Are you ready for the first SmackDown-only pay-per-view of the New Era?
Backlash will air live from the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Virginia Sunday. The show will feature members of the SmackDown roster and will decide all four of the show’s titles.
AJ Styles will face Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Championship in the show’s main event. The Miz will defend his Intercontinental Championship against Dolph Ziggler. SmackDown’s new Tag Team and Women’s Championships will also be on the line. Heath Slater and Rhyno will face the winner of The Usos-Hype Bros match in the tag team tournament final. Six female Superstars will compete in an elimination six-pack challenge for the Women’s Championship.
Here’s a look at the entire Backlash card with predictions for each match.
Qualifying match for tag team tournament final: The Usos vs. The Hype Bros
The Usos attacked American Alpha after losing to them in a matter of seconds. Since Chad Gable is now (kayfabe) injured, AA won’t be able to compete in the tag team tournament final.
Somehow that opened the door for The Usos to be rewarded, as well as The Hype Bros, who were eliminated by Heath Slater and Rhyno this week. Um, OK?
Winner: The Usos
The Usos went through a heel turn, which is the most interesting thing they’ve done since they started doing the Siva Tau entrance. They’re a much more established team than The Hype Bros and will be featured in the tournament’s final round.
Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler
The Miz and Dolph Ziggler are feuding for the 129,545th time. Only this time, both Superstars are being booked stronger than they were previously.
The Intercontinental Championship also seems to mean more these days with only one world championship and no other midcard titles on SmackDown. So yeah, this time it’s relevant.
Winner: The Miz
Miz has been outstanding as Intercontinental Champion. While most have praised his tongue-lashing of Daniel Bryan, it was actually his bragging about the Intercontinental Championship that stood out in his “Talking Smack” promo. Miz noted that he intends to make the IC title mean more on SmackDown and he’s done that so far. He’ll likely retain and continue to do so moving forward.
Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt
Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt started feuding right after SummerSlam. As is usually the case, Wyatt’s intentions came out of nowhere – fitting facing Orton, I suppose – and were masked with riddles.
Orton has fired back numerous times and held his own on the microphone. Also, does it seem weird to anyone else that Wyatt has become a less successful version of the “Legend Killer”?
Winner: Randy Orton
WWE owes Orton a win after that appalling Lesnar finish at SummerSlam. There’s no way the former champion decided to return just to lose every feud he’s in upon his return.
WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship: The Usos vs. Heath Slater and Rhyno
Heath Slater has consistently been one of SmackDown’s most entertaining characters. Unfortunately, he’s not technically on the roster. But he’ll finally earn a contract if he wins the tag team titles on Sunday. Rhyno is also involved in this storyline.
Winner: The Usos
Well, at least The Usos are heels now. Otherwise this would be the most bland turnout possible. I’m thinking the Usos will get another push coming off their heel turn and can’t take a loss in the finals. WWE will keep its “Heath Slater free agent” angle going, at least for a few more weeks.
WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch vs. Carmella vs. Naomi vs. Natalya vs. Nikki Bella
This match features every female competitor on SmackDown except Eva Marie, who is serving a suspension. Becky Lynch is supposed to be the face of the show. Natalya is a veteran former champion. Nikki Bella is the same thing but more likely to go over. Naomi dances more now. Alexa Bliss is an evil dubstep pixie and Carmella is fresh off a heel turn.
Winner: Becky Lynch
Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but perhaps WWE will finally pull the trigger on a Lynch title run. She’s clearly the division’s most popular competitor and is the only one of the three former NXT call-ups from last summer without a Women’s Championship reign.
The most likely other option is Nikki Bella, but with WWE going through a New Era, there’s no reason to put the first SmackDown Women’s Championship on the embodiment of the old guard.
WWE World Championship: Dean Ambrose (c) vs. AJ Styles
AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose will compete for the WWE World Championship in a main event match. Nope, that’s still unbelievable even after weeks of build-up.
Styles is claiming to be the new “Face that Runs the Place” after defeating John Cena at SummerSlam. Ambrose is now referring to himself as the “Kingpin” and has held the title since July.
Winner: AJ Styles
This is it. We’re finally going to get an AJ Styles WWE Championship run. But that’s not just wishful thinking, all evidence points to Styles winning.
The man beat John Cena clean even as a heel. Ambrose has had a lengthy enough title reign where it would benefit his character more to be in the chase as a babyface. This has to be a win for Styles, which would set up another entertaining feud with Cena once he returns from hiatus.