2023 WWE Backlash results, recap, grades: Bad Bunny, Cody Rhodes overcome the odds for wins in Puerto Rico

By the skin of his teeth, Cody Rhodes escaped Backlash with a win over Brock Lesnar. Bad Bunny, flanked by lucha libre and Puerto Rican legends, stood tall over his rival Damian Priest. The passionate San Juan crowd was enthusiastic from start to finish on Saturday, elevating every match presented at WWE’s first major Puerto Rican show in 18 years.

Rhodes enacted the vengeance he so desperately sought after Lesnar sabotaged Rhodes’ plans for an undisputed universal championship rematch against Roman Reigns. It was a bloody affair and one of the more entertaining iterations of a modern-day Lesnar match. It took a combination of ruthlessness, athleticism and strategic superiority for Rhodes to conquer the beast.

Bad Bunny once again shed his celebrity status and put his body on the line as a true WWE superstar. Fan service, weapons and a particularly impressive high spot were at the core of a supremely entertaining San Juan Street Fight between Bad Bunny and Damian Priest.

CBS Sports was with you the whole way through the event, providing updates and highlights as the action went down in the live blog below.

2023 Backlash results, grades

Raw Women’s Championship — Bianca Belair (c) vs. Iyo Sky: Huge chants of “Iyo Sky” broke out as the two women tied up. The San Juan crowd booed every offensive action by the champion and cheered each moment of success that Sky had. It was an unusual reaction towards Belair, one of the most consistently beloved superstars on the roster. A rabid “Iyo” chant commenced as the Damage CTRL member took control, damaging Belair’s arm. Every time the champion started rolling, Sky would derail her momentum by targeting the arm. Sky rolled through Belair’s offense and landed a double stomp to the chest for the evening’s first near fall. Belair halted a head scissors, snapping Sky with a backbreaker. 

Belair started muscling Sky around, leading to a scary moment in the match. Belair hoisted Sky up with a one-arm military press, selling the damage to her other arm. Belair lost control at the final moment and dumped Sky straight on her face. Fortunately, Sky appeared to be alright and the match hit its peak pace. The women traded creative counters and big moves for the remainder of the match as the crowd’s enthusiasm escalated. Belair nearly sealed the deal with a top-rope powerbomb, but Sky kicked out. Bayley and Dakota Kai, Sky’s Damage CTRL’s teammates, interfered in the match’s closing moments but were unable to turn the tide. Belair landed KOD on the challenger to retain her title. Post-match, the commentators questioned if Damage CTRL’s interference was ultimately a hindrance to Sky. 

A fantastic opener that is going to be hard to top. This was Sky’s breakout performance, her chemistry with Belair was undeniable and the crowd atmosphere was transcendent. Sky gained much in defeat and Belair became the longest-reigning women’s champion of the modern era. A victory all around. Belair def. Sky to retain the Raw women’s championship. Grade: A+

Seth Rollins vs. Omos: Rollins struggled to overcome the size of Omos for the majority of the match. The former WWE champion tried to take flight, wear out the giant with sleepers and chop him down at the legs, but Omos’ enormous frame could not be toppled. Omos tossed Rollins around like a ragdoll as MVP mocked his giant’s opponent. Rollins eventually turned the tide by spiking Omos with a DDT, crashing the entirety of his unique frame on his head and neck. In an amusing twist, Rollins attempted a Stomp on Omos, only for the giant to not budge under the weight of Rollins’ body. Rollins eventually landed the Stomp but only secured a two-count. One more Stomp, this time launched off the ropes, was enough to fell the beast. It was a fun contest with contrasting styles that benefited from its short run time. Say what you will about Omos, his PPV matches continue to be entertaining. Rollins def. Omos via pinfall. Grade: B+

United States Championship — Austin Theory (c) vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Bronson Reed: Lashley hit the ground running, toppling over Reed and Theory as soon as the bell rang. It was a wise move after the villains ganged up on him during previous encounters on Raw. Lashley’s fears played out shortly after. Theory took Lashley’s legs out from underneath and Reed followed with a big splash. They ganged up on Lashley, beating him down in the corner and delivering combination offense. Their temporary alliance was just that as Reed body-checked Theory. The communication breakdown gave Lashley a necessary moment to recover and lay out both opponents. 

Reed dragged Lashley outside and flattened him with a Vader Bomb-style attack ringside. Theory rolled through a Hurt Lock and Reed squished Lashley with a top rope splash for the two-count. The match heated up from there with each superstar finding moments of success. Theory hit a blockbuster on Lashley and remarkably got the monstrous Reed up on his shoulders. Reed got overzealous in the match’s final sequence. Theory rolled out of the way of Reed’s 350-pound moonsault, Lashley dropped Reed with a spear and Theory covered Reed for the pinfall after tossing Lashley outside. It was a solid, but unspectacular triple threat match. Theory played his role well as an opportunistic bad guy, Reed’s athleticism and Lashley’s strength were all on display. A well-placed match to cool the crowd down. Theory def. Reed and Lashley via pinfall to retain the U.S. championship. Grade: B

SmackDown Women’s Championship– Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Zelina Vega: Vega received a touching welcome in front of her fellow Puerto Ricans. The LWO member’s family sat ringside to watch her challenge for the title. She struggled to hold back the tears while being introduced by announcer Samantha Irvin. Vega snagged a shoe from her mom and tossed it to Ripley, but that only spurred Judgement Day’s enforcer. Ripley bullied Vega through the early portions of the match, laying into her with powerful blows and slams. The champ also took plenty of shots at the crowd, drawing loud boos. Ripley stretched Vega with a modified Gory Special while continuing to mock her fans.

Unable to utilize her speed advantage, the feisty Vega blitzed Ripley with strikes. A stunning counter tornado DDT was followed by a 619 – her homage to Rey Mysterio – and an Eddie Guerrero-inspired Frog Splash for a near fall. The flurry would turn out to be Vega’s first and last. Ripley stunned Vega with a capoeira-style kick before planting her with Riptide for the three count. Vega was treated to a standing ovation from the Puerto Rican crowd after Ripley exited the ring. The match wasn’t given the time to challenge the effort put forth by Belair and Sky, but it was probably wise to protect Ripley’s dominant aura. It was great to see Vega received so warmly after being primarily used as a manager. Hopefully, this won’t be her last time in the limelight. Ripley def. Vega to retain the SmackDown women’s championship. Grade: B

Bad Bunny vs. Damian Priest (San Juan Street Fight): The crowd reception towards Bad Bunny shook the foundations of the arena. The crowd sang along to every word as the rapper’s music blared through the venue. Bad Bunny welcomed the Street Fight stipulation, pushing a shopping cart chock-full of weapons to the ring. The former friends stood eye-to-eye in the middle of the ring before Priest shoved Bad Bunny over the ropes. Priest toyed with Bad Bunny, gently patting him on the cheek. Bad Bunny returned fire with a big slap followed by a Michinoku Driver. The Grammy-winner retreated ringside to retrieve a kendo stick. Priest snatched the bamboo sword and snapped it in half. Priest continued to play with his food. After landing a match-ending South of Heaven chokeslam, Priest lifted Bad Bunny’s shoulders off the mat during his pin attempt. 

Bad Bunny bridged the skill gap between them by leaning into the no-disqualification nature of the match. Bad Bunny chucked a chair at Priest’s head, spiked him with a tornado DDT and laid Priest out ringside with a top rope crossbody. The rapper bounced Priest’s head back and forth between two garbage lids before planting Priest with a falcon arrow in the ring. Priest attempted to flee, but it was a ruse to lure Bad Bunny in. Priest cracked him with a garbage bin as the fight headed into the crowd. Priest carried Bad Bunny onto an elevated equipment box and drilled him through a table with the Broken Arrow. A crazy spot that drew a loud reaction from Bad Bunny’s fans.

Priest dragged Bad Bunny back to ringside, but the break gave Backlash’s host the necessary time to recover. Bad Bunny whipped Priest with kendo sticks and hyper-extended his knee. A panicked Priest informed the referee that something was wrong, but Bad Bunny had no mercy. Bad Bunny ignored Priest’s pleas, tearing at the knee with steel chain and chair shots. Priest begged Bad Bunny to stop, apologizing to Bad Bunny as the rapper towered over his former friend with the chair. Priest cracked Bad Bunny in the jaw with a kick and raised the chair against him. Bad Bunny landed a low blow, but Finn Balor and Dominik Mysterio hit the ring before Bad Bunny could capitalize. 

Rey Mysterio tried to save Bad Bunny but the numbers were too much to overcome. Queue the entrance theme of WWE alum Carlito. Mr. “Caribbean Cool” hit the ring, toppled over Judgement Day and spat an apple in Dominik Mysterio’s face. Balor and Dominik Mysterio attempted to flee, but found themselves trapped between Carlito and Savio Vega. The remaining members of LWO – Santos Escobar, Joaquin Wilde and Cruz Del Toro – hit the ramp as the fan-favorites stomped on Dominik Mysterio. Vega cracked Balor and Dominik with a series of chops and strikes. 

Priest tried to take advantage of the in-ring chaos, but Bad Bunny locked up a figure-four leg lock targeting the compromised leg. Bad Bunny and Priest exchanged big moves in the closing sequence of the match. Bad Bunny finally overcame his foe by chipping at Priest with chair shots. A Canadian Destroyer was the final stroke that secured him the victory. The match probably went five minutes too long, but it was loads of fun. Bad Bunny doesn’t have Logan Paul’s athleticism, but he’s a lifelong fan that clearly understands what it takes to put a match together. He also did not shy away from big spots. The reception for Vega and Carlito was great to see. A delightfully overbooked mess with plenty of fan service. Bad Bunny def. Priest via pinfall. Grade: A

Matt Riddle, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs. The Bloodline (Solo Sikoa and The Usos): The tag champs and Riddle outclassed The Usos through the early moments of the match. The tide only turned once Sikoa tagged himself in and rag-dolled Zayn. The layout played into the idea that The Usos are losing a step as Sikoa grows increasingly short with his older brothers. “We want Roman” chants erupted as a brief look of disapproval crossed Jey Uso’s face. Jimmy Uso continuously communicated with his brothers, attempting to serve as the trio’s glue. Zayn’s desperate attempts to reach his corner finally materialized after an extended beatdown. Riddle got the hot tag and exploded into action. The UFC alum laid out each member of The Bloodline before knocking over all three at once with a springboard Floating Bro ringside. Owens, who was laid out earlier by Jey Uso, finally recovered and swapped in for Riddle. Owens ducked out of the way as Jimmy Uso inadvertently clipped Jey Uso with a super kick. Owens followed up with a pop-up powerbomb on Jey Uso for the near fall. 

Later in the match, The Usos isolated and nearly beat Zayn after catching him mid-air with a double superkick. Jey Uso screamed at Zayn, slapping him while proclaiming that the family’s issues are his fault. Jey Uso looked primed to finish things, but Sikoa tagged himself in as the brothers stared daggers at each other. Jey Uso returned fire, tagging himself back in with a slapping thud to Sikoa’s chest. Jey Uso tried to big brother Sikoa, presenting a monumental opening for Zayn. The former “Honorary Uce” laid out both Sikoa and Jey Uso with Helluva Kicks, but Sikoa disrupted the pinfall. Sikoa disabled Owens with a Samoan Spike before grabbing Jey Uso by the throat. Jey Uso condemned his little brother as Sikoa contemplated laying out his own blood.

The match came to an end after Sikoa tagged himself in, unbeknownst to legal man Riddle. Sikoa hit Riddle with a Samoan Spike for the pinfall and stared down Jey Uso. Jimmy Uso, aware or not of what had transpired, had a big smile on his face as he played peacemaker between his brothers. What a fantastic match. There was no shortage of chemistry or talent between the participants and the six-man tag was a refreshing wrinkle to the storyline. The tension between Sikoa and Jey Uso was handled tremendously. The match started the same way it ended with The Usos appearing to be a step behind their younger brother. Sikoa’s patience will continue to wither as his confidence grows. The Bloodline def. Riddle, Owens and Zayn. Grade: A

Cody Rhodes vs. Brock Lesnar: Rhodes has been chomping at the bit to get his hands on Lesnar and wasted no time on Saturday night. Rhodes decked Lesnar with a suicide dive before the match even started. Rhodes hit Lesnar with anything he could get his hands on: a table, steel chair and steps. The bell finally rang as the superstars entered the ring. Rhodes brought Lesnar to one knee with a pair of Disaster Kicks, but he went to the well one too many times. Rhodes was snatched out of the air when attempting a third consecutive kick and was chucked across the ring with a German suplex. The former UFC heavyweight champion conducted his greatest hits: tossing around Rhodes’ limp body with various suplexes. 

Rhodes finally found reprieve after Lesnar went face-first into an exposed turnbuckle, busting him wide open. Rhodes dropped his opponent with a Disaster Kick and further opened the wound with closed fists to the forehead. Lesnar’s face was painted red as he ate a Cody Cutter and two consecutive Cross Rhodes. Lesnar kicked out despite the damage, drawing a shocked expression from Rhodes. Lesnar snatched Rhodes’ momentum as he snatched his foe up into an F-5 for his own near fall. Lesnar, sporting a crimson mask, had Rhodes on the verge of submitting to a kimura lock. Rhodes managed to post up and pin Lesnar’s shoulders to the mat for a three-count. It was an anti-climatic ending that will rub some the wrong way, but this writer is a fan. WWE’s finishes almost always fall under one of two categories: a decisive win using a finishing move or some sort of shenanigans. Rhodes’ win was sudden and strategic. It also protects Lesnar. The match that preceded it was also more interesting than most of Lesnar’s matches these days. Rhodes def. Lesnar via pinfall. Grade: A-

#WWE #Backlash #results #recap #grades #Bad #Bunny #Cody #Rhodes #overcome #odds #wins #Puerto #Rico

Leave a Comment