Wrestling Review: WWE Backlash (2016)

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The first brand exclusive network event since the WWE Draft, Backlash is SmackDown’s time to shine as it puts four separate titles on the line. It will be AJ Styles, fresh of the demolition of John Cena at SummerSlam, who challenges the Lunatic Fringe Dean Ambrose for the WWE Championship, in a match neither man can afford to lose. The Intercontinental Championship is also on the line when a fired up Miz defends against the borderline desperate Dolph Ziggler, with Miz looking to show the world, his opponent and maybe even himself that he is not a coward in the wrestling ring. The first ever SmackDown Women’s Champion will be crowned when six of Smackdown’s toughest women take on a six-pack challenge to see who will reign supreme. And last, but certainly not least, Backlash will crown the first ever Smackdown Tag Team Champions when Heath Slater and Rhyno take on either The Usos and their new aggressive streak, or Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder. Not to mention Bray Wyatt, who has called out the Viper, Randy Orton, with Wyatt saying he is not afraid of the Apex Predator of the WWE.

+ Dean Ambrose (c) vs AJ Styles (WWE Championship): This match was absolutely incredible. Ambrose seemingly willing (or allowed) to bust out a few more moves than his standard brawling style would otherwise allow, which blended with Styles’ simply phenomenal ring work to create a fantastic, and often ultra-vioent title match. The crowd was torn from the very beginning, which only added to the atmosphere throughout the match, with every near-fall and big move met with appropriate ‘oohs and ahs’
+ Heath Slater & Rhyno vs <winner of other tag match> (WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championships): Even getting on in years, Rhyno has not lost a step, and Heath Slater plays such a great underdog fan favourite that it is hard not to get behind him. Slater’s comedic timing and Rhyno’s presence meshed perfectly with their opponents to create a fantastic match which was able to get the crowd, and me, into and hooked on every move
+ Becky Lynch vs Natalya vs Alexa Bliss vs Naomi vs Carmella vs Nikki Bella (WWE SmackDown’s Women’s Championship) (Six-pack elimination challenge): I’m not ashamed to say that this /could/ have been a huge mess, but it really didn’t turn out that way. A few sloppy moments can be very easily forgiven due to either inexperience or simply having so much going on. Overall, a fantastic beginning to the new legacy of the SmackDown title
+ The Usos vs The Hype Bros (Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder): Neither of these teams do it for me, personally, but the new bad-guy personas from the Usos are something that have been in need of for a very long time. This was not the greatest match, but the story it told was the right one to tell
+ An impromptu No-Holds-Barred match: Obviously this could not have been scheduled, and in that regard I do have to give both competitors props for a very entertaining brawl. I’d almost go as far to say that this was one of the best matches of the night, especially considering it would have been mostly, if not all called on the fly. But of course, a stupid ending means all the work going into this match has been undone

– The Miz (c) (w/ Maryse) vs Dolph Ziggler (Intercontinental Championship): The Miz has an uncanny ability to get the crowd going nuclear when he comes on, but that didn’t translate to this match with Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler has been more or less in a rut for a few years now, and after the losing effort at SummerSlam I was hoping to see something a bit different. With a somewhat counter-productive ending, this was a lackluster match overall
– Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt: match never happened, which was stupid. This was a waste of time and made both people look like absolute idiots. I understand injuries happen, and/or events can be beyond control but this was (reportedly) known to be the case for hours beforehand

> Naomi busted out a Cattle Mutilation, aka the submission maneuver of one Bryan Danielson. It was a surprising thing to see.

Should you watch this event: Splitting the WWE roster has finally proven to be worth it. Every match on this card was the logical conclusion (or perhaps continuation) of an ongoing story, which meant that every match was important. I’d go as far to say that this was the best non-NXT Takeover event the WWE has put on in man years, and it has given me much more faith in the remainder of the huge number of yearly events to be good going forwards.

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