Backlash (2016) – New Era of SmackDown

Backlash (2016)Sunday evening WWE was in Richmond, Virginia at the Richmond Coliseum for this year’s version of Backlash. This was the first PPV since WWE once again did a brand split and was the first show that was exclusive to the SmackDown brand. As I said back in June when the idea of twice monthly shows was being floated around I just couldn’t see myself watching ALL of these shows live. Sure enough at least when it came to Backlash that was the case. I watched the show bits at a time on the WWE Network, one match Sunday evening, a couple on Monday at lunch, a couple the next night, etc.

I haven’t watched a single episode of SmackDown since the brand split and candidly I don’t plan on it. It’s not that I don’t think it’s a good show… it probably is. It’s not that I don’t like anyone on the roster… some of my favorites are there. It is simply a matter of limited time time to consume wrestling. I’ll most likely stick to watching the RAW branded PPVs live with my bro and catching the SmackDown branded ones a little later.

A couple of general thoughts before I get started. First, I LOVE the shorter show. Without the pre-show (which I didn’t watch) this clocked in at just over two and half hours which seemed about perfect. I firmly believe that there’s just way too much WWE programming these days. I’d love to see RAW go back to two hours. If they’d like me to watch two PPVs per month I really hope they keep up the trend of having these shows a little shorter and save the love four hour “extravaganza” (which is WAY too long) for the Big Four of Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Survivor Series.

Secondly there seemed to be some different camera angles being used here. Not sure if it a SmackDown thing or was specific to this show but it just looked “off”. I’m not sure why, but it looked “cheap” for lack of a better word. That’s not to say the production value looked back but in general the show didn’t seem as large or as polished as a RAW (or previous PPVs). If you’re a SmackDown viewer let me know if this is the style that show is shot in as well.

OK… enough intro stuff. Let’s get to it.

(All photos courtesy

Baron Corbin Defeated Apollo Crews

I didn’t watch the kickoff show. Honestly at this point I have no plans to in the future. According to Wikipedia it went just less than ten minutes and by all accounts it was a decent match. *shrugs*

Backlash (2016) Six-Pack ChallengeBecky Lynch Defeated Alexa Bliss, Carmella, Naomi, Natalya, and Nikki Bella To Win The WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship

This was an outstanding way to kick off the show. Running the risk of sounding like sexist pig here, there was some fine looking ladies in the ring during this match. Looks aside, the gals managed to do something in a six-way match that can be difficult: they held my attention. Sure there was always at least one or two gals on the outside taking a breather but they kept the in ring action moving and all of the women got at least a moment or two to shine here. Just shy of 15 minutes this was action packed from bell to bell. I’m a huge fan of Becky Lynch so I’m pumped they put the title on her (especially since I wasn’t keen on just putting the title back on Nikki to continue the same story before she got injured. Super interested to see where they go from here but based on the interplay that happened in the match (Nikki vs. Carmella, etc.) they’ve got options.

Backlash (2016) Usos vs Hype BrosThe Usos Defeated The Hype Bros – Tag Team Tournament

This was a pretty standard tag match. Nothing to write home about but also nothing that was so terrible as to call out. Perhaps I would have cared more if I’d been watching SmackDown? I just can’t shake the idea of Zack Ryder as a jobber to the stars and I just can’t get behind the Mojo Rawley character. He’s what I’d refer to as a “spaz”. Apparently the Usos are heels now as they’re wearing all black and are doing heelish things. I still can’t tell them apart. I do have to say that I appreciate the heelish tactic of finding a body part (Ryder’s knee) and continuing to work on it throughout the match until it came into play.  and Zack Ryder) by submission

Backlash (2016) Miz vs ZigglerThe Miz Defeated Dolph Ziggler To Retain The Intercontinental Championship

This was top notch! Match of the night candidate for sure. We all know that Ziggler can sell his ass off and have a great match with damn near anyone but you can’t always say the same thing for Miz. He’s typically a great heel that falls back on his heelish ways – not here. He more than held up his end of the contest here matching Ziggler move for move and pulling out all the stops. They’re working a Miz vs. Daniel Bryan angle here which could be interesting as long as it never leads to Bryan being back in the ring. The end came when Maryse (god DAY-UM did she look good) went with the tried and true “spray to the eyes” to blind Ziggler long enough for Miz to hit his finish. A way better than average 18 minute match that shouldn’t be overlooked. Of note here is the low blow (in my opinion) that the WWE took at CM Punk. In case you hadn’t heard, Punk made his MMA debut for the UFC the night before the show. It… didn’t go well. He rushed in, got taken down and choked out. This sequence was played out nearly exactly beat for beat here in this match. Far too similar to be a coincidence. Check it out here and you be the judge.

Backlash (2016) Wyatt vs KaneKane Defeated Bray Wyatt – No Holds Barred Match

So “technically” Bray Wyatt defeated Randy Orton prior to this via forfeit. Wyatt had jumped Orton back stage earlier in the show and beat the hell out of him. Wyatt comes out, asks for the ten count to be done and his hand to be raised. As he was on his way out of the ring it was announced that he’d be having a match with this man… pyro hits and out comes Kane. Orton is legit hurt and not cleared to wrestle. I get that. What I don’t get is why in God’s name would you give Wyatt a loss here? This was an opportunity to make him look like the World Eater they refer to him as. Why the hell does he need to take a loss to Kane of all people? Big time missed opportunity from a story telling perspective. The match itself was decent going just over ten minutes but the finish really left me scratching my head and the crowd really seemed to not give a shit either.

Backlash (2016) Tag Title MatchHeath Slater & Rhyno Defeated The Usos For The WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship

This was pretty stellar and I’d guess would have even been better had I been watching SmackDown the last couple of weeks. In addition to this being the finals of the tournament, if Heath Slater wins he gets a SmackDown contract. The match itself was a pretty standard tag match with some nice hope spots thrown in toward the end. Slater is a star in the making that has done a great job to get out from under some pretty terrible gimmicks in the past. Here’s hoping that this win is what he needed to propel him to the next level and thank goodness we didn’t get yet another Usos title reign. Let’s face it, even thought they’re bad guys now we’ve been there, done that.

Backlash (2016) Ambrose vs StylesAJ Styles Defeated Dean Ambrose For The WWE World Championship

Being a huge Dean Ambrose fan I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach about this one. I know he couldn’t hold on to the title forever but I was sort of hoping that he’d keep it for a while longer. Actually now that I look back he snagged the title at June’s Money in the Bank when he cashed in on Seth Rollins. That’s actually longer than I thought it was. In any case, you could pretty much see the writing on the wall here as AJ Styles have been getting pushed to the moon lately (rightfully so). This was a good back and forth match with both guys looking outstanding and taking some STIFF bumps. There was a couple of times here where I cringed and thought they were legit injured. I like the low blow finish here as it makes clear that AJ is a heel. It won’t make the crowd cheer him any less but it’s good to show that the character has a definitive direction. Speaking of the crowd, I noticed a couple of things here. First, they were relatively quiet here for what I thought was a great match. Not sure if it was the way the building was set up for sound or if they were just flat. Secondly I noticed more than a couple boos for Ambrose. This stood out to me only because when I last saw him at SummerSlam (in a decent but not great match) the crowd was really behind him. 25 minutes for this one felt about right and this really is a big deal to see Styles with the top title. Don’t forget the he made his WWE “debut” less than a year ago at this year’s Royal Rumble where I wrote this:

“AJ FUCKING STYLES!!! While many WWE fans might not know who this guy is, the IWC (Internet Wrestling Community) lost its collective shit when Styles walked through the curtain. It was by my estimation the loudest pop of the night and a well deserved one at that. If you’re not familiar with Styles I’d urge you to hit YouTube and check out some of his work. He’s a welcome addition to the roster and I see great things for him on the horizon.”

It’s not all that often that I’m correct when it comes to my predictions but I think it’s fair to say that this time I was spot on. I’m thrilled to see Styles here on top, away from The Club and doing his own thing. It’s going to be a wild ride going forward and I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve got next, especially since I’m hearing that he’s going to be facing John Cena and Dean Ambrose in a triple threat at No Mercy.

Backlash (2016) Styles WinsFinal Thoughts

Overall this was a great show. It was tight, had good energy and most everything made sense with the glaring exception of the Bray Wyatt loss to Kane. Miz vs. Ziggler stood out as my match of the night with AJ and Dean coming in a close second. There were no real stinkers here as even the six woman match and the two tag matches held my attention. I’m loving the shorter length and really do hope they keep that moving forward. I’m not going to be watching SmackDown with any sort of regularity (I haven’t yet) but at least for this show there was just the right amount of recaps to give me the info that I needed to watch the matches and not feel lost. There were a couple of times where I wasn’t quite sure why folks were doing what they were doing (Carmella vs. Nikki as an example) but if you’ve watched enough wrestling it’s pretty easy to pick it up. It’s tough to compare this show to something like SummerSlam as we only got half of the roster and essentially a show that about half as long. That said, as a singular “experience” I might say this was a better show top to bottom. That said, I’m totally looking forward to getting together with my bro in a couple of weeks to watch the RAW branded Clash of Champions.

Upcoming WWE PPV Schedule

Here’s the rest of the calendar for the rest 2016.

  • Clash of Champions (RAW) – 9.25.2016
  • No Mercy (SmackDown) – 10.9.2016
  • Hell in a Cell (RAW) – 10.30.2016
  • Survivor Series – 11.20.2016
  • Tables, Ladders & Chairs – 12.4.2016
  • Roadblock – 12.18.2016

Did you watch Backlash? Leave me a comment and let me know what you thought!

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