There were three main events at UFC 203: one man lost his fight after taking a “time out” because he hurt his finger. Another man lost after literally running away from his opponent for half the fight. And the third, he walked into the centre of the cage, put all his food on the table, and was bested by a younger and more experienced fighter.
CM Punk may not have won his fight last night. But from his preparation to his execution to his five-star post fight promo which was inspirational and humbling, encouraging kids to follow their heart even if it’s not popular and you don’t win every time out, I can’t imagine having more regard for the way he conducted himself than I do.
Yes, his first fight would have made WAY more sense to do at a local show with people of his experience and maybe even age. But he got the chance to live his dream, he had the balls to do it in front of the world, knowing the odds were against him, and he left it all on the table. That’s a winner in my book.
- Blake Norton
- Best: CM Punk vs. Mickey Gall
- Worst: Uriah Faber vs. Jimmy Rivera
This show was just like a SEG UFC show. Think about all that happened: A random pre show injury canceling a fight, a pull apart with a fighter and a cornerman, claims of a phantom tap which didn't happen, a referee who doesn't understand the rules and allows a timeout, and a total squash with an inexperienced fighter who had no business being in the cage. It made me oddly reminiscent.
How hysterically incongruous and tone deaf was CM Punk's post fight interview? I love the sentiment behind his message but to give a speech saying "don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something" after he just literally showed he couldn't do something was like a bad SNL skit. Taking a beating without landing a significant strike after training for almost two years isn't an accomplishment and for him to treat it like such showed a level of self delusion that bordered between amusing and pitiful. I hope we see him back in pro wrestling and far away from the octagon.
- Nick Randall
Overall thoughts: thumbs up.
You had two 1st round finishes (I.e., Andrade over Caldwell & Miocic over...Overeem) sandwiched between 2 decisions and a mercy killing.
Best: Overeem and Miocic was a high level heavyweight fight, w/ power and 'Reem's questionable chin on display. The avoid punishment/Kaleb Starnes-esque performance almost paid dividends.
Worst: Werdum V Browne. Granted, it would be easy to place Galll's mercy killing of Browne in this spot, but the rematching heavyweights managed to underperform without the charm we've come to expect. Not only did both fighters gas near the end of the 1st RD, Browne inexplicably called timeout, Edmond Tarverdyan lost his voice saying nothing, & Werdum kicked said head coach in the chest to close the show...just too much HW weirdness in one fight.
- Austin Grout
WWE Backlash 2016
- Best Match: AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose
- Worst Match: The Usos vs. Hype Bros
Mauro doing play-by-play for an entire WWE PPV was a glorious thing. They somehow managed to get me to legit care who won the Slater & Rhyno vs. Usos tag title match. AJ Styles as WWE World Champion needed to happen and was the right call, in my opinion.
- Lou Pickney
I skipped the Sunday NFL game because I had watched enough football for the day and was looking forward to this show.
- Best Match Styles/ Ambrose
- Worst Match: Both Usos matches
A few notes:
- Women's six pack match was good. Love Alexa Bliss and Carmella. They are working real hard.
- The Miz is getting better. Ziggler is in No Man's Land, again.
- The Usos (and those in power) have no clue that it's not "heat" that they're getting. It's "not caring or indifference" and they play the worst thuggish heels. Kind of what Roman was forced into.
If you would have told me a year ago that AJ would have kept his momentum and walked out Champion last night, I would have woke up and thought that they wrestled control out of Vince's hands. Match was awesome.
- Mike Stack
Best Match: Women's Six-Way - Great match with the best heat of anything on the show. Aside from Naomi's botch and Carmella's slaps, the action was consistently entertaining. Didn't get the constant breaking up of pin/submission attempts, or why everybody was throwing everybody out of the ring, but that didn't ruin it for me. I was sure the main event would top it, but this way the only match on the show that caught and held my attention.
Worst Match: Usos vs. Hype Bros - Assuming Orton/Wyatt doesn't count, this was probably the most uneventful match on the card. Heel Usos are doing absolutely nothing for me, though I didn't care for them as faces either.
Best Fight: Miocic vs. Overeem
I can't say much more, as I missed a few fights, and was only really paying attention to Punk/Gall and the main event. Hearing Cult Of Personality and seeing Punk come out and be so genuinely happy was heartwarming, and everything after that was profoundly sad. Seeing a good guy strive to make a dream come true and end up getting smacked back to earth was just depressing as all hell.
- Tyler Shillman
- Best match: AJ vs Dean
- Worst match: Usos vs Hype Bros
I loved everything about the main event. Seeing AJ, maybe the best in the world right now, have this at the top in WWE despite all the reasons you'd guess he wouldn't get to, is really something special to watch. Women were solid and they made the right choice with Slater getting the win as well. Only real negative is the announcing. Mauro is obnoxiously bad. Over the top, corny and annoying.
- Erin Hotovy
Thumbs in the middle
- Best match: Ambrose-Styles
- Worst match: Divas (too long)
The Ambrose-Styles title match was quite good,and nice to see Styles get the belt. Miz-Ziggler both tried, but in the end, this is not a marquis match. Slater’s tag title win was fun, albeit expected. Divas match was too long. Could have lived without "qualifier" tag - this is TV filler. Most of the show was actually standard TV fare, outside of the world title match. This doesn't excite me for more watered down PPVs.
- Mike Omansky
- Best Match: AJ Styles vs Dean Ambrose
- Worst Match: Bray Wyatt vs Kane
The crowd liked Ambrose but they loved AJ. Clearly he has a babyface run coming sooner rather than later, especially since the Smackdown babyface side is so weak. But then again, the heel side is also so incredibly weak. Unless they're going to do a brand-to-brand trade of Apollo Crews for Cesaro, the only real main event option for next month is a rematch of Styles vs Ambrose, unless they're going to somehow insert Cena and make it a three-way. If they want to be comical, they could have Ziggler demand a second chance and have Cena beat him on Smackdown to get into the three-way. But perhaps they've buried Ziggler far enough underground for now.
No idea if the Randy Orton injury was suspected for the past couple of weeks and that's why Kane has been getting comic squash victories on Smackdown. But it sure feels that way now.
Miz worked harder than he has in several years. Perhaps he saw this as a wake-up call to finally get pushed back into main events. Except he's been buried far enough underground for the past couple of years.
Becky won the other ladies title, however it feels ominously like a placeholder position until they can fluke Eva Marie into the champion, to transition to Nikki.
Slater and Rhyno seem to have lucked into the Smackdown tag belts. For Rhyno, it's payback for years of utility work. For Slater, it's the biggest (albeit comical) push he's gotten with a victory since his days in the Nexxus (remember them?).
- Jeff Cohen
Thumbs in the Middle
- Best Match: Styles vs. Ambrose
- Worst Match: Usos vs. Hype Bros
Corbin vs. Crews kicked things off on the preshow with a pretty decent match. Corbin picks up the win. Crews needs to get some victories, because right now he is a super athletic enhancement guy. Womens elimination starts the main show. Pretty entertaining, although a few botched things. Glad to see Becky get a title.
Usos vs. Hype Bros was nothing special. Usos win and move on as expected. Why Uso's would be rewarded after what they did to Gable makes no sense, but at least they brought that point up on the show as well. Miz vs. Ziggler for the I-C Title was a good solid match, but Ziggler loses again even if it wasn't clean. Not sure what they should do with Dolph at this point. He has lost too many times.
Kane vs. Bray Wyatt was filler really. No offense to Kane, but his time has past and Wyatt should have picked up the win despite the Orton thing. Kane isn't going to get a push and Wyatt needs to be protected. Slater & Rhyno vs. Usos for the Tag Titles. Not great, but not bad and Slater and Rhyno are entertaining as a team and people are into it so why not. I'm sure they won't hold the titles for too long.
AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose for the title was very good. Saved a lackluster show from being thumbs down. Not as good as the Summer Slam match with Cena, but still very good. I like Dean, but glad to see AJ get a title in WWE. I think the crowd was actually favoring AJ from what it sounded like.
Well only two weeks until Clash of Champions and then another two weeks after that until No Mercy. I think ultimately there are going to be too many shows too close together to make them feel special. But at least I don't have to pay $50 per event because that got out of hand the last time they did this.
- Robb Block
- Best: AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose
- Worst: Usos vs. Hype Bros
I love that AJ Styles is WWE World Champion... And that's about it. Everything else showed how desperately SmackDown needs some more talented workers, ASAP. Not the best start to the brand split shows.
- Nick Randall
Wow! What a great show, big thumbs up! I was very much surprised. Going into this show it appeared rather weak, I was not expecting much. I'm not really a fan of the brand split since I didn't think it was very good the first time around years ago. Smackdown has always been treated as the "Secondary" brand, which always made no sense to me at all. But now I have to say I'm more of a fan of Smackdown so far then Raw. Smackdown seems to be the more wrestling oriented brand, less pointless promos and bad acting. And tonight was a huge surprise and a great show. I would have to say the best match of the night was the main event for the World title between Styles and Ambrose, and the worst match was probably the tag match for the tag titles, although it was ok. Just not very good compared to all the other matches of the night.
1. Women's title match - Lynch, Carmella, Nattie, Nikkie, Alexa, Naomi - Match was good. Naomi is very impressive. Good dive to the outside on all of the women. Good choice with Becky Lynch as champ. My pick would have been Naomi as she is the most talented of this group in my opinion. Hopefully she is next as champ.
2. Hype Bros - Uso's - Well, the tag teams in this tournament have been lacking, with the best team of American Alpha having been eliminated for seemingly no reason. Hype Brothers are annoying, Mojo gets on my nerves. Uso's just seem to have a problem getting over regardless if they are heels or faces. But good win for the Uso's to elevate them as heels I guess.
3. Miz VS Ziggler - Good match between the two, Miz has been really good as I/C champ and his seemingly out of control promo on talking smack was awesome. Who knew that letting these guys cut loose with a good promo is a thousand times better then a scripted promo from TV sitcom writers? lol. But Miz is doing a great job as champ and good to see the I/C title being elevated.
4. Kane VS Wyatt - Good match for what it was, last minute replacement for no Orton. Not sure why Kane got the pin, this made no sense in getting a pin over the biggest heal on Smackdown. The point is to keep one of your top heels strong, especially in the middle of a feud. Odd finish in my opinion, but good brawl.
5. Slater / Rhyno - VS Uso's - Didn't seem like a good match and lagged in parts, but not sure if it was because the other matches were so much better or having to see the Uso's do the same heel gimmick in one night. But cool to see Slater and Rhyno win the titles, good pop by the crowd.
6. Styles VS Ambrose - Wow! Awesome match and was very surprised that AJ got the win and the world title. The treatment and booking of Styles has been rather lackluster since he made his debut with WWE. Was not really liking his heel push. But anyone who gets a win over Cena is already my favorite, lol. But what an awesome match. And great to see Styles get the world title. This makes him I think the only person to hold the IWGP, TNA, and now WWE World title? But not sure. Awesome match and a really good show.
- Jon Southerland
Thumbs In The Middle
Thought it was an ok show. Substandard line-up & match quality wasn't as high as many of their other shows, for me, but it was an easy watch & had a real good main event.
Crews vs. Corbin
Thought it was a decent match. There was a couple of awkward moments, Corbin showed his inexperience/limitations on occasions, but I thought Crews did a good job leading & it was decent stuff with a fairly hot crowd for the opener.
Women's Six Way
Thought there was a little untidiness at times, mainly involving Carmella & Bliss, as well as the flow not being perfect at times, but it was a real good effort from the women. Very happy for Becky who I'm very fond of. Think Carmella needs greater alteration to her character with the turn as well as improvements with her aggression as a heel. Athletically & offensively Naomi is really good, as well as a good bumper, & she's much better suited to working babyface with her ability to shine on offense - if she could just iron out the kinks & remain consistent during her matches, I think she could be a real good in-ring performer.
Hype Bros vs. The Usos
Not much say about it, standard solid tag match. Like The Usos as heels, think it's a breath of fresh air
Ziggler vs. Miz
They always have good matches & I thought this was another good solid one here. Was slightly annoyed by the backstage skit involving the celebrity child actor. For one the lack of consistency is Miz's character - in that he seemed to have evolved into this bitter guy with a chip on his shoulder, but then here regressed back to the smug, comedic, deluded actor. Secondly, him getting "punked-out" by a little kid like that is lower-card heel stuff. If they're going to keep the title on him, use him in the upper-card & want you to take him a little more seriously, that stuff really isn't productive. Surely Ziggler has to be turning which is long overdue.
Wyatt vs. Kane
Nothing outstanding, but thought it was the best Kane match I've seen in awhile. They obviously smoke & mirrored it up with the No Holds Barred stipulation & what came with that, but regardless he worked hard, they sensibly weren't overly generous with the time & I thought it was a good match.
Worst Match: The Usos vs. Slater & Rhyno
Much like the prior one just a standard solid tag match. Took it pretty easy building to the hot tag & enhancing reactions for when they turned-it-up in the final few minutes & it was fine. Honestly would've preferred an Usos victory, but people are enjoying Slater & Rhyno's antics & I suspect it won't be a long title reign.
Best Match: Styles vs. Ambrose
Thought it was a very good main event. Really liked the layout, paced great, flowed well, some nice spots, another crazy bump or two from Styles, Ambrose showed some good fire on a couple of occasions, tweaked his offense for the better, on the other hand there was a couple of things I felt he rushed, also there was a couple of occasions where they weren't completely on the same wave length, but really liked it & look forward to the rematch.
- Tom Griffiths
- Best Match: Styles Ambrose
- Worst Match: Usos v Hype Bros
String of solid shows continues! Especially nice on a show a lot of folks wrote off or may have passed up for a possible Super Bowl preview. Glad I watched live as was very entertainied. Slater winning was a great story. Will be interesting to see how they can keep advancing this now that hes "made it" while being a champ for a third time. I would have to go back and check but this could be best match of Miz' career. Sure a lot may be ziggler but hes been doing a good job. Was the second best match on the card. Could be in the minority but do not like the Usos turn. Sure they could have been stale to "us" but theres only a few acts all the younger fans cheer regularly and would have liked to see them stay for that. Need to keep and grow that fan group. Me personally will be interesting to see them with an edge. Nice to see Becky have a chance to shine. Killer performance by Styles in the main event. Probably best match involving Dean since one of the Evolution-Shield matches? Welcoming the rematch either on Smackdown or whichever the next will be - Hell In A Cell?
- Michael O'Brien
I would give this pay-per-view a thumbs up.
The women's match was surprisingly good (I'm probably in the minority for this), and it was my second favorite match of the night behind AJ and Dean. I was very surprised of the mixed reaction to Dean, but I attribute that to the all-out love that the hardcore fans give to AJ, rather than any real slight against Dean. For what it is worth, I wanted AJ to win as well, and Dean is my favorite wrestler. It just feels like his time.
- Ricky Ray
Big thumbs up for Backlash.
- Best Match: AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose
- The Women's Six-Pack Challenge comes at a very close second.
- Worst Match: Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton
There were no bad matches on this card. All around excellent PPV, best of the year so far.
- Kastros Drakan
- Best match: AJ Styles vs Dean Ambrose
- Worst match: Bray Wyatt vs Kane
Most of the show was ok at best. I am ok with Slater and Rhyno winning the tag titles, but hope it is a quick turnover to allow American Alpha and the Uso's to feud over the belts.
Becky Lynch winning the women's title was a good way to start the show. I though Miz and Ziggler had a good match, especially considering their rivalry is fairly played out. I had no interest in Wyatt vs Orton and even less in Wyatt vs Kane.
The world title match was one of the best WWE matches of the year. It was a great showcase for both Styles and Ambrose and I hope they continue the feud. Styles may be one of the best guys to get the title in recent WWE history. I like both Rollins and Owens in the role but Styles is probably the best in the world.
- Dave Musgrave