Backlash will be WWE’s first live premium event to take place after 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 live WWE premium event has taken place in the territory since the New Year’s Revolution in 2005. While the event, hosted by Bad Bunny, is sure to attract thousands of wrestling fans. , means more to Zelina Vega.
Vega, whose real name is Thea Büdgen, will battle Ripley for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. It will be Ripley’s first title defense since she defeated Flair in an epic battle on the first night of the star-studded show in Inglewood, California. Vega is of Puerto Rican descent and will be fighting in the territory for the first time in her career.
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«It’s exciting. It’s surreal. It’s stressful. It’s a dream come true,» Vega told Fox News Digital in a recent interview days before Backlash begins.
«And not just the match, actually, but the location as well. Like, getting to do it in Puerto Rico is something I never thought was going to be the case. And having this kind of match there is crazy. The family that lives they will finally see me wrestle in person. It’s really cool.»
WWE announced that it would return to Puerto Rico in March. Vega said that when he heard the news she immediately tried to decide how he was going to get on the card. Two days after the announcement, Vega changed face and joined Legado Del Fantasma to help Rey Mysterio against Judgment Day. The group would re-form the Latino World Order (LWO), and on April 21, Vega would request and be awarded a match against Ripley for the championship at Backlash.
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Vega is the only Puerto Rican superstar on WWE’s main roster. She said that she felt a «responsibility» to be the wardrobe representative.
«It’s a big responsibility, but I take it very seriously and I’m happy to do it,» he told Fox News Digital, «because, my God, it’s something that even when I was younger, to be able to say, look [former WWE superstar] melina and [think], ‘Wow, she’s in WWE, and that’s where I want to be.’ And Rey, he is smaller in stature like me, I love that. I feel like I can do this too.»
«So, I had that representation when I was younger, and I just want to be able to be that in a lot of different ways, but also to other people. I just [want] be what Rey Mysterio was growing up,» Vega continued.
WWE has been all over the world for the past year, hosting premium live events like Clash at the Castle in Scotland and Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia. WWE also launched a talent search in Africa to find the next big superstar.
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The Puerto Rico event on Saturday 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 really like just having a beautiful melting pot of cultures together. They really like the inclusion and everyone and they find something in common with someone here.»
«We talked about Rhea, and I’ve seen people say, ‘Oh wow, she dresses like me. She likes the same bands I do. I have something in common with her, so I can relate to her.'» She continued. «With me, it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, she loves anime like I do, and she likes games and stuff like I do.’ We have different things that people might find in common with us, and I feel that WWE is really good at making sure everyone feels included.»
Vega is just one of 39 female superstars wrestling full-time on the main roster. While there is a women’s championship and a women’s tag team championship, there is no mid-post title belt similar to a United States Championship Intercontinental Championship on the men’s side.
Vega told Fox News Digital that it might be time for that to change.
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«I hope so,» she said when asked if WWE should introduce a mid-cartel women’s title. «And to be fair, I thought that’s what Queen of the Ring could have been. When I won that crown, I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m willing to put it on the line.'» We will have fights for the crown. There were so many ideas that I had for Queen of the Ring.
«But I think because it was so new, and it was my first, you know, they put me with Carmella, and it got a little tricky trying to do all of that at once. I think it would definitely be beneficial to have another title, another opportunity for other girls win some gold.»
Backlash is scheduled for Saturday at 8 pm ET at the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum of Puerto Rico. Bad Bunny will be the host of the show. Backlash will air live on Peacock.
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Here is 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 individual fight for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
- Seth Rollins vs Omos in individual fight
- 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