WWE Backlash: The greatest show ever?
By Akash Ghosal
WWE Backlash was a better than usual pay-per-view in the “no fans” era riding solely on the backs of Orton and Edge, as the only match with an effectively shocking ending.
With television ratings rapidly dropping for both WWE Raw and SmackDown due to the absence of the audience as a result of the pandemic, WWE Backlash, with its build-up and matches on the card looked like a solid pay-per-view on paper in a long time. Having most of the company’s available top talent involved, the hype created did turn a lot of heads towards the much-awaited event.
- United States Championship – Apollo Crews (c) v/s Andrade (Kickoff Show):
The wrestlers put forth a decent show to kick-start the pay-per-view with their impressive moves and near falls before Crews hit Andrade with the sit out spinning powerbomb to seal the win. Like most kick-off matches, this too lacked the time span it needed to build the heat up.
- Women’s Tag Team Championship — Bayley & Sasha Banks (c) v/s The IIconics v/s Nikki Cross & Alexa Bliss:
WWE fails yet again to put on a good show with the IIconics involved, especially with Billy Kay and her cluttered performance. Bliss looked to be at the top of her game being inches close to the win, only to be pinned Banks. With Graves and Cole mentioning how Banks hasn’t won a SmackDown Women’s Championship ever, the storyline may lead to an awaited turn of Bailey on Sasha, once they lose the titles.
- Sheamus v/s Jeff Hardy:
Jeff Hardy has had his dark past with alcoholism, which was used to create an intense storyline with Sheamus framing Hardy as a drunk driver who crashed into Elias, leading to the feud, built up with a contract signing the past week on Raw. A flurry of offences by both the wrestlers, with the “Performance Centre recruits” cheering for Hardy, the match saw the classic heel being put over to seal the feud.
- Raw Women’s Championship – Asuka (c) v/s Nia Jax :
Arguably one of the most disappointing matches of the night, the “monolithic” Nia Jax botched her moves and provided a lot of sloppy moments that Asuka tried to sell, ending abruptly in a double count out. The brawl continued outside the ring with Asuka levelling Nia with a running hip attack from the apron, teasing a probable ‘No Disqualification Match’ at Extreme Rules.
- Universal Championship – Braun Strowman (c) v/s The Miz & John Morrison:
It was announced earlier in the show that the one scoring the pinfall over Strowman would be the sole champion (no co-champions), thus giving away the ending to most of the fans. The frequent tags and flurry of offences on the champion shifted most of the momentum towards Miz and Morrison. Cutting down the big man to the size, Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale assisted by Morrison, who went for the cover, but an “instinctive” interruption by his tag team partner ended their momentum, allowing Braun to set up his pinfall victory.
- WWE Championship – Drew McIntyre (c) v/s Bobby Lashley:
The only heavyweight match in the card, Lashley looked his finest as a heel in recent times under MVP’s management, locking McIntyre in a full nelson even before the match started to gain the upper hand. The match saw a plethora of power moves and submission holds from both the superstars, until Lashley hit the champion with a spear to score a near fall. WWE creative ended this match in the most cliched manner as Lana walked up to the ring to accuse the referee of cheating, allowing McIntyre to regroup and hit Lashley with a Glasgow Kiss and a Claymore to retain the title.
- The Street Profits v/s The Viking Raiders:
The WWE Universe expected the two most unique and talented tag teams to lock horns inside the ring, but was cut short by a cinematic display of them brawling all over the performance centre. It seemed nothing but a comic relief where they even teamed up to defeat ninjas, yes you heard it right, led by Akira Tozawa, making the match a distant dream for the fans.
- The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever – Edge v/s Randy Orton:
The most awaited match in a long time, enhanced with newer camera angles and “amplified audio,” created a stadium-like noise in the WWE performance centre. The subtle touches of adding the recorded introductions by Late Howard Finkel and the old school blue shirt with bow-tie-clad referee Charles Robinson, were appreciable as they gave out the vintage Madison Square Garden vibe. The two veterans structured the old school slow build-up with perfectly timed power moves and locks, to keep the intensity soaring. Tributes to the Hall of Famers with their signature moves and countless near falls kept fans at the edges of their seats. Both the superstars sold each other’s moves to perfection, while providing near falls to RKOs and Spears to add to the charisma of the match. The controversial end of the match came with Orton hitting a sneaky low-blow to Edge and following up with the move that seemed only a teaser for the fans forever, the Punt!