Monday, May 22, 2017

WWE Backlash Review

WWE Backlash
May 21st, 2017 | Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois

Aiden English vs. Tye Dillinger
This was the Kickoff match. I loved Aiden English’s singing gimmick from his pre-Vaudevillains days in NXT, so I’m glad it’s back. His starry night attire is tremendous as well. This is about the spot I see Tye keeping on Smackdown. A solid babyface midcarder. The match itself was fine, but very forgettable outside of Aiden’s tights. English looked better than when he lost to Tye on Smackdown and his frustration grew when he couldn’t keep Tye down. He missed the swanton and fell to the Tye Breaker at 8:22. Like I said, this was fine and what I expected. Solid work and Tye got the crowd going. He’s a great guy to open shows. [**¼]

Dolph Ziggler vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
The big in-ring debut for Shinsuke Nakamura. He got a great reaction during his entrance, so that’s a positive. This reminded me of a lot of Nakamura’s NXT matches. He wrestled an even match with Ziggler at times, but also had to fight from behind. I don’t know if that’s the best spot for Nakamura. He was great in NJPW when he was the one in control. His best WWE match (with Zayn) was about him showcasing his stuff and being awesome. We didn’t get that here. This felt like it was more about Ziggler and then Nakamura made a comeback that lacked some fire. Also, they’ve hyped him as the king of strong style, and I didn’t see him do much of that here. He won with Kinshasa (just one, thankfully) at 15:41. A solid match, but nowhere near the ideal way to debut Nakamura. Consider this a disappointment because it could’ve been handled so much better. [**¾]

WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Usos (c) vs. Breezango
Why does the Breezango team work so well? They’re two guys who have good chemistry and are fully committed to the gimmick. Breeze played a master of disguise here, dressing up as a janitor with a mop and everything. He used it to comically trip up the Usos and once Jimmy or Jey broke it, the crowd reacted. Breeze disappeared for a bit and returned dressed as an old woman, garnering “Let’s go grandma” chants. Grandma Breeze busted out a bronco buster but was taken out shortly after. Fandango nailed a great dive outside following that. He then jumped into a superkick to take the loss at 9:18. A different kind of tag team match, reminding me of the old Damien Mizdow hijinks. Would I like to see Breezango as more serious challengers? Sure. But I can appreciate something as entertaining as this.[***¼]

Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn
These two are great opponents for one another. Corbin can throw around smaller guys and Zayn bumps like a madman most of the time. That’s what we got for the most part here. Corbin dominated at times and Zayn drew the sympathy he needed to from the crowd. There is no better babyface on Earth than Sami Zayn. He sold the hell out of Deep Six for the best near fall of the match. Corbin made a mistake and his momentum sent him outside. Once back in, Sami connected with a Helluva Kick from out of nowhere to win in 14:35. I was surprised with the outcome, since Corbin has been booked strongly. Sami’s win is good and hopefully sets up more down the line. A good David vs. Goliath story, with the underdog taking advantage of a mistake. [***¼]

Becky Lynch, Charlotte and WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion Naomi vs. Carmella, Natalya and Tamina w/ James Ellsworth
Coming into this match, I expected one of two finishes. Either Charlotte wins because BIG DOG GOTTA EAT or Carmella wins since she seems to be on the road to a title match. I’m a fan of Carmella and Becky but a lot of this match fell flat. It felt like the stuff we got when the #DIVASREVOLUTIONMAGGLE started and it was just a bunch of clusterfuck tags. Nobody stood out or shined and it felt like a time filler. The in-ring stuff was fine, but nothing you need to see. Becky brought fire, but in the end, she tapped to Natalya’s Sharpshooter at 10:05. Why? What was the point of that finish? That made no sense with anything that has happened recently. Whatever. [**]

WWE United States Championship: Kevin Owens (c) vs. AJ Styles
On paper, this should be the best match on the show by a wide margin. Early on, this was a tough match to pinpoint. It didn’t seem to have a focus, but was just two of the best having some solid exchanges. It was when Owens went after the leg, which he also attacked on Smackdown, that things really got going. Owens avoiding a ridiculous Styles Clash off the apron by slipping out and slamming Styles’ leg into the ring post was great. He used various submissions to wear it down inside and I bought into some of the false finishes from it. Styles sold the leg very well and it came into play when he couldn’t hit the Phenomenal Forearm. The bump he took on slipping there was dangerously great. They built to bigger stuff before bringing out a creative finish. Styles went for the Styles Clash on the announce table, but his foot got caught in the hold where the monitor goes, leading to him getting counted out at 21:10. I’d rather the finish have been Owens getting DQed out of desperation, but this was different. The match was the best thing on the show and was a clear first match in a series judging by the finish. If you want to know how good AJ is, this was his worst PPV match of 2017 in my eyes. [***¾]

Erick Rowan vs. Luke Harper
I’m still mad this feud isn’t a bigger deal. If handled right, it absolutely could’ve been. Not main event material, but still. This only went 9:00, but felt like 20. I love Harper but there was never a sense of urgency or anything resembling that here. Like the women’s tag, it felt like they were just here to fill time. I never felt anything for this. Harper should’ve brought fire in seeking revenge for a loss, while Rowan should’ve been aggressive since he’s mad at Harper for betraying the Wyatts. That didn’t happen. Harper won with the discus lariat, gaining some momentum before what I’m hoping is a MITB appearance.[*¾]

WWE Championship: Randy Orton (c) vs. Jinder Mahal w/ The Singh Brothers
I’ve made my opinions on Jinder clear. I don’t think he belongs in this spot. Anyway, they had a surprisingly hot crowd and got off to a hot start as Orton jumped Jinder. Then, they just screeched the pace to a halt. Any chance this had of being fun went out the window. Orton didn’t completely phone it in like he did with Bray, but he didn’t bring his best. Jinder should’ve worked his ass off in the biggest match of his career, but if he did, it certainly didn’t show. The best part was Orton dumping the former Bollywood Boys violently onto tables. Speaking of that team, I hate that they took one of the few cruiserweights with personality and made them into bland, faceless henchmen. Orton focused on them, allowing Jinder to hit his finish and win the title at 15:46. Neither guy brought it and the match was oddly laid out. It’s crazy how wrestling companies will do anything for the Indian market. From the Great Khali to Mahabali Shera to Jinder Mahal, it doesn’t matter how shitty you are, you’ll get a push. On the positive, it ends a pointless and dull Orton reign. On the negative, this screamed situations like Sheamus, Swagger, Del Rio and Ziggler, who all got title reigns WAY before they were ready. And they all had higher upsides than Jinder. It’s the era of the Maharaja. Let’s see how it goes. [**¼]

Overall: 6/10. An average showing from the blue brand. None of the matches are anything I’d consider “must see”, but most of the show is solid. The Kickoff match was solid, as was the women’s match and the main event. Nakamura/Ziggler was pretty good, but a disappointment. I thought Harper/Ziggler was a time filler at best. If pressed for time, check out Zayn/Corbin for a good underdog story, the Tag Team Title match for fun antics and AJ/Owens for the best match of the night.