Apocalypse Comes Early: WWE WrestleMania Backlash Recap and Review

Two men were eaten alive on Peacock this weekend

If WWE’s strategy is to offer boring build up to lower expectations before a B-list show that ends up completely delivering, then hats off to them. It worked like a charm again here, as “the first non WrestleMania PPV to have WrestleMania in it’s name” ended up being a very entertaining night, despite the tedious past few weeks that lead up to it.

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Sheamus def. Ricochet (Kickoff)

In an unexpected match up, US Champ and the man with the best duster in all of wrestling, Sheamus, took on Ricochet in another title-less open challenge. I’m guessing Carrillo was meant to be in this match before his injury, and they just picked someone else who’s good at doing flips to fill in for him. Either way, it worked out fine; nothing to write home about, but enjoyable all the same. Ricochet struggled to overcome the fella’s power advantage, until a springboard clothesline gave him a second wind. A shooting star and a moonsault scored a two count, but he missed a 450 attempt and got caught with a knee from Sheamus to give the champ the win. After the match, Ricochet interrupted a promo to don Sheamus’ garb and do a little dance before escaping up the ramp.

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Raw Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) def. Asuka and Charlotte Flair (Triple Threat)

The Raw Women’s Championship kicked us off for the evening; I was certainly looking forward to putting this feud in the rear view, because sitting through another one-on-one Rhea and Asuka match sounds like a chore. Empress, please forgive me.

Charlotte tried to escape to the outside and leave Rhea and Asuka to fight it out, but they forced her back in the ring. A double superkick to Flair kept her out of the action momentarily anyway, before she dumped Asuka with a suplex at ringside. Flair hung Asuka on the ropes and got her in a submission, before hitting her with a boot to the face. Asuka fired back and got Charlotte in an arm bar, until Rhea returned to break it up. The champ dropped Charlotte with a series of clothesline’s, then took down Asuka with a drop kick. Ripley earned a two count off a Northern Lights to Charlotte. Not to be outdone, Asuka hit a knee strike to Charlotte for another near fall. The Queen landed a moonsault onto both women on the outside, but couldn’t capitalize. We got the traditional multiperson superplex, then all three traded punches. Ripley and Asuka blocked the Big Boot and tried for a double team, but Flair turned around to hit both with Natural Selection. Various finisher attempts with no one able to get the upper hand, until Charlotte hit Asuka with a boot, and Rhea scooped her up for the Rip Tide. Flair’s presence helped this immensely, and it seems we’ll see much more of her and Ripley in the future.

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SmackDown Tag Team Championships: Rey and Dominik Mysterio def. The Dirty Dawgs (c)

Ziggler and Roode wiped out Dominik backstage by throwing a whole pillar on him before the match, leaving Rey to go it alone. Mysterio tried to get the jump right at the bell, but every time he’d get an advantage, one of the Dawgs would save their partner. Ziggler stomped on Mysterio in the corner, tagging Roode in to continue the beating. A Famouser double team only got a two count, and Dolph started to lose it. Roode chucked Mysterio over the ropes to the outside, and still everyone’s favorite dad beat the count at 9. Dominik made a slow, triumphant return to save his dad, but Rey was reluctant to tag him.

A failed 619 let the Dirty Dawgs take control again, until Rey got a Bulldog off the top rope and finally brought in Dom. The heels punished him again, until he got a superkick to bring his dad in again. Rey hit the 619 and tagged in Dominick, who landed a splash on Roode to score the titles. Congrats to WWE’s first ever father-son tag team champions! Post-match, the Mysterios cut a promo about family and love, and hugged each other up the ramp. It was all very cute and happy, which is not something I expected to say about a Dirty Dawgs segment.

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Damien Priest def. The Miz (Zombie Lumberjack Match)

Before the match, Morrison tried to bribe the lumberjacks, who turned out to be Dave Bautista’s zombie friends. That totally tracks. The zombies surrounded the ring at the start of the match, scaring off Morrison. Miz tried to escape and came face to face with the undead, allowing Priest to drop him. Priest went after the zombies himself, even though they were being pretty polite and respecting the rules of the match. Miz tried to crawl under the ring, only to again run right into the walkers. Priest took control with a clothesline, but couldn’t get a three count.

Miz got the Figure Four, forcing Priest to get to the ropes to break it. This left them vulnerable to the zombies, who dragged them to the outside. In a great moment of bonding, both guys battled the zombies until they could majesty it back to the ring. Priest landed the Broken Arrow, but Johnny Drip Drip returned to help his partner and fight the dead. After some parkour to the zombies, Morrison was dragged to the depths of hell behind the barricade, and Miz ate Hit the Lights to give Priest the win. The spell was broken, the zombies swarmed the ring and proceeded to eat Miz. This seems to be unpopular, but I thought this bit was actually great. Miz handles goofy shit like nobody’s business, and Priest’s nonchalance towards zombie lumberjacks made it even better.

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SmackDown Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair (c) def. Bayley

Bayley had “Bel-loser” shaved into her undercut, which absolutely rocks. Bianca sent the challenger to the outside early on, then controlled Bayley on the mat. She threatened a hair whip before driving Bayley into the turnbuckle. Bianca was able to counter everything Bayley tried, keeping her reeling. The Role Model grabbed an earring to get an advantage, but Bianca blocked a suplex over the ropes to deliver one of her own. They fought to the outside, ending with Bayley dropping Bianca onto the steps.

Belair was rocked in the ring, but still managed to kick out at two. Bayley did her maniacal laughter until Belair hit her with a backhand. They both traded nearfalls back and forth; Bayley off an elbow drop, Bianca after a slam. Bayley went for the eyes, then used the braid to get Belair in a Bayley to Belly. Bianca kicked out again, and countered the Rose Plant to roll up Bayley, using her braid to keep her down for three. This was exactly what I expected from these two, and that’s great. A very solid first defense from Bianca, and leaves the door open for a Hell in a Cell rematch. No complaints!

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WWE Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) def. Drew McIntyre and Braun Strowman (Triple Threat Match)

The pinnacle of big men slapping meat right here. Lashley got McIntyre to double team Strowman with a stalling vertical suplex, momentarily taking out the Monster. Bobby tried for The Hurt Lock on Strowman, but couldn’t lock it in. McIntyre broke things up and went after the champ again. Lashley regained control, dumping both men to the outside. He ran Drew into the ring post, only to turn around and get caught by Braun wielding the steps. On the ramp, Lashley tried to suplex McIntyre into the tron boards, but Drew sent him flying through a wall instead. Huge clean up for the electric crew.

Strowman caught McIntyre on the stage and tossed him back down to the ring. A wild Michinoku Driver from McIntyre on a very large man, and Braun still kicked out; Drew about lost his mind. Lashley recovered from busting a hole in $3000 worth of screens to plant McIntyre through the commentary table. Drew then landed a Claymore on Strowman, but Lashley reappeared to throw him out of the ring and land a spear on Braun to retain. This was fast paced for a big man match, which made it a lot of fun. Strowman taking the fall was the best case scenario here, but he still looks better than he has for much of the past year. It’s crazy what can happen when you put on a pair of gardening gloves.

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Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) def. Cesaro

It’s a great day in Switzerland! This is certainly the match everyone is talking about, because it rocked in every single way. Reigns is at the top of his game, and Cesaro got the chance to show off that he can measure up to the absolute best.

They tried to feel each other out to start; Reigns grounded Cesaro on the mat, but the Swissman powered out and easily moved to a submission. Roman tried to regroup with Heyman on the outside, but evidently didn’t get enough special council, as Cesaro still caught him and almost got him in the Swing. Cesaro was sent to the outside and landed on his arm, allowing Roman to take over again. He landed a Superman Punch for a one count, to Reigns’ shock. A pop up uppercut gave Cesaro some room, and he fired off with more uppercuts before getting a two count. A dive over the ropes wiped out Reigns, but the champ tried to escape on the other side for a breather. Cesaro dragged him back in the ring for a crossbody, and still couldn’t make the three count.

Roman went after his injured right arm and earned another couple of near falls, but Cesaro just wouldn’t stay down. Reigns unloaded with punches and trash talk, until Cesaro managed to land a clothesline with the injured arm. A running uppercut powered through the pain, but he couldn’t land the Neutralizer. Reigns came back with a Superman Punch and got Cesaro in The Guillotine. Cesaro was able to fight out to get the Sharpshooter, but Reigns hit a powerbomb and locked in the Guillotine again, allowing Cesaro to drift silently to sleep.

Jey Uso came out to present his cousin with a lei and pick the bones. He was joined by Seth Rollins, in his Sunday best (a paint-splattered white suit.) Rollins joined in the assault, wrapping a chair around Cesaro’s arm and running him into the post. He hit the Stomp to finish things off and stood excitedly in the ring to close the show, prompting a whole lot of Shield fics about to be written. The world certainly needs them.

8.9

I like zombies! Sue me!

PROS
  • Charlotte rocked some sweet Cruella promo with her dalmatian spotted gear. Maybe we can get a 101 dogs match at Extreme Rules.
  • Bianca’s gear absolutely never disappoints either. The double sided sequins? Legend.
  • The WWE Championship Triple Threat and the Universal Title match both went out of their way to play to competitors strengths. All five guys came out looking incredible.
  • Ricochet is on TV again! Well, he's on Peacock and WWE's YouTube livestream, but we'll count it.
  • I haven't been tuning in much to the SD tag scene, but it's always good when nice things happen to Rey Mysterio.
  • Please link me to any and all Shield fics you write.
CONS
  • Commentary feels especially rough recently. McAfee and Cole lack so much chemistry it makes you wonder how either of them get through full sentences without stepping on each other’s toes.
  • Whenever wrestling does something dumb, like a zombie match, there’s always people who won’t stop arguing for or against the dumb thing. Huge bummer that Miz is starting wrestling as performance art discourse in 2021. The man doesn’t deserve this.
Tags

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born on a ranch in texas, raised by cowboys. don't fact check this.

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