Wow, that was bad. Backlash may have been promoted as WWE’s first dual-branded PPV event since the recent Superstars Shake-up. But if it’s remembered for anything, it will likely be for all the wrong reasons. Other than one stellar match and one very entertaining non-wrestling segment, the show was a too-long plodding affair full of dull matches with finishes that ranged from uninspired to dumb to just plain terrible. In fact, the only Backlash should be the criticism that the company gets for this dog of a show.
The no-disqualification match for the WWE Championship between champion AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura was a great example of how this show went wrong. Following three bad matches in a row, this could have been the one that turned the show around. It had the potential to do so early on, as things started off pretty quickly-paced, with AJ using his aerial repertoire and Nakamaura trying to use the stipulations to his advantage, hitting a number of cheap shots whenever he had the chance. But then things got a bit pedantic, with Nakamura in control for what seemed like way too long. Finally, things looked like they were going to pick up – and the no-DQ stipulation would come into play – when Nakamura brought a chair into the ring. He set up the chair in front of AJ and tried to running kick it into AJ’s face. But AJ was quick enough to pick up the chair and throw it into Nakamura’s knee, hurting the challenger. Unfortunately for AJ, though, in an unplanned turn of events, the chair bounced off of Nakamura’s knee and hit AJ in the face anyway, busting the side of his face open. Things were looking good after that, with a series of moves from both men, including a sweet flying forearm drop by Styles to the back of Nakamura’s head, and a missed clothesline attempt being countered with the Pele Kick. Finally, a frustrated Nakamura went back to the well, hitting a low blow on AJ. But before he could go for a pin, AJ returned the favour, hitting one of his own. Then the match went south, figuratively and literally. After an exchange of punches in the centre of the ring, they both ran at each other and hit simultaneous low kicks, which put both of them down to the mat holding their crotchal areas. With both men rolling around in pain, neither one could get back up to beat the referee’s ten-count and the match was ruled a draw. This was a terrible finish that felt like a big kick to the nads of everyone watching; just awful.
Still, it was arguably better than the main event of the show, a grudge match between Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns. This started off pretty hot, with Joe attacking Reigns before the bell and sending him to the floor, where he put Roman through the commentary table with a uranage. But once things got back into the ring, it slowed considerably, with Joe dominating Roman in the centre of the ring. Of course, in this case, “dominating” meant “squeezing him down in a head-and-body lock for what seemed like an hour. Reigns powered out, and the two kept sluggishly hitting one another. There was one highlight in all of this, which was when Joe was on the ropes and prone for a Drive-By Kick by Reigns: Joe was able to reach through the ropes and catch Reigns when he leaped onto the apron for the kick, and plant him with another uranage. But by then the crowd had already lost interest and were too busy instead entertaining themselves with chants for Rusev Day, “Delete”, and CM Punk to care that Reigns kicked out. They also didn’t care when Joe hit a Superman Punch and a Spear, forcing Joe to get to the ropes to break up the pin. And they were completely indifferent for the end of the match, when Reigns blocked a Muscle Buster attempt, jumped over Joe and landed on the opposite side of the ring, where he quickly turned around and ran through Joe with a Spear to get the pin. All it did was mark the end of a pretty boring match that capped off a really lousy show.
WWE Backlash – Full Results
Preshow Match: Bayley vs. Ruby Riott w/ Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan
Bayley tried to roll up Riott for some early near falls, but couldn’t keep her down. After showing Sasha Banks watching the match backstage (earlier, Sasha and Bayley had an argument and Banks said she would not accompany Bayley to the ring), they cut to an ad break. When they returned, Riott was still in control. She used a reverse headscissors to drive Bayley’s face into the turnbuckle, which discombobulated Bayley for the rest of the match. Bayley tried to mount a comeback with a Triple Lindy into a flying body press, but was still too shaken up to fully capitalize. Later, she hit a flying elbow, but again was still dizzy from the turnbuckle move to make the cover and Riott kicked out. By this time, Liv Morgan climbed up to the apron to help Riott. Bayley tried to throw Riott into Liv, but Riott reversed the throw and Bayley collided with Liv. Bayley rebounded from the impact and walked right into a Riott Kick and got pinned.
Winner: Ruby Riott Match Rating: 7/10
Match 1: The Miz vs. Seth Rollins (c) – for the Intercontinental Championship
This was fantastic. Early on, Miz was on fire, putting Rollins down with a flurry of stomps, but Rollins shut him down with a huge dropkick right in the kisser. Rollins tried for a springboard attack, but Miz surprised him with a kick, knocking him down to the floor. After some exchanged offence, Miz scored by blocking a Rollins thrust-kick attempt and spiking Rollins with a DDT. Rollins came back, though, with a front side-sweep into the corner, and then shortly thereafter, a suicide dive to the floor. Rollins again went for a springboard, which was countered, and then recountered into a roll-up attempt. Later, Rollins was on the apron, but Miz slid through his legs, and then pulled Rollins face-first onto the apron. Rollins caught Miz in a flying body press attempt and hit a spinning sidewalk slam, and followed that up with a huge Frogsplash for a very close 2-count. Later, the two were slugging it out on the apron, and Rollins went for a flying knee, but Miz moved and Rollins’ knee hit the corner post hard. Miz immediately capitalized, locking on a Figure Four Leglock, but Rollins refused to surrender and after flipping it over a couple of times, they eventually got tangled up in the ropes, causing a break. In a great sequence, Rollins escaped a wheelbarrow suplex attempt, but his knee gave out, and Miz hit him with the Skull-Crushing Finale, but Rollins kicked out! The same thing happened a few minutes later, with Rollins’ knee giving out and again getting hit with the Finale for 2, which had the crowd going ballistic, since it seemed like it was going to be over. The finishing sequence was equally as cool, with Rollins’ knee giving out after a missed Curb Stomp attempt, a series of rollups and reversals, ending with Rollins finally hitting a Curb Stomp for the pin.
Winner and still Intercontinental Champion: Seth Rollins Match Rating: 9/10
Match 2: Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax (c) – for the RAW Women’s Championship
The story here was Alexa using her aggressiveness and some dirty tactics to ground the larger champion. At the bell, Alexa immediately threw a low dropkick, taking out Nia’s knee. After an exchange that saw Alexa sent to the floor, as she was re-entering the ring, she used Nia’s hair to whiplash her on the top strand, and then took over. Bliss tried to scale the back of Nia, but got caught and whipped down hard to the mat. Nia was setting up for a Vader Bomb, but Bliss got up and pushed Nia up and over the ropes and tumbling down to the floor. Alexa then used the ring steps as a step-stool to DDT Nia face-first on them. Bliss struggled to roll Nia back into the ring, and the time it took let Nia recover enough to kick out. Nia caught Bliss and headed upstairs for a super Samoan Drop, but Alexa kicked her ankle out from under her and Nia hit hard. Bliss then tried for Twisted Bliss, but Nia caught her in mid-air, and hit the Samoan Drop for the pin.
Winner, and still RAW Women’s Champion: Nia Jax Match Rating: 7/10
After the match, Nia cut an in-ring promo, talking about how everyone can overcome bullying by believing in themselves. The crowd wanted to boo Jax, despite the positive message she was trying to deliver.
Backstage, Samoa Joe said that, after suffering beatings from Brock at Mania and the Greatest Royal Rumble, Roman Reigns has lost his confidence, his strength, his speed, and tonight he’ll lose his match against Joe.
Match 3: Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy (c) – for the US Championship
God, Orton is even boring walking to the ring. And with that, now seems like a good time to remind the SLAM! Wrestling faithful about my GoFundMe campaign to try to get Randy Orton to leave professional wrestling forever. Hardy flew early on with a dive to the floor on Randy. Later, Randy pushed Jeff who was scaling the ropes, crotching him, then kicking him as Jeff was tied up in the Tree of Woe. Then, I went to get a beer and some cake so as to miss Randy’s boringness. Sadly, I got back from the kitchen before the match had ended, and Randy was using one of his ultra-exciting body-locks. Hardy avoided being bored to submission and hit a Whisper in the Wind for two, before Randy recommenced his boring assault. He hit a draping DDT, but instead of covering Hardy, Randy stared boringly at the crowd, then started pounding the mat, presumably to wake up the crowd. Orton sleepwalked into a kick, followed up by a Twist of Fate and a Swanton for the pin.
Winner and still US Champion: Jeff Hardy Match Rating: zzzzzz
Bad news: Total Bellas returns on May 20. I’ll be doing recaps again this season, because apparently I’ve ticked someone off.
Thankfully, Elias was out next to wake up anyone still snoozing from the Randy Orton bore-a-thon. He trash-talked New Jersey which is entirely deserved, and Bruce Springsteen which is not, then repeatedly teased leaving when the crowd wouldn’t shut up for his performance. Before he could start, though, the New Day interrupted him and came down to the ring brandishing instruments. They offered to join him for a duet, and the crowd joined them in a performance of New Day Rocks, but he dispatched them. Elias tried to start his song again, but then he was interrupted by Aiden English and Rusev. English cut a new song for Rusev Day, and the two of them came to the ring. Elias cut them off and again tried to sing, but then was then interrupted by the music of No Way Jose, who came down with his Conga line, including Titus Worldwide and Breezango. Elias’ facial reaction to this was absolutely meme-worthy, as the kids say. An irate Elias shut down the party, and demanded that nobody interrupt him for a fourth time. Before he could strum a note, “Glorious!” blasted through the speakers, and Bobby Roode was in the ring standing behind Elias. He hit a Glorious DDT, laying out Elias to the delight of the crowd. After that, he and everyone else conga’d back up the ramp. This was tremendous.
Match 4: Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass
Bryan tried to use kicks and his speed to keep Cass at a distance, using hit-and-run tactics, including a big flying knee off the apron. But Cass used his size to thwart a roundhouse Yes Kick and drop Bryan with a single arm Tree Slam. This was the story for much of the match, with Daniel getting some momentum with fast kicks and then getting put down with a strength move. After a few exchanges like that, Bryan was finally able to ground Cass with a whirling dervish spinkick to the head. Cass was down, and Bryan locked on the Yes Lock, getting an immediate tapout. After the match, a frustrated Cass attacked Bryan, pummelling him and leaving him laying in the middle of the ring.
Winner: Daniel Bryan Match Rating: 6/10
Match 5: Carmella (c) vs. Charlotte Flair (c) – for the Smackdown Women’s Championship
This one was a tale of Carmella trying to capitalize on any error made by Charlotte. Eventually, that happened, and Carmella had Charlotte in trouble. Carmella grounded the champ, pretty much holding her down and trash-screaming in Charlotte’s face. Carmella tried for her Moonwalk Finisher, but Charlotte speared her for a 2-count. Charlotte then tried to end thing with a moonsault, but Carmella moved out of the way. Charlotte landed on her feet, but tweaked her knee, allowing her to get rolled up for the pin.
Winner and still Smackdown Women’s Champion: Carmella Match Rating: 3/10 (higher than it deserves, but I gave 1 for Carmella’s moonwalk).
Match 6: AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura – No-DQ match for the WWE Heavyweight Championship
Winner: No winner; match ended when both were down for the 10-count Match Rating: 4/10 (a point for each ball that got kicked)
Match 7: Braun Strowman & Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
During the introductions, the commentators speculated about what Bobby Lashley is capable of. Hopefully saving this show is one thing, because they need it. The story for this one was Sami and Kevin using classic tag team strategy to keep Lashley down in their corner. He eventually escaped and tagged in Braun who completely destroyed both Owens and Zayn. Zayn tried to leave, but Owens yelled at him to stay and fight. They then argued, taking turns throwing each other back in the ring, where they got Strowman’s hands. They started fighting each other, but then got on the same page. But that page ended shortly thereafter with Owens getting pummelled and pinned by Strowman while Zayn watched from the floor. After the match, both Owens and Zayn took turns getting beaten up even more by Lashley and Strowman.
Winners: Bobby Lashely & Braun Strowman Match Rating: 5/10
Match 8: Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe
Winner: Roman Reigns
Match Rating: 5/10
Overall show rating: 5/10