Written by M.J. Rawls
Going into Backlash, the Smackdown Live! roster had a tough act to follow given the phenomenal NXT Takeover showing the night before. It wasn’t a particularly great card shown by the non-sell out, but perhaps we could get some surprises? Well…yes and no.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler: This was the first match on the main roster for Nakamura, but listening to the announcers, you would have never known that he was a part of the NXT roster. They spoke briefly on his history, but continued to make him just another guy. The pace of the match did so as well. You saw Dolph Ziggler on the offensive end for most of the match. Nakamura makes a brief comeback and hit the Kinshasa for the win. For a person that has a storied NXT run and accomplishments in NJPW, they sure made this debut not special to the point where a hot Chicago crowd shrug.
Tag Team Title Match | Breezdango vs. The Usos: It’s very hard to pull off a comedy match, but these teams found a way to make it entertaining. The highlight of the match was Tyler Breeze, first dressed as a janitor and then an old lady. Breezango or the Fashion Police is going to be the funny, comedy team on the roster ,and The Usos won with a super kick. The match did not help or hurt either team – it was just something different in a tag team division on Smackdown that’s been a little stale.
Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn: This was a classic big man versus smaller wrestler match that saw Baron Corbin work Sami’s back with bear hugs. Sami Zayn is a very good wrestler, but working with Baron Corbin is not really doing much for either men. Zayn wins with a Helluva kick and both men will most likely be in the Money In The Bank match coming up.
Women’s Tag Match Natalya , Carmella, and Tamina vs. Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Naomi: For most of the match, the heels had most of the offense. Charlotte and Naomi took turns getting worked on by the heels before Becky got the hot tag. Becky went wild only for Natalya to win clean with a sharpshooter. Not sure where they go with this story, but you will have to split some of ladies apart, so that we can remember that there is a women’s title.
US Title Match: AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens: This match was the best match of the night, with Owens in his classic, brooding heel style and Styles amazing selling. There was a great almost semi-brainbuster spot off the top rope and Styles sold his leg injury. The end of the match was really creative, having Owens elude the Styles Clash from the announce table by slipping Style’s leg into a slot. KO wins by countdown and most likely keeping this feud going which should have a lot of good matches to come.
Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan: This match was inserted into the “death” slot and probably would have benefited more taking place while Bray Wyatt was still on the Smackdown roster feuding with Randy Orton. This match was two big men in a decent match. However, the crowd was not into it at all. Harper won, but one may think that there was a missed opportunity not making Harper the number one contender when Bray was the Smackdown champion. Then it would have felt like a real conclusion to the breakup of the Wyatt family.
WWE Championship Match: Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal: I know, I know. Jinder is the champion. Some people may have saw this coming – for the most part, the Chicago crowd was shocked. The match, well it was average. It continued the same uniform match pace where a heel was working over a body part. In this case, Jinder went after Randy’s arm to stop the RKO. To the tune of three armbars. At first, it look like Randy was going to squash Jinder in the beginning of the match, but the pace slowed down into an average Smackdown match.
To end, Randy Orton threw one of the Singh brothers head first into the announcer’s table (that looked like it sucked. Randy reacted, then sold his shoulder.)
It was hard to believe, but there were dueling chants for Jinder Mahal. There’s a conundrum here. No, Jinder Mahal is not the best wrestler you can put the title on. It looked like Sami Zayn was distraught on Talking Smack after. However, it was unexpected and it will be interesting to see where this goes as we head into Money In The Bank.