When you work on predictions for a PPV the way the team did, at first you listen to your heart, make reflect your choice for the guy who deserves a win or a belt or worths it. But like we use to saying, everything can happen with WWE. On paper, the card of Backlash was interesting, without being exciting. Surprises were to expect, they were but came from what you never expect them to. One title changed hands, to much people dismay (or joy). The spectre of injuries never left the Chicago arena yesterday night and we have to hope not to hear bad news until Tuesday.
Obviously, Backlash could and should have been better. But it was what WWE wanted us to see. Welcome to the most must-see Vulture Hound weekly review in history; welcome to… The SmackDown Review (Backlash special) by your Doctor Frenchy.
In the pre-show, there was absolutely no reason for Tye Dillinger not to make a Perfect against the Maestro Aiden English. Dillinger is a fan favourite. English quickly took control of the match but a little waste of time for English to pose was enough for Dillinger to nail his opponent with an atomic drop and a flying forearm. A frustrated English started to whine in the ring, like he’s used to doing now, tried to slam Dillinger. One Tye Breaker later, Dillinger got the win. Expected.
Dolph Ziggler really didn’t like Shinsuke Nakamura and he showed it yesterday night. Most of the match, we were looking for the Nakamura we used to see and love in NXT, strong, stiff, tough. Ziggler released an arsenal of kicks on a nearly absent Nakamura, attacking his legs, arms and neck at multiple times. Nakamura tried to come back many times, always to be stopped by an even more evilish Ziggler. A Kinshasa outta nowhere was enough to give Nakamura the victory but after a vicious and really stiff battle. Quite unexpected, from Nakamura’s side.
Tyler Breeze and Fandango being “1 contender for SmackDown Tag Team titles was already a joke. The match was a pure joke. Tyler Breeze came to the ring in a ridiculous Cleaning Man attire while Fandango was shaking his booty. What to say about the match, excepted The Usos didn’t appreciate Breezango sense of humour and broke Breeze’s mop. Later in the match “Granny Breeze” was able to take advantage on Jey, but a dress is not the best wrestling attire, for sure. (Congratulations to JBL who’s now the lucky owner of the beautiful blue granny dress…). Of course, The Usos retained. Expected.
During the pre-show social media Q&A, Sami Zayn set the tone, no underdog label available tonight. He was there to win and prove both Baron Corbin and the fans he didn’t come to the Land of Opportunities for nothing. ““To resist despair in this world is what it means to be free” ( from the song “Sound System” by ska band Operation Ivy) was written on his pants as a way to find an inspiration. Corbin had control of most of the match, injuring Zayn lower back move after move. But Zayn resisted, supported by a crowd of real fans. Corbin’s cockiness was overcome by Zayn’s wiseness and a massive Helluva Kick for the win. A hell of a match, with a hell of a winner. But also a lot of concern for Zayn’s health as it was really difficult to stand straight as the referee was raising his hand. Unexpected and good.
Bad girls (and James Ellsworth) vs. good girls… a classic way to put all the Smackdown female roster in a match. Tamina Snuka was the women of the match, impressive of strength. After being away from the rings for nearly a year due to a knee injury, Tamina was here to destroy. Becky’s speed was not enough, Charlotte Flair’s talent was knocked out, Naomi’s athleticism was laid down. With Natalya, they really didn’t leave any chances to the “good girls” to prevail. The Welcoming Committee took the win thanks to Becky Lynch tapping out Natalya’s Sharpshooter. No catfight between Charlotte, Becky and Naomi after an interesting match, unexpected in some ways.
We could expect the United States Championship match between Kevin Owens and Aj Styles to be a tough one. It was. AJ put the brakes on straight as the bell rang. But Kevin Owens seemed a little bit too strong for him. The turning point of the match came when Styles fell badly on his leg out of the ring. Allowing Owens to work specifically on his bad knee. Slamming it into the ring post, sending it to the ring steps, grabbing it to apply a single-leg Boston crab and an ankle lock. Styles resisted again and again, under “This is awesome” chants from the crowd. Owens sends AJ over the barrier into but AJ comes back flying off the barrier with a big forearm. AJ then brings Owens on top of the announce table for a Styles Clash. Owens pulls AJ’s leg out, letting it be trapped in an opening on the table. AJ was counted out, stuck on the table. Owens is still the Champion. Very hard match, but obviously the beginning of an interesting feud. AJ Styles revealed later after being helped to the back by two referees he was not even sure if he would be able to wrestle tomorrow. Expected or not, match of the night.
What to say of what we already saw before. Rowan made most of the match until Harper sent him into the announce table. Harper got the win thanks to Rowan trying to wear his sheep mask and Harper dropping Rowan with the discus clothesline. Very expected.
Mahal coming to the ring with The Singh Brothers was a good sign the team would intervene in the match. An angry Orton didn’t let Greg Hamilton the time to finish the introductions and literally jumped on Mahal. Mahal quickly focused on Orton’s already fragile shoulders to take control of the match. But the Viper decided to shut the Maharaja off and slam him in the announce table. Thanks to the Singh Brothers, Mahal got out Orton’s traps. Infuriated, the WWE Champion slammed each brother over the announce tables. He then brought them back to the ring for a double DDT from the second rope. A distraction who went in favour of Mahal who placed his finisher, The Khallas, for the win. Jinder Mahal is the new WWE Champion. Totally unexpected (and decided as the PPV was already begun…)
Don’t expect WWE to meet your expectations. Backlash was an unequal PPV, with good surprises from Sami Zayn and Tamina Snuka, but also many uncertainties with a possibly injured Styles, an almost unexisting Nakamura and Mahal as the face of the blue brand. Next weeks will be certainly very interesting…
All pics courtesy of WWE.com