Backlash? It’s not 2009, is it? No it is not, but WWE have resurrected Backlash so let’s all be happy. The first brand exclusive PPV of the “new era” had the potential to go very wrong or very right. Luckily it was pretty darn good. Let’s run down the card match by match.
All The Women
The PPV kicked off with Daniel Bryan and Shane O’Mac out to introduce the new Women’s Championship. We’ve seen the belt before, its the same one Charlotte has but blue. Because competing brands you see. It’s a six women elimination match to crown the first champion. Each women get’s their own entrance. Notably, Alexa Bliss dressed as Harley Quinn and got a good reaction for it. The match itself was a pretty big stinker. Despite the six ladies involved, there was almost never more than two of them in the ring at a time, with the match simply going spot to spot with nothing in between. There was also some very major botches, mostly from Naomi and Natalya. For the most part, everybody had a good showing in the match, Bliss in particular. Eventually Becky Lynch submitted Carmella to become the first SmackDown Women’s Champion. It was a huge moment for Becky that got a much needed “You deserve it” chant. It’s so good to finally see Becky on top of the mountain, and it was the perfect finish to the opening match.
Zack Ryder Deserves Better.
Next up was the last semifinal for the Tag Team Tournament to crown the first champs on SmackDown. The Usos lost to American Alpha in the quarterfinals, but turned heel and kayfabe injured Chad Gable, so now they get to be back in the tournament for some reason. They’re facing off against The Hype Bros, Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley. The Hype Bros lost to Heath Slater and Rhyno in the other semifinal. This match was just time filler. Ryder spent 90% of the match selling for Roman’s cousins, before they kayfabe injured him and took the win. Zack Ryder is a very talented wrestler, and he deserves way better than jobbing alongside Mojo, who is fucking useless by the way.
Match of the Night
I’ve said in a lot of previous reviews that the IC title match is almost always the best match on every card, and Backlash was no different. The Miz and Dolph Ziggler put on an absolute stormer of a match. It wasn’t a five star match sure, but it was some of the best we’ve seen from The Miz and the best match Ziggler has had in quite some time. Miz did a fantastic job of working in his feud with Daniel Bryan by doing several of Bryan’s moves and mocking the “Yes” chant. Great heel work all around. The Miz has been on the absolute best run of his career since winning the IC title, and thankfully it gets to continue as Miz pinned Ziggler after interference from Maryse.
Thank You Brock
Hey, remember how WWE have been advertising Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt? Well fuck you, you’re not getting it. Earlier in the show we saw Bray injure Randy’s leg backstage, and Randy was unable to compete, resulting in Bray winning by forfeit. In reality, it turns out that Orton suffered a concussion when Brock Lesnar caved his head in at Summerslam and wasn’t medically cleared to compete. WWE apparently knew Orton wasn’t cleared and promoted the match anyways. Fucking carny. Anyways, Bray instead has to take on a returning Kane. Fair dues to Kane for taking the match on likely 1 day notice, but the match was pretty shitty. Bray does his best with Kane to salvage something passable, before Randy RKO’s Bray and Kane pins him for the win. Why the fuck did Kane win? WWE found a way to make sure that both Orton and Wyatt didn’t get over. Bleh.
Time to crown the first tag champs! It’s newly heel Jimmy and Jey Uso vs Heath Slater and Rhyno. Since the draft, WWE have been playing a story that Heath is so shit neitherbrand wanted to draft him. This lead to him showing up on both shows every week trying to get a contract and failing. Eventually Shane O’Mac said that if Slater won the Tag Tournament, he’d be awarded a SmackDown contract, as well as the belts. Heath teamed up with a returning Rhyno, and here they are. This story has been the best thing Heath has ever done, and has gotten him the fuck over. Riding high on this wave of popularity, Rhyno and Slater beat The Usos to capture the belts. It was a pretty forgettable match overall, although Heath did get a few good spots in and pick up the win. It was a terrific heart warming moment, Slater’s first title in WWE, Rhyno’s first WWE title in 15 years, and the perfect time to have them win the belts. Well done.
Main event time. AJ Styles challenging for Dean Ambrose’s WWE World Championship. AJ is riding an insane wave of momentum right now, fresh off beating John Cena clean at Summerslam. Dean’s championship run has gotten kind of stale as of late. It seems like the perfect time to put the world title on Styles. And they fucking did. AJ turned in a great performance during the match, busting out plenty of high spots and great mat wrestling. Dean kinda just did what Dean normally does. I suppose the two in ring styles might not work great with each other, but it seemed like Dean was having a hard time keeping up with AJ. In the end, AJ hit Ambrose in the cock, and then hit a Styles Clash for the belt. It was an absolutely huge moment for AJ Styles and a huge moment for wrestling. The timing will never be better for AJ to have a championship run and it just goes to show how talented he is that he won the fucking world title after only being in the company for 9 MONTHS. Well done WWE. Well done AJ.
Should You Care?
I believe so. Backlash was a B show, but I never expected it to be anything else. Overall I wasn’t blown away by the in ring work and the card was pretty short. On the other hand, the booking was pretty damn good and all the belts left with the right people. Backlash was a better show than Summerslam in my opinion, and is absolutely worth a watch if for no other reason than to see the new champions be crowned. What did you think of Backlash? Let me know in the comments!