The last time WWE hosted a major premium live event in Puerto Rico was back in January 2005 with New Year’s Revolution. The main event saw Triple H capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship inside the Elimination Chamber against names like Randy Orton, Batista, and Chris Jericho. Now, a new crop of WWE stars is poised to impress the Puerto Rican fans at WWE Backlash, and they are bringing an international music sensation turned pro wrestler with them, hometown hero, Bad Bunny.
With the big show only hours away, here is Haus of Wrestling’s official preview and predictions for WWE Backlash 2023.
PREVIEW: The time has come once again for Omos to heat up a WWE star ahead of a major match. At WWE WrestleMania 39, The Nigerian Giant attempted to do battle against “The Beast” Brock Lesnar. A victory over the former WWE and UFC Champion would have helped get the big man’s momentum back but, sadly, after a few minutes of action, and brief flurries of offense, Omos fell to Lesnar.
At the time, rumors were floating around that Lesnar could be taking another break from WWE, making the win over Omos, or the match taking place, a bit of a head-scratcher. However, the next night on Raw, Lesnar blindsided Cody Rhodes ahead of a main event tag team match against The Bloodline, setting the stage for a money-making program between the two. Omos’ loss served to showcase Lesnar’s dominance just as he was about to begin this program.
Now, it looks like Omos will be doing the same honors for Rollins ahead of The Architect’s anticipated inclusion in the WWE World Championship match at Night of Champions. Paul “Triple H” Levesque announced at the Backlash press conference earlier today that the tournament to crown that champion will begin this Monday on Raw, and a win over Omos will certainly give Rollins some momentum heading into it.
PREDICTION: Seth “Freaking” Rollins
PREVIEW: In 2021, WWE drew the ire of pro wrestling fans and pundits when they excluded Zelina Vega from their 9/11 Smackdown taking place in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. The outrage stemmed from the fact that Vega’s father was sadly killed on 9/11 as he was working in one of the World Trade Center towers when the airplanes hit. Many were hoping to show their love to Vega that night and when they were not able to, shared their anger with WWE instead.
In the year or so since, Vega has been an on-again, off-again presence on WWE TV but seems to finally be creatively back on the tracks as a member of the LWO. Vega debuted alongside Legado del Fantasma when they made to leap to Smackdown, replacing Elektra Lopez in the act, who had been with them in NXT. The faction has become intertwined in the Mysterio family feud in the past few months and, as the backup to Rey, has been rechristened as the former NWO faction.
At Backlash, Vega, who is of Puerto Rican descent, will have her chance to finally claim her first WWE Women’s World championship. Unfortunately for her, she will have to get through a more than game Rhea Ripley to do it. Following a dominant WWE Royal Rumble win, and physical WrestleMania 39 match against Charlotte, it will be very difficult to knock The Judgment Day’s Mami off the top of the mountain.
PREDICTION: Rhea Ripley
PREVIEW: Austin Theory finds himself behind the eight ball at WWE Backlash as he has to defend his United States Championship against both Bronson Reed and Bobby Lashley. The two big men have been clobbering each other back and forth the past few weeks, and Theory has been doing a good job of prodding them on.
With the feud between Lashley and Reed seemingly just heating up, there doesn’t seem to be much of a reason to take the title off Thoery here. I expect Reed and Lashley to hit some kind of big spot on each other leading to Theory coming in to pick up the scraps, and victory.
The man just beat John Cena less than a month ago! No way he’s eating a meaningful loss so soon after that.
PREDICTION: Austin Theory
PREVIEW: What do you do with an unbeatable champion like Bianca Belair? Having run through nearly everyone on the women’s roster, sometimes on multiple occasions, there are only so many marquee names left to put up against the current WWE Raw Women’s Champion. So, WWE appears to have spun the wheel of challengers for Belair and landed on IYO SKY for WWE Backlash.
SKY’s current stable, Damage CTRL, has been around since SummerSlam of last year and has yet to find any real momentum on the main roster. Which is really a shame considering how wildly popular all three women have been at different points in their career. Most recently, the trio ate a loss to Lita, Becky Lynch, and Trish Stratus at WrestleMania 39, and rumors about their future as a group has run rampant.
Belair has been nothing short of a shining star for the promotion as the female face of Raw and it seems unlikely they are ready to take her out of that position. With Damage CTRL doing more damage to themselves than others, it seems SKY may have a limit.
PREDICTION: Bianca Belair
PREVIEW: Roman Reigns may not have to compete at every WWE premium live event but that isn’t the case for the rest of The Bloodline. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens will continue their quest to put an end to the dominant Anao’i family faction in Puerto Rico, with fun-loving, stoner bro Matt Riddle by their side, for some reason.
Unlike Cody Rhodes, Zayn, and Owens were able to pick up a WrestleMania 39 main event victory over The Bloodline when they beat The Usos for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships on night one. It was a win that led to everyone in the arena leaping to their feet and cheering with glee, a stark contrast to the end of night two, which ended with stunned silence and some boos as Reigns stood tall.
With Rhodes beaten and done with for the moment, The Bloodline has all of its attention on Zayn and Owens, along with getting back the titles they lost. Of course, Zayn is still trying to take down The Bloodline on a cerebral level and is hoping to create cracks in the ranks, ideally leading to the ground disbanding. It doesn’t seem like Solo’s allegiance is in question but some miscommunication between The Usos could result in a loss for the dominant faction.
PREDICTION: Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, and Matt Riddle
PREVIEW: WWE is in a golden age when it comes to celebrities making the transition to pro wrestling. While WWE has welcomed notable Hollywood names in the past, none put on the quality of matches we are seeing from Pat McAfee, Logan Paul, and Bad Bunny.
When not appearing at the Met Gala with his girlfriend Kendall Jenner, Bad Bunny takes time out of his busy schedule to lend backup to one of his childhood heroes, Rey Mysterio, who is currently being terrorized by his son, Dominik. Many anticipated Bunny would team up with Rey to take on Dominik and his Puerto Rican Judgment Day buddy, Damian Priest, at Backlash. However, after a kendo stick beat down at the hands of the Grammy winner, it will now be Bunny going heads up against Priest in a Street Fight.
Rey and Dominik are currently not booked for a match on the show, nor are Balor and the LWO for that matter, so I expect a lot of interference to help drive the drama of the action. While I would love to see Priest get a big, surprise win here, it doesn’t look to be in the cards. A victory for Bunny in his backyard will certainly grab WWE positive headlines worldwide, which will be more than welcome to WWE as it finalizes its acquisition by Endeavor and looks to negotiate new TV rights deals.
PREDICTION: Bad Bunny
PREVIEW: If you read my editorial about how Cody still has a path to WWE Championship glory, then you probably know how I think this one will go. Back in April of 2012, Lesnar returned to WWE the night after WrestleMania XXVIII and confronted John Cena. The Beast was returning to the promotion after a successful run in the UFC, where he had become World Heavyweight Champion.
Many expected Lesnar to defeat Cena at the upcoming PPV, Extreme Rules, to reestablish himself in the WWE main event picture. However, things did not go that way, and it was Cena that left Lesnar laying at the end of the match. Shortly after Cena would take a break from WWE, and Lesnar would go on to headline countless WWE events, despite the loss.
The signal sent with the loss to Cena seemed to be ”just because you left and got over, when you come back, you’re going to do business our way.” The same can arguably be said for Rhodes, who lost in surprising fashion to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 39. With Rhodes looking to get back on the tracks, it seems likely Lesnar, having been in a similar spot, would be open to helping him.
PREDICTION: Cody Rhodes