FEARLESRiOT FORECAST: WWE Backlash 2017

This is what Backlash looked like in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2009. Don’t you just miss those old sickles in the logo and art designs? That was so badass. But I guess a glowing streak of “L” isn’t too bad either. Not as a cool as a sickled “A”, but I guess it’s cool to try something new every once in awhile. WWE recently started bringing back old PPV names, including No Mercy and Bad Blood, the latter of which was changed to something else because I guess McMahon thought a Taylor Swift hit from 2015 doesn’t sound as cool as a Jerry Lee Lewis song from 1957. Not surprising seeing as he was born in 1945. We’ll touch on that PPV when we get there, but let’s talk about a cool PPV name they actually bought back and stuck to their guns on. This is one weird PPV card; two former Wyatt Family members are fighting, Breezango are fighting for the Tag Titles, two of the best going today are fighting for a secondary title, and the third most important 3MB member is fighting for the WWE Championship. Let’s take a look at this madness.

Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English20170516_1920x1080_BL_DillingerEnglish--4302bc053808354d85f7abba6c2a2fa4

R.I.P. to the Vaudevillains. Following the release of Simon Gotch, Aiden English once again has to go at it as a solo act, this time without the crutch of developmental to guide him. Because of that, he attempted to fall back on his old opera singer gimmick, which was highly entertaining in front of a Full Sail crowd. Given that main roster crowds aren’t as easy to win over, the jury is still out on whether or not it would work. For now it seemed like he’s gone the route of being the roster crybaby which…..needs to stop because such a gimmick has never helped anyone, except maybe Christian because his tantrums were at least hilariously over-the-top. Speaking of over-the-top, those “10” chants. Tye Dillinger has taken over with them and is now one of the most popular stars because of it. He’s probably already surpassed The Vaudevilains in that regard, which has probably gotten under English’s skin. This match is taking place on the pre-show, so it’s obviously not the most personal bout on the card, but it might be worth a watch to determine if English has any potential riding solo and to see how well Dillinger has adapted to the main stage.
Who I Want to Win: Tye Dillinger. Anyone with eye should be able to see that there is potential for Dillinger, at least before people get sick of the “10” chants like they got sick of Enzo‘s catchphrases. Let’s take advantage before we reach that point.
Who Will Win: Tye Dillinger. If the had no faith in the Vaudevillains as a team, I have little reason to believe that in this point in time, they’ll want to portray English as a winner, especially not with that silly crybaby gimmick happening.

Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan20170516_1920x1080_BL_LukeErick--eaf28d85ff3fd2521d259a0a68579937

Undertaker vs. Kane . Edge vs. Christian. Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan. The pantheon of battles between brothers who aren’t legitimately related away from the cameras is a mighty strong hall indeed. Yes, with adoptive father Bray sent to RAW to continue to be a parody of what he once was, these two heavily-bearded behemoths, one of whom got a clean makeover while the other is perfectly fine with the janitor jumpsuit look, are set to do battle with one another. I still don’t quite know what Harper’s deal is, aside from lowkey being a super-talented wrestler; his character was done wrong by Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt, but his solo identity hasn’t exactly been carved out aside from the fact that he updated his wardrobe and hides his bald spot now. Erick Rowan‘s personality is that he has a ton of masks for every occasion; I saw one tweet claiming that his gimmick is being all nine members of Slipknot at once. Seems legit. But whatever these two men are supposed to be, they have bad blood now and it must be settled at Backlash.
Who I Want to Win: Luke Harper, almost exclusively because I’ve noticed more talent and potential on his end than I have for Rowan.
Who Will Win: Erick Rowan, probably with the help of one of those masks he carried around in a sack on Talking Smack.

Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin20170509_1920x1080_BL_ZaynCorbin--a90bc9dcd9038c1fc9a708a744bdf274

So Baron Corbin is a bully (on-screen, anyway). The textbook definition of one, in fact. He’s a big guy who loves picking on little guys; just look at the time he tried to cut off Dean Ambrose‘s circulation by crushing his lungs with a forklift. Or the numerous beatdowns he gave to Kalisto following the 2016 Brand Split. With both of those little guy’s traded to RAW in the Superstar Shake-Up, Corbin needed to find a new animal to torture. He made his selection, and that’s bad news for Sami Zayn. Like Ren did that poor frog in that horribly misguided Ren & Stimpy reboot, Corbin looks to torture Sami Zayn in the worst way. Why? Because that’s how Baron Corbin rolls; beat up little guys now, ask questions never. Sami Zayn is the ultimate underdog, a guy with a ton of fan support who can often dish out beating before coming back with his own offense. Whether or not he actually wins the match depends on how charitable McMahon is feeling that morning, I guess. So how does Sami Zayn’s future fare this time around?
Who I Want to Win: Sami Zayn; I believe I’ve mentioned before that I’m not really a Baron Corbin fan; I’d much prefer Zayn being able to toppled the big man. However…
Who Will Win: Baron Corbin; rumors have been rumbling of a World Title push for the Lone Wolf, and if true, I seriously doubt they’ll have him go down at the hands of Zayn.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler20170509_1920x1080_BL_NakamuraZiggler--efc1304eb5c356888a5cea5ee2318bad

Once upon a time, Dolph Ziggler was a big deal, or was at least seen as such by the fans of the WWE Universe. His style of bumping and heel bravado earned him the support and respect of fans nationwide, who in turn lobbied for him to crack through the glass ceiling and take his place as a main eventer with WWE’s elite. Fast forward to 2017 and all of that momentum seems to have died, and while Ziggler still has his supporters, his constant failures and WWE’s disinterest in pushing him has caused many to see the writing on the wall and give up on him. In the meantime, newer and flashier toys have entered the WWE arena, with the latest being Shinsuke Nakamura, a man whose careers in Japan and NXT have made him one to watch on the main roster. He’s currently in the place Dolph Ziggler used to be – only as a hero rather than a villain – and he hasn’t even wrestled a match on Smackdown yet. Backlash will be his in-ring Smackdown debut, and if Ziggler thought that punch from Hugh Jackman was hard, he better be prepared for what the King of Strong Style’s knees has in store.
Who I Want to Win: Shinsuke Nakamura; it’s his big debut and it’s against Dolph Ziggler. Those are the only two reasons I need to stand by Nakamura.
Who Will Win: Shinsuke Nakamura; it’s his big debut and it’s against Dolph Ziggler. Those are the only two reasons you need to believe he’ll win. Also, Dolph Ziggler taking a Kinshasa. You know you want to see that sell.

Six-Woman Tag Team Match20170509_1920x1080_BL_womens--37f163b26ac3162788f964752d40587d

This six-woman tag team match was apparently so important that it justified doing a contract signing segment for. Six-person tag matches are so commonplace these days that it feels weird to have one for such a match concept, unless it features the original Wyatt Family lineup facing off against The Shield in a reboot from their 2013-2014 battles. How did we arrive at this point? It started when the so-called Welcoming Committee took offense to multiple-time RAW Women’s Champion and second-generation chosen one Charlotte coming onto Smackdown and being given title opportunities right off the bat. Naomi and Becky Lynch found themselves in the crosshairs, Naomi suffering a case of “wrong place, wrong time” and Becky refusing to go to the side that contained the stench of Ellsworth. If she did, she would certainly break the internet’s Charlynch hearts. This match features the entire Smackdown Women’s Division, minus the potentially-gone Eva Marie and the yet-to-arrive Lana. And for Team Good Girls, it’s crucial they come out on top, with Champion Naomi, highly-regarded Charlotte, and constantly screwed-over Becky all not being able to afford the effects of a loss.
Who I Want to Win: Team Royal Glow Fire, mainly because it’s well known I’m a fan of Naomi and Becky Lynch, so I’m firmly behind their team.
Who Will Win: The Welcoming Committee; something is gonna go wrong. We all know Naomi and Charlotte don’t really get along and it may cost them.

WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship20170428_1920x1080_BL_UsoBreezango--c6086e1eb766b0508bd44e0fb8e162a3

One of the deadest things in pro wrestling right now is the Smackdown Tag Team Division. It has reached Knockouts Tag Team Championship-level of dead. Oh, there are teams, but most of them aren’t really taken all that seriously. And oftentimes, the champions don’t even appear on shows. American Alpha‘s Tag Team Championship reign was so godawful because they were left off of television and forgotten about for roughly 90% of it. And with WWE’s confusion on how to handle American Alpha continuing with the duo being out of the title hunt, comedy duo Tyler Breeze and Fandango have stepped up to battle for the belts. These are two other wrestlers who had potential to be big, with Breeze’s NXT work specially being widely applauded. Then they fell into Vince’s one-dimensional comedy character hole. But recently, their comedy has helped them out , with The Fashion Files segments being particularly entertaining, and they’ve been able to earn a shot at the increasingly-entertaining Uso brothers.
Who I Want to Win: Breezango; I lowkey want these guys to be one of those rare modern comedy gimmicks who actually achieve championship success because they’re so talented at what they do.
Who Will Win: The UsosThe New Day are coming to Smackdown soon, and a feud with The Usos makes all the sense in the world.

WWE United States Championship20170502_1920x1080_BL_StylesKO--ec79f9b4e4252ba10e596103aca6faf0

It feels weird that this isn’t the World Title Match on the show, right? Anywhere else, AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens would be a main-event worthy of a 40-minute runtime because both men got it like that and can not only make it work, but get a Match of the Year contender. But in the WWE Universe, it’s a secondary title match on a B-PPV. And will still probably be a Match of the Year contender, or at least Match of the Night. “The New Face of America” vanquished his foe Chris Jericho for the time being after regaining his U.S. Title and retaining it in the rematch; he crushed Jericho’s throat with a chair and sent him packing to his next Fozzy tour. Probably a bad idea to damage Jericho’s voice since he’s gonna need that on-stage, but Owens doesn’t care. What does he gain from Fozzy’s touring appearances? Nothing, that’s what. He just moves on from one G.O.A.T. to another G.O.A.T. AJ Styles has been hailed by many as the best wrestler in the world right now and it’s hard to argue. Even though he’s not going after the World Title, he’s still gonna wrestle this match as if he is. In a match that has taken place at House of Hardcore, Pro Wrestling Guerilla, and even WWE before on Monday Night Raw, the United States Championship hangs in the balance.
Who I Want to Win: AJ Styles; I like Kevin Owens, but at this point, I’m just saying “AJ Styles for ALL the titles!” because of how great he’s been.
Who Will Win: Kevin Owens; it’ll be a hell of a match, but my skepticism just does not see Styles winning this time.

WWE Championship20170428_1920x1080_BL_OrtonJinder--ae98daa6421b1e77ea8645dea9878f0d

The Devil must have been pissed about the sudden blizzard that spun out in Hell the night Jinder Mahal won the #1 contendership for the World Title. Never presented as anything but a hopeless jobber his entire WWE run, Mahal’s victory took everyone by surprise. He managed to do something that not even his more well-regarded 3MB brethren could do: get an opportunity at the biggest prize in the business right the hell out of nowhere. And what did WWE decide to do with their newly pushed star? Another outdated foreign heel gimmick, as Jinder Mahal is under the impression people are only doubting him because of his background. Incidentally, his opponent and the reigning champion, Randy Orton, has gotten flack from Internet fans lately for the political leanings he’s shown on his timeline. Let’s just say it’s caused some people to root for Jinder Mahal in this match. As a matter of fact…..
Who I Want to Win: Jinder Mahal. Even disregarding personal stuff, Orton is just providing the boring, played-out same-old, same-old as champion. Not be a Jinder fan, but at least this provide something different and refreshing. I won’d hinder Jinder here.
Who Will Win: Randy Orton. Despite the push, I don’t honestly believe McMahon would give Jinder the championship. If anything, this is a placeholder feud until something bigger is set to happen. As such, I don’t expect a title change here.

Do you agree with the forecast? Who do you see winning at Backlash? Who are you rooting for to win? And really, I’m not the only one who misses the sickled “A”, right? Tag me on Twitter @FearlessRiOT and let me know or leave a comment below. Then check out the show on Sunday to see who wins.

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