The John Report: WWE Backlash 2023 Review

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It’s WWE Backlash 2023 with Cody Rhodes facing Brock Lesnar, Bad Bunny battling Damian Priest, two Women’s Title matches and more.

This is the post-WrestleMania Premium Live Event that is the first WWE PPV/PLE taking place in Puerto Rico since New Year’s Revolution 2005. The fans in Puerto Rico were really loud on Smackdown, so I think that enthusiasm will certainly help this show as well.

The Bianca Belair-IYO SKY match is starting the show. I’m on Twitter @johnreport as usual. Let’s rock.

WWE Backlash
From Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot in San Juan, Puerto Rico
May 6, 2023

The cold open video featured Bad Bunny talking about how when he was a boy he had dreams of something bigger and tonight, revenge is the soundtrack. They showed clips of the key matches on the show.

It was a packed house with Michael Cole saying the attendance was 17,944 people. Cole was at ringside to call the action with Corey Graves. The Spanish announce team was at ringside as well.

Bianca Belair was up first as the Raw Women’s Champion with the fans cheering loudly for her. It’s a vocal crowd just like it was on Smackdown, so that’s not a surprise. IYO SKY was up next as the challenger representing Damage CTRL. She was on her own without her allies Bayley and Dakota Kai. Ring announcer Samantha Irvin did the championship introductions when both women were standing in the ring.

Raw Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair vs. IYO SKY

In last week’s WWE Draft, both women got drafted to Smackdown. The new rosters begin this Monday on Raw.

The fans were loud and cheering for both women at the start of the match. After about a minute, the fans were cheering for Sky, who tripped up Belair and then Belair ran over Sky with a shoulder tackle. They each showed off their athleticism in the early going with Belair hitting a dropkick. Belair hit two body slams. Sky to the apron, then an arm wringer against the top rope and the fans were cheering Sky. Sky grabbed Belair’s arms for some choking by the ropes and then Sky did a double foot stomp on the left arm. Sky had wrist control, Belair got out of that and hit another body slam. Sky sent Belair’s left arm into the turnbuckle as the fans did an “IYO” chant. Sky did a knee drop to the left arm. Belair with a shoulder to the ribs and then she teased a slam, but Sky countered it leading to a stomp to the gut. The fans loved it. They exchanged punches with Sky getting cheered while Belair was booed again and then Belair used her power to connect with a backbreaker. Belair with two clotheslines, a dropkick and a delayed vertical suplex. Belair with corner punches (hitting the turnbuckle instead of the head for most of them). Belair tried a press slam, but she was selling the left arm injury and sent Sky face first into the mat. Belair with a handstand off the ropes leading to a moonsault for two. Belair never wins with that, but it got a big reaction. Belair missed a corner charge when Sky moved, then Sky drove the arm against the top rope and Sky hit a missile dropkick that knocked Belair out of the ring. Great bump by Belair there. Belair recovered quickly, she knocked Sky down and Belair went up top with a 450 Splash, but Sky got the knees up. Belair tried a Powerbomb only for Sky to get a sitout facebuster for two.

Sky with a double knee attack against the turnbuckle. Sky tried a lifting move, Belair got out of it, Sky countered a move and Sky wanted a stomp, but Belair avoided that. Belair teased the KOD, Sky got out of that and Sky sent Belair out of the ring. Sky with a kick to the ribs while they were on the floor. Sky went up top and hit a moonsault on a standing Belair on the floor. Sky does that move so well. Back in the ring, Sky got a two count. Belair to the turnbuckle, Sky wanted a hurricanrana, Belair blocked it and Belair hit a Powerbomb off the middle turnbuckle for two. The fans popped big for that nearfall. Damage CTRL’s Bayley and Dakota Kai made their way down to ringside. Bayley got on the apron, Belair went after, Sky grabbed Belair’s hair and Belair punched Sky. Kai on the apron, Belair had Sky on her shoulders and knocked Kai down. Sky countered a KOD attempt into a nearfall for one…two…no! Bayley went into the ring, so Belair sent her out. Sky sent Belair into the ropes and Kai kicked Belair. Sky went up top and jumped off with the moonsault attempt, but Belair moved. Bayley was grabbing Belair’s hair, but the referee caught that and Bayley let go. Belair hit the KOD slam for the one…two…and three. Belair wins at 18:02.

Winner by pinfall: Bianca Belair

Analysis: ****1/4 Great match. They got plenty of time, Sky put up a fight and Belair found a way to win as usual. I don’t think many people expected a title change here, but it was a lot more competitive than a lot of people thought going into the match. The announcers did a great job of saying that this was the Iyo Sky that fans wanted to see because we haven’t seen her have a great singles match on the main roster, but now she got the opportunity and she crushed it. They could say that Sky’s friends cost her the match a bit, but it’s not like they really did that much to cost Sky the win. The crowd reaction will get a lot of people talking because it’s the first time that a crowd has really been against Belair that much. I don’t know if that’s going to be a regular thing at US/Canada shows that Belair goes to, but it might happen because sometimes fans do turn against babyfaces that are so dominant. Anyway, this was a tremendous opening match. Great job by Belair and Sky.

There was a backstage scene with Rey Mysterio talking to Bad Bunny. They spoke in Spanish to eachother. Savio Vega was there with a kendo stick and the fans popped huge for Savio. Savio gave Bad Bunny a Puerto Rican kendo stick to use in his match.

Analysis: Good to see Savio, who was in WWE in the 1990s. Savio is one of the most well-known Puerto Rican wrestlers, so the fans popped huge for him.

They showed graphics of the new Raw and Smackdown rosters while the announcers mentioned there will be free agents as well. The new WWE World Heavyweight Title tournament begins this Monday on Raw.

Seth Rollins faces Omos up next. They showed a video package for this match that had not much of a story. Cole said that this was for those of us on Peacock Plus. The free Peacock service people get commercials. I am on WWE Network in Canada, so I get to see the video package.

Omos was up first with MVP by his side. There wasn’t much of a reaction. When the music of Seth “Freakin” Rollins hit the fans were very loudly singing along with the catchy tune as usual. Seth put out his arms in the ring while a spotlight was on him, the music stopped the fans started singing it. I guess that’s a new thing they probably tried at live events and now we get to see it on TV. Omos kicked Rollins to put an end to that. Seth got back up to start the match.

Seth “Freakin” Rollins vs. Omos (w/MVP)

Rollins was drafted to Raw while Omos is a free agent after the WWE Draft.

Omos ran over Rollins with a shoulder tackle followed by a running splash against the turnbuckle. Omos sent Rollins into the turnbuckle with Rollins taking a sternum bump. Rollins with a necksnap across the top rope. Rollins jumped off the top, but Omos punched him in the ribs. Omos palmed Seth’s face like a basketball and then tossed Rollins over the top to the floor. Omos followed Seth to the floor leading to Rollins shoving Omos into the ring post. Rollins hit a suicide dive, but Omos didn’t go down. Rollins tried another dive, Omos caught him and Omos hit a Chokeslam on the apron. Omos press slammed Rollins over the top into the ring. Omos with the snake eyes onto the top turnbuckle followed by the running big kick. That is the Kevin Nash spot. Rollins came back with a kick to the head, a glancing knee to the side of the head and Rollins ran the ropes leading to a kick to the knee. Rollins with a superkick. Rollins teased a Pedigree, but Omos countered with a back body drop from his knees. Omos went for a corner splash, Rollins moved and Omos hit the turnbuckle. Rollins managed to hit a Tornado DDT out of the corner. Rollins went up top and jumped off with a Frog Splash, but Omos did a power kickout at one. Rollins was shocked. Rollins with punches along with a forearm to the back of the head. Rollins went for The Stomp, but Omos had his hands on the mat and he blocked it. Omos hit a Chokeslam for two. Rollins was able to get on the back of Omos to apply a sleeper, which led to Omos going down to one knee. Omos got back up and hit a sidewalk slam. MVP went on the apron and Rollins hit Omos with The Stomp. Rollins kicked MVP off the apron to the floor. Rollins hit Omos with The Stomp for the second time, but Omos kicked out at two. Rollins was shocked about it. Rollins went up top and hit The Stomp off the top to drive Omos’ head into the mat. Rollins covered for the pinfall win at 10:29.

Winner by pinfall: Seth “Freakin” Rollins

Analysis: ***1/4 It was good overall and better than most Omos singles matches. Seth Rollins was outstanding in this match. When Omos was on offense, Seth was bumping his ass off for him and making Omos look dominant. When Seth got a one count, he sold it so well with his facial reactions. I know Omos is not a favorite wrestler for a lot of people and he’s bigger than most people that a lot of fans like, but he’s improving every time we see him. For a guy that’s only been a pro wrestler for four years, he did pretty well. Rollins winning was the right call obviously since he’s a top contender for the new World Title. I thought the finish was really well done with the top rope version of The Stomp to win.

Seth Rollins celebrated the win with the crowd as they sang his song some more.

There were commercials for WWE Shop items and Mike’s Hard Lemonade as well.

They showed a clip from the Backlash press conference when Damian Priest and Bad Bunny exchanged words as well as Bunny getting in a slap to the face. That match is coming up later.

Bobby Lashley made his entrance first for the US Title match with the fans cheering him. Bronson Reed was next followed by the US Champion Austin Theory, who was booed as usual.

United States Championship: Austin Theory vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Bronson Reed

Theory and Lashley were drafted to Smackdown while Reed was drafted to Raw. There are no disqualifications and countouts in a triple threat match. The first fall wins the match.

Lashley got a clothesline early. Theory came back with a dropkick to knock both guys down with Reed bumping to the floor. Lashley hit a delayed suplex on Theory and Reed went back in with a splash on Lashley. Theory and Reed each hit clotheslines on Lashley as they agreed to work with eachother. Reed hit a running senton Lashley while Theory stomped on Lashley. Reed turned on Theory by running him over. Lashley slammed Reed and hit a spinebuster on Theory. Lashley hit a Spear on Theory for a two count because Reed pulled Lashley out of the ring. Reed did a springboard splash off the middle rope onto Lashley’s head/shoulder on the floor. Back in the ring, Theory stopped Reed from climbing to the top. Theory tried his finisher on Lashley, but Lashley got out of it and applied a Hurt Lock. Theory kicked off the ropes to land on top of Lashley for two. Reed jumped off the top with a Tsunami splash for two because Theory broke up the pin. Theory hit Reed with a forearm smash followed by a running Blockbuster neckbreaker. Reed blocked a lift attempt and Reed hit a powerslam. Reed tried a moonsault off the top, but Theory moved. Lashley hit a Spear on Reed. Theory dumped Lashley out of the ring and Theory covered Reed for the pinfall win at 6:50.

Winner by pinfall: Austin Theory

Analysis: *** That was a fast-paced match with plenty of big moves and nearfalls from as soon as the bell rang. It was the classic “steal the pin” finish you see in triple threat matches often with Lashley hitting Reed with a Spear, Theory dumped Lashley out of the ring and Theory covered Reed to win. That’s how Theory won the US Title in a triple threat match with Lashley and Seth Rollins too. More time would have been nice for sure, but it was still an enjoyable match for the time they were given.

There was a video with Bobby Lashley and Big E promoting WWE predictions games on Draftkings. It is not really sports betting.

A commercial aired for WWE Night of Champions on Saturday, May 27th from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with a 1 p.m. ET start time.

A video aired about Rhea Ripley, who is the Smackdown Women’s Champion.

Rhea Ripley of The Judgment Day entered as the Smackdown Women’s Champion with the fans booing her. Zelina Vega had the colors of the Puerto Rico flag on her gear, her hair and she had the flag as part of her robe. Zelina’s family was at ringside including her mother, stepfather, brother and more. The fans popped for the LWO’s Zelina Vega paying tribute to Puerto Rico with her gear.

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley vs. Zelina Vega

Rhea Ripley was drafted to Raw while Vega was drafted to Smackdown. Vega was nearly crying during the introductions with the fans cheering her loudly.

Ripley and Vega battled by the apron, so Vega went to the floor and grabbed a sandal (Cole said the Spanish name that I missed) from her mom. Vega threw the sandal at Ripley and the fans popped for that. Back in the ring, Ripley caught Vega and hit a Powerbomb. Ripley told fans to “suck it” for good measure. Ripley whipped Vega into the turnbuckle with an Eddie Guerrero-like shake to upset the fans. Ripley whipped Vega into the turnbuckle. Ripley whipped Vega into the turnbuckle followed by a backbreaker. Ripley applied a submission move with Vega on her back. Ripley went for a Spear, Vega moved and Ripley went shoulder first into the ring post. Vega got some offense with a few clotheslines, but Ripley came back with a headbutt. Ripley went for Riptide only for Vega to counter with a DDT. We saw Vega do that on TV before and it looked great both times we have seen it. Vega did the 619 kick like Rey Mysterio. Vega did an Eddie Guerrero-like shake on the middle rope and hit a Meteora (double knees) for a two count. Good nearfall. Ripley hit a roundhouse kick to stop a running Vega. Ripley hit the Riptide slam for the pinfall win at 7:10.

Winner by pinfall: Rhea Ripley

Analysis: **1/2 It was a shorter match to put over Ripley as a dominant champion, which is fine because that’s how Ripley should be booked. Vega got that one nearfall after the Meteora and the fans bought into it as a potential ending to the match, but Ripley kicked out just in time. I don’t think anybody was surprised by this result. Ripley is probably going to have a long championship reign although her blue title may become red soon since she’s on Raw.

After the match, Ripley walked to the back with her title. Vega got back to her feet and the fans gave her a huge ovation. Vega was in tears because she was overwhelmed by the support from the fans.

Analysis: That was a cool moment. Zelina Vega lost the match, but she was given that moment in Puerto Rico, which means a lot to her as somebody with Puerto Rican heritage.

Zelina’s husband Malakai Black of AEW, who used to be Aleister Black in WWE, tweeted this as Vega was having her match. Pretty cool of him to do that.

There was a video with Butch & Ridge Holland promoting some Arnold Schwarzenegger show on Netflix. The show is called “FUBAR” and I probably won’t watch it. Terminator 2 was really great over 30 years ago at least.

A video aired about The Judgment Day.

There was a video package for the Bad Bunny match against Damian Priest. They are calling it one of the two matches in the Double Main Event.

Damian Priest made his entrance first. He has white gear and has the Puerto Rican flag on his gear as well honoring his heritage. Bad Bunny got a huge ovation as soon as his music hit and the fans were singing along with the song. Bad Bunny had a shopping cart full of weapons that he brought out to ringside.

bad bunny wwe backlash damian priest

San Juan Street Fight: Bad Bunny vs. Damian Priest

Damian Priest is headed to Raw in the WWE Draft while Bunny is obviously not a full-timer in WWE. In a Street Fight, weapons are legal because there are no countouts or disqualifications.

Bunny had a staredown with Priest, who is the bigger man and Priest shoved Bunny down. Cole said they grew up in the same town in Puerto Rico. Priest sent Bunny into the turnbuckle, Bunny with a slap to the face and a Michinoku Driver for a one count because Priest powered out of it. Bunny brought a kendo stick into the ring, but Priest knocked him down and broke the kendo stick. Priest went for an arm wringer, Bunny punched him and did a jawbreaker. Bunny did a sunset flip, Priest got out of it and hit Bunny with a forearm to the face. Priest hit a running back elbow splash against the turnbuckle. Priest hit a South of Heaven slam for two because he picked Bunny up at two. Priest got an axhandle, Bunny left the ring and Priest teased a jump to the floor, but Bunny threw a chair at him. Bunny hit Priest with two kendo stick shots, but Priest shoved him into the turnbuckle. Bunny with a kick followed by a tornado DDT and Bunny hit a clothesline over the top to the floor. Bunny went up top and hit a cross body block onto Priest on the floor. Bunny used trash can lids to hit Priest repeatedly while they were on the floor. Back in the ring, Bunny hit Priest with kendo stick shots to the body. Priest got the kendo stick, but Bunny ran into Priest to knock it down. Bunny hit the Falcon Arrow slam for two. Cole called it a Michinoku Driver at the start, but Corey corrected it and Cole said he was right. Priest was bleeding from the nose a bit as he walked toward the back. Bunny grabbed a trash can, but Priest was ready and Priest kicked the trash can into Bunny’s face. Priest hit Bunny in the back with a trash can. Priest hit Bunny with the blue, red and white kendo stick. Priest simulated like he was hitting a home run with a baseball bat. They went fighting into the crowd and into the tech area. Priest put Bunny on top of some sort of equipment box. Bunny fought back with punches, Priest punched him back and Priest gave Bunny the Broken Arrow slam off the equipment box/road case and through a table that may have had some padding as well, but I don’t know about that. WWE Officials like Adam Pearce and Shawn Daivari tried to get Priest to stop, but Priest said he wasn’t done.

Priest carried Bunny back to the ringside area leading to Priest kicking Bunny in the chest a few times. Priest went for a spin kick, Bunny ducked and Priest’s left foot hit the ring post. Bunny brought a kendo stick into the ring and hit Priest’s left leg two times. Bunny charged, Priest got the boot up and Bunny drove Priest’s left leg onto the shoulder. Priest was telling the referee that his leg was not okay. Bunny rammed Priest’s left knee into the ring post. Bunny used a steel chain to ram Priest’s left leg into the ring post. Bunny hit Priest’s left knee with the steel chair. Bunny had the chair as he stood over Priest, who was pleading with Bunny and apologizing to Bunny. That led to Priest delivering an up kick with the right leg. Bunny came back with a low blow uppercut, which is legal in a match like this. There was the cue for The Judgment Day as Dominik Mysterio and Finn Balor went into the ring to attack Bunny. Dominik and Balor stomped on Bunny repeatedly, but that led to the LWO’s Rey Mysterio to run out for the save. Dominik and Balor stomped on Rey. Here comes Carlito! Carlito ran down to the ring to a huge ovation. Carlito with a backstabber on Balor. Carlito bit into an apple, Dominik hit Carlito in the back and Rey hit a 619 on Dominik. Carlito spit the apple on Dominik. And here comes Savio Vega in an LWO shirt! The fans were going nuts for Savio as well. Savio called for some more help as the rest of the LWO (Santos Escobar, Cruz Del Toro & Joaquin Wilde) made their entrance. The LWO guys fought with The Judgment Day. Savio hit Balor with a few chops, an uppercut and a back kick to the face. The Judgment Day was chased to the back.

Let’s go back to the match as Priest went for a kick, but then he was selling the left leg injury again. Bunny applied the Figure Four Leglock submission, Priest was down for a two count and then he got his shoulder up before the fall. Priest grabbed Bunny by the throat to get out of it. Priest tried a slam, but Bunny got out of it and got a two count. Priest charged, Bunny moved and Priest hit a steel chair. Bunny hit a Slice Bread neckbreaker off the turnbuckle and nearly landed on his neck, but he was okay as he covered for two. Bunny got a steel chair that he used to beat down Priest with chair shots to the back. Bunny hit a Canadian Destroyer for the one…two…and three! Cole called it a Bunny Destroyer and I think that name is fitting. Bunny covered Priest for the pinfall win at 25:02.

Winner by pinfall: Bad Bunny

Analysis: ****1/4 It was a very entertaining brawl. It’s not easy going over 20 minutes in a singles match like that, but kudos to Bad Bunny for pulling it off and Damian Priest deserves a lot of credit as well because he is the professional wrestler in there working with the singer. They had a great match together. It was smart to make it a Street Fight with weapons. They did big spots throughout the match including the table spot that was out in the crowd. There was no cover there because the finish has to be in the ring for a Street Fight. I thought Bunny really exceeded expectations in this match because you don’t know how a guy is going to do in that kind of match when he’s not a full-time wrestler, but he was impressive. It was his first match in over two years and he did better than he did in that WrestleMania 37 tag team match. Anyway, Priest deserves a lot of credit too. That was one of the biggest matches of his career and he delivered.

Post match, Bad Bunny celebrated the win with the LWO joining him along with Carlito and Savio. The fans were cheering a lot as the guys celebrated the win some more and then went to the back.

Analysis: That’s such a great thing for the local fans. Bad Bunny is a huge star currently while Carlito and Savio have been wrestling legends in Puerto Rico for decades. I liked that WWE did this moment for the fans that paid to be at this show. I’m sure it’s a moment they won’t forget.

A commercial aired for Night of Champions in three weeks on May 27th.

There was a video package for the six-man tag team match between Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn & Matt Riddle facing the three brothers from The Bloodline.

The Usos made their entrance with Solo Sikoa as three brothers in The Bloodline. Matt Riddle was first for the faces followed by the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn. The crowd was absolutely on fire for the faces as usual with lots of “Ole” chants for Zayn.

The Bloodline – Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso & Solo Sikoa vs. Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn & Matt Riddle

The Bloodline were drafted to Smackdown. Owens & Zayn were drafted to Raw, but as the WWE Tag Team Champions they can be on both shows as long as they are champions. That’s what the announcers said. Matt Riddle remains on Raw.

Zayn started with Jey leading to Zayn getting a clothesline. Jimmy tagged in so Owens tagged in with kicks and punches on Jimmy. Owens did a “suck it” gesture to Solo, then Jimmy with an uppercut, Owens came back with a high elbow and senton splash. Riddle tagged in with a kick to the chest followed by a gutwrench suplex across the ring. Zayn was back in with an elbow smash on Jimmy, which led to Solo tagging himself in. Solo tagged in, which led to him getting control by beating down Zayn. Jimmy with shoulder tackles on Zayn followed by Jey hitting a corner splash. The fans chanted “We Want Roman” but he’s not there. Jimmy tagged in with a kick to the back of Zayn’s head. Solo tagged himself in with a headbutt along with choking by the ropes. Jimmy hit Zayn with a cheap shot kick. Jimmy tagged in and grabbed a chinlock on Zayn, slammed Zayn down and kicked Riddle off the apron to the floor. Zayn with a leapfrog over Jimmy leading to a clothesline. Jey tagged in, Zayn sent Jey out of the ring and Jey tripped up Owens on the apron. Jey sent Owens back first onto the steel steps! Ouch. I know it is likely KO’s lower body that takes the bump, but it looks devastating. The heels continued to work over Zayn in their corner with Jey hitting a Samoan Drop. Solo was back in with a headbutt, punches, Zayn went to the middle rope and Zayn hit a Tornado DDT out of the corner.

Riddle tagged in against Jimmy leading to Riddle hitting forearms, kicks, a ripcord knee to Jey, who was in the ring illegally and Riddle hit Exploder Suplexes on both Usos. Riddle hit Broton splashes on both Usos as well. Riddle hit a springboard twisting body attack off the middle rope onto the three guys on the floor. Back in the ring, Riddle flipped into the ring leading to Jimmy hitting a superkick. Jimmy went up top, but Riddle met him there with a belly-to-belly superplex across the ring. Owens was back up and he got the tag leading to a Swanton Bomb off the top on Jimmy for a two count. Owens with a superkick on Jimmy, Jey tagged in, Owens avoided a superkick and Jimmy superkicked Jey by accident. Owens knocked Jimmy and Solo down to the floor with superkicks and Owens hit a Popup Powerbomb on Jey for two. Owens went up top, he jumped off with a Swanton Bomb, but Jey got his knees up to block. Owens and Jey got into a slugfest, Jey hit a superkick, Owens hit a superkick, Jey with another superkick and Owens hit a huge lariat. That’s a modern-day wrestling spot that became popular in the last decade or two because it works. Zayn tagged in against Jimmy with a Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Zayn went up top, Jimmy stopped that with two jumping kicks and Jey tagged in. Zayn knocked both Usos down with headbutts, Zayn jumped off the top with nothing and The Usos hit a double superkick for two. Jey yelled at Zayn that this was his fault as he threw his shirt onto Zayn. Jey set up for a charging attack, but Solo tagged himself in, which led to Jey staring Solo down. Jey tagged himself back in. Jey told Solo to get out. Zayn was back up with a Helluva Kick to Solo after Jey moved. Zayn hit Jey with an Exploder Suplex into the turnbuckle. Zayn with a Helluva Kick on Jey for one…two…and no because Solo made the save.

When Solo got back up, he looked like he was going to attack his brother Jey, but Riddle was back in with a knee. Jey sent Riddle out of the ring, Owens with a Stunner on Jey and Solo hit a Samoan Spike on Owens. Solo grabbed his brother Jey, he nearly hit Jey with a Samoan Spike and Jey was yelling that he was Solo’s brother. Zayn back in to knock Solo down, Jey got a rollup on Zayn and that was a two count. Jey with a superkick. Jey jumped off the top with a splash, Zayn got the knees up and blocked it. There was a lot of fast-paced action including Riddle hitting a knee on Jey. Riddle got the tag, and he hit the Bro Derek on Jey, but Solo made the tag before Riddle hit the move. Riddle didn’t know Solo made the tag. When Riddle went for the cover, Solo pulled Riddle off and hit the Samoan Spike on Riddle. Solo pinned Riddle to get the win at 22:02.

Winners by pinfall: The Bloodline – Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso & Solo Sikoa

Analysis: ***3/4 It was another very good match on this show. The chemistry between The Usos and Zayn/Owens is always going go be strong. It wasn’t at the level of the WrestleMania tag team match, but that’s fine because it’s hard to top that. I thought the Riddle/Owens/Zayn team might win just because of the story of The Usos being on a losing streak, but I understand having Solo win since he gets booked so strong all the time. By having Solo win you are telling the story that The Usos can win if Solo is with them because Solo is a dominant force and this makes Solo look even stronger. Riddle taking the fall was the best choice for that team because it’s better to protect Zayn & Owens as the Tag Team Champions rather than having one of them take the fall.

After the match, Solo had a staredown with Jey while Jimmy was smiling about the win. Cole was pushing the story about if Roman Reigns will be happy that they found a way to win.

A video package aired about Imperium’s GUNTHER, the current Intercontinental Champion.

It’s main event time with a video package to set up Cody Rhodes facing Brock Lesnar.

Cody Rhodes made his entrance first to a huge ovation from the crowd. The WHOA-OH part of his Kingdom song gets louder and louder. Of course, this Puerto Rico crowd was amazing all night, so of course they are going to love that. Brock Lesnar was up next with a big pop for the start of his theme song. Lesnar did a slow walk around the ring.

While Lesnar was on the floor, he raised his arms and Cody hit a suicide dive onto Lesnar. Cody grabbed the hood of the commentary table and hit Brock with it. Cody grabbed the steel steps and hit Lesnar in the head three times. Cody used a steel chair to hit Lesnar in the back repeatedly. Lesnar crawled into the ring, the referee grabbed a chair from Cody and the referee called for the bell.

Analysis: It is normally a heel move to attack before the bell, but in Cody’s case it is a babyface who wanted to get the jump on the heel because of Lesnar’s attack on Cody one month ago on Raw.

Brock Lesnar vs. Cody Rhodes

In the WWE Draft, Brock Lesnar remains a free agent that can be on Raw or Smackdown while Cody was drafted to Raw.

Lesnar managed to tackle Cody. Cody came back with the Disaster Kick two times in a row. Cody went for a springboard attack, but Lesnar caught him and hit a German Suplex. Cody with a necksnap against the top rope. Cody jumped off the top, but Brock caught him and hit a fallaway slam. Lesnar was back in control with a release German Suplex. Lesnar hit another German Suplex. The fans were chanting “Suplex City” for Lesnar. Lesnar hit his fourth German Suplex on Cody with the fans cheering it. Lesnar hit two straight vertical suplexes. Lesnar hit a fifth German Suplex while Cody pulled a turnbuckle pad off as he took that move. Lesnar looked at the turnbuckle to see the exposed steel. Lesnar applied a bearhug leading to an overhead suplex. Lesnar stepped back and Cody did a drop toe hold that sent Lesnar face first into the exposed steel turnbuckle. Lesnar was bleeding from it. Cody hit a Cody Cutter. Cody hit a Disaster Kick along with knees to the face. Cody was seen wiping some of Lesnar’s blood on himself. Cody hit a Cody Cutter off the ropes. Cody hit Cross Rhodes two times in a row for the one…two…and no. Cody went for Cross Rhodes again, but Lesnar avoided it and Lesnar hit an F5 for one…two…and no. Cody got the left shoulder up. They were on their knees with Cody punching, but Lesnar grabbed the left arm for a kimura lock submission on the left arm. Cody leaned forward into a pinning position, Lesnar held onto the arm and the referee counted one…two…and three! Cody wins. It went 9:40.

Winner by pinfall: Cody Rhodes

Analysis: ***1/4 The right guy won this match. That’s the important thing. I think if you were expecting an amazing match this wasn’t that, but what they did was good and it told the story they needed to tell with Cody finding a way to get the win. Lesnar may attack Cody again to set up a rematch and if that happens then that’s certainly fine with me because they can build on this. I just think because of how Lesnar beat up Cody on Raw last month that this needed to be a Cody win. Lesnar getting busted open while he ran into the turnbuckle added to the drama. Maybe it was planned in some way or there was some hidden thing that I didn’t see, but it only adds to the match when you see blood like that. That finish is a way to protect Lesnar because he’s doing an offensive move like a kimura lock, yet Cody finds a way to counter it by moving forward and pinning Lesnar, who didn’t let go of the hold so that he could kick out. Lesnar beat Lashley while Lashley held onto the Hurt Lock in the past, so now Lesnar is the one taking a pin while holding onto a submission in a similar spot. It’s not a decisive win, but it’s a win and that’s what Cody needed.

Cody Rhodes left the ringside area while favoring his arm. The referee tossed Lesnar a towel so he can wipe up the blood on his head. Lesnar wiped his head. They showed Lesnar’s frustrated face to end the show.

Analysis: It wouldn’t shock me if we get a rematch at Night of Champions after Lesnar attacks Cody on Raw. They can do a stipulation match if this match happens again.

There was a video package to recap the show.

This event had a runtime of 3:07:42 on WWE Network.


Five Stars of the Show

  1. Bad Bunny & Damian Priest
  2. Bianca Belair & IYO SKY
  3. The Bloodline – Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso & Solo Sikoa
  4. Cody Rhodes
  5. Seth Rollins


Final Thoughts

I’m going with an 8 out of 10 for this show.

It was a very good Backlash event. I think there were low expectations going into Backlash, but WWE exceeded those. The crowd was super hot, so that helps a lot. I think Bad Bunny-Damian Priest had a terrific match with some fun cameos from Carlito & Savio Vega, both of whom are Puerto Rican legends. Great call to use them in that match. Bunny was really impressive and Priest did an excellent job of working with him. If you think that match should have been the main event then I won’t argue, btu I think having Cody Rhodes beat Brock Lesnar as the last match was smart because you’re telling the audience that Cody is a top guy. It wasn’t a decisive win, so maybe we’ll see it again too.

Bianca Belair and IYO SKY had an excellent opening match. A nice reminder of how talented Sky is when you give her time to have a lengthy singles match. She’s so great and Bianca was booed by this crowd, but she had a tremendous performance too. The six-man tag team match was fun and had a strong story coming out of it with Solo Sikoa and Jey nearly coming to blows even though they won. I loved Zelina Vega’s Puerto Rico tribute even though she lost to Rhea Ripley. The fans loved seeing Vega in that moment. Seth Rollins was his usual awesome self against Omos, who is getting better. Maybe the best Omos singles match to date.

The atmosphere of Backlash helped a lot. This was one of the best WWE crowds for a PLE that there’s ever been. They were amazing. I would say it’s comparable to Montreal at Elimination Chamber earlier this year too. When you go to markets that haven’t seen major WWE events for a long time, the fans are going to be so excited to see the show that they are going to be loud the entire. We saw it on Smackdown and we saw it at Backlash. Great job by the San Juan, Puerto Rico crowd.

My WWE PLE/PPV rankings for 2023 look like this.

WrestleMania 39 – 8.75 (out of 10)

Elimination Chamber – 8.25

Backlash – 8

Royal Rumble – 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.

Thanks for reading this review. My contact info is below.


Twitter: @johnreport