To quote The Miz: Really?
Really, WWE? This is your lineup for Backlash, Smackdown’s first pay-per-view after this year’s Wrestlemania? This is what you came up with? Okaaaay.
Let’s be honest: this was a very lame schedule of matches with only a couple of them really interesting. Well, anyway… let’s go see if the WWE and the Smackdown Superstars can surprise us despite the seemingly boring card.
Match #1: Shinusuke Nakamura vs Dolph Ziggler
This was one of the matches that really interested me going in. I know all about Shinusuke Nakamura and his “strong style” of wrestling since I watch NXT and, even though he’s been in the doghouse for so long, I still enjoy seeing Dolph Ziggler in a match. While this was a decent enough opening bout, I don’t think this was the best way to introduce Shinusuke Nakamura to the WWE Universe and the Smackdown viewers at large.
The match itself was good if taken by itself. The problem is that this was the debut of the King of Strong Style. This would’ve been a opportune time for him to just really take it to The Show Off. I wouldn’t want a one sided beatdown but it would’ve been great if Nakamura just performed his trademark style of strikes and hard attacks and Ziggler selling the crap out of the moves. Instead, we got a back and forth match… actually, I kind of think Ziggler dominated the match a little bit.
The finish came when Ziggler tried to escape a flurry of knees by Nakamura by going to the ropes. Nakamura then ran the apron and nailed his foe with a wicked looking running knee. The King of Strong Style then attempted a knee strike from the second turnbuckle but The Show Off ducked. Ziggler attempts a superkick but Nakamura avoids it and lands an reverse suplex. Nakamura then finishes off Ziggler with a Kinshasa knee strike for the pinfall victory.
Like I said, the match was good but not what I wanted. This was a wasted opportunity for Nakamura to show his stuff and for Ziggler to sell how brutal the unorthodox “strong style” can be.
Rating: 6.5 of 10.0 missed opportunities
Match #2: Breezango vs The Usos for the Smackdown Tag Team Titles
I’m sorry. I know Breezango are the “comedy” team in Smackdown now. But, gosh darn it, I really want them to win just because I love it when the wrestler or wrestlers that you don’t think will win does.
The first half of the match was comedy… bronze. Definitely not comedy gold but Tyler Breeze dressing up in different outfits was good for a chuckle or two. It was fun for what it was: a silly distraction from all of the seriousness that the WWE has embroiled us in recently. It was great to see a little levity even if it came off somewhat juvenile.
Once the outfits and disguises came off, things did get serious and, unfortunately, The Usos were just too much for the Fashion Police. The finish came when Fandango, after taking out both Usos with a leap over the top rope. Fandango tried to capitalize by climbing the top rope but the Usos recovered fast enough to take him out with a superkick and to retain the titles.
This wasn’t a classic by any stretch of the imagination. However, I did enjoy the match as a whole. It was a good balance of action and comedy for the most part. I would’ve enjoyed it a whole lot more if Breezango won, though.
Rating: 7.0 of 10.0 dropkicking grandmas
Match #3: Sami Zayn vs Baron Corbin
As much as I hate to admit it, I’m starting to see why the WWE has been promoting Baron Corbin. Sure, he isn’t great on the mic but he does a good job it portraying the bully/powerhouse wrestler. And he really got to show that during this match with the “underdog” Sami Zayn.
The match was generally Corbin just dominating throughout the majority of the match. Zayn did manage to get in a few offensive runs here and there but this was pretty much a straight beat down and a way to show that Corbin is a monster. And, honestly, Zayn did a great job in selling the story as The Lone Wolf put him through the wringer.
The finish was actually a bit of a surprise because it came out of nowhere. Zayn managed to kick out of a Deep Six, which frustrated Corbin. The Lone Wolf then just started wailing blows on Zayn. Then, Zayn sidestepped a shoulder charge which sent Corbin flying into the ring. Corbin tried to rush Zayn but Zayn countered with a boot. The former NXT champion then connected with a Helluva Kick to get the pinfall victory.
I really liked this bout but, ultimately, it didn’t feel all that special. It didn’t feel like anything was really at stake here. Still, both Zayn and Corbin pulled off a decent match that, at least, felt like it could’ve been a great main event at Smackdown. So… there’s that.
Rating: 6.5 of 10.0 finishes from out of nowhere.
Match #4: Naomi, Charlotte and Becky Lynch vs Tamina, Natalya and Carmella (with James Ellsworth)
I though we were done with pay-per-view events where the women just put on tag matches with nothing at stake?
Even though I love the WWE’s Women’s division, this was the match I was least looking forward to as it’s a step in the wrong direction. In fact, this match has some shades of the Diva’s Devolution, where all the WWE women wrestlers were lumped into factions. Essentially, this match featured the “good” female Superstars vs. the “bad” female Superstars. And since they have talent like Charlotte, Becky Lynch (who has a great head of hair as of late) and, yes, even Natalya and Tamina in the match, putting all of them in a lousy tag match seemed like a waste. And it was!
And, no, Naomi. No one is ever going to chant “glow.” Ever!
Oh, and I really despise the finish of this match. After the prerequisite “let’s get everyone do something in the ring like the action is super crazy” sequence, Becky Lynch rolled Natalya up but Tamina rushed in to break the count. The Irish Lass Kicker fought her off but Natalya took advantage of the distraction to lock in the Sharpshooter to… get Becky to tap out? That’s just insulting, especially to Becky Lynch and her awesome lion’s mane hair she was sporting!
Dull match and a crappy finish. Need I say more?
Rating: 4.0 of 10.0 at least Becky Lynch’s hair was on point
Match #5: AJ “The Face of Smackdown Live” Styles vs. Kevin “The Face of America” Owens for the United States Championship
Screw the WWE Championship match with Randy Orton vs Jinder Mahal! This was the match to watch!
Maybe because all of the matches were boring up to this point but the match for the United States Championship just really felt good. There was a lot of action and a lot of great ring psychology from bell to bell. The spots were really good and both wrestlers teased the audience with some really great false finishes. However, I did feel there was something missing. Not because the match wasn’t any good, though. The problem is I know both AJ Styles and Kevin Owens could do so much more. Well, it does make sense that they didn’t go all out at Backlash as it looks like the two are going to have an extended feud. But I still wish both Styles and Owens cranked up the intensity just a notch.
A lot of fans are complaining about the finish but I actually like it because it was, at least, something refreshing and different. After the match tumbled to the outside of the ring, AJ Styles set Kevin Owens up for the Styles Clash on top of the announcer’s table. But Owens managed to slither out of the hold which led to Styles right (and previously injured) slipping into one of the holes that usually holds the announcer monitors. The Face of America managed to get into the ring before the 10 count but Styles’ leg got caught in some cables, leading to a countout victory for Owens.
I really like the bout as it showed that both AJ Styles and Kevin Owens are evenly matched for the most part and Owens just getting lucky. It was a good, hard fought match and I can’t wait to see the two go at it again in the future.
Rating: 8.0 of 10.0 foot in the hole!
Match #6: Luke Harper vs Erick Rowan
With Bray Wyatt in Raw, can someone really tell me why these guys are fighting against each other? I mean, technically, both of them aren’t part of the Wyatt Family since they’re both on Smackdown.
This was a total filler match and everyone knows it. The WWE and Smackdown just needed a match to squeeze in between the AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens and the Randy Orton vs Jinder Mahal matches. This was just a “cooldown” match and, well, it did its job. It was basically two big (and rather agile) guys punching each other. With that being said, I really wish they would get Luke Harper away from the entire “he’s formerly a Wyatt” feuds. Give him a proper match and someone to feud with that’s different because he can do more. Much, much more.
The finish came soon enough right after Luke Harper reversed Erick Rowan’s powerbomb attempt. Harper delivered a couple of superkicks which Rowan shook of by getting inspiration from his sheep mask, I guess. Harper still managed to nail a discus clothesline for the pinfall victory.
Perfectly serviceable but pretty humdrum match. Like I said, it was a filler match and it came off as such.
Rating: 5.0 of 10.0 inspirational sheep masks.
Match #7: Randy Orton vs Jinder Mahal (with the Singh Brothers) for the WWE World Championship
I had a sneaking suspicion Jinder Mahal was going to win. Randy Orton’s recent run as the WWE World Champion wasn’t exactly must see television. Now, how the WWE handles Jinder Mahal moving forward is still an unknown. But what I can tell you is this: this was a very boring match with only the finish being something to actually note.
It started out okay, with Orton jumping Jinder before the bell, However, a lot of that fire got extinguished the instant the match officially began. It was mostly Orton dominating the challenger with strikes and his signature moves and the New Maharaja going after the champion’s arm and applying arm bars. Nothing really happens until the very end when the Singh Brothers really get involved, which coincidentally, happens during the closing moments of the match.
The finish came right after Orton nailed Mahal with his RKO finisher. However, the Singh Brothers dragged the former 3-Man Band Member (I still remember what he did before) out of the ring. Orton focused his attention on the Brothers, knocking them both out with a draping DDT. Mahal took advantage of the distraction and connected with his Khallas finisher to gain the pinfall victory and to become the new WWE World Champion.
I have no issues with the WWE making Jinder Mahal the champion. After Randy Orton’s very uneventful run with the belt, I’m ready for a new change. I just hope they don’t yank the belt off him before they actually do something with him as World Champion. Still, this was a lackluster match with only the “shocking” finish making it even worth talking about.
Rating: 6.0 of 10.0 days of Jinder Mahal as WWE World Champion
Overall Rating for WWE Backlash (2017):
The only really good match was the AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens match for the United States title. Even the Shinusuke vs Dolph Ziggler match, which should have been incredible failed to impress. Putting the belt on Jinder Mahal does make me want to watch Smackdown but that’s just more of a gimmick/stunt to attract viewers rather than an actual interesting storyline.
Rating: 6.0 of 10.0 lackluster pay-per-views.
What did you think of this year’s Backlash? Let me know in the comments section below!