WWE Backlash results, recap, grades: Cody Rhodes retains WWE championship in front of electric French crowd

WWE Backlash results, recap, grades: Cody Rhodes retains WWE championship in front of electric French crowd

WWE’s decision to bring a premium live event to Lyon, France proved to be a fantastic idea as a lively crowd brought heaps of energy to an entertaining Backlash card on Saturday. The fans were loud from the first match to the last, which also happened to be the two best matches on the card.

In the main event, Cody Rhodes made the first televised defense of his undisputed WWE championship when he defeated AJ Styles. The match was a grueling, hard-hitting affair that saw both men nearly win several times before Rhodes was finally able to deliver Cross Rhodes to get the win.

Had the main event not been as good as it was, it may have been overshadowed by the wild show-opening match where Kevin Owens and Randy Orton teamed up to take on The Bloodline’s Solo Sikoa and Tama Tonga. The match was turned into a street fight before it truly got underway, which set the stage for a lot of chaotic action before Tanga Loa made his WWE debut, helping The Bloodline get the win.

One set of titles did change hands on Saturday, with Jade Cargill and Bianca Belair capturing the WWE women’s tag team titles with a win over the Kabuki Warriors.

CBS Sports was with you the whole way through the event with live updates and highlights as the action went down.

WWE Backlash results, grades

Kevin Owens & Randy Orton vs. The Bloodline (Solo Sikoa & Tama Tonga): The match started with a brawl featuring all four men in the middle of the ring before the action spilled to ringside. The fight continued until referees, officials and security ran to ringside to try and get everything under control. Nick Aldis came out and announced if they didn’t want to follow the rules, the match would now be a street fight. More chaotic brawling throughout the arena before the action returned to ringside. Orton dropped Tonga on both ringside commentary desks and Owens did the same to Sikoa on the ring steps. Orton and Owens used trash cans and kendo sticks as they had begun to fully dominate the match. Owens then drove Tonga through a table placed at ringside with a frog splash from the ring apron.

Sikoa finally managed to regain momentum and he and Tonga began to blast away at Owens with trash cans and trash can lids. Owens managed to put Sikoa through a table out of desperation but Tonga was there to cut off any further comeback attempt from Owens. Orton finally got back in the match, however, and brought the fight to Tonga, hitting a powerslam, hanging DDT and RKO before Sikoa made the save. As Sikoa and Orton went outside the ring, Sikoa tried to hit a Samoan Spike but Orton reversed into an RKO on the commentary desk. Tanga Loa made his surprise debut after Owens hit Tonga with a brainbuster from the middle rope onto four chairs that had been set up. After Loa hit Owens and Orton with the ring steps, Sikoa finished off Owens with a Samoan Spike. This was a wild brawl with some huge moments, none bigger than Owens’ brainbuster. Loa’s arrival is the next step in the seemingly endless Bloodline saga and we’ll have to wait and see what that means, but the match itself was a fantastic watch. The Bloodline def. Kevin Owens & Randy Orton via pinfall. Grade: A-

WWE Women’s Championship — Bayley (c) vs. Tiffany Stratton vs. Naomi: Some quick pin attempts from all three women got the match going. Things shifted into the next gear after Stratton hit a big running stomp as Bayley was trying to pin Naomi. That briefly brought the action down to just Stratton and Bayley for a stretch. After Stratton had been getting the best of Bayley, Naomi reentered the match, tackling Stratton through the ropes only for Stratton to hit her back handspring elbow and toss Naomi over the ringside barricade. Bayley then hit Stratton with a suicide dive and turned into a Naomi blockbuster from off the barricade. A Naomi split-legged moonsault on Stratton got a near fall.

Naomi got another two-count off a powerbomb on Stratton and then it was Bayley’s turn to nearly pin both women after a top-rope elbow drop. Bayley delivered a Bayley-to-Belly to Stratton for another near fall before Stratton sent her shoulder-first into the ring post. Naomi and Stratton brawled on the outside before Stratton slammed her onto a commentary desk. Stratton then did the same to Bayley before putting them both in the ring and looking for the B.M.E. Naomi and Bayley rolled out of the way and teamed together to hit a 3-D to take Stratton out of the match. Bayley and Naomi briefly went one-on-one before Bayley was able to reverse a pin into one of her own to get the win. The match had a lot of really rough spots with moves not really clicking several times and leading to some awkward moments. Still, this was far from a disaster and Stratton needs more of these big spotlight matches to continue on her path to eventually becoming a champion. Bayley (c) def. Tiffany Stratton & Naomi via pinfall to retain the title. Grade: B-

World Heavyweight Championship — Damian Priest (c) vs. Jey Uso: Uso taunted Priest early, having the crowd do his “yeet” bit. This eventually led Priest to go on the offensive, taking Uso out of the ring and driving him into the ringside barricade. Priest started to batter Uso with big strikes before slowing things down. Uso came back with big shots of his own before a crossbody led to a two-count. Uso continued the attack with a dive into Priest on the outside but his momentum was halted when JD McDonagh came to ringside and used the middle rope to crotch Uso. Rather than take advantage of the situation, Priest argued with McDonagh, telling him he didn’t want help. Uso superkicked McDonagh and dropped Priest before landing an Uso Splash for a near fall.

Both men traded strikes until Priest was able to hit a Razor’s Edge for a near fall of his own. Another near fall came moments later, this time after Uso hit a spear. As Uso was going to the top rope, Finn Balor ran in, causing a temporary distraction that allowed Priest to hit South of Heaven to nearly win yet again. Priest hit two spinning kicks and set up for a third only to end up eating a series of superkicks from Uso, followed by a spear and another Uso Splash. This time, McDonagh put Priest’s foot on the rope to break the count. Uso hit McDonagh with a suicide dive and then ran around the ring to spear Balor. This all led to Priest hitting South of Heaven from the middle rope to retain his title. After the match, Priest stopped Balor and McDonagh from attacking Uso, leaving them visibly confused and upset. Nothing spectacular here, but it was a perfectly fine and serviceable title defense for a champion still in the early days of his run. Furthermore, the match has furthered the coming split between Priest and the rest of Judgment Day. Damian Preist def. Jey Uso via pinfall to retain the title. Grade: B

WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships — Kabuki Warriors (Asuka & Kairi Sane) vs. Bianca Belair & Jade Cargill: Belair and Asuka got things going, with both women having nice early moments until Belair had a run of offense culminating in a suplex that led Asuka to tag out. Belair followed suit, bringing Cargill into the match where she tried to muscle Sane around the ring before hitting a pair of one-armed backbreakers and tagging Belair back in. Belair blasted away at Sane before making the mistake of chasing her to the outside, which allowed Asuka to deliver a kick to the head before Sane came off the top rope with a crossbody.

Sane and Asuka kept Belair isolated, trading tags and keeping Belair away from her corner. Belair finally came near making the tag but Sane was able to jump off of her back to knock Cargill from the ring apron. The champs continued their double teaming to keep Cargill out of the match until Belair was finally able to knock both down and make the tag. Cargill hit a crossbody on both women before a clothesline, kick and splashes in the corner. Cargill hit Sane with a two-handed chokeslam for a near fall. Asuka and Sane finally forced Cargill onto the defensive briefly, which led to some clunky interactions. Sane locked Cargill in an armbar and Asuka did the same to Belair, leading to both challengers picking them up with one arm to deliver a powerbomb. After a series of tandem moves, Belair nearly had the win but Sane kicked out. Cargill saved the match for her team moments later, breaking up a pin after an elbow drop from Sane. Cargill caught Sane coming off the top rope, niftily moved her into position to hit Jaded. Belair then hit Asuka with the KOD onto Sane and scored the pin to win the titles. This match was rough. Things just did not click at all starting about halfway into the match and it led to several very sloppy spots. Cargill maneuvering Sane into position for Jaded was very cool, though. Bianca Belair & Jade Cargill def. Kabuki Warriors (c) via pinfall to win the titles. Grade: C-

Undisputed WWE Championship — Cody Rhodes (c) vs. AJ Styles: Styles and Rhodes started out feeling each other out with some mat work. That didn’t last long before they exchanged punches to the jaw. After Styles drove a knee into Rhodes’ midsection, the chops started to fly in both directions. Rhodes hit Styles with a delayed gourdbuster but Styles fired right back before hitting and armbreaker and then focusing his attack on Rhodes’ left arm. Momentum continued to swing back and forth, with Rhodes sidestepping Styles and sending him face-first into the middle rope.

After a brawl at ringside, the two men battled for position on the top rope, eventually ending in an awkward moment when Rhodes tried to deliver a superplex that it appeared Styles was supposed to counter but both men simply fell to the canvas. Once things got back on track, Styles had a springboard moonsault countered by Rhodes, who hit a powerslam moments later followed by a Disaster Kick for a two-count. Styles would eventually deliver a huge brainbuster to Rhodes on the ring apron. That didn’t do much for Styles, however, as Rhodes came right back, powerbombing Styles through the French commentary desk.

Back in the ring, the two men fired up and agreed to go toe-to-toe with strikes. Rhodes went for a Cody Cutter, which Styles reversed, followed by another reverse by Rhodes before Styles finally ended the reversals with a snap suplex into the corner turnbuckles. A springboard 450 nearly won the match for Styles. Rhodes then kicked out of a burning hammer at one, firing up and demanding Styles bring the fight. Rhodes hit a Cody Cutter for a near fall seconds later. Rhodes set for Cross Rhodes but ate a Pele kick from Styles in response. Rhodes then countered a Phenomenal Forearm with a superkick and locked in a kimura but Styles escaped. Rhodes hit a top-rope Cody Cutter followed by Cross Rhodes to retain the title. Rhodes and Styles delivered a very high-quality main event. There was never really any doubt over who would win coming in, it was just a question of how good this first-time pairing could deliver. Unsurprisingly, they delivered in a bit way. Cody Rhodes (c) def. AJ Styles via pinfall to retain the title. Grade: A-

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