After putting together a solid WrestleMania 37 in April, WWE decided to attach the ‘Mania name to this year’s Backlash event in the hope that it would drive up interest. Whether it succeeded is up for debate.
The post-WrestleMania pay-per-view featured five title bouts, a Lumberjack match and plenty of action. All four of the top titles across the men’s and women’s divisions were defended in addition to the SmackDown Tag Team Championships.
Sheamus came out during the pre-show and issued another non-title open challenge. Ricochet answered the call in what appeared to be his street clothes.
The high-flyer went straight for Sheamus after the bell, but one stiff headbutt from the Irishman put him on the mat. The United States titleholder kept him on defense for a long time with a few slams and clubbing blows.
The One and Only was able to break free and hit a springboard clothesline followed by a shooting star press into a springboard moonsault for a two-count.
Ricochet dropped Sheamus with a backstabber and hit a beautiful 450 splash for a near-fall, but The Celtic Warrior kicked out of a roll-up and hit a huge knee to the face for the win.
Other than Main Event, this feels like the first time we have seen Ricochet in a long time, so it was a little surprising to see him answer the challenge instead of Mansoor or Humberto Carrillo.
The One and Only hit every move with precision. Sheamus, on the other hand, had a couple of sloppy moments that stood out. Other than that, this was a solid match that did little to advance anyone’s storyline.
Ricochet attacked Sheamus after the match, but since he lost, he gained nothing out of it. He might pursue the U.S. title going forward, but WWE should have had him win the non-title encounter if that was the plan.
It would be great to see Ricochet get a renewed push, but it’s hard to have faith in WWE when it has failed to use him properly so many times before.
All three competitors circled each other before Charlotte rolled out of the ring. Asuka and Ripley forced her back in and momentarily teamed up on her before turning on each other.
The Queen pulled Asuka out of the ring and hit a fallaway slam to take her out of the equation for a little while. Ripley and Charlotte then played a game of oneupmanship that ended when Charlotte played dirty.
She tripped The Nightmare on the apron before rolling Asuka back into the ring for an illegal choke against the middle rope. The Empress of Tomorrow got fired up and hit a flurry of strikes.
Ripley went on a rampage and almost scored the win with a northern lights suplex. Charlotte got both women out of the ring and took them out with a moonsault from the top turnbuckle.
Moments later, Asuka and Ripley teamed up to hit a double superplex on Charlotte. After a brief exchange, they both kicked out of a double Natural Selection.
But Ripley was able to take advantage of a mistake from Charlotte and hit Asuka with Riptide for the win.
This Triple Threat match had good aggression, a few high spots and some great back-and-forth exchanges. They came up with some fun spots that involved all three Superstars, too.
At times, it genuinely felt like anyone could win, but we all knew this would end with Ripley standing tall. She had just won the belt at WrestleMania, and WWE wasn’t going to take it off of her so soon.
Predictability aside, this was a fun opening match. Asuka taking the pin means Charlotte will probably claim she deserves a rematch because she never lost.
Thanks to a backstage attack from Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler, Dominik Mysterio was forced to drop out of the match. This left Rey all alone to fight for the titles.
He managed to get an early advantage by using his speed to avoid his opponents, but Roode hit a forearm to the back of the head to stop him in his tracks.
From that point forward, The Master of the 619 was fighting an uphill battle. Quick tags and attacks targeting his legs kept him grounded, and he barely managed to beat a countout at one point.
The high-flyer countered a double suplex into a double DDT to give himself a chance to recover before Dominik limped to the ring so he could join the match. Rey refused to tag him and almost lost when Ziggler hit a ZigZag.
After taking a lot of punishment, Rey finally tagged Dom. He knocked The Showoff off the apron before going after Roode. The Glorious One planted him with a spinebuster almost immediately.
After making a comeback, Dominik hit a big splash from the top rope to get the pin and win the tag titles with his father.
As soon as Dominik said he was unable to compete, it was obvious he was going to arrive at some point in the match anyway. WWE has told this story many times.
Rey is the ultimate underdog because he knows how to make every beating look like the worst he has ever taken. When he makes his comeback, it’s always enjoyable.
Dominik needs a lot of work, but he has worked with some of the most talented Superstars on the roster since he debuted, so most of his shortcomings have been easy to mask.
This was a good match with a coherent story. The ending was easy to see coming from a mile away but that didn’t make it any less special for Dominik. He just got to win his first title in WWE with his father. Nobody else has been able to say that before.
WWE decided to cross-promote Batista’s new movie, Army of the Dead, so the lumberjacks for this were people dressed up as zombies.
The bell rang and the zombies surrounded the ring. The Miz was distracted but still locked up with Priest. The Archer of Infamy sent him out of the ring but he managed to avoid the undead.
When The A-Lister tossed his opponent out, he took out a few zombies before rolling back in. He ended up rolling under the ring to avoid them. When he got back in, Priest ran him over with a clothesline.
At one point, The Miz and Priest were fighting the zombies together. John Morrison came back to help The Miz but was overtaken by the zombies. Priest got the win and then immediately jumped out of the ring so the undead could take The A-Lister.
There isn’t much to say about this. It was Gobbledy Gooker levels of embarrassment.
The only way this would have been worse is if Zack Snyder directed it with a load of slow-motion to make it take longer.
The match started with an exchange of waistlocks that ended with Bianca Belair throwing Bayley out of the ring. The Role Model got right back in and locked up with her again.
They kept things technical for a few minutes but as soon as Belair hit the first dropkick, the tone shifted. She whipped Bayley from corner to corner while taunting her with the threat of a hair whip.
The challenger grabbed Belair’s ear and yanked her down to take control. They fought at ringside where Bayley dropped The EST of WWE onto the steel steps and then suplexed her onto the floor.
The Role Model laughed at The EST until Belair dropped her with a right hand. Bayley hit an elbow drop for a two-count as they started to build toward the finish.
Bayley raked the eyes of Belair while the ref had his back turned. She hit the Bayley to Belly, but The EST refused to stay down for the count. The champion rolled her up with some help from her braid to get the victory.
Bayley has long been one of the most consistent performers on the roster, and this match was another example of why she will always be around the title scene.
Belair is an outstanding performer, but she still has a couple of things to work on. This bout highlighted how Bayley’s experience made her the smoother Superstar. You could see The EST struggle in a couple of spots where she looked uncomfortable.
Despite those minor critiques, these two brought out the best in each other. This is the first of what will probably be many encounters between Bayley and Belair, so they should only get better from here.
Bobby Lashley offered Drew McIntyre an alliance, but Braun Strowman took down both men before they could agree to anything.
Once they got back to their feet, The All Mighty and The Scottish Warrior started working together.
They lifted Strowman up for an impressive double vertical suplex. As soon as he was down, they turned on each other. The Scot launched the champ with a belly to belly.
The Monster Among Men took out both men with a dive off the apron. A few moments later, McIntyre took out both opponents with a crossbody from the top rope.
After The All Mighty took out McIntyre, Strowman hit the WWE champion with a set of steps. McIntyre and Lashley fought on the stage until the former threw the latter through part of the set.
Strowman and McIntyre traded near-falls when they got back to the ring. The Scottish Warrior hit a Michinoku Driver in an impressive show of power. The Monster Among Men powerbombed him through the announce table in retaliation.
After McIntyre nailed a Claymore, Lashley returned and threw him out of the ring so he could hit the Spear on Strowman for the pin.
Calling this a car crash of a match would be an understatement. This was a multi-vehicle pile-up that never seemed to stop. It was awesome.
We can mock WWE for stuff like zombies and train sound effects, but when it puts a few beefy powerhouses in the ring together, it’s usually a fun time.
Taking Lashley out at the halfway mark allowed McIntyre and Strowman to do a lot of damage to each other, making it easier for The All Mighty to swoop in and capitalize. It worked perfectly.
Roman Reigns was accompanied by Paul Heyman, but he seemingly told Jey Uso to stay back because he sounded like he had doubt in his voice.
The Tribal Chief backed Cesaro to the corner but they made a clean break. Reigns scored the first takedown with a shoulder tackle. The challenger returned the favor and got a few near-falls, forcing Reigns to take a breather at ringside.
They kept the pace steady as they traded strikes. The Big Dog took control again and beat Cesaro down in the corner. The Swiss Superman drilled him with a popup uppercut out of nowhere.
He brought Reigns down with a corkscrew plancha over the top rope. A running uppercut and a crossbody almost got Cesaro the win. The Tribal Chief countered him on the apron and regained the upper hand, but he couldn’t keep him down for a three-count.
He began focusing on the arm Cesaro injured earlier in the match. Reigns even addressed Daniel Bryan directly as he looked into the camera while punishing The Swiss Superman.
Cesaro began to build some momentum and hit a superplex from the apron for a two-count. Reigns countered the Neutralizer and locked in an armbar. The Swiss Superstar broke free but was quickly taken down with a Superman Punch.
Cesaro broke a guillotine choke and put Reigns in the Sharpshooter. The Tribal Chief put him back in the guillotine and choked him out to win after a long struggle.
After it was over, Jey Uso attacked Cesaro with Reigns’ blessing. Seth Rollins came down and joined in on the beating. He put a chair on The Swiss Superman’s arm and whipped it into the ring post before hitting a Stomp to end the show.
This match was designed to start slow so it could slowly pick up steam over time. They did an excellent job pacing themselves between the moments of chaos.
As always, Reigns carried himself like a star. He has a presence about him that makes every match and segment he is in feel important. Even with all of Cesaro’s power and experience, he still felt like an underdog compared to The Tribal Chief.
They told a great story and looked good doing it. Power, technical prowess and good character work drove this performance to be the best of the night.
Other than the zombie stuff, Backlash proved to be a good PPV. Even if the entire card was predictable, the action made up for it.