The John Report: WWE Backlash France 2024 Review

WWE Backlash France Review tjrwrestling

It’s WWE Backlash France featuring Cody Rhodes facing AJ Styles, Bayley going up against Naomi & Tiffany Stratton, Damian Priest battling Jey Uso, and more.

This is a historic show because it’s the first-ever WWE Premium Live Event taking place in France. We saw on Smackdown on Friday that this crowd in Lyon, France was outstanding and even was warned about possible temporary hearing loss because of how loud it was. The five-match card at Backlash should produce some memorable moments in front of the super hot crowd as well.

There was a Countdown to WWE Backlash pre-show hosted by Jackie Redmond with Big E & CM Punk as the panelists. They used to call them “Kickoff” shows, but that has changed. They also didn’t have a match on the Countdown show. They had video packages, comments from the panelists, and some interviews.

It’s a show starting at 1 p.m. ET for me here in southern Ontario, Canada because France is six hours ahead, so it’s a 7 p.m. start time there. I like the afternoon start time. I’ve got things to do tonight (go Toronto Maple Leafs over Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the NHL Playoffs) so I’m glad that I get to cover a show in the afternoon. Let’s get to it.

WWE Backlash France
From LDLC Arena in Lyon-Decines, France
Saturday, May 4, 2024

The crowd was very loud as Michael Cole welcomed us to the show. Cody Rhodes was shown walking around the building earlier in the day. They also showed AJ styles walking around earlier in the day. The tag team of Bianca Belair & Jade Cargill were also shown earlier in the day along with Damage CTRL. The World Heavyweight Champion Damian Priest was also walking earlier and so was Jey Uso. The fans in Lyon were very excited to be there.

A video package aired to start the show. It was great as usual.

The announced attendance was 11,682 fans in the building. Michael Cole and Corey Graves were on commentary. They put over the very loud crowd while mentioning the noise level warnings because of how much noise the crowd was making.

Kevin Owens was up first to a huge pop from the crowd. The crowd knows KO is a fluent French speaker since he grew up in Quebec. I’m surprised they didn’t book Sami Zayn on this show since he’s also a Quebecer. Owens waited in the aisle for his tag team partner.

Randy Orton’s music hit leading to a thunderous ovation. The fans sang Orton’s theme song. It really is incredible to see that just like we saw it on Smackdown, but it felt even louder at this show. The crowd even joined ring announcer Samantha Irvin during the introductions of the wrestlers as well. Orton was absolutely loving the crowd singing his song as well. When Orton was doing his posing on the turnbuckles, the fans joined in for that as well.

The team of Michael Cole and Corey Graves welcomed us to the show. The French commentary team was at ringside too.

The Bloodline’s Solo Sikoa & Tama Tonga made their entrance joined by Paul Heyman. They walked out to Solo’s theme song. This is Tonga’s first televised WWE match although he is a very experienced wrestler in his early 40s so it’s not new to him. The announcers talked about Heyman being left in control of The Bloodline, but we heard Heyman say on Smackdown that he hasn’t talked to Roman Reigns since WrestleMania. The idea is that Solo is the new boss of The Bloodline, but we don’t know that officially.

It started out as a brawl with all four guys fighting around the ringside area. The referees and WWE Officials went out to ringside to try to break up the fighting. There were security guys that went out to the ring as well to try to break up the fighting. Owens hit Stunners on two security guards. Nick Aldis, the Smackdown General Manager, walked out saying that was enough. Aldis said that if you want to disregard the rules, he said they can do whatever they want because this match is now No Disqualification, No Countout and it’s a Street Fight. The bell rang.

Analysis: Great call to make this a Street Fight. They could have announced this in the build to the match, but I don’t mind how they did it after all the brawling they did.

Street Fight: Randy Orton & Kevin Owens vs. The Bloodline – Solo Sikoa & Tama Tonga (w/Paul Heyman)

The match started with Orton and Solo fighting while they were up in the crowd by the fans. Owens and Tama were fighting in another part of the arena. Owens ran across the arena to fight with Solo. Orton went to the ringside area looking for Tama, who went after Owens. That led to Orton joining the fight with Owens against both opponents. Orton headbutted both opponents, which is a mistake against Samoans and Solo knocked Orton down. Owens sent both opponents to ringside and Owens splashed Tama on the floor. Orton teased a leap of his own, but he changed his mind and that was funny. Orton gave Tama a belly-to-back suplex onto the two commentary tables. Owens meanwhile was in control of Solo with Owens delivering a DDT to Solo on the steel steps. Orton and Owens got trash cans so Orton hit Tama with a trash can to the head. Owens nailed Solo with multiple kendo stick shots to the back. Orton hit Tama with multiple kendo stick shots to the back. Owens set up table on the floor while Orton sent a table into the ring. The fans popped huge for the table introduction into the match. Owens set up Tama on the table on the floor. Owens hit a Frog Splash off the apron and put Tama through the table. The fans absolutely loved it. Orton battled Solo in the ring, but Solo countered a move and Solo gave Orton a Samoan Drop through the table.

Solo and Tama took over as they beat down Owens in the ring while Orton was on the floor selling the table bump. Tama worked over Owens with a kendo stick as the announcers talked about Tama being an IWGP Tag Team Champion during his career. Solo hit a running hip attack on Owens against the turnbuckle. Tama nailed Owens with a trash can lid a few times. Solo ordered Tama around, so Tama brought in a trash can, but Owens tackled Tama and that led to Solo using a trash can to KO’s back. They continued to work over Owens in the ring. Tama and Solo brought a table into the ring, so Solo set it up against the turnbuckle. Solo headbutted Owens a few times. Solo tried to throw Owens through the table, but Owens countered it by sending Solo through the table that was against the turnbuckle. Tama came back with a clothesline on Owens. Orton slithered back into the ring as Tama was looking at Owens. The fans got really loud as Orton faced off with Tama. Owens avoided a chairshot leading to Orton hitting two clotheslines along with a powerslam. Orton hit the draping DDT off the ropes. Orton hit the RKO in the center of the ring for just a two count because Solo broke up the pin. Solo headbutted Orton out of the ring. Solo cleaned off the commentary table. Solo tried a Samoan Spike, but Orton countered it leading to Orton hitting an RKO on the commentary table. The table didn’t break.

Owens was back in the ring with Tama. Owens nailed Tama with a chair to the back. Owens did six chair shots to the back while opening up the four chairs in the ring. Owens put Tama on the chairs. Owens went up, but Tama stopped him with punches. Tama tried to superplex, which is never a good idea and Owens gave Tama a brainbuster through the four chairs! That was amazing. The fans went crazy for that. Owens covered Tanga for the pinfall, but Tanga Loa pulled the referee out of the ring during the pin. Cole mentioned it was Tanga Loa, who is Tama Tonga’s brother. Loa nailed Orton and Owens with the steel chairs. Solo gave Owens a uranage through a steel chair. Solo nailed Owens with a Samoan Spike for the pinfall win at 19:25.

Winners by pinfall: The Bloodline – Solo Sikoa & Tama Tonga

Analysis: **** I thought it was an excellent match that was a chaotic brawl in front of a super hot crowd in France. I liked the way Owens & Orton controlled the first half of the match, but when Solo & Tama took over they did a lot of damage too. The turning point was obviously after Owens hit the brainbuster through the steel chairs, but Tanga Loa made his shocking WWE debut (or return since he used to be known as Camacho) to help his brother and Solo get the win. I had predicted a win for The Bloodline because I thought this would be where Jacob Fatu debuts, but they went with Tanga Loa here instead. That means they’re saving Jacob Fatu for a future show and that’s fine with me because it will make this version of The Bloodline stronger. I enjoyed the match.

After the match, The Bloodline posed together while Kevin Owens was spitting up in the ring to sell the Samoan Spike attack. Paul Heyman was shocked by what happened and then eventually did the “ones” pose with The Bloodline group.

Analysis: I like the way Paul Heyman keeps selling the idea that he doesn’t know what is happening with The Bloodline. The reaction from Heyman suggests he didn’t know Tanga Loa was showing up. Long term they can bring Roman Reigns back as a face along with The Usos reunited as faces and it would set up some huge matches. It’s exciting to think about it.

There were some commercials promoting various things.

They showed Kevin Owens struggling as he sold the Samoan Spike and Randy Orton helping his partner get to the back.

The WWE Women’s Championship match was next, so there was a video package for that.

Tiffany Stratton was up first to inform the crowd that it was Tiffy Time. Naomi made her entrance in front of a vocal crowd that had their phones out to provide some “glow” to light up the arena. That was cool to see. Bayley was up next as the WWE Women’s Champion who was beloved by the fans. Ring announcer Samantha Irvin did the in-ring championship introductions. Samantha always does a good job of that while the fans were into it just like everything on this show.

WWE Women’s Championship: Bayley vs. Naomi vs. Tiffany Stratton

The fans were singing the “Hey Bayley, I wanna know if you’ll be my girl” song that the UK fans sang for years based off an old song and now the French crowd is doing it. There were some “Tiffy Time” chants too. Triple threat matches have no countouts and no disqualifications. The first fall wins.

It started with all three women getting pin attempts. Bayley hit an elbow to the back of Stratton along with a clothesline. Naomi rolled up Bayley and Bayley covered for her own two count. Stratton got a pin attempt on both women for two counts. Naomi kicked Stratton in the ribs followed by Naomi dropkicking Bayley to knock her down. Stratton hit a cartwheel back elbow on Naomi, but Bayley was there to knock Stratton down. Stratton did a double stomp on Naomi and a Stratton dropkick to Bayley. Naomi was sent out of the ring and Stratton nailed Bayley an elbow smash. Stratton worked over Bayley with some choking across the middle rope. Bayley tried to fight back with punches, but Stratton hit a clothesline for two. Bayley jumped over Stratton leading to a rollup. Stratton knocked down Bayley with an elbow for a two count. Stratton went for the handspring elbow, but Bayley caught her. Stratton came back with an Alabama Slam for a two count. Naomi tackled Stratton through the ropes and onto the floor. Stratton sent Naomi into the barricade. Stratton nailed her handspring back elbow on Naomi on the floor. Stratton was celebrating on the floor, so Bayley hit a suicide dive onto Stratton on the floor. Naomi kicked Bayley followed by a Blockbuster neckbreaker off the barricade onto Bayley on the floor. Naomi spiked Stratton onto the apron followed by the split-legged moonsault and that got a two count because Bayley broke up the pin.

Naomi sent Bayley face-first into the middle turnbuckle. Naomi tried a move on Bayley, but Stratton pulled Naomi down off the turnbuckle. Naomi was back up and Naomi hit Powerbomb for two. Naomi applied a submission move on the arms/shoulders, but Bayley was there to break it up with a top rope elbow for two. Bayley tried a cover on Stratton for two. Bayley tried a sunset flip, but Stratton countered it for two of her own. Bayley hit Bayley to Belly for two. Stratton sent a charging Bayley into the turnbuckle. Stratton hit a rolling senton on Bayley and Naomi was there to pull Tiffy out of the ring. Stratton and Naomi battled on the floor where Stratton gave Naomi an Alabama Slam onto the commentary table. Stratton gave Bayley an Alabama Slam onto the French commentary table. Stratton jumped off the top with the Prettiest Moonsault Ever, but both women avoided it. Bayley and Naomi did a 1D/3D to Stratton. That was cool! Cole said Naomi would be familiar with that in reference to Naomi’s husband Jimmy Uso. Bayley and Naomi faced off in the ring while Stratton bumped to the floor. Naomi went for a cradle, but Bayley countered it and Bayley sat on top while holding the legs for the pinfall win at 13:12.

Winner by pinfall: Bayley

Analysis: ***1/2 A very good match that saw the champion Bayley retain as expected. It was booked in a way where Bayley didn’t win in a dominant manner, but by using a smart wrestling counter to get the pin on Naomi. Stratton had plenty of moments in the match where it looked like she had a shot to win because she did get the most offense in the match, or at least it felt that way. Stratton is so impressive as an athlete that is going to keep improving since she’s only been wrestling for about three years. Stratton’s future is as bright as anybody in WWE. I loved the spot with Bayley & Naomi hitting the 3D/1D on Stratton. That was really well done. Bayley retaining the title was the expected result of this match.

After the match, Naomi tapped Bayley on the shoulder and gave Bayley a big hug. Naomi raised Bayley’s hand as the winner of the match. Naomi left the ring so that Bayley could celebrate.

It was announced that after Backlash, there will be a WrestleMania announcement on NBC’s coverage of the Kentucky Derby.

There was an Xfinity Highlight of the Night showing highlights of the Solo/Tama vs. Orton/Owens match.

Jey Uso was shown backstage getting ready for his match. Solo Sikoa walked up to his brother while Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa was with Solo. Sikoa’s group walked away. Paul Heyman walked up to Jey shaking his head no as if to say that Heyman didn’t approve of this. Jey’s match was up next.

Analysis: That’s a nice moment to have there with Jey looking at his brother Solo. Heyman shaking his head “no” to Jey is Heyman’s way of saying he doesn’t approve of this.

A video package aired about World Heavyweight Champion Damian Priest defending the title against Jey Uso. Priest won the World Title at WrestleMania 40 thanks to a Money in the Bank cash-in. Jey won a four-way match to earn this title shot.

Jey Uso made his entrance by walking from the back of the arena. The crowd was going crazy with the arm swinging while holding up their cell phones to provide some more light in the arena. The fans were also singing the “Day One-ish” song. When Jey got into the ring, the whole arena was arm swinging with the light throughout the arena. Graves said that he has never felt anything like this.

Damian Priest was up next as the World Heavyweight Champion making his first televised title defense since winning that championship at WrestleMania 40. Priest was on his own without The Judgment Day. The fans didn’t go crazy for his entrance, but it was still a good reaction to a heel champion. Ring announcer Samantha Irvin did the championship introductions for them.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Damian Priest vs. Jey Uso

They started by exchanging strikes with Jey knocking Priest out of the ring. Priest avoided a Jey dive and Priest caught Jey on the floor. Priest took control with a punch to the face. They were back in the ring where Priest decked Jey with another punch to the face. Priest did the dreaded bell ringer to the side of the head. Jey nailed a belly-to-back suplex on Priest. Jey delivered some punches with the fans chanting “YEET” for every punch. Jey kicked Priest in the ribs followed by a spinning kick to the head. The whole crowd was chanting “YEET” as Jey charged, Priest blocked a move and then Jey nailed a kick. Jey hit a cross body block off the top for two. They left the ring briefly with Jey remaining on offense. Back in the ring, Priest distracted the referee and JD McDonagh showed up to grab the ropes so it was like a low blow. Priest hit a Spear on Jey for two. Priest yelled at JD wondering what he was doing there and Priest told JD he didn’t need his help. Jey superkicked JD’s giant head off the apron followed by Jey hitting a superkick on Priest. Jey hit an Uso Splash off the top for a two count. Good nearfall spot. Jey and Priest exchanged punches/forearms to the face. Priest delivered more punches, but Jey came back with an uppercut. Jey superkicked Priest followed by an enziguri kick. Priest came back with a jumping kick to the head. Jey went for a superkick, but Priest caught it and Priest hit a Razor’s Edge for a two count.

Priest set up for South of Heaven, but Jey got out of that. Jey ran the ropes leading to a Spear for two. The fans thought that was it. Jey went up top and Finn Balor showed up from the crowd. Balor was on the apron, so Jey superkicked Balor to knock him down. Priest nailed Jey with a clothesline followed by the South of Heaven Chokeslam for a two count. Good nearfall spot there. Priest hit a spinning kick to knock Jey down. Jey came back with a superkick and a second superkick. Jey hit a third superkick. Jey ran the ropes leading to a Spear. Jey went up top and hit an Uso Splash for one…two…and no because JD put Jey’s foot on the bottom rope. The fans chanted “Asshole” at JD and Cole said we didn’t need a translator for that. Jey regrouped and hit a suicide dive onto JD on the floor. Jey nailed Balor with a Spear on the floor. Jey went up top, Priest hit the ropes and Jey was knocked down on the top turnbuckle. Priest picked up Jey and hit a South of Heaven chokeslam from the turnbuckle for the one…two…and three. It went 15:45.

Winner by pinfall: Damian Priest

Analysis: ***3/4 It’s a formula that we have seen many times in title matches when there’s a champion in a group. Priest didn’t want help from Balor & McDonagh, but Priest also would have lost if not for McDonagh putting Priest’s foot on the bottom rope. Jey had to take out both guys on the floor, so that allowed Priest to come back and hit South of Heaven for the win. It was cheap, but an enjoyable match overall.

After the match, Finn Balor and JD McDonagh attacked Jey Uso. Priest didn’t like that, so he pushed his guys off. Priest held up the World Title and his music played to end it.

A video aired about WWE’s European tour in the days leading up to Smackdown and Backlash in France. They had some big crowds all over Europe.

There was an announcement in the ring by a man speaking in French. It was announced by Cole that it was the largest gate of any arena show in WWE history. They must have been very expensive tickets.

The Women’s Tag Team Title match was up next.

A commercial aired for NXT Battleground on June 9th from Las Vegas.

The Kabuki Warriors duo of Asuka & Kari Sane made their entrance as the Women’s Tag Team Champions joined by Dakota Kai. They are Damage CTRL without IYO SKY joining them. Bianca Belair and Jade Cargill were up next as the challengers. Big reactions for both of them.

Women’s Tag Team Championships: Asuka & Kairi Sane (w/Dakota Kai) vs. Bianca Belair & Jade Cargill

Belair knocked down Asuka with a shoulder tackle. Asuka got a nearfall on Belair for two. Asuka did a drop toe hold to send Belair into the ropes. Belair came back with a suplex on Asuka. Jade tagged in against Sane, which led to Jade tossing Sane down. Sane delivered a kick to the back and a punch, but Jade caught her. Jade hit a backbreaker two times in a row. Belair tagged in leading to a double slam on Sane that looked impressive. Belair hit a standing moonsault for two. Belair dropkicked Sane out of the ring. Belair went for a dive onto Sane, who moved and Asuka kicked Belair in the head to knock her down. Sane went up top and hit Belair with a cross body block on the floor. Asuka and Sane hit some double team moves including Asuka hitting a running knee. The fans chanted the same thing after every two count at this show. Asuka splashed Belair against the turnbuckle and Sane tagged in with a sliding clothesline. Sane jumped off the top with a forearm smash for two. Asuka was legal again as Belair got a rollup and then Asuka kicked her in the ribs. Belair hit a suplex on Asuka. Sane tagged in leading to a forearm on Jade to stop a tag. Sane and Asuka hit more double moves including a neckbreaker along with a sliding kick combo. Belair tried a lifting move, but Sane made the tag and wanted a double team, but Belair got out of that. Sane jumped off the top, Belair avoided that and Sane grabbed Belair’s hair. Belair came back with a clothesline on Sane.

Jade got the hot tag leading to a springboard cross body block. Jade knocked both opponents down. Jade hit corner Stinger splashes on both opponents. Jade hit a spinebuster on Sane for two because Asuka broke up the pin. Jade tried to press slam Sane and instead Jade just hit a powerful slam. Asuka tagged back in, then the champions each hit strikes on Jade and Sane went for a spinning neckbreaker. Sane tried a pin, but referee Dan Engler said that Sane wasn’t legal. They continued as if Sane was legal and then Asuka tagged in. Jade superkicked Asuka to the apron. Asuka managed to break free and Sane was back in. Jade slammed Jade down. Sane applied an armbar on Jade’s right arm and Asuka applied an armbar on Belair’s right arm. Jade and Belair each got back up leading to Powerbombs on their opponents. All four women were down. Belair tagged herself in leading to a double knee attack on Sane and then Jade di a Wheelbarrow slam to Sane. Asuka pulled Jade off the apron and sent Jade into the steel steps. Belair missed a charge on Sane, who moved and Belair hit the turnbuckle. Asuka held Belair leading to Sane jumping off the top with an Insane Elbow on Belair for a two count because Jade broke up the pin. Jade caught Sane out of midair and Jade hit a Jaded slam on Sane. Belair was legal so she gave Asuka the KOD slam onto Sane and Belair covered Asuka for the pinfall win at 17:21.

Winners by pinfall AND NEW Women’s Tag Team Champions: Bianca Belair & Jade Cargill

Analysis: ***1/4 A good match with an obvious result because Jade & Bianca winning the titles is what most of us expected. The story of the match was also the obvious one with Belair as the face in peril until Jade got the hot tag to get the win for her team. They actually had Jade sell more than I thought she would in a match like this. There were some sloppy moments in the match where you could tell the referee was talking to Jade Cargill about some of the spots in the match, so maybe Jade was lost a bit. They got through it and it was an entertaining match overall.

Bianca Belair and Jade Cargill celebrated as the Women’s Tag Team Champions. It is Belair’s first time as a Women’s Tag Team Champion and obviously Cargill’s first title in WWE since she is new.

There were some commercials promoting shows and items.

It was announced that there will be a Backlash press conference on WWE social media channels after the show.

A commercial aired about the King & Queen of the Ring tournament. The tournaments begin this Monday on Raw. They showed graphics about some of the matches that will happen in the tournament. These matches are happening on Raw.

-Ivy Nile vs. Zoey Stark
-Shayna Baszler vs. Zelina Vega
-Lyra Valkyria vs. Asuka
-IYO SKY vs. Natalya
-Drew McIntyre vs. Finn Balor
-Kofi Kingston vs. Rey Mysterio
-Ricochet vs. Ilja Dragunov
-Gunther vs. Sheamus

Analysis: That’s a damn good lineup right there! Wow.

The main event was up next between Cody Rhodes and AJ Styles so there was a video package to set it up.

AJ Styles made his entrance first as the challenger. I’m still not used to the heel theme song he has. I understand why he wanted to change it, but the other song was one of my favorite WWE theme songs ever. Graves said that Styles was wearing gear similar to what he wore when he beat Dusty Rhodes for the NWA Heavyweight Championship 21 years ago.

Cody Rhodes made his entrance as the Undisputed WWE Champion and he got a massive ovation as usual. The fans were singing Cody’s song while getting very loud for the “WHOA-OH” parts of the song of course. Cody was wearing the WWE Title around his waist. When Cody got into the ring, the fans kept on his singing his song. The fans kept on singing even after the music played. Samantha Irvin did the championship introductions with the fans chanting along with the introductions. Referee Jessika Carr is the first woman to referee a main event match for the WWE Championship, so congrats to Jess for that. Amazing.

Undisputed WWE Championship: Cody Rhodes vs. AJ Styles

The crowd was very loud as usual at the start of the match. They kept breaking into a song that I don’t know and Graves said it was about being Phenomenal, so they sang it for Styles. There was some mat wrestling early on with neither guy getting the advantage. Styles shoved Cody, so Cody slapped Styles in the face as payback for what Styles did to Cody on Smackdown. They took turns delivering chops against the turnbuckle. Styles ran the ropes leading to Cody hitting a dropkick. Cody did a Stardust like cartwheel along with the hand gesture since Styles referenced that on Smackdown. Styles came back with chops along with his own dropkick. The cameras are shaking. Cody came back with a back body drop. Cody hit a delayed front suplex. Styles sent Cody’s left shoulder into the turnbuckle and then Styles did a single arm takedown on the left arm. The announcers mentioned Cody’s shoulder possibly being hurt from Smackdown two weeks ago against Carmelo Hayes but that was the right shoulder. Styles worked on the left shoulder. Cody hit an uppercut punch, but Styles came back with an enziguri kick to the head. Cody sent a charging Styles into the ropes. Cody charged at Styles, who came back with a forearm to the face. Styles sent Cody into the hood of the commentary table and then Styles broke the referee’s count o continue the attack. Styles cleared off the French commentary table. The referee Jessika Carr was doing a slower count. Cody tackled Styles into the steel steps and Cody went back into the ring to break the count. Cody sent Styles face first into the top turnbuckle. They battled by the turnbuckle where Cody went for a suplex, but Styles pulled Cody down and Cody was selling a lower back injury. Styles picked up Cody and dropped him backward for an Electric Chair Drop. Styles went for a springboard moonsault, but Cody got his knees up.

Cody delivered some punches along with a running forearm. Cody caught a charging Styles and Cody gave him a powerslam while the fans cheered loudly. Cody jumped off the middle rope with a Disaster Kick for two. Cody went for a move off the ropes, but Styles caught him and Cody countered it into a two count. Styles came back with an Ushigoroshi slam onto the knee for a two count. Styles charged, Cody moved and Styles hit the turnbuckle. Cody hit a bulldog. Cody went for a move on the apron, btu Styles countered it with a brainbuster on the apron. Cody bumped to the floor to sell that one. Styles went for a sliding knee, but Cody was able to come back and Cody gave Styles a Powerbomb through the French commentary table. That table was cleared off earlier. The referee Jessika Carr did a ten count on both wrestlers while the fans joined in and both wrestlers were back in at nine, so the fans cheered that. Both guys got back up to their feet as they exchanged punches and then they each hit kicks at the same time, so both guys were down.

Cody and Styles did a spot where they both got back up by the turnbuckles. They exchanged punches, Cody hit punches to the body, Styles with strikes and Cody did the punch combo leading to the bionic elbow for two. Cody went for the Cody Cutter off the ropes, but Styles caught him. Styles slipped out and Styles gave Cody a snap suplex into the turnbuckle. Styles went to the apron and he hit a springboard 450 Splash for a two count. Styles picked up Cody on his shoulders and hit a Burning Hammer for just a one count. Cody was fired up as he got his knees to tell Styles to bring it on. Styles delivered some kicks to the body, Cody blocked a kick and Cody jumped off the ropes with a Cody Cutter for two. Styles regrouped, got back up and charged at Cody who nailed Styles with a clothesline. Cody picked up Styles going for Cross Rhodes, but Styles got out of that and Styles hit a Pele Kick to the head. Cody sent Styles to the apron where Styles hit a forearm. Styles went for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Cody countered it with a superkick to the ribs. Cody applied the Kimura Lock on the left arm, which is a move that Brock Lesnar used on Cody many times last year during their feud. Styles managed to get out of it and slammed Cody down. The fans were singing loudly again. Cody kicked Styles in the face followed by counters by each guy. Cody sat on top of Styles for a two count. Cody jumped off the top rope with a Cody Cutter! Wow. That was impressive. The fans were loud in their support for Rhodes. Cody hit Cross Rhodes for the one…two…and three. It went 27:21.

Winner by pinfall: Cody Rhodes

Analysis: ****1/2 It was an excellent match as you would expect from these two. They were given a lot of time and made the most of it. What I really liked about this match is that they took their time and didn’t rush anything. I thought that maybe Styles would kick out of the Cross Rhodes at the end there, but instead, it was just one Cross Rhodes by Cody for the win. That spot where Cody hit the Cody Cutter off the top rope was done to push the idea that Cody needed a little bit extra to put Styles away. Styles didn’t hit any of his multiple finishers (Styles Clash, Phenomenal Forearm, Calf Crusher), which was probably by design because they want to keep finishers strong I think and not kick out of finishers that much. Anyway, I rated this similar to the Cody Rhodes/Roman Reigns match at WrestleMania 40, which was obviously a bigger match and if people like that one more that’s fine with me. I think both were excellent and this one was more of a classic main event match while the Cody/Roman match was more of a main event level match with a massive story due to all the interference. Anyway, it’s all good to me. The result of this match was never in doubt obviously because we know Cody Rhodes wasn’t going to lose the title here.

Cody Rhodes celebrated with the WWE Championship. The announcers talked about how Cody passed the test in his first televised title defense. Cody posed on the turnbuckles with the WWE Title. That was the end of the show.

Analysis: I don’t know who the next challenger is for Cody Rhodes, but as I’ve said in the past this is going to be a very long title reign that will probably last about one year if I had to guess. It might be longer than that.

There was a video package showing highlights of the show.

The runtime of Backlash France was 2 hours, 53 minutes on WWE Network/Peacock.


Five Stars of the Show

  1. Cody Rhodes
  2. Kevin Owens, Randy Orton, Solo Sikoa & Tama Tonga
  3. AJ Styles
  4. Bayley
  5. Damian Priest & Jey Uso


Final Thoughts

I’m going 8 out of 10 for Backlash.

I thought it was a very entertaining show that benefited from one of the best crowds I’ve ever seen in my life. Going into it I thought it was predictable and I went five for five on my picks as I’m sure a lot of people did. There just wasn’t much on the show in terms of surprises. Tanga Loa (welcome back Camacho) showing up to help Solo Sikoa & Tama Tonga win over Kevin Owens & Randy Orton was a shocking ending although I think many of us figured this new edition of The Bloodline would get some help from somebody. I thought the Cody Rhodes-AJ Styles match was the best match on the show. They got the most time and had a classic main event match with a clean finish as Cody’s WWE Title reign continues.

That Women’s Title triple threat was very good with Bayley getting the win over Naomi & Tiffany Stratton, who continues to impress every time she’s out there. Bianca Belair & Jade Cargill winning Women’s Tag Team gold was also obvious, but it did go longer than I expected. There were some sloppy moments. They got through it fine. The show didn’t feature the Raw brand much since there was only that one Raw match between Damian Priest and Jey Uso. Priest won that match thanks to some help from The Judgment Day, so that was a familiar thing we saw during Roman Reigns title matches.

This was an all-time great crowd in Lyon, France. Kudos to WWE for doing a PLE in France so those of us in the rest of the world could experience what this amazing crowd is like. It reminds me of the Puerto Rico crowd at Backlash last year as one of the best ever. They chanted the same thing after every two count, which was impressive, but also probably tiring for the people at the show. Anyway, I loved the crowd and I certainly won’t forget it. It really was one of the best WWE crowds (or any crowd, really) that I have ever heard at a pro wrestling show.

Here are my rankings of WWE PLE’s in 2024 so far:

WrestleMania 40 – 8.5 (out of 10)

Backlash – 8

Royal Rumble – 7.75

Elimination Chamber – 7.5


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.

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