Here are my final thoughts on Raw and SmackDown’s WrestleMania Backlash 2021!
Sheamus (c) vs. Ricochet (WWE United States Championship)
Reactions: HEY, IT’S RICOCHET! Seeing him pop up on PPV (in a title match, no less) was a nice change of pace. This was a solid piece of work. Sheamus got to look like the destroyer he’s always been, while Ricochet got to break out some of his best high-flying maneuvers. Watching Sheamus brutalize his smaller foe by tearing at his mouth was pretty painful to watch, plus Ricochet’s springboard offense made this a bit better than expected. This was decent, but it could have been even better with some more time added to it. Watching Ricochet succumb to a running knee felt a bit flat in my eyes (Ricochet can sure sell the hell out of a Brogue Kick!). But the post-match shenanigans alludes to this going down again, so at least there’s that. Ricochet lost some points for me with that dab, though…
Rating: 2 & a Half out of 5 Stars
Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair (Triple Threat Match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship)
Reactions: Ay, shout out to Charlotte Flair for going full Cruella de Vil with the new gear she threw on for this match. Round of applause on that one. As far as Triple Threat Matches usually go, this one was par for the course. All three women didn’t really do anything all that different from what I usually see from matches of this sort. The action was thankfully crisp and lacked any noticeable botches, but none of it was all that inspiring or pushed me to care all that much until the final few minutes.
I perked up once all three women went to war trying to land their respective finishers near the end, though. This was good, but a lack of innovative exchanges and the ho-hum offense littered throughout it kept it from ascending to a higher level of quality. Based on the ending, we’re clearly getting a one-on-one title match between Rhea Ripley and Charlotte in the near future. I loved their WrestleMania 36 encounter, so count me in for that one.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
The Dirty Dawgs (Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode) (c) vs. Rey Mysterio & Dominik Mysterio (WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship)
Reactions: I’m not one for Handicap Matches. They tend to follow a trite formula where the hero gets demolished for an extended amount of time, then that individual makes a shocking comeback at some point to gain the advantage. And usually, everything moves at a slow pace and isn’t all that much fun to watch. But you know what? With Rey Mysterio, Dolph Ziggler, and Robert Roode in tow for the first half of this match, we got ourselves one of the best Handicap Matches of all time (which isn’t saying much considering what we’ve gotten before).
Rey’s scrappy comebacks and The Dirty Dawgs’ cool tandem offense made this one way more watchable than it had any right to be. The drama got built up perfectly and led right into a hot tag sequence that added a whole lot to the second half of this matchup. The near falls for this one actually had me on the edge of my seat, too! This one got a lot of time to fully develop into something worthwhile and it was strengthened by the pre-match events that put the Mysterios’ chances of winning in jeopardy. This was pretty good and we got a title change to boot. So yeah, this was much better than expected.
Rating: 3 & a Half out of 5 Stars
Damian Priest vs. The Miz (with John Morrison) (Lumberjack Match)
Reactions: Fam…WWE really went full cornball mode by doing a cross-promotion with Batista’s new Netflix series by featuring shambling zombies as the Lumberjacks! Good lord, this was cringy. Watching The Miz and John Morrison have to play up their fear for all those paid actors on the outside was so lame bruh. WWE really couldn’t throw actual “living” members of the roster from Raw into this one? We just had to ham it up and throw the walking dead into this whole affair, huh? Sigh…this was prime WrestleCrap. Can we please get Damian Priest away from The Miz & Morrison now? Please and thanks.
Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars
Bianca Belair (c) vs. Bayley (WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship)
Reactions: This was…okay. I’ve seen these two ladies deliver some impressive in-ring performances before, but things seemed a bit off during this PPV encounter. The strikes came off awkwardly, there were sloppy moments here & there, and the pace just seemed to be a bit slow in parts. The fact that it ran long took away from it too, as it seemed like there were moments of miscommunication that made this match really drag on.
The final few minutes featured some decent exchanges between the champ and challenger, but then that horrid ending came into play and really put a damper on this as a whole. To go from having one of the best matches at last month’s WrestleMania 37 to delivering this disappointing contest is quite the stepdown in quality for Belair. Based on how Bayley lost here, we’re clearly getting a rematch sooner rather than later. Let’s just hope that the next meeting between the two is a lot better than this one…
Rating: 2 & a Half out of 5 Stars
Bobby Lashley (c) (with MVP) vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Braun Strowman (Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship)
Reactions: NOW THAT’S HOW YOU RECOVER! Going from the letdown of a match that took place beforehand to this banger of a Triple Threat Match was quite refreshing. All three men are known for getting engaged in explosive skirmishes that tend to involve anything and everything around the ring. Once again, we got that satisfying element here as Raw’s biggest brutes tore into each other with reckless abandon. All the offense that came into play here looked like it hurt like hell, plus Braun Strowman came off his feet with an apron somersault that shocked the hell outta me.
Drew McIntyre went crazy with Belly to Belly Suplexes inside & outside the ring and Bobby Lashley also brought the pain in the most vicious manner possible. I loved how this car crash of a match unfolded from start to finish. The way they made you think it was a wrap for the champ after Drew threw him through the entrance ramp’s light structure was a nice touch. And the way it played into the exciting finish was also a dope moment. This was easily the better of the two Triple Threat Matches from this show.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Roman Reigns (c) (with Paul Heyman and The Usos) vs. Cesaro (WWE Universal Championship)
Reactions: It’s crazy to fathom that this is the first time Cesaro has gotten an opportunity at fighting for a major championship. After the banger he put on with Seth Rollins a month prior, it made all the sense in the world for him to get the right to face the “Tribal Chief.” To the surprise of no one, this Universal Championship main event was pretty dammed good. Both men laid into each other with some brutal offense and made it a point to work on a limb. Roman Reigns focused on Cesaro’s arm all the while, while Cesaro worked over Roman’s back with the Sharpshooter.
Cesaro did an awesome job of selling the damage done to him, which played a huge part in how the second half of this bout unfolded. The one thing that took away from this match was the over usage of Roman’s Guillotine Choke – it felt like they had nothing more creative to go with as this match reached its conclusion, so Roman kept going back to the well with that move one too many times. With a hotter finishing stretch, this match would have gotten a bit more love from me. Even still, this was a good matchup that showcased both men in a strong light. Based on what happened afterward, it looks like Cesaro’s going to be away for a while…
Rating: 3 & a Half out of 5 Stars
Match of the Night
Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Braun Strowman!
I always love it when WWE PPVs come to an end at a reasonable time. This was the case once again as the first-ever WrestleMania Backlash produced a card full of matches that got enough time to breathe. The SmackDown Tag Team Championship match, the WWE Championship car crash Triple Threat Match, and the Universal Championship main event were the clear standouts here. Both of the women’s matches left a lot to be desired though, which honestly surprised me considering both match’s participants. And the less said about whatever the hell that Lumberjack Match was supposed to be, the better. Three worthwhile matches from a six-match show puts it right in the middle as far as overall quality goes. Kudos to Bobby Lashley, Drew McIntyre, and Braun Strowman for doing fine work at this event.
Final Score: 3 out of 5 Stars