If WWE Backlash was an episode of Friends, this one would simply be titled, “The One that No One Cares About.”
Which is nowhere near as good as “The One with All the Rugby”
But alas, that’s where we are after the SuperStar Shakeup (which I still hate – read here!). It’s been a bit of a feeling out period since the rosters were revitalized with some new blood. While still an enjoyable show, the Smackdown roster hasn’t been reaching the highs that it had been post-brand split; something that this writer hopes to see change in the near future.
That all starts at Backlash.
Marking the PPV debuts of two NXT veterans (more on that later), WWE Backlash features a number of appealing matches spread across the card. It also marks the debut of Charlotte, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens on the Blue Brand, which couldn’t be more exciting to me. Fresh matchups such as Owens/Styles, Zayn/Corbin and Nakamura/Ziggler are all reasons to tune in, as much as the main event is a huge reason to turn off.
Seriously guys, I’ll try not to complain too much, but how Randy Orton is still headlining PPV’s in 2017 is baffling. I try not to use the word “tragedy” lightly, but if the shoe fits…
Anyway – Backlash is the first Smackdown PPV since WrestleMania, and the first WWE viewing experience since Payback. (Predictions for both can be found here and here). It features 8 matches as of the time of this writing, and most of which should be solid.
Seriously, I’m not holding out hope.
While the Smackdown Women’s Championship isn’t on the line due to the Welcoming Committee, each other title is up for grabs at the event.
(Just would like to point out that the Welcoming Committee is a god-awful name for a faction.)
Enough talk – let’s make some picks!
Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English (Pre Show)
The best thing to happen to Aiden English could turn out to be Simon Gotch’s terrible attitude
Although tell me you couldn’t see it coming, with a mustache like that.
Since Gotch’s firing roughly a month ago, English has embraced the Drama King gimmick that gained him some serious heat in NXT. A classically trained singer (there’s your fun fact of the day!), English is slowly but surely starting to gain some momentum as a heel on the main roster, something that went unaccomplished with his mustached counterpart in the Vaudevillains.
But English runs into the WWE version of Sesame Street’s “The Count” in Tye Dillinger
The Cape, the whole “Perfect 10” – I’ll be shocked if Michael Cole doesn’t make a stupid reference to it.
I’ll admit it, I love the guy. Not even because it’s fun to yell the number 10, but because of the guys’ story; it’s pretty inspiring that he’s been fired by WWE twice, came back, went through a number of gimmicks and is finally one of the most over guys on the roster.
It’s English’s solo PPV debut, but it’s Dillinger’s WWE debut; let’s give it to the Perfect 10.
Prediction: Tye Dillinger
Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan (Pre Show)
I’m going to admit to you, it’s disappointing to see Harper this low on the card. Two months ago, we were talking about him potentially being added to the WWE title match at WrestleMania; now, he’s on the pre show with Erick Rowan. While a story to be told between the former tag team partners, it feels rushed.
That, and Rowan is a terrible wrestler. I mean, at least he has a cool sheep mask again?
Either way, as a huge Harper mark, it’s an easy pick for me
Prediction: Luke Harper
Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin
I’m starting this with my obligatory line about how great Sami Zayn is. Love the guy.
Anyway, this is a match I’m excited for. Corbin has been putting in great work lately, and is genuinely starting to look like the monster that WWE is building him to be. He’s looking dominant in matches, and it’s a credit to the guys he’s been working with.
Again, not much to say about Zayn; the guy’s a favourite of mine. It’s almost too bad that he’s such a natural baby face, it’s got him on the losing end of things more often than not. I don’t see it being any different this match.
Prediction: Baron Corbin
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler
I’m stoked! This guy has been ready for the main roster since he debuted in NXT. While not the ideal first feud for me, he’s gotta start somewhere!
The reason that this isn’t the ideal feud is entirely to blame on Ziggler. He was doing some of his best work of his career as recently as a year ago. His feud with the Miz was highly regarded across the industry. However, he’s seemingly trying to turn into the Miz, and it’s not working. He seems emotionless on the mic, and hasn’t really been doing much lately in the ring.
Hopefully, Shinsuke puts down the WWE equivalent of Lassie sooner rather than later.
Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura
Naomi, Charlotte and Becky Lynch vs. Natalya, Carmella and Tamina
The Welcoming Committee is a terrible name. A horrendous, ugly name.
An awful, terrible name.
I like them, and I think that a women’s faction is a great idea. It’s just a horrible name.
That, and I don’t really buy them as a threat to the three former champions. I mean, one can argue that the current Smackdown Women’s Champion is the weakest member of their team; Charlotte and Becky can both lay claim to being the best women’s wrestler on either roster right now. When you compare those three women to Natalya, the returning Tamina, and Carmella - No contest.
However, I can’t see WWE Creative wanting to make the faction look weak this early in their formation. Is a heel turn, or a heel re-turn, in the works? I’d hope so, and I hope that it’s anyone but Charlotte.
Prediction: The Welcoming Committee
Bonus Prediction: Becky Lynch turns heel
Again, I just really hope this happens. Her work as a heel in NXT was wonderful, and Charlotte could use the change. No need to turn her back.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match – The Usos © vs. Breezango
This is outstanding!
I’ve been saying forever that Breezango deserves to be pushed. WWE has always been about characters, and these two exhibit that fully. Fandango and Tyler Breeze have been pushing their “fashion cop” gimmick for a few months, and I’ve been consistently entertained. The Fashion Files are what I look most forward to on Tuesday nights, bar ANYTHING on Smackdown right now. They’re my favourite.
Tell me this isn’t terrific.
In addition to the character work, both guys can go in the ring. Fandango is an average ring worker at worst (remember, he’s got a WrestleMania victory over Jericho!), while Breeze is a genuine talent in the ring. I mean, he was trained by Lance Storm; In addition, Breeze is a former PWA Tag Team Champion (shoutout to PWA!) and a phenomenal wrestler. Personal note, when I watched him and Ziggler wrestle at a house show in Calgary a few years ago, they completely tore the house down in an incredible match.
I won’t talk much about the Usos, simply because I don’t want to. They’ve turned heel, and are now doing a lot of shouting. Other than that, same old, same old.
I’m going with the heart, purely in the hope that Vince McMahon reads this someday and realizes what treasures Breezango are.
Prediction: Breezango win the Smackdown Tag Team Championship
WWE United States Championship Match – Kevin Owens © vs AJ Styles
This is one of those dream matches that people talk about.
I’m excited. I’m really, really excited. These are two of, if not, the best workers in the WWE right now. I’ve said it before, but AJ Styles was unquestionably the MVP of wrestling in 2016. He’s in the conversation for best wrestler in the world right now, and no one can argue that.
Say what you will about his title reign, but it says something that WWE had the faith to give K.O. a nearly six-month title reign with the top championship in the company. His character shift since his breakup with Jericho has been outstanding. He’s a phenomenal talker, an equally good worker, and one of the few guys on the roster I can legitimately see defeating Styles.
With this match, I don’t see a reason for Styles to win. Although, I believe that he deserves to always be holding championships. He’s positioned to move up the rung and move his sights back onto the WWE Championship.
Prediction: Kevin Owens retains the U.S. Championship.
WWE Championship Match – Randy Orton © vs. Jinder Mahal
Before I get into predictions, let me just say that this may be the least appealing main event that I’ve ever witnessed in a WWE ring. It’s frankly a joke that Mahal is even in contention - just two weeks prior to him earning his number one contendership, he lost a match to Finn Balor in less than three minutes. That simply doesn’t happen to anyone looking to be a legitimate contender.
I’m also on record as stating that Randy Orton may be my least favourite thing to happen to professional wrestling, regardless of his awesome rant against the indies this week. He’s essentially the Jordan Eberle of the WWE as far as I’m concerned; all the talent in the world, and a guy who looks like he’s mailing in his performance 9.9/10 times. Sure, there’s the occasional moment that makes you reconsider your position (such as Orton’s match against AJ Styles earlier this year, or any one of Eberle’s numerous 2 goal games after 20 game goalless streaks), but the bottom line is neither of these men appear capable of giving a s**t.
This isn’t a blog to complain, however, as much as I’d like it to be. This is a blog about predictions, and dammit, I’m making one!
I’m going with my heart here, and frankly I’m not even sure if I believe it. But with the WWE looking to expand into India, and purely out of my personal hatred for Randy Orton – don’t hinder the Jinder!
Prediction: Jinder Mahal wins the WWE Championship.
Keep your shoulders off the mat!