By Joshua Waddles
17 May 2021
Wrestling is no stranger to goofy ideas, especially when it comes to movie tie ins. WCW once spent weeks playing ominous laughter, only to reveal Chucky, from Child’s Play, threatening Rick Steiner and promising Scott Steiner a role in a movie (This never happened.) WWE’s episode of RAW featuring The Muppets was significantly more fun, with Sheamus promising to see Beaker again at the family reunion and Kermit mistaking Vicky Guerrero for Dolph Ziggler’s mother.
But the WWE raised a lot of eyebrows with the lumberjack match at WWE Backlash featuring Damian Priest and The Miz. During this match, in order to promote the new Army of the Dead movie starring Dave Bautista, the WWE brought out people dressed as zombies to act as the lumberjacks while the display screens, which usually show the virtual crowd, displayed a post-apocalyptic landscape.
This is not the first time, nor likely the last, that WWE has experimented with theatrics in the post-Covid world. The lack of live audiences, however strange for the viewers and wrestlers, at least allowed for editing. The WWE took full advantage of this during Bray Wyatt’s matches against John Cena at Wrestlemania and Braun Strowman at Money in the Bank. These matches, lambasted by certain old-school critics, generally drew positive reactions from the fans.
The lumberjack match at Backlash seems to have generated reactions ranging from “wtf” to anger. Fans did not know there would be zombies at the event. This came as a cute surprise.
Dave Bautista (Batista on his WWE merch) narrated the opening sequence and tweeted before the event, promising some of his “friends” would be at the PPV. His reaction tweet would seem to indicate he did not like the idea, and he flat out stated it was not his decision.
But in fairness to the WWE, the match was good. The zombies mostly acted in the same way as lumberjacks in any other match (mostly), and we got some excellent action with Miz and Priest taking them on.
They may have gone too far when the “zombies” invaded the ring and pretended to eat the wrestlers. Fans can suspend disbelief enough to believe Miz, Priest and a bunch of dudes dressed like zombies are really fighting, but they’re not likely to buy Miz and Priest getting eaten on a PPV. Presumably we’ll see them both with bite marks on their next appearance?
Damian Priest defeated The Miz during the match. Before both were eaten.