WWE Backlash 2017 Predictions (w/Raw & Smackdown Thoughts)
I didn’t do my weekly report on Raw and Smackdown last week because I thought both shows were boring and nothing really happened to progress anything. The pre-taped UK shows are always like that and they are just never must see TV.
On Raw, we saw the development for the main event of the Extreme Rules PPV in three weeks. Five men were announced to participate in a number one contender’s match for the Universal Championship. Roman Reigns, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins, and Bray Wyatt will all be involved. I’ll go into more of this next week as the build will continue.
Alexa Bliss continued to shine and Bayley sold the sudden kendo stick shot by Bliss like she was shot. The selling is nice, but I hope they really rebuild Bayley’s character leading up to the match in a few weeks.
I have no idea why Reigns beat Balor in their match especially with the announcers going on and on about the severity of Reigns’ injuries. While I don’t mind Reigns winning here, how are we to believe that anyone can beat Reigns when he’s 100% when he won here? How are we supposed to believe that Balor, IF he wins the number one contender’s match in a few weeks, could beat Brock Lesnar if he couldn’t take down a “severely injured” Reigns?
I like Goldust’s turn on R-Truth. It was a long time coming and I think Goldust needs one more mid-card title run. He’s been held down by the comedy too long and I crave to see an old-school Goldust return. I know we won’t get an Attitude-Era Goldust but he can be aggressive again!
To end my quick thoughts on Raw, I will say that most of the in-ring action this week was quite good and I like the subtle build to Extreme Rules.
I figure I could discuss two weeks of Smackdown Live and the PPV in this section. I’ll try and be brief as I went into Raw more than I thought I would be.
Tye Dillinger vs. Adien English (Kickoff Show)
English basically got squashed by Dillinger a few weeks ago and I think we’ll see the same thing here. I unfortunately think it’s only a matter of time before we see English released as I don’t have any clue how they could make this guy interesting.
Winner: Tye Dillinger
Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan
Why are we seeing these two fight again? They were a team, then they weren’t, then they were, then they weren’t. There was no animosity built up between them. Neither of them has been vocal about the other. Neither men really matter in the grand scheme of things right now. My only guess is we’re seeing this to fill time on the PPV and for Harper to get a win over Rowan due to Rowan beating him on Smackdown a few weeks ago.
Winner: Luke Harper
Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin
I still feel that Zayn hasn’t found his spot yet in WWE after his program with Owens was supposedly finished the first time around. Baron Corbin is still being built up and I think this match will be another way to do so. Zayn is great in the ring and makes others look good so I think he’ll be doing the J.O.B. to Corbin to help WWE build up another monster heel.
Winner: Baron Corbin
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler
I applaud WWE for having Ziggler be Nakamura’s first opponent but the build-up could have been a bit better, especially when you consider how awful the first time Ziggler ran his mouth about Nakamura was. I think wrestling fans want to see how these two will mesh together in the ring. I’m not sure where either man will go after this match at this point with other new feuds just starting and I just don’t see WWE moving on from this feud yet.
If you were a part of WWE Creative, would you have Nakamura lose his first main roster match by Ziggler’s heel tactics and further the feud with Nakamura gunning for revenge while having the crowd behind him? Or do you have Nakamura get the win on Ziggler and then we have the irate Ziggler character we’ve already seen this year give a beat down after the match or by blindsiding Nakamura on the next Smackdown, all leading to another match? That all makes my prediction a bit tougher on me.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Naomi, Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch vs. Natalya, Carmella & Tamina –
Six-Woman Tag Match
I really don’t care who wins this but all the ladies have been playing their parts well, except for Charlotte Flair and that’s probably through no fault of her own. WWE has built her up to be the ultimate heel over the past few years and without really any reason, they’re trying to turn her into a face.
I’m hoping someone sees this isn’t the best decision and either a) Natalya’s “Welcoming Committee” team wins due to Charlotte turning on her own team or b) Charlotte’s team wins and Charlotte attacks both of them at the end. With both scenarios, Charlotte could claim she’s the best and wants nothing to do with any of the ladies and the only thing that matters to her is the Smackdown Women’s championship.
Winners: Naomi, Charlotte and Becky Lynch
The Usos vs. Breezango – Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match
I don’t get this. The Usos have been barely profiled up until the last 2-3 weeks, their new bad-boy gimmick suits them well, AND their attitude and personalities are shining more on when they’re on the mic more than ever but WWE wants people to boo them? Ridiculous.
On the other side of the coin you have Breezango, featuring two wrestlers who have been wasted with crappy gimmicks and have been jobbed out constantly in individual matches and as a tag team. Now they’re doing awful McMahon comedy vignettes dressed like cops and delivering horrible acting and WWE expects people to get behind them? What an upside down world we live in. While I do think Breezango are decent performers in the ring, all this just makes me yell, “Where’s American Alpha?!?!?!?”
Winners: The Usos
Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles – WWE US Championship Match
This is the match I’m looking forward to the most and while I don’t think AJ Styles will win the belt here, the loss will be due to some kind of heel tactic or DQ from Owens to get even more heat on him. I was surprised that Owens had a calm intensity about himself during the promo he delivered on Tuesday night. I found Owens really mirrored what Jericho was doing last year. I think this attitude will help keep this feud alive for another month or so while Styles fights at the chance at getting another shot at the US Championship.
Winner: Kevin Owens
Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal – WWE Championship Match
I’m a fan of WWE trying something different and swerving everyone by turning Mahal into the number one contender for the belt. His promos on the two previous Smackdown programs, though, left a lot to be desired. It almost sounded like he’s been getting over losing his voice. Thankfully he’s getting even better and better in the ring. The match with AJ Styles was actually pretty good so I’m looking forward to seeing more progression on the mic and in the ring like Alexa Bliss has shown over the past few months.
Orton said the best thing about this “feud” on Tuesday. Orton stated that Mahal thinks people hate him due to his ethnicity and because he was different (paraphrasing here, people) but Mahal should realize people dislike him because he’s an ass. I like that this was all mentioned because I didn’t want to see yet feuds anymore where it’s the USA verses foreign “evil.” I know they’re playing a bit into all of this in the other championship feud with Owens speaking French and always mentioning he’s from Canada, but this ethnic/cultural forced discrimination as a means to garner heat or push a story between two wrestlers on TV just isn’t engaging. It’s just lazy.
THAT being said, I don’t think Mahal’s push is just a one-off to get to this PPV. I think we’re going to see a reign that lasts during the summer months with him. Watch out for outside interference being a big factor in this match. I’m all for seeing Randy “boring” Orton lose the belt, though, and I’ll be cheering like hell on Sunday night when it happens.
Winner: Jinder Mahal
As you can see, this is the only title I’m predicting will change during this show because WWE NEEDS this to be the talk of the wrestling world over the next week and all the focus on Mahal. I also wonder if Rusev will show up!