WWE BACKLASH FROM THE PRUDENTIAL CENTER IN NEWARK, NJ
A.J. Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in a no DQ match for WWE title
Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe
Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass
Seth Rollins vs. The Miz for IC title
Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton for U.S. title
Nia Jax vs. Alexa Bliss for Raw women's title
Carmella vs. Charlotte Flair for Smackdown women's title
Braun Strowman & Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
Bayley vs. Ruby Riott preshow match
On the heels of a controversial yet successful tour of Africa concluding with The Greatest Royal Rumble show live from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, WWE returns to home soil to put on their first dual-branded network special / pay per view in quite some time.
WWE has been running individual brand network specials / PPVs excluding Wrestlemania, Royal Rumble, and SummerSlam in an attempt to solidify Raw, Smackdown, and now NXT as three individual, can’t miss programs and brands. Today, as they love to do, they throw their own precedence and history out the window to bring you Backlash!
Typically, the Backlash PPV was used as a way to rematch opponents that did not have their feuds settled, aka blown off, at Wrestlemania. This year is no different. Vince must have felt like there was more money to be made in a joint show as opposed to an individual show, and he wanted to recoup some of his soon to lost football revenue. This tactic also allows the writers to not have to think too hard.
Pre Show match Ruby Riott vs. Bayley: Bayley was on the cusp of a big push in the closing moments of the first ever Women’s Battle Royal (formerly known as the Fabulous Moolah Battle Royal) at Wrestlemania 34, until she found herself pushed right out of the ring by Naomi. Bayley was poised to win and believed that she had after she tossed her former BFF Sasha out of the ring. However, as everyone had forgotten, including Baybay herself, Naomi was not eliminated. She had simply gone out of the ring under the top rope, which led to her getting back in the ring to send the hug machine soaring over the top rope. The crown was not thrilled. Everyone wanted Bayley to win. It would have been a nice way to start her push. Except that didn’t happen.
It’s been over a month since Wrestlemania 34 and Bayley finds herself jerking the pre-show curtain in a match against Ruby Riott. A WWE writing crutch is to double the consonant at the end of a name. This makes it more unique. BRANDING!
Riott is supposed to be feared because of that double T, and because she is a “shooter,” which is a kayfabe term for a person who can really wrestle, not just perform. “Shooter” gimmicks are in every promotion nowadays. It’s weird because a shooter is someone who is supposedly a real life bad ass. Thus, any character given that gimmick is essentially spitting in the face of kayfabe. “This person really fights. All the other people are just performing a play. Watch out because she may go off script and hurt her for real!” Lame. Regardless, Ruby Riott has proven to be a decent hand in the ring, and Bayley is still primed for that push, so hopefully, they have a decent 7-10 minute match that gets Bayley back on track.
Brauny the Strowman and Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn: Another ingenious crutch WWE writers use is to switch out vowel sounds with other letters, so rather than Sammy Zain, we get Sami Zayn. That makes him much cooler. #BRANDING
Lashley is the one to watch here. The former WWE champion has been a part of TNA’s Impact promotion for the last several years. Since his return, the crowd response has been lackluster. It may be because he’s been exposed as not quite the “shooter” he was turned out to be in his real MMA fights. Lashley was and probably still is a topnotch amateur wrestler, but in the cage when he’s “shooting,” his performances have been disappointing. He had the potential to be a UFC heavyweight champion like Brock Lesnar but decided that he liked pretty muscles more than doing cardio. He should have learned from Lesnar in that you can have both, you just have to cheat.
I feel bad for Strowman here. Just one month ago he was one-half of the WWE Raw tag team champions with partner Nicholas but had to vacate because Nicholas couldn’t defend the belts on school nights. Now Strowman has to settle for a new partner in Bob Lashley. Owens and Zayn are tremendous in the ring and should be able to carry the two lumbering lunkheads to a decent brawl.
Carmella vs. Charlotte Flair for the Smackdown women’s title: Carmella has yet to prove herself as a wrestler, but her character is tremendous. Charlotte is the best woman worker in the business in 2018, and she should be able to get a good match out of Carmella. WWE should put the belt right back on Charlotte. She needs to build that legacy further, and another title win would put her one step closer to cracking daddy Flair’s record of 16 (ish) title reigns.
Nia Jax vs. Alex Bliss for the RAW women’s title: In a rematch of their Wrestlemania 34 spectacle (lol), Jax looks to defend the prop for the first time. Smart money would say that they will flip one of the women’s belts, and since the better move would be to have Flair win her belt back and keep the Raw belt on Jax, they’ll most likely do the opposite.
Jax hasn’t shown herself to be a money draw or much in the way of a character, but WWE loves her look. They’re super into anyone with Samoan heritage, so much so that if you’re over 300lbs and you attend a WWE show, you may walk out with a contract. It would be best to keep Jax strong here, but I’m also expecting a banana peel loss for her giving Bliss the belt back.
Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton for the U.S. title: I saw this match live in 2008 at the Royal Rumble in Madison Square Garden for the WWE title. 10 years and multiple wellness strikes later, these fellas run it back for a lesser title, on a lesser show, in a lesser city. PROGRESS! That Rumble also had Jimmy Wang Yang and Shannon Moore defeating Deuce 'n Domino. What a difference a decade makes.
This match should be good. Jeff Hardy probably believes he has a lot left to prove and will probably pull out all the stops. If Orton decides to not mail it in, this match could be solid. I’d like to see a Swanton into an RKO.
Seth Rollins vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental title: I don’t care for either of these two fellas. The Miz will just never be a draw. He’s developed an awesome heel character, but that’s it. We’ve seen the Miz for what seems like an eternity on WWE programming and his character, while well developed, is just not believable. It comes across as a total character, even though I really believe he’s probably a true douche.
Rollins, on the other hand, is an incredible in-ring performer yet it’s unclear the character he is trying to portray. It just looks like he’s an indy wrestler from 2005 who hasn’t realized that soaking your hair, wearing pleather, and coming out to a Disturbed song isn’t enough to get over. A lot of people love him, but not me. This match will be well worked and exciting, so at least it has that.
Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass: Could Big Cass be any more generic? “Here’s what we're gonna do with ya kid. Grow your hair out, then wear part of a t-shirt, and do big man moves. You’ll be as over as Seth Rollins… but taller!” I’m not into Big Cass. Clearly, Enzo Amore was the heart of that duo. I’m not sure I smell success for Large Casserole.
Fortunately, this match is all about Daniel Bryan. Having just set the record for longest time in a Royal Rumble, Bryan’s push should continue here as the underdog looks to get his wrestling groove back. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really have a Nigel McGuinness on the other side of the ring to work with. Hopefully, it won’t matter much and Bryan can work his magic. Expect a lot of selling from Bryan and a lot of Kevin Nash hair fixing and stalling by Cass.
Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe: Having failed for something like the 80th time, Reigns puts his title hunt on hold to tackle the Samoan submission machine. Have I mentioned that WWE loves islanders? This should be a fun match, which is something I haven’t said about a Reigns match since The Shield was canceled. I really enjoyed Michael Chiklas on that show.
Joe hasn’t really been given the ball and I think this could be his time. He needs a clean win here. Whether or not they give it to him is yet to be determined as far as the public knows. If they really want to try with Reigns again, he needs to go on a significant losing streak then disappear for at least six months. He’s not a draw anymore. He’s burned out, stale, injured, and not at the top of his game. He’s failed time after time to win the big one, and since this isn’t a big one, they’ll probably have him win, which is stupid, because Joe could really use a monster push.
A.J. Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in a no DQ match for the WWE title: In one of the dumbest heel turns at Wresltemania since “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Nakamura looks to finally defeat Styles. In his mind, he couldn’t beat Styles straight away and thus cracked, leading to the multiple low blow attacks and the No DQ stipulation. The two had a decent match at Mania, which was followed by another above average yet unsatisfying match at The Greatest Royal Rumble show where they brawled to a double count-out.
I’m not saying they shouldn’t have turned Nakamura heel, but it felt like he should have gotten to the top as a babyface before the turn. Styles is the best in the world in terms of performance, and Nakamura is easily top 10 as well. This match should be awesome, and hopefully, with the addition of the No DQ stipulation, they’ll be able to do some insane stuff. I expect a lot here and I also expect a Nakamura victory.
There ya have it… a complete and fully accurate rundown of the upcoming Backlash PPV! Follow @comedysuplex on Twitter to get a running commentary on the show.