Wrestling Review: WWE Backlash (2023)

Live from San Juan Puerto Rico is WWE Backlash, featuring a first time ever main-event when Cody Rhodes will face Brock Lesnar. Also on the card, one of the top streaming artists in the world, Bad Bunny face a fellow Puerto Rican in a San Juan Street Fight when he battles Damien Priest of The Judgement Day. Priest’s cohort in The Judgement Day, Rhea Ripley, will be in action as she defends her WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship against another Puerto Rican native, Zelina Vega. The Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair will defend her title against Iyo Sky of Damage CTRL, and Seth Rollins will get in the ring with the Nigerian Giant, Omos for the first time ever. Finally, the new Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn team with Matt Riddle to face the trio of The Bloodline’s Solo Sikoa, Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso.

+ Cody Rhodes vs Brock Lesnar: the match itself here was nothing particularly special, but the story going in, and more importantly what the story would be coming out of it were more than enough to keep my attention. The crowd was bonkers for both guys, and that just made the match more exciting. Michael Cole compared this to Lesnar/Cena from SummerSlam in 2014, and that is a fair comparison but with a more modern twist
+ Sami Zayn, Kevin Owen & Matt Riddle vs The Bloodline (Solo Sikoa, Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso): following the street fight, it took the crowd a little bit to get into this one, but when they did the match immediately clicked. Solo Sikoa is clearly the least experienced of these six, but there is something really special about him that draws your attention. The Usos are great, Owens and Zayn are great, and Riddle can be great, so this was of course a well wrestled match. I enjoyed this, once it got going
+ Bad Bunny vs Damien Priest (San Juan Street Fight): there was a lot going on here, and it wasn’t pretty – but it sure was fun. I’ve always thought Priest had a big upside, even since his Punishment Martinez days, and this move to team with The Judgement Day is more proof of that. A handful of surprises got massive reactions from the crowd, and this was the kind of weapon-heavy stuff you’ll either love or hate. Bad Bunny clearly enjoys this more than many other celebrities that get involved, and the match was better for it. This was a great success
+ Austin Theory (c) vs Bobby Lashley vs Bronson Reed (WWE United States Championship): I was one of the people that really thought Reed made a mistake in leaving NJPW, but after his showing in the Elimination Chamber and then again here, I think maybe I was wrong. Lashley is an underrated guy on the roster even with the accomplishments Michael Cole leaves to read out. Unfortunately, that means that Theory was the least impressive and kind of an afterthought in his own title defence. This was good, but a bit too short to get into properly
+ Seth Rollins vs Omos (w/ MVP): under no circumstances would you call this a good match, but I think it’s fair to say it was better than any other match Omos has had and better than I thought it was going to be. Seth Rollins is a wizard
+ Bianca Belair (c) vs Iyo Sky (WWE Raw Women’s Championship): holy smokes, this was probably biggest ‘cheering for the other person’ crowd I’ve seen since Hogan/Rock in Toronto. This crowd absolutely loved Iyo and was behind everything she did, even the rare few times it looked a bit wonky. This was a great back and forth match and as much as I hated the way it ended, it all makes sense. This was a fantastic match, and I hope a real sign of things to come for both Bianca and Iyo. Bianca did nearly kill Iyo at one point, but thankfully everyone came out mostly unscathed

Rhea Ripley (c) vs Zelina Vega (WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship): I got emotional for Zelina coming back to wrestling in Puerta Ria, and then doubly so because I gave her no chance at all of winning the title here. Whether that was true or not, this was a relatively short match and not much of anything in-ring

Should you watch this event: This crowd helped elevate a good show into an all-time great show. They were hot for every single move in every match and it made everything feel special. This was a great show to watch, especially if you skip all the filler garbage.


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