WWE Backstage officially launched on FS1 last night after a couple of test runs over the last couple of weeks. John Cena narrated an opening video to put the show over big.
The hosts were Rene Young, Booker T., Paige, and Christian. They talked about Vince McMahon allegedly leaving the crew behind after the Saudi Arabia show and quickly cut to footage of all of the title changes in the various Joshi promotions over the weekend in Japan.
Just kidding. This certainly wasn’t Pro Wrestling This Week or Battlemen.
It was a typical WWE version of ABC’s “Live with Kelly and Ryan” phony fluff show. They dropped a few banned words like “indie show” and “pro wrestling” at times to make you think it was something more insider than it actually was. It would have been more interesting if Fox’s Cletus The Robot hosted it. He probably would have come across less programmed and scripted.
They spent most of the show praising Smackdown getting put together at the last minute and did mention plane “mechanical issues” in Saudi Arabia causing a travel delay for the talent. They said it ended up being one of the best episodes of Smackdown ever as NXT stepped up to the plate.
Christian basically said that NXT showed that they are not waiting to be “called up” and they are on the same level as Raw and Smackdown. Most of the talk felt like an infomercial to get people to tune in to NXT tonight by feeding off the good reviews of Smackdown.
They aired a special Firefly Funhouse. Bray Wyatt showed off a custom Universal Title belt with The Fiend’s face on the side plates. He said “See You Friday” which means an appearance on Smackdown.
They interviewed Shawn Michaels from the WWE Performance Center. He praised the NXT roster for stepping in on Smackdown. He said they got the call last minute on Friday and everyone acted like true professionals.
Young introduced Ryan Satin for a segment called “The Satin Sheet”. She noted that he is the founder and editor of Pro Wrestling Sheet as well as a contributor to WWE Backstage. The style of segment was supposed to be like Jay Glazer’s brief breaking news updates on Fox’s NFL Sunday.
Satin said there has been speculation online about Alexa Bliss being out of action. He said she has a “minor undisclosed injury” but is expected to return “in the near future”. (Our friends over at PW Insider reported that it’s a shoulder injury.)
Satin said Randy Orton confirmed on social media that he signed a new multi year deal with WWE. (A story that PW Insider also broke). He said Orton had been making jokes about his future on social media during the contract renewal talks. Of course he wasn’t allowed to mention that those “jokes” were Orton teasing the possibility of jumping to AEW if his WWE contract expired.
This whole segment was pointless for pro wrestling fans who already get insider news from credible website sources. I can only guess that they were trying to appeal to casual pro wrestling fans or they once again think their fans are dumb. Satin has always had the reputation of being a WWE fan boy going back to his time on TMZ, and he is a sycophant to the company on social media. It’s absolutely no surprise to anyone that he was brought in for this show knowing that he would help tow the company line.
The rest of the show was typical kayfabe speculation and predictions that you can see on any given WWE Kickoff Show.
Unless you’re really bored and can’t sleep at 11pm EST on a Tuesday night, this show is most definitely skippable.