Date: May 5, 2023
Location: Coliseo de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Commentators: Wade Barrett, Michael Cole
We are in Puerto Rico for the first time ever as Backlash will be held in the same venue tomorrow night. In addition, this is the final night for the old Smackdown roster as the Draft takes effect starting on Monday. We should be in for a big show tonight though, with what will likely be a red hot crowd. Let’s get to it.
We open with a camera shot from outside, through the doors and into the arena (seemed like it was from a drone). That was a very cool shot and the arena looks GREAT (as well as packed).
Here is the LWO (with no huge video screen, making it look more like a house show for a change of pace) to get things going. Rey Mysterio addresses the crowd in Spanish and hypes up Bad Bunny and Zelina Vega. The latter goes to speak but is a bit overwhelmed, only to be interrupted by Judgment Day.
After the fans go nuts on Dominik, we get an argument in Spanish between the Mysterios. Rey switches to English and challenges Dominik to a Wrestlemania rematch but Ripley is between them. She’ll fight Rey, but Vega gets involved as well. A mixed tag seems to be made and Dominik gets in a cheap slap on Rey before bailing.
Viking Raiders vs. Good Brothers
Valhalla and the rest of the OC are here too, including AJ Styles on commentary. Erik and Anderson go to an early standoff so it’s off to Ivar vs. Gallows. Ivar knocks him into the corner but Gallows fights out and hands it back to Anderson. That earns him a knock out to the floor, giving us a Michin vs. Valhalla showdown as we take a break.
Back with Gallows coming in to clean house, much to the fans’ delight. Everything breaks down and Ivar’s top rope splash gets two on Anderson. Gallows makes the save but is ready for Valhalla’s attempted interference. Michin takes Valhalla down and Gallows kicks Ivar. Erik gets knocked outside and the Magic Killer finishes Ivar at 8:07.
Rating: B-. This was your often required hoss fight and the Good Brothers showed that they can still do their thing when they’re able to get in the ring. I’m not sure why they needed to be held out while AJ was gone as they are perfectly serviceable as a middle of the road tag team. The Vikings continue to lose and again I’m not sure why, as they could easily be used closer to the titles.
There will be a tournament for the inaugural World Heavyweight Title, with a pair of triple threats on each show. The winners will face off with each other, with the winners of the singles matches will face each other at Night Of Champions for the title.
We look at the recent European tour.
Here is Bianca Belair for a chat. She is happy to be here in Puerto Rico but she is focused on Iyo Sky. Belair has faced the best of the best and she will do it again right here tomorrow night at Backlash. That victory will make her the longest reigning Women’s Champion of the modern era but here is Damage Ctrl to interrupt. Bayley talks about how Sky is going to end the title reign and Belair will need a ticket out of the ring. The fight is on with Belair getting to stare down Sky, only to get jumped from behind. Bayley escapes the KOD and Sky dropkicks Belair down. Raquel Rodriguez and Liv Morgan make the save.
Karrion Kross, with Scarlett, is ready to take out Shinsuke Nakamura tonight.
We look back at the Usos losing last week.
Solo Sikoa ignores Jimmy Uso and Jey Usos isn’t happy about it. Sikoa heard him, but says he’ll be doing his part tomorrow. They better do theirs, and he looks at the taped thumb before leaving.
Street Profits vs. Imperium
Imperium starts with a blind tag and Kaiser is able to kick Ford down. The referee didn’t seem to see the tag so Vinci goes up top and dives onto both Profits. Back in and Vinci moonsaults Ford for two but he suplexes his way out of trouble. The hot tag brings in Dawkins to clean house. Dawkins plants Vinci and the Cash Out finishes for Ford at 2:41. They packed a lot into a short match here, to the point where I was surprised at how short it lasted.
Long video on Cody Rhodes vs. Brock Lesnar.
Here is Cody Rhodes for a chat. After addressing the fans in Spanish, Cody talks about some of Brock Lesnar’s accomplishments. His old coach Double A talked about how the goal was to claim the Kingdom and Brock is the one guarding the door to that kingdom. There are ways to avoid facing Lesnar but Lesnar came after him. Lesnar still hasn’t said why he did that but maybe Cody can beat it out of him tomorrow night as he claims his kingdom. Short and to the point here but Cody sold it hard.
Shinsuke Nakamura tells Karrion Kross to COME ON.
Riddle talks about beating the Bloodline at Backlash as Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens kind of stare. Riddle: “Am I talking too much?” Sami says there is nothing left for the two of them to say so they’re ready for tomorrow.
Karrion Kross vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Scarlett is here with Kross, who knocks Nakamura outside for a powerbomb against the post. We take a break and come back with Nakamura kicking away and hitting the running knee in the corner for two. Scarlett offers a distraction though, allowing Kross to grab the Doomsday Saito for two of his own. Nakamura slips out of a sleeper and kicks Kross in the head. Kinshasa is cut off with a clothesline but Nakamura is back with more kicks to the head. The second Kinshasa attempt finishes Kross at 8:48.
Rating: B. These two had some nice chemistry together and they beat each other up rather well in Nakamura’s Smackdown farewell. Nakamura is someone who could easily be reheated for a run at a title sooner than later and he looked good in one of his first matches back after his hiatus. Kross was his usual self: looking intimidating and losing in a match, as he still can’t really get going.
Video on the NXT stars coming up via the Draft.
Adam Pearce welcomes Cameron Grimes to Smackdown when Baron Corbin interrupts. Corbin mocks Grimes for being the last pick, but Grimes brings up the Corbin wasn’t picked at all. The match is made for next week.
Bad Bunny and Damian Priest got into it at the Backlash press conference.
Zelina Vega/Rey Mysterio vs. Dominik Mysterio/Rhea Ripley
Finn Balor is here with Judgment Day. Vega ducks some shots to the face to start and hits Ripley in the jaw, which does not seem to be the best idea. Ripley misses a big stomp and gets taken down with a hurricanrana, allowing Vega to wave at her. It’s off to Rey vs. Dominik, with the fans not liking the latter. Rhea’s cheap shot from the apron doesn’t do much as Vega comes in and loads up a 619 on Dominik, only to get kicked in the face by Ripley.
We take a break and come back with Vega hitting Ripley in the face, followed by a rolling kick to the head. Ripley drops her again and we hit the chinlock as Dominik hits the Eddie dance. Vega jawbreaks her way out of a powerbomb attempt and kicks Ripley off, allowing the diving tag to Rey.
Dominik comes in as well and gets hit in the head for his efforts. A big spinning springboard crossbody drops Dominik again but he manages to send Rey face first into the buckle. Dominik hits a Michinoku Driver for two, with Vega having to make the save. Dominik tries the Three Amigos but Rey reverses the last one into a small package for the pin at 9:27.
Rating: B-. I don’t think there was any secret about how this one was going to end as Rey had to win and Ripley wasn’t going to take the all. Vega was doing her thing here and the evasive stuff and using her smaller stature to her advantage worked against the much bigger Ripley. She still doesn’t have a real chance at the title, but points for giving her that little, tiny glimmer of hope.
Post match the beatdown, including Damian Priest, is on but Bad Bunny (in a sweet old WWF logo jacket), with kendo stick, and the LWO, come in for the save. Priest runs off as the good guys clean house. Bunny puts on the LWO shirt to end the show.
Overall Rating: B. This show was about getting everything ready for Backlash and they made me interested in seeing the show. If nothing else, the crowd reaction and energy this show had made it feel that much more important and we should be in for a big night tomorrow. The place came unglued for Bad Bunny and if he can back that up in the ring, we should be in for a heck of a Saturday. There wasn’t a bad match on the show and you can tell the fans were into what they were seeing, making this a rather fun and quality show.
Good Brothers b. Viking Raiders – Magic Killer to Ivar
Street Profits b. Imperium – Cash Out to Vinci
Shinsuke Nakamura b. Karrion Kross – Kinshasa
Rey Mysterio/Zelina Vega b. Dominik Mysterio/Rhea Ripley – Small package to Dominik
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