Roundtable: WWE WrestleMania Backlash 2021 Preview

WrestleMania Backlash is upon us and some of the Hooked On Wrestling team weigh in with their thoughts and predictions for WWE’s big May show.

WM Backlash 2021 - Bianca Belair vs Bayley

Credit: WWE

WrestleMania Backlash takes place this weekend and the Hooked On Wrestling team are here to share their thoughts on what we can expect from the PPV.

Before you read on, you can enter our free Backlash predictions contest by clicking HERE. If you need more info about the show, you can read out handy explainer guide.

WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Cesaro

Roman Reigns Cesaro
Credit: WWE

Paul Benson: This is the match that makes the show for me and frankly, I suspect most wrestling fans would agree. Those that listen to The Hooked On Wrestling Show each week with me and Ash Rose will know how much love I have for the SmackDown main event scene in 2021. It has been impeccably booked and has made Roman Reigns the most complete WWE character since CM Punk whilst also improving every character that comes into his orbit. Truly exceptional stuff. As much as many of us would love to see Cesaro win the title (“You deserve it…” and all that), now is not the right time. He has been built magnificently as a challenger and now he must do what serves the ongoing story the best and lose to the champ in an exceptional, close run match. What us Cesaro fans should hope for coming out of Backlash is not the Swiss winning the title but instead, ensuring he is secure as a long term, bonafide main event star. No more midcard tag teams for our boy please.

Winner: Roman Reigns

Daniel Steele: WrestleMania concluded with the most dominant champion in recent history, Roman Reigns, smashing, stacking and pinning both Edge and Daniel Bryan. Such decisiveness is rarely seen in a Triple Threat match. Reigns was cemented as the top dog in that moment; it would be odd for WWE to immediately undermine that by having him lose here. Against Cesaro, too? A superstar they have never looked eager to push in the main event scene? I don’t see it, but is that not what they want us to think? This is going to be great. 

Winner: Roman Reigns 

James Dee: This is everything the ‘Cesaro Section’ has been dreaming of and it is somewhat fitting that he is going against one of the most reviled faces/beloved heels of the past five years in his big main event opportunity. Seemingly everyone wanted Cesaro to get a run at the top and it seemed like Roman Reigns was getting opportunity after opportunity whilst drawing boos for all the wrong reasons. Now, Reigns is getting booed for all the right reasons and Cesaro finally has his chance to step up. There is so much storytelling potential here and I am here for it. This is going to be an excellent match but I think it’ll have a shenanigans filled ending. The Usos will probably get involved and I hope that it helps build to a soaring victory for Cesaro in a triple threat at SummerSlam between him, Rollins and Reigns.

Winner: Roman Reigns 


WWE Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Braun Strowman

Bobby Lashley Braun Strowman Drew McIntyre
Credit: WWE

Paul Benson: I’m just not feeling this, to be honest. I like all three guys involved (Although I’ve massively cooled on Strowman over the last year) but this match screams placeholder. I’m not sure WWE quite know where they want to go with the Raw main event scene and this match simply allows them to spin their wheels in the mud for another month. The same could be said of the whole show to be honest. Expect an average match with plenty of ‘Slappin’ Meat’ and The All Mighty to retain.

HOW ABOUT...
On This Day In Wrestling History...12th June

Winner: Bobby Lashley

Daniel Steele: Strowman currently occupies the old Big Show role, he can seamlessly slot into World Title feuds as required. He stood tall over Lashley and Drew to close Raw, which reinforces my belief that he has been included to take the decisive fall. Drew has been a central figure in the World Title picture since early 2020, he’s due some time away from the scene, perhaps a rivalry with former stablemate Jinder Mahal is next? Process of elimination says the All-Mighty champion retains. 

Winner: Bobby Lashley 

James Dee: Interesting one this one, I love Bobby Lashley with the title. He just looks natural with it and with MVP by his side it gives the whole top of the card a much needed splash of technicolour in the often grey Raw main event scene. I also love Drew as champion, he’s fiery and feels honest when he fights, outside of a Claymore based pyro, there’s very little that’s flashy or unnecessary with him, everything is to the point and that’s refreshing to see. Strowman is, to quote Charlie Kelly, the wildcard here and while he has had a run with the championship before, it was rather anaemic and disappointing in hindsight and to be honest that makes him pin-fodder here. Lashley will win this I think and McIntyre may drift away from the title for a while before coming back at SummerSlam with some aplomb.

Winner: Bobby Lashley 


SmackDown Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair (c) vs. Bayley

Bianca Belair Bayley
Credit: WWE

Paul Benson: A great choice for a first title defence for Belair. Bayley is a genuinely disliked star but most importantly, a hugely credible recent former champion. If WrestleMania made Belair a star, this win will add a little rocket fuel to the push that will soon allow Belair to be in a position to face upcoming challengers and drag them into their orbit before maybe, just maybe, having to Man up at SummerSlam to face a returning star….

Winner: Bianca Belair

Daniel Steele: When I joined the Hooked On Wrestling team recently I told Paul that I am a knowledgeable wrestling fan but my performances in HOW Predictions Contests suggest otherwise. Nonetheless, this pick is easy. Bianca Belair won the Women’s Royal Rumble before defeating Sasha Banks in a WrestleMania main event. Bayley didn’t have a match on the two-night card. She hasn’t won since February. On the WWE After the Bell podcast, an official WWE production, Corey Graves and Vic Joseph admitted that this match is a foregone conclusion, which says it all. 

Winner: Bianca Belair 

James Dee: There’s not much dispute about who is winning here. Bayley carried the division on her back last year and, while she is wonderful, she is only really serving here as a credible opponent to help Bianca Belair build her legacy with the championship. The actual match should be great and if both superstars have their working boots on we could be looking at a top end straight-up match on a night that could be full of shenanigans.

HOW ABOUT...
On This Day In Wrestling History… June 19th

Winner: Bianca Belair 


Raw Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair

Charlotte Flair Asuka Rhea Ripley
Credit: WWE

Paul Benson: Another piece of lazy booking from Raw here. I am trying really hard not to make the tone of my contributions simply ‘SmackDown, yay! Raw, boo!’ but WWE leave me little choice. What is this match in place for? As with the men’s title, it is simply a WrestleMania match with someone inserted for no clear reason. Sadly, as great as Rhea Ripley is, her character has not remotely been defined yet, not has her title reign. It all feels like there is little point to it all. I am plumping for another retention here but wouldn’t be shocked to see Charlotte take the belt. Sadly, Asuka is just here to take the fall.

Winner: Rhea Ripley

Daniel Steele: Rhea Ripley is currently the Raw Women’s Champion, but the red brand Women’s division belongs to Charlotte Flair. On NXT, Rhea Ripley had an aura that burst out of the screen, yet reluctantly I feel her main roster run and brief title reign have been underwhelming thus far. I don’t know how Batista will feel about this but let’s be honest: Asuka is a third wheel here. The money is in Rhea avenging her WrestleMania 36 defeat and dethroning The Queen in a singles match. 

Winner: Charlotte Flair 

James Dee: Charlotte Flair seems to be aiming for Daniel Bryan’s spot as last minute Triple Threat maker. Unfortunately, unlike D-Bry, Charlotte almost always takes away from the match she is added to rather than enhancing it. I could be wrong and I hope we aren’t looking at a Rousey/Lynch at Wrestlemania type situation here where she feels like a pointless addition that only takes time and shine away from the other two. That being said, one advantage of her being here is that my prophecy of her facing Rhea Ripley for the title has finally come true. Admittedly I thought it would be at WrestleMania, Flair would be the champion and Ripley the challenger but still I’m counting it. Funnily enough I think this makes Asuka the wild-card in her own Championship rematch and while that saddens me, these women all have enough history with each other to craft a suitably excellent match. Rhea wins because just like Belair, it is FAR too early to take the title off her.

Winner: Rhea Ripley


SmackDown Tag Team Championship: The Dirty Dawgs (Dolph Ziggler & Bobby Roode) vs. Dominik & Rey Mysterio

Dolph Ziggler Bobby Roode Rey Mysterio Dominik Mysterio
Credit: WWE

Paul Benson: This card needs a title change and this is where we get it. I’m a big fan of The Dirty Dawgs as a team but they’ve been given next to nothing to get their teeth into so there is no reason to want to see them retain the titles. Similarly, I think the Mysterio teaming is a really good one. It showcases Dominik without exposing him and allows Rey to eek out as much of his career as he has left. They remain exciting to watch too. A father/son title win would be a first and we all know how much WWE loves a bit of history making so expect the switch here with a really good match to boot.

HOW ABOUT...
On This Day In Wrestling History… June 11th

Winners: Dominik & Rey Mysterio

Daniel Steele: The Mysterio duo have an opportunity to make history on Sunday by becoming the first father and son team to win WWE Tag Team Championships together. Such an occasion had ‘WrestleMania moment’ written all over it, but a WrestleMania Backlash moment will suffice, I suppose. This should be fun though and veteran ring-general opponents will bring the best out of Dominik. Rey and Ziggler have well-documented chemistry. Most importantly, the story is exciting. 

Winners: Dominik & Rey Mysterio

James Dee: This one seems like a no brainer. I honestly keep forgetting who the Smackdown Tag Champs are so switching gears to the first Father/Son Tag Champs in WWE history seems like a winner in my books. The Mysterios win and I get another mark on my ‘Dolph Ziggler career disappointment bingo’ card.

Winners: Dominik & Rey Mysterio


Damian Priest vs. The Miz (Lumberjack Match)

Damian Priest The Miz
Credit: WWE

Paul Benson: A nice simple way of putting a cap on this long running feud. Priest will win here and move on to other things significantly further up the card. Deservedly so too. He has looked far more suited to the main roster than to NXT. Miz has been a brilliant team player this year and has served the company extremely well in furthering the stories of Priest, Bad Bunny and Bobby Lashley. I read recently that he finally feels he is getting respect from the fans for the first time and I think that’s marvellous. He truly deserves it and it is about time the more narrow minded segments of the fanbase woke up and realised just what he contributes to the wrestling business. I suspect this one ends with tension between MizMo and a feud between Miz and a babyface John Morrison coming out the other side, which feels like the right call for both men.

Winner: Damian Priest

Daniel Steele: Following a WrestleMania victory alongside Bad Bunny and the premiere of his widely-praised WWE Chronicle documentary, Damian Priest is the hottest he has ever been. Now is prime time to capitalise with a major singles victory, right? My only niggling concern is that the Lumberjack match stipulation facilitates shenanigans that could enable The Miz to win and extent this feud.  

No, Priest winning makes too sense. It has to be him. 

Winner: Damian Priest 

James Dee: Priest vs. Miz is an easy sell for a fun match with few consequences. Some might call it a bathroom break but personally, I like these fun exhibition matches where wrestlers can show off without there being a whole lot of pressure on them. Priest is obviously winning to build up his stock a little more but Miz won’t be hurt much by the loss.

Winner: Damian Priest 


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