Heel Booking Saves Randy Orton vs. Edge and Hot Takes of WWE Backlash Results
From the moment WWE inexplicably slapped the "Greatest Wrestling Match Ever" tagline on Edge and Randy Orton's WrestleMania rematch, there was considerable pressure on the all-time great stars not to fall flat on their face and prove social media doubters and critics right.
Sunday night at WWE's Backlash pay-per-view, they turned in a legitimate Match of the Year candidate that exceeded expectations of a fan base that skeptical of The Viper and Rated R Superstar's abilities to deliver under the circumstances.
It was just one of several hot topics to come out of Sunday's WWE Network presentation.
What joined their epic encounter?
Find out with this recap of the June 14 extravaganza.
Women's Tag Team Division Is Company's Most Consistent Right Now
Someone behind the scenes at WWE has a ton of faith in Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross because Sunday, for the second pay-per-view in the last three, they kicked off the show in one of the most important spots on the entire card.
After opening up WrestleMania 36 with a win over The Kabuki Warriors for the gold, they sought their third reign as champions as both they and The IIconics' Billie Kay and Peyton Royce challenged new champions Bayley and Sasha Banks.
While they came up short, the three teams continued the roll the women's tag team division has found itself on post-Mania in WWE.
The chemistry of the three teams, both on the mic and in the ring, has been on full display across both Raw and SmackDown, culminating in a highly energetic Triple Threat Match that stood out as one of the better bouts on the entire Backlash broadcast.
Banks and Royce, in particular, impressed with their few exchanges while both Bliss and Cross have hit their strides as babyface performers. While the outcome never really felt in-question, thanks to the newness of Bayley and Banks' reign and the mileage still left in their reign, the predictable outcome never hurt the quality of the bout.
With three teams to build around, as well as Raw women's champion Asuka and Kairi Sane, the potential to continue that division's hot streak is high, beginning with the champions' defense against Tegan Nox and Shotzi Blackheart this Wednesday on NXT.
Miz, Morrison Outshine Universal Champion Strowman in Throwaway Match
Braun Strowman’s ice-cold run as Universal champion continued Sunday as he defeated The Miz and John Morrison in a Handicap Match in which the challengers outshined him from the minute they walked through the curtain.
Whether they were amusing the audience with the debut of their latest music video or writing the latest chapter of their story by teasing dissension following a late-match miscommunication, the former SmackDown tag team champions stole the spotlight, further derailing The Stroman Express despite the big blue belt he currently possesses.
A Performance Center recruit could have filled in Strowman’s spot and the same thing could have been accomplished. This wasn’t about The Monster Among Men overcoming the odds. No, this was about setting up the split and subsequent rivalry between Miz and Morrison, something that had been hinted at for weeks, dating all the way back to the Triple Threat Match where the former lost the SmackDown tag titles in a Triple Threat singles match.
Why WWE Creative thought it needed to reduce Strowman to this particular spot on the card despite his status and title is unknown. What is, though, is that The Monster Among Men could not possibly be colder entering the heart of the summer and coming off a two-on-one match in which he was undeniably overshadowed by two current midcard stars will not do him any favors.
Double Count-Out the Right, Only Logical Finish for Asuka vs. Nia Jax
There were plenty of questions surrounding the Raw Women’s Championship Match between Asuka and Nia Jax entering Sunday’s show, not the least of which was: what’s the best finish for two stars who cannot really afford a loss?
The answer: a double count-out.
While that is hardly a satisfying one, especially on pay-per-view, WWE really had no other choice.
Yes, there is the option of not booking it at all but assuming the company has plans for the competitors at Extreme Rules, it needed to get them there. Booking the finish that they did, on a C-level pay-per-view that will be memorable only for the main event, hardly hurts the show or anyone involved.
Neither woman loses, Asuka gets some revenge on Jax for weeks of torment and her treatment of Kairi Sane, and the rivals move onto their next encounter.
Which may, or may not, include Charlotte Flair if recent booking tendencies are any indication.
Raw Tag Team Championships Devalued in Another Cinematic Segment
The vignettes featuring The Street Profits and The Viking Raiders were totally acceptable in the weeks leading into Backlash, even if they did lose some of their charm along the way because a traditional tag title match in which they could showcase their in-ring abilities was the endgame.
Unfortunately, that match did not take place Sunday as advertised.
Another wilder, crazier, over-the-top segment took its place.
This one had Akira Tozawa leading a band of ninjas on motorcycles, bowling balls, trash monsters and turkey legs. It was fun, if nothing else, but underwhelming.
While it was nice to see the writing team exercise its creative muscles, the Raw tag titles had their credibility diminished. No longer were Ivar and Erik chasing Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins for the top prize in tag team wrestling. Instead, they were engaging them in a comical brawl that was more Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles than sport.
Yes, it is important to have those comedic elements to the product to help change things up but pay-per-view should be the culmination of weeks of storytelling and instead of wrapping this particular feud up, the writing team ensured it will stretch on for at least another week.
Probably with pre-tapes galore and WWE management beating that joke into oblivion.
Perfect Heel Booking Caps Match of the Year Candidate, Sets Up Edge-Orton III
The main event, Match of the Year candidate between Edge and Randy Orton concluded Sunday with The Viper reverting to a low blow and his rarely used punt to secure the victory.
It was the perfect ending to a brilliantly constructed match.
For weeks, Orton touted that he was the superior wrestler. He was better than Edge and would prove it in The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever. And he nearly did, until Edge kicked out of his RKO. Then another. And an Angle Slam. And a Pedigree.
Frustrated, the villain of the match threw away all attempts to prove himself the superior in-ring competitor in the name of victory, resorting to the cheapest of tactics and brutalizing his rival with a straight kick to the head.
Faced with incredible pressure to live up to WWE’s inexplicable tagline, the performers delivered a fantastic match that played up previous encounters and saw each pull every weapon out of their arsenal, and utilizing previous foes’ finishers in search of a win.
The finish and the post-match taunting by Orton, telling Edge to go home and be with his family, would seem to suggest a third match in their series but with Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful Select reporting Edge suffered an injury in the match, and Bryan Alvarez of F4WOnline.com revealing it to be a torn triceps on Twitter, who knows when the conclusion of their trilogy may occur?