It would be an understatement to claim wrestling fans were baffled and dismayed by tonight’s dismal WWE Backlash show. With the exception of the Intercontinental Championship match between The Miz and a victorious Seth Rollins, which was easily the match of the night, the rest of the show was chock full of missed opportunities, lackluster matches, and disappointing finishes.
In the pre-show, Bayley faced Ruby Riott, who was accompanied to the ring by Riott Squad members Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan. Bayley begged Sasha Banks to put their past disagreements aside and support her during the match, but Banks refused and told Bayley she would have to go it alone. Predictably, Bayley lost when she was distracted by one of Ruby’s buddies while Sasha looked on from backstage. While the Riott Squad showed some promise, the buildup for a Bayley vs. Banks feud is taking far too long.
The United States Championship match between Randy Orton and Jeff Hardy had no storyline to give it any relevance. After the Hardy vs. Jinder Mahal botch fest in Saudi Arabia, Hardy was lucky to leave the ring with the title tonight. The match was short and the finish was sudden, which was a bit of a slap in the face to 13-time World Champion Randy Orton.
Daniel Bryan pulled out an inspiring victory over Big Cass, who continued his solid work as a heel by pounding Bryan senseless after the match. While Cass is certainly improving, he is still a bit awkward in the ring, and he just didn’t connect with the fans at Backlash.
Charlotte Flair is one of the best wrestlers, male or female, on the planet, and tonight’s SmackDown Live title loss to Carmella left fans confused and disappointed. Carmella cashed in her Money in the Bank briefcase to steal the SmackDown Women’s Championship from Flair on April 10, 2018, but she wasn’t a convincing champion tonight against the woman who ended Asuka’s 914-day unbeaten streak at WrestleMania 34. Carmella’s success against Flair only makes fans wonder what the WWE has planned for Charlotte
As always, AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura put on a world-class performance, but everyone is wondering why the WWE decided to go with yet another no contest decision to close out a fabulous match. The low blows are getting stale, and the WWE needs to either put the strap on Nakamura or let AJ win clean and move on. This is one of those situations where less is more, and it is time to put this feud on the back burner for a while.
Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn was another missed opportunity. While the fans might have enjoyed seeing Owens and Zayn tossed around like rag dolls by Strowman and Lashley, this was the perfect time to turn Bobby heel by having him attack the monster among men. Lashley needs a solid feud to show fans how much he has improved since he left the WWE in 2007, and Strowman deserves an opportunity to earn a shot at Brock’s Universal title.
And that brings us to the match that Vince and the booking committee insisted on making the main event. Instead of Styles vs. Nakamura headlining WWE Backlash, the fans got Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe in a match for absolutely nothing. There wasn’t a title on the line, and the fans responded, as usual, by booing Reigns.
In what has become the standard Roman Reigns bout as of late, Roman was mercilessly abused by Samoa Joe for the majority of the match, only to miraculously recover at the last second and win the match with a spear. Wrestling fans are truly sick of this sort of nonsense, and if the WWE doesn’t pull the plug and turn Reigns heel, the chants of “CM PUNK” will only get louder.
It has been an up and down year for the WWE. While WrestleMania 34 was s solid show, the absence of the women in Saudi Arabia was a black mark on the WWE’s reputation. Tonight’s show was a C- at best, and even a superb Intercontinental title bout between The Miz and Seth Rollins, another wrestling clinic from Nakamura and Styles, and an inspiring victory by Daniel Bryan over Big Cass couldn’t save the day. The WWE simply must do better.