What will happen on the go-home show for Backlash on SmackDown?
The first SmackDown-brand exclusive pay-per-view since the latest WWE brand split is this Sunday, and there are going to be a bunch more firsts. One of those firsts is the first meeting on pay-per-view between WWE Champion Dean Ambrose & AJ Styles.
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Styles is fresh off of his dominating win over John Cena at Summerslam and earned his spot as the number one contender. Will he represent the first title change for the blue brand since the draft split?
The Tag Title Tournament to crown the first ever pair of tag champs on Tuesday nights will end at Backlash. The teams in that final will be decided tonight. The two semi-final matchups will be contested between American Alpha & The Usos; and the Hype Bros & Heath Slater and Rhyno. Slater is still fighting for a contract on SmackDown Live, and only gets one if he wins. It seems likely he’ll make the finals. But which team will join him and the Man Beast?
Backlash as a card is still somewhat developing, so it’ll be interested to see where the spot is for Baron Corbin. The Andre The Giant Battle Royale winner had his feud with Kalisto cut short by an injury to the luchador, probably while he was doing “good lucha stuff.”
All of this, plus more “straight fiyyaahh” from Becky Lynch, this week on the SmackDown Live Review!
SmackDown is live with the General Manager Daniel Bryan in the ring. He talks about the Six-Pack Elimination Challenge at Backlash for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. He announces a six women tag match between the competitors. Also, a forum is happening right now, and the first woman he brings out is Becky Lynch.
Lynch makes a comment about how she thought Nikki Bella would be out first, but Bryan reminds Lynch she was the number one women’s draft pick for SmackDown for a reason. As Lynch talks about how important this championship would be for her, Natalya interrupts. She calls Lynch fake, and also Alexa Bliss comes out. Bliss calls Bryan a “Bella Trophy Husband” which is a damn fine line.
Carmella makes her way out too and calls Bliss “Polly Pocket.” The three heels start approaching Lynch, and she gets some backup in the form of Naomi and Nikki Bella. Bella steps up and gets dropped by Natalya. The ring is cleared with the babyfaces standing tall.
Dean Ambrose is shown backstage in catering, making fun of a guy’s coffee and pouring a ton of sugar in it. I’m not sure why this was shown, but it happened.
Miz confronts Bryan and McMahon about how he has to defend his championship against a loser in Dolph Ziggler. He tells Bryan he needs to get over what Miz told him. Bryan tells Miz that if he doesn’t want the match at Backlash, he can hand over the title right now.
The Miz w/Maryse vs Apollo Crews
Result: Miz def. Crews by pinfall (Skull Crushing Finale)
Rating: 2.75 out of 5 stars
Dolph Ziggler is on commentary for this match as Miz battles his former number one contender, Apollo Crews.
Miz is looking for a solid win to assert himself as a real fighting champion, while Crews really needs a win to give him some form of direction. Such a talented athlete is lost in the shuffle right now.
Miz tries to use Maryse as a shield, but Crews avoids the distraction and hits a moonsault off the apron as we head to commercial.
Miz was in control for a while, but Crews caught him off the top rope with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex.
Miz comes to the outside after thwarting a Crews comeback. At ringside he starts talking to Ziggler and slaps the next contender across the face. He drives Crews into Ziggler, then nails him with a Skull Crushing Finale for the win.
Post-match, Ziggler tries to draw Miz into the ring in order to get his title. Miz gets Maryse to go in and get the title for him.
Evan’s Note: A solid matchup, which was just as good as their Summerslam matchup in terms of in-ring product. Crews is going to be a star in this company, but man does he need some character depth.
Renee Young interviews Styles on the Talking Smack set. Styles is shown footage of Ambrose beating up Styles last week. Styles calls over a production assistant who gave the footage to Renee. He threatens the assistant, then tells him to leave.
American Alpha Vignette
An interview with American Alpha is shown where they talk about how tag team wrestling is important to them. They want to make it as popular as it once was. These two come across as having so much fun.
The Usos are interviewed by Charlie Caruso backstage. They say they have nothing but respect for the young guns, but the line up for the tag team championships still are behind them.
Wyatt talks about in the olden days and apex predators. Predators had no conscience and had no fears, but eventually Mankind would adapt. He says that history is repeating itself, and Orton is no longer the great predator he once was. Wyatt is now the top predator.
Result:Carmella makes Bella tap out (Code of Silence)
Rating: 2.75 out of 5 stars
These six women kicked off the show with a somewhat lackluster promo, which thankfully did not go on too long. These women will be in a six woman elimination match at Backlash to crown the first SmackDown women’s champion.
Bliss & Naomi started the matchup, with Naomi nailing a series of kicks to send the relative newcomer scrambling. The heels are all sent to the outside to regroup as we go to break.
Back from commercial and the Lass Kicker Lynch is getting worked over by the heels. Bliss gets in a ton of offense on Lynch.
Lynch starts to make a comeback but comes up empty on an enziguiri. Eventually, she gets the hot tag to Nikki Bella who unloads on Bliss. Nikki hits her new finisher on Carmella, but Bliss breaks up the pin. Everything breaks down in the ring with bodies flying everywhere. Lynch spears Bliss out of the ring to take her out of the ring, and Carmella eventually makes Bella tap with the Code of Silence.
Evan’s Note: Wow, a surprising end to the match having Carmella get a tap out victory over the longest-reigning Divas champion in history. SmackDown is really showing their women’s division as an even playing field, but who will get the first title?
The remaining matches in the tag team tournament are hyped up, with American Alpha facing off against the Usos next!
SD Live Tag Title Tournament Semi-Final The Usos vs American Alpha
Result: American Alpha def. Usos by pinfall (Grand Amplitude)
Rating: 3.25 out of 5 stars (for the full segment)
These two teams were the presumed favorites for the finals of this tournament. Instead, they battle in the semi-finals in one of the most anticipated matchups for the SmackDown brand since the draft happened.
The Usos offer handshakes before the matchup, but once the bell rings they attack Gable and Jordan from behind. Out of nowhere, American Alpha manages to hit Grand Amplitude on one of the Usos for the quick pinfall. This match is over! American Alpha vanquishes the Usos in decisive fashion.
After the match, the Usos enter the ring and applaud American Alpha and offer handshakes. The Usos then snap, and destroy AA. They run Jordan into the ring post, and focus on destroying the knee of Gable. They keep attacking the left leg, even hitting a splash on them, before Jordan and referees make their way into the ring to tend to Gable.
Evan’s Note: Excellent booking here! The Usos as heels will change up their somewhat stale act, and gives WWE a top tag-team feud to base the SmackDown brand around. Now the tag team finals have even more storyline to them as well, with Gable having to power through his injury to support Jordan in the finals.
Orton is interviewed backstage by Charlie, and Orton talks about how Wyatt loves to tell stories. Orton decides to tell his own. He tells a story about a hunter coming across a snake, who refuses to bite until the time is right. Orton says he’s the snake, and he’ll find the right time to strike on Wyatt and he won’t know what hit him.
Fandango is in the ring and talks about how Tyler Breeze is in Dubai getting things for their fashion line. He brings a woman in the ring to tango with him, and she dances pretty intensely. Fandango asks for a new person to come and help dance with him, and asks for someone with fire in their belly.
Cue Kane. He’s got some fire.
Fandango thinks Kane is there to dance. He starts talking about dancing with Kane, who then chokeslams him out of his furry vest.
Slater is attempting to earn a SmackDown Live contract. The only way he can do that is by winning this tournament alongside current House of Representatives Candidate Rhyno. Taking down the Hype Bros is the next step on getting Slater a contract on the blue brand.
Slater is getting dominated but he manages to get the hot tag to Rhyno and the crowd erupts. Rhyno and Ryder square off, and Rhyno hits a massive spinebuster for a two count. Slater tags himself in and it almost goes terribly, as Ryder nearly catches him with a roll-up.
Ryder goes for a Broski Boot, but Rhyno pulls Slater out of the way. Rhyno tags himself in and Rhyno hits a huge Gore for the pin and the win. Rhyno & Slater are off to the finals!
Slater goes into the crowd to celebrate with all seven of his kids!
Evan’s Note: By pairing up with Heath Slater, Rhyno has become instantly over. His hot tag was the loudest pop of the night by a lot, and when he hits the Gore now crowds go wild. It would not surprise me to see Rhyno as a future challenger for the Intercontinental Title. Plus, how can voters not?
Apparently, American Alpha’s status is up in the air, according to Renee Young. The Usos approach the Talking Smack set and talk about how they used to want respect from the WWE Universe but they don’t care anymore. They say the crowd turned on them for American Alpha, and they didn’t expect that to come out but it did.
The Usos are alive, and are one of my favorite acts once again.
Dean Ambrose & AJ Styles Face to Face
Charlie Caruso is in the ring with these two men, and Ambrose tells Caruso to leave since we know it will get physical.
Ambrose says he got Styles a gift, and Styles opens it and it’s an old bowling participating trophy of Ambrose’s. He tells Styles it’s the only trophy he’s going to get from Ambrose. They air the footage again of their confrontation last week.
Styles tosses down the trophy he got from Ambrose, and tells him he doesn’t want to be handed anything. Styles says he’s taking the title this Sunday, just like he took the armband from John Cena. He says that Ambrose can think he’s a joke, but Cena took him very seriously and still lost. He tells Ambrose that he’s not John Cena.
Ambrose goes off on Styles, but Styles lowblows Ambrose. He breaks the trophy Ambrose gave him as SmackDown goes off the air.
This was a very up and down SmackDown, which followed a very up and down RAW the previous evening.
The focus on the women’s and tag team title scenes is admirable for SmackDown. As of right now, the multiple stories coming to a head in the tag team title scene is the best part of the programming.
The Usos have turned heel and now have life again. They can be the top heel team that the WWE seems hesitant to make the Ascension and the VaudeVillains into. With American Alpha potentially not being able to compete due to the injury to Gable, the Usos may end up getting that spot and taking the titles.
Slater’s quest for a contract has gotten him and Rhyno over to a crazy extent. The two are two of the most popular members of the SmackDown roster, and are a good bet to be the first tag champs in the show’s history.
All of the women have a different story to tell, and the rivalries are intersecting for the six pack elimination challenge. It could prove to be one of the top bouts on the Backlash card.
On the other hand, the feud between Ambrose & Styles just lacks any real punch. The two men are set to battle, and that’s great. But there has been no development beyond that. While I’m sure the two will put on a clinic and get plenty of time in the main event on Sunday, it just won’t be the same without the emotional investment.