WWE Backlash France 2024 results, grades and analysis: Cody Rhodes defeats A.J. Styles in first title defense


A.J. Styles was first to enter for the main event match, drawing yet another mixed reaction from the Lyon crowd. Styles is such a talented performer across the board that it’ll be hard for him to ever draw significant heat from fans, even if working heel like he was during this match.

Cody Rhodes, like he has been for more than two years now, was welcomed by the entire arena singing his entrance music, “Kingdom.” If it wasn’t clear already, between WrestleMania 40 and now this entrance, Rhodes is by far the biggest star WWE has on its roster. Even after the music stopped, the sold out Lyon crowd continued to sing.

The crowd was so amped up before the match that as Samantha Irvin made her introductions, the hard cam shook. Jessika Carr, the referee, became the first woman to officiate a main event match for the WWE championship.

The match started with a few lockups between Rhodes and Styles, with neither gaining an early upper hand, instead opting for trading headlocks and takedowns. Styles escalated the tensions with a shove of Rhodes near the turnbuckle, which the champion answered with a hard slap of his own.

After an impressive dropkick, Rhodes did a cartwheel and taunted Styles, a callback to his days as Stardust. Styles turned the tides again with a big dropkick of his own, but was hit with a huge back-body drop. Rhodes went for a pin, but Styles kicked out at one.

Rhodes shook off his failed pinning attempt into a standing suplex. While Rhodes had momentum, Styles pulled off a quick counter and focused on Rhodes’ shoulder, which Cole and Graves hinted that the champion injured in a match with Carmelo Hayes last month.

Styles was sent outside the ring and Rhodes attempted to capitalize with a dive through the ropes but was met with a forearm. Styles’ assault continued as he slammed Rhodes’ head into the U.S. announce table and then cleared out the French announce table, looking for a high-impact maneuver. Rhodes countered, sending Styles into the steel steps.

As Rhodes went for a standing Superplex, Styles escaped and pulled Rhodes down the mat. Rhodes sold a back injury and Styles immediately swept in to hit an Electric Chair on Rhodes. As Styles went for a springboard moonsault, Rhodes got his knees up for a desperation counter.

As the two men exchanged blows, Rhodes eventually gained an edge with a scoop powerslam and Disaster Kick on Styles. Rhodes went for another pin but Styles kicked out at two.

In a frenzied moment, Rhodes went for a second Disaster Kick, Styles countered into an Electric Chair and then Rhodes reversed it into a roll-up pin for a near fall. This was followed by more back-and-forth offense between the two men, culminating in Styles landing a Brainbuster on Rhodes onto the ring apron and Rhodes putting Styles through the French announce table with a Powerbomb.

Both men beat the 10-count back into the ring and went toe-to-toe again, exchanging blows and knocking each other out with a pair of simultaneous kicks. The two ran it back before Rhodes scored a near-fall after a Bionic Elbow.

Styles regained control with a counter of the Disaster Kick and a snap suplex into the turnbuckle and set Rhodes up for a springboard 450 splash. Styles went for the pin but Rhodes kicked out, frustrating the challenger. Styles would follow up with a Burning Hammer and pin, but Rhodes kicked out at one and rallied for a Cody Cutter and another near-fall, drawing “fight forever” chants from the enthralled crowd.

Rhodes went for a CrossRhodes but Styles countered into a Pele Kick and set the champion up for a Phenomenal Forearm. Styles’ finisher attempt was met with a Rhodes Superkick and a Kimora Lock. Styles eventually powered out and went for several Styles Clash finishers before Rhodes would hit a massive Cody Cutter off the top rope.

That ending sequence set up the finish, a CrossRhodes and pin for a victory in Rhodes’ first televised title defense.

Cody Rhodes def. A.J. Styles in 27:21 to retain the WWE Undisputed Championship.



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