WWE returns to Puerto Rico for the first time since 2005 when it brings Backlash to the island this Saturday. The first major event since WrestleMania features some big matches and a return to the ring for Puerto Rican music superstar Bad Bunny.
In one of the featured matches of the night, Bad Bunny will take on The Judgement Day’s Damian Priest in a San Juan Street Fight. The superstar’s first WWE match saw him team with Priest to win a match at WrestleMania 37.
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens look to conclude their long-running rivalry with The Bloodline with a helping hand from Matt Riddle. Even after Zayn and Owens took the undisputed tag team titles off Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso, the rivalry continued and added both Riddle and Solo Sikoa. Now, all six men will meet in a pivotal match.
Plus, both women’s titles are on the line when Rhea Ripley looks to defend the SmackDown championship against Zelina Vega and Bianca Belair puts the Raw championship at stake against IYO SKY. And a grudge match is set to headline the event when Cody Rhodes takes on Brock Lesnar.
Let’s take a look at who the CBS Sports experts are picking to win in each match on Saturday’s card.
WWE Backlash 2023 predictions
Cody Rhodes vs. Brock Lesnar
Should WWE decide to put Lesnar over Rhodes here, it would be a death blow to Rhodes’ momentum. That momentum already took a hit when Rhodes lost to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania in a match where it had seemed Rhodes was destined to “finish the story” and win the world title his father never did. Rhodes was brought back to WWE as a big deal and beating Lesnar is about the only way to try and build back some of what was lost at WrestleMania. Rhodes needs the win, Lesnar doesn’t. Booking should be that simple sometimes. Pick: Cody Rhodes wins — Brent Brookhouse (also Shakiel Mahjouri)
Bad Bunny vs. Damian Priest (San Juan Street Fight)
WWE loves celebrities taking part in their events and it’s so well-established in wrestling that you can throw logic out the window when it comes to these matches. Would it make sense for Priest to absolutely demolish Bunny? Yes. But Bunny is likely going to win this match with a little help from Rey Mysterio and the LWO. The show is in Puerto Rico, Bunny is a massive Puerto Rican superstar. This is a “send the crowd home happy” match. Pick: Bad Bunny wins — Brookhouse (also Mahjouri)
SmackDown Women’s Championship — Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Zelina Vega
There are few women on the roster with as much momentum as Ripley. She is firing on all cylinders between her fantastic match with Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania 39, her role as an enforcer in Judgement Day and her chemistry with Dominik Mysterio. Zelina Vega is the right opponent at Backlash: she’ll have tremendous support from her fellow Puerto Ricans, she’s a talented superstar and the pair have great chemistry. Pick: Rhea Ripley retains — Mahjouri (also Brookhouse)
Matt Riddle, Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs. The Usos & Solo Sikoa
The Bloodline are sorely in need of momentum, but that is exactly why they should lose on Saturday night. This appears to be the final meeting between the two parties, at least for now, after the two sides were drafted to separate brands. A win for Riddle, Zayn and Owens will give them momentum and star power on Raw; meanwhile, the friction in The Bloodline can continue on SmackDown. We appear to be headed towards another Roman Reigns vs. Jey Uso rivalry, one that carried the promotion during the Thunderdome era and sorely deserved a live audience. A Jey Uso face turn would be warmly received by the crowd. Besides, it won’t take much for The Bloodline to regain momentum against new competition over on SmackDown. Pick: Matt Riddle, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn win — Mahjouri (also Brookhouse)
Raw Women’s Championship — Bianca Belair (c) vs. IYO SKY
Belair has had a wonderful reign as women’s champion and even though her time may be winding down, there are few challengers well positioned to dethrone her. A well-received, competitive match will go a long way to building Sky as a future champion but it’s too soon to strap the rocket to her. Pick: Bianca Belair retains — Mahjouri (also Brookhouse)
United States Championship — Austin Theory (c) vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Bronson Reed
It’s time to take a break from Theory. The reigning U.S. champion has done his best with his most recent stint as champion but the results have been mixed. Falling short in a triple threat with two behemoths is a soft landing as far as title losses are concerned. Lashley is overdue for a win and can be positioned as a top-level fighting champion over on SmackDown. The brand is in dire need of a believable main event champion in the absence of undisputed WWE universal champion Reigns. Lashely could be that guy. Pick: Bobby Lashley wins — Mahjouri (also Brookhouse)
Seth Rollins vs. Omos
Rollins is one of the leading contenders to win the new version of the world heavyweight championship. Omos is just a huge guy who builds up wins over lower talent and then gets fed to stars to beat in a “how did they do it?” moment. That’s not a knock on Omos, that’s a fact of how professional wrestling works and has always worked and it’s a good thing. Rollins isn’t going to lose to Omos so close to Night of Champions. Pick: Seth Rollins wins — Brookhouse (also Mahjouri)