WWE Backlash delivered a match to remember, a segment to forget and plenty of storyline advancement Sunday night in an overall entertaining show. Here are five takeaway from the pay-per-view:
WWE calling Edge vs. Randy Orton possibly The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever in the leadup, felt like a running joke in the wrestling world. The only ones laughing now are the Hall of Famer and the future one.
Edge, 46, in his first real wrestling match in more than nine years, and the victorious 40-year-old Orton delivered. It wasn’t the greatest match ever, but it’s certainly one of the best this year and something both men — especially at their age — should be very proud of. This classic-style wrestling match with a great story pulled you in. Their facial expressions and overall selling was fantastic.
WWE let a recording of the late, great Howard Finkel introduce the two, pumped in some crowd noise that wasn’t a distraction and used new dynamic camera angles in the taped encounter.
The cat-and-mouse game early played into Edge’s doubt until he found his confidence in the physical affair. Orton got bloodied midway through the match, just enough to add something. Each man gave the other everything he had over the 45-minute match. That included a bevy of famous moves including the Three Amigos, the Angle Slam, the Unprettier, the Pedigree and the Rock Bottom. Most came out of a series of counters.
Edge kicked out of two RKOs and Orton got the shoulder up after two spears. The Rated-R Superstar finally locked Orton in the Anti-Venom submission, but the Viper hit him low and delivered The Punt for the first time in years to get the win. Orton ended it by telling an exhausted Edge, to “Go home Adam” and tell Beth and the kids “Uncle Randy says hi.”
With Edge having won at WrestleMania, this feud will likely become a trilogy. It might take a while to get there with fans still not allowed and Edge reportedly tearing his triceps during the match.
Husband and strife
Bobby Lashley is still not a world champion in WWE after losing his first one-on-one title shot in 13 years thanks to his on-screen wife Lana. The struggle for Lashley’s loyalty between her and MVP will continue after she came out from the back to complain to the referee before getting knocked off the apron accidentally by Lashley. He then got Claymored by WWE champion Drew McIntyre and pinned. (Wish we would have gotten a better look at the Claymore live, but the camera lingered on Lana falling on top of MVP).
The match really displayed both of these big men’s power, agility and wrestling ability. This was Lashley’s best outing since returning to WWE and McIntyre continues to turn out matches worthy of a WWE champion. Seeing these two again, this time without Lana getting in the way, is not out of the question.
While Braun Strowman retaining the Universal championship seemed like a formality from the moment this handicap match was booked, WWE did use it to start a potential rift between The Miz and John Morrison. The A-Lister pulled his partner off Stroman and potentially cost him his first world championship in WWE.
The duo has recently been SmackDown tag team champions and produced some entertaining music videos, so what’s left for them to do together? Hopefully this isn’t a Bayley-Sasha Banks-like swerve and Morrison turns babyface and gets to embark on a single’s run after SummerSlam. WWE didn’t turn this into a farce as Miz and Morrison used good double-team moves and Strowman sold being in trouble. Strowman took advantage of Miz’s mistake and power slammed Morrison for the win.
WWE now needs to find a credible singles opponent for Strowman — maybe The Fiend at SummerSlam. Anyone but Baron Corbin.
Sticking with stars
The women’s division will continue to be led by familiar faces. Banks and SmackDown women’s champion Bayley retained their women’s tag team championships by beating the IIconics and Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross in an entertaining opener to the pay-per-view. Asuka remained Raw women’s champ after a double count-out with Nia Jax. Hopefully, it allows the company to build new stars from underneath them.
Maybe WWE is making up for Banks and Bayley’s short initial run with the belts — they will finally make a trip to NXT as champs on Wednesday. Bayley has become an excellent heel and the straps could be used as a device for a breakup with Banks. It was Banks who snuck in to knock Bliss off a pin and get the 1-2-3 for herself.
Having a member from each team in the ring at the same time really made for a fast-paced, chaotic match and kept it from feeling like a series of one-on-one matchups like it has in the past.
Asuka versus Nia Jax didn’t get the same clean finish. Instead, the match, which featured nothing truly memorable, ended with Asuka delaying Jax from getting her back in the ring before the count of 10. Asuka then tried to rush in and looked upset the match ended that way. At the very least, it gives WWE a reason to put Asuka and Jax in some form of a no disqualification/no count-out match at Extreme Rules with Charlotte Flair involved. But is that a good thing?
The match between the Raw tag team champion Street Profits and the Viking Raiders never happened. Instead, WWE gave us one of the worst and most nonsensical bits of TV it has produced in a long time. It just shows how little value the company puts on tag team wrestling that the teams’ comedy sketches on Raw connected to this with flashbacks and callbacks.
What we got was a bad cinematic production that felt like “The Power Rangers” meets “Rush Hour” meets the Swamp Monster in a B-Movie. There was a bowling ball to the nuts, a turkey leg transporting like a Jedi lightsaber, a tentacled garbage monster, a Viking Profits team up, and motorcycle ninjas led by Akira Tozawa that kind of just mysteriously disappeared. The was trainwreck entertainment at best. If vignettes and stories don’t lead to wrestling matches or some type of brawl, what are we even here for?
Nearly as egregious was WWE turning Jeff Hardy’s real-life battle with addiction into a storyline, having Sheamus call him “a junkie” and “a loser” for weeks only to have the babyface lose and fail to silence his antagonist. “Once again, Jeff Hardy let everyone down,” Corey Graves made sure to tell the audience.
The questionable decision only adds to the polarizing and, for now, pointless angle that got Sheamus heat at best. Hardy got in little offense in the boring match. He will have to settle for throwing his “pee” on Sheamus as retribution for now.
Apollo Crews defeated Andrade — with help from Kevin Owens — to retain his United States championship on the kickoff show.
A.J. Styles announced an Intercontinental championship celebration for SmackDown on Friday.
Biggest winner: Sasha Banks/Bayley
Biggest loser: Jeff Hardy/Tag team wrestling
Best Match: Randy Orton vs. Edge
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