By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE WrestleMania Backlash Hits
Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro for the WWE Universal Championship: WWE saved the best for last with a strong main event that was capped off by a surprisingly clean pinfall. I assumed there would be another development in the Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso saga. In fact, I specifically suspected that Jimmy would help Reigns to reveal that their tension has been a ruse. Instead, Reigns beat Cesaro clean after a good, competitive match. No complaints, but I do wonder where Reigns goes next now that he just plowed through another babyface challenger. The post match angle with Seth Rollins didn’t do much for me. Rollins is still excellent once the bell rings, but his current persona is still a work in progress, and this feels like a step back to the upper mid-card for Cesaro at a time when the Smackdown brand needs all of the meaningful babyfaces it can get.
Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Braun Strowman in a Triple Threat for the WWE Championship: A very good battle of the big men. All three wrestlers worked hard and came through with a good title match that suffered a bit from predictability, as it seemed rather obvious that Lashley would end up pinning Strowman. It will be interesting to see if they go back to Lashley vs. McIntyre in a blowoff match to their feud inside Hell in a Cell next month.
Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka in a Triple Threat for the Raw Women’s Championship: This was Ripley’s best outing since she was moved to Raw. Granted, she hasn’t had a long run, but she got off to a rocky start with some surprising underwhelming matches with Asuka. Flair is new and improved both with her look and persona, and I assume we’ll get her facing Ripley in a singles match next. Asuka continues to feel cold and was the right person to lose this match, but one can only hope that there’s a creative plan in place to breathe new life into her act. By the way, why does the production team pump in boos for Ripley when the ThunderDome fans are clearly encouraged to cheer for her?
Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode vs. Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio for the Smackdown Tag Titles: A good match. Will Pruett and Jake Barnett both stated during last night’s audio review for Dot Net Members that the match overstayed its welcome. Still, it was a well worked match and they told a good story with Dom being injured, Rey fighting a portion of the match alone, and Dom eventually fighting through the injury to join his father. Rey and Dom becoming the first ever father and son tag team champions was a rushed storyline. It was a nice moment, but it really could have meant more if the creative forces had taken us on a journey to the duo winning the tag titles. They didn’t even dedicate much, if any, lip service to the idea of the duo becoming the first father and son tag champions until the build to this match started. Meanwhile, Ziggler and Roode are a good tag team that need the tag titles in order to feel relevant, so a longer reign clearly would have been beneficial to them.
Bianca Belair vs. Bayley for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: They had the unenviable task of trying to follow the zombie madness match, and this was also another match that suffered from predictability. Still, the work of the wrestlers eventually drew me in. Bayley is one of the most consistent wrestlers on the roster and she did a very nice job of making the new champion shine.
U.S. Champion Sheamus vs. Ricochet in a non-title match: A solid Kickoff Show match. It’s sad that Ricochet continues to be wasted on WWE Main Event more often than not despite the fact that he’s a Raw wrestler and the company struggles to fill its three-hour show with compelling content every week.
WWE WrestleMania Backlash Misses
Damian Priest vs. The Miz in a zombie lumberjack match: A Mega Miss. We interrupt this straight forward pro wrestling show for a dose of sports entertainment nonsense. The bulk of the event was filled with quality matches and it was an enjoyable show overall, but this segment was downright embarrassing for everyone involved. It rates as one of the worst things I’ve ever seen on a pro wrestling show, which is really saying something (and, no, it doesn’t matter even a little that zombies had professional makeup). Now that it’s over, can Priest finally move on from this nothing happening feud Miz and John Morrison?