Remember WrestleMania? We’re doing it again! This time in Rhode Island. Claire’s blog is all the rage so go there or be square. Back? Good.
Let’s talk WrestleMania Backlash!
Kick in the Door
“Kick in the Door” was the Notorious B.I.G.’s warning to emcees everywhere. Between the release of his first album and his second, Biggie took a lot of heat from several emcees. Some prominent and some more underground, but he heard all and saw all. “Ain’t no other kings in this rap thing they siblings/nothing but my chil’ren one shot they disappearing.” That’s how BIG rolled and I imagine those words float through Roman Reigns’ head as well.
WrestleMania Backlash was Reigns’ “Kick in the Door” moment. Or at least that’s what the Tribal Chief wants us to think.
The most fascinating aspect of Roman’s persona is his insecurity. That weakness doesn’t just show on the microphone either. During the six-man tag main event, Roman refused to tango with Randy Orton or Drew McIntyre. Randy’s a psychopath on a hot streak and Drew is...well, you know what Drew looks like. Roman showed his colors early when Drew tagged in and wants all of Reigns. Reigns hesitated for a bit, tagged in, squared off Drew O’Mac, and tagged out. Not only was he denying the crowd what they wanted, but he got to continue hiding.
Roman wanted Riddle because he doesn’t take Randy’s tag partner seriously. Roman punching below his weight is a common theme. Jimmy and Jey Uso contribute by beating his opponents down and letting him get the literal flowers in the end. That works here because like most RK-Bro matches, Riddle was the whipping boy. I realized it’s a great role for him because he’s sympathetic. Riddle is just a regular guy out here doing regular guy things. He took offense from The Uso’s, double teams, cheap shots from Roman, and played his role perfectly.
The Bloodline did everything in their power to keep Riddle in the match. Seriously, every
wrestler performer in WWE knows Riddle is the weak link of the team. It’s my favorite running joke in the territory. Eventually, Riddle got in enough offense to buy some time. Roman, once again showing his desire to pick his spots and be a chicken sh*t, tagged himself into the match seeing a downed Riddle. Riddle tagged in Drew at the very last second, and Roman had nowhere to go with both of his cousins laid out.
WWE didn’t give us a lot of Roman and Drew, but just enough to whet the appetite. While I wasn’t excited about the prospect of a match before, I am intrigued now. Roman’s obvious apprehension in fighting Drew is a great wrinkle, while Drew will dive headfirst into any challenge without thinking. Roman’s calculation vs. Drew’s gut instinct? Sign me up.
But before we get to that, here’s a case for Randy Orton getting a shot at the title. The man is extra over in every arena, and that was no different in Rhode Island. He was easily the biggest favorite in this match, and the RKO he hit on Roman when the match broke down was not only out of nowhere, but a thing of beauty. Roman eventually got his revenge with a Superman Punch to Randy’s jaw on the outside of the ring, but there’s a good story and good matches here if WWE walks down the path I really want them to choose.
As the match devolved into more chaos, Riddle became the legal man while both of his partners were knocked out. Jey and Riddle traded educated feet, Reigns blind tags his cousin, and nails Riddle with a spear.
You know the outcome at that point. I’m not sold on the Bloodline getting the W here, as Jimmy or Jey taking a pin from Drew makes a lot of sense. That being said, they laid a lot of groundwork for Roman’s potential opponent (s) for down the line.
Great main event for a pretty damn good show.
Rhea of Omnipotence
Let’s not bury the lede: Rhea Ripley is the newest member of Judgment Day. There’s a gif of Bernie Mac in a church that comes to mind. But the match leading to her reveal was worthy of Edge and AJ Styles. So, let’s talk about that and then get back to Rhea. Shall we?
On the most recent episode of Monday Night Raw, I wondered why Damian Priest barely touched AJ’s shoulder. I mean, the man’s left shoulder was wrapped in Kinesio tape, which is basically a bullseye. But with Damian effectively wiped off the board as a result of that match, I didn’t think about it too long since it didn’t matter.
Whatever I missed on Monday, Edge and AJ more than made up for it at WrestleMania Backlash. Edge attacked AJ’s shoulder almost immediately. Edge was like a rabid dog with a dog or postal worker in his chops. The first act of this match was mostly all Edge, all the time. Any time AJ got even a little offense in, it did more damage to him than his opponent. Left hand punches? Pain. Pele Kick where AJ landed on his left shoulder? More pain. AJ and Edge colliding in the middle of the ring after double cross body blocks? Extra pain. AJ did his best to get Edge into a Styles Clash but it was obvious he just didn’t have the strength for it. Last I checked, you need two good shoulders to lift a grown ass man by his waist.
After trying in vain, AJ smartened up the next time around. It was my favorite moment of the match AJ mustered his remaining strength to hang Edge over the top rope, then putting him in the position for the Styles Clash. Using the ropes as leverage and do the heavy lifting was ingenious. The only reason Edge kicked out is because AJ wasn’t strong enough to hold Edge down with one arm. Also makes sense.
AJ used his brains again when going for the Phenomenal Forearm. Knowing there was no way to pull himself into the launch position, he simply climbed the top rope. And you know what? It almost worked. But along came Damian Priest. AJ lost focus and complained to the referee about Priest’s presence. Damian, of course, wasn’t exactly at ringside; he was in the aisle. Finn Balor rushed to ringside and brawled with Priest. Full disclosure, I figured Finn was out for the swerve. But we got something even better.
While the referee, a downed Edge, and a perched AJ looked at Priest and Finn, a hooded figure stepped into the picture. We found out after the match this person who pushed AJ off the ropes, allowing Edge to finish AJ with a sleeper/crossface, was none other than Rhea Ripley.
Whew. Dope match with a satisfying conclusion. While some may balk at AJ losing twice in a row to Edge, I think it’s okay here. AJ looked very strong in defeat here. There were enough distractions and shenanigans to make the L acceptable in the eyes of fans, plus the story is nowhere done yet. Of course, the next episode of Raw might prove me wrong and I’ll eat every single one of these words. But as of now, I’m excited for the future of this beef, and even more amped about an inter-gender stable featuring Rhea Ripley and Edge. WWE needs more stables for moments just like this.
Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey did their best to make us forget whatever that was at WrestleMania. This was a chaotic fight and I enjoyed every moment of it. Charlotte threw a camera at Ronda! I repeat: Charlotte threw an expensive, heavy, industrial camera at another human being. There was even a kendo stick fight that ensures neither woman will get a call from LucasFilm anytime soon.
Charlotte lost the match when Ronda slapped her in armbar through a chair. Yup, you read that right. Charlotte was hoisted on her own petard since she not only brought the chair into the match, but planned to break Ronda’s arm in a similar fashion and gave the most sinister Happy Mother’s Day wish this side of the movie Mothers’s Day. Ronda is your new SmackDown Women’s champ. And let us pray for Charlotte’s fracture of the radius aka her broken arm.
The match was insane and played to Ronda’s strengths. Good work all around.
The American Cheater
First off, Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins put on a very hot opening match. The two tangoed for about 30 min. in a match filled with great character work, smooth wrestling, and a controversial finish. That last part is important as it ensures this feud is nowhere near over.
The story here was very simple: Seth proved a much harder task for Cody now that the former was properly prepped. Seth countered Cody multiple times throughout the match, and those counters played into the finish. Cody’s offense came in fits and spurts through the first two acts of the match, but Seth answered every challenge. Seth went for his traditional double suplex only for Cody to counter into a Cross Rhodes. It was the first clean Cross Rhodes Cody hit after several attempts.
However, Cody pinned Seth way too close to the ropes, meaning Seth’s foot dangled right on the bottom rope while Cody went for the intense roll up pin. Both men suffered breaking points during the match. That moment was Cody’s and Seth’s got his shortly after. After reversing or blocking several Pedigree attempts, Cody fell victim to one right in the middle of the ring. But, to Seth’s chagrin, Cody kicked out.
Needless to say, but I will, Seth was beside himself. Seth gave in to all of that frustration, anger, and resentment for Cody. He insulted Cody by mocking Dusty Rhodes’ famous punches, daddeh. That was several steps way too far.
The two devolved into a brawl and Cody hit another Cross Rhodes. Not satisfied with just one, and justifiably angry, Cody went for another. Seth countered, of course, with a knee to Cody’s face. The two went back and forth, Seth went for a pin attempt with all of Cody’s tights in his hands, only for Cody to reverse that with his own pin attempt. Is turnabout fair play? Cody believes so because he pulled Seth’s tights and got the W.
While I understand the “good for the goose good for the gander” philosophy, I’m not entirely sure what they’re saying about Cody. More importantly, I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel. Overall, the match was dope. But the ending left me scratching my head. Which isn’t good because I washed my hair this morning.
Madcap Moss is an impressive cat. In fact, he’s more impressive since he moves the way he does in the ring while wearing suspenders. As someone with an affinity for suspenders, I know it’s not easy to do all of that.
But I digress.
Corbin and Moss work well together in any capacity, but I’m digging them as opponents. Moss got a rollup W, meaning Corbin was embarrassed. That embarrassment means this story is nowhere near over. If Corbin keeps making Moss look this good, while telling an even deeper story, I’m all for it.
Do with that headline what you will. Omos is now billed as The Nigerian Giant. Talk about telegraphing the winner.
Omos got the W in a very meh match. MVP was the X factor, which makes sense because that’s the story. MVP jabbed Bobby Lashley in the eye with his cane behind the ref’s back, and Omos capitalized.
I said it before and I’ll say it again: Meh.
There was one negative on this show. But lo and behold, WWE put on a great show for an event I cared very little about. The rematches were better the second time around, and the main event gave me everything I need in my professional sports entertainment wrestling.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn,