By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Backlash Hits
Edge vs. Randy Orton: The Greatest Match Ever slogan was completely counterproductive. The canned crowd noise was unnecessary and distracting. Edge and Orton are veteran pros. They didn’t need WWE’s bad marketing campaign nor the “enhancements” added in post production. Edge and Orton had a hell of a match. There will always be an asterisk next to it because it was done in multiple takes. I’m not complaining about that aspect because they have so many things working against them during the pandemic that it’s wise to use the unique circumstances to create some advantages when possible, but I don’t think it’s fair to directly compare it to matches that aired live in a single take. But the important thing is that they delivered a strong and entertaining main event match with a finish that keeps the feud going. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait for the rubber match due to the reports of Edge being sidelined by a triceps injury.
Drew McIntyre vs. Bobby Lashley for the WWE Championship: A strong title match with a weak finish. I was curious to see how Lana would factor into the finish, but I was hoping for something more creative than what was delivered. Obviously, the plan was to protect Lashley to some extent and I assume we’ll get a rematch at Extreme Rules. Aside from Lashley nearly dropping McIntyre on his head during a botched spot, these two continue to work well together and I am looking forward to their next outing.
Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus: The buildup was absurd with the hit and run angle. Even if you don’t find it to be in poor taste, there’s still no explaining why police would arrest Hardy, yet completely disappear once all signs pointed to Sheamus framing his adversary. Fortunately, the actual match was strong and they worked a fitting grudge match style. Sheamus going over is logical in that Smackdown has a shortage of meaningful heels, and it’s hard not to wonder if Jeff will follow his brother to AEW whenever his WWE deal expires.
Apollo Crews vs. Andrade for the U.S. Championship: A quality Kickoff Show match. They didn’t get much time to work with, but the filled the time they had with good, fast paced action. As much as these two work well together, it’s time to move in a different direction, even if it’s as simple as adding Kevin Owens and Angel Garza to the mix by booking a four-way at Extreme Rules.
Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross vs. The IIconics for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles: A soft Hit for a match that easily could have spiraled out of control with three wrestlers allowed in the ring at once. The wrestlers did a nice job of using that to their advantage by performing a number of near falls with the third wrestler breaking up the pin attempts.
WWE Backlash Misses
The Street Profits and Viking Raiders cinematic: Cutesy comedy trash. The least WWE could have done was advertised this in a way to let viewers know that they were taking the cinematic approach rather than falsely advertising it as a Raw Tag Title match. While there have been some entertaining cinematic matches, this was such an abomination that it soured my admittedly minimal interest in the entire cinematic wrestling genre. This isn’t the evolution of pro wrestling, it’s just lousy filmmaking. If WWE wants to continue down this path then I beg them to create a special section on their network where they can air all the “mini movies” they want while putting some distance between them and their actual pro wrestling events.
Braun Strowman vs. The Miz and John Morrison in a handicap match for the WWE Universal Championship: Miz and Morrison did a nice job of working keeping a good pace by making a lot of quick tags. I never really cared for the idea that there could be co-champions if the challengers won, but I also found it odd that they changed the rule on the day of the show. Basically, it felt like they changed the co-champion rule after they came up with the match finish, and yet they don’t want to split up Miz and Morrison, so they went with the least compelling approach by having Miz pull Morrison off of Strowman to break up a pin, only to then show instant remorse before putting him back on top of Strowman.
Asuka vs. Nia Jax for the Raw Women’s Championship: A Hit worthy match aside from the weak finish. I’m fine with building to a rematch, but the double count-out felt lazy and uninspired.