WWE Backlash: Did AJ Styles Get Revenge on Nakamura?

Welcome to so much Backlash’ing!

It’s been a hella busy month in the world o’ WWE!

We had WrestleMania 34, then the RAW and SmackDown after Mania, then the Superstar Shakeup, and most recently The Greatest Royal Rumble – the latter being more of a glorified house show than the loaded PPV-style event many thought it might be.

Now we’ve made it to Backlash – a dual-branded PPV (as they’ll all be going forward). Will this event – despite not having Cena, Undertaker, Triple H, Brock, or a giant Rumble match – move the needle at all? Well, in the very least it’ll have three women’s matches, right?


WWE Champ AJ Styles once again takes on Shinsuke Nakamura – this time in a “No DQ” match (signifying that both dudes are just going to kick each other in the groin over and over). Plus, Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe clash in a grudge match, The Miz attempts to topple IC Champ Seth Rollins and both Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss will try to win back their respective Women’s Championships.

Keep it locked in here for all the WWE Backlash action! Let us know what you think of the results down below as they roll in over the next four hours. I’ll also be live-tweeting over at @TheMattFowler, so feel free to follow me over there.

Bayley vs. Ruby Riott (Backlash Kickoff Match)

Now that Absolution is no more, the Riott Squad can stand a bit taller as a much more formidable female heel stable on TV. We won’t have to watch the “numbers game” play out on both shows as much – though the Iconics and Carmella are forming their own little clique that might prove problematic for Charlotte.


Bayley was able to swat away a few cheats but eventually she fell to fell to outside interference. I’m not sure what any of this has to do with anything unless Ruby eventually challenges for Nia’s title, or if this all works, for whatever reason, to unite Bayley and Sasha – but it was a decent opener.  Bayley’s top rope Macho Man Elbow is still awesome, by the way.

Winner: Ruby Riott

Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins vs. The Miz

Side Quest: I’ve never understood the “Miz Can’t Wrestle” hate. Especially over the past two or three years. Dude’s freakin’ solid in the ring. Purposefully, his move-set isn’t dazzling or dynamic because he’s an old school heel who doesn’t want to get too over in the ring based on cool maneuvers. Anyhow, this was a really hot one-on-one bout with an alive crowd and some really nerve-wracking near falls.


Every time it seemed like Rollins’ hurt leg was going to cost him the title (he kicked out of two Skull-Crushing Finales), he preservered and powered out. They really need to set Seth against Brock next. He’s way over right now, and certainly more over than Roman (Miz is more adored than Roman). The best part of this one was that we all knew Seth was winning because the IC title had to stay on RAW, but the match was so good that it created these moments of doubt and disbelief.

Winner, and still Intercontinental Champion: Seth Rollins

Raw Women’s Champion Nia Jax vs. Alexa Bliss

To be fair, given the size discrepancy between these two, their matches will never be a clinic or a showcase. But also, to their credit, between WrestleMania and this Backlash bout they’ve now given us two pretty fun encounters that have creatively played up that size difference. I don’t know that it could go for much longer though so it’s best to kill it here, with Alexa’s second loss.


Nia catching Alexa mid-Twisted Bliss, and turning it into a Samoan Drop, was a cool way to cap off the match. The after-match PSA chat, about bullying and such? Not so much. Good message, but someone over-salted the stew. It felt like someone was loudly answering a question no one had asked.

Winner, and still RAW Women’s Champion: Nia Jax

United States Champion Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton

One of the rumors heading into this match was that Orton could turn heel. Which…doesn’t seem like it would mean too much. He’s already an aloof a-hole who RKOs everyone. I guess, maybe after this clean Swantan Bomb loss to Jeff, he could snap and become…more unpleasant somehow.


As much as I got a kick out of them sticking with Jeff here (I mean, it’s a boring either/or scenario between two Ruthless Aggro Era singles stars) I’m wondering…will we see any big title changes on this PPV? I’d hate for this to be a zero-sum three plus hours.

Winner, and still United States Champion: Jeff Hardy

Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass

Haha, I loved that Daniel Bryan just basically muscled Big Cass down to the mat for the Yes-Lock and made him tap. He didn’t catch him with a quick move or a reversal, he just grabbed the dude’s arm and pressure pointed him down and then mashed him to a pulp.


The mystery/question here, heading into Daniel Bryan’s first PPV singles match since his big return, was: Will Bryan be used as a stepping stone for newer guys or would he get rocketed back into the main event? Well, we went halfsies. Bryan definitely won with a submission. It wasn’t a roll up or something that protected Cass. But then Cass attacked Bryan after the bell to, assumedly, keep the feud going. In the end, we need Bryan to feud with Miz so maybe Cass eventually gets a “W” over Bryan thanks to Miz-terference…down the line.

Side Quest: Whenever a heel decimates an opponent after the bell, after a loss, I always wonder “Why didn’t they do this type of attack during the match? It clearly works.”

Winner: Daniel Bryan

SmackDown Women’s Champion Carmella vs. Charlotte Flair

Well, that was sort of a barf-o finish. Carmella needed to cheat more to retrain that gold, against the woman who freakin’ ended Asuka’s streak. For Charlotte to just jam up her knee a little bit after a moonsault and then get kicked in the leg? And that leads to a pin?



Seth Rollins worked with a “hurt” knee for most of his Miz match and still kicked out of multiple predicaments AND finishers. This was a really wonky win. AGAINST!

WWE Champion AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Welp, WWE made us all hang on the edges of our seats for a low blow/nut shot. That was the entire point of this “No DQ” match. Not that a chair wasn’t brought out – a chair that AJ threw into Shinsuke’s knee, that then came flying back into his face, drawing blood! – but mostly everyone was waiting for the groin-apalooza. Oh, and it happened. Shinsuke got one in, then AJ got one in. AND THEN THEY BOTH ROCKY II’D EACH OTHER IN THE BALLS! What a world.


Listen, these two are still fighting. Nothing was solved here. I feel like nothing will get solved either until Nakamura either wins the belt or AJ smartens up and wears a cup to protect himself. The funny thing is, technically, they’ve only been wrestling a month. Sure, the lead up to ‘Mania lasted longer, but they’ve only been physical for 30 days-ish. They’ve just faced each other on three big PPV deals in a short span so it feels longer. It’s clear WWE either doesn’t want it to end just yet or…they don’t know how to end it.

Winner: No Contest, because balls.

Braun Strowman & Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

So…Sami was legal but Kevin got pinned and…WWE doesn’t know what to do with Bobby Lashley and…this was weird. At least Sami managed to take off Bobby’s dumb headband. It just makes him look like he’s got a detachable skull cap that you can pull off to expose the brain underneath.

Okay, so Sami and Kevin are big heels and they lost pretty cleanly to Braun and Bobby a few weeks back. Now they were facing them again and no one expected them to fare much better. But why bury them twice? As an asterisk here, Sami wanted to leave and Kevin wanted to keep fighting and then Sami betrayed Kevin so, in the end, they were undone by infighting but…are we going to have them feud now? Or is this just another Sami/Kevin feud tease? Also, are Braun and Bobby in the mix to actually go after the tag belts? Mehhhh.

Winners: Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley

Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe

Matt Fowler is a writer for IGN and a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA). Follow him on Twitter at @TheMattFowler and Facebook at Facebook.com/MattBFowler.


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