Oh, you want more? Fine. You've landed on Planet Kayfabe. I'm back to the simple "good/bad" format for this show and at the end I will sum it up with a 1-10 rating. If you follow me on Twitter you probably have an idea what my final grade might be. Let's get the good news out of the way first. Live from Newark, NJ. Here's Backlash.
Seth Rollins Vs The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship -- Anyone who watched this show will tell you that in terms of match quality, this was the only match worth watching. Both guys worked hard and had a great match. The only problem is after this the show would take a nose dive. They've put over the last few months of Rollins run as being some of his best work. Seth Rollins is in a much better spot now than he was when I wrote that column in early February about him peaking in WWE and how they could do much more with him. Hmm... Interesting how everything changed right after that post.
I'm not forgetting Miz either. I like The Miz. He's a good talker and plays a good character, but I'm not one of these people who thinks he's some elite worker after having great matches with guys like Rollins and Balor and Sami Zayn. He's a good dancing partner capable of having a great match with the right guy. Another plus here was Seth's selling. I'm glad this company cares about selling again because it really made this match. Seth selling his knee added to the drama. I remember a year or so ago Seth would sell his knee like he did here only he would still hit all his high flying spots with ease. Here he had to find new ways to win and it worked. Great match.
...alright that's about it.
The Bloom Is Off The Rose with Sasha and Bayley -- During the pre-show they had these two bicker like they were in high school again. In my preview and on Twitter I said they need to pull the trigger now. Sasha needs to come out and start shit. Instead Bayley had her match with Ruby Riott. It was just a match that was mostly noteworthy for Ruby's gear being wedged up her ass and causing WWE to shoot around her or only show her upper body. They went 10 minutes and Ruby picked up the win. No Sasha. No advancement. Something could happen on Raw but I don't care.
I can get behind a slow build, but it's f***ing May. They could have done this match at Wrestlemania. Instead they were thrown in the pre-show battle royal. What are they going to do? Drag this to SummerSlam? I could get behind a slow build if there was some substance to this, but it's just them bickering backstage. When are they going to fight? Whatever. I'm past the point of caring. Shit or get off the pot. I don't want to see months of backstage segments where they're just bitching about how they don't need the other at ringside.
WWE Turns Goliath babyface over David and The Fans Shit On It -- Nia Jax defended her championship against Alexa Bliss. They're continuing to run with this anti-bully angle like its 2011 when all those phony Hollywood elitists were jumping on anti-bully bandwagons because it was a hot button issue and all good PR for them despite being the largest hypocrites in the world. WWE is no different.
The fans turned on the match hard. I mean, yes the match sucked, but that's not all. Like I said in the preview column, the fans, while buying into Nia's promos that have sometimes brought her to tears, have a different image once the bell rings. The image of someone who is 6 feet tall and 250 pounds rag dolling and sitting on their 5 foot tall 100 pound "bully". Not surprisingly at all, no one got behind it and the crowd turned on Nia.
This is ass-backwards psychology in the simplest form, but they want to put over their bullshit B.A. STAR thing and after the match Nia Jax did a commercial for B.A. STAR that I didn't even know was still a thing. The crowd rained down boos all over this supposed inspirational speech. As I've said over on my Twitter @PlanetKayfabe I know this angle isn't for me. It's for the 2 or 3 teenage girls who watch this shit, but what horrible story telling. I know the not-so-hardcore fans are less apt to peel away the layers of the story but I just find it funny how Nia Jax is the face of WWE's revived anti-bully movement.
Call me cynical. Call me whatever. I just find it hard to believe that Nia Jax, The Rock's cousin, who was in high school during the peak of the Attitude Era and would grow up to become a f***ing model was bullied that much. In fact, I bet she had even more friends in school than Alexa Bliss did. I know not every fan is thinking that far into it, but still when the bell rings the image of this large woman flattening out a much smaller woman is not something that's easy to applaud. It's like if they did a story where Big Show was being bullied by Rey Mysterio. Even if Big Show cried and the promos got over, once the bell rings we're gonna see a giant squash a below-average sized person. That's basically this.
Carmella Beats Charlotte Clean and Asuka's Streak Official Gone For Nothing -- Carmella defended her title against Charlotte. Again, the match was pretty bad which was a common theme that plagued this show. Carmella picked up the win after Charlotte missed a moonsault, tweaked her knee and got rolled up for the 1-2-3. Commentary tried playing it up like it was a cheap heel win, but that was a 100% clean and fair finish for Carmella. You could say Charlotte was protected by selling a potential injury, but would you say that if instead of tweaking her knee she landed on her face and was simply pinned for the finish? She missed her high-risk move and it cost her. That's as clean as it gets.
Meanwhile Asuka is around being perhaps their best female talent but is portrayed as just another face in the crowd right now and its pretty frustrating since they had something special with her win streak. I gave it chance. Asuka lost clean on a big show. Fine. What was the follow-up? She's off TV for a couple weeks. In the meantime Charlotte loses her title on television. Asuka is drafter to Raw. Her first match is in a tag match with Becky Lynch who is being portrayed as being down on her luck lately. Becky is pinned but on TV and social media WWE puts it over as "Asuka lost her first match on Smackdown". Now Charlotte who was supposed to benefit from ending Asuka's streak was just pinned clean in the middle by Carmella. Wel... kiss that good-bye. The longest win-streak of its kind is now clumps of dirt that WWE buried 6 feet under because they book shit on a napkin and this is the result. I'm not saying Charlotte should have won already. In fact if you read my preview column I was expecting the IIconics to help Carmella pick up the win... ya know, like the heels they are. This is why fans get so detached these days. Nothing means anything anymore. The titles don't mean anything. Stipulations mean nothing. Streaks mean nothing. So why the f*** should we even care or get emotionally invested?
One more thing, Carmella has a good scream but she needs to reel that shit in a bit. It's cool heat when done at the right time but this entire match was her screaming off the top of her lungs and it turned off the crowd. It was distracting from the actual match (which may be a good thing in her case) and just annoying and not in a good heel sort of way. More of a "Carmella's on, I'll just check how the Boston Celtics are doing" sort of way.
Styles vs Nakamura No Disqualification Ends in No Contest and the WWE Title Goes Midcard -- This is where things got from bad to worse. You'd think if the WWE was going to favor a pretty random cross-branded Roman Reigns/Samoa Joe match in the main event over the WWE Championship match that at least they'd have to give the fans a good show.
Well, they didn't. They did have a pretty good match. Probably the best of their series, but then it got a little hokey with the low blows. The finish of the match was both guys kicking each other in the crotch at the same time and not meeting the referee's count of ten, so the match was thrown out. The crowd booed the finish as they should. It's a No Dq match. Not only did it take them forever to utilize this stipulation, but the match ended in a no-contest. When fans hear "no disqualifications" the implication for such a match is typically there must be a winner. Well, there wasn't. The match was a draw which means AJ retained.
You could say given the finish its no shock why this wasn't the main event, but that's kind of my point. This was a poor finish here, too. Put this match anywhere on the card it doesn't matter. The finish sucked and ruined the match and killed the crowd for the rest of the show which would result in people leaving the show early. The buffer would be Strowman and Lashley vs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn and the crowd just didn't care. They usually react well to Braun's power-slams, but he did slam after slam and the crowd just didn't react. They didn't care. This is the trickle-down effect of shit booking. The shit rolls down hill and on bad shows like this it kills other talent who may not even be directly involved in a poorly booked match or crap story line. Doesn't matter. This crowd wasn't just going to forget what they just saw and this no-contest is where they tapped out for the night and had enough.
Another Roman Reigns main event rejected -- Roman Reigns as the loved face and top hero of the company is a failure. Plain and simple and there's no way you can convince me other wise. It's been nearly half a decade. That's enough of a sample size. It's a bust.
The crowd that was left by this point was done. Even Joe who is usually pretty popular got "boring" chants when he was on offense and why? Because the match was f***ing boring. The match started late. It was past 11 PM local time and to cap off a shitty show we got a long boring match of rest holds that are traditionally designed to get the fans rallying around the babyface. Unfortunately WWE has their heads so far up their own asses they can see out their f***ing mouths and stubbornly ignore the fact that no one likes Roman Reigns. No one wants to see him Hulk up and make a big comeback coming off the edge of passing out. No one.
The segment started fine enough. They had a pre-match brawl that had Roman go through an announcer's table. On Twitter at the time I said the smartest thing they could do would be to throw this match out and just have it close with a brawl complete with a ton of shit getting destroyed. That didn't happen. They had a match and after all that bad blood and pre-match activity they had... just a match with boring headlocks.
Newark was past the point of done. They know the story. They've seen this movie a thousand time. Joe will get his spots in. They're just waiting for Roman to wake up, kick out of all of Joe's signature moves, hit his Superman Punch and Spear and win. Like every other god-damn Roman Reigns main event match. It wasn't long ago that you could hang your hat on one thing. Roman's matches were physical and had a few cool spots even if they were routine and predictable. Since his last two matches with Brock and this match with Joe, both guys who are two very good ring veterans capable of having great matches, Roman has strung together some of the worst PPV main event matches I have seen in a very long time. This was just a boring load of shit and the crowd responded accordingly both by voicing their displeasure and exiting the arena. When Roman picked up the win, the WWE gaffed by panning to the crowd reaction when, well... what you saw is what you got -- their reaction. People up and leaving.
WWE likes to think Roman is polarizing but that would imply a lot of people really love him and a lot of people really hate him. In reality ever show he gets 90% boos from the crowd. He's just not the guy. There is nothing special or unique about him. He's just yet another corporate babyface that didn't get over. The only difference is now that WWE is a virtual monopoly and they're making a killing with their USA Network deal and taking money from Saudi Arabia they can do whatever they want. Roman Reigns is the WWE Superstar equivalent of the XFL and they just wont let it go. You used to be able to say "well, at least he's getting a reaction" well, you can kiss that good-bye too because after a detached Wrestlemania crowd who didn't react at all to Roman kicking out of the F-5 when the whole story was revolved around no one being able to kick out of the F-5 for a year. A tepid reaction in Saudi Arabia which shows that Roman really has no mainstream appeal as a babyface. At Backlash -- same thing. The crowd didn't care. People got the hell out of Dodge and the ones left in the front who pay ridiculous prices to watch this garbage stuck around to basically voice their opinions. f*** this match. f*** this show. f*** Roman Reigns boring pain-by-number false finish bullshit. Now lets go home.
On Twitter WWE is putting over Roman Reigns as the "Uncrowned Universal Champion". Its funny isn't it? Roman lost... AGAIN... and WWE mops up his mess for him (gee, wonder why the fans don't get behind him as a fighting hero) and over on Smackdown Asuka tags with Becky Lynch, Becky eats a pin and this same WWE Twitter account puts it over as "Asuka's loss" just interesting how that works, isn't it?
If I were to give this show a score of 1 out of 10, I would go with a 2.5, that's an "F" if you prefer letter grades. Just a total shit show that had one very good match, but also a bunch of terrible matches. I'm sorry guys, but one match, the opening match on a PPV is not enough for me especially when these days we'll probably see Seth Rollins have matches just as good on Raw for free while he's holding that title. Boring matches. Little to no story line advancement. Roman main eventing just for the simple fact that he's VINCE'S BOY. You might think I'm being harsh, but I stand by that rating. At least Big Cass didn't go over Daniel Bryan. If he did this place might have burned to the f***ing ground once they saw Roman was main eventing over the WWE Championship match.
As much fun as it's been to vent, I'm glad I never have to talk about this show ever again. If you loved it -- good for you. I hope that bleach you got into as a kid was good to the last drop.
Thanks for reading Planet Kayfabe for this Backlash 2018 edition. Leave a comment below and follow me over on Twitter @PlanetKayfabe I enjoy hearing from you and I live-tweet shows like this and Raw and Smackdown as well so if you want me immediate reactions in real time give me a follow.
For NoDQ, there's no-contest here. Planet Kayfabe has you covered. I'm "K.C." Paul Matthews. Enjoy Raw. We can only go up from here.