In what seemed like an unlikely main event for a pay-per-view, Cody Rhodes and Brock Lesnar gave wrestling fans a compelling -- and bloody -- drama Saturday in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Rhodes and Lesnar, the last two challengers to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania for championship supremacy, seemed poised to work together to face off against The Bloodline on Raw after WrestleMania. Instead, Lesnar rebelled and F-5'd Rhodes, and a new feud was put in front of us.
At Backlash, Rhodes fought like he was ready to quickly get past The Beast Incarnate and got in a ton of offense on Lesnar. Rhodes was crisp and dynamic, landing big moves while matching Lesnar's physicality at every turn. That physicality turned into Rhodes tripping Lesnar into an exposed turnbuckle and leaving Lesnar busted open and gushing blood.
This is INTENSE between @CodyRhodes and @BrockLesnar at #WWEBacklash! pic.twitter.com/gmdz0TST1S— WWE (@WWE) May 7, 2023
With Lesnar leaking blood and stunned, The American Nightmare landed his double Cross Rhodes and seemed poised to finish his opponent off.
And then Lensar did what he always does: He surprised us all with another F-5.
Rhodes beat the two count, but Lesnar locked in a kimura. Rhodes looked ready to tap, but he managed to posture his way up to pin Lesnar's shoulders on the mat. With Lesnar unwilling to release the lock, the referee counted him to give the 1-2-3 victory to Rhodes.
What's next: With that type of finish, it's nearly a guarantee that we'll get another installment of Rhodes vs. Lesnar.
Six-man tag team match: The Bloodline (Solo Sikoa and The Usos) def. Matt Riddle, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
The biggest question going into the co-main event of Backlash wasn't whether who would actually win the match; it was whether The Bloodline (sans Roman Reigns) could hold it down against a formidable threat of Riddle, KO and Zayn.
For the first two-thirds of the match, things went according to plan as both teams fought to a draw. And then things started to unravel.
Are there more issues within The Bloodline?#WWEBacklash pic.twitter.com/ztFbS7K6JA— WWE (@WWE) May 7, 2023
It started with Sikoa tagging himself in throughout the match, causing tensions to rise among the family members. Eventually, a heated debate took place between Jimmy and Sikoa, allowing Zayn to hit a helluva kick on Jimmy. Later, in the heat of battle, Jey accidentally hit Jimmy with a superkick, then Sikoa almost hit Jey with the Samoan spike before catching himself, leading to another family confrontation.
Unfortunately for their opponents, The Bloodline persevered, as Jey landed a superkick on Zayn and Sikoa spiked Riddle to get the 1-2-3 victory. Afterward, The Bloodline members looked frustrated about their performance but smiled and celebrated through the chaos.
What's next: It feels like this is the end of Zayn and Owens versus The Bloodline -- Zayn said as much earlier in the week. This drama show was all about The Bloodline anyway, and we'll see what happens when Reigns returns to the fold, having witnessed what took place from afar. It still feels like a turn is coming, doesn't it?
San Juan street fight: Bad Bunny def. Damian Priest
It wasn't Bad Bunny's first performance inside a WWE ring, but this one against Priest was definitely the most epic.
WOAH! 😲😲😲@sanbenito just took down @ArcherofInfamy in the first few moments of the San Juan Street Fight at #WWEBacklash! pic.twitter.com/2T4AIxCsDl— WWE (@WWE) May 7, 2023
Both wrestlers put on a show, delivering multiple high spots throughout the match. Anytime Priest looked like he had control of the match, Bunny responded in incredible fashion. It was a street fight, which meant weapons, rule-breaking and outside help were all involved. For Priest, an injured knee left the Judgment Day member compromised for the second half of the match. However, when things began to look dire, his faction mates Finn Balor and Dominik Mysterio came to assist.
When all looked bleak for Bunny, reinforcements came in to help, some local and some from Latino World Order.
Savio Vega is here in Puerto Rico at #WWEBacklash to take out The Judgment Day! pic.twitter.com/mBuFevlENZ— WWE (@WWE) May 7, 2023
Rey Mysterio came out first to help Bunny out, but to even the odds, Carlito made his first WWE appearance in years. However, when it comes to odds and Bunny, who cares? More LWO members and Savio Vega came out to take Balor and Mysterio completely.
Bunny later locked in a figure-four on Priest along with multiple steel-chair wacks on Priest's knee. To end it, Bunny hit his Bunny Destroyer for the victory and huge pop from his hometown fans.
What a win for Bad Bunny in the San Juan Street Fight at #WWEBacklash!— WWE (@WWE) May 7, 2023
The LWO is here to celebrate! pic.twitter.com/ZROqPNIadf
What's next: Whenever Bad Bunny wants to wrestle, let the man wrestle. As soon as possible.
SmackDown women's championship: Rhea Ripley (c) def. Zelina Vega
Vega, adorned in Puerto Rican attire, was in full Boricua mode in San Juan. The fans in attendance showed her nothing but love, as Vega was touched by the ovation. Ripley's response to the fans' appreciation for her opponent? A vicious powerbomb and a dismissive hop out of the ring. It looked like the SmackDown champ would make quick work of Vega, but the L.W.O. member responded by linking a DDT and a Rey Mysterio-approved 619. Vega then landed double knees on Ripley and got a two count.
Take it ALL in, @ZelinaVegaWWE. ❤️🥲#WWEBacklash pic.twitter.com/j0LQ4AFSu9— WWE (@WWE) May 7, 2023
Ripley got her bearings and landed a vicious riptide finisher and secured the win to retain her belt. In defeat, Vega got another standing ovation from the crowd.
What's next: Ripley's reign as champion continues unbothered, and it'll be interesting to see who steps up this summer. It could be Vega, but how she gets there is unclear.
WWE United States Championship: Austin Theory (c) def. Bobby Lashley vs. Bronson Reed
Lashley looked like he'd be poised to take the belt from Theory, as The Almighty quickly dispatched Theory outside the ring and then went to work on Reed. Lashley nearly had the Hurt Lock locked on Reed, only for Theory to disrupt the hold. Then it was Reed's and Theory's turn to get revenge on Lashley, as Reed hit a springboard tackle off the apron to Lashley outside the ring. Reed then hit a splash off the top rope to Lashley for a two count. Lashley looked for revenge and hit Reed with a spear, only for Theory to redirect Lashley out of the ring and pinned Reed to retain.
.@BRONSONISHERE just busted out a Moonsault at #WWEBacklash!#USTitle pic.twitter.com/1BC2RcsD6N— WWE (@WWE) May 7, 2023
What's next: Reed had some big moments in his first run at a big show, but it's time for Lashley and Theory to finish their rivalry this summer. Theory seems poised for a bigger opportunity, but it could make sense for a worker like Lashley to hold the belt next.
Singles match: Seth Rollins def. Omos
Rollins went into San Juan with fans singing his signature chorus and playing his greatest hits in the ring against the massive target that is Omos. Given his recent run in the promotion, Rollins is being asked to bring his opponents up to his level, and Omos delivered an inspired performance. This is an ultimate compliment to Rollins and a sign of good faith by the WWE in the still-rising prospect Omos.
KICKOUT AT 1! 😲#WWEBacklash pic.twitter.com/5mRcHo1fRE— WWE (@WWE) May 7, 2023
Rollins attempted his curbstomp to only have Omos use his face to counter it, then getting off a chokeslam for a two count. Rollins went to the sleeper, only for Omos to break out twice. Unfazed, The Architect went with a curbstomp from the top rope to take home the win.
What's next: We're here for more Rollins matches against rising prospects, if it allows for more experimentation and to gauge which wrestlers are worthy of more promotion. We're also here for Omos to be in a match with some stakes that he could actually win. However, we're not here for these two to face off again. We're good.
Raw women's championship: Bianca Belair (c) def. Iyo Sky
Sky was up to the task against the Raw women's champ on Saturday night. Sky, fighting in singles' action away from her Damage CTRL faction, didn't need the backup against Belair. Sky had a counter for the champ's every surge, as The EST looked ready to retain her title on numerous occasions. A 450 splash? Countered. One-armed gorilla press? Countered? K.O.D.? You guessed it, countered.
Is this @Iyo_SkyWWE's night at #WWEBacklash? pic.twitter.com/HCAAJdNme6— WWE (@WWE) May 7, 2023
Even when Belair leveled up to put Sky away, like a vicious powerbomb from the second rope, Sky kicked out. It felt like Sky might every answer for the champ, but then the faction members of Bayley and Dakota Kai came to intervene. Their intervention looked like it might be the difference-maker, but this time it was Belair who countered ... err, escaped a Sky top-rope moonsault and finally finished the match with her patented K.O.D.
EST of WWE! 💪#WWEBacklash pic.twitter.com/6HA6qrxq1C— WWE (@WWE) May 7, 2023
What's next: Belair is a worthy champion who likely has some more work to do with the belt, but she's been lacking for worthy dance partners who don't include Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley. Sky's dancing shoes shined bright on Saturday, and a rematch at Money In The Bank or SummerSlam -- without the help of her teammates -- could make for a compelling drama.