Backlash? More like BADlash.
I think the card for Backlash had some potential. With returning Superstars like Daniel Bryan and Big Cass coming back from injuries. A clash of hard hitters in Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe. Another war between Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles in a No DQ match. Sadly, all three of those matches left a bad taste in my mouth.
I’m a very negative wrestling fan. Something that I think is very easy to fall into, having seen better days and happier times. I’m hard to impress but I do try to look for little victories, silver linings, all that kinda stuff. Just SOME positives to take away but after watching Backlash, I couldn’t think of anything. None of it really made sense. I don’t think many fans were excited or particularly hyped for Backlash because we were coming off the back of The Greatest Royal Rumble event. There was only 2 weeks to really promote the pay-per-view and what it was offering. There wasn’t enough time to build the foundations and elevate certain feuds.
I’m not going to discuss every match on the card. This is mainly the positives, or positive in this case, and the negatives that I believe are either harmful to superstars or just awful decisions and bad booking.
Lets start with a positive:
Seth Rollins vs The Miz
The only positive I can think of was Seth Rollins v The Miz. Seth Rollins is everything Vince McMahon wants Roman Reigns to be. He’s talented, he’s likeable. Face, heel. His move set is extremely diverse, he’s not afraid to try new moves and is one of the most adaptable in the industry. Your eyes are always glued to him. The “Burn it down!” chant from his titantron was absolutely thunderous. Arguably topping his ovation he received in Montreal on Monday Night RAW prior to the pay-per-view. Seth Rollins is the man.
It was no secret that Seth was going to retain at this match. SmackDown is currently home of the United States Championship. They weren’t going to take another belt. It’s a weird sight to see The Miz without the Intercontinental Title and commentary were very keen to remind us that if The Miz did come up big, he would tie Chris Jericho as a 9-time Intercontinental Champion. Miz has drastically improved in the past few years. WWE were mocked and ridiculed for having somebody like him headlining WrestleMania 27. He has come a long way since then.
Miz isn’t somebody who has a flashy or glittering move set and is very much an “old skool” heel. He resorts to cheap tactics and will do whatever it takes to win. This match was the best received of the night with some decent spots, and the crowd invested and fully behind this match. The match had pace, electricity and was full of jaw-dropping near falls. It looked as though Rollins could suffer a title loss due to hurting his knee, but dug deep to kick out of two Skull-Crushing Finale’s and retain. It was a great opener for the show but sadly the show never really recovered after this match.
It’s hard to know where to begin because there is so much stuff that I thought didn’t make sense or was just poorly put together.
Big Cass v Daniel Bryan
I never liked the look of this feud from the get-go. It was as abysmal as I imagined it would be. Big Cass doesn’t grip me, not even remotely. He reminds me of the default male when you “Create-A-Wrestler” in a WWE 2K game. From his image, to his music, to his one arm in the air whilst he shakes his head taunt. It’s cringy. I don’t rate Cass and I don’t think he can make it on his own, but if anybody was going to get the best out of him, you’d bank on it being Daniel Bryan. The angle and the story was told as best it could be. Big Cass would use his size to assert dominance and have Bryan portrayed as the “underdog” who surely wouldn’t be able to win because of the difference in size.
Cass didn’t really offer much offensively and it was a very stale performance. He didn’t take advantage of any openings and taunted for most of the match. After a weird scuffle on the floor with Bryan trying to apply the Yes-Lock, Cass instantly tapped which completely killed potential drama. Not a well received match and with fans chanting for Enzo Amore on what is Daniel Bryan’s second pay-per-view match in three years, I think that speaks volumes.
To make matters worse, Cass attacked Bryan after the match, which means this won’t be the end of this feud for some ungodly reason. Bryan deserves better than this. It has me thinking if Daniel Bryan is now a gateway or stepping stone for new/upcoming superstars, rather than being thrust back into main event matches. It’s no secret that we’re going to see Daniel Bryan and The Miz lock horns at some point. We’ll have to wait and see.
AJ Styles v Shinsuke Nakamura (No Disqualification)
I think the most infuriating thing of all is. Why didn’t this match go on last? It’s bewildering that the obsession with Roman Reigns has reached levels where we now have to see him headline every single pay-per-view, when there are more important things at stake. Regardless of the ending to this match, it HAD to go on last.
I was expecting some big spots and for them to go all out. Knowing this was a “No DQ” match and the last two bouts between these two had been underwhelming. You had to bank on this being the big one. A lot of fans were upset there was no use of weapons but this feud was never about weapons. Nakamura has become notorious for low blowing since his heel turn at WrestleMania 34. It was all about Nakamura doing whatever it took to win and get the job done.
There was a good moment when a chair was brought in, which led to a rough cut to AJ’s cheek. Things really picked up after that and we saw the first low blow spot from Shinsuke, followed swiftly by a return low blow from Styles. Both men were kicked low and neither could answer the ten count leading to another no contest between these two.
It’s disappointing but it’s obviously not the end. This match could have easily been better and had more intensity and urgency but for me, it was their best match so far together. Those last few minutes between them were brilliant. We’re getting so much closer to seeing the dream match we all want, deserve and need to see.
Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman vs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
I didn’t really understand this one either. Bobby Lashley has been pretty uninspiring since his return to the WWE. Admittedly, he’s not been put in any interesting situations but, he hasn’t even cut a promo yet. This is the man people are believing has a chance at dethroning Brock Lesnar. Not a chance. Braun has had great success in recent times, coming off the back of a win at WrestleMania 34 and winning the Greatest Royal Rumble. He is destined for great things but it feels they are very hesitant to give him the push every fan wants to see. The tag matches we have seen recently on RAW have been fun and exciting to watch but it’s not welcome at a pay-per-view. It’s something you would see at a house show. It feels very uninventive and lazy. They didn’t have any plans so just lumped them all together. The win meant nothing for Bobby and Braun and only hurts Owens and Zayn more.
It seems inevitable that we are going to witness Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn for the 500th time. They threw each other into their monster opponents to take the beating alone. Zayn slapped Owens, leaving him to take Lashley’s delayed vertical suplex as Strowman and Lashley seal the win.
I didn’t really feel anything towards this match. It wasn’t exciting, it was a snoozefest. It was basic, not very creative or imaginative. The ending was even a bit suspect as Owens was pinned and commentary noted he wasn’t even the legal man.
Roman Reigns vs Samoa Joe
It’s not even surprising anymore. I just laugh these days. It’s funny that Roman Reigns can call Brock Lesnar “Vince’s boy”. The last few months we’ve had to listen to the same regurgitated crap as Reigns berates Lesnar for being the biggest star and the favourite. Yet here Roman is, in a main event at a pay-per-view with nothing on the line.
As I mentioned earlier, the fact Roman Reigns went on last in Backlash is just embarrassing. It completely discredits and overshadows the SmackDown Championship. We understood when Roman headlined at WrestleMania 33 against the Undertaker because it was part of a potential year long program that flopped because they stopped believing in their own vision. WrestleMania is Undertaker’s home and Reigns stepping up the plate made sense, that deserved to go on last. Not this though. I mentioned before, this was a nothing match for Reigns. I do feel sorry for Reigns. Nobody gets fired up more than me when it comes to talking about him because there is so much stuff that is wrong with this inevitable push of “The Big Dog”.This match had absolutely no business going on last. This was Vince McMahon reminding everybody that Roman Reigns is bigger and more important than every other superstar, certainly any title.
I was really pleased for Samoa Joe to be in a main event and this battle did have huge potential. I genuinely did believe Joe would win this because it made the most sense. More fool me for believing WWE would ever book something that made sense. Joe attacked Reigns before the match even started and slammed him through the announce table. The bell inevitably rang and I think everybody knew how it was going to end. It was reported that fans were leaving in waves during this match. Joe dominated with several Coquina Clutches and Reigns looked all but beat. In typical “Big Dog” fashion, Reigns rallied and put Joe to bed with an inevitable spear.
This is the last thing Joe needed. The win meant nothing for Reigns and only damages Joe further. It’s clear that Vince McMahon is miffed and is blaming the the audiences reactions in regards to Roman, otherwise he would already be the Universal Champion. Vince is determined to move heaven and earth to see Reigns at the top but wants the fans to accept him first. It won’t ever happen, not now. He has to listen and respond to the reactions from the fans. Stop putting Roman Reigns in main events.
The match wasn’t great and not even close to what we have seen from either of these superstars in the past. Cameras cut directly to the crowd after the match only to catch loads of fans leaving. It was predictable, it was bland, it was Roman Reigns.