WWE Backlash Review
Updated: May 29, 2019
With WrestleMania (and the Greatest Royal Rumble) in the rear view mirror, #WWE sets its sights on Backlash. But this time, the superstars of RAW and SmackDown LIVE will unite under one roof for the first co-branded PPV (outside of the big four) in almost two years.
AJ Styles will meet Shinsuke Nakamura one more time in a clash for the WWE Championship while Seth Rollins will defend his newly-won Intercontinental Title against former champion The Miz. With all this and more, it's safe to say that it will be a historic event. But will it live up to expectations?
Seth Rollins vs. The Miz (Intercontinental Championship)
Result: Seth Rollins defeated The Miz to retain the Intercontinental Championship
Review: The first match of this co-branded evening was a co-branded bout. Although The Miz was RAW's former Intercontinental Champion, his drafting to SmackDown LIVE changed things up. But before the Most Must-See WWE Superstar headed to the blue brand for good, he had unfinished business in the form of his guaranteed Intercontinental Title rematch.
The match's opening was somewhat more methodical than their recent multi-man encounters with Finn Balor and Samoa Joe, but that doesn't take anything away from it. It started slow, with a lot of Miz-heavy beatdown. But the match really hit its stride in its second half. With plenty of high-flying action and physicality between the two men, this match once again highlighted that Miz and Rollins are indeed two of the company's hottest stars right now. And it's unfortunate that we won't see them compete for a while.
With Rollins's injured knee and The Miz's desire to regain the gold, the match told a thoroughly compelling story. And there were some incredible sequences, especially Miz's counter of the Super-Plex Falcon Arrow into the Skull-Crushing Finale. But Rollins overcame the odds in a what was undoubtedly an incredible opener.
Nia Jax vs. Alexa Bliss (RAW Women's Championship)
Result: Nia Jax defeated Alexa Bliss to retain the RAW Women's Championship
Review: Much like their match at WrestleMania, this match focused on Bliss's inability to overcome the stronger Jax in the early-going. But, as we all could have predicted, Bliss waited for the Champion to make a mistake and capitalised. But this actually slowed the match down a little too much and it didn't pick up until Nia finally got back in control. Then, it consisted of her throwing the smaller challenger all over the place. This continued until Bliss threw Nia off the top rope to the outside and then DDT'd her on the steel steps. This was an unexpected surprise that made it seem possible for Bliss to succeed. But alas, the Champion retained with a thunderous Samoan Drop.
While the match started slow, it definitely picked up as it went on and ended up being much better than their WrestleMania showdown. Glad to see Nia's push continuing.
Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton (United States Championship)
Result: Jeff Hardy defeated Randy Orton to retain the U.S. Championship.
Review: On paper, the match sounded a lot better than it actually was. It wasn't bad, not by a long shot, but it was somewhat disappointing. Randy Orton has slowed down a lot in recent years, and the slow methodical approach hinders the match pacing and sucks the life out of the audience. There were a lot of great moments in there though — as you would expect with Jeff Hardy — including a great Whisper in the Wind and a Twist of Fate near-counter into the RKO. And it was capped off by a great Twist of Fate/Swanton Bomb combo finish from Hardy
Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass
Result: Daniel Bryan defeated Big Cass.
Review: Let's be honest, nobody wanted Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass, and this match did little to change our minds. It was slow and mostly revolved around Bryan's attempts to overcome the larger opponent. It definitely makes sense to give him a monstrously tall opponent, like Cass to ease him back in, as Bryan wouldn't be flying around everywhere — but the match was an unadulterated dud.
And while the match was brief, it appears that the feud won't be — unfortunately — as Cass attacked Bryan afterwards.
Carmella vs. Charlotte Flair (SmackDown Women's Championship)
Result: Carmella defeated Charlotte Flair to retain the SmackDown Women's Championship
Review: The first half of the match really dragged, because Carmella capitalized on Charlotte's mistake and did whatever she could to keep her down. Thus, we were subjected to submission after submission — none of which were successful. It did have a rather impressive sequence of counters, which saw the Figure Eight reversed into the Code of Silence. It definitely picked up in the closing moments, but it didn't exactly live up to expectations. It was also disappointing that they went for a distracted by injury finish that used to show up in the old Divas matches of days gone by.
AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE Championship)
Result: Neither man could answer the ten-count after low-blowing each other, thus Styles retained.
Review: There was a lot to love about this match. Due to Nakmura's heel turn at 'Mania, there was a lot of story here — and the No Disqualification stipulation benefited this. This one was less of the wrestling match we would expect from these two, and a lot more brutal than their previous encounters — and that mistake with the steel chair actually added to the drama. The sequence which saw Styles return a low blow with one of his own was a real full-circle moment that incited a great reaction from the audience. Both men were evenly matched throughout, and that final double low-blow spot was a worthy way to end it.
It was undoubtedly the best of their three outings, but the draw finish left us feeling robbed.
Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley vs. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens
Result: Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley defeat Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
Review: This wasn't really anything other than your typical run-of-the-mill tag team match that you'd see on RAW or SmackDown. There were some humorous moments in there, but other than the tension between Owens and Zayn, it didn't really add anything lasting to the event. In fact, the constant attacking of Owens and Zayn was a waste of two talented superstars.
Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe
Result: Roman Reigns defeated Samoa Joe
Review: This wasn't necessarily a bad match, but it didn't have anything interesting to offer. There were some great moments, but the audience just wasn't interested. For no reason whatsoever, Roman Reigns had to be in yet another PPV main event, which the vast majority of the WWE Universe had grown weary of — and it showed. But if that wasn't enough, a perfectly decent (but unoriginal) main event had to end with Reigns defeating a fan favorite. Because that's going to send the fans home happy, right?!
The Last Word Standing:
In a sea of disappointment, there were glimmers of hope. But unfortunately, bizarre booking decisions and a repetitive main event resulted in the first co-branded PPV being a major letdown. Although it started off with promise, a number of questionable decisions sent Backlash hurtling towards a very rough end. Unusual finishes aside, the Roman Reigns scenario is beyond repair yet WWE refuses to acknowledge the problem.
Overall Event Rating: C
Did you enjoy WWE Backlash? Let us know in the comments section below!