One day after NXT hosts TakeOver: Chicago, SmackDown Live hosts Backlash (May 21). On their first brand-exclusive Pay-Per-View since before WrestleMania 33, the card lives up to the name of “The Land of Opportunity.” Jinder Mahal, who has had a hell of a month, is challenging Randy Orton for the WWE Championship and Breezango are the #1 Contenders for the Usos’ Smackdown Tag Team Championships. Of course, there is plenty more to fill the card out (like the main roster debut of Shinsuke Nakamura), so let’s dive in.
Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English
In the short time that he has been on SmackDown Live, Tye Dillinger has defeated Aiden English twice. English, who is back to his Drama King gimmick now that Simon Gotch is no longer in WWE, had a meltdown the last time he lost to the Perfect 10.
While this has all the hints of a throwaway match, this could be a start for giving Dillinger and English direction. English could gain some momentum by picking up a victory, but I see Dillinger winning and forcing English to break down even further. Winner: Tye Dillinger
The Welcoming Committee vs. Naomi, Charlotte, & Becky Lynch
Charlotte was called the “greatest acquisition of the Superstar Shake-up,” and while that’s hard to argue, Natalya, Carmella, and Tamina didn’t like this one bit. Charlotte earned a SmackDown Women’s Championship match after only being on the show for two weeks, which The Welcoming Committee disrupted. They attacked both Charlotte and Naomi, forcing the two unlikely allies to join forces against a common enemy.
Over the past few weeks, The Welcoming Committee has defeated Naomi, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch (who joined the other two women a couple weeks into this story) in every match combination so far. Things got out of hand this week during their contract signing and it led to Carmella scoring a pinfall victory over the SmackDown Women’s Champion, Naomi.
The Welcoming Committee has been doing a good job at playing the numbers game, but their opponents have eight championships between them (excluding NXT). Unless James Ellsworth can turn the tide in the Committee’s favor, they are going to have a hard time. Winners: Naomi, Charlotte, & Becky Lynch
Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin
Ever since Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin lost a United States Championship #1 Contender’s Match to AJ Styles, Corbin has had it out for Zayn. A few weeks ago, Corbin attacked Zayn on Talking Smack which led to a suspension when The Lone Wolf pushed a referee, and he attacked Zayn yet again during an interview segment on this week’s SmackDown Live.
This angle seems like it is all about Corbin, and he has been so close to a championship on several occasions over the last year. This match should give Corbin the momentum he needs to his first title win. Winner: Baron Corbin
Erick Rowan vs. Luke Harper
Erick Rowan and Luke Harper used to be brothers in the Wyatt Family. While Rowan was on the shelf from an injury, Harper was caught in the middle of a feud between Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt. Harper realized that Wyatt was brainwashing him the whole time and he decided to go his own way. Rowan came back to assist Wyatt, but now that the Eater of Worlds is on Raw, both men are just singles competitors for now.
Rowan has surprisingly had some big moments since returning. He’s taken out Orton multiple times, he was in the WWE Championship #1 Contender’s match, and he even defeated Harper this week. If he can do it once, he can do it again. Winner: Erick Rowan
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler
Without a doubt, Shinsuke Nakamura’s main roster debut is the most anticipated debut in a long time. Nakamura started with WWE in NXT, where he became a two-time NXT Champion through a long feud with Samoa Joe. Dolph Ziggler doesn’t care for what Nakamura has accomplished, and he doesn’t like that the King of Strong Style is taking up his spotlight.
Over the past few weeks, both men have been very close to fighting, but Ziggler always manages to escape. This is Nakamura’s chance to cement himself as a big player on Tuesday nights.
Do I even have to explain why? Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
The Usos (c) vs. Breezango – SmackDown Tag Team Championships
Since Fandango hates clocks, Breezango ended up winning a Beat the Clock Challenge a few weeks ago to become the #1 Contenders to The Usos’ SmackDown Tag Team Championships. Tyler Breeze and Fandango have been putting on episodes of “The Fashion Files,” parodying Law & Order as the fashion police. Along with the hilarious character building segments, they have scored victories over The Ascension and The Colons. The Usos, meanwhile, have just cut loud and weird promos over the past couple weeks.
Breezango is a team full of talent, but a few weeks of funny skits isn’t enough to build them up for a championship reign. They definitely deserve the titles, but they just probably won’t get them yet. Winners, and STILL SmackDown Tag Team Champions: The Usos
Kevin Owens (c) vs. AJ Styles – United States Championship
This is a dream match that could easily steal the show and the entire weekend. Owens and Styles faced each other once in singles action when Styles was just starting in WWE, but since then, their stock values have gone up tremendously. Owens became the Universal Champion and the United States Champion, while Styles defeated John Cena twice and won the WWE Championship. Styles defeated Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin to earn this title shot, and he looks to make the “Face of America,” well, American.
Kevin Owens played “hot potato” with the title when he lost it to Chris Jericho at Payback only to win it back two days later. Owens deserves another long title run, and a loss here would not devalue Styles in the slightest. Winner, and STILL Face of America: Kevin Owens
Randy Orton (c) vs. Jinder Mahal – WWE Championship
Nobody thought that in any capacity, Jinder Mahal would be competing against Randy Orton in the main event of a Pay-Per-View for the WWE Championship. However, the former 3MB member rebuilt himself and took advantage of being traded to SmackDown Live. With the help of the Singh Brothers (formerly the Bollywood Boyz), Mahal has won this title shot, pinned Randy Orton, and defeated Sami Zayn twice. He also pinned AJ Styles this week thanks to Kevin Owens.
As much as I would love for Jinder Mahal to shock the world and become the WWE Champion, I have a hard time seeing it actually happening. Winner, and STILL WWE Champion: Randy Orton
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