WWE WrestleMania Backlash 2021
May 16, 2021
Tampa, Florida
WWE ThunderDome (Yuengling Center)

Watch: Peacock & WWE Network

Meet Our Reviewers

Steve Case: Crazy how preparing for a child can keep you away from WWE pay per views. Yeah, that’s the reason why. Someone said WrestleMania season goes into mid-May now, so what better reason to jump back in the review game. Follow Steve @Coachcase44 if you want wholesome Twitter content about cats, music, and the graps. 

Jeri Evagood: New last name, same lukewarm takes! Exciting times in my life. Legally changing my name (waiting for the judge’s approval), I’ve become a cat mom to a wonderful bundle of fur named Hekate, and I’m counting down to nine months HRT! Follow Jeri at @TheJerriest_Jer if you are so inclined to do so. The takes aren’t all bad… sometimes…. They approach being adequate. … and I occasionally show a little leg! 

Sheamus Pre-Show Open Challenge
Sheamus def. Ricochet

Steve: The Ginger Headed Juggernaut. I will forever strive to earn that nickname. Sheamus comes out and says this will not be for the US Championship because, “Ya need ta earn a shot at me gold fella.”

Ricochet answered the open challenge and I chuckled internally. These two COULD have a great match. Sheamus is an ass-kicker, and rock-solid at the WWE style. Ricochet is a huge dork, but he’s still Ricochet and I assume capable of doing Ricochet things. Instead, we got a decent little match where Sheamus hit some heavy shots, Ricochet did a few flips, and then Sheamus kneed his head off for the win.

Post-match, Sheamus tried to cut a promo, but Ricochet attacked him from behind like the proper resilient babyface he is, stole his hat and coat, and danced before running away. Maybe we will get a longer, extended match between these two. But why care when we just saw Sheamus pin Ricochet clean on a B show pre-show? **3/4

Jeri: I legit forgot Ricochet was once U.S Champion.Probably because like almost everything he’s done on the main roster, it was meaningless and went nowhere. Speaking of which Ricochet accepts this open challenge, actually shows a kindling, an inkling, a small smidgen of the fire and passion he once was able to demonstrate so easily… then loses. I don’t know what else I was expecting. Actually momentum? Damn, was I fooling myself. Decent match, solid match, adequate match, average match. They’ll probably continue things, but why bother? Sheamus just beat him clean with a non-finisher. This is pretty much screaming with a bull horn “Ricochet is a non-factor”. **3/4

WWE RAW Women’s Title Triple Threat Match
Rhea Ripley (c) def. Asuka and Charlotte Flair

Steve: This was pretty good! They didn’t reinvent the wheel or do anything that will set the business on fire, but they did have a smooth, stiff, and high-energy match with the right woman winning. Asuka and Rhea have had questionable chemistry, but their sequences looked great here. Charlotte was on tonight and Asuka was her normal great self, especially in the finishing stretch. In the end Charlotte knocked Asuka into the Rip Tide to give Rhea the win. Rhea will hopefully get her win back from Charlotte later. There was a little too much two-in/one-out match structure in the middle portion of the match and it maybe went a touch too long, but overall this was a very strong opener. ***3/4

Jeri: When Ripley’s theme goes “THIS IS MY BRUTALITY” is it referring to her match quality since getting called up? I like Ripley but her short stint since being called up hasn’t been great. I felt she needed a good match/performance here and felt we ended up getting it. Triple Threats can always run the risk of being bogged down, and while this match did at times end up with the trope of “one wrestler out while the other two fight” it still turned out to be quite the good opener.

Things kept going and the down periods were kept minimal/short. I thought Rhea looked much better in this match than she has any other time in months, which was refreshing to see. Maybe she’s got some of that confidence/spark back and if so I hope it holds. This three-way actually felt smoother and crisper than previous Ripley/Asuka one on ones, which probably doesn’t say much about Asuka’s and Rhea’s individual chemistry with each other. Charlotte set Asuka up for the loss in the end costing herself the match but not taking the pin/submission which sets up a future one on one between her and Ripley. I thought this was a damn good opener, a match Ripley needed, and gets the show off on the right foot. Oh, my cat stared at the television screen for a few minutes, so it caught her attention. Yes, this is important to note. ***3/4

WWE SmackDown Tag Team Title Match
Dominik Mysterio & Rey Mysterio def. The Dirty Dawgs (Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode) (c)

Steve: On the pre-show, the Dirty Dawgz attacked Dominik in the back and knocked a bunch of wood(?) on him, leading Rey to give his son a little kiss on the forehead and say he’s going to take this one himself. I wonder if Rey will excel in the underdog role?! Will Dominik make his valiant comeback?! Will anyone ever care one bit about the DIRTY DAWGZ?!

As far as handicap matches go, this was fine enough due to Rey being possibly the best underdog wrestler of all time. Ziggler and Roode may be lifeless and boring, but they are competent enough to not ruin that. Unfortunately, Dominik did saunter out to the ring, holding his ribs and begging his dad to tag him in. Rey rightfully ignored him, but Dominik tags himself in and does nothing of note. I see absolutely nothing in this dude. His look is awful, he’s not good in the ring, and has zero charisma. Rey gets back the advantage, leading to a frog splash from Dominik to win the titles. Rey worked his ass off in this match and Dolph and Roode played their part. Dominik is a LONG way away. Finally, still there is not a single person that cares about the DIRTY DAWGZ. **1/2

Jeri: My cat has less interest in this than I do, which I wasn’t sure was possible. The first ⅔ of this match was nothing special. It’s kind of like your four-year-old’s drawing you reluctantly put up on the fridge. You know it’s not that good, but you go along with it in hopes it leads to something better down the line. The final ⅓ of this match once Dominik comes out (He was attacked in the pre-show) is pretty darn good and entertaining, but you have to slog through the first ⅔ to get to the part of the match you actually enjoy. The ⅓ doesn’t do far enough to make up for the ⅔, but it does enough that when the three count is achieved I didn’t feel like I completely wasted my time.

Roode/Ziggler actually work well together, and it’s a shame such a tag team that are in pretty good sync have the same thing in common with a lot of the credit card advertisements I get in the mail. They both guarantee zero interest. I feel this match told a predictable but not completely awful comeback story with a decent ending of Dominik winning the match with a frog splash finisher. I may not have had interest coming in, and I didn’t have a lot of interest coming out of it, but this got over the ** star mark which is impressive in its own right. Damning with faint praise? Sure, but it is better than I was expecting to give. Rey Mysterio still rules by the way. **1/4

Lumberjack Match
Damian Priest def. The Miz (w/John Morrison) 

Steve: The lumberjacks for this match are zombies. I don’t care if this promotes Batista’s new movie. I guarantee you Big Dave doesn’t care either. At one point Miz had Priest in a figure four, the zombies pulled them both out of the ring, and they worked together to fight off the zombies. Priest wins, the zombies ate Miz and Morrison at the end. Who cares about this junk? At this point, I turn to my fiance’ and say, “I’m glad I proposed to you and you said yes before watching this crap.” DUD

Jeri: Miz’s theme says “There’s a price to pay” which I guess alludes to having to accept WWE fans screaming at you “well it’s good actually because. . . .” over anything and everything you criticize about WWE when you review it. (Cough “Fiend Lore” Cough). What I’m saying is the price of reviewing this match is eventually someone(s) is going to “Well actually” explain to us how entertaining and casual fan gaining zombie lumberjack bullshit for a match that doesn’t need zombie lumberjack bullshit (I.E: EVERY MATCH EVER. Oh, in case you aren’t catching my drifts the lumberjacks were Zombies because this was helping give attention to the upcoming Army of the Dead which is a Zack Snyder film starring Bat… WHY AM I DETAILING ANY OF THAT.

Look this was bad. I’m sure there are those in the “so bad it’s good camp” but I strongly disagree in the most stern of fashions. This was just bad, the kind of shit that turns fans away and you’ll never get back. The type of shit that causes non-fans to wonder why fans watch this shit. There is no net positive in this in any single solitary way, and it leaves the kind of bad taste in my mouth that’ll linger long enough to make me second-guessing giving WWE more chances. The Zombies are going to starve, cause this idea lacked any form of brains to be devoured. Fuck all of this. FUCK. The Walking Dud 

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WWE SmackDown Women’s Title Match
Bianca Belair (c) def. Bayley

Steve: And now for something COMPLETELY different! Not that this was anything special either. Although this picked up in the second half, the match was pretty sloppy and not memorable at all. The match prior made this look like Flair/Steamboat, though in reality, it wasn’t in the same universe as Sasha/Bianca as WrestleMania NOT Backlash. They tried a creative finish with Bianca’s hair because it worked so well with Sasha so they must beat it into the ground. It did not work at all and the ref counted three as Bayley looked to be easily kicking out. I’m sure this feud will continue. You’d think these two have a better one in them, but the chemistry just didn’t seem to be there at all. **3/4

Jeri: Okay, now that WWE is done setting wrestling and zombies back, we get to the wrestling once again. Belair’s gear, as per usual, is on point. This was refreshing, a much-needed palette cleanser after the mouthful of tripe we ended up with beforehand. It isn’t going out of your way or must-see, I won’t tell you that. But it was a fine, solid wrestling match where not everything landed or looked clean, but at least it was two good wrestlers putting in minimal nonsense, no bullshit effort with each other. I appreciate that.

I wouldn’t mind seeing another effort between the two, with Belair using her hair to aid in the pinfall (albeit kind of sloppily so) I can see Bayley using that as her excuse to whine her way into a rematch. I definitely think they have a better match with each other in them. The sparks of chemistry are there, just got to get the mixture right the next go around. I’ll gladly give them another attempt, I enjoyed the crumbs, but next time give me the whole damn cookie. ***

WWE Title Triple Threat Match
Bobby Lashley (c) def. Drew McIntyre & Braun Strowman

Steve: There is a ton of beef in the ring right now. And the beef got to slappin’ right away! Early on Drew and Lashley took down Braun. Lashley kept trying to get Drew to do double teams but Drew refused and did his own thing to Braun, until he finally helped Lashley with a double suplex very reluctantly. Why would Drew just help Lashley without question after all they’ve been through? I liked that little detail from Drew. The three big dudes would run through, throw around, and pummel each other for a bit until they would settle into the usual two men fight while one man naps. We got the “big man gets thrown through something” spot, which in this iteration was Lashley going through the LED boards on the entrance. 

Drew and Braun had themselves a nice little brawl after, highlighted by Drew giving Braun a Michinoku Driver, a belly-to-belly overhead german suplex, and Braun catching Drew into a powerbomb through the announce table. This was getting super fun, but to check off the final box on the bingo card, Lashley comes in out of nowhere after Drew Claymore kicks Braun to steal the win. This was a very fun/borderline great match weighed down by the typical WWE tropes you can see coming a mile away. Still, a fun beef slapper. ***1/2

Jeri: Braun’s theme goes “OHHAAAAAA” or something of that nature. This alludes to the frustrated noise of rage I make when I realize I have to review Bruan Strowman. That said and setting aside my snark, snide, and sarcasm…… I got into the majority of this. Three various slabs of beef going at it and going at it hard and fast. They kept a good hard-hitting pace that never got boring to me. There were some excellent spots mixed with some annoying tropes but in the end, the positives outweigh the negatives by more than enough.  I can get into something like this when presented and executed well, and it did exactly that. I had a blast watching this, one of the best things if not best things of the night so far, and I did not expect that coming in. Bobby Lashley continues to be a lot of fun as WWE Champion, and I wouldn’t mind if he lasted until Summerslam at least. He rules so much in this role.

Despite my potshot at Braun he worked hard this match and this was the most fun I had watching him than I have in a long while. Drew worked at the level I know he can work at but he doesn’t always reach, at least in my eyes, but here all cylinders were a go and he nailed his role. This had the usual WWE tropes that can bring things down at times but it overcame those and gave us a borderline great title match. All three men should legit hold their heads up high after this performance as this was a match this show really needed, and it got. ***3/4

WWE Universal Championship
Roman Reigns (c) def. Cesaro

Steve: Love seeing Cesaro in a main event world championship match. Regardless of how small a chance he has and how late this is, it’s still very cool to see.

This was about as good as a WWE main event epic style match can be. It had the low points like the Roman monologues that can get right in the bin, and at times Roman can be very dull on offense. Outside of that, the offense from both was focused and vicious with Roman working the arm to the point of elbow and shoulder blood, and Cesaro going after Roman’s knee. Cesaro was so good in this match with his comebacks, power, and toughness. He mixed in his usual spots with a little extra viciousness to fit this level of a match. He sold his arm throughout the match and played it into the finish beautifully. Imagine if they gave him more opportunities like this in the last 4-5 years. Roman, for all his bad tendencies, looked like the dominant badass they want him to be. One of the better Universal Title matches I’ve seen in quite some time. ****1/4

Jeri: Cesaro main eventing a pay-per-view challenging for the universal title. You love to see it. Furthermore, let me get it out of the way. Roman Reigns can be the head of my table anytime….. Any……. Time. This very well could be Cesaro’s only title match main event ever, and if so, he made it count and had a great match with Roman Reigns to cap this show on a high note. Roman ends up with a clean victory that I love to see someone with his character get. Proves that while he’s the head of the table, he doesn’t need the rest of the table to get the job done, he’s badass enough to go alone. Needed and appreciated, I was fully prepared for shenanigans to water down this match.

Cesaro performs at a level that says I belong here. It took a long time, longer than it should, and it may never come back to him again, I hope I’m wrong. I hope I’m dead wrong. It’s something I’d like to not take a victory lap on. But if this is Cesaro’s one shot, his one and done, he delivered, he delivered hard. Deep in my heart, in the forefront of my mind, I knew Cesaro wouldn’t win, if I have any major knock on this match it’s that this feeling never fully dissolved, but Cesaro did all he could through his struggles, his selling and his comebacks to convince me otherwise. I’m so glad to see him in this spot. He got to show off and showcase some of the best of his abilities. A smile slowly crept on my face during this match, and even as the reality sank in it never left. Heartbreak is beautiful, and Cesaro achieved it well.

But Roman IS the head of the table, going through the best run of his career, the heel badass champion he should’ve always been. He continues to grow in a role he already fits in very well. Sure his monologues can be tedious at times, but when they are on point they add to his allure, and his badassitude (is that even a word?) Roman has a believability and aurora around him now that gives his main events importance and feel. This is the Roman Reigns we needed, wanted, got, and I love watching him be the badass heel with the “who can dethrone him?” questions linger all around him. Overall this Pay Per View wasn’t bad, despite its low points it was a solid WWE PPV, but this match solidifies it ends up with a thumbs up overall. Good job you two, good job. This ruled, watch it. **** 1/4