It’s time for the first pay-per-view work where neither WWE brand had to work very hard to prepare for the big event. After all when a pay-per-view is a split brand show each team only had to come up with half the matches. But Backlash was still a packed card even though it was one of the many that didn’t feature a Universal Championship match.

AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura were set to do battle in a no-DX match and maybe Shinsuke has met his match this time.

To be honest, WWE owes some movement in the title picture to fans at Backlash because nothing happened at the Greatest Royal Rumble event in regards to titles changing hands except for the previously vacant Raw Tag Team Titles finding a home.

Daniel Bryan’s long journey to medical clearance for an in-ring return also saw its true echelon in Newark New Jersey at Backlash as well because he was set to face Big Cass in his first pay-per-view singles match.

The Miz also had a chance to reclaim the IC Title which was awesome and opened up the chance for a reunion with the Miztourage. So let’s not waste any more time to get into it.

During the Kickoff show, The Miz approached Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas and said, “daddy’s home.” He brought up their old times and how much fun they had. Then he said, “let’s go we’re on first.” Curtis started to walk off with The Miz but Bo stopped. Instead, Dallas said they’re not his supporting cast anymore and left the A-Lister alone with his jaw gaped open.

Bayley vs Ruby Riott (Kickoff Show)

Bayley had the odds stacked against her in this match and Sasha Banks refused to help her out by standing at ringside so she had to go at it on her own. So there’s something for the Banks vs Bayley storyline.

Ruby and Bayley wrestled in the ring while Michael Cole kept cutting The Coach off on commentary.

Bayley eventually ended up taking some shots to the top turnbuckle that really slowed her down but she returned fire to Ruby until she was lifted onto the apron and fell awkwardly. Ruby handed a shot to Bayley and Sarah Logan provided another distraction. Then Riott brought Bayley into the ring and landed a backbreaker which sent Bayley rolling out onto the floor.

Once Bayley got back in the ring Ruby landed a faceplant followed by a couple knee strikes for a two count. After screeching in frustration after Balye kicked out, she latched on a stretching submission on The Hugger until she fought out of it.

Logan landed a forearm as Bayley was draped over the ropes as Sasha Banks looked on backstage. “Banks is just jealous she wasn’t the one who got to punch Bayley in the face,” Corey Graves said.

Bayley jumped over Ruby but ended up with her face buried into the middle turnbuckle allowing Riott to pin for a two-count. Then Bayley fought on as they fought for position. Bayley stumbled and ended up on the apron but landed a forearm followed by a springboard crossbody for a two count.

Bayley hit a couple clotheslines and a belly-to-back suplex. Then Bayley took Logan out with a hurricanrana to the outside. Bayley climbed to the top rope and landed her elbow to Ruby for a two count.

Liv Morgan became a distraction on the apron and Bayley knocked her off and onto the floor. Then Bayley turned around and caught a kick to the head from Ruby followed by a Riott Kick for the win.

Winner: Ruby Riott via pinfall

Seth Rollins and The Miz – IC Title Match

Things started slowly as The Miz really want to get this one going. The Miz kicked Seth during a test of strength and started laying down the boots to Rollins after whiffing a punch completely.

Rollins hit a perfect dropkick off the ropes and laid in some noisy chops to The Miz’s chest before hitting a running clothesline to the corner. Rollins jumped to the apron but The Miz caught him with a kick off a springboard that sent The Architect tumbling to the thin mat below.

When they returned to the ring, The Miz landed a kick to the head for a two count before slapping on a headlock. After The Miz let go of the headlock after a long time in there he landed a DDT for a two count.

Rollins and The Miz traded a few more moved and reversals until Seth landed a faceplant and fell in the corner from exhaustion. The Miz came back with a kick and Seth returned with one of his own and hit a sling bade. Then Rollins clotheslined The Miz outside and Rollins landed a suicided dive. Then returned to the ring and Seth hit a springboard but The Miz caught him in a Skull Crushing Finale which Rollins reversed out of.

Seth leaped up on the top turnbuckle and hit a blockbuster before pinning for a two count. Seth landed a springboard clothesline and was lifted onto the apron. The Miz slid behind him and pulled Rollins down smashing his face on the apron in the process.

Seth rolled in the ring and The Miz jumped off the top rope but Rollins grabbed him and muscled Miz up for a slam. Then Rollins climbed to the top rope and hit an insane frog splash across the ring for a close two count.

The crowd started chanting “this is awesome” as Rollins got back to his feet and started stomping while the crowd chanted their chant to, “burn it down.”

The Miz realized he was in harm’s way and rolled outside but Seth followed him. The got back in the ring but Rollins clothelined him again. Then Seth went for another dive but The Miz caught him with a forearm that drove him to the outside on the other side of the ring. Seth pushed The Miz against the ring post but it did no damage. Then they started trading forearm shots until Seth went for a jumping knee but The Miz moved and Seth Rollins’ knee smashed against the ring post.

As soon as The Miz threw Seth back in the ring he slapped on the Figure 4 leglock and Rollins just couldn’t get out of it no matter how hard he fought. Then he mucled over and reveresed the Figure 4 as The Miz screamed in agony and teased a tap out before muscling himself back up to roll back over and change it all back. Rollins grabbed the bottom rope to break up the hold but the damage was done.

The Miz got to his feet first and tried to get another Figure 4 but Rolllins kicked him off then they traded some shots while the crowd cheered loudly with each strike. Rollins countered out of a Skull Crushing Finale and landed a strike, then The Miz followed it up by actually hitting a Skull Crushing Finale.

1-2-kick out! The building exploded as some were disappointed that The Miz wasn’t crowned the IC Champion for the 9th time in Newark.

The Miz landed a running kick to Seth and climbed to the top rope. But Seth jumped up and joined him to attempt a superplex. The Miz fought out of it and Seth fell but jumped right back up and hit his superplex into a falcon arrow but The Miz countered after the superplex and hit another Skull Crushing Finale.

1-2-kick out! The place went even crazier as The Miz held his face in frustration. Both guys laid on the mat for a bit as they sold the physical demands of this grueling match before The Miz got Seth up and placed him on the top turnbuckle.

He got in position to hit a Skull Crushing Finale from the second rope but Rollins knocked him down. Seth almost hit a curb stomp from the second rope but Miz avoided. Then after a little exchange, Seth Rollins nailed the curb stomp and picked up the win.

That might be the best match of the night right there.

Winner: Seth Rollins

Nia Jax vs Alexa Bliss – Raw Women’s Title Match

Bliss took it to Nia Jax from the get-go and hit a bunch of offense. But after all of that abuse, it only seemed to anger Nia Jax who in turn started ragdolling her around the ring.

Nia climbed to the second rope and prepared for a splash but Alexa Bliss pushed Jax sending her crashing to the floor. Bliss went to the floor and flattened Jax’s face off the steel steps. But she couldn’t get Nia back in the ring.

Once they returned to the ring Nia Jax kicked out of a pinfall attempt and Alexa threw a little Bliss Fit. Alexa jumped on Nia’s back but Jax started to climb with Bliss on her back. The Alexa slipped under her and tried for a powerbomb but Nia was too powerful. So Bliss kicked Jax’s leg out from under her causing Jax to come crashing to the mat.

Bliss hit a Twisted Bliss but Jax caught her and hit a Samoan Drop instead. 1-2-3 and Nia Jax retained the title.

Winner: Nia Jax via pinfall

After the match was over, Jax said Bliss’s moment was over and “this is for everyone who’s been bullied, for everyone who’s being bullied at school, work, or social media.” Then she said don’t be ordinary, be extraordinary and she said a bunch of other stuff about being empowered and mentioned not changing for a boyfriend or anyone and “be a star and remember in the end a bully always gets their ass kicked.” Then Michael Cole started rattling off about their Be A Star campaign like they had all that ready to go for him to say.

Jeff Hardy vs Randy Orton – US Title Match

These two veterans started out slow until Hardy hit a jawbreaker and dropkicked Orton out of the ring. Hardy returned fire by hitting a dive off the apron onto Orton before rolling him back in the ring where Orton landed a picture-perfect standing dropkick.

Hardy tried for a Twist Of Fate but Randy pushed him into the turnbuckle instead. Hardy got hung up on the ropes so Randy helped him out by stomping him down.

Tom Phillips mistakenly called Randy Orton a second generation Superstar and Corey Graves had to correct him because Randy is actually a third-generation Superstar.

The action moved outside and Hardy hit a clothesline after a tightwalk off the barricade. As Jeff was trying to get back in the ring Orton hit a dropkick that sent him down to the mat. Orton followed Hardy back outside and hit three suplexes off the barricade before changing up his offense.

Randy hung Hardy up on the top rope again and pulled him back down just to cause more damage before pinning for a two count. Randy caught a headlock and as Hardy fought out of it the crowd started chanting “Rusev Day.”

Hardy hit an inverted atomic drop for a two count and prepped himself for a splash but he missed. Hardy hit a Whisper In The Wind for a two count and he actually made contact.

Randy tried for an RKO but Hardy reversed out of it so Randy had to settle for a powerslam. Jeff avoided a draping DDT and hit a mule kick. Then Randy captured control once again before hitting a draping DDT.

Orton posed for a moment and prepped for an RKO. Hardy avoided an RKO and hit the Twist Of Fate before wasting no time to climb up and hit the Swanton Bomb for the win.

Winner: Jeff Hardy

Elias cut a segment in the ring where he said that he was a friend of Bruce Springsteen’s who told Elias that his only regret was being from New Jersey.

Elias teased not performing if the crowd wouldn’t shut up which caused them to get very loud. But Elias decided to sit back down. Then he got up and people cheered, but when he sat down people booed.

“No, Bruce needs to hear this” Elias said before The New Day came out with marching band instruments. Big E had a bass drum, Woods had his trombone and Kofi had some cymbals which he held like a plate.

Elias asked The New Day if they wanted autographs and they said that they wanted to jam with Elias in a dual-branded Backlash exclusive concert “baby!”

Woods said they wanted to Walk With Elias so they started walking in circles. Elias said he was a solo act before the New Day started playing their instruments.

Elias said maybe one day they can open for him but that’s not tonight. hen he told JoJo to hit the lights and reintroduce him. Suddenly Aiden English’s melodious voice was heard clearing his throat and the crowd went nuts for Rusev Day.

Aiden cut a little rap/rock opera freestyling on everyone and announced it was Rusev Day. Elias asked what the hell Rusev Day was doing out there and the crowd erupted in a “Rusev Day” chant before Rusev said “we do what we want. There’s only one guy here who celebrates a day in his honor and it’s not bootleg Bob Dylan or The Booty Boys.”

Elias didn’t apprecaite being called a bootleg Bob Dylan but The New Day didn’t seem to mind being called Booty Boys. JoJo tried to announce Elias again but then No Way Jose came danching out with his conga line of indie wrestlers, Titus Worldwide, and Breezango.

Everyone danced around the ring and it was total choas before Elias yelled for everyone to stop. “No more conga line I don’t need to see a collecitno of freaks out here, okay?”

Elias told JoJo to start over again and suddenly Bobby Roode was there and he hit a Glorious DDT on Elias and everyone danced away to No Way Jose’s music.

Daniel Bryan vs Big Cass

Did I ever think that I would be writing Daniel Bryan vs Big Cass? Is that a good thing? This match was trick on a couple levels. While Daniel Bryan needed the win so did Big Cass because they were both coming back from injury so to speak.

Daniel avoided Cass and landed a kick to Cass’ surgically repaired knee. Then he moved out of the way from Cass again and landed some shots in the corner. But Cass took control after he hit a straight right followed by a couple more shot while the crowd chanted, “We want Enzo,” and then they did the “Enzo Amore” chant while Daniel Bryan rocked Cass out of the ring and landed a running knee strike off the apron.

Bryan hit a top rope dropkick when they moved back to the ring and followed it up with some Yes Kicks until Cass countered the final kick sending Bryan down. Cass tied Bryan in the ropes and hit a chop followed by a few more.

Cass landed a powerslam and an elbow drop for a two count before hitting some punches and raising up his first for heat. “Too early to celebrate, kid” Corey Graves said. Then Cass locked on an inverted backbreaker submission but Bryan broke free and hit a drop toe hold sending Big Cass crashing into the turnbuckle.

Daniel landed some Yes Kicks in the corner and a couple dropkicks but Big Cass came back by hitting a flapjack and another strike for a two count. Big Cass hit some short-arm clotheslines while he held on to each one after every shot until turning D-Bry inside out with a final clothesline.

Bryan avoided the big boot and muscled Big Cass down and got the Yes Lock synched in. Big Cass immediately tapped out.

Winner: Daniel Bryan via submission

But after the match was over Big Cass knocked Daniel Bryan down while he was celebrating. Then he tossed him around the outside of the ring before punching himself in the face with frustration.

The crowd chanted, “you tapped out” while Big Cass got even more enraged. He threw Daniel Bryan back in the ring and positioned himself for a big boot which he landed.

The match ended with Big Cass standing over Daniel Bryan with his fist raised in the air while the crowd gave him unbelievable heat and chanted, “assh-le” at him.

Carmella vs Charlotte Flair – SmackDown Women’s Title Match

Mella strutted around to mock Ric Flair before Charlotte hit a big boot on her that sent the champion rolling out of the ring. Carmella grabbed her title and started to leave saying she doesn’t need this because she’s the champion. But Flair stood in front of her before chasing her around the ring.

Flair shoved Mella into the announce table and tossed her in the ring for a two count. Flair had control and hit Carmella with everything she had as Mella just tried to escape. She hit another clothesline and Carmella went outside of the ring. Flair jumped down and Mella moved before hitting a superkick.

When they returned to the ring, Carmella started landing shots before latching on a headlock. “I’ll sit here all day until she gives up!” Carmella screamed, “nobody cares about you anymore! Ask her ref!” Then Flair got to her feet before Mella landed a kick to the head followed by another long headlock.

Flair got up with Mella on her back and dropped to her butt causing separation but Carmella returned fire and hit a barrage of punches to Flair’s back before kicking her down while keeping in a stretching submission hold.

“All day baby!” Carmella screeched while Flair tried to break free. She eventually got to her feet and hit a reverse dropkick and a standing STO before landing a few signature chops.

Charlotte landed a suplex before Mella rolled to the apron. Charlotte hit a knee to the back of Carmella’s neck and went to the apron where Carmella pulled her to the apron crashing hard.

Mella stretched Flair around the ring post before punching her again. “You’re not the champ anymore, queen! I am! I’m the champ!”

Flair landed a spear while Mella moonwalked in the ring before trying for a Figure 4 but Carmella transitioned it into a Code Of Silence but Flair stood up with Carmella’s legs still wrapped around her head. Charlotte landed a boot to the face for another two count.

Carmella pushed Flair away when trying for a Figure 4. Then Flair jumped off the top rope and looked like she tweaked her knee. Mella kicked Flair in the back of the knee and scored a rollup pin for the win.

Winner: Carmella via pinfall

AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura – WWE Championship No DQ Match

AJ Styles got this one started off pretty quickly by hammering Nakamura and hurling him into the barricade and then into the German announce table.

They returned to the ring where Styles maintained control with some aggressive offense but Nakamura kicked out after a count of one after a snap suplex. Nakamura tried to return fire but AJ caught a backbreaker, “this is my house!” AJ yelled.

Nakamura hit a cheapshot to AJ’s throat before tearing at Styles’ face and hammering him once more before shooting off the ropes when AJ returned with a dropkick to the face.

Nakamura rolled to the apron and eventually moved to the floor. AJ chased him and sent Shinsuke bouncing off the barricades once more. But AJ took too much time and Nakamura returned but bouncing him off the barricade too.

Shinsuke hurled AJ over the ring steps before he placed Styles across the apron where he landed two sick running knee strikes. Shinsuke sent AJ back in for a set of two counts.

Shinsuke hit a few more knees in the corner and started laying in one kick after another. Nakamura pushed his foot against AJ’s face in the turnbuckle and held it there for as long as he wanted to before hitting the good vibrations and landing another knee drop across AJ’s neck for another pair of near falls.

Then Nakamura kicked AJ hard it sent him legitimately back against the ropes and crashing to the mat. Nakamura landed a big back body drop and put his foot on AJ’s chest for a one count before driving some knees into the side of AJ’s face.

Nakamura latched on a headlock while the crowd chanted, “we want tables.” Nakamura kicked Styles out of the ring and bounced him off the barricade once again.

He hurled Styles over the timekeeper’s area and as AJ tried to hit a springboard off the barricade Shinsuke knocked him off which sent him crashing down.

Nakamura tossed AJ back into the ring and latched on another headlock to further tire Styles out. He transitioned it into a Dragon Sleeper and tried for a reverse exploder but AJ landed on his feet. Suddenly AJ ended up on the apron but Nakamura caught him off a springboard and draped him across the top rope to lay in a knee to AJ’s abdomen.

Then Shinsuke hit a jumping knee strike off the middle rope for a two count. Nakamura then hit a landslide for another two count. Nakamura started stomping on AJ as Styles fell back onto the apron.

Shinsuke went outside the ring and grabbed a metal folding chair. He brought the chair back into the ring and prepared to hit Styles with his new hardware but Styles caught Nakamura and the two started trading kicks.

Then Nakamura landed a reverse exploder suplex onto the chair for a two count. This is by far the best match these two have had in WWE at this point.

Shinsuke went for a Kinshasa but AJ threw a steel chair at him which ricocheted off him and hit Styles on the cheek busting him open in the process. This was a bad cut and Styles was gushing blood.

AJ avoided a Kinshasa and locked on a Calf Crusher. Shinsuke tried to break free but AJ kept wrenching in on the hold. Nakamura tried to reverse into a triangle but Styles transitioned into a Styles Clash but Nakamura got free and AJ knocked him off the apron.

Then Styles geared up for a Phenomenal Forearm but Nakamura avoided it. Nakamura took a running forearm off the back of Nakamura’s head for a two count. AJ landed a Pele Kick off a reversal and then Nakamura hit a low blow which was totally legal and then AJ hit a low blow of his own.

Then both guys fell to the canvas selling their genital injuries.

The referee started a standing 1o count and neither guy got to their feet in time but the referee stopped counting anyway. AJ got to his feet first and then they traded some forearm shots until Nakamura fell limp while holding onto AJ Styles.

AJ hit a headbutt and then they both came back with kicks to the nuts at the same time. Both guys fell to the mat while clutching their bathing suit areas while the referee counted to 10 and the crowd went ballistic and chanted, “bullsh-t” as the referee called for the bell.

This no DQ match ended in a double count out before neither guy could get up by the count of 10. Good lord.

Winner: Nobody at all

Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley vs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn

On an interesting note, Sami and Kevin both came out to Zayn’s music which was different from when they previously came out to Owens’ entrance music.

Lashley and Zayn started things out while Corey Graves made fun of the “vertigo” that Bobby gave him. The Coach said he’s suffered Lashley’s vertigo before and Cole said he could tell by his announcing. Ouch.

Lashley hit a shoulder tackle on Sami causing him to crawl to his corner for a tag. Bobby took Kevin down and buried his shoulder into him in the corner. But Owens wouldn’t let him pull off another one before raising his boot.

Kevin tagged Sami back in and Zayn rolled outside instead of taking more abuse. Lashley went outside and threw Sami into the barricade right next to Braun’s Greatest Royal Rumble trophy which made it to Newark for some reason.

Then Bobby hung Bobby up in the ropes before tagging Owens who went outside to hit a senton before rolling him back in for more. Sami took the tag and hit Bobby with some mounted punches.

So far Sami and Kevin tagged in and out a half dozen times at least while Braun Strowman just stood on the apron. Lashley came back with some offense but it wasn’t enough to get to Braun just yet because Kevin took the tag tried to keep Bobby back. But Bruan eventually got the tag and started running over KO.

Sami backed out of the ring and then Strowman chased him around the ring while KO was steamrolled in the process before Sami took a massive bump. Braun ran back around to turn Kevin inside out with a clotheline that nearly missed. Then KO moved out of the way once the match returned to the ring so Braun took a shoulder to the ring post.

Braun didn’t let Sami hit a Helluva Kick so Zayn started to leave. Kevin told him to stay and fight and the two had a little disagreement before Zayn tossed Kevin in the ring to Braun Strowman while Cole talked about their toxic relationship.

Then Owens rolled out to sent Zayn back in. Sami slapped Kevin on the apron and backed Sami up into Braun. He rolled outside and left before Braun hit a running splash to KO followed by a spinebuster from Bobby and a vertical suplex for the win.

Winner: Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman via pinfall

After the match was over, Braun chased Sami away only to grab Kevin and throw him back in the ring. Lashley kicked Oewns and Braun hit a running powerslam so they could celebrate with Strowman’s music playing.

Then Braun finally grabbed Sami Zayn and tossed him in the ring as well where he hit a running powerslam on the Underdog From The Underground. The crowd didn’t seem to be totally into this after match assault as much as WWE might have wanted.

Roman Reigns vs Samoa Joe

Samoa Joe started before the match was official. He hit a right hand on Reigns and the two fought outside the ring. These guys pulled no punches as they fought outside the ring and then Samoa Joe hit a uranage through the announce table.

Joe tossed Reigns over another announce table and got Roman back up to throw him over the other announce table. Joe got in the ring for a moment but returned to Reigns and assisted him in getting back in the squared circle.

“Joe’s gonna kill you,” the crowd chanted as Roman started to get to his feet. The referee officially started this match and Joe jumped right on Roman by landing a barrage of fists to the Big Dog.

Samoa Joe landed some kicks and a knee drop for a two count before latching on an arm submission and sending Reigns back down to the mat.

“This is the pain I was talking about! You can make this end, you just gotta go away,” Joe methodically said as he wrenched on Roman Reigns’ head.

The crowd started chanting loudly for CM Punk while Joe continued to pull at Roman’s head while telling him to go away because nobody wants him.

Roman peeled Joe’s fingers off of him and started to fight back while the crowd booed. Then Joe smashed Roman against the turnbuckle once again. Joe landed some jabs and a knee before continuing his efforts to twist Roman’s head off of his body.

Roman fought back and Joe lifted him to the apron before pushing Reigns down and landing an amazing suicide dive that landed on the money.

Joe landed some elbows to Reigns after they returned to the ring and then he locked in another submission hold to keep the Big Dog down.

“This pain is yours and yours alone!” Samoa Joe barked as he held Roman down on the canvas. Roman got back to his feet and hammered Joe in the face with a closed fist before catching Joe with a big boot to the face sending Samoa Joe outside.

Roman sat on the apron and sold Joe’s submission hold before running around and hitting a drive-up. Then Roman tossed Joe back in to hit a few clotheslines. Joe caught Reigns and hit an inverted atomic drop followed by a senton for a two count.

Joe tried for another uranage but Reigns fought out of it and planted him with a spinebuster for a two count.

Reigns went for a Superman Punch and Joe avoided it to catch a Coquina Clutch but Roman quickly exited the ring. Then Joe caught Roman when he tried for another drive-up and he went for the Coquina Clutch and dragged Reigns back into the ring.

Reigns reversed the Coquina Clutch into a roll-up pin for a two count. Then Reigns landed a Superman Punch for another two count.

As the crowd chanted, “Rusev Day” Roman went for a spear but Joe kicked him in the face. Then Reigns hit a spear but Joe got his foot over the bottom rope to break up the pinfall.

The crowd chanted “delete” as Joe caught Roman with another kick to block a spear but he caught a Coquina Clutch but Reigns rolled him up for another two count. Roman tried for another roll-up after that and Joe latched on the Coquina Clutch on his back and grapevined his legs around Reigns.

Roman looked out cold but he sprung to life as the referee was about to call for the bell. This caused the crowd to boo heavily and break into a sea of random disapproving chants.

Joe picked Roman back up using his illegal chest protector and placed him in the corner. Samoa Joe placed Roman on the top rope and tried for a muscle buster but Roman reversed out of the banned move and hit a spear for the win.

Winner: Roman Reigns via pinfall





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Aaron Varble hasn’t just been writing for more than a decade in various formats including sketch comedy, stand up, television, radio, and other various projects; nor is he just another professional wrestling fan with a master's degree in journalism and Tourette’s syndrome. He's always looking to explore the why not with the why and the how come along with the how. Follow on Twitter @TheVarble