Backlash will be the first WWE premium live event held in the aftermath of WrestleMania 39 where Rhea Ripley defeated Charlotte Flair for the SmackDown Women’s Championship.
The event will take place in San Juan, Puerto Rico – the first time a WWE premium live event will take place in the territory since New Year’s Revolution in 2005. While the event – hosted by Bad Bunny – is sure to attract thousands of wrestling fans, it means more for Zelina Vega.
Vega, whose real name is Thea Büdgen, will be battling Ripley for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. It will be Ripley’s first title defense since she beat Flair in an epic battle during the first night of the star-studded spectacle in Inglewood, California. Vega is of Puerto Rican decent and will be wrestling in the territory for the first time in her career.
“It’s exciting. It’s surreal. It’s nerve-racking. It’s a dream come true,” Vega told Fox News Digital in a recent interview days before Backlash kicks off.
“And not just the match, really, but the location. Like, getting to do it in Puerto Rico is something I never thought was going to be the case. And to have this kind of a match there is crazy. The family that lives there will finally see me wrestle in person. It’s really cool.”
WWE announced it would be going back to Puerto Rico in March. Vega said that when she heard the news she immediately tried to decide how she was going to get herself on the card. Two days after the announcement, Vega turned face and joined Legado Del Fantasma in helping Rey Mysterio against Judgment Day. The group would re-form the Latino World Order (LWO), and on April 21, Vega would request and be granted a match against Ripley for the championship at Backlash.
Vega is the only female Puerto Rican superstar on the main WWE roster. She said she felt a “responsibility” to be the representation for the locker room.
“It’s a huge responsibility, but it’s one that I take very seriously, and I’m happy I get to do it,” she told Fox News Digital, “because, my God, it’s something that even when I was younger, to be able to say, to look at [former WWE superstar] Melina and [think], ‘Wow, she’s in WWE, and that’s where I want to be.’ And Rey, he’s smaller in stature like me, I love that. I feel like I can do this, too.”
“So, I had that representation when I as younger, and I just want to be able to be that in a bunch of different ways but for other people as well. I just [want] to be what Rey Mysterio was growing up,” Vega continued.
WWE has been all over the globe over the last year, hosting premium live events like Clash at the Castle in Scotland and Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia. WWE also launched a talent search across Africa to find the next great superstar.
Saturday’s Puerto Rico event appears to be just another example of the company’s global reach.
“WWE is like a beast in the best of ways,” Vega told Fox News Digital. “I think they’re very big on just having a melting pot of beautiful cultures altogether. They’re very big on inclusivity and everybody and find something in common with someone here.”
“We talk about Rhea, and I’ve seen people say, ‘Oh, wow, she dresses like me. She likes the same bands that I do. I have something in common with her, so I can relate with her,’” she continued. “With me, it’s like, ‘Oh my God, she loves anime like I do, and she likes gaming and stuff just like I do.’ We have different things people can find in common with us, and I feel like WWE is really good at making sure that everybody feels included.”
Vega is just one of 39 women superstars who wrestle full time on the main roster. While there is a women’s championship and a women’s tag-team championship, there isn’t a mid-card title belt akin to that of an Intercontinental Championship of United States Championship on the men’s side.
Vega told Fox News Digital it could be time for that to change.
“I hope so,” she said when asked whether WWE should introduce a mid-card women’s title. “And to be fair, I thought that’s kind of what Queen of the Ring could have been. When I won that crown, I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m down to put it on the line.’ Like, we’ll have matches for the crown. There were so many ideas that I had for Queen of the Ring.
“But I think because it was just so new, and it was the first ever, you know, they put me in with Carmella, and it got kind of complicated to try and do all of that at once. I do think it would be beneficial definitely to have another title, another opportunity for other girls to win some gold.”
Backlash is set for Saturday at 8 p.m. ET in the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot. Bad Bunny will the host of the show. Backlash will stream live on Peacock.
Here’s the card:
- Matt Riddle, Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs. The Bloodline in a six-man tag-team match
- Cody Rhodes vs. Brock Lesnar in a singles match
- Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Zelina Vega in a singles match for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
- Seth Rollins vs. Omos in a singles match
- Austin Theory (c) vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Bronson Reed in a triple threat match for the United States Championship
- Bianca Belair (c) vs. Iyo Sky in a singles match for the Raw Women’s Championship
- Bad Bunny vs. Damien Priest in a San Juan Street Fight