Bianca Belair (C) def. Iyo Sky – RAW Women’s Championship
I don’t know about you guys, but I thought this was a very good professional wrasslin match with an insane atmosphere. What I liked about this match with Belair is her selling. I don’t see that typically for an extended period of time, but I love how Iyo specifically targeted the arm and how Bianca was able to sell that damage and how it impacted her moves. That made each move towards the finish even more impactful. And Iyo, man. I think this has to be her best performance since being called up to the main roster. It was such a complete performance and also a part of the reason why she was very special in NXT.
The interference that was botched by Damage CTRL towards the end was fine as well, even though the shtick of Bianca overcoming all 3 of them has gotten a bit stale since we’ve been doing this for months, now. But I have little to complain about. The reversals, the counters, the selling and the near-falls made this an excellent opener. I was also pretty surprised at how pro-Iyo the crowd was. But after that performance, can I blame them? ****1/4
Seth Rollins def. Omos
Result of the match here wasn’t shocking as Omos loses yet another high-profile match, this time someone to half his size. This is more or less what I was expecting. Omos dominated with his power and Seth had to compensate with his speed and athleticism. The top rope Curb Stomp was a very good adjustment to compensate for Omos’ size and it looked pretty solid. I don’t have much more to say on this because this was a match randomly put together at the last minute. All I’ll say is one of these days, Omos is going to need a convincing win against a top competitor if we are to even start to take him remotely serious. You can put all the video packages together of him being big, tall and walking in dominant fashion, but if it’s ending up in losses, it holds little water. **1/4
Austin Theory (C) def. Bronson Reed and Bobby Lashley – United States Championship
Man, I could have used another 5 or so minutes of this. Bronson Reed was absolutely insane here. It was just balls-to-the-wall action from the start. I don’t know if they were told about a time restriction or something, because I though this could have gotten very good if we reached about 10 minutes or so. Theory was great as the opportunistic heel, Lashley did Lashley things, and Reed was just flying left and right. There’s only so much you can break down in a 7 minute match with 3 competitors, but I liked what I saw. It was a fun little sprint. Wanted more, however. ***
Rhea Ripley (C) def. Zelina Vega – SmackDown Women’s Championship
First and foremost, I’m very happy Zelina Vega got her moment, which looks like it meant a lot to her. It was genuinely touching, and I hope this is a moment she won’t forget any time soon. The match itself was…..passable. While Zelina is a great character and energetic in what she does, you can tell that extended matches isn’t really her forte, so the briefness of the match didn’t come as a surprise. Zelina winning was never realistic, and you could also just tell from the size difference. It didn’t look like anything Zelina was doing to Rhea could affect her physically unless she was using her own momentum against her.
In addition to this, it looked like Rhea had to be extra delicate with her. Not sure if you noticed, but Rhea did a “hard” Irish whip to Zelina about three times in a row and Zelina had to sell her back and collapsed each time. Honestly speaking, I’m not sure Rhea could have done a softer Irish whip if she tried. All that being said, it was still passable as I mentioned and okay for what it was. Another bump in the road for Rhea until the rematch with Charlotte or Bianca. **1/2
Bad Bunny def. Damian Priest – Street Fight
This was everything I was expecting it to be and more. A fun, chaotic car crash. Bad Bunny just hasn’t missed in a WWE ring yet. He doesn’t have to be the best on the microphone and he doesn’t have to be the most technical performer. But all I know is that man has delivered when he’s been called upon by WWE. From the WrestleMania tag match to now, he and Logan Paul have quickly set a high bar for WWE performances.
I thought the pacing was good as they gradually got more physical. And then of course, the run-ins by Savio Vega and that insane pop for Carlito Cool was insane and put everything over the top. And hey, Bad Bunny with some psychology by attacking Priest’s legs. How about that? The crowd was hot for every minute of this and I was personally sports entertained. I don’t know, but based on how that match ended and how electric the crowd was, this just feels like this should have been the main event. They’re not the biggest names on the card, but this match may end up having the biggest impact. We’ll see how Cody/Brock fares, but this was a barn-burner for me. ****1/4
The Bloodline def. Matt Riddle, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens
That was an action and story-filled six-man tag team match that I thought was very well done. I thought the Sami Zayn heat segment lasted a little long, but once Riddle got the hot tag after that, it was intense action, and I loved the tension that was boiling over between The Usos and Solo. The cracks are clearly forming, and much like the anticipation to Sami turning on The Bloodline at the Royal Rumble was a moment worth waiting for, it looks like the next shoe to drop is Solo officially exiling The Usos from the Bloodline, leaving Roman and Solo to dominate by themselves.
The action itself was just high level stuff, with bodies flying around everywhere. It got a little superkick-y towards the end, but it was still very, very good stuff. The fallout should be interesting. ***1/2
Cody Rhodes def. Brock Lesnar
I don’t know. I suppose this was a very good main event. I just think that there was a lot of histrionics thrown into the match that made it a bigger deal than it actually was. Specifically speaking, the blood. Look man, as the camera zoomed in Brock, that “blood” visibly looked like Kool-aid. I understand adding blood is intended to add a kind of edginess, but for a match that was under 10 minutes and a finish like that, it just felt something that felt like manufactured drama. It really didn’t even feel like a fight. It felt like a slog that gradually increased in intensity, and there is a difference.
The action itself was pretty good, but again, this was just one tier below your average Brock Lesnar match that isn’t just a bunch of Germans and one or two finishers. Lesnar approaching 10 minutes in a match is actually a rarity, so that’s a step up. As far as the finish goes, it did leave me lukewarm. This was supposed to be a triumphant step towards Cody’s journey to redemption and finishing his story. Instead, he visibly escapes and wins by a fluke. I just feel like at this stage of Brock’s career, it wouldn’t have hurt if he put Cody over stronger with his finishers and have Cody look like a triumphant hero. Instead, he looks like a lucky man who benefited from circumstance. So a good main event, but had a lot of theatrics that didn’t really contribute to the match in any way. ***1/4
Overall, I thought Backlash was a solid show. There were a couple of matches that may be worth a replay and nothing was actively bad or terrible. Considering the lack of top tier star power on the show, I thought it held up well. And no doubt the Puerto Rican crowd added an extra element that gave the show some extra juice. So thumbs up for Backlash.
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