WrestleMania Backlash: Great Wrestling & Dumb Zombies

WrestleMania Backlash was a great PPV. A great PPV with one segment that was so bad it almost derailed the whole show. It would have if not for the good to great matches that followed to wash the fake blood taste out of our mouths. But I’ll get to that.

Pre-Show: Sheamus def. Ricochet

Sheamus has been an MVP of the pandemic era, putting on hard hitting, entertaining matches on every show he’s been on. I can’t remember the last time he had a bad match. Ricochet, despite being relegated to Main Event for far too long is one of the most talented and acrobatic wrestlers in the world. They didn’t have a lot of time but they made it count. Their styles meshed well and we got a nice showcase of Ricochet’s high flying ability and Sheamus’s ability to beat the living hell out of someone. This match had moonsaults, 450s, knees to the face, stiff strikes and a glasgow smile. It would have been better had they been given more time but it was still solid and should have been put on the main show above a certain match I’ll get to soon.

Raw Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley (C) def. Charlotte Flair & Asuka

Both Ripley and Asuka are immensely talented in ring performers but their matches together have been disappointing. That’s fine, sometimes no matter how talented two workers are, they just don’t have good chemistry, it happens sometimes. Enter Charlotte Flair. Yes, I’m sick of her too but I can’t deny she’s a great talent who frequently is able to get the best out of her opponents. Her addition did make this a better match than it would have been without her but it was still a standard three-way. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it was entertaining and the action picked up the pace by the end but it wasn’t anything special. It also wasn’t as good as the other three way on the show. What it was though was entertaining and that’s all a match really needs to be but it’s a shame because all three of them and capable of more than the bare minimum of quality.

Smackdown Tag Championship: Rey & Dominik Mysterio def. The Dirty Dawgs (C)

The story of this match was that Ziggler and Roode attacked Dominik backstage earlier in the night and he was unable to compete so it was Rey all alone. It made the outcome extremely predictable but that’s not always a bad thing. A predictable out is fine so long as the journey there is well told and entertaining which is what this was. Dom eventually coming to the ring and winning the match was inevitable but the handicap match Rey had against the champs before that was fun. Rey is still the ultimate underdog decades into his career so him withstanding the Dirty Dawg’s tandem offense and mount the occasional comeback was enough to stay invested until the eventual Dominik return. Once he did enter the match, we got some great drama with Rey hesitating to get the hot tag to his injured son. More concerned for his kid’s safety than his own or winning the titles. And when Dom tagged himself in, he showed good babyface fire before getting the win with a splash. Fun match with a good story.

Damian Priest def. The Miz (with John Morrison) (Lumberjack Match)

The Miz lost the match but the real losers are everyone who had to watch this match. This should have been on the pre-show instead of Sheamus vs Ricochet. Frankly this shouldn’t have been on any show. Because the PPV was sponsored by Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead, the lumberjacks around the ring were people dressed as zombies only every single person acted like the zombies were real. The Miz was afraid, John Morrison was afraid, even Priest (who asked for a lumberjack match) was startled by their presence. The commentators are talked as if the zombies were real. At one point during the match, Miz and Priest were both out of the ring and stopped fighting each other to fight off the zombies. None of it made any sense, it was incredibly stupid. There’s good cheesy and bad cheesy and this was worse than blue cheese covered in the mold from Resident Evil. If the zombies were real, why didn’t they attack the commentators, in fact, why didn’t they attack any other person in the building. Are we supposed to believe that these zombies only have a taste for flesh when they’re scheduled on the card, I hop someone gets that message to Daryl Dixon. Also why would Adam Pearce use zombies as lumberjacks instead of wrestlers? Why would he put his employees in life threatening danger? How did he even get zombies, does he secretly work for the Umbrella Corporation? The point is that it didn’t make sense and whatever actual wrestling was attempted didn’t matter because this was about the stupid zombies. Anyway so Miz lost after Johnny Drip Drip got dragged away and “eaten” by the zombies and Priest hot his finisher. After the match, the zombies came in the ring and ate The Miz. I like The Miz, I like Priest and I like Morrison. They are all talented performers who are above spots like this. Nobody came out of this looking good and the brain cells I lost while watching this match will likely never return.

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair (C) def. Bayley

Bayley is so good at being irritating that sometimes it’s genuinely hard to believe that she was at one point in time, one of the most over and likeable babyfaces in the whole business. This match was a simple tale of an annoying and overly confident veteran heel being bested by a competitor who is just plain better. Not just better, but the best. Bianca is a once in a lifetime athlete and she’s also extremely likeable so the pairing with Bayley works very well, maybe not as well as Sasha but still. This match was filled with fun spots showing off Bianca’s strength and athletic ability and Bayley’s crafty veteran instincts. Bayley always seemed to have an answer to Belair. My personal favorite spot was one where Bayley used Bianca’s braid to pull her in to Bayley to Belly. The ending showed that Bianca can be just as crafty, using her hair as leverage in a pin for the win. Bayley’s temper tantrum afterwards was great and will no doubt lead to a rematch.

WWE Championship: Bobby Lashley (C) def. Braun Strowman & Drew McIntyre

I hope Big E was watching this match because this was big meaty men slapping meat. This was three heavyweights just beating the ever loving piss out of each other. As song as the bell rang, these guys ran through one another and didn’t really slow down from there. Drew eventually threw Bobby through the stage and after some sparks went off, Bobby was nowhere to be found. It became a one on one match between Drew and Braun but that didn’t even slow things down because Drew and Braun beat are two meaty men who bumped meat. Drew hit Braun with a Michinoku Driver. I repeat, DREW HIT BRAUN WITH A FREAKING MICHINOKU DRIVER. The match ended with typical WWE three-way shenanigans with Drew hitting Braun with the Claymore only for Bobby to reappear, throw Drew out of the ring, hit Braun with a spear and pin him to retain the title.

Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (C) def. Cesaro

This was a Match of the Year contender. In fact, it’s now on every other match to top this if they want to be considered. Period. Fullstop. Exclamation point! This was a two masters at work. Cesaro is one of the best wrestlers in the world and he was finally given a proper showcase. For whatever Reigns lacks in technical wrestling, he makes up for with supreme storytelling skills, a mastery of his heel character and a powerhouse moveset that can adapt to other people’s styles. This was just an incredible match to watch. It started slow and built to beautiful crescendo. Cesaro gave Roman everything he got. He out wrestled him technically and even outpowered him in some instances. They don’t call him the Swiss Superman for nothing. Reigns hit back by overwhelming Cesaro with his power and working his arm, effectively neutralizing the Neutralizer. Roman talked trash during the match, Cesaro’s ability spoke for him. The Swiss Superman powered out of the Guillotine in a brilliant babyface spot that sparked hoped that maybe Cesaro is the one, until a second Guillotine turned out to be kryponite for the Swiss Superman. He passed out, Roman is still head of the table. This was beautiful. Everything in this match was purposeful, there weren’t big moves just for the sake of it. The big moves were there exactly when they needed to happen and the small moves were all there to build to the big ones. This wasn’t a match of excessive amounts of finishers being kicked out of, this was a match of submissions and counters. This was a match of two men doing their hardest to not get hit by a finisher. This was a match of one of the best wrestlers on the planet finally getting the title shot he’s deserved for too long and the self-proclaimed Tribal Chief showing everyone why he’s the head of the table. If this match doesn’t make this company give Cesaro more main event spots then nothing will. This was the best WWE main event is a while. Everything about it was magnificent. It will forever be an example apart of both men’s legacies far after they’ve both retired. The zombie bullcrap earlier in the show was a prime example of why it’s hard to admit to being a wrestling fan but this match is exactly why we all love this. If you watch this match and don’t like it, then maybe you’re a zombie.

Overall Show Grade:

Halfway to Paddington 1

Published by Matt Fresh

30% Water, 70% James Bond movies. Matt is a writer, gamer, film enthusiast & silly person. The winner of various fictitious awards, he's fluent in English & pop culture references.

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