Backlash 2023

|Date: May 6, 2023
|Venue: Coliseo de Puerto Rico Jose Miguel Agrelot |City: San Juan, Puerto Rico
|Attendance: 17,994

|tweet me: @BastionBlogger

A video package featuring Bad Bunny kicks us off to the theme of Bad Bunny. It covers all of tonight’s big matches. 

We get a cool drone shot which I assume is the same one they used on Smackdown. Michael Cole welcomes us to Puerto Rico. He’s joined by Corey Graves. 

Bianca Belair (c) v Iyo SkyRaw Women’s Championship match

Background: On the April 10 episode of Raw, Iyo Sky won a triple threat match to become the number one contender for Bianca Belair’s Raw Women’s Championship. On April 24, the match was confirmed for Backlash.

Previous PPV matches: This is a first time singles PPV match between these two girls.

Backlash PPV Record: Bianca Belair is 1-0, Iyo wrestles at Backlash for the first time tonight.

Match: This crowd is so vocal. Iyo Sky is on her own, not accompanied by Bayley and Dakota Kai. In a back and forth start to the match the crowd are firmly behind Iyo. There is some lovely wrestling between the two in a real contest of athleticism. I might be being stupid but I don’t recognise the referee for this match. As Iyo takes control she hits moves I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before. Bianca fights back using her speed and strength. Belair hits a one handed military press and it’s a nasty landing for Sky who kicks out of a pinfall attempt following a handspring moonsault. Iyo hits a missile drop kick but Bianca fights back and looks for a 450 splash but Iyo gets her knees up and applies a crossface which Bianca powers out of. Lots of counters from both girls. Sky hits a moonsault off the top to the outside, nailing the champion. Belair counters a top rope hurricanrana with a huge powerbomb for a near fall. Bayley and Dakota Kai head out from the back and a distraction nearly gives Iyo the victory. Whilst the referee deals with Bayley, Dakota kicks Bianca in the face. The referee sees Bayley holding Bianca’s braid, Iyo misses with a moonsault and Bianca hits the KOD for the victory.

Result: Bianca Belair retains the Raw Women’s Championship by pinfall.

Review: This was a great way to kick off the show. I really really good match between these two girls. I don’t think the result was ever in doubt, especially with Bianca being so close to holding a modern day record. This felt like Iyo Sky’s coming out party in a lot of ways. The match showcased what a talented worker she is and would be a great fit for a Money In The Bank briefcase in a few months time. You can’t fault Bianca Belair though, she consistently puts on great matches, no matter the opponent. Cracks are starting to show in Damage CTRL, it could be the beginning of the end of this group. A great match tonight and a big win for Bianca Belair.

Rating: 8.5/10

Bad Bunny is backstage and soon joined by Rey Mysterio. They talk in Spanish. I’m walks Savio Vega who gets a huge pop! He gives Bad Bunny a Puerto Rico themed kendo stick. 

Video package next for Seth Rollins and Omos. 

Seth Rollins vs. Omos 

Background: On April 21, it was announced that Seth “Freakin” Rollins would be facing Omos at Backlash, despite the two never having any conflict to have a match. Three days later on Raw, Omos’ manager MVP explained that he was the one who arranged the match, opining that because Rollins was one of the greatest wrestlers in WWE history, a win over Rollins would be huge for Omos’ career. Rollins stated that he was not afraid of Omos and would give him the greatest match of his career.

Previous PPV matches: This is a first time PPV match between these two men.

Backlash PPV Record: Seth Rollins is 1-1, Omos is 1-0.

Match: The crowd love a sing a long to Seth Rollins music but as Seth drinks it in he’s attacked by Omos. It’s all Omos from here as he dominates. The crowd continue to sing Rollins music. Omos applied a claw and then throws Seth out of the ring. Rollins shoves Omos into the ring post and looks to hit some suicide dives but Omos catches him and throws him back into the ring. Seth hits a springboard knee, some strikes and looks for a pedigree but Omos counters. Rollins hits a tornado DDT and a frog splash got a one count. Omos counters a stomp and hits a chokeslam for a near fall. Seth applies a sleeper but Omos breaks it with a sideslam. MVP rolls his cane to Omos but Seth hits a stomp and then a second for a two count. Rollins hits a stomp off the top rope which is enough for the three.

Result: Seth Rollins wins by pinfall.

Review: This match was actually a lot better than I thought it would be. I should never doubt Seth Rollins’ ability to put on good matches whoever he faces. Omos actually showed a lot more charisma in this match than he has previously and I don’t mind that. The stomp off the top was pretty cool too. A good match between these two men. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Seth win the new World Heavyweight Championship.

Rating: 6/10

There’s some footage of Bad Bunny and Damien Priest getting into it at the press conference. 

Austin Theory (c) vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Bronson Reedtriple threat match for the United States Championship

Background: At WrestleMania SmackDown on March 31, Bobby Lashley won the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal by last eliminating Bronson Reed. The two then entered a feud that led to a match on the April 10 episode of Raw, which ended in a double countout. The following week, Lashley faced United States Champion Austin Theory in a non-title match, which ended in a no contest after Reed interfered. On April 21, it was announced that Theory would defend his title against Lashley and Reed in a triple threat match at Backlash.

Previous PPV matches: This is a first time triple threat match involving these three men.

Backlash PPV Record: Bobby Lashley is 2-3, the other two men wrestle at Backlash for the first time tonight.

Match: Bobby Lashley as the sole babyface finds himself fending off both opponents in the early going. Theory doesn’t want any part of Bronson Reed. Reed does eventually take Austin down too. Lashley spears Theory but Reed breaks up the cover. Reed then hits somewhat of a standing Vader bomb off the ropes to the outside on Bobby. Lashley counters a-town down and applies a hurt lock on Theory but the champion gets out of it before Brunson Reed hits tsunami for a two count. Theory hits a rolling blockbuster on Reed but can’t hit a-town down. Reed misses with a moonsault on Theory and Lashley nails the big man with a spear. Theory then throws Bobby out of the ring and pins him for the 3!

Result: Austin Theory retains the United States Championship by pinfall.

Review:This was a decent match. I feel like I’ve seen enough of Austin Theory and Bobby Lashley against each other but the addition of Bronson Reed was a good one. He brings something different to the division. Austin Theory wins and continues his impressive reign as champion. Bronson Reed took the finish so Bobby Lashley doesn’t come out of the match looking too bad.

Rating: 6/10

There’s a poorly timed draft kings ad featuring Bobby Lashley and Big E. And then an ad for Night Of Champions. A Rhea Ripley promo video follows. 

Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Zelina VegaSmackdown Women’s Championship match

Background: In mid-March, Legado Del Fantasma (Santos Escobar, Cruz Del Toro, Joaquin Wilde, and Zelina Vega) began helping Rey Mysterio in his feud with The Judgment Day (Finn Bálor, Damian Priest, Dominik Mysterio, and Rhea Ripley). This partnership eventually resulted in Rey reforming the Latino World Order (LWO) with Legado del Fantasma. On the April 14 episode of SmackDown, during a match between Escobar and Priest, Ripley tried to interfere only to be stopped by Vega. On the next episode, Vega asked WWE official Adam Pearce for a match against Ripley for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at Backlash. She made this request not only because of the ongoing feud between their respective stables, but also because Vega was the only female roster member of Puerto Rican descent and she wanted to represent that at Backlash due to the event being held in Puerto Rico. The match was later confirmed.

Previous PPV matches: This is a first time PPV match between thee two girls.

Backlash PPV Record: Rhea Ripley is 1-0, Zelina wrestles at Backlash for the first time tonight.

Match: Zelina gets a big pop in her home country. Both girls are without their respective stables. Vega, who has a giant Puerto Rico flag is emotional. It’s Rhea’s power against Zelina’s speed in the early going. Vega’s mother hands her a flip flop which is presumably a common spanking tool in this part of the world. Zelina throws it at her opponent but it’s not long before Ripley takes control. Rhea applies a modified backbreaker type submission but then misses with a should charge allowing Vega to gain some momentum. Zelma counters a riptide with a ddt and then hits a 619 and a knee-teora for a two count. Rhea hits a kick to the face and a riptide for the three. Zelina Vega gets a standing ovation after the match.

Result: Rhea Ripley retains the Smackdown Women’s Championship by pinfall.

Review: This match was ok. The hot crowd really helped it. Zelina isn’t as polished as some of the girls in the division and really needs a good run of matches. Rhea Ripley is right up there as one of the best even if I think she should stop some of her mannerisms. Ripley should be booked as a killer and this reign could really maker her. There’s a freshening up of the divisions now following the brand split which should give her some fresh opponents. I can’t recall seeing Rhea Ripley v Becky Lynch yet so I’m all for that.

Rating: 4.75/10

There’s an ad  featuring Ridge Holland and Butch for Netflix show Fubar. 

There’s a video package next for Damian Priest and Bad Bunny. 

Damian Priest vs. Bad BunnySan Juan Street Fight

Background: During Rey Mysterio’s match against his son Dominik at WrestleMania 39, Dominik’s Judgment Day stablemate Damian Priest attempted to interfere while Bad Bunny, who was a guest commentator and was previously friends with Priest, prevented Dominik from cheating to win. On the following Raw, Priest attacked Bad Bunny, who was seated at front row, and slammed him through an announce table. On the April 24 episode, Bad Bunny returned and announced that although he was originally to be the host of Backlash, he would instead be facing Priest in a San Juan Street Fight at the event.

Previous PPV matches: This is a first time match between these two men.

Backlash PPV Record: Damian Priest is 1-0, Bad Bunny wrestles at Backlash for the first time tonight.

Match: Bad Bunny is so over. The whole crowd sing along to his theme. He comes down to the ring with a shopping trolly full of weapons. Bad Bunny his a Michinoku driver early on and then grabs a kendo stick but Priest snaps it in two. Priest dominates from here. He hits south of heaven, covers Bunny but then chooses to break the pin fall himself. Bad Bunny throws a chair at Priest before hitting a tornado ddt, clotheslining him out of the ring and diving out from the top. Bad Bunny uses trash can lids and a kendo stick and then hits a falcon arrow for a two count. Damian heads to the back but suckers Bad Bunny in before nailing him with a trash can, lid and kendo stick. The two fight into the crowd and Priest hits a falcon arrow through some tables below. Adam Pearce and some other agents come out to check on Bad Bunny but Priest carries him back to the ring. Priest looks for a kick but Bunny moves and Priest kicks the ring post. Bad Bunny targets the knee, smashing it into the ring post and hitting it with a chair. Priest kicks Bunny who replies with a low blow. Out come Dominik Mysterio and Finn Balor who take out Bad Bunny. Rey Mysterio comes out for the save, as does Carlito to a huge pop! Carlito and Rey dispose of Balor and Dominik and then out comes Savio Vega and the rest of the LWO! They collectively beat down Balor and Dominik, chasing them to the back. In the ring Priest’s leg gives out and Bad Bunny applies a figure four! Damian breaks it but misses with a spear, hitting a chair. Bunny hits sliced bread #2 for a near fall. Bad Bunny hits a destroyer and gets the 3 for the win!

Result: Bad Bunny wins by pinfall.

Review: This match was fantastic. The first 15 minutes was everything you expected out of the match but then all hell broke loose. I loved Carlito and Savio Vega getting involved, both men are Puerto Rican legends so the crowd lapped it up. Bad Bunny was really impressive, he was all in tonight and wasn’t booked like he could compete with Priest, instead using weapons to take an advantage. It was a well booked match and the psychology was spot on. Big props to Damian Priest too, he carried the match and it’ll go down as one of the best matches of the year.

Rating: 8.75/10

There’s a Night Of Champions ad and then a hype video for the Bloodline vs. Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Matt Riddle. 

Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn & Matt Riddle vs. The Bloodline (Solo Sikoa, Jimmy & Jey Uso)Six man tag team match

Background: On Night 1 of WrestleMania 39, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn defeated The Usos (Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso) to win the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship. On the following episode of SmackDown, Kevin Owens was attacked backstage by Solo Sikoa, and later that night, Jey defeated Sami Zayn after interference from Sikoa. Afterwards, Jey and Sikoa attacked Zayn further until Matt Riddle made the save—Riddle was injured by Sikoa back in December (kayfabe) and had returned on that week’s Raw. The following week, Owens and Zayn’s promo was interrupted by The Usos and Sikoa. Afterwards, a brawl broke out and Riddle got involved with the trio of Owens, Zayn, and Riddle standing tall. On April 17, a six-man tag team match pitting The Bloodline (The Usos and Sikoa) against Riddle, Zayn, and Owens was scheduled for Backlash.

Previous PPV matches: This is a first time six man tag involving these six men.

Backlash PPV Record: Kevin Owens is 1-1, Sami Zayn is 1-1, Matt Riddle is 0-1, Jimmy & Jey Uso are 3-1 and Solo Sikoa wrestles at Backlash for the first time.

Match: Sami Zayn and Jey Uso kick off the match. It’s a slow start to the match but KO brings a lot of energy. It’s not long before everyone but Solo Sikoa has been in the match. Solo tags himself in. He takes control for his team against Sami Zayn. The Bloodline make quick tags, keeping Zayn away from his corner. Sami finally makes the hot tag to Matt Riddle who picks up the pace. Riddle hits a springboard floating bro to the outside but then runs into a superkick courtesy of Jimmy Uso. Riddle hits a belly to belly off the top and then tags in Kevin Owens who hits a swanton. Jimmy accidentally superkicks Jey and KO follows up with a pop-up powerbomb on Jey for a near fall. Jey counters a stunner and the two men exchange superkicks. Jimmy and Sami tag in and Zayn hits a blue thunder bomb for a near fall. A double superkick gives Jey a near fall on Sami Zayn. Hey looks fired up but Solo tags himself in. Jey then tags himself back in! Zayn looks for a helluva kick on Jey but Jey moves and Zayn nails Solo. Sami then hits Jey with a helluva kick for a near fall. All hell breaks loose with all six men. Stunner to Jimmy, Samoan spike to KO. Solo then looks like he’s going to hit Jey with a spike but Zayn attacks them from behind. Riddle hits Jey with a bro-derek but Solo makes a blind tag and hits Riddle with a Samoan spike for the win!

Result: The Bloodline win by pinfall.

Review: This was a good six man tag team match, living up to any expectations I had for it. I like the story with The Usos and Solo Sikoa as cracks start to show between those men. The Usos get their win back following a couple of big losses to Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. It may lead to another tag team match between the two teams but personally I’m hoping this is the end of it. A good match tonight from these six men.

Rating: 7.5/10

There’s a promo video for Gunther. 

Video package next for Cody Rhodes and Brock Lesnar. 

Cody Rhodes vs. Brock Lesnar

Background: In the main event of Night 2 of WrestleMania 39, Roman Reigns defeated Cody Rhodes to retain the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship after interference from Paul Heyman and Solo Sikoa. On the following Raw, Rhodes challenged Reigns to a rematch, but Reigns declined. Rhodes then challenged Reigns and Sikoa to a tag team match, which Reigns accepted on two conditions: Rhodes’ partner was someone who competed at WrestleMania 39, and that person could not challenge Reigns for his titles as long as Reigns was champion. Brock Lesnar answered, with the latter stipulation not applying to him due to the stipulation of his match with Reigns at the 2022 SummerSlam. However, the match never occurred due to Lesnar viciously assaulting Rhodes before the match could begin. It was later reported that Lesnar was mad due to his position on the WrestleMania card, as his match had opened Night 2 instead of being in a main event slot. Rhodes addressed the attack on the following Raw and challenged Lesnar to a match at Backlash. The following week, Rhodes appeared ready to fight despite not being medically cleared to compete. To keep Rhodes from fighting Lesnar that night, WWE official Adam Pearce made the match for Backlash official.

Previous PPV matches: This is a first time match between these two men.

Backlash PPV Record: Both men are 2-0 at Backlash.

Match: As Brock makes his entrance Cody dives out and hits him with a suicide dive. Cody then nails Lesnar with the ring steps repeatedly before using the chair for good measure too. The bell rings and it’s all Rhodes early on. He hits two disaster kicks but Brock counters a third and hits a German suplex. Lesnar hits a fallaway slam and more German suplexes as the beast dominates. Cody pulls off a turnbuckle pad as he tries to block a suplex. Cody hits a low drop kick which sends Lesnar into the exposed steel and busts Brock open the hard way. Rhodes hits a Cody cutter and a disaster kick. Cody hits another Cody Cutter and then Cross-Rhodes twice for a near fall. Lesnar counters a third Cross-Rhodes attempt and hits an F5 for a near fall. Brock looks for a kimura but Cody rolls through and gets the three!

Result: Cody Rhodes wins by pinfall.

Review: This was a fun main event between Brock and Cody. The match may be remembered for Lesnar getting busted open the hard way, that looked nasty but fair play to Brock. Cody Rhodes win does come across like a fluke, it wa sa roll-up out of nowhere which suggests that the rivalry may continue if Brock is sticking around. A good main event tonight.

Rating: 7.25/10

And that was Backlash 2023. It felt like a really good show from top to bottom. The opener was one of the best opening matches we’ll see all year. Bianca and Iyo had a lot of chemistry and although Belair retained, Iyo does not come out of the match looking like a loser. Seth Rollins beat Omos in a bit of a throwaway match but one that could affect Omos in the short term. That’s back to back losses for the biggest man in WWE and he’ll need a big win to get his momentum going. Austin Theory retained his United States Championship as he heads to Smackdown to find new opponents. Rhea Ripley beat Zelina Vega in a straightforward enough defence but still a memorable night for Zelina Vega who got a huge ovation tonight. Bad Bunny beat Damian Priest in a fantastic San Juan Street Fight. This match was more fun than I had imagined and I doubt it’ll be the last we’ll see of Bad Bunny in WWE. The Bloodline got a big win back against Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Matt Riddle. I hope it’s the end of this rivalry and both teams can go on to new things. And then in the main event Cody Rhodes beat Brock Lesnar. It was a win that Cody needed after his loss at Wrestlemania but a victory that will probably upset Brock Lesnar even more. A great show tonight and for my money, the best Backlash event in history.

Overall Rating: 69.6/100 (ranked 26th out of 423 PPV’s)

Match Of The Night: Bad Bunny vs. Damian Priest
Worst Match Of The Night: Rhea Ripley vs. Zelina Vega
Surprise Of The Night: The return of Carlito
Worst Booking Of The Night: N/A
Superstar Of The Night: Bad Bunny
Backlash 2023 Will Be Remembered For: The street fight between Bad Bunny and Damian Priest

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