Rhea Ripley vs. Zelina Vega was the first of two Judgement Day vs. LWO matches from WWE Backlash on May 6 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
There wasn’t much doubt about the outcome, but it was hard not to get excited when Vega came out wearing the actual flag of Puerto Rico. Tears streamed down Zelina’s cheeks as the crowd celebrated her introduction, and Michael Cole informed us the challenger was dedicating the match to her late father who died in New York on Sept. 11, 2001.
Take it ALL in, @ZelinaVegaWWE. ❤️ #WWEBacklash pic.twitter.com/j0LQ4AFSu9— WWE (@WWE) May 7, 2023
None of that impressed the champ, as Ripley even brushed off the crowd-pleasing spot where Vega’s mother handed her La Chancla — a flip-flop many a Latino youth has had thrown at them — so she could hurl it at Rhea.
Dominik Mysterio’s Mami paid for things like that and mocking Eddie Guerrero’s shoulder shimmy when Vega sent her shoulder first into the ring post to start a flurry. That included countering a Riptide into a DDT so Zelina could hit a Rey Mysterio-inspired 6-1-9 and do her own shoulder shimmy before a meteora. But Ripley kicked out before referee Jessika Carr could count three.
What a performance by @ZelinaVegaWWE at #WWEBacklash! pic.twitter.com/6Sw7ewl4rG— WWE (@WWE) May 7, 2023
A stiff kick and a Riptide soon followed.
The predictable ending didn’t detract from the emotion of the match. And it should add even more heat to LWO/Judgement Day round two when Bad Bunny & Damian Priest square off in a Street Fight.
The way we see it, @ZelinaVega is already a winner. ❤️ #WWEBacklash pic.twitter.com/5656TIMrpC— WWE (@WWE) May 7, 2023
Get complete Backlash results and coverage of every match on the card right here.