Eighteen years after the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum hosted New Year’s Revolution, San Juan, Puerto Rico, gets its second WWE premium live event with Backlash, set for Saturday night (8 p.m. ET on Peacock). While the WWE title won’t be on the line like it was on that night, a majority of the singles match on the card will play a factor in crowning the new WWE world heavyweight champion at WWE Night of Champions on May 27.
The 18th edition of Backlash will feature Cody Rhodes, fresh off his first defeat in a WWE ring since his 2022 return, versus Brock Lesnar. Bad Bunny, a devout WWE fan and one of the highest-profile celebrities ever to enter a WWE ring, faces former friend-turned-foe and fellow Puerto Rican Damian Priest in the main event.
Will Bad Bunny steal the show? Will Rhodes find a way to avoid Suplex City? Here’s a look at each of the matches in San Juan, along with predictions on how these feuds may play out.
Bad Bunny vs. Damian Priest in a San Juan Street Fight
Bad Bunny made his WWE debut at WrestleMania 37, teaming with Priest to face off against The Miz and John Morrison. Fast forward two years and Priest and Bunny are on opposite sides due primarily to Priest’s affiliation with The Judgement Day and their year-long feud with Rey Mysterio.
Bad Bunny was initially set to act as a diplomat and serve as Backlash’s official host, but a few interactions with Dominik Mysterio and one chokeslam through a table later, here we are.
— WWE (@WWE) April 25, 2023
This will be the Grammy Award-winner’s first singles match in WWE. Given his history, he’ll be the talk of social media as he steps in front of arguably the hottest Puerto Rican wrestling crowd since the glory days of Carlos Colon. Priest is a perfect foil, and given how Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio’s feud effectively led us here, we can expect fireworks aplenty in San Juan.
Prediction: Bad Bunny wins, but expect plenty of shenanigans from The Judgement Day and the reformed Latino World Order throughout.
Cody Rhodes vs. Brock Lesnar
Rhodes is about to endure his first authentic taste of non-injury-related “hard times” since his return to WWE. His loss to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 39 was deflating to the fans who expected him to leave WrestleMania with the gold, but to return to form for a proper rematch with Reigns — or even set himself up as the newest world heavyweight champion for RAW — he’ll have to get past Reigns’ biggest rival first: Lesnar.
Lesnar made it personal between the two by running a bait-and-switch beatdown on RAW after WrestleMania 39, and with more new faces heading to the red brand after the WWE draft, Rhodes has to overcome Lesnar first if he wants a legit shot at the new Big Gold.
— WWE (@WWE) May 4, 2023
Prediction: Rhodes defeats Lesnar after a hellacious beating, but the two aren’t done with each other yet.
Solo Sikoa & The Usos vs. Matt Riddle, Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens
A six-man tag at Backlash must feel like deja vu for Riddle. Last year, he and Randy Orton fought alongside Drew McIntyre to face Reigns and The Usos. This time, Riddle teams with the undisputed tag team champions Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to fight The Bloodline — albeit a more fractured version.
Since their loss at WrestleMania 39, The Usos have all but been ex-communicated from Reigns’ faction. After their latest attempt to win back the tag titles failed last week, what happens to them in this six-mag could set up their version of The Odyssey to get back in Reigns’ good graces. Expect them to try and settle all scores, but with their younger brother firmly entrenched as Reigns’ No. 2 man now, another loss could push them further away.
Prediction: Riddle, Zayn & Owens win, with Solo deciding where The Usos stand in the family.
WWE Raw women’s title: Bianca Belair (c) vs. Iyo Sky
Saturday represents Belair’s last official title defense as Raw women’s champion, a title she’s held longer than anyone. Due to the draft, she’ll return to being the SmackDown women’s champion as champions drafted to different shows must exchange championships. Iyo Sky, one of Belair’s old foils from her days in NXT and on the main roster with Damage CTRL, represents her latest challenge and one of her most difficult ones.
Sky’s high-flying prowess has already made her one of the best wrestlers in the company, and if she scores an upset over Belair and takes a win and a title in a way Damage CTRL leader Bayley couldn’t from Belair, what does that mean for that stable?
Prediction: Belair wins, but a greater divide exists on Friday nights with Damage CTRL.
WWE SmackDown women’s title: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Zelina Vega
Ripley won the SmackDown women’s title vs. Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania 39 in a match that had plenty of arguments as to why it could have been the main event of Night 1. Her playing the powerhouse game with Vega, a Puerto Rican star, former Queen of the Ring and WWE women’s tag title holder, places her as an overwhelming favorite. But, as Vega gets tutelage from Rey Mysterio, she’ll gladly play the scrappy underdog who will try to overcome a champion seemingly bent on having “The Mami Era” last until she doesn’t want to anymore.
Sting vs. Vader this may not be, but Vega is going to shock people by showing how underrated she is as a worker in a spotlight match.
Prediction: Ripley wins, but Vega earns her respect and then some — perhaps leading to a rematch on Raw or in Saudi Arabia later this month.
WWE United States title match: Austin Theory (c) vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Bronson Reed
By all merits, Saturday represents Lashley’s last chance to dethrone the brash, cocky Theory, who is still riding a high after taking down John Cena at WrestleMania. By declaring he’s setting his sights on Reigns and the undisputed WWE universal title in the future, Lashley knows he could swat down Theory once and for all and regain the United States title for a fourth time — but it won’t be easy.
Bronson Reed, who has easily slid into the athletic monster role on Raw, continues to prove his worth by antagonizing Lashley and showcasing why an extended fight between the two of them has plenty of promise, making this an intriguing triple threat.
Theory is a made man, and with Gunther taking his talents and the Intercontinental title to Raw via the draft, the upstart may once more sneak out of another three-way dance with gold, just as he did at Survivor Series: War Games.
Prediction: Theory retains, but he’ll find a new group of challengers hungry to take his belt on SmackDown.
Seth Rollins vs. Omos
Rollins is WWE’s ace, a wrestler capable of giving everyone on the roster their best match and, without question, one of the most popular stars on the planet. With the announcement of a new world heavyweight title, all eyes are on Rollins as the odds-on-favorite to be the first to hold it.
Omos, fresh off an entertaining loss to Lesnar at WrestleMania, is the next big man for Rollins to slay. This will also be another showcase moment for Omos, who transitions from one sure-fire WWE Hall of Famer to the next. After this match, Omos’ next move is unpredictable. He’s listed as a free agent not tied to Raw or SmackDown. And while he’s arguably facing the company’s hottest babyface, he’s due to shock the world.
Prediction: Omos wins, setting up a rematch between the two during the world heavyweight title tournament.