The Real Winners and Losers from WWE WrestleMania Backlash
WrestleMania Backlash promised the ultimate fallout from WrestleMania 37. The night certainly delivered on elevating the talent that brought it all at The Show of Shows.
Rhea Ripley opened the show against Charlotte Flair and Asuka. Anyone could have won this, but The Nightmare was the smartest competitor. By defeating these two women, she has solidified herself as a wrestler at the same level.
Bobby Lashley was in trouble as a champion as he faced worthy challengers in a Triple Threat. Drew McIntyre and Braun Strowman challenged him throughout, but The All Mighty stole the victory from The Scottish Warrior to remain a dominant champion.
Cesaro brought his all to a fight with Roman Reigns in his first world title main event match. The Swiss Superman had The Head of the Table on the ropes despite injuring his arm early in a bad fall but ultimately fell short, passing out to the guillotine.
Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode had a plan, but it was not enough. The Mysterios made history together while making the former SmackDown tag team champions look lesser to a weakened team.
Damian Priest has played second fiddle to many. From Bad Bunny at WrestleMania to zombies at Backlash, The Archer of Infamy's win was once again overshadowed by a cross-branding angle.
The winners on Sunday night continued to build lasting momentum, but the losers fell down the ladder and may miss forthcoming WWE pay-per-views.
Winner: Rhea Ripley
Rhea Ripley lined up against two of the most decorated women in WWE's history: Charlotte Flair and Asuka.
The Empress of Tomorrow worked with The Nightmare for a time, but ultimately both needed the gold. Ripley managed to knock Charlotte out of the ring and pin The Empress after the Riptide.
This was an important match for Ripley. Defeating Asuka was the first step, but Charlotte was always going to be a bigger challenge. This contest especially had the chance to allow WWE to quickly move the title to The Queen, given Asuka was in the contest to take the fall.
Instead, The Empress fell to The Nightmare again, which sets up a future singles match between Ripley and Charlotte. It is more likely now than ever that the Raw women's champion will overcome the woman who defeated her at WrestleMania 36.
Asuka could be considered the loser in this case, but the division always ebbs and flows. What matters is that The Empress remains a part of Raw. She can make everyone better. She has already brought Ripley to a higher platform than most get when transitioning from NXT to Raw.
The women's division is in a good state. However, there's a lack of depth past these three women for the long term. It's time to let Ripley run and give Charlotte and Asuka the challenge to build the future of the division.
Losers: Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode/Winner: Rey Mysterio.
Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode attacked Dominik Mysterio backstage, and medical staff would not clear him before the match, so Rey Mysterio had to go out alone.
However, just when it looked like The Master of the 619 was running out of steam, Dominik joined the contest and the father-son duo won off a 619 and frog splash.
This was a fun but predictable match once Dominik was injured. Rey is still an all-time great, and he brought it throughout against two veterans. The arrival of his son brought new energy and made the title change matter.
Despite all that, though, Ziggler and Roode should not have lost based on the supposed build they had as champions. They never got a chance to look dominant and lost to The Mysterios despite having every advantage.
This was the chance for the heels to steal another win as they did against The Street Profits before. As dramatic a moment as it was, it would have been special to see another month of Rey and Dominik training up for their rematch and making sure The Dirty Dawgs could not steal their moment again.
A reminder that WWE Hell in a Cell 2021 will be on Father's Day meant that was an opportunity WWE missed entirely.
In the end, though, Rey was the big winner. He wanted this moment more than anything. Dominik also proved he can compete with the best, and WWE has finally committed to the two. It is all down to how long the company trusts them to run with the gold.
Loser: Damian Priest
Damian Priest walked into this Lumberjack match with The Miz riding high, but much of that was lost when John Morrison revealed the lumberjacks were zombies.
This was all part of a promotional stunt for the movie Army of the Dead.
While Priest did win in the end, it was secondary to the movie promotion. Just like his WrestleMania debut was secondary to Bad Bunny, The Archer of Infamy has been dominant but largely forgotten. He continues to be WWE's promotional machine.
It should eventually pay off, but many casual fans would be forgiven for not taking him seriously yet. He barely even had the run in NXT to solidify himself fully in the eyes of fans. He needs a serious feud.
Until he gets that, Priest will be stuck in this same angle with The Miz and Morrison, who also cannot catch much of a break. The A-Lister is made forever, but his teammate needs more than he is getting.
The two of them were "eaten by zombies" at the end of this contest, and we can only hope it leads to the two getting a few weeks off and setting up a brand new angle that does not require cross-promotion.
Winner: Bobby Lashley
Bobby Lashley knew he was at a disadvantage and tried to work with Drew McIntyre early to eliminate Braun Strowman, but The Scottish Warrior was the biggest threat and sent the champion through the stage.
However, The All Mighty recovered just in time to steal McIntyre's pin on Strowman to retain.
Much like Rhea Ripley, Lashley could well have lost without anyone blinking an eye. While most expected him to win, WWE rarely commits to the predictable. It would have been a shame for him to lose this early in his title reign, though.
Luckily, WWE made the right decision. The All Mighty remained champion. He now has an easy match to sell with McIntyre next month at Hell in a Cell. That could lead to a title change, but it becomes less and less likely we will see Lashley fall any time soon.
This was not the champion's match, especially after McIntyre took him out of the action, but it was still his moment in the end. If he had lost the WWE belt without being in the ring, his reign would look identical to his previous United States Championship tenure.
Lashley has solidified himself as a memorable WWE champion. When his reign does end, it should only be the beginning of crafting his main event legacy. Wins like this always help.
Roman Reigns told Jey Uso to stay in the back from his match with Cesaro, as he looked to prove he was truly great in spite of Jimmy Uso's questions.
The Swiss Superman took advantage of the even odds and pushed The Head of the Table to the limit. However, in the end, Reigns made him pass out to the guillotine choke.
On a night of great wrestling, this was the best of the best and deserved its main event spot. While Cesaro was never quite ready to dethrone Reigns, he had to have proved something to the WWE hierarchy to earn a chance at this level.
Sunday was not to be his moment, though, and Reigns remains the focal point on SmackDown. However, the blue brand shifted to another angle after the contest when Seth Rollins attacked Cesaro. It is almost certain these two will clash again soon.
WWE cared enough about The Swiss Superman to put him over in a loss and establish that he is still in one of the blue brand's top angles. He and Rollins have unfinished business while The Head of the Table has to refocus on handling his business with Jimmy Uso.
What comes next is what will decide the future of the business. Reigns is certain to remain champion for a long time, but will Cesaro be able to keep his momentum going? Hopefully, every major WWE official was watching his excellent performance closely.