We’re not here to talk about ridiculous zombie lumberjacks, though we could easily use up 1000 words in doing so.
No, we’re here to appreciate WWE WrestleMania Backlash, a pay-per-view that was much better than most fans expected it to be. Before the show, it seemed like an event that had “WrestleMania Backwash” written all over it, with redundant rematches and flawed booking present throughout the card. While we expected the matches to be good anyway, it felt like WWE WrestleMania Backlash had all the makings of a lackluster show.
But when the cameras starting rolling, each and every match exceeded expectations and left us excited to see what happens next.
— WWE (@WWE) May 16, 2021
“Baby Champ” Redeems Himself
When The Dirty Dawgs attacked “Baby Champ” Dominik Mysterio on the Kickoff show, it was easy to predict that the champions would win this round of the rivalry. But when Rey Mysterio showed up wearing gear clearly inspired by classic Batman, determined to fight the bad guys by himself, the outcome was still clear, but in the opposite direction. Come on, Rey was dressed like a superhero. Surely, he’d find a way to defy the odds.
And he did, kind of. Rey turned back time and looked like he was 15 years younger while he was delivering his high-flying offense to Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler. The villains in this story eventually gained the upper hand, but Rey kept fighting because that’s what heroes do. Then, Dominik limped to the ring to kick things up a notch. (There was a major missed opportunity here; with Rey dressed like Batman, it would have been fun to see his son wear gear that was inspired by Robin. Instead, his purple-and-green gear was a clear nod to the Joker.)
Still, the storytelling only picked up from here. Rather than having Dominik instantly clean house, WWE drew it out to build the suspense. The Dirty Dawgs managed to ground Dominik the same way they hurt his father. With the younger Mysterio wounded, it suddenly became hard to tell how the match would end. Ultimately, Dominik earned the pin with a Frog Splash on Roode. This story was fun, albeit a little cliched, as the “injured wrestler rescues his partner) bit has been quite overdone. But the consensus seems to be that Rey and Dominik deserve this historic win, and it was impossible not to smile at the sight of the father-son duo holding the gold.
— WWE (@WWE) May 16, 2021
Ripley vs. Flair II Needs To Happen
The WWE RAW Women’s Championship Match was an excellent way to open the show. The bouts between Rhea Ripley and Asuka have been lackluster, but inserting Charlotte Flair into the mix was a natural way to elevate the in-ring work. Plus, the storyline beat of Flair’s star power lifting the match was true in real life, too. Adding her into the bout helped this contest feel like one of the card’s most exciting matches, and all three women delivered.
The action was fast and furious, and while Asuka’s recent booking made it hard to take her seriously as a potential victor, she made this writer suspend his disbelief. At a few points, one had to think, “Wait a second, Asuka might pull this off after all.” With that uncertainty, along with Flair’s convincing near falls, this match was booked beautifully. Ripley was presented as a strong champion, too, but she still hasn’t defeated “The Queen,” a fact she’ll look to correct sooner rather than later.
— WWE (@WWE) May 17, 2021
RAW’s Beefy Triple Threat Match Was Chaotic And Fun
In a nutshell, both men’s world title matches were remarkable. Whereas Roman Reigns and Cesaro delivered an exemplary wrestling match, WWE RAW’s three powerhouses gave fans a wild thrillride from start to finish. For all the jokes about “big meaty men slapping meat,” this match showed the WWE Championship picture at its best.
All three men were presented as legitimate titans who could have convincingly won the match. Strowman and McIntyre both took flight with some high-risk maneuvers to add even more intensity to the bout. Later, a powerbomb through the broadcast table drove home the “big fight” feel of the action itself. As for Lashley, while Reigns gets the credit for being WWE’s biggest attraction, the WWE Champion is a fitting choice for RAW’s titleholder. He looks, acts and carries himself like a true star, and his win on Sunday demonstrates the company’s rightful faith in him.
When McIntyre sent Lashley crashing into the entrance stage, it felt like “The All Mighty” was being written out of the match to pave the way for a McIntyre victory. Instead, Lashley returned to the ring just in time to pick up the victory. Right after McIntyre dropped Strowman with a Claymore, Lashley threw his rival out of the ring. Rather than pinning the weakened Strowman for an utterly cheap win, Lashley dropped him with a Spear to clinch the three count. With a post-match staredown, WWE teased one last showdown between Lashley and McIntyre, and the two heavyweights might wind up waging war in a Hell in a Cell match next month. If so, let’s hope WWE finds some ways to shake up the lengthy feud, as this rivalry as felt slightly stale recently. Thanfully, Sunday’s match might have added new life to it, as the three warriors involved gave it their all and then some.