One month removed from the first live WWE show with fans in attendance, Wrestlemania Backlash returns to the WWE Thunderdome on a night of championship defences. In the main event, Roman Reigns will defend his Universal Championship against an unlikely challenger: Cesaro. Cesaro has been the workhorse of the entire WWE for a decade now, and his match against Reigns will be Cesaro’s first ever one-on-one World Championship match, and Roman Reigns will not let this moment get to him. For Monday Night Raw, a triple threat match will take place where Bobby Lashley defends against two of the biggest and baddest competitors in the WWE, Braun Strowman and Drew McIntyre. Rhea Ripley must also defend her Raw Women’s title against Charlotte Flair and Asuka, in a match with lots of Wrestlemania history between all three competitors, while for SmackDown, Bianca Belair must defend against Bayley. Meanwhile, Rey and Dominik Mysterio are looking to become the first ever father/son tag team champions as they contest with The Dirty Dawgs (Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode), and The Miz must face off with Damien Priest in a lumberjack match.
+ Roman Reigns (c) (w/ Paul Heyman) vs Cesaro (WWE Universal Championship): I loved everything about this, except for the horrendous commentary by Michael Cole, who insisted in calling Cesaro a ‘young upstart’, and the aftermath of the match itself. Roman Reigns as a bad guy is far and away one of the most dominant characters, and intriguing real-world story potentials the WWE has had in years, and that made this match even more interesting. If you go back through my wrestling reviews, however, I promise that I have been saying that Cesaro is the best wrestler in the WWE since I started this blog. I know I’m getting my hopes up, but I really hope that this is the start of something really special for Cesaro and he is given these big matches more often, because he delivers every single time
+ Bobby Lashley (c) (w/ MVP) vs Braun Strowman vs Drew McIntyre (WWE Championship): ooft, look at all that beef. This was not quite a ‘sprint’ as many multi-man matches can be with smaller guys, but this was relatively short match (in fact, the shortest of all title matches on the show) full of big moments. I’ve made no secret that I am a fan of all three of these guys, so I was entertained from start to finish. I don’t know if this will win any awards from a technical standpoint, but if you like big bois doing big boi things then this is for you
+ Bianca Belair (c) vs Bayley (WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship): two things have become clear over the last few months: (1), Bianca Belair is an absolute cannot miss mega star in the making, and; (2), Bayley is the best performer on the entire WWE women’s roster, if not out of everyone. This match was fantastic, full of callbacks to Belair’s great match against Sasha Banks at Wrestlemania, and a great reminder of just how good Bayley can be when given the chance. I really liked this
+ Rhea Ripley (c) vs Asuka vs Charlotte Flair (WWE Raw Women’s Championship): this was pretty good overall, and if you still imagine each woman to be at their peak, this was the biggest possible threat threat match you could have. There were a few clunky spots here, including that moonsault that Charlotte always does and it never looks like it went properly, but this was still really good. I enjoyed this, and now that Charlotte is unequivocally the bad guy, I enjoy her more
– The Miz (w/ John Morrison) vs Damien Priest (Lumberjack Match): imagine having an athlete like Morrison, a performer like Priest and a talker like The Miz and subjecting them to this bullshit
– The Dirty Dawgs (Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode) (c) vs Rey Mysterio (WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championships): after an attack on Dominik left him unable to compete, Rey Mysterio had to contend for the titles on his own and so we all knew exactly how this was going to go from the moment it began. Rey Mysterio is great, but they are using him too much to try and make Dominik popular. Both the Dawgs are fine, but I never believe either man will be anything bigger than a tag champion in the future. I didn’t care for this
– the aftermath of the main event gets a negative all to itself. I don’t know who thought this was a good idea, but it was not, and it made me not want to watch any more WWE when my favourite guys are involved.
Should you watch this event: Leaving aside the horrendous Lumberjack Match, this was a good show. Roman Reigns/Cesaro was great for we long-time fans of Claudio Castagnoli, Lashley/McIntyre/Strowman was a great big man match, and both the women’s championships were really good showings for all involved. With that in mind, this has to be considered a really good show overall.