@WWE Performance Center, Orlando, Florida
For WWE, the months following WrestleMania are notorious for dwindling viewing numbers and meandering storylines. With the next major PPV at least two months away in the shape of Summerslam, this is where the company’s creative team is needed more than ever. Rushonrock’s resident King Of The Ring, Andy Spoors, lets us know if this is something the biggest wrestling company in the world is on course to achieve.
Another month, another PPV. As the world faces up to serious issues on politics, health and racism, anything else is frankly trivial. With very few creative outlets, professional wrestling has been under the microscope from its fans: every Superstar, Tweet, match or promo methodically analysed on social media. Other sports look set to ease the burden, as the world begins to attempt a return to normality.
So why would any right-thinking individual or group of people be brazen enough to promise one of their matches will be the ‘Greatest Wrestling Match Ever’? Not ‘was’ – in the past tense – will be. Future tense. WWE has a history of putting together unbelievable and arguably the greatest wrestling match ever. It is after all in the eye of the beholder. Some may say Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat vs Randy Savage at WrestleMania 3 is the best. Others may say Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 25. Even The Rock vs Hollywood Hogan enters the conversation.
Talk about setting yourself up for a fall. The Superstars that will face off with the weight of the world on their shoulders are experienced vets of the game. Neither are they known for the technical ring ability either. Edge vs Randy Orton is a match that fans could look forward to, but with no real explanation behind the tagline, the claim is quite frankly bewildering at best and arrogant at worst.
It wouldn’t be too surprising if WWE pulled a swerve and went for a quick roll up victory for Orton to try and elongate the pair’s rivalry to get at least one match in front of a live crowd. It is very difficult to envisage any match hoping to stake its claim as the greatest ever without a crowd reacting to it (and we don’t mean Performance Center trainees).
Away from the inevitable main event, Drew McIntyre finds himself up against the biggest threat to his championship so far in the formidable shape of a rejuvenated Bobby Lashley. The two have crafted together an intriguing feud and expect both men to come away physically spent, as two physical specimens look to tear each other apart. Both need wins for very different reasons.
The change in the heads of creative in the last few days, may be a clue that something big may go down at Backlash. A win for Lashley would send shockwaves through the WWE Universe and like McIntyre’s title win at WrestleMania would signal a complete turnaround in fortunes.
Never afraid to shy away from a controversial storyline, the real-life addiction troubles of Jeff Hardy have been used to push a rivalry with Sheamus. Fans have clamoured for storylines closer to those seen in the Attitude Era of the late 90s. A supposed drink driving incident, combined with an in-ring urine test has not however, been well received. As a big fan of Hardy, it would be great to witness one final big push for the ‘charismatic enigma’. Negotiating storylines like this at least keeps him relevant, before any potential championship shots.
Once again, no builds to the men’s Tag Team championship matches mean they are set to miss out on a PPV again. Mercifully, WWE seem to have made the decision to scale back on the length of PPVs. Barely breaking the two-and-a-half-hour mark, UK fans can watch live and still get to bed at a semi decent hour.
There is little to no expectation of the show delivering long lasting memories, so the goal is wide open for a free shot. The only backlash seems to be the inevitable social media kicking WWE will receive if the main event fails to live up to its lofty and self-imposed claims.
Full Backlash card and Rushonrock predictions:
Edge vs. Randy Orton
Drew McIntyre vs. Bobby Lashley – WWE Championship Match
Braun Strowman vs. The Miz & John Morrison – Universal Championship Handicap Match
Asuka vs. Nia Jax – Raw Women’s Championship Match
Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus
Bayley & Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross vs. The IIconics – Women’s Tag Team Title Triple Threat Match
John: Bayley & Banks
Andy: Bayley & Banks
Apollo Crews vs. Andrade – United States Championship Match