Sunday night's WWE Backlash pay-per-view was greeted by a loud chorus of boos from fans. Now, both Raw and SmackDown's ratings have dropped. Coming off a fairly well-received WrestleMania XXXIV pay-per-view in April, WWE looked to continue its momentum going forward. The week after Mania, WWE held its semi-regular Superstar Shakeup, in which select members of the Raw and SmackDown rosters get switched around in order to facilitate new match-ups and storylines. On April 27, WWE then held the Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia, which kicked off a 10-year, big money deal to put on live shows in the Middle Eastern country.
This past weekend, WWE held Backlash, which kicked off WWE's new dual brand pay-per-view initiative, in which the monthly events would feature the best talent from both Raw and SmackDown. Unfortunately, this so-called "best of both worlds" change ended up leading to an incredibly lackluster show, with the immediate reaction online afterward being a mix of "wow wasn't that match between Seth Rollins and The Miz good" and "every other match besides Rollins vs Miz was awful."
Not helping Backlash to begin with was the fact that WWE's part-time universal champion Brock Lesnar wasn't on the card, which right away makes an event seem lesser when both top champions can't be bothered to show up. What's more, the remaining world title match - WWE champion AJ Styles defending against Shinsuke Nakamura - continued the pattern of those two normally exemplary performers failing to deliver when matched against one another, turning in a decent match at best. Elsewhere on the card, crowd favorite Daniel Bryan was matched up with the widely loathed - and not because he's a good heel - Big Cass, and Samoa Joe battled Roman Reigns in a boring, stakes-less main event that saw large swaths of the crowd get up and leave.
While Backlash is far from the first WWE pay-per-view to be received poorly by fans, this time there was an immediate follow-up effect, as the ratings for both Raw and SmackDown this week fell to their worst levels in 2018 so far. Raw's rating fell 17% from last week, and put up the series' worst number since December. SmackDown's rating fell 8% from last week, and also put up the series' worst number since December. While SD's drop might sound less concerning, keep in mind that its rating last week was quite a bit lower than Raw's to begin with.
That said, by most accounts Raw and SmackDown's actual content this week was pretty good, so it'll be interesting to see if that positive word of mouth gets more people to tune in next week as WWE prepares for its mid-June Money in the Bank pay-per-view. MITB tends to be a pretty popular event, thanks to the titular multi-man ladder matches that take place. Like last year, MITB 2018 will featured two ladder matches, one for the male wrestlers and another for the female wrestlers. One wonders if Brock will actually be bothered to participate on this show.