WWE WrestleMania Backlash (5/16/2021) Tampa, FL
WWE RAW WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH: Rhea Ripley(c) vs. Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair- 7.75/10
This was a really great three-way match with all of the usual stuff. The last few minutes in particular were excellent. I’m not sure if this was by design or not, but Charlotte felt very much like the protagonist in this match. That certainly works with the finish of her not being the one to get pinned, but it sets up a heel vs. heel feud and title match for next month… which I think Rhea and Charlotte could certainly pull off, but it’s so very much not a WWE thing to do that I highly doubt WWE will let it happen. They’ll probably turn one of them babyface instead, and Charlotte absolutely should remain a heel now, just based on the work she is doing, and Rhea will need a lot more than one month’s rehab to make her a babyface.
JOHN MORRISON & THE MIZ BACKSTAGE- bad
They argued. JoMo is going to try to convince the lumberjacks that it is in their best interests for Miz to win. He came off like a total geek and a goof. That’s not how you want someone to come off when you’re setting up to turn that person babyface.
THE MYSTERIOS IN THE TRAINER’S ROOM- annoying
Dominik got jumped by Roode and Ziggler during the pre-show and is in a lot of pain. Rey tells him that he can’t wrestle, and the trainer tells Rey he’ll need to find another tag team partner. Oh goody. A bait-and-switch. Those don’t piss people off at all.
WWE SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Dirty Dawgs (Dolph Ziggler & Bobby Roode)(c) vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. & Dominik Mysterio- 6.75/10
This was not announced as a handicap match, but Dominik was not officially introduced, either. Tony Chimel (or whoever it is nowadays) just said “the challenger: Rey Mysterio.” I think that means that match is still technically Rey and Dominik vs. Roode and Ziggler, but I’m not sure. And a fan should never be unsure about who the current participants in a match are.
Rey charged right at the heels and attacked them before the bell. Usually in WWE, this would result in the referee stepping in and ordering everyone back to their corners so that we could have an orderly start to the match… but not this time, for reasons that were not (and never will be) explained.
How does Michael Cole know what Aliyah Mysterio is thinking at this moment? He can guess at a general idea, sure, but he seems to have exact quotes? Is he texting with her or reading her Twitter during a match? That seems pretty unprofessional to me.
Anyway, the Rey was a great babyface in peril, fighting two-on-one on his own, and, of course, Dominik eventually comes out… so now I’m confused. If Dominik was allowed to wrestle here than it wasn’t the trainer who told him he couldn’t wrestle... so was it just Rey? I was pretty sure the trainer said that Rey would need to find a new partner.
Dominik got the hot tag and they made the comeback and they won… and whoever thought this whole scenario up should have been flogged the moment they suggested it, because Rey and Dominik winning the titles didn’t feel like a big moment because the whole set-up makes it so that the big moment the story is building to is Dominik overcoming the pain and coming out, not them winning the titles.
KAYLA BRAXTON INTERVIEWS THE MYSTERIOS- meh
This would have been good if Cole hadn’t already beaten the idea that they are now the first-ever father/son tag team champions in WWE history. If Rey is going to cut this promo, there is no reason for Cole to say anything. Him saying what Rey is about to say just makes Rey’s interview feel like a waste of time.
And speaking of wastes of time…
JIMMY & JEY USO IN ROMAN’S LOCKER ROOM- This was a Smackdown segment happening on a PPV.
MORE OF MIZ & MORRISON BACKSTAGE- bad
Morrison was a total goof. I’m taking an R-Truth-level go…WAIT? He was telling the truth and there are actual zombies? Oh my G-d this is going to be terrible, isn’t it.
And who the f*ck even are these people? Usually they use the other wrestlers as lumberjacks, but this time we brought in these random people off the street? And they’re all zombies? IF THIS WERE REAL, shouldn’t everyone in the building be horribly concerned?
They showed a Tweet from Batista letting us know that this is a tie-in with his movie. What benefit does WWE gain from this? It’s not like Batista is going to come back and wrestle, so what are they hoping for by pandering to him with this tie-in? That he’ll help them trend on Twitter? That and five bucks will get you a cup of scalding hot coffee that you should pour on the genitals of the people who suggested and approved this idea.
LUMBERJACK MATCH: Damian Priest vs. The Miz (w/John Morrison)- DUD!
Yeah. The lumberjacks are zombies. It’s f*cking moronic for every reason you’ve all already heard by now (I’m not getting to watch this until Tuesday night)… but I’m hopefully going to be able to add a new reason. Let’s go with the premise they want us to go with. Zombies are real and scary, and for unexplained reasons, Batista has provided WWE with some shoot zombies from his.. private stash, I guess? Is he a necromancer now? I don’t know.
Anyway, Batista sends WWE a truckload of shoot zombies to use on tonight’s show, and WWE thinks the best way to use them is to make them lumberjacks? The purpose of the lumberjacks is to keep any of the participants from RUNNING AWAY. Zombies (clearly including these ones) are notoriously SLOW. They will function WORSE than regular wrestlers will at the role of being a lumberjack, so by doing this, WWE has undermined the gimmick of the match!
That being said, as much as I f*cking despised the premise, Damian Priest and the Miz tried as much as they could to tell a story using this sh*tfest of a situation, and while they match wasn’t exciting or interesting in anyway, they didn’t botch anything, either, so I’m just going to give it a DUD instead of 4/10 or so it would have been without the moronic premise.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- Miz got eaten by zombies, so I guess he’s dead now. I will take this as a final opportunity to say that if you thought this whole thing a good idea for WWE to do, go f*ck yourself.
Next month’s PPV is Hell in a Cell, not WrestleMania Hell in a Cell. Thank G-d for small mercies.
THE USOS BACKSTAGE- meh
This one felt a lot less generic and thus I was okay with it, but these are the sorts of segments that should have happened on Smackdown. I just don’t buy that Jimmy is saying anything to Jey that he hasn’t already said to him yet. If Jey decides to not help Roman or Jimmy tries to prevent Jey from helping Roman then this will have been meaningful, but if Jey is still indecisive at the end of the night and/or Jimmy doesn’t align himself 100% against Roman, this will have been a waste of PPV time and nothing more.
WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH: Bianca Belair(c) vs. Bayley- 6.75/10
Bayley got the heat by pulling at Binaca’s earrings, so I guess Binaca didn’t learn her lesson from Smackdown nine days ago. This was fine babyface vs. heel stuff, but I didn’t find the match particularly gripping. I didn’t think Bayley had a chance of winning going in, and WWE rarely (and almost never outside of PPV main events) lets its wrestlers work the sort of match that makes you begin to doubt your presumptions going in.
The finish… certainly could have looked better, but Bayley’s shoulders never came up, so it didn’t ruin things for me. Binaca’s hair shouldn’t count as a foreign object because it’s part of her, but it does feel kind of unfair for her to be able to use it like she tried to, but for a heel not to be able to pull it.
KEVIN PATRICK INTERVIEWS MVP- This was fine build for the main event.
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH: Bobby Lashley(c) (w/MVP) vs. Braun Strowman vs. Drew McIntyre- 8.5/10
Imagine a hoss-fight, except that the hosses are moving around at the speed of normal people instead of mostly lumbering. That was this match, and it was AWESOME!
Lashley got thrown through an LED board which made that stupid sparking explosion special effect that WWE loves so much. That let him disappear until it was time for him to run in on the finish and toss Drew out of the ring after Drew had hit Braun with a Claymore. Lashley then hit Braun with a spear and got the pin.
JEY USO SAYS SOMETHING TO UPSET ROMAN REIGNS, SO ROMAN TELLS HIM THAT HE SOUNDS LIKE JIMMY AND “MAYBE YOU SHOULD GO FIND HIM”- fine
One assumes this will lead to the turn.
WWE UNIVERSAL TITLE MATCH: Roman Reigns(c) (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Cesaro- 9.25/10
HOLY F*CKING F*CK! Each guy worked a limb, lots of emotion, some good old-fashioned clubberin’ spots. This was like a New Japan main event except that they didn’t treat the rules of the match like a joke. Like with the Smackdown Women’s Title match, I went into this match thinking that the there was no chance of the title changing hands, but in this match they made me doubt that for just a few key moments during Cesaro’s false finishes. Cesaro sold wonderfully and was an awesome babyface, while Roman… well… he’s got to be the single best heel in the wrestling business not just right now, but for the past few years at least. Only MJF and Bobby Gunns even feel like they come close. You MUST see this match. That spot in mid-air will almost certainly be my favorite spot of the year.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- uch
Jey Uso comes out and superkicks Cesaro on Roman’s orders. Seth Rollins comes out, seemingly to make the save, but he attacks Cesaro with a chair instead. On the one hand, another big win over Seth feels right for Cesaro, but on the other hand… well… I don’t trust WWE to be able to tell an engaging story for four weeks, so I’m sure by the time the match comes around, I’ll be sick of this feud and just want it to be done with.
This was actually a really good show from WWE. I thought there were some booking mistakes and obviously there was that sh*tfest in the middle, but on the whole, the wrestling on this show was actually quite good, and I was pleasantly surprised to not see any shenanigans in the main event. If we got a show like this from WWE every month, I think people would have a lot more tolerance for the bullsh*t WWE puts on TV.
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