Written By: Mark Armstrong
Running Time: 197 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 1
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: July 23 2018
(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)
If you went online shortly after Backlash 2018 took place, you’ll have read that it was one of the worst wrestling PPVs ever. At the time, I found that criticism to be somewhat harsh, and I feel the same way when revisiting here on DVD. Nevertheless, while the reaction to proceedings was over-the-top, Backlash is far from a great show, and doesn’t deliver a strong viewing experience the second time around.
It starts well enough with a superb Intercontinental Championship match between Seth Rollins and The Miz, which is the best opening match to a WWE PPV so far this year (and arguably one of 2018’s best encounters, period). Nia Jax vs. Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship is a decent battle too, if overly long, though many soured on Nia’s post-match promo which served as an in-ring advert for the Be A Star campaign (on that note, I understand if people didn’t like the corporate nature of this speech, but otherwise, have wrestling fans reached the point where we boo somebody for standing up to bullying, as per the storyline?).
The battle between Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton for the United States Championship is okay, but it’s a run-of-the-mill bout; Orton, in particular, seems to phone in his performance here, which is part of the reason why he remains a divisive wrestler amongst many. A segment involving Elias, The New Day, Rusev Day and No Way Jose is followed by Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass. This feels like a lifetime ago now due to Cass being fired a few weeks later, which reduces the appeal further of rewatching this match. It’s just another bout; not terrible, but not particularly eventful either, and that includes Cass’ post-match beatdown of Bryan.
The show takes a major turn for the worse with Carmella vs. Charlotte for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. It’s a poor match, which most blamed on Carmella’s perceived shortcomings, and the finish appears to be botched; even if it wasn’t, then cowardly heel Carmella cleanly pinned top dominant babyface Charlotte, which makes no sense. AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura under No Disqualification rules for the WWE Championship is a very good match until the abrupt no-contest ending, which may have been more tolerable had they not battled to a double countout at the Greatest Royal Rumble. I personally didn’t make the outcome, but the same can’t be said for fans in Newark, who seemed to completely turn on the show at this point.
Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn is more filler, and the way in which KO and Sami argue towards the finish hints at another feud between the two that did not materialise. Finally, despite a furious start, Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe degenerates into a slow, plodding rest hold-based match, which totally turns off the crowd and makes this one of the harder main events to watch due to the hostile crowd. Most notable for many fans leaving on camera when Roman triumphs, it was categorised as a complete failure, though the recent reactions to Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins at Extreme Rules (which I will cover in more detail in a future review) suggests that this is only part of a worrying trend which will occur regardless of who is in the ring or what the results of such matches are. We also get the Kick-Off Show bout between Bayley and Ruby Riott as a DVD extra, which is one of the better contests from the evening.
No doubt, this is a flawed show, more from a booking perspective than an in-ring standpoint, though some of the matches are on the boring side. Again, I reiterate that casting this as one of the worst PPVs ever is a stretch when you consider the archive of horrendous WWE supershows (King Of The Ring 1995, In Your House 4, Judgment Day 2004, The Great American Bash 2004, ECW December To Dismember 2006 and Unforgiven 2007 are just a couple of contenders for that lofty throne).But it’s definitely a substandard card, and its best match (Rollins vs. Miz) will probably end up on the Best PPV Matches 2018 DVD anyway. Therefore, due to some baffling booking, strange match placements and lacklustre performances, Backlash 2018 is hard to recommend.
Overall Rating: 5/10 – Average