Monday, May 8, 2023

WWE Wrestlemania Backlash 2023

By Steve Ward

WWE made it’s pay per view/premium live event debut this evening as they emanated from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Tonight’s card seemed to be overshadowed with the buildup to Night of Champions later this month where a new World Heavyweight Champion will be crowned for the RAW brand as Roman Reigns will be confined to Smackdown with his Undisputed Universal Championship following this year’s WWE Draft. With Reigns out of the picture for tonight, the show would be headlined by Cody Rhodes vs. Brock Lesnar. In addition to the colossal main event, the show featured seven matches in all, and three titles were contested.

WWE RAW Women’s Championship Bianca Belair (c) vs. Io Sky Winner: Bianca Belair via pinfall

Despite being drafted to Smackdown last week, Belair still holds the RAW Women’s Championship and would put it on the line this evening against Damage Ctrl’s Io Sky. Sky seemed poised to upset the champ in the closing moments of the match, but one could argue the late appearance by her Damage Ctrl stable mates cost her the title. Belair was laid out on the canvas as Sky ascended to the top turnbuckle for a moonsault attempt, however, Bayley decided to grab the hair of Belair and hold her down only to be caught by the referee. This distraction was enough for Belair to recover and roll out of harm's way as Sky leaped from the top rope. Belair then executed the KOD to retain her title.

Seth Rollins vs. Omos w/ MVP Winner: Seth Rollins via pinfall

Following the announcement recently of a soon-to-be-crowned World Heavyweight Champion on the RAW brand, Seth Rollins made his intentions known for targeting the new title only to be interrupted by Omos. Omos and MVP proceeded to challenge Rollins to a match this evening as a way for Omos to secure a signature win over “The Architect.” Omos proved to be quite the formidable opponent for Rollins in this contest. The Nigerian Giant withstood the frog splash and multiple stomps (the first of which he stopped with his neck), however, Rollins finally overcame the odds in the end as he delivered the Stomp from the top turnbuckle which allowed him to cover Omos for the victory. 

WWE United States Championship Bobby Lashley vs. Bronson Reed vs. Austin Theory (c) Winner: Austin Theory via pinfall

This bout created another interesting dynamic with the recent roster shake-up from the 2023 WWE Draft as new Smackdown Superstars, Theory and Lashley, competed with RAW’s Bronson Reed in a three-way dance for the United States Championship. In the closing moments of the match, Lashley speared Reed after he missed a moonsault attempt on Theory. The defending champ then snuck up on Lashley and tossed him out of the ring allowing him to easily cover Reed and steal another victory in familiar Theory fashion.

WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Zelina Vega Winner: Rhea Ripley via pinfall

In another situation where the defending champion was recently drafted to the brand opposite of the title which she holds, RAW Superstar Rhea Ripley would defend the Smackdown Women’s Title she just won a few weeks ago at Wrestlemania against Zelina Vega who represented the newly reformed Latino World Order, LWO. Despite the overwhelming crowd support for Vega, who’s family was seated at ringside, the size and power of Ripley was too much for her to overcome as she finally dispensed of Vega with Riptide to successfully defend her title.

San Juan Street Fight Match Bad Bunny vs. Damian Priest Winner: Bad Bunny via pinfall

In a battle of Puerto Rican natives, The Judgment Day’s Damien Priest went toe to toe with multi-platinum recording artist and ally of the LWO, Bad Bunny, in a San Juan Street Fight. Late in the match, Finn Balor and Dominik Mysterio came to the aid of Priest until Rey Mysterio, a surprising appearance by Carlito, the LWO, and Savio Vega all evened the odds and restored order to the match. Bad Bunny, moments later, was able to dispense of Priest with a Bunny Destroyer (a variation of the Canadian Destroyer) following a barrage of chair shots.

The Bloodline (Solo Sikoa, Jimmy Uso, and Jey Uso) vs. Matt Riddle, Kevin Owens, & Sami Zayn Winners: The Bloodline via pinfall

The ongoing feud between The Bloodline and Undisputed Tag Team Champions, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens (with the recent infusion of Matt Riddle in the fray), continued tonight in a six-man tag team encounter. The Bloodline was able to overcome several disagreements amongst themselves to dispense of the tag champs and Riddle in the end. The closing moments of the match saw Solo blind tag himself into the match without Riddle’s awareness. Riddle proceeded to focus on Jey Uso as he executed the Bro Derek only to be ambushed by Solo from behind and put down with a Samoan Spike.

Brock Lesnar vs. Cody Rhodes Winner: Cody Rhodes via pinfall

Following his betrayal of Cody Rhodes, the night after Wrestlemania, a bitter feud has embroiled between Brock Lesnar and Cody Rhodes. In the closing moments of tonight’s main event, a bloodied Brock Lesnar seemed to have a victory in his sights after he dropped Rhodes with the F5 and immediately followed it up with the Kimura Lock. Rhodes who appeared to be in dire straits, drove The Beast back onto his shoulders while still trapped in the submission hold to shock Lesnar with the pinfall victory in a rather abrupt match.