WrestleMania Backlash was a professional wrestling pay-per-view and WWE Network event produced by WWE for their Raw and SmackDown brand divisions. It took place on May 16, 2021 and was broadcast from the WWE ThunderDome, hosted at the Yuengling Center in Tampa, Florida. It was the 16th event in the Backlash chronology and was WWE’s first pay-per-view to present the ThunderDome from the Yuengling Center during the COVID-19 pandemic, following a four-month residency at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. The 2021 event returned Backlash to its original position as the post-WrestleMania PPV, as the event was known for from 1999 to 2009. It was in turn renamed to “WrestleMania Backlash.”
Seven matches were contested at the event, including one on the Kickoff pre-show. In the main event, Roman Reigns defeated Cesaro by technical submission to retain the Universal Championship. In another prominent match, Bobby Lashley defeated Drew McIntyre and Braun Strowman in a triple threat match to retain the WWE Championship. Also on the undercard, Bianca Belair defeated Bayley to retain the SmackDown Women’s Championship and Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio defeated Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode to win the SmackDown Tag Team Championship, thus becoming the first-ever father and son team to hold a tag team championship in WWE.
The event received mixed reviews from critics and fans. The event included a promotional tie-in for the zombie film Army of the Dead, which stars former WWE wrestler Batista. In addition to Batista doing a voice-over for the event’s opening vignette, the Lumberjack match between Damian Priest and The Miz had the lumberjacks acting as zombies. This tie-in was heavily panned and was covered by the New York Post, calling it “one of WWE’s saddest moments ever.” Despite the negative criticism towards the tie-in, the rest of the event was well-received.