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WWE Backlash 2018: The Good, the Bad and the Weird

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WWE seemed to hype this PPV up as the best of both brands. However, the fact is that PPV’s used to be co-branded all the time, so it seems weird to make it a talking point again. However with this hype, it would make sense to do something big or creative with this PPV. Did that happen? Let’s find out now.

The Good

A Strong Start

The pre-show had an excellent starting match, Bayley and Ruby Riott killed it. It was a solid, fun match with Ruby going over and the Riott Squad actually getting some wins.

Then we had the match of the night. Miz and Seth kicked it out of the park again. Miz is WWE’s best heel. He is the perfect mix of arrogance, pomp and viciousness. It is a joy to see him in any match. He and Seth played well of each other again, making a fun match with some excellent spots. Again the match played to the Miz’s technical ability and quick wits. There was an excellent spot where Seth went for the Revolution Knee and Miz ducked it, causing Seth to knee the ringpost (which he sold the hell out of.) It ended with Seth curb stomping Miz to victory. It was an excellent starter match and probably the best match of the night.

He Tried

Daniel Bryan was never going to lose to Big Cass. It was never going to happen. They could have had a screwy finish or they could have used it as a means to elevate Cass. It was a chance to rebuild Cass as a decent heel. It wasn’t perfect, but it did its job. Cass got to look vicious and mean. He really played up this heel personality and had him do a lot of bragging. He felt a lot more natural this time since his last heel run felt stilted and awkward.

It was also good to see him act spiteful by attacking Bryan after losing. It didn’t save him from a loss to Bryan and a bit of a momentum drop but it makes him a bit of a bigger deal. He has a lot of potential to become something big in the Smackdown roster. If this plays out well then we may see Cass in the US title scene. Hopefully with a better match.

Best of the Feud

Nakamura and Styles have had a hard time when it comes to match cards. This match was the third from last match. It was their best match so far. It was intense, violent and played well to both wrestlers strengths. Nakamura got to play with the no DQ rule and make his moves even more brutal. Styles is still the strong babyface and got to fight against the odds. Both played well off each other again.

It wasn’t perfect as Styles ended up getting cut to the face by a rebounding chair. This happened during a section where he throws a chair at Nakamura’s knee. This upped the pace and added a bit more ferocity to Style’s offense. It felt good to finally get a taste of what the two are capable. The gimmick was also not made the entire point of the match. Unfortunately this isn’t the last time this match will be mentioned.

The Best Friends Break-up?

WWE love to tease. They used the Braun tag match to progress the story between Zayn and Owens and the potential break-up of the team. It felt like this was the entire point of the match and it was handled well. Zayn wanted to run away from the match, to throw in the towel and dash. Owens was having none of this and kept fighting. This lead to them arguing and Zayn slapping Owens in front of everyone.

This could have easily happened on an episode of RAW. It didn’t need to happen in a PPV but I appreciate the effort WWE seem to be putting into this break-up angle and building tension between the two. It’ll be interesting to see what the two do next.

The Bad

A Pointless PPV

What was the point of this PPV? It was as predictable and as paint by numbers as it gets. No titles changed hands again, meaning this PPV served no real shake-ups to the status quo of WWE. The matches felt fine for the most part. They served their purposes and offered enough action to mainly keep the audience entertained. It didn’t feel like any sort of big deal at all. It was too safe.

There were several opportunities to do big things with superstars. The IIconics never showed up to help Carmella; she just beat Charlotte clean after a flimsy knee injury angle and a quick pin. Big Cass lost with very little fight out of the Yes lock but just to say looks like a threat and one other opportunity that deserves its own mention.

There was also the fact that PPV burnout may be approaching. It hasn’t been too far removed from Wrestlemania or the Greatest Royal Rumble. Backlash was booked first but didn’t feel like it needed to be here. It was an elongated, title filled RAW or Smackdown episode. Braun Strowman’s match felt like it was entirely tacked on to get him and Bobby Lashley on the card. It was a waste of time and a pointless extension to a pointless card.

That Ending

The booking felt weird throughout most of Backlash but it really reared it’s ugly head here. So as I said earlier the Styles and Nakamura match upped the ferocity after the chair cut styles. This lead to some more back and forth and then the low blows came into play. So Nakamura finally goes for a low blow on Styles and connects, dropping Styles to his knees. However, seconds later, Styles hits his own low blow and both men fall for an 8 count. They both get up and keep up the fight and then the worst happens. Both men kick each other in the balls at the same time and fail to make the 10 count.

It just ends like that. Another Nakamura/Styles match with a naff finish. Some people will cheer this finish as it continues the feud and hopefully delivers us the real dream match with Nakamura finally becoming a heel champion. In my opinion, it was awful. It felt like a cop-out ending to an extremely well-paced and competitive match. If it weren’t for the fact that Reigns was in the main event I would have attributed this finish to the matches place on the card.

Reigns Claims another Victim

Roman Reigns is the most polarising man in WWE. He isn’t quite the wrestling Satan some fans like to decry him has but he is given way too much for the little fanfare he tends to receive. He isn’t loved—he is tolerated. The only reason people were getting behind him in the wake of WrestleMania is because they were tired of Lesnar’s awful attitude and the acceptance that Reigns was going to win because he’s Reigns. Once he lost at Mania and then lost at the GRR, fans couldn’t care less again about Roman and just wanted to see him lose to Samoa Joe.

So this negative is aimed in no way at Samoa Joe. The man is an amazing wrestler and one of the most intense on the mic. It was nice to see him have a main event slot on the PPV. He didn’t exactly wow the crowd with an excessive focus on rest holds for the middle section of the match but it was still exciting to see Joe back in action again. His attack on Reigns at the start of the match was also a shot of excitement as he hit Roman with a Uranage through an announce table. He then kept the assault on until the inevitable Roman comeback and eventual victory.

Why did Reigns need to win here? There was no benefit to him winning against Joe. The only benefit to him is that he won, in the main event of a PPV, again. Wow. If you wanted that put him against a jobber. Samoa Joe is rumoured to be entering a main event programme. If that is the case it’s gonna be very difficult to take it seriously since he just lost to Reigns despite beating him to a pulp before the match and failing to finish the job. Joe lost a lot of momentum because of this loss. Reigns would have lost nothing at all. If anything it may have generated some sympathy towards him as he is once again victimised by a monster. What a flat finish to a PPV.

The Weird

The Musical Interlude of Hilarity

I love Elias. He is the perfect interlude star. It all started with the typical Elias monologue and city attack. He referenced Springsteen and put down New Jersey. He is then interrupted by the New Day who come out with instruments and started playing their own song. They get into an argument with Elias and then they are interrupted by Rusev Day. Aiden English gets to show off again and Rusev got some screen time. They are then interrupted by No Way Jose and his conga line that features Titus Worldwide (who didn’t fall over this time.) Elias finally loses his patience and then finally the lights go down and he starts playing again, only to get hit with the glorious DDT by Bobby Roode. Roode then busts some moves and the section drags to an end.

This section was a total mess. It seemed like an excuse to throw as many people in at once and pad some time. It was funny to watch but it did feel incredibly stupid and I feel sorry for Bobby Roode as this had to be hard to stomach. Roode was excellent as an arrogant heel. Now he’s just another face lost in the fold on RAW having to dance in a filler section. How the mighty do fall, and it isn’t glorious to watch.

In Conclusion

So Backlash wasn’t very good. It felt like a show only put on to fill the promised time slot and provide a few more title matches. There was very little in progression and a lot just felt there to fill time or fulfil blow-offs. It was watchable but hardly memorable. In fact the most memorable thing about the PPV was the disappointment. The main event fell flat, the finish of Styles vs Nakamura sucked and well there was no true stand out moment bar the Miz and Rollins match. This once again showed that the IC belt is the current top belt for producing quality matches.

There is now about six weeks to Money in the Bank. This is a great opportunity to build some excellent stories and let fans recover from a strenuous PPV heavy couple of months. It may finally be time to build towards something fresh and exciting. Even if it means having to see Roman Reigns spout more conspiracy theories and get another title shot. Only time will tell. Tonight’s RAW will hopefully be the start.

image credit – WWE.com

John is a UK based wrestling obsessive who still wants to believe the Bullet Club is fine. He is always tearing the business apart and first realised wrestling was for him when he saw Mankind fall from the top of the cell at King of the Ring 1998.

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