0 of 6
Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles had a face to face meeting ahead of their Intercontinental Championship match. These are two of the most lauded wrestlers in the company, so this is one of the most anticipated matches on the Backlash card.
Speaking of titles, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross put their Women’s Tag Team Championships on the line when they squared off with Bayley and Sasha Banks.
1 of 6
The commentators said Elias has a torn pec and some broken ribs. Hardy says when he got to the show last week, he was hit from behind and knocked out as soon as he got out of his car.
When he woke up, he smelled alcohol and felt the handcuffs being put on his wrists. He said he was afraid that he had relapsed when he first woke up, but then he realized that he was sober and did not slip.
Apparently, a witness identified the real suspect as someone with a red beard and red hair. Hardy called out Sheamus and said he would be damned if he was going to let The Celtic Warrior get away with it.
Sheamus came out and said all Hardy was doing was blaming other people for his own problems. He called The Charismatic Enigma a junkie before Hardy ran up the ramp and attacked him. Sheamus countered with a Brogue Kick before throwing him into the plexiglass barriers several times.
Using Hardy’s struggles with substance abuse as part of a storyline has been controversial in some circles, with CM Punk even voicing his displeasure on last week’s WWE Backstage.
Punk said Hardy may have been fine with the angle, but he still did not think it was the best route to take. The whole storyline probably wouldn’t have happened without Hardy’s consent, but it is understandable why people would think using his sobriety in this scenario is a bad idea.
Putting all of that aside, Hardy did a good job in this segment. He came across as genuine and pulled off his part well.
Sheamus is a good antagonist who can be used against anybody and look like the bully. This storyline may not be great, but this was not a bad segment if we are only looking at it from the perspective of whether or not it was entertaining.
2 of 6
The Dozer took control early but as soon as the action spilled out of the ring, The King got the upper hand. He hit a nice spinebuster on the big man for a two count.
Corbin tried to take his crown and leave. Otis went after him and he got himself disqualified by hitting The Dozer with a steel chair. Otis fought back and hit The Caterpillar.
The finish was anticlimactic, but up until that point, Otis and Corbin were having a good, competitive match.
Like Sheamus, Corbin is a bully character who is the perfect opponent to put with someone beloved like Otis. The ending could have been better, but the DQ finish keeps the door open for a rematch without making either Superstar look weak now.
3 of 6
As Lacey Evans was making her entrance, Sonya Deville attacked her from behind and sent her into the steel steps as hard as possible.
The match got going after a commercial break. The Sassy Southern Belle went after Deville and ended up getting the first near fall with a slingshot elbow.
Deville regained the upper hand and punished Evans by standing on her neck on the stairs. The former Marine began to make a comeback with a few clotheslines. Deville came back and almost won, but Rose appeared on the big screen to distract her so Evans could hit The Women’s Right for the pin.
This was a solid performance from two Superstars who have been doing some of their best work in recent months.
The distraction from Rose allows her feud with Deville to continue without them having to get physical again right away. Evans seems like the odd woman out here, but the win over Deville will keep her moving in the right direction until her next feud comes along.
4 of 6
Styles and Bryan met in the ring for a face to face talk moderated by Renee Young. She asked all of the questions you would expect her to ask about Styles skipping ahead to the finals while Bryan fought Sheamus.
Styles said if it wasn’t for Hardy, Sheamus would be in his spot. He said Bryan is noble for doing what he did, but it also makes him stupid.
The Yes Man said being the IC championship means something to him and that is why he wanted to earn his spot fairly instead of skipping to the last round. He called The Phenomenal One a coward and vowed to defend the title every week if he wins it.
Styles decided to do something surprising and offered Drew Gulak a match. It didn’t take long for the former cruiserweight champion to come to the ring. He immediately tackled Styles to the mat and forced him to retreat out of the ring.
After the break, Gulak and Styles went at each other hard. The submission specialist tried to ground the high-flyer early with a unique armbar, but Styles got to the ropes to force a break.
After a competitive exchange, Gulak managed to counter The Styles Clash with a jackknife cover for the upset victory.
The exchange between Bryan and Styles was good, but a little predictable. We all knew Bryan would call Styles a coward and we also knew The Phenomenal One would claim it was just him being smart.
Having Gulak face Styles was a welcome surprise. Two of the most technically gifted wrestlers in WWE having a match will never be a bad thing.
The downside of his relationship with Bryan is he will end up suffering losses to Bryan’s rivals. As great as it is to see Gulak in the ring with so many big stars recently, it would be even better if he was consistently winning.
This bout gave him one of those wins and is hopefully the first step toward him getting a real, sustained push.
5 of 6
Big E and Rawley were the first to tag in from their respective teams before Shinsuke Nakamura got involved. The heels tried to keep the powerhouse isolated, but one belly to belly suplex allowed Big E to take control.
Kingston and E did some of their usual tag team moves before The Swiss Cyborg helped Nakamura avoid Trouble in Paradise. A dive out of the ring left Kingston with a knee injury as the show went to a commercial.
We returned to see Rawley dominating Kingston. Everyone from both teams started getting involved both in and out of the ring. Gable almost beat Rawley with a moonsault and Gronk’s best friend came close with a big slam.
After Kingston tagged back in, he and Big E finished off Rawley while Gable kept Cesaro and Nakamura at bay.
Rawley was a last-minute addition but he kept up with everyone else in this match. He is a good hand with a lot of upside, but WWE has failed to promote his character in any meaningful way.
While it’s nice to see Gable back in action, it feels like this is just another random feud for him. If he is ever going to be the underdog hero he can be, WWE needs to give him a sustained push with a better gimmick than Shorty G.
The New Day, Cesaro and Nakamura all did their jobs perfectly. They are four veterans who are almost incapable of having bad matches.
6 of 6
The Boss helped turn the tide in their favor by distracting Cross so Bayley could knock her out of the ring. We went to a break with the challengers firmly in control.
She came in hot with a few big right hands for both of her opponents. As The Goddess climbed to the top turnbuckle, Banks distracted her so Bayley could cut her off. Bliss kicked out of a Bayley to Belly from the middle rope and a running knee from The Boss.
Bayley tried to steal Banks’ thunder and win for herself, but the miscommunication did not hinder them in the end. Banks ended up pinning Cross after a few counters back and forth to win the tag titles.
Cross and Bliss losing the titles this way is a little surprising, but WWE is clearly just using this to build up to an eventual breakup with Banks and Bayley.
Cross and Bliss may even win the titles back in the near future, especially if Banks grows tired of Bayley hogging the spotlight and offering her up for matches.