An Exercise in Futility – WWE Backlash Recap and Reactions – 5/6/2018

Sorry kids, I’m abandoning my PG efforts here because I can’t actively capture how I feel about this event without repeatedly using a four letter word or two.

Newark, New Jersey played host to WWE Backlash 2018, the first in the return to the co-branded PPV events.  Much like New Jersey, hopefully we can all just start from scratch and try to forget that this exists moving forward.

I’m not going to do one of the normal PPV recaps.  This one was just sort of ho-hum.  There were no title changes, 3 titles weren’t even defended, and as you could have expected, the wrong Samoan Joseph picked up the main event victory in spite of the WWE Championship match actually being for, well, the WWE Championship.

Before I shit on it too much, it should be noted that The Miz and Seth Rollins opened the actual show putting on a clinic.  It was an excellent match, and I never realized how much I need to see AJ vs Seth Rollins at some point soon.  Seth has become the Raw equivalent of AJ Styles, seemingly pulling the absolute best match imaginable out of everyone he gets in the ring with.  So for all the talk from various parties about how dangerous he is in the ring, he’s easily top 5 talents on the roster right now, if not top 2.

So let’s get into this recap, and then I’ll crap on it some more in the reactions section.

  • Ruby Riott def. Bayley.  Before the match, Bayley got into an argument backstage with Sasha.  After the match, no one came to help Bayley when The Riott Squad pounced.  This is how this needed to go, because the Bayley-Sasha thing doesn’t even matter at all anymore.  They have shit the bed on writing the creative for it and now nobody really cares.  At least with a Riott win they can salvage something positive here.  Riott and the Squad can be viable contenders to take the belt from Nia.  Especially Riott, with her “abnormal” look by WWE standards.
  • Seth Rollins retained the IC Championship against The Miz with the Curb Stomp.  This match was the diamond in the rough.  Seriously, go watch it.  If you’ve ever questioned if Miz is as good as he thinks he is, he’s not, but he’s damn close and this match proves it.
  • Nia Jax retained the Raw Women’s Championship against Alexa Bliss with a Samoan Drop.  I don’t know if it was how this was supposed to happen, with Alexa reportedly suffering a significant shoulder injury during the match.  The crowd was only sort of half in it when Nia tried to give a PSA promo following the win, some even booed.  I think the story worked to get the crowd on her side for Mania, but the lack of Nia on Raw of late in any sort of meaningful position while Alexa and Mickie have become some much needed comedic relief throughout a stagnant 3-hour broadcast might have cost them on running with this line.
  • Jeff Hardy defeated Randy Orton to retain the United States Championship.  This match was, by my expectations, boring.  These two have had lengthy bouts and know each other incredibly well.  The chemistry should have produced something at least resembling a bloop single to centerfield by comparison to the Rollins-Miz three run homerun (damn that actually made sense when I finished the thought), but it was just sort of bland.  I think Orton is bored in this mid-card role, which sucks because he was doing some of his best work in a decade early in the Jinder feud (which may have caused him to lose interest because it, like most storylines, ran entirely too long to limited purpose).
  • Daniel Bryan defeated Big Cass with the Yes! Lock.  As expected, D-Bry got the win here, but Big Cass destroyed him after the match.  Unfortunately, that means we’re not done with this so we’re delaying the return to The Miz-Daniel Bryan feud that we’re all salivating for.
  • When’s it gonna be Elias’s time?  Look, I’m with the rest of you who believe that either Samoa Joe or Braun Strowman should have the Universal Championship, and it should have happened last summer.  It hasn’t.  But Elias has gotten himself to the point of the lovable heel all by himself, and he’s good in the ring.  In any event, he knows Bruce Springsteen, but the crowd trolled him hard, and so did the majority of the locker room.  First, he was interrupted by The New Day who wanted to play with the Drifter.  He declined, then Rusev Day joined in on the interruption train.  Crowd popped, but it didn’t really do much for Rusev Day.  Next, No Way Jose would lead a conga line that included all of Titus Worldwide and the Fashion Police down around the ring.  Finally, when Elias thought he was finally going to get to play for his audience and the eager ears of The Boss, Bobby Roode’s music would hit, and Roode would come through the crowd to sneak attack Samson with the Glorious DDT.  There was more dancing, including a twerk from The Glorious One, but this was a Raw segment, I don’t really know why it had a place on this card.
  • Carmella retains the Smackdown Women’s Championship against Charlotte Flair.  While it is said to be a work to make it believable that Carmella could beat her without any outside help, Charlotte appeared to tweak her knee on a backflip.  Then she just sort of took a pin on next to nothing from the “moonwalker, trashtalker”.  I don’t know.  There was a pretty good moment where Carmella reversed the Figure 4 attempt into the Cone of Silence, which just as believably could have ended the match.
  • AJ Styles is still the WWE Champion.  This match was in a shitty place on the card to be the most important title match happening, and ended in the shittiest possible way.  Nakamura and AJ Styles basically just traded a bunch of dick shots, which rendered them paralyzed and unable to answer the referee’s 10 Count, which I didn’t think was a thing in a No-DQ match.  I thought the only referee decision that could happen in a No-DQ was stoppage for someone unconscious or dead.  Whatever.
  • Braun Strowman wrecks shit.  That’s the caption you’re getting here.  Bobby Lashley doesn’t matter, even being the one that picked up the pinfall.  Sami and KO only matter because they Got Those Hands.  Braun Strowman should be teamed up with Seth Rollins, and the pair should hold every championship in the WWE.
  • Nope.  Maybe this was the swerve.  Make it appear that they had lost faith in Roman, what with the loss at Mania and GRR, only to have him fight his way past Samoa Joe, who Graves refers to as “the most dangerous man in WWE.”  All this did was further infuriate the audience and crap on any momentum towards a match with Styles that they could have built for Joe.  Whatever.  The ratings are in the shitter and ticket sales are dwindling for nearly every show, but they still aren’t seeing the writing on the wall.

Yep.  Nothing gained, a decent amount lost.  All your champions are still the champions.  None of the matches had any sort of story attached that made a bit of damn difference.  Thank the seven deities for Crossfit Jesus Seth Rollins, the only truly redeeming thing about this show.