The first cross-branded B pay-per-view in a few years, Backlash was the final stop before the Superstar Shakeup took full affect. But how did the show fair?
Bayley vs Ruby Riott
Result: Ruby Riott wins via pinfall
Thoughts: After seeing Bayley and Sasha interact prior to the match itself, it is clear what this bout set out to do; further the slowest of slow burn feuds between Sasha Banks and Bayley. Much like on RAW, Sasha didn’t come out to help Bayley to try and even up the numbers against the Riott Squad which allowed Ruby to pick up the win. For a kick-off match, this was fine. It didn’t do anything badly and the finishing sequence was actually really smooth. A further showcase of how fantastic Ruby Riott is as well; she is continuing to grow into one of the best women’s all-round wrestlers in the company. A fine start to the night before the main show. A slight adage; Bayley is totally in the right here. Sasha turned on her in the Elimination Chamber and then wanted to pretend everything was fine. I hope they don’t mess this feud up…they may however have already missed the boat on this one.
Intercontinental Title Match: Seth Rollins (c) vs The Miz
Result: Rollins retains via pinfall
Thoughts: Rollins should be THE guy on Monday Night RAW. Without a doubt- Seth has been the MVP of WWE since the beginning of 2018 and this match is another one of his fantastic moments. The fantastic storytelling, the mesmerising in ring work and the red-hot crowd came together in a match that somehow topped the Mania IC Title match and is probably the best opener of a PPV this year. Both Seth and Miz have utterly amazing chemistry together and it really, really showed. Halfway through the match- the story of Seth’s bad knee was brought in which made the audience really believe Miz could win- especially after the two Skull-Crushing Finales. That is in no way any disrespect to Miz however- he was as important to this bout as Seth was. The finish somehow epitomised everything this match set out to do; Miz trying to sneak a win with a roll-up but Rollins fighting back and hitting the curbstomp. Absolutely incredible and the perfect way to start the main show. Legitimate MOTY contender for me personally. I would also be remised in failing to mention that Tyson Kidd was the agent for this match- well done sir, I salute you.
RAW Women’s Title Match: Nia Jax (c) vs Alexa Bliss
Result: Jax retains via pinfall
Thoughts: This really wasn’t great. Any match that had to follow that fantastic opener was going to struggle but this felt…so sluggish. I don’t know if it’s just me but I felt that, at both Mania and here, Nia should have squashed Alexa. In terms of the story- Nia overcoming the little bully and proving she’s above all of that would have been so much better if she proved she was much better than Bliss. Instead- Alexa actually dominated for most of the match and Nia only rallied towards the end. There was never really a moment where everything picked up and it just dragged on and on…which is really sad. Both these women are fantastic and, hopefully, will now both transition into good feuds. But as for tonight- it was underwhelming.
United States Title Match: Jeff Hardy (c) vs Randy Orton
Result: Hardy retains via pinfall
Thoughts: With Rusev Day chants- the crowd gave up on this quite quickly. Which is a shame as the match features two first ballot hall of famers but, much like the Woman’s title match prior, the pacing was completely off. Additionally, the match ended incredibly suddenly. It felt like they were leading up to something and then just BANG, Swanton Bomb into the pin. Orton ensured Jeff took some HUGE bumps throughout but it didn’t have any huge moments. Hardy keeping the title makes sense and it’ll be interesting to see where they go from here- US Open challenge?? Orton has, much like for the past around 5 months, absolutely nothing to do.
Elias’ Backlash Concert
Thoughts: This was amazing. New Day are always hilarious and were a welcome surprise for the night. Rusev Day are the absolute most over act in WWE. The other guys who made their appearance were fun but Elias was the star here. Never has an act that was so unsuccessful in NXT transitioned so well onto the main roster. Elias gets some of the biggest reactions every single time he appears and it’s fantastic to watch. Bobby Roode appeared and hit Elias with the Glorious DDT to get some redemption for the past couple of weeks on RAW. Just so much fun.
Big Cass vs Daniel Bryan
Result: Bryan wins via submission
Thoughts: For Daniel Bryan’s return to singles action, this was incredibly underwhelming. A few clotheslines, arm raises, a kick and then the Yes Lock…that was it. Now yes- I absolutely think that Cass losing was the right decision here as Daniel Bryan can’t lose in his returning singles match but I expected more. It may be my fault, and the beat-down after the match allowed Cass to get his heat back, but I assumed they’d have Bryan try to rally against the big man before ultimately cutting him down to size. I also don’t understand what management sees in Big Cass apart from his height…
SmackDown Live Women’s Title Match: Carmella (c) vs Charlotte
Result: Carmella retains via pinfall
Thoughts: Carmella’s screaming is so insufferable I almost muted my TV. I get it; she’s a heel, she’s annoying. But there is a point where it becomes detrimental to the match itself. Carmella really needed a huge performance here and whether it was the fact the crowd was silent, both women’s timings were off or a combination; this wasn’t it. This was, in my opinion, the worst match on the show up until this point. Much like all expect the opener, the match never got going. It just felt like 10 minutes of rest holds and then a roll-up. Hopefully Carmella’s next defence is much better than this was. I feel really sorry for both woman’s matches as they will be looked at as the worst matches of the night. Not much more to say.
WWE Title Match (No Disqualification): AJ Styles (c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura
Result: Styles retains after neither man beats the count of ten
Thoughts: What a way to kill a great match. The B- grade is due to the finish. With a proper finish- I thought it was B+ material- it was really good. But…seriously? They’re doing ANOTHER ending where there isn’t a clear winner. That’s just…stupid. Both men easily put on the best match of their trilogy within WWE with Nakamura being as stiff as possible in the opening stages, transitioning into AJ taking control after the chair-shot to Shinsuke’s knee, (which rebounded into AJ and busted him open). It definitely moved through the gears but…wow that finish ruined it. It’s hard to believe how badly they’ve messed up a feud between Styles and Nakamura- unless Joe gets added to this feud, I have no desire to see this match for a fourth time and if you had told me that two months ago- I would have laughed in your face. Really sad.
Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman vs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
Result: Strowman and Lashley win via pinfall
Thoughts: God, this is not a good show. The match was literally the exact same thing we’ve seen on RAW for the past two weeks and had absolutely no place on this show. The tease between Zayn and Owens was nice but that was it. The beat-down of the heels after the match went on for far too long and felt like the pre-show. Really, really poor.
Roman Reigns vs Samoa Joe
Result: Reigns wins via pinfall
Thoughts: Roman Reigns is a brilliant wrestler and every match he’s in feels huge. But him main-eventing a PPV with a rushed, 3 week build over a 5 month, WWE title feud is the reason people don’t accept him or like him. I honestly feel really sorry for the guy because he doesn’t make these decisions but is forced to go out there, knowing the reaction and response he’s going to get. But I digress. This match can be summarized in resthold…into a resthold…into a surprising third resthold…into a Roman Hulk-Up and eventual win. The fact that this main-evented is absolutely baffling. Watching it felt like the Mania main event- it felt like I had sat through a seven hour show, had collapsed to the end and found myself struggling to stay awake. A perfect summary of the show was multiple people leaving halfway through the match. A fitting end to a really poor show. Awful.
Overall Thoughts: What started off as an absolutely incredible show- the entire rest of the card was a let-down. Easily the worst show of the year so far but it could have been so much more. The Backlash concert was silly fun, Styles vs Nakamura was really good until the finish and Rollins vs Miz is a legitimate Match of the Year contender. But the rest of the show was either average, boring or down-right bad. It’s such a blessing that we have a six-week break for the next PPV because we absolutely need it. There has been far too much content recently and I think the burn-out culminated with tonight’s show. Not good at all.