Backlash will mark the start of a new era for WWE as the company reverts back to their format of dual brand pay-per-views for the foreseeable future, but it’s interesting to note that the Universal Champion won’t be defending his Championship to mark the occasion.
There is also only one Tag Team match on the card and it isn’t for either of the Championships on WWE’s main roster, which is one of the more surprising facts about the event. The good news is that the women are back and defending their Championships after being forced to sit out of the Greatest Royal Rumble last week and the show actually presents a number of dual-brand matchups, including the main event between Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe.
This is WWE’s third pay-per-view in the space of a month, but as ever the team is here to pick the bones out of the matchups ahead of the show on Sunday night. This weeks panel includes Callum Hopkin, Emellio Savvas, Russ Hammersley, Conair Bibby, Andrew Parker, Vickie Hopwood, Jake Waring and Phillipa Hopwood.
Phillipa, Vickiem Andrew, Conair – Ruby Riott
Thoughts by Conair – I’m not sure why this match is happening. I know Kickoff matches aren’t usually storyline based, but have Bayley and Ruby Riott even met each other before? The only relation that these two have on screen is that they both dislike Sasha Banks, and she’s not even a part of the match! It’s a surprise that these two have been chosen for the kickoff over women like Ember Moon, Natalya, Sasha Banks etc from Raw and Asuka, Becky Lynch, Naomi etc from Smackdown. Good for them though. I’m struggling to find things to write about for this match. I figured that it would be Elias vs Bobby Roode on the kickoff so this has thrown me for a loop. I can see Sasha Banks coming out to “even the odds” for Bayley but accidentally costing her the match to add to this (very long) feud between the two. Ruby Riott is absolutely the third wheel here, but at least she’s getting a PPV payday.
Phillipa – Big Cass
Andrew, Vickie – Daniel Bryan
Thoughts by Andrew – You may call me crazy for this, but I reckon Big Cass will be just fine. I know, I know, lock me up and throw away the key for such a remark, but honestly, now he’s on Smackdown, I think he’ll flourish. He was lost in a sea of monster heels over on Raw, whereas on Smackdown, he’s being given the time to shine. We’ve only seen limited work from him, but he’s delivered some fairly good promos and carried himself well. With an opponent like Bryan to help make him look good (as well as to learn from as the feud progresses), I can see this match at Backlash be a lot better than people think. I’m still expecting a Bryan win, but Cass will come out of it looking pretty damn good.
Phillipa, Vickie, Emellio, Andrew – Nia Jax
Thoughts by Emellio – With Nia’s recent championship win, I doubt she will lose it any time soon. Since Ember Moon is in her corner her reign should be a long one and I can’t wait to see what else she can bring to women’s division. As for Alexa Bliss, I think this will be a feeble attempt to reclaim the title, until the inevitable time when they will have a tag match and end the feud. Now that is the match I’m hoping for! I’m thinking Nia will retain, by either default or count out.
Phillipa, Vickie – Jeff Hardy
Thoughts by Russ – So after winning the Number One contenders match a few weeks ago, Orton gets his shot at regaining the US championship that he only lost at WrestleMania. Jeff Hardy faced Jinder Mahal at The Greatest Royal Rumble so there’s been almost no time to build this feud, and with Hardy holding the momentum going into the match it seems like he will retain. Considering Orton and Hardy are both faces I would expect a controversial finish such as a DQ or an interference. This definitely won’t be the match of the night, but we could see a new Champion crowned, less than a month after Orton originally dropped the title to Mahal, but that’s unlikely given how hard WWE seem to be pushing Hardy right now.
Phillipa, Jake – Carmella
Andrew, Vickie – Charlotte
Thoughts by Jake – What is happening in WWE at the moment? Good question. It’s the post WrestleMania lull. Oh, and there was the “Titus Rumble.” Who is on what brand? Who cares. Charlotte versus Carmella? I predict a decent match with Carmella winning. I reckon this could be one of those PPVs that surprises everyone. I certainly hope it creates some storylines as I have no idea what is going on and I love it.
Seth Rollins Vs The Miz – Intercontinental Championship
Thoughts by Phillipa – Seth Rollins has already successfully defended his Intercontinental Championship twice since he picked it up back at WrestleMania, with one of those defenses being in a multi-man ladder match at The Greatest Royal Rumble. Rollins has proved that he’s the man to push the IC title up out of the mid-card in the absence of Brock Lesnar so it would make no sense for him to lose his title here. There isn’t a stipulation taking The Miz back to Raw if he wins, which means that it’s highly unlikely that Miz will be able to reclaim his Championship here since the United States Championship match is being contested between two SmackDown stars. Rollins looks good with a title, don’t fix what isn’t broken.
Phillipa, Vickie, Conair – Strowman/Lashley
Andrew – Zayn/Owens
Thoughts by Conair – These four had a very fun house show-esque match two weeks ago on Raw, and it’s probably going to be more of the same here with a little more energy to it. All four of these guys have been floundering on Raw since A) Strowman vacated the Tag Titles, B) Lashley returned and C) Owens and Zayn were reinstated by Stephanie McMahon. The RAW main event scene is stacked and these four have gotten the short end of the stick as far as meaningful feuds go. Strowman has been fun as a face and Lashley is Lashley. Owens and Zayn are just coming off a huge program with Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan, so this feels like something to cool them down before their next endeavor.
The way this has been built, portraying Strowman as such a force that he gave Sami Zayn “a severe case of vertigo” it’s easy to see that the faces win once again here. It’s fine, as nobody is really losing any momentum by taking a pin, and in an event that’s missing a lot of huge stars due to the new dual-brand format, it’s good to see that these four men have a place on the card. There have been some mumblings of Lashley turning on Strowman as we get closer to Backlash, but at the moment, Lashley seems just fine as a new babyface to gage a reaction from the fans. Save the big run for closer to Summerslam.
Phillipa – Samoa Joe
Andrew, Vickie – Roman Reigns
Thoughts by Vickie – Fresh off his controversial loss to Brock Lesnar at The Greatest Royal Rumble last week, Reigns now steps into a huge match against Samoa Joe which means absolutely nothing. Joe stated that he wanted to face Reigns at Backlash when he thought that The Big Dog would be Universal Champion and since Reigns lost and Joe has already put both Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles on notice, this match is all about bragging rights for or who is really the best Samoan man called Joe. Reigns hasn’t been able to win a match on pay-per-view for almost a month which must really be bothering Vince McMahon backstage, so The Big Dog will have to defeat Joe here probably via a spear out of nowhere.
Phillipa, Vickie – AJ Styles
Callum, Andrew – Shinsuke Nakamura
Thoughts by Callum – I’m expecting a brilliant match from these two superstars since both these men are great storytellers in the ring and the feud between them has been my highlight of the wrestling year so far. I see this match going one of two ways and that is a Shunsuke Nakamura victory gained by dirty pin or if AJ Styles gets his revenge and low blows Nakamura after weeks of The King of Strong Style sneaking up on the WWE Champion. Both of these scenarios would lead to a Nakamura win but only one of them would allow him to leave with the title. My prediction is that Nakamura will become WWE Champion on Sunday night for the first time, which means that scenario number one is the most likely.