Monday, September 12, 2016

WWE Backlash Review

WWE Backlash
September 11th, 2016 | Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Virginia

A late addition to the Kickoff show, Apollo Crews went one on one with Baron Corbin. I wish that they made the match mean something. Like have it be for a title shot or something. Even without that though, these two put on their best match together. They made good use of the 9:56 they got and showcased their skills. Things built up and progressively got better until Corbin won with the End of Days. (***)

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch def. Alexa Bliss, Carmella, Naomi, Natalya and Nikki Bella in 14:20
For the first time in history, a Women’s Title match opened a Pay-Per-View and they did well with it. Nikki sported Wonder Woman inspired gear, while Alexa looked amazing in a Harley Quinn getup. They had the mentality to try and steal the show. Despite having so many working parts, they moved at a fast paced and most things came off crisply. Each girl was given ample time to shine. We saw spots that had never been done on a main roster women’s match. Some girls busted out new moves, like Naomi using a damn cattle mutilation. She and Natalya combined for a Kidd and Cesaro like powerbomb/block buster combo to eliminate Alexa first. Natalya then made Naomi tap to the Sharpshooter. Nikki sent Natalya home with the Argentine backbreaker before Carmella rolled her up. Nikki slapped Carmella before leaving and then Carmella eventually tapped to the Dis-Arm-Her. This was really good. They hid whatever flaws the girls had well, set up Carmella/Nikki at No Mercy and gave the title to the girl who deserved it the most. Becky is the face of the Smackdown women and she’s deserved a run with any title since last year. ***½

Second Chance Challenge: The Usos def. The Hype Bros in 10:11
Though they had the same theme and tron, the Usos sported new gear and a sulky demeanor. Just know this…it worked. Everything they did felt fresh. They weren’t just splashes and superkicks. They had some shades of a lesser Revival by doing old school heel tactics. The Usos attacked a body part and cut the ring in half. Tag team wrestling is simple and when done right, almost always works. Ryder took the heat as the sympathetic babyface and this was probably the best I’ve seen from Mojo. His short bursts of fire were really good. The Usos won when Jimmy made Zack tap to a tequila sunrise. Solid tag team wrestling that was wisely booked. ***

Fantastic backstage stuff from Heath Slater and Rhyno. Basically Heath’s wife made bad crab cakes. I don’t want to go too deep into the comedy because it should be seen to be believed. Also, they cut to the Miz before the next match, as he badmouthed Daniel Bryan, to his face, for not being able to wrestle. He also said he wants to renegotiate his contract.

WWE Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (c) w/ Maryse def. Dolph Ziggler in 18:17
These two have wrestled about a thousand times over the past number of years. 2016 Dolph Ziggler is just very uninteresting, so I didn’t have very high hopes. Fortunately, they exceeded expectations. This wasn’t just the “let’s throw the two Ohio guys into a match” that most of their past has been. They told a story. Miz was more aggressive than usual, as if to prove something to Daniel Bryan. He took time to mock Bryan taunts and even use some of Bryan’s submissions like the surfboard and bow and arrow. Miz expertly nailed ALL of the little things like asking “who’s the coward” while stomping on Ziggler. Dolph was strong here too, portraying his desperation to turn his career around. He came close several times, but Maryse sprayed him in the face with something and it allowed Miz to retain with the Skull Crushing Finale. Not the best finish, but it played into the story of Miz still being a coward. Best Miz performance ever and he continues to be a highlight. ****

Earlier in the show, Bray Wyatt attacked Randy Orton. Orton has a legit injury and couldn’t compete. Bray came out for the forfeit victory but then found out that Orton had a replacement.

No Holds Barred: Kane def. Bray Wyatt in 10:55
Oh boy, not a single person gave a shit that Kane was involved in this Pay-Per-View. Luckily, these two did about as good with what they were given as possible. It felt like a house show no holds barred match, which was fine. They went from spot to spot and did their best to pop the crowd. The highlight was Bray’s BIG BOY SENTON through the announce table. Eventually, Randy Orton limped out and hit Wyatt with the RKO to give Kane the win. I get that Orton got involved, but there is no excuse for putting Kane over Bray here. He is in desperate need of wins and I can’t take him seriously against Orton if he can’t even beat Kane. Why not just have Bray beat Kane and then do the Orton attack? This was about as good as it could have been, despite the horrible booking. **½

Smackdown Tag Team Championship Tournament Finals: Heath Slater and Rhyno def. The Usos in 10:02
Like the earlier tag team match, the Usos were just great here. They continued to look rejuvenated by the heel turn and worked Heath Slater over. Literally, a good seven or eight minutes of this match just saw them cut the tag off at every turn. Again, tag team wrestling is simple. It’s about depravation and they certainly deprived Slater and the fans of the hot tag. Once it finally came, it got the appropriate response. However, for the first time, Slater had to kind of pick up Rhyno for a bit because he missed the Gore and Slater came in hot. The Usos broke up his pin, but Rhyno came back in with a Gore and placed Slater in pin position to become champions. Just good old fashioned tag team wrestling with a satisfying babyface win. Heath’s post-match promo, which included “WE GETTING A DOUBLE WIDE BAY-BAY”, was excellent. ***¼

WWE World Championship: AJ Styles def. Dean Ambrose (c) in 24:56
I knew this was going to be good. They still blew away my expectations. This felt like a big title fight in a way that a lot of matches don’t. Similar to what they did with the John Cena matches, AJ Styles had the advantage in the early exchanges and it made him even cockier. AJ’s trash talk continues to be a highlight of his matches. There were some scary moments on a super back suplex spot and AJ taking a huge bump into the post on an apron slingshot. Both guys busted out the big spots, like AJ’s springboard 450 splash (for a fantastic near fall) and Dean’s big elbow into the crowd. The final few minutes of this were some of the best action in the WWE all year long. Styles nailed the Pele, but Dean answered with an awesome jawbreaker lariat. AJ worked the leg and it led to some really good Calf Crusher teases. Dean’s selling of the knee could have been better but that’s probably my only issue with the match. They did a slight ref bump, which allowed AJ to kick Dean low and win the title with the Styles Clash. Some people didn’t like the finish, but I did since it played into the story they’ve leading up to the match. It also fit AJ’s character, because he was the better man throughout but Dean wouldn’t stay down and AJ has no problem cheating if he has to. The best WWE PPV main event all year. ****½

Overall: 8.5/10. Man, this show delivered. For all the talk about Smackdown having a weak roster after the draft, they produce on a weekly basis and this was their best work yet. The Kickoff match was a nice surprise. The Women’s Title match was better than expected and gave us the feel good moment of Becky winning the title. We saw a rejuvenated Usos and got treated to two good tag team matches. Miz and Ziggler had their best match ever by a mile. Hell, even Bray and Kane didn’t suck. Add in the excellent main event and the fact that the show ended with AJ Styles as WWE Champion and this is an easy winner.