Rhea Ripley’s first PPV Raw Women’s title defense was supposed to be a rematch against the wrestler she beat for the strap at WrestleMania 37, Asuka. But the one she lost to at WrestleMania 36 was added to make it a Triple Threat, meaning at WrestleMania Backlash Ripley could lose her championship without factoring in the decision.
That was one of the things hanging over the opening match on May 16. The other was that third entrant, since it was Charlotte Flair. WWE played up Flair’s propensity for getting added to big matches like this one.
WWE didn’t waste any time teasing the nightmare scenario for The Nightmare, with Charlotte quickly going for a pin on Asuka. Things settled down into a familiar Triple Threat layout, with each pair of women getting a chance to work while the third caught their breath, and each wrestler getting a chance to shine.
Big spots signaled the start of the final act, as Flair hitting her signature top rope moonsault to the floor led to the Tower of the Doom.
After hitting a double Natural Selection, Flair tried to do her version of what Roman Reigns did ‘Mania - pin both women at once. But Ripley kicked out, and all hell broke lose after Asuka evaded another moonsault. The frenzy led to an outcome many predicted... Rhea pinning the Empress after hitting Riptide.
That wasn’t the only way Charlotte was protected. It was her boot from the apron that sent Asuka into the champ’s finisher. Commentary even explained the reason she wasn’t in the action was because her momentum from delivering the kick knocked her to the floor.
Ready for more Flair vs. Ripley?
Get complete WrestleMania Backlash results and coverage of the entire show here.