On May 8, World Wrestling Entertainment will be running back some of the matches and storylines that featured in WrestleMania 38 with this year’s installment of WrestleMania Backlash. The event is to be held at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. Some of these feuds have only grown hotter in the aftermath of WM38, while others have failed to set the world on fire.
Out of the announced card so far, here is a rundown of what to expect as WWE’s superstars seek their WrestleMania retribution:
Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey
At WrestleMania 38, Rousey was as good as her word and made Charlotte Flair, the reigning Friday Night SmackDown women’s champion, tap out. It was just her bad luck that the referee didn’t call it. Rousey’s deserved victory was fed to the perennial ‘Charlotte is a cheater’ narrative, and Flair retained the belt. The two have had a series of dust-ups since, some of which have resulted in WWE official Drew Gulak being put in submission. Rousey’s latest WWE run has been lacking in the novelty that powered the first half of her first stint with the company. The feud with Flair has fallen flat despite both superstars’ demonstrable talent for submission wrestling. With their May 8 bout featuring an ‘I quit’ stipulation, it seems that Rousey will lose her second bid for the SmackDown women’s title and venture out of the WWE Universe for the time being.
A.J. Styles vs Edge, with Damian Priest
Edge’s open challenge to ‘The Phenomenal One’ proved to be a career turning point. Not only did Edge turn heel in the feud, but at WrestleMania 38 he premiered a vampire gimmick. In the Attitude Era vampire stable The Brood, he was the acolyte of master vampire Gangrel. Edge is now leading the coven, with former United States Champion Damian Priest as his henchman. Edge’s skill as a promo artist brings the fun concept to life. If WWE were so inclined, the stable could grow over time and take in the misfit toys of WWE’s midcard. For the time being, a win over Styles at Backlash will most likely serve as another chance for Edge and Priest to solidify their act.
Bobby Lashley vs Omos
Former WWE Champion Lashley overcame the colossal Omos at WrestleMania 38. Their feud began in the wake of MVP’s betrayal. After serving as the guiding hand of the Hurt Business, and Lashley’s mouthpiece, MVP decided to place his money on Omos, tossing Lashley aside. Omos’s string of midcard wins following his own falling out with former mentor and tag team partner A.J. Styles built his persona as a fearsome, nearly invincible titan. However, in reality he still has a lot of room to grow in the ring. Being pitted against Lashley is a proving ground for the rookie Omos. He’ll likely get a win over Lashley in reprisal for their last encounter, which Lashley will answer on Monday Night Raw. This story is still unfolding, and Omos has much to learn before he can reign as WWE’s resident giant.
Seth Rollins and Cody Rhodes
In WrestleMania 38’s most dramatic moment, Cody Rhodes was revealed to be Seth Rollins’s mystery opponent. Rhodes exited his EVP role at All Elite Wrestling in February 2022. His return to WWE was both shrouded in secrecy and, paradoxically, highly speculated upon as WrestleMania grew closer. His debut marked his first WWE appearance since 2016. Rollins’s and Rhodes’s match pitted the son of ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes against one of the elder Rhodes’s star pupils from the dawn of NXT. With that thread of shared history binding them, Rhodes and Rollins engaged in an enervating match which showcased their mutual instinct for athletically robust showmanship, and highlighted the contrast in their characters. Their feud has eased Rhodes’s path back into the WWE Universe, making his babyface character seem even more personable pitted against Rollins’s Joker-esque deranged heel. Their rematch is sure to be the highlight of Backlash, and just another strike in one of Monday Night Raw’s best feuds.
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