. Both do have to be commended for some nifty stuntwork, like that Broken Arrow from the top of some crates and into the collapsible floor below.
The finish was pretty much what you would expect as both participants had their own respective factions. After Priest sucker punched Bad Bunny, Bad Bunny hit a low blow on Priest. This led the rest of The Judgement Day to go on the attack but Bunny was saved by Rey Mysterio and Carlito! Balor and Dominik back off but are blocked off by Savio Vega and the lWo! After getting a beating, The Judgement Day run to the back with the lWo in hot pursuit.
Back in the ring, Priest tries to hit Bunny with a spinning kick but his injured leg gives out, allowing Bad Bunny to lock in a figure-four. Priest gets out of the submission hold by reaching up and choking out Bad Bunny. Priest goes for a chokeslam but Bunny reverses it into a rollup for 2. Priest then tries to spear Bunny but Bunny gets out of the way, leading Priest to knock himself out with the chair which was set up by the other Judgement Day members during the chaos. Bad Bunny hits an awkward sliced bread #2 and then goes to wail on Priest with chair shots to the back. Bad Bunny then hits a Canadian Destroyer to get the pinfall victory.
This was much better than expected. I could’ve used less of Bad Bunny showing off whatever weapon he was going to us to the crowd and just use it. The finish was actually well thought out, making full use of Priest’s injured leg as well as the chair set up during The Judgement Day run in. It did get a little too chaotic with Carlito and Savio Vega joining the proceedings but, as this was a Puerto Rico show, I’ll allow it. It was almost too much.
The second to the last match of the night had Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Matt Riddle taking on the Bloodline, which consisted of The Usos and Solo Sikoa. I still don’t really understand the inclusion of Matt Riddle to the proceedings but, since I like the guy, I’m okay with it basically. However, there was definitely more focus on the Bloodline storyline and there seeming to be some dissention within the ranks. Oh, the action was pretty good as they did the entire hot tag to the faces several times throughout the match. There was unnecessary roughness, with Jimmy Uso slamming Kevin Owens’ back into the pointed ends of the steel steps! However, thanks to some really good in-ring storytelling, you can tell they wanted to make is seem like Solo Sikoa was getting a little too big for his britches, like when he forcibly tagged himself into the match several times.
The finish when all heck broke loose and everyone was taking turns hitting each other. During the confusion, Solo almost hit Jey with the Samoan Spike, leading to the two brothers arguing with each other. Sami Zayn assaulted Solo but Jey rolled up Zayn for a 2-count. Jey then hit a superkick and went for a samoan splash but Zayn reversed it into a rollup for 2. Zayn eats another superkick but Riddle tags himself in. The Original Bro goes in for multiple strikes and a big knee sends Jey into the ropes, allowing Solo to tag himself in. Riddle hits Bro Derek on Jey but Solo sneaks up from behind and connects with a Samoan Spike, winning the match for the Bloodline.
The action here was good but did feel a little disjointed because the focus wasn’t on the two teams fighting but on the dysfunction of the Bloodline. I guess it did it’s job by giving an entertaining match and pushing the storyline forward. However, they might need to rush the story a bit faster as, honestly, without any heat between the two teams, I’m kind of getting tired of the entire thing. Please move the storyline forward, WWE.
We get to the main event of Backlash, which had Cody Rhodes take on Brock Lesnar. The mayhem didn’t even start with the opening bell with Rhodes attacking Lesnar during his ring entrance. The American Nightmare assaulted The Beast with various implements such as the steel steps and a chair before the opening bell was rung and yet Lesnar still pretty much dominated most of the bout due to his immense power and, well, the trip to suplex city.
The finish came after Cody drove Lesnar into the exposed turnbuckle, getting him to rally. Cody then started striking the open wound on The Beast but, even after a Disaster Kick and 2 Cross Rhodes, but he still wasn’t able to pin Lesnar. Cody then went for a 3rd Cross Rhodes but Lesnar reversed it into an F5 and got a 2-count. Cody started slugging Lesnar in the face but The Beast would have none of that, hooking his opponent’s arm in a Kimura Lock. In an anticlimactic way to win, Cody Rhodes rolled Brock Lesnar on his back to get the pinfall victory.
This was just an okay match. This wasn’t a classic in any sense as it was just too short to be a main event. The action did have its moments but never seemed to get out of 2nd gear. The finish also didn’t help anyone. It didn’t help Cody as he had to sneak in a win despite bloodying Lesnar and it didn’t help Lesnar as he lost like a chump via a simple rollup. I just felt like it needed more oomph.
Overall, however, I did like this year’s Backlash. No titles changed hands but, with the way the card was written, I didn’t expect them to. While there were a lot of fun matches, like Bad Bunny and Damien Priest, I don’t think I’ll be remembering this show in a week or so. It’s good while it’s fresh but it’ll get stale after repeat viewings. Worth a single watch and nothing more. That means if Disney+ did put it on eventually in the Philippines, I won’t be watching it there. That’s on you, Disney+.
What did you think of this year’s WWE Backlash? Let me know in the comments section below!