WWE Backlash is an early candidate for 2023 Show of the Year

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MAY 06: Bad Bunny enters the ring during the WWE Backlash at Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot on May 06, 2023 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.(Photo by Gladys Vega/ Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MAY 06: Bad Bunny enters the ring during the WWE Backlash at Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot on May 06, 2023 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.(Photo by Gladys Vega/ Getty Images) /

There are a lot of things to complain about when it comes to WWE booking, but critics and online voices tend to fall short in giving the company praise when it’s time. WWE Backlash 2023 is one of those moments when the largest promotion in the industry deserves some praise for the show it put on for fans in Puerto Rico and viewers around the world. With everything that went down and the feeling coming out of this PLE, it is an early candidate for the 2023 card of the year.

Backlash had all the moments that made for a special event. Babyfaces win big. Hometown personalities getting their moment in the spotlight. Major surprises, and important matches that pushed angles forward. Was everything perfect? Absolutely not, but it’s hard to find a show in any promotion that could be deemed “perfect.”

Bianca Belair and IYO Sky set the tone with the first match. For nearly 20 minutes the two women battled for the WWE Raw Women’s Title with the message loud and clear – this was Sky’s moment. Even though she didn’t come out as the victor, this match continued the impending split in Damage CTRL and put Sky on the map as many fans have long wanted to see.

Rhea Ripley and Zelina Vega did the inverse. Yes, Vega had her moments, but Ripley dispatched her in a little more than seven minutes, making it clear that she’s the destructive force WWE intends to book her as. Vega got her moment in front of the fans she represents, and from her reaction that was an outcome she’s long desired.

Seth Rollins continued to do what Seth Rollins does, and that is excellent at professional wrestling. He did an exceptional job making Omos look great in their match, pushing the big man to his longest singles match to date. So much so, WWE could rally this momentum and perhaps take him on a better course than he’s currently on. As for Rollins, it’s World Heavyweight Championship time or bust for the future Hall of Famer.

Cody Rhodes did something that WWE babyfaces usually don’t do, and that is playing it smart. He jumped Brock Lesnar from the start of the match, hitting the Beast with everything that isn’t tied down. When it looked like he was going to lose, his brain once again prevailed to reverse the kimura for the win. In a world where heels are consistently booked as the smartest people in the room and babyfaces look like idiots, it’s a nice change of pace to see Rhodes get a win this way. Is this feud over, probably not but it creates a bit of space that perhaps Rhodes will come out on top the right way.

Were there low points on the show? Of course, but they did not stop the momentum. The triple threat for the WWE United States Championship and the six-man tag match felt more like matches you’d see on weekly television, but that’s OK. They were not “bad” in any sense of the word.

And then there’s the real main event between Bad Bunny and Damian Priest. This had everything to keep fans on their feet for the entire 25 minutes. Bad Bunny continues to show that he loves professional wrestling in a way that builds his celebrity each time he’s involved. Priest was the show’s MVP, playing the perfect foil and carrying Bunny through the match just enough that fans wouldn’t notice. Everything about this worked. Carlito and Savio Vega returned to amazing pop. The outside-the-ring antics delivered. There shouldn’t be any complaints about this match.

WWE Backlash 2023 was a fun event that reminded many this is what professional wrestling on this scale should be. A fun show with great matches from top to bottom. They may be few and far between for WWE, but that doesn’t detract from the praise the company should get for what they delivered on Saturday, May 6.

Next. Predicting the WWE World Heavyweight Tournament. dark