Last night the WWE Universe sat down and tuned into Backlash. Backlash has been the event used to tie off the WrestleMania feuds and give closure, last night didn’t accomplish that at all. Backlash will be in the discussion for worst PPV of 2018 when the year-end awards start getting discussed. in a 4+ hour affair, fans would not only leave the arena but turn off their televisions disappointed. Last night was a full display of how the WWE believes that just having names on the card will suffice and stories don’t need to be told.
That is where they are so incredibly wrong. You can fill a card with the bottom of the totem pole talent but still deliver if the stories being told in and out of the ring are top notch. In that same token, you can fill a card with top-tier talent and it can be an awful show due to lack of depth. If the fans don’t give a damn about the matches and those involved, you’re gonna be in for a long night of work. Last night in New Jersey, the fans took their displeasure to a higher level.
The crowd began hot and was ready for what should’ve been a fun night of wrestling. That excitement would soon wane in favor of anger, boredom, and disappointment. The Miz and Seth Rollins kicked off the main card and had a hell of a match for the Intercontinental Championship. The crowd was heavily invested in this match which is a major kudos to the wrestlers. It was obvious that the IC Title would be staying with Rollins on RAW but the two wrestlers were able to get the fans fully invested and biting on every near fall. Sadly, this is where my praise for Backlash will begin to fade.
Many of the matches fell flat as the night went on. Now, that could easily be credited to the barn-burner that Rollins and Miz had to kick off the night. But, with the level of talent that was on the show, everyone should’ve been able to match that intensity. Nia and Alexa Bliss would meet for the RAW Women’s Championship, and thus the confusing booking would begin.
Going into the match with the story creative had been telling, Nia should’ve crushed Alexa and had a dominating win. Instead, they booked the match damn near 50-50 and let Bliss get in a high level of offense against Jax. Jax would eventually defeat Bliss, but again, in a match that was way too close in competitiveness.
Now, I won’t be recapping the entire show in depth as I’m sure many of you watched and have listened to or read reviews. Instead, I’ll be looking at the questionable calls throughout the night match by match. Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton were up next for the United States Championship. I like Jeff Hardy and always have, I also think Randy Orton is one of the best to ever step into a wrestling ring. Having said that, I honestly didn’t give a damn about this match or feud.
Jeff could be having great matches with guys who will work more towards his pace, and Orton just seems unmotivated and I can’t remember the last time I cared about an Orton feud. Both guys need to separate and separate fast. If they wanted anyone to care about this, then they should’ve used the Greatest Royal Rumble to build some more heat, instead, this just felt out of nowhere and lacking any emotion.
We would next see Daniel Bryan go toe to toe with Big Cass. Bryan won the match with a quick submission using his patented Yes Lock. The match was what it was, using the talented and skilled Bryan to help teach Cass. The booking of this match actually didn’t bother me as the right guy won and Cass got his heat right back by attacking Bryan after the match.
Carmella defended her SmackDown Live Women’s Championship against Charlotte Flair. There isn’t much to say here, this is one of the few if only true poor match I can remember from Flair. As great as Carmella is as a character and on the mic, it seems she just isn’t getting the reps in the ring which is mind-boggling. SHE IS YOUR CHAMPION!!! She doesn’t need to wrestle every week but she hasn’t had a singles match since the end of 2017! The WWE is not doing either of these women a favor by not giving them their time to work out the kinks and for Carmella to get more in-ring time.
Next is what should have been the match of the night. AJ Styles versus Shinsuke Nakamura in a NO-DQ match. If you have ever seen these two work in NJPW it should shock you that they just can’t mesh in the WWE. WrestleMania was a letdown, Greatest Royal Rumble had a terrible finish, and Backlash didn’t redeem either match. These two are two of the best wrestlers in the world today and I don’t know if it’s the WWE restricting their work style or creativity, but something is vastly different from their past encounters. The match ended in a double count-out for the second match in a row and I just don’t know what is next, nothing seems to make sense at all in the booking of these two.
Braun and Lashley would face Owens and Zayn in a match that didn’t need to happen. No stakes, no importance, no consequences. Just a match to get 4 more people on the card. That is all.
Finally, the main event would get here and the light at the end of the tunnel could be seen. Once again Roman Reigns would be in the main event, this time facing Samoa Joe. This is my biggest grievance of the night as far as the WWE is concerned. Why did Roman need to be in the main event? This match was not for any championships, not stakes, and again no importance. The two aren’t even on the same show. Why couldn’t this be earlier in the night or even the semi-main event? The WWE Championship should’ve closed the show. It is your biggest title, most prestigious honor and yet it is third from the top?
As this match went on fans would chant “CM Punk,” “Rusev Day,” and “Beat the Traffic.” There are videos of the crowd leaving in a mass exodus as this match went on to literally, beat the traffic. This should have been and needs to be the emergency light flashing in the WWE offices. What they are doing is not working by any means. After an unnecessarily long card, full of subpar matches, this main event was the lighter fluid to the fire.
Now don’t get me wrong, if you listen to the podcast or follow me on Twitter, you know I support Roman Reigns. The dude has a resume of great matches and when allowed to be himself on the mic, he knocks it out of the park. I in no way at all blame Reigns for what he has been given the last few years. That blame falls solely in the lap of the WWE and Vince McMahon.
They had a guy in Reigns who was getting over organically with the crowd and they took that and ruined it. And since they decided he was “The Guy,” his booking has been trash. Creative has done absolutely NOTHING to endear him to the fans to where we would want to support him as a babyface.
I truly and honestly feel sad for Reigns. He, like many of us, is just a guy who goes to work and does what his bosses tell him to do. Lucky for us, we don’t have thousands of people crapping on everything we do weekly. The match ended in how most Reigns matches end, spear and a pin. As the ref counted the fall the camera panned to the crowd that was leaving in droves as fast as they could.
Backlash isn’t a major show by any means, but there have been events in the past that should be terrible and are great and vice versa. What happened last night is in no way on the wrestlers, this falls on management. Management books the cards, they approve and deny the creative and they map out the winners and losers. This card was a major disappointment and the crowd reaction during that main event needs to be a major wake up call to Vince and the team.