Emanating from the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot in San Juan, Puerto Rico, WWE Backlash 2023 had an energy unlike any other corporate event.
From the opening to the main event, the Superstars received major reactions from the crowd.
Fans chose to create new talent with loud reactions for Zelina Vega and Iyo Sky, but no one got more from the crowd than Bad Bunny.
Omos had the best game of his career to date against Seth Rollins. The visionary made him look like a beast.
The Bloodline was featured in perhaps the least memorable match of the night.
Cody Rhodes and Brock Lesnar felt out of place in this show’s main event and weren’t quite able to sell this as the most important match of the night.
Overall, Backlash was special and some names took serious advantage to become the defining winners of the night. Others, however, left San Juan less impressively.
At the start of her match with Bianca Belair, few expected Iyo Sky to take the win.
WWE’s EST was poised to become the longest reigning Raw Women’s Champion in company history, and The Genius of the Sky could barely win a match.
Despite all this, the crowd went wild for Sky even before the bell. It was clear San Juan fans wanted a surprise title change.
Feeding off that backlash, The Genius of the Sky staged their best WWE match yet. She pushed Belair to stay in WrestleMania mode for another fantastic Raw Women’s Title match.
Although the dream didn’t come true, the ending showed how close Sky came to winning. Too bad CTRL, especially Bayley, couldn’t get on the same page with her, and it cost her a stunning victory.
WWE has a star in the making with Sky. If she breaks up with The Role Model, WWE should consider giving her a rematch with Belair and, this time, giving her the win.
The second game of the night also delivered a career performance.
Omos found his perfect opponent, as Seth Rollins forced him to push his limits and made him look like a monster heel.
This is the competition The Nigerian Giant needed. Even though he lost, he pushed the likely next WWE World Heavyweight Champion to his limit. He pushed Rollins to dive deep into his bag of tricks to pull out a super finisher.
It’s likely The Visionary could have a good match with anyone, but it always takes two to tango. Omos needs more fights like this where his opponent plays to his strengths.
The Nigerian giant can quickly bounce back from this loss, looking back at how long it took The Visionary to beat him. It may even be a game to revisit one day… with gold at stake.
Again, it wasn’t the match winner who had the big moment. Zelina Vega had the contest of her career against Rhea Ripley, who is performing at her absolute highest level.
While it was never really a question of whether The Eradicator would retain, his challenger had the entire crowd behind her as she fought from below.
His underdog comeback, complete with a 619 and a second-string meteor, made a strong impression. However, nothing was more special than the standing ovation Vega received after the match.
Latino World Order is a team that has just started to gain momentum. If the blue brand fully commits to the group in 2023, Vega could find herself in another SmackDown Women’s Championship match in the future.
If she gets the big win on that second opportunity, it will all come back to that moment. Vega was never a bigger star than tonight.
As the first of what WWE called a “double main event,” Bad Bunny and Damian Priest had a match for the ages, the ultimate crowd pleaser in San Juan.
It was a spectacular display of the best stardom in WWE history. Bad Bunny was the biggest star in the world in this arena on Saturday night. His entrance alone was an impromptu concert.
When he needed to win, he did everything to make Priest special. He outplayed his rival better than anyone in WWE.
It’s only because The Archer of Infamy repeatedly decided to inflict more punishment rather than win that he didn’t achieve a clear and dominating victory.
The contest received so much time and attention that the madness of overbooking including LWO, Carlito and Savio Vega never prevented the full match between these two Puerto Rican stars. Hopefully Priest can continue that into a huge 2023.
Meanwhile, Bad Bunny never needs to wrestle again, but he would be welcome anytime.
For the first time in years, The Usos weren’t in a top angle at a WWE PPV.
Arguably, this was the lowest point Bloodline history landed on a premium live event, as the six-man tag team match was a cooldown between the two main contests.
Roman Reigns was badly missed on this show. The crowd made it clear with a noticeable chant “We want Roman” beginning during the slow period of this game.
While the crowd was on fire for Sami Zayn, the rest of the talent had to work hard to engage fans. It was a shocking turnaround for what has been WWE’s hottest angle for so long.
This story will heat up when Reigns returns, but it was the first strong indication that The Bloodline might not be WWE’s biggest story for much longer.
On paper, Cody Rhodes vs. Brock Lesnar was Backlash’s biggest match, but neither man could sell it as worthy of the stardom it was given as the “double main event” alongside Bad Bunny vs. Damian Priest.
It was a fast-paced grassroots brawl that used a surprise bloodstain to try to amp up the action. Instead, it distracted from what should have been a triumphant return to form for The American Nightmare.
Although Rhodes was certainly done with the crowds, it was a cheap end to an exciting show. He didn’t even get a chance to celebrate, running away as Lesnar looked shocked at the end of the night.
This was one of the weakest matches Rhodes had on the main roster, especially at a PPV. He worked as a heel in a time when he should be a babyface underdog fighting from below for victory.
It would have been a nice mid-show contest to stage a future rematch, but it felt out of place as the main event on a night of special moments.