The greatest champion of the modern WWE era gets robbed again!
After not having a match at last month’s WrestleMania weekend, everyone’s favorite role model, Bayley, had a shot to regain the SmackDown! Women’s Championship that she lost to Sasha Banks at October’s HELL IN A CELL. This time, Bayley would have to go through the phenomenal Bianca Belair, who beat Banks in the main event of WrestleMania NIGHT ONE.
The longest-reigning SmackDown! Women’s Champion struggled in the beginning of the match, with the younger Belair managing to overcome even the smallest advantage Bayley managed to muster against the champ. But she eventually looked like she figured it out, gaining the edge on Belair and putting the champ on her heels. But it wasn’t Belair’s heels that caused problems for the challenger. It was the champ’s hair.
Despite being told not to touch Belair’s ridiculously long pony tail, Bayley began to use it against the champ in the waning moments of the match. But when Bayley tried to tie Belair up in the pony tail, and Belair reversed the move into a roll-up, with Bayley still tied up in Belair’s hair, giving the champ a win out of nowhere. Yet another terrible miscarriage of justice against one of the best superstars in the modern WWE. Hopefully, our role model can get another shot at the SmackDown! Women’s Championship, so she can rightfully reclaim what’s hers.
Best Match: Universal Championship Match: Roman Reigns ( c ) defeated Cesaro – This is, right now, my favorite match of the year. I have been waiting for Cesaro to get a legitimate run at the main event for his entire time in WWE, as I believe he’s been woefully underutilized over the last decade. He looks good, he can work and when given the chance, he can actually be good on the mic. He’s just not given the chance very often. After having a great match with Seth Rollins at WrestleMania, he finally gets a shot at the top spot, in a match with Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship. And Cesaro made the most of the opportunity.
Roman Reigns has been on a roll since he won the Universal Championship last summer, having great matches with Kevin Owens and Daniel Bryan and Edge and even Jey Uso, but his WrestleMania Backlash main event with Cesaro was a masterpiece. Reigns was the Big Dog, who knows what it takes to be the main event, with Cesaro the inexperienced big match player doing his best to prove that he belonged. Reigns was able to use his big match experience to overcome the hungry Swiss Superman, locking him in a guillotine choke that he was unable to escape because of an injured right arm.
After the match, Jey Uso assaulted Cesaro and then Seth Rollins – apparently wearing the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat – joined in on the beating and destroyed Cesaro’s arm with a chair.
Cesaro and Reigns worked well together and I really hope that this isn’t Cesaro’s only shot at a main event against Reigns. Maybe he won’t win the big one – even though I think he should – but we could definitely use him in the main event for some great matches.
Worst Match: Zombie Lumberjack Match: Damian Priest defeated The Miz – From a tag team match at WrestleMania featuring Bad Bunny to a tie-in advertising Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead on Netlfix, Damian Priest has had quite the auspicious big event debut in WWE. The zombie aspect of the lumberjack match came as a surprise, as Miz’s hetero life mate John Morrison went to the lumberjack locker room to “make a deal,” only to find a small band of the undead. The match was set against a post-apocalyptic backdrop on the Thunderdome screens, with the zombies attacking Miz and Priest instead of just keeping them in the match. It was a ridiculous segment, but at least it was in a throw-away midcard feud that’s already had celebrity involvement. Maybe next month, they can have a Hell in a Cel rematch where the whole thing is animated… Maybe I shouldn’t give WWE any ideas.
Double Triple Terrific – I have frequently expressed my dislike of WWE-style Triple Threat matches, where it’s one fall to a finish, one guy is usually knocked out on the floor so two competitors can have the spotlight, and a champion doesn’t even have to be pinned to lose their title. I am a much bigger proponent of the old ECW-style Three-Way Dances, which were essentially elimination matches until one guy was left standing. It gives the match more of a story and allows the people in the match a little bit more room to play.
Having said that, WrestleMania Backlash featured two Triple Threat matches that completely defied my expectations. Both the WWE Championship and the Raw Women’s Championship Triple Threat matches were a lot of fun and didn’t necessarily fall for the typical WWE triple threat traps.
In the show opener, Rhea Ripley defended her title against former champ Asuka and perennial champ/contender Charlotte Flair. There didn’t feel like there were any dead spots in the match and all three women had spotlight moments against the other two. Ripley managed to get the win over Asuka after she knocked Flair out of the ring, retaining the title she won at WrestleMania. The WWE Championship Triple Threat had a similar ending – Champion Bobby Lashley knocking Drew McIntyre out of the ring to get a pin on a prone Braun Strowman – but it didn’t feel like too much like a retread, especially after the symphony of violence the three men put on. With Lashley getting another win under his belt, it may be time now to move on from McIntyre, and it’s definitely time to get Strowman out of the main event scene. It’s been a long time since I’ve bought him as an actual threat.
No Tag Title Mystery – Rey Mysterio and his son, Dominik, got a win over the SmackDown! Tag Team Champions Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode, making them the first father and son to hold tag team gold in WWE. At the start, it looked like it would be a handicap match, as the champs injured the younger Mysterio before the show started, but Dominik hobbled down to the ring holding his ribs to help his dad out. It was a fairly standed Mysterio-Ziggler match, with a lot of high-impact spots getting two-counts, like a WWE video game set on a high difficulty against a computer opponent who won’t lose. The finish saw Dominik – with injured and pained ribs, mind you – do an underwhelming frog splash in honor of the late Eddie Guerrero (who may or may not be his kayfabe dad) and completely ignoring the fact that he was barely able to stand because of the ribs just a few minutes before. Nothing terrible but nothing worth searching out.
Hate the Pea – It’s not far into the WWE Pea-Per-View era, with the Network migrating over to NBC Universal’s Peacock streaming app, but man, so far I am not pleased with the new status quo. Peacock’s WWE presentation leaves a lot to be desired for me, especially the inability to start the show from the beginning if I come in late. And since I work Sunday nights and I have two kids that I put to bed after these shows begin, I very frequently have to come in late. Pausing the show doesn’t seem to matter on my iPad, even when I’m watching the replay, as the presentation advances a few minutes when I finally hit play again. I hope these are just glitches in the system that get cleared up as the streamer gets its legs, but after years of the WWE Network – which I rarely had big problems with – it’s very disappointing.
Ranking WrestleMania Backlash
*DISCLAIMER* The rankings are for discussion purposes only and in no way reflect an official or authoritative list. It is simply my opinion. If you disagree, let me know in the comment.
1 – Universal Championship Match: Roman Reigns (c) defeated Cesaro
2 – Raw Women’s Championship Triple Threat Match: Rhea Ripley (c) defeated Asuka and Charlotte Flair
3 – WWE Championship Triple Threat Match: Bobby Lashley (c) defeated Braun Strowman and Drew McIntyre
4 – SmackDown! Women’s Championship Match: Bianca Belair (c) defeated Bayley
5 – SmackDown! Tag Team Championship Match: Rey and Dominik Mysterio defeated Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode (c)
6 – Zombie Lumberjack Match: Damian Priest defeated The Miz
The 2021 WWE PEA-PER-VIEW Top 10
We have a new number 1, as the Head of the Table continues an amazing year as WWE Universal Champion. New matches to the 2021 top 10 are in bold.
1 – Universal Championship Match: Roman Reigns ( c ) defeated Cesaro – WrestleMania Backlash
2 – Universal Championship Match: Roman Reigns (c) defeated Daniel Bryan w/ Edge as Special Enforcer – Fast Lane 2021
3 – Universal Championship Triple Threat Match: Roman Reigns (c) defeated Edge and Daniel Bryan – WrestleMania 37 Night 2
4 – Elimination Chamber No. 1 Contenders Match: Daniel Bryan defeated Jey Uso, Cesaro, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin – Elimination Chamber 2021
5 – Universal Championship Last Man Standing Match: Roman Reigns (c) defeated Kevin Owens – Royal Rumble 2021
6 – No Holds Barred Match: Drew McIntyre defeated Sheamus – Fast Lane 2021
7 – Kevin Owens defeated Sami Zayn – WrestleMania 37 Night 2
8 – Raw Women’s Championship Triple Threat Match: Rhea Ripley ( c ) defeated Asuka and Charlotte Flair – WrestleMania Backlash
9 – Bianca Belair wins 30-woman Royal Rumble – Royal Rumble 2021
10 – Cesaro defeated Seth Rollins – WrestleMania 37 Night 1
That’s all for WrestleMania Backlash! WWE returns to Peacock for its next Pea-Per-View on Father’s Day, June 20, with Hell in a Cell! Stay tuned!