Pictures: WWE

With the WWE Draft taking full effect this week and Night of Champions fast approaching, there was a lot to learn from a highly entertaining edition of Backlash.

The people of Puerto Rico brought the heat and were energetic throughout the entire show, enjoying their first Premium Live Event since 2005.

Cody Rhodes battled the Beast in the main event, while Bad Bunny’s performance against Damian Priest emerged as Backlash’s biggest highlight.

No new champions were crowned, as the Visionary slayed the Nigerian Giant and more dissension was shown within The Bloodline ahead of Roman Reigns’ return.

Overall, Backlash was a great spectacle heading into a very important period for WWE. The Draft should administer a sense of freshness and new rivalries, while the race for the World Heavyweight Championship is commencing this week.

The Inner Sanctum will analyse the four biggest takeaways from Backlash.

Video: WWE

IYO SKY’s time is coming

Bianca Belair and IYO SKY kicked off festivities for the Raw Women’s Championship and put on a fantastic display, rivalling Rhea Ripley vs Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania as WWE’s best women’s match for 2023 so far.

The crowd was desperate for a triumph from the challenger, as they showered the E.S.T. with a chorus of boos. The Genius of the Sky had control for the majority of the match, relishing in the reactions she was receiving.

When she was looking likely to put Belair away, Bayley and Dakota Kai made their way to the ring and SKY’s chances stumbled.

Towards the end of the contest, the Role Model distracted the referee and it allowed Kai to deliver a kick to the Raw Women’s Champion. The challenger was looking for her finisher, when the official noticed that Bayley was holding Belair’s hair to prevent her from escaping.

The E.S.T. then delivered a KOD to retain her title, with tension between Bayley and SKY set to spark on Smackdown this week. The challenger had the match won and was firing on all cylinders, until her Damage CTRL teammates involved themselves in the fray.

The result may prompt a face turn from the Genius of the SKY and finally removing herself from Bayley, as she has proved she can ride solo. A feud could then commence, with a match taking place at either Night of Champions or SummerSlam if WWE can drag it out that far.

This would kickstart a bigger push for IYO and a potential rematch against Belair, depending on if there is a trade or title swap with the women’s champions. It is also difficult to envision who else could dethrone the E.S.T., apart from Charlotte Flair which the WWE Universe would not be receptive of.

Video: WWE

Cody Rhodes and Brock Lesnar aren’t finished yet

There were different directions and possibilities that Cody Rhodes’ match against Brock Lesnar could have gone. Some were predicting a one-sided affair from the Beast, while others were adamant that the American Nightmare had to prevail.

Their main event was not pretty and eventuated to be a slog, as Rhodes took the early advantage by attacking Lesnar during his entrance.

When the match finally started, the American Nightmare was in control until the Beast turned the tide with multiple suplexes.

Rhodes then exposed the turnbuckle, which set up the future circumstances. Lesnar later ran into the steel and wore a crimson mask, blood pouring down his face to give his opponent an opening.

The former WWE Champion outlasted an onslaught of attacks from Rhodes, placing the American Nightmare in his signature kimura lock. However, the 2023 men’s Royal Rumble winner was able to use Lesnar’s bodyweight to apply a pinfall for the victory.

The Beast was unhappy after the match and will not take this defeat lightly, now wanting retribution at Night of Champions. He challenged the American Nightmare to a ‘fight’ at the Premium Live Event, after costing him in the first round of the World Heavyweight Championship tournament on Raw.

Since this is the avenue WWE has taken, Lesnar should now finally explain why he attacked Rhodes on the Raw after WrestleMania. It has been the one missing piece to the puzzle in their feud, causing a lack of story.

Video: WWE

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Damian Priest deserves respect

A view from the majority of the WWE Universe was that the San Juan Street Fight should have main evented Backlash, as Bad Bunny and Damian Priest produced a clinic.

It was a war between the two friends-turned-foes, as the artist proved his in-ring credentials. The match was fun and saw interferences from The Judgment Day, LWO, Savio Vega and even Carlito.

Bunny showed that he, along with Logan Paul are the best celebrities to step foot inside the squared circle. It was also his second match in WWE, with his first being two years ago at WrestleMania 37.

The WWE Universe were impressed back then and were just as amazed with his display at Backlash, as Triple H has grown a respect for what the music sensation has achieved in the ring.

While many have given props to the winner, the Punishment of The Judgement Day should also receive credit for the work he produced and ensuring his opponent to perform the way he did.

It also showed the trust WWE had in Priest, while giving him a match he would have loved being apart of. He sold a leg injury very well and made Bunny look more like a star, also delivering a falcon arrow from the top of road cases through multiple tables.

The street fight greatly compensated Priest not competing at WrestleMania and while some would say a loss hurts him, The Judgment Day will still be primed as a top act on Raw regardless.

Video: WWE

International Premium Live Events need to become a norm

The attendance in San Juan were hot during the whole show and showed no signs of cooling down, as nearly 18,000 people took their rare opportunity of witnessing a Premium Live Event and made the most of it.

It had been 18 years since the last in Puerto Rico and with the atmosphere they provided, it should send a message to WWE that they need to expand their horizons and produce international Premium Live Events more often.

The electricity is different and there is not one match the audience is quiet for, with Clash at the Castle and now Backlash emphasising that.

WWE will be heading to London for Money in the Bank, while they will conduct two Premium Live Events in Saudi Arabia like they have for the past several years.

If the company could host annual Premium Live Events internationally, it will go a long way in terms of their diverse exposure and giving fans who don’t live in the United States a chance to see their favourite superstars live.

Former WWE Chairwoman and Co-CEO, Stephanie McMahon hinted at the possibility of Australia hosting a stadium show after the Foxtel deal was announced.

The country’s last Premium Live Event was in 2018, when Super Show-Down emanated from the Melbourne Cricket Ground and saw the likes of John Cena, Triple H and The Undertaker compete.

Video: WWE

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