On May 8, World Wrestling Entertainment held its WrestleMania: Backlash event at the Dunkin
Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. The event is a reprisal of the action of April 2 and 3’s WrestleMania 38, featuring rematches between WWE Superstars who were opponents at WrestleMania. With a championship change and a surprise heel turn in the event’s action, there was plenty to drive the storyline on Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown in the weeks to come.
Cody Rhodes vs Seth Rollins
The event kicked off with the highly anticipated rematch between Cody Rhodes and Seth ‘Freakin’ Rollins. The ‘American Nightmare’ and ‘The Visionary’ make for enthusiastic opponents, who approach their bouts with an old-fashioned combination of visual flair, showmanship, and ring chemistry. Technically driven, with several false finishes, the match ended with a narrow victory for Rhodes. That victory was heatedly contested by Rollins, signifying that another confrontation driven by Rollins’s grievances is on the way when the two return to Raw.
Edge vs AJ Styles
True to Styles’s roots in NJPW, his bout with Edge was a lengthy and physical one. In another nod to his history, fellow ex-Bullet Club leader Finn Balor came to Style’s defense against Edge. However, a mysterious ally of Edge’s evened the odds in his favor. Edge was victorious, and his ally was revealed to be Rhea Ripley. The former Raw women’s champion split with tag team partner Liv Morgan, and a heel turn for her has been teased for some time. Edge’s stable has grown, with Ripley joining Damien Priest on ‘the dark side.’
Omos vs Bobby Lashley
Flashback to 2020: Bobby Lashley, flanked by Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin, with MVP as their mouthpiece, was part of the popular Hurt Business stable. Lashley and MVP shed Benjamin and Alexander, and on the road to WrestleMania 38 MVP jettisoned Lashley. MVP began managing Omos, leaving Lashley a man alone. The former WWE Champion faced his WrestleMania 38 opponent once again, and Omos’s victory seems to indicate a changing of the guard. WWE seems to have found its new titan, displacing the formidable ‘Almighty’ Lashley for the time being.
Ronda Rousey vs Charlotte Flair
The feud between Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey has not been all that it could have been, but it’s had it’s inspired moments. All the fits and starts were worth their WrestleMania Backlash bout. Their ‘I quit’ match became a brawl that traveled throughout the Dunkin Donuts center. Flair and Rousey battled along the ramp, and in the audience, trading shots with steel chairs and kendo sticks with single-minded ferocity on both their parts. When the two made it back to the ring, they traded punishing submissions. Neither would say the fateful words, ‘I quit’. Locking Flair in an armbar with a steel chair thrown in for good measure, Rousey managed to make ‘The Queen’ tap out, earning the SmackDown women’s championship.
Happy Corbin vs Madcap Moss
There’s just no coming back from telling your best friend he dresses like he’s attending a funeral for Tommy Bahama. The laughter is dead between Friday Night SmackDown jesters Corbin and Moss. Moss, who has had many showcases in the last few months for his buoyant in-ring style, prevailed against Corbin’s punishing, heavy-hitting moveset for a victory against his former friend.
RK-Bro and Drew McIntyre vs The Bloodline
Roman Reigns raised eyebrows at a recent New Jersey live show with comments that seemed to indicate that he was taking time off from WWE. While it remains to be seen if this is the case, he once again main-evented a WWE ppv in a six man tag alongside cousins the Usos, pitted against RK-Bro and Drew McIntyre. McIntyre seems destined to be Reigns’s challenger for the WWE Undisputed Universal Champion. He has the build to pose a compelling challenge for Reigns, the two have history, and since his WWE Championship run in 2020 McIntyre has proved to be a solid babyface with a Bret Hart-esque consistency.
Randy Orton, who recently commemorated 20 years with World Wrestling Entertainment, featured prominently in the match with his signature RKO maneuver, much to the pleasure of the crowd. McIntyre also got a chance to incapacitate Reigns with his ‘Claymore’, perhaps a taste of what is to come. The two brawled outside the apron, demolishing the announce table when Reigns dropped McIntyre through the structure. Reigns won the match for the Bloodline with a spear and cover on Riddle for a pinfall victory.
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