Liam Hoofe with his predictions for this Sunday’s WWE Backlash…
This Sunday night SmackDown will host its first PPV since WrestleMania. The brand has undergone a lot of changes since the showcase of the immortals and Sunday will be a chance for them to showcase the new direction they appear to be heading in.
The event is being marketed around the in-ring debut of Shinsuke Nakamura, who will face Dolph Ziggler in a match that could easily be one of the best seen in the WWE so far this year. There are plenty of other interesting matches on the card though, and with Raw having delivered a fairly solid PPV three weeks ago at Payback, SmackDown will want to do their best to top that this Sunday night.
Here are my match by match predictions for the event:
Pre-Show: Tye Dillinger Vs Aiden English
This is a classic pre-show match. Dillinger is definitely over with his perfect 10 gimmick – unfortunately for him, the SmackDown mid-card scene is pretty stacked right now, so for the time being he is stuck feuding with Aiden English. English is likely to be given the jobber role on the roster left vacant by Jinder’s impromptu rise up the card. His gimmick, which has seen him crying on-screen is, according to rumours, a dig at ex-WWE announcer Mauro Ranallo – if that is the case, then the company should be utterly ashamed of themselves.
That aside, Dillinger is not losing to English here, the former NXT man will hopefully begin to get a more prominent role on Tuesday nights following this.
Prediction: Tye Dillinger Wins.
Luke Harper Vs Erick Rowan
The booking of Luke Harper post-WrestleMania has been pretty damn awful. The guy was getting some fairly positive reactions in the build up to Mania this year, with some fans even wanting him to be included in the Mania match for the WWE title.
He has been booked terribly since and has lost all of the momentum that he had gained. Sadly, I think the company seem higher on Rowan right now, as they continue to beat us over the head with how mysterious his stupid mask looks. I suspect the mask may even be involved in a screwy finish of sorts here as well.
Prediction: Erick Rowan picks up another victory over Harper.
Sami Zayn Vs Baron Corbin
Reports from earlier in the year suggest that the WWE want Corbin to be one of SmackDown’s top heels towards the end of the year so, with that in mind the logical choice here is for him to pick up a big win over Sami.
Sami Zayn is quickly becoming one of the WWE’s most glorified jobbers, and the company need to give him some sort of victory soon before he before he loses all credibility. Sadly for him, I don’t see it coming this Sunday night.
Prediction: Baron Corbin gets the win.
The Usos Vs Breezango
While Breezango are doing some of their best work as a tag team right now, the chances of them picking up the belts on Sunday are slim to none. The Usos are likely headed towards a summer feud with the returning New Day and Breeze and Fandango are little more than an obstacle on that road.
Prediction: The Usos retain their belts.
Dolph Ziggler Vs Shinsuke Nakamura
Ziggler is one of the WWE’s most reliable talents, and Nakamura is, well, he’s Nakamura – so allowing the two some time in the ring together could be golden. The other, more likely possibility though is that Nakamura rolls through Ziggler on Sunday night, before moving on to a rumoured feud with Kevin Owens.
All of the marketing material surrounding the event has been built around Nakamura, so there is no way he is not winning.
Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura picks up his first win in the WWE.
Charlotte, Naomi and Becky Lynch Vs Natalya, Carmella and Tamina
Charlotte Flair’s recent face turn has been one of the stranger booking decisions WWE have made in recent months, and the muted reaction to it could be a big influence on what happens here Sunday night.
There is no doubt that this feud is taking place to give every woman on the roster something to do while we wait for the inevitable Charlotte and Naomi feud that will probably take place this summer and I have a strong suspicion the seeds for that could be planted at Backlash.
Whether the heels or the faces win here, expect Charlotte’s face turn to very short-lived. I suspect she will either cost her team the match or attack Naomi and Becky in the post-match celebrations, leading to a triple threat between those two, before the big showdown between her and Naomi. At a guess, I’m going to give this one to the faces
Prediction: Becky, Charlotte and Naomi win- Charlotte turns on Naomi after the match.
AJ Styles Vs Kevin Owens
If Ziggler Vs Nakamura isn’t the match of the night, then this one definitely will be. Owens and Styles have been two of the best performers in the WWE over the last year, and the only bad things about this match are 1) it’s not the main event, and 2) it’s not for the WWE title.
It’s a crying shame that Kevin Owens and AJ styles are not in the main event, when Jinder Mahal is but, looking past that, this should be an incredible match up.
Owens is a great United States champion and if house show lines up are anything to go by, then a feud with Shinsuke is coming up for him. With that in mind, expect him to pick up the victory in this one.
Prediction: Kevin Owens retains
Randy Orton Vs Jinder Mahal
They can’t, can they? Throughout the duration of this feud, my brain, for some reason, keeps harking back to the JBL push of 2004. Back then, JBL was pushed to the main event apropos of nothing, in a similar way to Jinder’s recent push. He was then quickly pushed up the card, beating a few opponents before facing Eddie at Judgment Day of that year. JBL was even given a small group – the Cabinet -to protect him, similar to the Bollywood Boyz that Mahal has been using.
Now JBL didn’t win the initial title match – well, not via pinfall anyway. He picked up the win via DQ, leading to a rematch which saw him capture the title in a Texas Bullrope match.
Will the parallels between the pushes end this Sunday? I have a very strange feeling that they won’t. I struggle to see Jinder losing and then just going back to where he was. The company seems oddly invested in him, giving him big victories over Sami Zayn and AJ Styles in the last few weeks. Instead, I think, like JBL 13 years ago – Jinder will pick up a DQ victory to keep the feud going until the next PPV at the very least.
It’s also worth noting that ratings are incredibly low for SmackDown right now and that this isn’t the first time it has been the case while Randy is the champion. It’s plain for all to see that he is pretty boring when he has the title, well, and when he doesn’t, to be honest. And if Orton and Mahal stink up the place this Sunday night – which is highly likely – then this will be the third bad match Orton has taken part in on three consecutive PPVs, which is quite the achievement.
Prediction: Jinder Mahal wins by DQ
What do you think will happen at Backlash? Let us know in the comments below, and let Liam know on Twitter, here – @liamhoofe