WWE Wrestlemania Backlash 2021 (Cert 12)

1 DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 176 minutes approx.

Release Date: July 5th

Why Wrestlemania Backlash and not just Backlash? Who knows? I suppose it was felt a more tangible hook was needed to entice fans our maybe it was designed to capitalise on the fact Wrestlemania 37 was held in front of fans and they wanted to ride the buzz. Of course, the name would imply that the matches would be inspired by the fallout from Wrestlemania 37 but this was only partially true.

Traditionally, Wrestlemania was the pivotal point of the year, ending one set of feuds and beginning new programmes in its wake. But with the advent of monthly PPVs and the slow death of house shows as a means to draw money, the focus of which has now been switched to TV, that fulcrum no longer exists and the post-Mania PPV has usually seen WM rematches that new matches.

In the instances of its year’s iteration, the show is a mixed bag – new challenges for some, more of the same for others, with two Mania re-matches given the big twist of being made triple threat matches! Whoo! It also features an early Worst Match of the Year contender so there is that as well.

Held on May 16th at the WWE Thunderdome located inside the Yuengling Center in Tampa, Florida. Commentary is provided by Michael Cole and Pat McAfee for SD and Adnan Vink, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton for RAW.

Onto the matches and as always no results spoilers but plenty of opinion and backstories!

 

RAW Women’s Title Triple Threat Match – Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair

Rhea defeated Asuka at Wrestlemania 37 for the title and the rematch happened the next night on RAW but was ruined a returning Charlotte who cut her usual whiny promo about being the centre of the universe, blah, blah, blah. She and Asuka faced off the following week to determine the next challenger which Asuka won, causing Charlotte to attack the ref, receiving a suspension except Sonya Deville reinstated Charlotte the next week after she apologised then added her to this match just like that.

Classic trolling by Vince there who either ignored the fan backlash about Charlotte being handed title matches for no reason or has mistaken it for genuine heel heat – my money is on the former since he is clearly insane these days. Fortunately, the match was great, a stonking, fast paced start to the show, in which all three got to shine and it didn’t just rely on the “one person sells whilst the others fight” formula. You can guess who got the most from it though…

SD Tag Title Match – Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Rey & Dominik Mysterio

Not much to the story behind this other than Rey and Dominik are vying to become the first ever father-son combo to be tag champs in the WWE. I know that Larry “The Axe” Hennig and his son Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig held a regional NWA tag titles together, and no doubt this happened in Mexico too, but this would be the first time in WWE.

To add some drama to the match, Dominik was attacked backstage by the heels, leaving Rey to work the match alone, well, for the first 10 minutes at least. One can see what they were hoping to achieve here and it essence it worked, but the match went too long for the story being told. Fine for what it was, but the lack of a real crowd dampened the significance of the moment.

Lumberjack Match – Damien Priest vs. The Miz

After teaming with rapper Bad Bunny at WM 37 and scoring the victory, Miz wasn’t done with Priest and the feud continued, with Damien beating John Morrison to earn the right to choose the stip for this match. A Lumberjack Match sounded a bit lame in isolation but it wasn’t until the show started that it all made sense – sort of…

You see, WWE Alumni Dave Batista was starring in a Netflix zombie film and by way of cross-promotion, Netflix threw a seven figure cheque in Vince’s direction and sent him some zombies to use – as lumberjacks! An interesting visual to say the last and probably would have worked had this been Halloween and announced in advance but it wasn’t, so eye rolled hard when the undead lumberjacks shuffled out to ringside.

The match was kept short but still stupid on a number of levels, which not only resulted in Morrison being eaten by zombies but Miz tore his ACL during the match before he too became zombie dinner. I can see how some might have fun with this but in the grand scheme of things, this was pure Wrestlecrap.

SD Women’s Title Match – Bianca Belair (c) vs. Bayley

Having lost the title to Bianca at WM 37, Sasha Banks went off to sulk which is a cover for her filming new episodes for Star Wars spin-off TV show The Mandalorian. Therefore, Bianca is the only champion on this show facing a new challenger in Bayley, though the build up was uninspired – Bayley attacked Bianca and laughed at her maniacally.

Strong first defence for Bianca, maybe not as dramatic as her match with Sasha but that was expected. However, both certainly put in the work and had a damn fine bout, with Bayley showing why she is so underrated in her understanding of ring psychology and timing, carrying that side of the match whilst Bianca met her on the physical and athletic aspect.

WWE Title Triple Threat Match – Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Braun Strowman

I imagine many people were surprised that Drew didn’t dethrone Lashley at WM 37 to give him the big crowning moment before the fans he was denied the year before, but instead it seems The Almighty is the current pet project for Vince. Inevitably, Drew wanted a rematch but he was forced to earn it by winning a triple threat on RAW, going over Randy Orton and Strowman.

The following week, Braun challenged Drew with the stip he was added to the title match if he won which, surprise surprise, he did. At least we know who was going to take the pinfall here. A big hoss fight with the odd big spot distraction, such as the exploding LED boards and broken tables to keep people down. Maybe a bit long but served its purpose although for Strowman it would end up being his swan song as he was released from WWE alongside others from all ends of the roster.

WWE Universal Title Match –  Roman Reigns (c) vs. Cesaro

WM 37 night 2 closed with the visual of Roman pining both Edge and Daniel Bryan at the same time to retain the Universal title but whilst Edge stropped off again, Daniel Bryan continued to pester Roman but succumbed to a Title vs. Career match on SD. Having been championed by Bryan (backstage and on TV) Cesaro stepped up to face Roman, earning his shot by beating Seth Rollins again.

Adding some intrigue to this match was the return of Jimmy Uso as a babyface, in a show long storyline where he and brother Jey are at odds over Jey’s playing lackey to Roman. Will it impact the match? Well, I can tell you that after a slow start Cesaro did step up to show Vince where he could stick his brass ring and give Roman a heck of a fight in the process.

Running close to 30 minutes, it naturally involved some shenanigans and McBooking but it gave Cesaro the showcase he has long been denied and let’s hope it is not the last main event match for him.

 

Bottom Line:

On paper there wasn’t much about this show that screamed “watch me” but as is often the case with WWE PPVs, these are the ones that tend to over deliver and prove quite enjoyable. The appended title of Wrestlemania Backlash may have been a ploy to create some interest in what is traditionally a flat show but it really wasn’t necessary.

Action wise this is decent show, bookended by two great matches with a solid mid-section although hat people will remember most about it is the one thing we should all try and forget – the zombies. Like I said earlier, it would have worked under different circumstances but was a nice payday for WWE and I doubt Vince cares what we think with the company coffers getting a handsome boost for 10 minutes work.

Part of the problem is that whist Wrestlemania 37 was decent show, it wasn’t an epoch making one in the sense of heralding a fresh and new direction for the company could begin with this event. But sometimes, hard work and logical booking can compensate for the lack of hype – well, logical booking is like moon dust these days – although that about sums up the state of play in WWE in general over the past decade.

The only real change was backstage as the dreaded post-Mania roster cuts took place – attributed to budget cuts – which saw names like Samoa Joe, The Iiconics, Mickie James, Kalisto, and announcer Tom Phillips receive their pink slips. Incidentally, a week after this show aired the new RAW announcer Adnan Vink was fired after just seven weeks in the role, making this his one and only PPV appearance.

Let’s hope the future has something brighter to offer.

 

Best match – Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro

 

Extras:

German Language

Kickoff Show Match – US Title Match – Sheamus (c) vs. Ricochet

 

Rating – ***

Man In Black

20 thoughts on “Wrestling Review – WWE Wrestlemania Backlash 2021

  1. Good review. I didn’t see that show and it sounded insane with the zombie lumberjack match. Why have someone “eaten” by zombies only to show up again not long after the fact. That is just so bizarre.

    Speaking of wrestling, I actually made a themed list on that subject on my film/anime/documentary review blog: https://iridiumeye.wordpress.com/2021/07/06/top-7-people-in-the-indie-britwres-scene-who-should-get-their-own-documentaries/

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome. Thanks for checking out that list.

        Wow, that means a lot with you saying how you’ve been a fan for over 30 years. Maybe I underestimated my knowledge about that specific scene when I got into it a couple of years ago. You certainly know about a lot of the scene in general with the mainstream stuff and with Puro. Hahaha! On that list, Roy Johnson had matches in NXT UK and I found out Kanji had one match there a while ago. I would recommend the stuff on Progress (most of the NXT UK roster consist of former Progress wrestlers), Riptide, Wrestling Resurgence, and Futureshock if you’re curious about the indie BritWres scene.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Well I used to watch the British World of Sport stuff as a kid but not ardently (too much into Star Wars, etc) but since then it has been pretty much US stuff (WWF.WCW) since that was all that was available to us on TV then the Japanese stuff a bit later on.

    Truth be told, I didn’t even know the Brit scene was still alive until I bought my first copy of Powerslam magazine in 1997 and they had a small review of an NWA Hammerlock UK show. I watched some of it on TWC in 2004/2005 with the FWA stuff but as my interests have widened I tend to stick to what I know these days. I’m too much of a hermit to support the shows in person but then again there is no local circuit where I am, so fair play to those who can get out there and give the feds a boost.

    I do think it is great we have a healthy British wrestling scene again that can compete with the US scene though, and from watching NXT:UK it is great to see that old style technical grappling hasn’t been eliminated in favour of the flashier stuff. Maybe I’ll be able to check some of the shows on the WWE Network if time and mood allows me to. Thanks for the heads up. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Okay. I’ve heard of World of Sport before and how that was the biggest UK federation back in the day or how some current indie wrestlers incorporate a “WOS” style of grappling with technical stuff, catch wrestling, etc. Apparently, there were origins into actual British martial arts like Lancashire wrestling, Northumberland wrestling, collar and elbow, etc.

      I’ve heard of the name NWA Hammerlock. If I’m not mistaken, I believe Zack Sabre Jr. was trained in that school when he was starting out. Gotcha. I was just wondering. Of course with COVID going on, there haven’t been many shows in the UK anyway and even then they were empty-arena affairs with the exception of Futureshock having a couple of social-distanced and mask-mandated shows up in their hometown of Manchester.

      Yeah, I’ve been liking what I’ve been seeing compared to the American mainstream stuff. There’s definitely way more technical wrestling, but you still have a mix of powerhouses, high fliers, comedy wrestlers, and brawlers as well. Over the past few years, I was pleasantly surprised with how ethnically diverse the scene was and having positive representation for various wrestlers of color (many of them directly from the UK) and multiple women’s matches or sometimes main eventing with them. Sure thing. I know Progress and ICW (a Scottish federation) have distribution deals with the Network as well as Peacock here in America for example even though Vince doesn’t own those companies. Feel free to check them out. I’ve been liking what Progress has been doing lately despite the empty arenas since they restarted last February. No problem! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just to clarify something, World Of Sport wasn’t a federation as such, it was a strand of TV programming dedicated to sport every Saturday from noon to 5pm, covering football, rugby, darts, horse racing, athletics, wrestling, and so on. Wrestling has since been called WOS because it was synonymous with the brand name from being its top rated show, and was adopted for ease of recognition in later years, including the ill-fated reboot a couple of years back.

        There were a few promotions in the UK, the main one to feature on WOS was Joint Promotions, a sort of NWA of the UK, headed by Dale Martin Promotions based out of London. Over the years, power changed hands to Max Crabtree who pushed his brother Shirley Crabtree aka Big Daddy to the moon as his top star. After the Crabtrees got too greedy and complacent by not building new stars (sound familiar?) their power crumbled and the last UK promotion to have any effect in the UK was Brian Dixon’s All-Star Wrestling promotion, taking all the stars from the Crabtrees as well as international talents like Owen Hart, Jushin Liger (as Flying Fuji Yamada) and Akira Maeda (As Kwik Kick Lee).

        By this time, WOS ended after 20 plus years on TV and whilst the wrestling had its own standalone show, ITV kept messing with the time slot and lost viewers. Then in December 1988 it was briefly replaced by WWF wrestling (until SKY TV bought the rights in 1989), marking the end of British wrestling on TV until the Revival Show on Bravo in 2002, then the repeats on TWC in 2004, as well as FWA . The scene stayed alive via a live event only model due to the name value of the old TV stars but had a hard time creating keeping the mainstream attention alive as WWF and WCW became the norm for wrestling fans.

        I would say the internet and the second wrestling boom of the Monday Night Wars probably helped revitalise the UK scene as more youngsters felt like giving it a go, eventually creating a new wave of UK talent that in turn led to the current crop. It’s taken a few years but whilst it may not hit the heights of its 60s and 70s heyday (when even the Queen used to watch) the UK scene is doing pretty well right now. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Okay. Thanks for clarifying. Whenever I heard about WOS from different interviews, it did sound like it was a federation on it’s own instead of part of a programming block. Sorry about that. As an American, I wasn’t familiar with that being a block instead of a promotion in the UK.

        That’s good to know and I wasn’t aware about that part of BritWres history. Wow, that does sound like a crazy power struggle story.

        I see. That must have been a bummer with the show ending back then and not having a televised UK product for years. I noticed from 00s and early 10s indie BritWres stuff getting imports a lot as well as copying WWE-style aesthetics instead of making their own unique identity. Thankfully, that’s changed once you had companies like Progress and RevPro coming up and a bunch of feds popping up after the fact.

        That makes a lot of sense. That does blow my mind that the Queen would watch wrestling back then. Haha! This was a very educational comment and I appreciate the insight on that matter.

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      3. No worries. You weren’t to know.

        Wrestling has such a rich history much of it has been lost in the mist. Many young fans today still think the NWA was a singular promotion that became WCW and a not a wrestling conglomerate (thanks to WWE’s revisionist history)….

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      4. Thanks for understanding. I’m still a neophyte compared to other fans way more versed than I am. I guess my interests have been random as well as geographically specific like Japanese animation, Caribbean cricket, African history, etc.

        It certainly seems like it. I’ve heard of the NWA and seen some matches from Powerrr a year ago, but I didn’t think it was the case with WCW. Yeah, revisionist history from WWE must be obnoxious.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. If you are interested, reading the history of the NWA is fascinating stuff, and it makes wrestling itself more intriguing – like learning Capitol Wrestling run by Vince McMahon Sr was once upon a time part of the NWA…. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Sure thing. That could be a fun thing to study in addition to the other things I’ve been learning myself. I heard the history is very rich especially with how long it’s been around as an organization. Never heard of Capitol Wrestling, but that is very intriguing how a McMahon ran something affiliated with the NWA. Hahaha!

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      7. The history of wrestling is amazing even after the collapse of the NWA as it once was.

        Pretty much all promoters in the US were members the NWA, as it enabled them to do talent exchanges and so on to keep the territory fresh, and share the profits from when the World Champ came into town for a title defence against the local hero/heel.

        Vince Sr split from the NWA in 1963 to form the WWWF (World Wide Wrestling Federation) because he wanted to control the booking of the then NWA World Champ Buddy Rodgers and other promoters wanted a slice of the action.

        Capitol Wrestling was the name of the company which Vince Jr bought from his father in 1979 and renamed Titan Sports, before taking over the now renamed WWF in 1983.

        Also, Vince Sr. was still on the NWA board of Directors in 1981 when they voted for Ric Flair to be the next world champ!

        Another breakaway from the NWA was Verne Gagne, who was fed up at being overlooked for NWA champ despite his huge popularity, so he formed the AWA, which was one of the top promotions in the US until it folded in 1990, because Verne refused to modernise and got crushed when the WWF went national in the 1980s. How ironic that Vince is essentially Verne today! 😮

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Understood. That could be something one could right a paper about. Haha!

        That does make a ton of sense and it sounded more omnipresent during the height of their popularity as well as relevance. This is some interesting information about the territory system.

        I did hear that the company used to be called WWWF. I didn’t realize that was the reason.

        Wow, I would’ve never guessed all of that with the various names.

        That sounds crazy, but it makes a ton of sense with Vince Sr. and booking Ric Flair.

        I’ve heard of that name before and how he’s a legend in the industry. Good on him for making his own federation back then. It helps to have competition. Would it be kind of like the existence of AEW in some way when it comes to starting a new company? That is certainly one way to put it with the Vince and Verne comparisons you made.

        Dang, you’re like a wrestling historian!

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Thanks, but I only know the basics which many fans know – there are people out there, real hardcores, as well as journos like Dave Meltzer who know everything, and I mean everything, including the obscure names and details about the US and the international scenes.

        Regarding the AWA being comparable to AEW, the scene was very different back in the 1960s when the AWA formed as wrestling was still regional. Whilst AWA would be based in Minnesota, they were able to promote across the Midwest area whereas AEW, like WWE and Impact and even UFC, can go anywhere across the country. and indeed the world if there is a market there for them.

        However, Verne was able to secure wider TV clearance for the AWA which helped his promotion as opposed to being locally broadcast, which is what Vince wanted when he took the WWF national in 1984, so I suppose Vince’s ambition mirrored Verne’s but Vince was the more ruthless of the too, which is another story for another time! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      10. I see. Well you know way more about the subject than I do. My wrestling knowledge is more constricted to modern indie BritWres, but I do know a few things here and there with American and Japanese wrestling. I have a few friends who have told me random stuff even before I started to get into this subject. Good point about Dave Meltzer. He’s certainly knowledgeable, don’t get me wrong. Yes, I know the joke about him rating matches 5 stars minimum if they happened in Japan or if they involve Kenny Omega and/or the Young Bucks. Hahaha! 😛

        Very true. I was thinking more along the lines of breaking away from other companies to start something new since the landscape and technology would be different then. Gotcha. I wonder if my dad would know anything about the AWA since he was born and grew up in Minnesota even though I’m not sure if he grew up watching pro wrestling. Good point about the modern companies being worldwide thanks to the internet, touring and having global TV deals.

        Good on Verne for having wider distribution back then for the AWA. So Verne did the whole national distribution thing first before Vince did? Wow, copying much? Hahaha! I don’t begrudge the competition aspect, but yeah Vince being cutthroat isn’t surprising at all.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. I don’t quite understand the US TV system with shows being in syndication, or on networks or whatever (here in the UK everything is broadcast nationally with the exception of local news), so I don’t know how wide AWA’s reach was or whether it was national or just many markets outside of Minnesota.

        I do know Verne Gagne was the first pro-wrestler ever to appear on the cover of a top US TV listing magazine so his popularity was significant in the ’50s. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      12. I wasn’t aware of that with UK TV, but I can see why with the different channels operating nationally. The cable stuff is pretty uniform nationwide in America when it comes to content and scheduling. You don’t see too many local independent stations since many of them have been bought up by major TV channels with NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, etc. The mainline programming such as most shows is the same, but the news, some programs, and the channel number are different. The area of each station is limited to a metro area. An NBC channel (using them as an example) in the Chicagoland area is going to have different coverage than let’s say the NYC area, LA area, etc with the exception of the major TV shows playing during key times of the day. Granted, there were nowhere near as many stations back then compared to now during the AWA days. I would assume this would air in different Minnesotan media markets like the Twin Cities region (that’s Minneapolis/St. Paul area), Duluth, Rochester, or St. Cloud to name a few even though there aren’t that many major cities in that state. I’d also guess they would have some syndication in the Midwest or at the very least in states that border MN like the Dakotas, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Hopefully, this explanation made sense, but part of this is speculation. I may have to look into that a bit more.

        Oh, wow! Good for him for that accolade. I didn’t know he was all that popular back then to be an A-list celebrity of sorts.

        Liked by 1 person

      13. Thanks for the info.

        I suppose one crucial difference is we only have the one time zone here in the UK, where the US has five I believe? That makes it easier to keep the national broadcast schedule in tact.

        I Googled “syndication” and if I’ve understood it correctly, it refers to programmes that can be shown on any station at any time with a high repeat factor to them, as opposed to shows made exclusively for and by the big networks. Is that right?

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      14. No problem.

        Very good point and I noticed that about the UK. America has 6 time zones which is crazy. 4 of them are in mainland USA AKA the Lower 48 (States). Alaska has their own and Hawaii has their own time zone. In case you’re wondering, Minnesota is in Central Time Zone which is common in most of the Midwest region.

        That’s true. Sometimes people use it as a catch all term for any show that has been featured on TV, but you’re right about shows being featured on multiple networks. Reruns of older shows are typically the most common, but there are examples that aren’t fixed to specific networks locally, regionally, or nationally. For example, when I was a kid, Dragon Ball Z was shown on the now defunct UPN and then on Fox after Fox Kids before Toonami picked it up, so that was on syndicated networks before Cartoon Network picked up the TV rights.

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