As WWE's first pay-per-view after WrestleMania, Backlash feels a bit like the season opener would in other sports. While WWE doesn't have an offseason, WrestleMania feels like the end of a movie, or the ultimate championship game.
For all intents an purposes, Backlash is Opening Day—we even have new rosters thanks to the Superstar Shake-Up.
With a slew of title matches, the landscape of WWE could change drastically by night's end. Even more, after tonight, we'll have a better vantage of what it's spare for the sudden classic pay-per-view that was us in June—Money in the Bank.
So let's get into WWE's first big show of the 2018-2019 season, here's your Backlash breakdown:
Seth Rollins and The Miz opened Backlash with a Match of the Year candidate that ultimately saw Rollins retain his Intercontinental Championship.
With a hasty build and both men returning to their respective shows, there was little room for a story in the is a match. However, what they lacked in the narrative they over-delivered in performance as both Rollins and Miz turned in their finest efforts of 2018.
As the hottest Superstar in WWE, Rollins' victory was expected, but what's next is a total mystery. It looks like Rollins may be in the early chapters of a long reign as champ, but who will challenge him next? Finn Balor? Jason Jordan? Dean Ambrose?
There was little reason for Alex Bliss to win this match—and that's exactly why she lost.
WWE has put a concerted effort to combine Jax's reign as champion with their Be a Star platform, that adds up to her holding this belt for a long time—or at least until Ronda Rousey is ready.
It's hard to say if this was the end of the Bliss/Jax rivalry. If WWE had a full menu of Superstars for Jax to pick from, Backlash would certainly be it for this friends-turned-enemies rivalry. However, with Sasha Banks and Bayley feuding and the rest of Monday's stable of women being mostly inexperienced, Bliss may be Jax's only option.
Like so many other matches on this card, Orton and Hardy's conflict had little room to expand in the rush build from the Greatest Royal Rumble to Backlash. The Miz and Rollins were able to deliver in spite of that, but Hardy and Orton were not.
The pair of veterans had a decent enough match, but it lacked a hook, and it certainly didn't reel anyone in. In the end, Hardy won but the bigger question is where WWE goes from here.
Hardy will always be popular, but as US Champion, he'll need some better storylines. Orton could hang around for a rematch but WWE will likely want to give him consequential plans. For either Orton or Hardy, hot NXT call-up, Andrade Cien Almas could be next.
Thanks to his exceptional work as a heel, it was reasonable to expect WWE to hand him a massive victory over Daniel Bryan at Backlash.
But that didn't happen.
Instead, Cass tapped out to the Yes Lock after quick match whose most remarkable moment came in the opening moment when the Newark New Jersey crowd broke into a "We Want Enzo" chant.
While Cass didn't get his big win, he did get to pummel Bryan after the match. It looks like we'll be getting plenty more of this feud.
Carmella caught us all off guard after her successful MITB cash-in on the great Charlotte Flair. But we had to pick our jaws off the floor after she pinned Flair cleanly at Backlash to retain her SmackDown Women's Championship.
Flair has a nearly impeccable reputation at WWE pay-per-views, but her loss was foreseeable, given the lurking IIconics. But the Australian duo stayed on the shelf and Carmella snuck out a win all by herself.
It's hard to imagine Carmella's belt not finding its way back to Charlotte, but it may take a little longer than some expected.
Yet again, WWE chose to punt away a decisive moment in the feud between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura—their WWE Championship match ended in a double count out for the second consecutive big event.
At the Greatest Royal Rumble, it was Styles aggressions that end the match, but at Backlash it was synchronized kick to both men's genitalia.
WWE appears to be ready to drag this feud out, or simply never ending it.
Few things in life are impossible, but Owens and Zayn beating Strowman and Lashley were certainly one of them. The girthy giants handled the pair of Canadians with ease, then opted for an extra helping after the match.
On an interesting note, WWE may use Backlash to drive a stake between KO and Sami. While eventually would get his comeuppance, Sami watched from the sidelines as Strowman dismantled Owens after the match.
KO vs. Sami looks to be on the docket for later this year.
Samoa Joe utterly dominated 90% of the match. However, in wrestling, only the final three seconds matter and those belonged to Roman Reigns.
Joe did solidify himself as one of the most fearsome villains in all of WWE and can use this match to vault himself into SmackDown's main event. A showdown with Aj Styles for the WWE championship seems likely, depending on how WWE wants to book the remainder of Styles/Nakamura.
For Reigns, this win ends his pay-per-view slide and will likely be used to justify another showdown with Brock Lesnar. While some fans may be clamoring for Braun Strowman to get an opportunity, as far as Vince McMahon is concerned, this is still Reigns' yard.
It's only May and it's already become
We have no idea what WWE's plans are for Rollins, but it's hard to imagine him staying away from the Universal Championship for the year of the year. At this rate, Rollins will be the most popular star in the company by July and SummerSlam may be the time to crown the Kingslayer.
For now, he'll stay on his electric run as Intercontinental Championship, but bigger stages await Rollins.
Sure, Backlash had the excitement of opening day, but that never guaranteed a great show. For the most part, Backlash was only able to tread water for 3.5 hours rather than swim forward.
Rollins and Miz were fantastic, but the remainder of the event lacked consequence. Part of that was due to the limited two-week build up which contributed several forecasted endings, Carmella's clean victory aside.
From a fan's perspective, Backlash didn't do much to move the needle and those who paid top dollar for the ticket may be wishing they saved the extra cash for a frivolous trip to the grocery store.
However, Money in the Bank looms on June's horizon, and that show is, by custom, wild.