John: The Backlash WWE pay-per-view name has come back from the dead as the first Smackdown brand PPV in this “new era” period of WWE.
It’s Friday evening as I write this and WWE has only advertised six matches for the three-hour show. At this point, no Kickoff Show matches have been announced either. It’s odd that they aren’t putting more of an effort into announcing matches because you would think the first brand exclusive PPV of the year would be treated as a bigger deal than it. I am looking forward to the main event and some of the other matches are pretty good too, but I feel like the promotion of the show has been pretty weak.
Joining me for the preview are Matty J. Douglas, Mike Holland and Kurt Zamora. Here are Kurt and Mike with some opening thoughts.
Kurt: I’m actually really happy for Smackdown that they get the initial “brand only” PPV as thus far, I feel they’ve been the superior show. If I had a scorecard, I’d score it 5-2 in favor of Smackdown being the better show each week. So it’s nice to see them get the initial spotlight after SummerSlam. With a smaller card, this show should fly by and really show the brand in a good light by the end of the night. I’m really excited for this show.
Mike: Some of our fears have definitely come to light as Backlash was resurrected from the graveyard where old pay-per-views go to die (think of it as any of the WCW Halloween Havoc sets) and given the rather unenviable task of being the first-ever Smackdown Live PPV event since the brand split not so very long ago. The main question arising from said draft was whether WWE would avoid the sins of the past and give both shows the opportunity to thrive, and to say it's been Raw-heavy since then would be perhaps putting it mildly. Smackdown has suffered a significant drop in their talent level compared to Monday night's roster, and that was without Alberto Del Riolizing he'd be better off gone and the confusing decision to keep John Cena off television while both constantly referring to him and having him wrestle in dark matches.
That's not to say this event doesn't have a chance to make some news, as all of Smackdown's four belts (including their brand-new tag team and women's titles) will be decided. There's also the fact that with just six announced matches so far, everyone should get plenty of time to tell their story, something the overstuffed "Big 4" seem to struggle with at times. On paper, there's not that much to get truly excited about unfortunately, and the company's relative lack of creative build toward most of the bigger matches has only added to the issue. Let's hope they outperform the expectation. Smackdown badly needs the buzz.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.com. The banner is courtesy of our friend Melo Man. Go visit his website prowrestlinglinks.com for convenient links to all kinds of different wrestling related websites.)
The Usos vs. Hype Bros – Winners Move On To Tag Team Championship Finals
Kurt: The dream stays alive for me! Obviously, I wanted The Hype Bros to win the tournament due to being such a big Zack Ryder fan. I loved The Usos heel turn as it was much needed. They were getting stale. I wasn’t booing them or bored by them because of their allegiance to Roman, I was doing that because I was just simply sick of them. This will be a breath of fresh air for them.
The question for me is does Jason Jordan come out to avenge his partner’s injury during this match, or does he wait to see if they make it to the finals and then does it there? It makes the most sense for The Usos to go over in this match, but what I’d really like to see is Curt Hawkins make an early debut and convince his old partner to dump Mojo. Ryder deserves better.
Prediction: The Usos
Matt: So we’re all aware that The Usos are winning this match right? Then there isn’t really much to say here. I don’t expect a particularly long match, nor do I expect it to be remarkable in any way, shape or form. The most excitement I can muster up for this particular bout is that I’m curious to see how The Usos are different following Tuesday’s turn.
How will they wrestle differently? Will they have a new look? New music? New entrance? Most of those things probably won’t change by Sunday, but we should see some new stuff from them to showcase their new attitude shift.
Winners: The Usos (because the Hype train hasn’t left the station yet)
Mike: Let's get the easy stuff out of the way first. While the decision to have The Usos turn heel and prevent American Alpha from the only logical conclusion of winning the new Tag Titles was in itself a good one, it's had a very unintended consequence. Fans were hot to get their first "big match" look at the excellent NXT duo, and now they won't get it. Taking their place are the third-tier-at-best combo of Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley, who couldn't manage to beat Rhyno & Heath Slater this past week anyway. That's like replacing filet mignon with dog food.
Rawley's a one-trick pony, and Ryder would be better off partnering back up with the ready-to-debut Curt Hawkins, but that's another story. What matters here is you and I buying the lovable Usos as total jerks, and a castoff opening match like this against non-contenders is a glorified squash match to get that job done in spades. I think The Usos are on the upswing with this change of demeanor (maybe they can convince Roman Reigns the view ain't so bad from that side of the ledger?) and the hype will be all theirs. Bro.
Winners: The Usos
John: This is the easiest match to predict because I don’t think there’s much doubt about The Usos winning here. Their heel turn on Smackdown was the best thing on either Raw or SD Live last week because they needed to turn to become more interesting characters. Their face act was stale, so turning heel is going to lead to a better future for them. I’m really excited about what they can do as heels. It should be a relatively easy win for The Usos over the Ryder/Rawley team.
Winners: The Usos
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Natalya vs. Naomi vs. Becky Lynch vs. Nikki Bella vs. Carmella vs. Alexa Bliss
Kurt: The promo work might have not been the best, but I actually completely enjoyed the opening segment from this past week’s show with all the women in the ring together. It makes them out to be a big deal. I miss my girl Eva Marie, but I digress.
I could make a case for everyone in this match, except Alexa Bliss, so that makes the match even more interesting to me as well. Carmella’s heel turn was perfect for her and I think really re-energized her. I would love to see something where she has the win but Nikki, being a veteran, outsmarts her and “steals” the pin and the title. Then they can continue their rivalry.
I feel bad for Becky as she’s the only Horsewoman who’s not on Raw, and it’s with that in mind that I can imagine they did that for a reason and want her to be the spotlight woman on Smackdown so they will give her the title. I’m conflicted on those two possibilities, but I’m going to lean towards the original idea and continue to have Becky play the underdog role where she keeps coming up short.
Prediction: The new Smackdown Women’s Champion, Nikki Bella
Matt: Tuesday’s six women tag match did a lot to quell some of my fears heading into this match. All the women worked pretty well, even the far less experienced ones. I do like that they announced it would be an elimination match, meaning that they’ll get some time to play out an interesting story here.
I don’t really think Naomi or Alexa will be getting the title, nor do I really see them giving the belt to Carmella, despite how much her new attitude has changed public perception about her (she was woefully miscast as a babyface from the jump). That leaves Natalya, Nikki and Becky.
I could see Nikki winning and moving on to feud with Carmella over the belt, but that would mean that Nikki, coming off a major injury, would be in the top women’s program on Smackdown with one of the brand’s least experienced workers who only turned heel a couple of weeks ago. I see their feud continuing, but probably not for the title.
So it’s between Becky and Natalya…
Winner and First Smackdown Women’s Champion: Natalya (because I gotta go with a fellow Canadian)
Mike: The amazing thing about this match featuring the entire women's side of the roster dumped into one big-ass match for a title they just made up on the spot is that the build for it has been more effective than any other one on this card. WWE has pushed Becky Lynch as so-close-but-so-far-away to her dreams since the minute they made such a big deal out of Smackdown drafting her so highly, and so the thought would be that this is the perfect time to build around her.
That being said, the secondary feuds here have also been decent. Natalya's embraced her heel role and dressing like a dungeon master (get it?), Naomi's got a new glow stick entrance, and Carmella has been basically beating the crap out of Nikki Bella since her return at SummerSlam. I know people like Nikki's chances here, and I get it, but I don't see it because that feud needs to continue. That leaves only one other possibility in Alexa Bliss, who has both the look and demeanor and has been very well protected since her call-up. While that would make a cool surprise, I think Lynch is the safe bet here for the short term. And, yes, she deserves it.
Winner (and FIRST Smackdown Women's Champion): Becky Lynch
John: There are a lot of different things they can do here. If they want to put over one of the newer girls like Carmella or Alexa Bliss this would be a good way to do that. I just don’t think either one of them is ready for it right now.
Naomi has been on the brink of being a champion a few times. It’s probably best to keep building her up because even though she’s back in the babyface role that she thrives in, she isn’t portraying a character that is that popular right now. In half a year or another year she might be there. Right now she’s not.
Becky Lynch would be a fine choice. She’s never held a title in WWE or in NXT, so for her to finally accomplish that goal would be cool for her. It seems as though the focus has been taken off for her a bit since Nikki Bella has come back. If she wins it would make sense, but it would be fine if they decided to put the title on her later in the year or early next year.
I think it’s going to be Nikki Bella or Natalya because they want to put it on the most established name to try to make the title seem important right away. Natalya is the one that I would put it on because it’s been six years since she held a title and she deserves it the most. However, putting a new title on a face seems to be something WWE likes doing, so I’ll go with Nikki for the win. Hopefully they can get 15 minutes to try to legitimize the title in its infancy.
Winner and New Smackdown Women’s Champion: Nikki Bella
WWE Intercontinental Championship: The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler
Kurt: No matter how much rehabilitation they’ve done on Dolph since he was drafted to Smackdown, him winning the IC Title really does nothing for him. He’s been there and done that. No one has a problem believing he can be an IC Champion. They have a problem believing he can be a World Champion. That’s the disconnect for him. So while WWE may think him winning this title will help his reputation, it really won’t.
On the flip side, if I was WWE, I would have The Miz break the long held Honky Tonk Man’s record of longest reigning Intercontinental Champion. I think everything The Miz does nowadays is gold, especially with Maryse. Their real life chemistry just oozes every time they’re on the screen. The Miz will be at 160 days when this match takes place, so he’d have just under 300 days left, 454 is the record, to break it. In this day and age, that’s obviously a lofty goal but I just think they have that type of charisma to make it work. This should have plenty of time to be a really good match but there’s just no need for a title change.
Prediction: The Miz retains the Intercontinental Championship
Matt: This match is really weird for me. On one hand you have The Miz. The Miz is really, really good at his job. He is arguably the best heel in the company and one of my favourite guys to watch perform. He’s not the best wrestler the company has, but he really is one of their most remarkable characters (which is kinda my thing).
On the other hand you have Dolph Ziggler. Dolph is one of the WWE’s best in ring workers, but as a character, he lacks everything that The Miz has. He lacks authenticity when he speaks, as well as any real characterization. His persona is a mishmash of people who have come before him, and lacks focus, which make it hard for me to follow his motivation at any point in time. He’s a showoff, but he’s disgruntled, and he’s passionate, but doesn’t care when he loses because he knows he’ll eventually win a big match… I just don’t get him.
I hope this is merely a step in a total Dolph makeover. Turn him heel, give him a new gimmick, have Sting come in to mentor him, literally anything that would renew his purpose within the narrative. He would be a solid addition to my fantasy booked stable of A-Listers with Miz, Fandango and Tyler Breeze. Maybe that’s a good role for Dolph.
Winner and Still WWE Intercontinental Champion: The Miz (because Dolph is missing something while The Miz is just hitting his stride)
Mike: My issue here isn't so much that we've seen Miz and Zigs battle ad infinitum, as they can both be counted out to deliver a very good match on a fairly lackluster card overall. It's that this feud feels so flat just a few weeks after that excellent Talking Smack segment where the current Intercontinental Champion went ballistic over his perceived unfair treatment at the hands of GM Daniel Bryan. While we ate that up with a spoon, tossing Dolph into the middle of it killed the momentum dead in its tracks through little fault of his own and left us with this recycled material.
I'm not sure what to make of Mr. Ziggles, as he perhaps more than any other wrestler on WWE's roster has been subject to the capricious whims and flights of fancy that characterize WWE's creative team. One week he's a world-beater, the next he's an also-ran. It's actually been built into his story that he loses all the time, like a bleached Barry Horowitz. And it's actually made him look somehow even lamer. If they didn't take the belt off Miz in favor of Apollo Crews, what makes anyone think they'd do it here?
Winner (and STILL Intercontinental Champion): The Miz
John: My interest level in this match is pretty low. I blame the creative team more than the performers because there’s not much of a story here. It’s really just about Ziggler calling Miz a coward and Miz wanting to prove he’s tough. I think Miz will retain the title thanks to an assist from his wife. Ziggler keeps losing big matches, which hopefully has a payoff that sees him turn heel within the next two or three months.
Winner: The Miz
Smackdown Tag Team Tournament Championship Finals: Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. Usos or Hype Bros
Kurt: For my money, there is no better storyline going right now than the redemption of Heath Slater. The fact that he is one of the most over guys every week on Smackdown shows me that I’m not alone in that thinking. I don’t know if the creative team expected this type of response for him, but they’ve caught lightning in a bottle and need to go all the way with it.
As I stated above, the heel turn for The Usos was perfect for them, but it was also perfect for this tournament. You obviously don’t want American Alpha to take a loss, but as I said, you need to see this Slater angle through to the end. So you protect Alpha and now give Slater/Rhyno the perfect heel team to stand in their way of the ultimate goal.
I expect the chemistry of The Usos as a team to really overpower Slater and Rhyno and dominate most of the match. At some point though, Jason Jordan will make his appearance and distract The Usos enough for Heath Slater and Rhyno to win the match and the tag titles. At that point, let’s party BABYYYYYYYY!
Predictions: The New Smackdown Tag Team Champions, Heath Slater & Rhyno
Matt: As I stated earlier, we know that The Usos are taking the open slot in the finals that American Alpha once occupied (making their attack on Tuesday a stroke of brilliant strategy). The question is who will walk out of Backlash on Sunday as the new Smackdown Tag Team Champions. On one hand, Slater needs to win to earn his contract. On the other hand, Gable and Jordan as the fiery babyface team chasing the villainous Usos' championships is almost too delicious to resist. This could go either way and I wouldn’t complain.
I could see them letting Slater and Rhyno win because their pairing has worked out remarkably well. They could have a very short run and drop the titles to The Usos right before American Alpha make their return. With that said I think giving Slater the contract even in defeat isn’t a bad option. We saw it earlier this year with Shane gaining some control in the WWE despite losing the match where control was on the line. This would be far more forgivable than that bit of storyline contrivance, because Bryan is a benevolent GM that we could all buy handing out a contract for a good try. So that’s what I’m thinking happens.
Winners and New Smackdown Tag Team Champions: The Usos (because what better way to get these new heels heat?)
Mike: My issues with Heath Slater's current push have been well documented (thanks, no doubt, to writing about the brand split every week here at TJR, cheap plug!) but there is no argument that it has made him relevant. Ditto to Rhyno, who might be the most unlikely guy from his era to be back in a major spot with WWE. It feels a little goofy and fresh, and that's good. It's going to get stale fast, though, so enjoy it while it lasts. The easy decision here would be to cement the feel-good story that Slater triumphs over all adversity to claim his contract by beating Smackdown's best heel tag team. That's why it's also the wrong one.
The trick in all this is that Slater doesn't actually HAVE to win in order to get what he wants. I'm quite sure Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan will respect the wishes of the fans who watched him bust his ass to get here. They won't be good enough to topple The Usos on Sunday, and nor should they be. Comedy shouldn't trump emotion, and American Alpha's quest to unseat the heel champs is a great story that we want to read.
Winner (and FIRST Smackdown Tag Team Champions): The Usos
John: This should be fun because I’ve enjoyed the Slater/Rhyno team from the moment they started teaming together. Listen to the crowd reaction on Smackdown last week. The fans are into this team a lot. I like the Slater storyline where he has to win this match to win a contract because they have done an excellent job of developing his character over the last two months. It’s stupid and it’s silly, but so what? It’s pro wrestling. We need some different characters. Slater is funny as a comedy face while Rhyno is the quiet veteran partner that doesn’t really fit in, yet it works somehow.
If The Usos win it wouldn’t be a bad thing. They need some momentum as heels and putting the titles on them. I just think WWE is going to go a different route by putting over Slater/Rhyno because Jason Jordan is likely going to show up to distract The Usos to cost them the match. They could even have Chad Gable walk out there in a knee brace to distract as well. Long term, Usos vs. American Alpha is the main feud. For now, put over Slater and Rhyno. The celebration will be hilarious.
Winners and New Smackdown Tag Team Champions: Heath Slater & Rhyno
Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt
Kurt: This is the toughest match for me to pick. It’s been an interesting dichotomy between the two as there’s been no in-ring action, just promos back and forth. I thought Orton’s promo this past week was fantastic and some of his best work. This match is tough to pick because I don’t know what WWE is feeling with Orton. I feel Orton does NOT need this win, but WWE may feel he does as a bounce back from the beatdown he took from Lesnar.
Wyatt absolutely needs this win. Wyatt has become nothing more than a stepping stone with a cool entrance. With the departure of Alberto Del Rio, Smackdown desperately needs another top heel and Wyatt SHOULD be that guy.
Since this is my prediction, I will say that we come to find out in the match that Orton is still more injured from SummerSlam than he’s letting on, and Wyatt really attacks him and takes the fight to Orton. Orton gets in an RKO outta nowhere, but can’t capitalize, or even Wyatt kicks out. Eventually, Wyatt is too much for Orton and gets a much needed and deserved win.
Prediction: Bray Wyatt
Matt: I find it hard to get excited for much of anything Bray Wyatt does as a heel. I think there is some money in him as an anti-hero, but until the WWE takes that route with him, I’ll always just kind of tune out when he comes to the ring.
This past Tuesday’s duelling story times, where both men recounted fables as allegories for their impending showdown didn’t really change my feeling about this one. I hope it will be a good match, but Randy Orton doesn’t typically gel with everyone they put him in the ring with, despite being a solid worker. I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys lack in ring chemistry.
Both guys could use a win, but Randy seems to be positioned more prominently in the overall narrative right now than Bray Wyatt.
Winner: Randy Orton (because Bray doesn’t seem to figure much into future plans)
Mike: Quick show of hands. Can you remember the last time Bray Wyatt was relevant? I can't actually see your hands, of course, so I'll just guess there aren't that many. Wyatt's function has been to lurk in the background with his assumed family, ready at a moment's notice to launch into some raving discourse about gods and monsters and everything in between. It's all fantastically wacky, but there's rarely a point to it, and he pretty much never comes out with a win. The good news for Wyatt fans like myself is that it kind of doesn't matter: he is a master of the microphone, and entertaining as hell. He is all in and then some.
The bad news is the feuds don't really matter, and presenting himself as an omnipotent celestial being who rules the universe is even sillier than it looks when said deity does nothing but come up short. Orton had real buzz going into his showdown with Raw's Brock Lesnar, but the realistic-looking ending did damage to both his forehead and his character. He's due for a rebound. His war of words with Bray may continue beyond Sunday, but he'll get the nod. Following the buzzards always leads to a loss.
Winner: Randy Orton
John: It’s a tough match to predict because it’s easy to come up with a reason for either guy to win. It’s hard to remember the last time Wyatt was in a significant feud, so of course he could use the victory as much as anybody at Backlash. With Orton, I think WWE knows he doesn’t really need wins because he’s been a main event performer for over a decade, so who cares if he wins or loses? The thing is, Orton got destroyed by Brock Lesnar in a very physical way at SummerSlam. Do they really want to have him lose again?
I’m going with Wyatt simply because I think this is the start of a feud that is going to get two or three PPV matches. It may be a cheap win for Wyatt. There may be interference from his old friend Erick Rowan or perhaps a returning Luke Harper (he’s training at the Performance Center), but I think something cheap is going to happen to give Wyatt the victory. If Orton wins, maybe it’s a disqualification. I just feel like this the start of a longer rivalry.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
WWE World Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles
Kurt: I stated in my debut podcast that aired this week (cheap plug!) that Kevin Owens was my MVP for 2016 so far. AJ Styles would be as close a 2nd place as you can get. Do you remember that he lost at WrestleMania? No you don’t, because everything he’s done since then has been simply Phenomenal. Pun intended. Meanwhile, as much as I felt at first listen that Stone Cold was being a little hard on Dean Ambrose for his personality and lack of fire, I’m actually starting to see some of that in the last few weeks.
At this exact moment, I don’t buy Ambrose as a champion. Styles, however, has champion written all over him. I’m hoping the fact it’s their first singles match on PPV (they had a Raw match back in June), and maybe some loyalty to the brand to make sure the first PPV ends on a high note, that Ambrose will have some fire for this match and it’ll be better than anticipated. I actually think a title change will be better in the long run for Ambrose as he needs something to rejuvenate him now. Styles should be the face of the brand that carries the title into the new year.
Prediction: New WWE Champion, AJ Styles
Matt: This is the headline match for Backlash. Summerslam feels like it was yesterday (only because it kinda was. This turnaround was insanely quick). I know everybody is high on AJ Styles as the WWE’s best performer right now, and he pretty much is, but since when has that been the barometer for who should be WWE World Heavyweight Champion? I’m fairly certain most people who are reading this have it written in stone somewhere that AJ should win the belt here, so just let me make a case for Dean Ambrose.
There is no full time performer in the company that can say that they’ve been booked stronger since Wrestlemania 33 than Dean Ambrose. He hasn’t lost a PPV match since Payback. He beat Chris Jericho twice in a row on PPV clean (something AJ didn’t do in 2016), won a stacked Money In The Bank Ladder Match by defeating Del Rio, Cesaro, Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, and went on to cash it in later that very night to capture his first WWE World Heavyweight Championship. He went on to win one of the most anticipated WWE matches for the last few years, The Shield Triple Threat, cleanly retaining his Championship and ensuring it stayed on Smackdown post WWE Draft. He then retained at Summerslam over Dolph Ziggler, and all the while looked strong nearly each and every week from Payback until now.
The question is, do you throw out all the work and equity you have put into Dean Ambrose? I’d say not just yet. It just feels too soon to me. He’s been booked so strongly up to this point, and with Summerslam not being far enough in the periphery, it just seems like weird timing to me. I think this rivalry could be extended and heated up before AJ wins the belt. I want Styles to get the title, but the timing just feels imperfect.
I’ll guess that there is a wonky finish to this match, or that Ambrose pulls out a questionable victory that Styles can whine about for weeks leading up to their rematch, as things are given the time they need to escalate between them. I truly think that’s the better play here. Plus, I have a heel winning every title on this show. There has to be a babyface Champion somewhere on the blue brand.
Winner and Still WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Dean Ambrose (because it isn’t his fault that creative forces in the WWE think a lunatic is somebody who likes a lot of sugar in their coffee)
Mike: Give AJ Styles credit for a major achievement. While others that went before have made inroads toward this goal, Styles might be the first wrestler to successfully argue that he overcame Vince McMahon's outright distaste for anything he didn't create and rode that hot streak all the way to the company's ultimate prize. Daniel Bryan and others may have a similar story, but Styles actually worked for Vinnie Mac's main competition following WCW's demise and we all know how he feels about that. His tale going into this match is singular and phenomenal, to borrow his own adjective for a bit.
There are likely a lot of reasons for it, but Ambrose has never really taken to the title he's wearing. He's at his best when he's clawing and scratching against the rigors of conformity and conventionalism, not serving as the poster boy for a company that doesn't know what to do with him and really never has. If you need evidence, look no further than the goofy skits of him messing around backstage on Tuesday's show. This is the best they can do for their main guy? When he was just another joe, those type of segments would have gotten a major belly laugh and a thumbs up. Now they just look out of place. The build for this showdown has been reasonable, with Styles acting suitably villainous following his big victory over John Cena and taking any opportunity to batter Ambrose en route.
It's Cena's shadow that looms largest over this match, unfortunately, as even with him being out of the country completely he's still relevant to the program's endgame. If you believe that Cena's business with Styles is unfinished (which it clearly is) you are already on the trail of those guys potentially battling over Smackdown's biggest prize prior to Cena's next vanishing act to film some more television. It establishes AJ as the man to beat and makes him a key figure in WWE programming, something the company badly needs to do. Ambrose's act is more entertaining without the restrictions of championship gold anyway, so don't shed any tears for him. He served his purpose, but his time is up in favor of WWE's next big heel champ.
Winner (and NEW WWE World Champion): AJ Styles
John: This is going to be an interesting match. I’m hoping that it ends with Styles winning because I’ve written many times that I feel like he’s the best performer in WWE, he carries himself like a major star and I just think deserves it based on his work this year. This is the third pay-per-view this year where Styles is gunning for the WWE Title. If you want people to believe in him as a top guy then he shouldn’t fail again.
Ambrose is a guy I like a lot too, but he’s lost some steam as WWE Champion. The comedy skits they put him really aren’t that funny. His match with Dolph Ziggler was a disappointment because it feels like Ambrose is a guy that has the same kind of match with everybody. I keep wanting him to do something extra or different like Steve Austin suggested he do, yet there just isn’t that “special” feeling about him. I think it’s because Ambrose was more interesting as the face that struggled to get to the top and once he got to the top back at June’s Money in the Bank, there was nowhere else for him to go except down.
When I try to pick major title matches, I like to look ahead to the future. If Styles were to win the WWE Title, he could have some major matches with Ambrose in rematches, as well as Randy Orton and John Cena. If Ambrose gets by Styles, then what? Styles wouldn’t deserve a rematch if he loses. More Bray Wyatt matches? I don’t see that being that interesting. I wrote a fantasy booking column about Styles as the next WWE Champion that covers what I think they should do with him in the role.
I’m going with Styles to win a very close 25-minute match where Ambrose tries to put him away using all of his various moves, but Styles keeps coming back. Since WWE put Styles over Cena clean at SummerSlam, the right thing to do is to put him over for the WWE Title as well. Ambrose will be fine without the title while Styles would be damaged a bit if he lost a third WWE Title match this year. I could see them doing a disqualification style finish to set up a rematch next month. I’d rather just see a Styles win.
Winner and New WWE Champion: AJ Styles
John: That’s it for Backlash. I remember sitting after writing the SummerSlam preview and thinking this show is too damn long with over ten matches. This time, we just wrote about a six match show that feels pretty empty. It’s weird how they can follow that with this, but that doesn’t mean this will be a bad show. If Styles/Ambrose gets a lot of time and some of the other matches get time also then perhaps we’re talking about one of the best shows of the year. A lot of it depends on the time and the booking of finishes. I have faith in the performers. It's creative that's the issue.
Fantasy NFL Plug For Fanduel: It's John here and I've got something to share with any fantasy NFL fans. I’m working with Fanduel to try to get people to sign up for NFL games as well as other sports. If people sign up using this easy link then I get a nice kickback, so you'd be supporting TJRWrestling and me. All you need to do is deposit $10, you will get entry into 5 FREE tournaments for beginners only and use that $10 or more (whatever you deposit) how you want. All you have to do is sign up using this promo code: bit.ly/TJRWRESTLING – it’s pretty simple. Just use bit.ly/TJRWRESTLING with the TJRWRESTLING promo code in there and it works that easy. I’m going to set up some tournaments in the coming days too. If you have any questions, let me know.
Check out my Backlash review on Monday morning on TJRWrestling.net while Kurt will be posting live results on Sunday night.
Matt - @MJDP_GSE
Mike - @DharmanRockwell
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