WrestleMania is the stage where many high-profile storylines conclude. However, it’s also the birthing place for new, exciting ones too, and that was very much the case this year, thus making the title WrestleMania Backlash all the more fitting. This year’s post-Mania card saw four WrestleMania rematches take place, including Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins trying to follow their epic showdown, Edge vs. AJ Styles, and Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair in an I Quit Match. In the main event, Drew McIntyre joined forces with RK-BRO to take on The Bloodline. It was a stacked card with plenty of promise, and fortunately, it delivered three incredible matches – all worthy of a match of the night plaudits.

Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins

Could the show have started any better or any hotter than this? The answer is a big fat NO. If it were not for Becky and Bianca, no one would question the statement that Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins was the best match of WrestleMania weekend. Therefore, when a rematch was announced, few were complaining about the idea of watching it again, and just as expected, the pair produced another stellar showing – rivalling their match at the show of shows.

The simplicity in Rhodes’ approach is one of his greatest strengths as a performer, and it was on display from the offset of this match. Both performers expertly sold the narrative of Rollins being prepared for this bout, as he constantly dodged Rhodes’ signature offence, leaving him frustrated and struggling to get into the match. They sold Rhodes’ inability to get going for a good portion of the opening, which one may argue was a tad too long. But the crowd was heavily invested throughout and solidly behind ‘The American Nightmare’ – making it an enjoyable heel vs. babyface showdown. A fact proven by fans rejecting Rollins’ cue to hum his theme music – something they did during his entrance but refused to do while Rhodes was in jeopardy.

Similar to their Mania match, this one built nicely and once again exemplified how spots that are simple by today’s standard, such as Rhodes’ superplex from the top rope, can still feel very significant during a major PPV match. Along with picking up the pace, Rhodes and Rollins excellently advanced their story through Rollins losing his cool and therefore abandoning his game plan, a moment brilliantly complemented by Jimmy Smith highlighting Rollins’ tactical error. The match concluded with a brilliant finishing sequence that involved Rollins attempting the Dusty punches, Rhodes attempting to hit multiple Cross Rhodes, and then both attempting a pin with a handful of tights, which Rhodes successfully pulled off for the win. It was an intelligent finish that works for Rollins’ mentally unstable character and will still logically set up a third PPV match. In this writer’s opinion, this sequel didn’t quite top the original, but it wasn’t far off.

Omos (w/ MVP) vs. Bobby Lashley

Few people were expecting much from this rematch between RAW’s two powerhouses, especially as their Mania match wasn’t the most thrilling, except for a spot or two. However, much like the Hogan-André matches from the 1980s, this was a spectacle built off the visual of these two awe-inspiring superstars. The entrances set the stage and showed WWE’s unmatched production work. Omos entered with a well-executed low-angle camera shot, enhancing his height. However, the lighting and camera panning up on Lashley for his newly adjusted entrance were even more impressive. Fortunately for the fans, this time, it wasn’t all downhill post-the bell ringing.

From start to finish, this rematch proved to be far smoother than the pairs Mania match. It was simple – Lashley tried to duck and move – but Omos eventually got the upper-hand thanks to MVP, who, in all honesty, added a great deal to this match. Whenever the match was lagging, MVP got involved – either distracting Lashley or berating him from the outside, which helped encourage the live crowd to cheer for ‘The All Mighty’ even more. MVP’s influence seems to have also rubbed off on Omos, as the giant oozed confidence during the match and his swagger and facials during his period of dominance made the bout more engaging than all of his previous matches.

Lashley and Omos also pulled off a few nice hope spots, most notably the impressive visual of Lashley applying The Hurt Lock on ‘The Colossus’. Omos even sold it brilliantly, teasing the fans he was actually going to tap. However, MVP’s interference ultimately led to his giant picking up the win in a match that exceeded expectations. Overall, a solid little bout that didn’t overstay its welcome.

Edge vs. AJ Styles

Many fans went into WrestleMania thinking Edge and Styles would put on an all-time classic. They ultimately delivered a very strong performance, one that could have edged to great had they been allotted more time and had a better conclusion. Nevertheless, the two legends still put on a bout worthy of WrestleMania. At WrestleMania Backlash, with fewer marquee matches surrounding them, it seemed like the perfect occasion for them to put on the classic they’re capable of producing. Unfortunately, this match didn’t quite live up to the lofty expectations.

Edge and Styles still produced a good match in their second consecutive PPV match, but it didn’t get anywhere near being a classic. It opened with great intensity, with Styles being the pit bull and unleashing his fury on Edge before the ‘Rated R Superstar’ took control and started working on Styles’ injured shoulder. It was a simple approach to the match, which was executed well by both superstars. However, unlike the Rhodes-Rollins match, the live crowd wasn’t as invested in this one – making the submission spots and the match itself, feel a little flat. It was admittedly a little too slow, and it lacked the flow of their Mania bout. The pair did pick up the pace, and Styles even hit a gritty-looking Styles Clash while selling his injured shoulder.

In the end, The Phenomenal One went to the top rope, and after being distracted by a Finn Balor and Damian Priest brawl, a hooded figure interfered and allowed Edge to capitalize and choke out Styles. The hooded figure was none other than Rhea Ripley, a dark-haired Ripley. Ultimately, a good match, but the main takeaway from this will be the exciting prospect of an Edge, Priest, and Ripley alliance!

Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair (I Quit Match) – SmackDown Women’s Championship

If someone in WWE needed a shot in the arm when it came to the quality of the match – Ronda Rousey was that someone. Unlike the former UFC Champion’s first run in WWE, she hasn’t had any great bouts thus far, making her current run feel a little flat in comparison. However, that all changed this past Sunday. Arguably no superstar is more perfectly suited to an I Quit Match than Rousey, as it requires a level of believability and physicality few can provide like WWE’s resident Baddest Woman on the Planet.

Charlotte and Rousey seemingly channelled the aggression that made their Survivor Series 2018 classic a memorable one. The physicality of both women was excellent from the opening bell, and before long, they both indulged in all the gimmicks that come with an I Quit match. But, the pair did find a balance between fun, gimmicky spots with a sense of realism. For every kendo stick fight and brawl through the crowd, we had moments on the microphone, where both women simply grimaced and shouted in agony as the rigours of the match were on display. However, unlike countless other I Quit matches, the microphone moments were not overdone, and the aggressive no’s or cuss words from the women came at the right time instead of being constant.

What makes a match to that next level are the small details. Much like the Rhodes-Rollins opener, the commentary aligned very nicely with this story, as Michael Cole touched on how the kendo stick played a big part in their 2018 match. Also, every time Charlotte was in the armbar or close to being in Rousey’s dreaded submission, her facial expressions and screams were incredible – finding the difficult balance between selling the danger of the hold while remaining a heel. The match also featured great close calls before Rousey finally locked in the armbar with Charlotte’s arm trapped in a chair. The Queen initially said “no” when asked if she wanted to quit, which prompted Rousey to say: “I was hoping you would say that bitch” before synching down on the arm even more. A fantastic conclusion to a fantastic title match. One that will also remind fans what Ronda Rousey can bring to the table.

Madcap Moss vs. Happy Corbin

After a brilliant title match, naturally, the live crowd lost a little steam, which made the placement of Moss vs. Corbin an effective one. Both superstars produced a match that served its purpose, allowing fans to catch their breath prior to the main event. Moss showed some good explosiveness during the match, but it’s clear he remains a little green and needs more work. In the end, Moss picked up the win over his former boss in a fine, all be it, hardly memorable match.

The Bloodline vs. Drew McIntyre & RK-BRO – Six-Man Tag Match

Roman Reigns has (if he hadn’t already) now officially entered the Steve Austin/Rock realm of status within WWE, as it’s almost irrelevant what’s come before his appearance. No matter what has happened before, Reigns’ presence is different, and even fans react differently to The Tribal Chief – seemingly knowing he’s on a whole other level than the rest of WWE’s roster. WWE is seemingly Roman Reigns’ world, everybody else is just living in it, and at WrestleMania Backlash, fellow Bloodline The Usos and Drew McIntyre, and RK-BRO made an appearance on the island of relevancy to help produce a wonderful six-man tag.

The match started at a steady pace, and it even saw Reigns masterfully toy with the crowd by tagging in to face-off against McIntyre early on, only to tag out not long after tagging in, much to McIntyre and the live crowd’s dismay. In addition to Reigns, Randy Orton was clearly over with the crowd, receiving loud ovations for nearly everything he did, most notably when he hit Reigns with an RKO. This felt like a monumental moment and could plant seeds for an Orton vs. Reigns program down the road if WWE chooses to go in this direction.

Similar to the classic SHIELD six-man tag matches, this six-man picked up its intensity and went into overdrive during the closing moments. There were plenty of great near falls, RKOs, and Reigns even slammed McIntyre through a table before sneaking a tag off Jey Uso and hitting Riddle with a spear for the 1, 2, and 3. It was a worthy main event, another genuine contender for match of the night, and it allowed WWE to end another major event with their premiere superstar – the Undisputed Universal Champion, Roman Reigns.

Overall, WrestleMania Backlash proved to be an excellent post-Mania PPV. Fans were treated to a well-paced show with three incredible matches and intriguing developments that will make the next few weeks of RAW and SmackDown interesting.

All pics and videos courtesy of WWE

By Humza Hussain

Humza Hussain is SteelChair Magazine's Interviews editor. He has been a lifelong professional wrestling fan and has conducted interviews with names such as DDP, Aleister Black, and Bayley. He also writes film news, reviews, and interviews!

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