WWE held their first post-WrestleMania Premium Live Event of the year last night with the on-the-nose titled WrestleMania Backlash and all in all, it wasn't a bad show. There were some solid matches, some interesting developments, and (despite a number of WrestleMania rematches) it didn't feel like a complete retread. So where do we go from here? Let's take a look at what went down last night and what we can take away from it going forward.
Cody Rhodes Is Raw's Top Dog, But He Isn't Done With Seth Rollins
Cody Rhodes and Seth "Freakin'" Rollins had another banger last night at WrestleMania Backlash, easily again winning any "Match of the Night" accolades as they did a month before in their WrestleMania battle. These two have great chemistry together and while Rhodes is now 2-0 against Rollins, the way in which it ended last night, with Rhodes getting the pinfall with a handful of Rollins' tights, definitely leaves the argument there for Rollins to demand another round. Could they be heading for a final confrontation inside Hell In A Cell next month? I think that makes sense.
Omos Is Still Getting Pushed, No Matter What
Omos and Bobby Lashley had their slightly less anticipated rematch last night as well and just like a month ago, it was what it was. Omos got the win this time, showing WWE is still high on the big man, despite his pretty glaring in-ring issues. I'm not going to be glib here, I get it. You don't find guys the size of Omos every day and there's obviously plenty of money to be made with him if everything works out.
But to get to that point, you need to be patient and make sure the guy actually knows what he's doing out there. Let's not forget the mistakes WWE made with many other big monsters in the past by rushing them onto the big stage without them having any fundamentals down that are necessary to sustain it. The Big Show wound up having an incredibly long career, but his run in the company didn't start that well. He debuted in February of 1999 and by the next Summer, was down in developmental to get his stuff together and become a better worker.
Omos is only 27 years old. There's no reason to rush this and potentially hurt himself or anyone else. Take the time and have him learn the craft.
Judgement Day Could Be A Big Deal Soon, Along With A Now Evil Rhea Ripley
Edge's Judgement Day faction has kind of had an unconvincing start, but as they say, there's strength in numbers. As many fans have wanted, Rhea Ripley finally turned to the dark side last night and officially joined Edge's evil group by assisting him in defeating AJ Styles.
This is good for a couple of reasons. By expanding the group (and hopefully there's still more coming), they immediately look more imposing and can dominate more of the roster, and adding a powerhouse woman like Ripley adds a uniqueness to the group in that it now reaches into the Women's Division to assert that dominance.
Speaking of Ripley, this was a kick in the ass her character desperately needed right now. There's no reason for an imposing badass-looking woman clad in leather and metal to be a smiling babyface. She was getting very stuck in that team with Liv Morgan and now she can spread her wings more and see where to go from here. Hopefully, they don't dive right into a whole prolonged revenge thing with Morgan and instead build her up as a legit scary heel threat to Bianca Belair and her Raw Women's title.
Ronda Rousey Is The New Champion And Charlotte Flair Is Going To Be Off TV For A While
A month later than everyone anticipated, Ronda Rousey defeated Charlotte Flair to win the SmackDown Women's Championship last night at WrestleMania Backlash. Rousey didn't just win the title though, she made the long-tenured Champion scream "I Quit!" as she locked her up in an armbar through a chair to end the match and her title reign. The damage to Flair's ego aside, her body also suffered some damage as WWE announced during the show that Flair suffered a "fractured radius" from the match.
Now, this is of course kayfabe and Flair is fine. In fact, she's better than fine; she's happily in love with AEW star Andrade El Idolo and will be taking some time off to marry her longtime boyfriend this summer.
So with Flair out of the picture for the time being, who will Rousey defend her title against on SmackDown going forward? Obviously, certain names like Sasha Banks or Natalya immediately jump out at you, but if I may, let's think a little outside the box. Rousey has been a hard sell to fans as a babyface and if we're being honest, she just works much better as a raging heel. So what if they position her as the heel Champion against a young upstart who would get the fans on her side? Raquel Rodriguez could fit well here and even if she doesn't walk away with the title, she would get some instant familiarity with fans and Rousey could easily look like a jerk on the other side of it, positioning her for a big SummerSlam match against a huge babyface like Banks.
Roman Reigns Is Still At The Top Of The Mountain, But Challengers Are Climbing… Right?
Last night's main event match, featuring The Bloodline taking on Drew McIntyre and RK-Bro in a six-man tag match, was a fun enough match. The ending though, let's talk about that. There were plenty of spots throughout where McIntyre or Randy Orton actually hit big moves on Roman Reigns and while the company probably thought that was enough, it actually wasn't.
No title was on the line here, so it would have been perfectly fine and even optimal if either man had pinned Reigns to win. It does no harm to Reigns as Super-Duper Master of the Universe WWE Champion and maybe, more importantly, it sets up a viable challenger to his title in the future, which has become a problem over the past year.
Reigns has been so dominant over the past year-plus that it's getting to where fans don't buy anyone else as a threat to him when they face him and that's not good for storytelling or generating interest. I think it's pretty obvious Reigns will be Undisputed Champion until at least SummerSlam and that's only two months away. So why not make someone look like they can beat him now to get that build going?
Orton is great and all, but for me, the man for the job here is McIntyre. He's the company's best babyface, along with having the look and resume necessary to be a viable threat to Reigns. The one thing missing is that edge on him. If McIntyre had blasted Reigns with a Claymore and pinned him last night, they could have carried that to SummerSlam and set up a pretty good title match there. With McIntyre being the top babyface and having pinned Reigns, the most dastardly heel, that just writes itself.
But alas, that didn't happen and Reigns speared Riddle to get a rather unexciting pinfall in a meaningless match for him. Could McIntyre face Reigns again in a similar situation and get a pinfall on him leading to a big SummerSlam title match? Sure. It just should have happened last night at WrestleMania Backlash.