WrestleMania Backlash on May 8 was not the most consequential night of action in WWE history, but it was an enjoyable night of wrestling.
The gimmick of the show is it’s most WrestleMania rematches. This year, those matches equaled or improved upon the WrestleMania version. The main event was an excellent six-man tag team match that had a heel finish but was fun to watch throughout. They also made strides toward setting up the company’s next Premium Live Event, Hell in a Cell on June 5.
It’s Roman Reigns world—we just live in it
Reigns is the WWE Unified Universal Champion and the unquestioned top star of the company. That was true before WrestleMania Backlash, but it was made clear in the main event. Reigns and the Usos faced RK-Bro and Drew McIntyre to end the night with an outstanding match. Not only did Reigns’ team win, but he finished off each member of the opposing team. First, a Superman punch on the floor dropped Randy Orton. Then, a uranage to McIntrye on the announce table took the Scotsman out of the match. After that, Reigns returned to the ring and soon hit a spear on Riddle to get the pin.
The show ended with him holding up the two title belts without an established top contender. Reigns has been pushed so much harder than anyone it’s going to take some work to build someone up, but some of that work is underway.
While the clean victory doesn’t really give us an much indication of where things go immediately for Reigns, we have a few clues. McIntyre is still a possibility, as he wasn’t pinned. He can still made challenges on SmackDown without being totally out of place. There isn’t a true rival on RAW yet, although Cody is an obvious choice for a match down the road. With Money in the Bank and SummerSlam both taking place in stadiums, they’ll want a huge match like that to fill seats.
Rousey and Charlotte Flair improved upon their WrestleMania match with their “I Quit” match Sunday. The match was worked fairly evenly, was given time and both women came through, turning in good performances. Flair has been effective as a heel, doing the important job of keeping the crowd behind Rousey early in Rousey’s run. The challenge now is to have heels lined up for Rousey to turn back on SmackDown, since she’s unlikely to lose much until the seemingly inevitable clash with Becky Lynch.
Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins turned in another wonderful match. This one led off the show and set a high standard for the night. Rhodes’ babyface reaction is strong in WWE, very different than what he was experiencing with AEW. He’s not carrying the “Vice President” baggage and the WWE crowd is into him. Rollins is a master technician and a great opponent for Rhodes. Hopefully, we’ll see more of these two.
Omos defeated Bobby Lashley in their match with some help from MVP. While Omos has a long way to go before he is any kind of worker, this was an another improvement upon a WrestleMania match. The rubber match is yet to come, so perhaps Lashely can get even more out of the big man. If he does, it will be one of the more underrated feathers in Lashley’s cap.
Judgement Day faction grows
Edge’s group entered the women’s division by recruiting Rhea Ripley, who interfered in the match between AJ Styles and Edge. This was set up by an angle that stated Damian Priest was banned from ringside for the match, almost assuring they had someone else in mind to help with a heel finish. Besides, someone has to stand on the left side of that silly throne Edge sits in.
— RheaRipley_WWE (@RheaRipley_WWE) May 9, 2022
Being WWE, they paid no attention to the stipulation. Priest came down to ringside, with the empty-headed explanation being he was on the ramp, not at ringside, which apparently only refers to the black mats around the ring. No matter, they killed that idea immediately as well when Finn Balor attacked Priest. They ended up in the ring, yet the referee just stared at them and didn’t call for a DQ, despite the obvious violation of the stipulation.
The “distraction” led to a hooded Ripley knocking Styles off the top rope, leading to his defeat. This could be a good thing for Ripley overall, since she’d been stuck in tag teams instead of challenging for the RAW Women’s title like she probably should be. Fans of her work can hope this is the beginning of a renewed push for her.
But turning your brain off is important when you’re dealing with this Judgement Day stuff. This version of Edge is awful, and all this result does is insure we’re stuck listening to more of his plodding promos filled with asinine phrases such as “mountain of omnipotence.” Styles and Edge will continue to feud.
Which leads us to…
Who will be in the Hell in a Cell matches?
We have a few possibilities coming out of this show. It’s probably not Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey. They gave a storyline injury to Flair, saying Rousey broke her arm with the submission finish. The real reason has been reported Flair is taking time off to marry AEW’s Andrade el Idolo.
It doesn’t appear to be Reigns either, as any storyline leading to a Cell match would seem rushed. That’s not to say they won’t do it, just to say it’s not the best move.
Omos did better in this match with Lashley, but the company would be playing with fire putting Omos in that situation. While that storyline is likely to pop up at the Hell in a Cell show, it’s a stretch to see it getting a Cell match.
The storylines lean heavily toward Styles and Edge. Styles has faced interference and distraction twice in his losses to Edge. Locking Edge in a Cell with him would be the obvious storyline way for the babyface get a clean shot at his foe.
The other possibility is Rhodes and Rollins. The two clearly have good chemistry, and giving Rhodes another monster win in a big match could put him just where he needs to be as a star going into those stadium shows. The story could always be Rollins losing his mind and doing something nasty to Rhodes to force him into a Cell match to end things once and for all.