Reviews

The John Report: WWE WrestleMania Backlash 2021 Review

Welcome to the WWE WrestleMania Backlash review on TJRWrestling. It’s like Backlash, a PPV name that WWE has used since 1999, but with the name “WrestleMania” in front of it. Some of the card has fresh matches while some of it is based off matches that happened at WrestleMania. Since WWE has a triple threat match fetish these days, we get two of those matches on a card with six advertised matches.

The Raw announce team of Adnan Virk, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton were on hand to call the Kickoff Match. That was the only Kickoff Show match. The Kickoff Show panel was Kayla Braxton, Booker T, John Bradshaw Layfield and Peter Rosenberg.

Sheamus made his entrance as the United States Champion for an open challenge that won’t be for the US Title. Sheamus claimed that a title opportunity is earned, not given. Ricochet answered the open challenge.

Kickoff Show Match: Sheamus vs. Ricochet

Ricochet started with a dropkick. Sheamus caught the foot, Ricochet with a slap and then Sheamus hit a huge clothesline. Sheamus tossed Ricochet across the ring. Sheamus with forearms, Ricochet tried getting some strikes, but Sheamus stopped him and hit an Irish Curse backbreaker. Sheamus worked over Ricochet with forearms while up against the ropes. Sheamus did the “Dublin Smile” spot where he pulls on the cheeks of the opponent. Sheamus applied an armbar. Ricochet broke free with repeated elbows to the head, but then Sheamus hit a forearm to the head and Ricochet connected with a jumping kick to the head. I had a brief issue with the streaming service and then came back to see Ricochet hit a moonsault off the middle rope. Sheamus hit a knee to the face, but then Ricochet came back with a Backstabber. Ricochet hit a springboard 450 Splash off the top rope for a two count. Ricochet went up top again, he jumped off with another 450 splash, Sheamus avoided it and Ricochet avoided the Brogue Kick. Ricochet got a rollup for two again, but this time Sheamus came back with a rising knee to the face and that was enough for the pinfall win at 7:10.

Winner by pinfall: Sheamus

Analysis: **1/2 It was okay for the time given. Sheamus usually wins with the Brogue Kick, so it was a different ending since he won with the running knee. I thought Ricochet’s offense looked good with Sheamus selling everything well, but I never thought that Ricochet was going to win. Sheamus is booked strong as a heel champion. At some point, he’ll put somebody over and it will feel like a big deal. Maybe Ricochet will be that guy down the road.

Post match, Sheamus put on his jacket and hat along with the US Title around his waist. Sheamus wanted to say more, but Ricochet took off the hat of Sheamus and hit a dropkick. Ricochet took off Sheamus’ jacket as well. Sheamus went back into the ring, Ricochet took off the jacket/hat and threw them at Sheamus. Ricochet was in the aisle while Sheamus was frustrated in the ring.

Analysis: A feud between Sheamus and Ricochet would be fine with me. They need to use Ricochet more. Sheamus also has issues with Humberto Carrillo and Mansoor, so maybe it’ll be a case of Sheamus having several rivalries going on at once. There are a lot of ways it can go.

As a reminder, I have a listing of every WWE PPV that I reviewed in order by year. Thank you for supporting us at TJRWrestling. We appreciate you. Let’s get to the show.

WWE WrestleMania Backlash
From WWE Thunderdome at Yuengling Center in Tampa, Florida
May 16, 2021

The opening video package focused on the champions defending their titles on this show. The video featured a voiceover from WWE Hall of Famer Batista while they showed clips from his new movie Army of the Dead. That’s the sponsor of the PPV.

There was a pyro display inside the ThunderDome with fans appearing on the screens all around the arena. The Raw announce team of Adnan Virk, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton were at ringside to welcome us to the show.

The video package aired to set up the Raw Women’s Championship match between champion Rhea Ripley, former champion Asuka and Charlotte Flair. The video took about four or five minutes. You would think it was some great storyline when it really was not that great.

Charlotte Flair made her entrance first as one of the challengers. She always has on some pretty cool gear. Asuka made his colorful entrance looking confident as ever. Rhea Ripley, the Raw Women’s Champion, was up last. The three women stood in the ring as ring announcer Mike Rome did the championship introductions.

Raw Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley vs. Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair

It took 14 minutes to get the first match started. Charlotte did the heel thing by bailing to the floor, so Asuka and Ripley chased after her. Charlotte went back in to hit Ripley with a clothesline. Asuka with a backhand and Ripley rolled up Charlotte with Asuka breaking it up. Asuka with a hip attack on Charlotte, who was on the apron. Asuka went for an armbar, Ripley rolled through and Asuka hit a kick to the ribs. Asuka with a hip attack against the turnbuckle. Charlotte pulled Asuka out of the ring and Charlotte hit an overhead suplex on the floor. Charlotte rocked Ripley with a punch, then they exchanged shoulder tackles with neither woman getting knocked down. This time, Charlotte hit a knee to the ribs and an overhead suplex. Charlotte with a shoulder tackle, Asuka had a hold of Charlotte’s foot and Ripley hit dropkicks on both women to knock them to the floor. Charlotte tripped up Ripley on the apron. Charlotte choked Asuka across the middle rope. Charlotte showed off doing a cartwheel leading to a kick to the head for two. Asuka came back with punches, a back kick to the body and Asuka did a running attack into an armbar on the right arm. Charlotte got her leg on the bottom rope to break it up. Asuka applied an armbar on the left arm and then Ripley was back in with a stomp on Asuka. Charlotte hit a backbreaker followed by a whip into the middle turnbuckle. Charlotte knocked down Asuka, then Ripley with clotheslines on Charlotte and Ripley hit a dropkick on Asuka. Ripley with knees to Charlotte and then a running dropkick. Ripley hit a Northern Lights Suplex on Charlotte for two with Asuka breaking it up. Asuka with a knee to Ripley’s face, Ripley with a kick and then Asuka with a kick to the face. Asuka with two German Suplexes on Charlotte and a hip attack on Ripley. Asuka delivered kicks to both opponents. Asuka with a sliding knee on Charlotte for two. Asuka went up top and hit a missile dropkick on Ripley. Asuka kicked Ripley while on the apron with Ripley on the floor. Charlotte went up top and jumped off with the moonsault onto both women on the floor. Charlotte really just connects with her elbows.

Charlotte went Asuka into the ring, but then Ripley punched Charlotte while Charlotte was on the top rope. Ripley wanted a superplex, so then Asuka got involved to try the Tower of Doom spot. That led to Asuka and Ripley hitting a double superplex on Charlotte. All three women were down selling for several seconds. The three women were on their knees as they exchanged forearms. Ripley with headbutts to both women, Ripley punched Charlotte and then Charlotte avoided a double suplex by landing on her feet. Charlotte did a double chop block to both women and Charlotte did a double Natural Selection neckbreaker on both women and Charlotte covered both women for a two count. Asuka avoided a moonsault by Flair, Asuka hit a double knee attack on Flair. Asuka and Ripley battled over finishing moves. Charlotte went back in and kicked Ripley in the face. Asuka kicked Charlotte into the turnbuckle and Asuka kicked Charlotte. Asuka with a spin kick to Ripley. Charlotte with a boot to the face of Asuka and then I guess Charlotte stumbled to the floor. Ripley hit the Riptide on Asuka and Ripley pinned Asuka to keep the title. Charlotte was out on the apron and wasn’t able to break up the pin. It went 15:22.

Winner by pinfall: Rhea Ripley

Analysis: ***1/2 This was a very good triple threat match that was competitive right from the moment the bell rang. It was a fast-paced match full of action. They worked well together with Charlotte at the center of a lot of it since she was the heel in the match, but Ripley and Asuka got plenty of offense too. I don’t think one woman stood out more than the others, but I think Charlotte had a strong performance while Asuka is always consistent and Ripley more than held her own. They didn’t venture outside the ring that much aside from a few spots and there were no weapons utilized either. I think the finish was exactly what I predicted (and I’m sure others predicted it too) with Ripley pinning Asuka. By doing that, it keeps a Ripley feud with Charlotte something they can do in the future.

Post match, Ripley taunted Charlotte, who was outside the ring looking angry. Ripley was basically rubbing it in Charlotte’s face that Ripley is still the champion.

Analysis: It’s safe to assume that Ripley vs. Charlotte will be a singles match at the next PPV.

There were commercials for different things like Peacock programming. I don’t pay attention.

There was a video shown of WWE Champion Bobby Lashley and MVP arriving earlier in the day.

They showed Braun Strowman dominating at the end of Raw last week when he delivered Running Powerslams to Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre.

The Miz and John Morrison were backstage with Miz complaining about how he has to be in a Lumberjack Match. Morrison said he’ll talk to the lumberjacks and he’ll be very persuasive to make sure that Priest falls into their thirst trap. Miz said he doesn’t think Morrison knows what a thirst trap is. I would agree with that.

The Smackdown announce team of Michael Cole and Pat McAfee were at ringside to call the first Smackdown match of the show. It is McAfee’s first PPV as an announcer, just like Virk as well.

There was a replay of what happened earlier in the night on the Kickoff Show when Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode, the Smackdown Tag Team Champions, attacked Dominik in the backstage area.

Dominik Mysterio was with his father Rey and a trainer, who told Rey that Dominik isn’t able to compete. Dominik was disappointed about it. Rey said it’s okay, they’ll fight another day and Rey left for the match.

Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode made their entrance as the Smackdown Tag Team Champions. Rey Mysterio entered alone as the challenger.

Smackdown Tag Team Championships: Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode vs. Rey Mysterio & Dominik Mysterio

Rey attacked both guys right away and then got a rollup on Roode. Rey charged at Roode, then went under the bottom rope and hit a splash on Ziggler on the floor. That’s such a cool move. Roode went after Rey on the floor, Rey avoided a powerslam and shoved Roode into the ring post. Rey hit a senton attack off the apron onto Roode on the floor. Roode took control in the ring after kicking out of a rollup and hitting a clothesline. Ziggler was back in for his team as he grounded Rey against the turnbuckle with some eye raking. Roode with a hard whip that sent Rey hard into the turnbuckle. Roode taunted Rey by putting him near the turnbuckle to tag out, but Rey had nobody to tag. Rey with a drop toe hold that sent Roode into the turnbuckle. Rey kicked Ziggler off the apron to the floor. When Rey went up top, Ziggler tripped him up and Rey was trapped upside down, so Roode stomped on Rey repeatedly. Ziggler wrenched Rey’s knee down into the mat and that got a two count in the ring. Rey was selling a left knee injury as Roode drove his knee into the back of Rey’s leg. Rey fought back out of the corner, but then Ziggler tagged in and hit a Fameasser (while Roode was holding Rey) for two. The champs made quick tags with Roode sliding Rey under the bottom rope and Ziggler hit a superkick on Rey on the floor. That was a great spot to get some heat on the champions. Rey was down for nearly a ten count, but he got back in the ring at nine. Roode with a headbutt, Ziggler tagged in and Rey countered a double suplex with a double DDT on both guys. Rey sent Roode shoulder first into the ring post. Ziggler charged and Rey sent Ziggler into the ring post as well. The three guys were down as Dominik Mysterio walked down to the ring and stood in the corner to support his father. Dominik wanted the tag, but Rey wondered what he was doing. Rey punched Roode off the apron and Ziggler hit the Zig Zag on Rey for a two count. Since Dolph uses the superkick as a finisher, the Zig Zag is a good spot for a nearfall. Roode was back with a gutbuster where he drove his knee into Rey’s ribs. Roode had Rey on his shoulders on the middle rope, Rey fought out of that and Rey jumped off the top with a bulldog. Rey dropkicked Roode to kick him down.

Dominik got the tag with punches on Roode, but then Roode came back with a spinebuster. Ziggler was back in and he got a nearfall on Dominik as well. Ziggler sent Dominik shoulder first into the ring post. Roode trash-talked Dominik saying he doesn’t belong here and then Dominik hit a superkick on Ziggler to knock Dolph down. Rey tagged back in against Roode with a senton splash off the top. Roode with a backbreaker on Rey for two. Roode picked Rey up, Rey fought him off with punches, Rey sent Roode into the turnbuckle and Rey hit the 619 kick. Dominik tagged in as Rey hit a sunset flip on Ziggler to send him into the barricade. Dominik went up top and hit a Frog Splash on Roode for the pinfall! The Mysterios are the new Smackdown Tag Team Champions! This went 17:02.

Winners by pinfall AND NEW Smackdown Tag Team Champions: Rey & Dominik Mysterio

Analysis: ***1/2 A terrific tag team match. When Dominik was taken out earlier in the night I figured he would make the comeback and that led to the title change. Ziggler and Roode did a tremendous job as the heels that didn’t let up the whole match, they got several nearfalls and then they sold everything well when the babyfaces made the big comeback. I thought Rey did an awesome job in terms of working the majority of the match by himself. Dominik’s Frog Splash looked pretty good for the finish as well. I wrote for weeks that I think WWE should have saved this for when fans are back in July or do it after that, but I guess WWE felt like this is the right time. It’s not like I’m going to complain about it because I like Rey/Dominik a lot.

Rey and Dominik embraced after the match. They were handed the titles and they were so happy.

Rey and Dominik were interviewed by Kayla Braxton. Rey said that they made history as the first-ever father-son Tag Team Champions in WWE. Dominik also said that they made history and it’s time to celebrate. Rey and Dominik looked so happy about the victory.

There were commercials including one for the Army of the Dead movie.

John Morrison walked up to a locker room that said “Lumberjacks” on it. When Morrison opened the door, the room was full of zombies, who walked out of the room. That’s because it was a promotion for the Army of the Dead movie.

Jimmy Uso was shown in the hallway and he walked into the Roman Reigns locker room with Jey Uso there. Jimmy said that Roman wouldn’t have his own locker room without Jey Uso. Jimmy said that they need to have their own locker room and to become the Tag Team Champions. Roman Reigns walked into the picture with his cousins. Jimmy wished Roman good luck tonight and said he’s going to need it. Jimmy left. Roman didn’t say a word.

John Morrison was talking to The Miz saying he thinks the lumberjacks are going to be zombies. The Miz said that whatever you think you saw, it was just in your head. Miz and Morrison left while the camera panned over to show the zombies following them out to the ring.

The announcers talked about Dave Bautista doing a tweet saying sorry he couldn’t make it to WrestleMania Backlash, but some of his friends will. That means the zombies that are part of the Army of the Dead movie that Batista is starring in.

The Miz made his entrance with John Morrison. Damian Priest entered as the opponent.

There were zombies surrounding the ringside area. The Miz and John Morrison were freaked out and trying to run away. The Miz went into the ring to start the match while Morrison took off. The bell rang with the zombies surrounding the ring as the lumberjacks.

Lumberjack Match: Damian Priest vs. The Miz

The Thunderdome screens were replaced with graphics of a dark city. Miz went for a dropkick, then he landed on the floor near the zombies and he was scared. Back in the ring, Priest hit a flapjack. Priest was pulled out of the ring and then Priest decked the zombies with punches. Miz with a kick to Priest to knock him down. Miz was out of the ring briefly, then he ran away from the zombies. Priest hit a forearm to the face and then a spin kick to the head. Priest with a jumping back elbow against the turnbuckle. Priest with a spinning heel kick off the top rope on Miz for a two count. Priest with a forearm, Miz blocked it and Miz applied the Figure Four Leglock. Priest reached for the ropes and then the zombies pulled both guys out of the ring. Priest and Miz focused on beating up some of the zombies. There was a bigger zombie, so Priest jumped off the stops and kicked him in the head. Priest hit the Broken Arrow sitout slam for two. Morrison ran down to the ring to help Miz, Morrison with a kick to the head and then Miz hit a running knee on Priest for a two count. Morrison attacked a zombie with a jumping kick, but then two zombies pulled him down. Back inside the ring, Priest hit the bell clap on Miz’s head and Priest hit the Hit The Lights neckbreaker to win by pinfall. It went 6:57.

Winner by pinfall: Damian Priest

Analysis: -* This was dumb. I don’t go into negative stars often, but I will do it here because the creative team deserves it. I feel bad for the wrestlers. Priest winning is fine, but I think fans are just going to whine about how stupid this was and won’t remember that Priest got a meaningful win. Anyway, I’m tired of Priest matches against Miz or Morrison. Hopefully Priest can move on to something else.

After the match, all of the zombies at ringside went into the ring while The Miz was in there, so they “attacked” him or whatever it is that we are supposed to think that they do. I don’t watch zombie stuff.

Analysis: This was dumb. Really bad. It will be a contender for worst WWE match of the year because of how it was booked. Once again, I feel bad for the wrestlers.

At least Batista had a good tweet about it.

There was a commercial for the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view on June 20.

Analysis: Normally Hell in a Cell is in October, so that’s a change.

Braun Strowman was shown warming up for his WWE Title match.

Jey Uso went up to brother Jimmy Uso, who once again got into his brother’s head. Jimmy said that maybe the locker room door should say “Roman Reigns and His Bitch” referring to Jey. That led to Jey getting mad as Jimmy left.

A video package aired for the Smackdown Women’s Championship match between champion Bianca Belair and Bayley.

Bayley entered first as the challenger. Bianca Belair was up next as the Smackdown Women’s Champion. The women stood in the ring for the championship introductions from ring announcer Greg Hamilton. They piped in some “EST” chants for Belair. This was Belair’s first title defense.

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair vs. Bayley

Bayley tried a waist lock, Belair got out of that and sent Bayley out of the ring. Belair grounded Bayley with an armbar, Bayley reached back going for Belair’s hair and Belair warned Bayley not to touch her hair. Belair with a leapfrog, Bayley got a hold of her and Bayley kicked Belair to the turnbuckle. Belair jumped off the turnbuckle and then hit a dropkick. Belair did a hard whip that sent Bayley into the turnbuckle. There was a hiptoss from the apron into the ring from Belair and then Bayley bailed to the floor. Belair followed Bayley on the floor, Belair with a leapfrog and then a shoulder tackle. Back in the ring, Belair hit a handspring into the ropes leading to a moonsault. Bayley grabbed Belair’s earring followed by punches to the face. Bayley whipped Belair into the turnbuckle. Bayley grounded Belair with a headlock, Belair broke free and Bayley hit a belly to back suplex for two. Bayley went up top, Belair with a forearm to knock her down followed by Bayley hitting a neckbreaker using the rope. Belair brought Bayley back into the ring with a vertical suplex. Bayley came back with an inside cradle and then they rolled out of the ring. Bayley with a front suplex that sent Belair ribs first onto the steel steps. Bayley with a suplex on the floor and then back in the ring for a two count for Bayley. Belair came back with a shoulder tackle. Bayley had Belair on her shoulders and then she did a spinning slam, but there was a slip and then Bayley landed on top anyway for a two count. Belair with a running knee for two as Belair did a powerful kickout that sent Bayley out of the ring to the floor. Bayley laughed at Bianca, so Belair hit her with a backhand fist to knock Bayley down. Belair with two hiptosses followed by a dropkick. Belair jumped over Bayley, but Bayley clipped the back of the knee. Belair fought out of Bayley’s finisher attempt and Belair hit a spinebuster for two. Good form on that move. Bayley fought out of a KOD attempt and Bayley hit a clothesline. Bayley jumped off the top and hit an elbow drop for two. Bayley went for a sliding dropkick, Belair blocked that and then Bayley sent Belair into the ring post. Bayley went for a suicide dive, Belair moved and Bayley hit the floor. Belair sent Bayley into the side of the ring apron leading to a two count. Bayley got a backslide pin with her feet on the ropes. Bayley tried a pin with hands on the ropes, but the referee caught her. The women exchanged forearms, Bayley did an eye rake that the referee didn’t see and Belair was selling it like she couldn’t see out of the right eye. Bayley grabbed the hair of Belair and Bayley hit the Bayley to Belly slam for two. Bayley went for her Roseplant finisher, Belair used her hair to tie up Bayley’s feet for a moment and then Belair was able to sit on top of Bayley to keep Bayley down for the three count. It went 16:05.

Winner by pinfall: Bianca Belair

Analysis: *** It was a competitive match from the moment it began with both women getting a lot of offense. This wasn’t as good as Belair/Banks at WrestleMania. It was still okay, but it was a different kind of match in terms of story and pacing. I think they were trying to do a finish where Belair would use her hair to keep Bayley down, but then they didn’t do it smoothly. Anyway, the story was that Belair countered Bayley’s finisher and Belair managed to sit on top for the win. I would have rather seen Belair hit her KOD finisher to win instead of what they did here, but I guess it’s a way to keep the story going since Bayley didn’t lose to Bianca’s finishing move. Belair winning was the expected outcome here since she just won the title last month.

Bayley complained about it to Michael Cole saying that Belair used her stupid hair. Bayley wanted a replay. Bayley said that Bianca was a cheater. Belair celebrated with her title. They didn’t show a replay of the finish.

There were commercials including the WWE Icons documentary about Rob Van Dam that is on Peacock/WWE Network now.

Montel Vontavious Porter was interviewed by Kevin Patrick. MVP said he wasn’t concerned about the triple threat match rules because everybody knows Lashley can lose the WWE Title without being pinned. MVP said he’s not concerned about Bobby Lashley. MVP said that Bobby is the All Mighty WWE Champion. That was it.

Drew McIntyre was shown backstage getting ready for the main event.

There was a video package for the WWE Championship triple threat match.

Drew McIntyre made his entrance as the first challenger in the WWE Championship match. Braun Strowman was up next as another challenger. Bobby Lashley made his entrance last as the All Mighty WWE Champion with MVP by his side. They stood in the ring for the championship introductions from Mike Rome. Just like the women’s match earlier, the first fall wins this match with no disqualifications and no countouts.

WWE Championship: Bobby Lashley (w/MVP) vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Braun Strowman

Strowman was aggressive with corner splashes on both guys. Lashley took down Strowman with a flatliner. McIntyre and Lashley attacked Strowman at the same time since Braun was the biggest guy in the match. Drew and Bobby delivered a delayed vertical suplex to Strowman. McIntyre launched Lashley across the ring with a belly to belly suplex. McIntyre with a headbutt to Strowman. Lashley pulled McIntyre out of the ring and then drove him back first into the barricade. Strowman joined the party with a diving attack off the apron onto both guys! That was great. Braun threw Drew into the barricade. Back in the ring, Strowman hit a Chokeslam on Lashley for a two count. McIntyre got back into it with a cross body block off the top onto both guys. McIntyre with a belly to belly suplex on Lashley. Drew sent Strowman into the ring post. McIntyre jumped off the top with a clothesline on Lashley and a neckbreaker on Strowman. Lashley with a belly to belly release suplex. Strowman charged right into a spinebuster from Lashley for a two count. Lashley punched McIntyre off the apron to the floor and Lashley tossed McIntyre into the barricade. Lashley had McIntyre on his shoulders and then he drove Drew into the ring post. Strowman hit Lashley with the steel steps two times in a row. McIntyre got back into it and hit a Claymore Kick that sent Strowman over the barricade. McIntyre sent Lashley into the steel steps. Lashley countered a suplex attempt by McIntyre and Lashley hit a suplex on the ramp. Lashley sent McIntyre into the side of the video screens. They were at the top of the ramp, McIntyre with a headbutt and McIntyre sent Lashley into the LED boards that were part of the set. McIntyre whipped Lashley into this side area by the stage and some electrical equipment set off some sparks. I’m not sure where Lashley landed and when Drew looked, we couldn’t even see where Lashley landed.

Strowman was back into it as he attacked McIntyre and then Strowman hit a running shoulder tackle on Drew by the ringside area. Back in the ring, Strowman with a forearm to the chest followed by a senton splash for two. Strowman with a punch to the jaw, Drew avoided a charge and Drew hit a Michinoku Driver sitout slam for a two count. That was an impressive move for a good nearfall. Strowman lifted Drew over the top to the floor. Strowman ran at Drew on the floor with Drew catching him and hitting an overhead belly to belly suplex on the floor. McIntyre charged at Strowman, who caught him and Braun gave Drew a Powerbomb through the announce table! That was great. There were “this is awesome” chants that were well deserved. They were back into the ring with McIntyre hitting a Claymore Kick on Strowman, so I guess Drew recovered fine after the table spot. Lashley got back into the ring, then he threw Drew out of the ring and then Lashley hit a Spear on Strowman for the pinfall win at 14:15.

Winner by pinfall: Bobby Lashley

Analysis: **** This was an excellent match that was laid out very well. It was all action. No chinlocks or resting. They worked hard and had a lot of fun moments. All three guys had big spots in the match, they took out Lashley and then he came back to find a way to win. That’s the kind of booking they have done in other triple threat matches in the past, but I don’t mind it because it worked in this situation. I thought McIntyre was outstanding in the match not only because of the big moves he hit on Strowman as well as taking out Lashley, but he took some big bumps as well like when he took that Powerbomb through the table. This was probably Strowman’s best match in a few years because he has had a bad stretch, so it was nice to see Braun competing at this high level again. Lashley pinning Strowman is what I expected because it protects McIntyre to set up Lashley/McIntyre in a singles match again. When Strowman was added to the match, the assumption was that he was there to take the pin and that’s what happened.

Post match, Lashley celebrated with the WWE Title. McIntyre was upset about the loss on the floor. Lashley continued to celebrate.

Analysis: This should probably set up Lashley vs. McIntyre in a Hell in a Cell match at Hell in a Cell next month.

The announcers talked about how Hell in a Cell is taking place on Sunday, June 20.

Analysis: The rumors are that WWE fans will be back in July, so that could be the Money in the Bank PPV. That’s probably why Money in the Bank was moved back after it was originally planned for June.

The video package aired for the Universal Championship match between Roman Reigns and Cesaro. It also featured problems between Roman’s cousin Jimmy Uso, who is not falling in line behind Roman the way Jey Uso does. That has led to issues between the family.

Cesaro made his entrance for the main event looking ready to go. Cesaro has been in WWE for over a decade and this is his first Universal Championship singles match.

Roman Reigns was shown behind the curtain. Jey Uso was there saying “we” and Roman didn’t like that. Jey said I’m always in your corner, then he said “what if” and Roman said that you sound like your brother. Roman said maybe Jey should go find his brother. Jey stayed in the back for the match.

Roman Reigns made his entrance as the Universal Champion with Special Counsel Paul Heyman by his side. The announcers put over the experience that Roman Reigns has in championship matches and a guy that has main evented WrestleMania five times. The wrestlers stood in the ring as ring announcer Greg Hamilton did the championship introductions.

WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Cesaro

It was a slow feeling out process to start with Reigns grabbing a headlock. Cesaro hit a shoulder tackle leading to nearfalls, so Reigns bailed to the floor. Reigns with punches, he sent Cesaro into the turnbuckle and Cesaro hit a springboard back elbow. Cesaro went for the Swing, but Reigns crawled to the ropes to break free. Reigns sent Cesaro out of the ring with Cesaro landing on the right shoulder/elbow, but I think Cesaro was okay. Cesaro was back in the ring with uppercuts and then Reigns hit an elbow to the face. Reigns sent Cesaro shoulder first into the ring post. There was a new announce table replacing the broken one as Reigns sent Cesaro into the hood of the table. Back in the ring, Reigns grabbed a tight headlock. Cesaro tried a suplex, but he couldn’t do it and Reigns hit his own suplex for a two count. Cesaro with forearms, but then Reigns came back with an uppercut punch. Reigns with a headlock, Cesaro sent him into the ropes and Reigns hit a clothesline for just a one count. Reigns sent Cesaro into the ropes leading to a Samoan Drop for two. Reigns charged, Cesaro ducked and lifted up Reigns for a popup uppercut. Cesaro charged with uppercuts followed by a running kick to the face for two. Cesaro kicked the left knee, elbow drop to the knee and Cesaro applied a Sharpshooter, so Reigns crawled to the bottom rope to break it. Reigns left the ring, so Cesaro ran the ropes and jumped over the top with a corkscrew plancha onto a standing Reigns. That was awesome. Reigns left the ring, Cesaro left and hit a running uppercut into the barricade. Cesaro sent Reigns back into the ring, Cesaro up top and he jumped off with a cross body block for two. Cesaro sent Reigns into the ring post. Reigns kicked Cesaro in the head and then wrenched on the right arm against the turnbuckle. Reigns hit a running dropkick that sent Cesaro into the steel steps. That led to a two count in the ring.

Reigns was smiling at Cesaro, who was holding his injured right arm. Reigns kicked the knee, then Reigns wrenched on the right arm and told “DB” (Daniel Bryan) that he has got Daniel’s boy here and that he hopes DB is enjoying this. Cesaro with a headbutt, then an uppercut and Reigns hit a clothesline for two. Reigns with punches, then knee strikes and Reigns sent Cesaro into the ropes leading to a boot to the face. Reigns trash talked Cesaro, then Reigns kicked Cesaro against the turnbuckle and Reigns argued with the referee Dan Engler, so Cesaro came back with elbows. Cesaro with a kick, Reigns with a kick to the arm and Cesaro hit the Brodie/Harper spinning lariat for a two count. They exchanged strikes again, Cesaro with two uppercuts and stomps against the turnbuckle. Cesaro did the superplex while on the middle rope with Reigns on the apron, which was good for a two count. That’s such a great move. Cesaro with a double foot stomp to the ribs as they neared the 20-minute mark in the match. Cesaro went for the Neutralizer, Reigns fought out of it and Reigns punched him in the face. Reigns applied an armbar on the right arm, Cesaro rolled through and got a two count. Cesaro went for a springboard attack off the middle rope, but Reigns came back with a Superman Punch for two. Great timing on that move. It looked awesome.

Reigns charged at Cesaro, but Cesaro hit an uppercut. Cesaro went for the popup uppercut, but he couldn’t lift Reigns. That led to Reigns applying the Guillotine Choke, but Cesaro countered to a Powerbomb. Cesaro punched Reigns repeatedly leading to Cesaro applying the Sharpshooter submission hold. Cesaro was favoring the right arm while he applied the hold. Cesaro trapped the arm and then Cesaro applied a Crossface submission. Reigns got back in control with punches to the head. Reigns hit a sitout Powerbomb for two. Reigns delivered more punches to the head. Reigns applied the Guillotine Choke again, but Cesaro tried to get out of it and hit a slam. Reigns had Cesaro trapped in the Guillotine Choke the same way Reigns beat Daniel Bryan, but Cesaro powered out of it. Reigns continued to apply the Guillotine Choke hold, Cesaro passed out in the hold, so the referee called for the bell. It went about 27:35.

Winner by submission: Roman Reigns

Analysis: ****1/2 Another outstanding championship match for Roman Reigns. That’s the same rating I gave his Universal Title match with Daniel Bryan on April 30 as well and the WrestleMania main event too. Reigns is performing at such a high level right now and Cesaro more than held his own throughout the match. The story was about Cesaro hurting his right arm early, then he was favoring that arm throughout the match and nearly every move that Cesaro did was about using that arm, but then struggling to fully utilize it. Every time Cesaro would go for a move and hit it, he’d sell the arm injury while Reigns was relentless in terms of going after the arm. They have also done a fantastic job of putting over the Guillotine Choke as a deadly finisher since Reigns made Bryan and then Cesaro pass out in the hold to put over Roman’s dominance as champion. I thought that maybe they could have done a bit more to make it look like Cesaro might win like maybe he could hit a Neutralizer either in the ring or on the floor leading to a two count with Roman getting his foot on the bottom rope or something to make it look close. I just think that’s where it was lacking a bit – they needed more nearfalls or near submissions for Cesaro. I’m a bit surprised that it was a totally clean win, but I think it’s a case of WWE realizing that Reigns won cheap a lot of times during this run, so it’s time to giving him clean wins like he got over Bryan and now over Cesaro as well.

After the match, Reigns celebrated with his Universal Title. Cesaro sold it like he didn’t know what happened because he passed out and then the referee let him know what happened. Jey Uso went into the ring and put a red lei around his cousin Roman Reigns. When Cesaro got back up, Jey attacked him with a superkick and punches. Jey went up top, but then the music of Seth Rollins hit as Rollins walked down to the ring in a ridiculous suit.

Rollins got into the ring, he stared at his former friend Reigns and he smiled at him. Rollins went over to Cesaro and beat up Cesaro with punches. Roman left with his crew. Rollins whipped Cesaro into the steel steps. Rollins sent Cesaro over the announce table. Rollins sent Cesaro’s arm into the top of the announce table. Rollins hit Cesaro in the back with a steel chair. Rollins hit Cesaro in the right arm with a steel chair and a chair to the ribs. Rollins put the arm in the chair. Rollins told Cesaro that nobody makes a mockery of him, which led to Rollins slamming Cesaro’s arm (with the chair) into the ring post. Rollins followed up by hitting The Stomp on Cesaro on the floor. Rollins went into the ring to celebrate. That was the end of the show.

Analysis: Rollins was absent from Smackdown this past week, but he made his presence known here. I thought it was a good attack from Rollins. This should lead to another Rollins/Cesaro match whether it’s on Smackdown or at Hell in a Cell (inside the cell) and I would expect Cesaro to win again.

This event had a runtime of 3:01:46 on WWE Network.

 

Five Stars of the Show

  1. Roman Reigns
  2. Cesaro
  3. Drew McIntyre
  4. Bobby Lashley/Braun Strowman
  5. Rey & Dominik Mysterio

 

Final Thoughts

I’m going with a 7.75 out of 10 for this show.

I thought it was a very good show because they had six matches where five of them got a lot of time (over 14 minutes) and the main event went nearly 30 minutes. Roman Reigns and Cesaro did a tremendous job in having a competitive Universal Title match with Roman winning clean. It was very similar to the Reigns/Daniel Bryan match on Smackdown a few weeks ago. I enjoyed the WWE Title match with Lashley/Strowman/McIntyre as well. All action. Drew McIntyre really stood out to me in that match. The two women’s matches were okay with predictable outcomes as the new champions Bianca Belair and Rhea Ripley got clean wins to continue their title reigns. It was really cool to see Rey/Dominik Mysterio winning the Smackdown Tag Team Titles although I still think it would have been even better if WWE waited a few months until fans were at shows. That moment would have led to a big pop from a crowd.

The zombie lumberjack match between Damian Priest and The Miz didn’t help either guy. I thought it was absolutely terrible. I understand that it was done to promote the “Army of the Dead” movie starring Batista. I just think it was painfully bad to watch and I feel bad for the wrestlers that were involved with it.

Since the next PPV is Hell in a Cell on June 20, there is some time to set up some big singles matches for that show. I think Lashley vs. McIntyre and Ripley vs. Charlotte is likely from Raw. Smackdown could do Reigns vs. Cesaro again, but obviously, Rollins vs. Cesaro would work too.

Here’s my ranking of WWE PPVs in 2021 so far.

WrestleMania 37 (April 10 & 11) – 8

Royal Rumble (January 31) – 8

WrestleMania Backlash (May 16) – 7.75

Elimination Chamber (February 21) – 7.25

Fastlane – (March 21) 6.5

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Email: mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter: @johnreport

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