WWE Backlash 2023 comes to you from the beautiful San Juan in Puerto Rico, hosted by the multi-grammy-winning artist Bad Bunny and featuring a whole host of Latino talent. While we have three competitors from Puerto Rico, Bad Bunny, Damian Priest and Zelina Vega, we also get to see the Japanese superstar that is Iyo Sky, who has worked in the country during her time before WWE and Sami Zayn who is also loved by this crowd.
WWE didn’t disappoint when it came to returning stars and building on new and old storylines. There were even some surprises including an appearance of Savio Vega and Carlito.
Our rating system tonight will be Puerto Rican flags out of five.
WWE RAW Women’s Championship Match | Bianca Belair Vs Iyo Sky [Damage CTRL]
Iyo Sky is the challenger tonight and seem’s to be very popular in Puerto Rico and by extension that makes Bianca Belair the heel here, but will she feed into that? Iyo Sky is a multi-time champion in promotions all over the world and one day She should be women’s champion in WWE. will that be today? It seems that the WWE wants to keep Bianca as the face for now.
This is a great match and really shows off how amazing Iyo Sky is inside of the ring, I’m sure many people were expecting this to be a high-flying affair but that’s not all this legend of Joshi can do. Sky is very skilled on the mat too, being skilled in submission holds which she shows off here. This might be one of Bianca’s best opponents to date and I hope we get to see this match again. There is a scary moment where Bianca drops Iyo’s straight on her face but the match doesn’t suffer from it. It actually continues for another 10 minutes and it is outstanding.
Winner: Bianca Belair
Seth Rollins Vs Omos [w. MVP]
This match is honestly horrible and that’s a strange thing to say about a Seth Rollins match, cause he can get a good match out of anyone. Unfortunately that isn’t the case tonight. Seth deserves better.
Winner: Seth Rollins
United States Championship Match | Bobby Lashley Vs Bronson Reed Vs Austin Theory
We have two big beefy men, Bobby Lashley and Bronson Reed, facing off against the cockiest guy in the company in the form of Austin Theory. This match is a lot of fun, as it should be it’s a triple-threat match for the mid-card championship. Everything in this match makes sense and will bring a smile to your face. Broson Reed looks incredible here and really shows off what he can do, this will hopefully be the start of much more for the Australian. The match is short and sweet but everyone gets their stuff in and that’s what matters.
Winner: Austin Theory
WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship Match | Zelina Vega [LWO] Vs Rhea Ripley [Jugment Day]
Rhea Ripley comes out first and is sporting some night white gear with black accents, but her challenger, Zelina Vega, really brings it with her gear. Dressed in the colours of the flag of Puerto Rico, she is every inch a real challenger to Ripley. When Vega is introduced the emotions are all over her face, tears streaming down her face as the fans cheer for her.
There is a clear face and heel here and it’s great hearing a crowd boo Rhea. Within the opening minutes, Zelina’s mum hands her a flip flop, also known as a Chancla, which she throws at Ripley. If you know you know. Ripley does dominate in the operating part of the match but Zelina Vega is a fighter and keeps going, showing off her in-ring skills. She could be a potential winner of MITB this year.
Another short and sweet match but it’s important to build Rhea up as a monster women’s champion, which is achieved here. Zelina Vega does get her moment after the match ends, hearing the crowd go wild for her.
Winner: Rhea Ripley
San Juan Street Fight | Damian Priest [Jugment Day] Vs Bad Bunny [LWO]
Damien Priset and Bad Bunny are in the first of our double main events and I honestly feel like this should have headlined the whole night. Damian Priest is here in all-white gear, complimenting Rhea’s look from the match before. Bad Bunny comes out to his own song, which is sung by the whole crowd and brings to the ring a trolly full of classic street match weapons. A nice little nod to New Jack with that one. This should be a good match.
Bad Bunny loves pro-wrestling and has worked really hard to be good at this art and he really is amazing. His Michinoku Driver is stunning and his selling is even better than the last time we saw him. This isn’t some crappy celebrity promotional run, this is someone who loves this sport and you can see it every time he comes to WWE. These two work great together and you can feel that their friendship has truly been destroyed, leading to this intense match.
They bring it into the ring and then take it out into the crowd, using every piece of real estate available to them. With weapons, highspots and big moves, this match has everything you want out of a street fight. Most of this match is just between the two of them, which is refreshing, with Judgement Day coming out in the last third of the match but remember Bad Bunny has friends too having joined the LWO on Friday Night SmackDown.
Rey Mysterio is here and to even up the score we get CARLITO coming down to the ring. after some great back and forth and a huge pop for Savio Vega and the rest of the LWO it’s time to shift our focus back to the ring. Priest goes for a kick but the damage done to his leg causes him to just crumple. Bad Bunny takes this moment to lock in a smooth-looking figure four leg lock, but that doesn’t end the match. What does is a perfect Bunny Destroyer, allowing for the LWO and the crowd in Puerto Rico get their moment to celebrate.
Winner: Bad Bunny
Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso and Solo Sikoa [The Bloodline] Vs Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Matt Riddle
This crowd have been out of this world all night and they don’t let up during this match especially when it comes to Sami Zayn. It’s great to see that momentum hasn’t died out and that he is loved everywhere he goes. This is a solid match that feels like a showcase for both Zayn and Sikoa who really work so well together. Matt Riddle looks great since his return and get’s right back in there after four months away. Owens as always is fantastic as graceful as he is hard-hitting, taking it to The Bloodline.
The Usos are in a horrible position right now, with Roman Reigns not returning their calls and Sikoa being there to make sure they get the job done, another loss for this successful tag team might signal their exile from The Bloodline come Friday Night SmackDown.
Winner: Solo Sikoa pinned Matt Riddle [The Bloodline]
Brock Lesner Vs Cody Rhodes
What is there to say about Brock Lesner Vs Cody Rhodes? It was a good solid match, maybe not main event material but a good time neither less. Both men did their big moves and looked great but there was something missing and I can’t quite figure out what.
There was also a substantial amount of blood pouring from Lesner’s head towards the end of the match. He went headfirst into the turnbuckle but it felt like, at least, there wasn’t meant to be that much blood. It was everywhere by the end of the match.
Winner: Cody Rhodes
So how was WWE Backlash 2023?
That feels like a loaded question but let’s run down the good and the bad of the night.
I would say avoid Seth Rollins Vs Omos as this match wasn’t great and probably didn’t need to even be on the card. In saying that Rollins is over wherever he goes but I’m sure they could have found a better opponent for the architect. Also as great as the six-man tag as we have seen these matches a lot since WrestleMania and it probably could have been lower down on the card.
The opening match was a triumph for the Women’s Division and a must-see of the night. The United States Championship three-way was also lots of fun and the crowd were really into it. As for the SmackDown Women’s match, I was a little disappointed, it was enjoyable but Zelina Vega should have got more time to show off her skills.
Let’s talk about the main event, despite these two men, Cody Rhodes and Brock Lesner, being two of the biggest stars in the company, I don’t think this should have been the main event and let me explain why. Bad Bunny Vs Damian Priest, both men from Puerto Rico, went at it this evening in a San Juan Street Fight that was brutal and entertaining. This would have been the moment to have these men headline a huge event in their home country and have that LWO celebration ending the night. [and include Zelina Vega dammit.]
I feel not capitalising on the crowd was a big mistake and that really shows in the last two matches feeling underwhelming. All in all, I fully enjoyed the show and hope the WWE go to Puerto Rico again soon.
I think my college over at WhatCulture summed up the main event best:
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