Backlash 2017 is finally here! Hey…wait a minute…we didn’t do this that long ago, did we? Someone get WWE’s event coordinating staff on the line. They can’t be mixing up shows like this whenever they so please. Well, despite the odd planning and branding, Backlash 2017 will be here on May 21.
To be perfectly honest, this isn’t the usually level of hype I feel for most SmackDown event cards. Nevertheless, there’s a lot of promise for great pro wrestling and I am still excited to tune in.
Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English
Post-Vaudevillains Aiden English has been a great mid-card feud for Tye Dillinger since his debut on the Blue Brand. I hope for big things out of both men, but it’s Tye that should move on to bigger and better much sooner. This can be a fun match (probably pre-show) and I look forward to it as I do all matches featuring the Perfect 10.
PICK: Tye Dillinger
The Usos(c) vs. The Fashion Police
for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship
Remember those times I decried the Blue Brand tag division? Yeah, things have gotten a lot better. The Fashion Police have been absolutely killing their vignettes, as have the Usos in their charged promos. I cannot commend enough the effort of both pairs and the direction the writing staff has taken the division. I desperately want Breezango to hold the belts high, but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion the ‘Uggos’ will walk away retaining.
PICK: The Usos
Kevin Owens (c) vs. AJ Styles
for the WWE United States Championship
We all know this is going to be an absolutely killer match. But who wins? Both men would do well back in the main event picture, but this still feels like just the start for Owens as US Champ. On top of that, I would love nothing more than a feud between the pair to help elevate AJ as a true-blue face. For that reason, I think it best that Owens retains the belt using illegal tactics to prolong some sort of program between both men.
PICK: Kevin Owens
Naomi, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch
vs. Natalya, Carmella, and Tamina
I am not very excited about this match. This feels like a slightly better version of those awful, thrown-together Divas tag matches of yesteryear. I don’t understand the motivations of most of the members of either team. Faces win, gotta keep the crowd hot.
PICK: Charlotte, Becky, and Naomi
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler
Oh, Shin. I love ya so much, but this was not the way to bring you in. The match will certainly be excellent considering the share of talent between both men, but this feud feels incredibly thrown-together and my interest suffers for that. A winner? Why do you even ask?
PICK: Shinsuke Nakamura
Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin
Honestly could not tell you why this match is happening. Perennial ‘losing wrestler’ Sami Zayn will continue to hone his craft on this one.
PICK: Baron Corbin
Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan
Though I am thrilled Erick Rowan is back and I never stopped loving Luke Harper, I feel this match is lacking in a big way. I have high hopes both men will want to take this somewhere different, but I doubt it will end up as anything especially memorable. Harper needs to look strong, but Rowan can’t afford to look like sh!t. Too many heel finishes could condemn this card, so I’ve gotta give it to Harper here. It’ll be a Sunday, and you know what that means…
PICK: Luke Harper
Randy Orton (c) vs. Jinder Mahal
for the WWE Championship
Who would a thunk that Jinder Mahal would be one of the hottest heels on SmackDown in 2017? Certainly not I and I’ve got a good feeling you wouldn’t have either. Despite that, I’ve actually been really enjoying Jinder and his associates, the Singh Brothers, in their underhanded domination of the SD roster. Anti-American heels don’t usually go over well for me, but I’m generally happy with how Jinder comes off – especially around Orton. The winner, though, will certainly not be Jinder (but I kinda hope it will be).
PICK: Randy Orton
Backlash 2016 was one of my favorite shows of the year, so the 2017 iteration has a lot to live up to. The card looks very ‘meh,’ but I am certainly not the one to doubt the SmackDown contingent. I’ll be especially honed in on Owens/Styles and Orton/English, but don’t count out Usos/Fashion Police. Tune in on Sunday, and meet me back here next week with your thoughts on the show!