WWE Backlash 2016 Reaction
By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Like it or not, WWE’s new 19-a-year Pay-Per-View schedule is upon us.
While six-hour marathons like SummerSlam don’t make it sound delightful, the idea that we could get shows like Backlash gives us hope.
You knew the draft truly set in when we got the first-ever SmackDown Live-Exclusive PPV on Sep. 11.
With some things promised like the crownings of the inaugural WWE SmackDown Women’s and WWE SmackDown Tag Team Champions and a few shiners like the WWE Intercontinental Championship match between Champion The Miz and Dolph Ziggler and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match between Champion Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles, we had much to look forward to.
The Pre-Show Breakdown
– The pre-show match between Apollo Crews and Baron Corbin felt like the right scenario for both men, in need of someone to work with and not even advertised for the show prior. Also liked how it was set up from a segment on the kick-off show where SmackDown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan wanted to see more aggression from Crews when Corbin stormed the perimeter and ridiculed the idea of management backing up Crews rather than himself. Corbin had a recent disqualification victory over Ambrose while Crews was in the process of fine-tuning his own aggressive side. Corbin’s tough demeanor dictated the action’s majority, while Crews got to show off some more of his swift athleticism. Some good near-falls down the stretch that gave the bout some necessary drama. Crews pulled out some different moves out of his repertoire, namely an Olympic Slam. Interesting that JBL referenced Kurt Angle without a mention of his name. While a defeat of Corbin would’ve been an immediate boost for Crews, Corbin going over made the most sense, since we got to see Corbin keep his momentum going and Crews turned in another breakthrough performance where he came close as ever to victory before he was dropped off the top rope onto Corbin’s knee and hit with the End Of Days. Better than we anticipated.
– A scroll that commemorated the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks was appropriate before we saw the opening video which glossed over all the big matches and promises of new Champions. Who could also forget the dramatic violins and thunderous skies the event came to be advertised for in terms of a “look”?
– We didn’t exactly see the reason for Bryan and SmackDown Live Commissioner Shane McMahon coming out to embrace the crowd in the beginning, but it was a means to rile the crowd up and lead into the opener.
– The Six-Pack Elimination Challenge match to crown the inaugural WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion between Becky Lynch, Carmella, Alexa Bliss, Naomi, Natalya and Nikki Bella was fine as a opener. We liked headed in that they established the rival personalities of all six women. Carmella was a newly defined heel with multiple callous attacks on returnee Bella from behind. Bella herself had a “sob story” of a return from a neck injury. Lynch was the “seasoned fighter” that everybody appreciated. Natalya was the confident heel veteran. Bliss was the snarky young rookie. Naomi was the neon-expressive athletic girl. Any of these ladies were a case for a winner, all placed on the same level. There were even mini-feuds woven into this between Bella-Carmella and Lynch-Bliss. Cool action throughout, as they kept the eliminations out of the early-to-mid-minutes. Naomi shined with a springboard crossbody onto everybody below on the floor. Excellent spot where Bliss was eliminated with a crazy double-team powerbomb/blockbuster tower of doom from Natalya/Naomi. That was followed with Natalya’s elimination of Naomi with the sharpshooter. Natalya was then eliminated by Bella with the Argentinean backbreaker (TKO). The Carmella-Bella feud advanced with Carmella’s surprise elimination of Bella with a school boy pin. The final two being Lynch and Carmella made sense in terms of heel-face dynamic. The action broke down to where it was Lynch that eventually made Carmella tap out to the Disarmer for a nice pop. Lynch getting her big Championship moment felt overdue and she was somebody who could help elevate the belt. Her post-match promo showed the proper amount of genuine appreciation she had for the fans who were with her for her long journey.
– The backstage segment with Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton established a means of Wyatt taking Orton out as he closed a door on Orton’s ankle. Perhaps a bait-and-switch was in store.
– The WWE Tag Team Tournament “Second Chance Challenge” match between The Usos and The Hype Bros. was a good way to showcase the newly turned Usos with a way to have them still in the Tag Title picture despite their loss to American Alpha before they took out Chad Gable with a kayfabe injury. Thank goodness David Otunga mentioned on commentary the twisted logic that the Usos got rewarded for poor sportsmanship when Bryan birthed the idea of the two losing semifinalist teams fighting each other to replace AA. Usos still had their old music but sported new black attire minus the war paint and bright colors. Hype was a fair word to describe the vibe of the action on both ends, though it didn’t overstay its welcome. Liked that the finish strayed close to the way the Usos injured Gable, as they savagely targeted Zack Ryder’s knee and made him tap out. Another good thing was that this set up the tourney finals as the heel Usos against the babyface duo of Heath Slater/Rhyno.
– The backstage promo from Slater/Rhyno was set up as a reaction to what just transpired mixed with the fart joke-related quirkiness from Slater, who continues to organically get over as a hard-lucked confident babyface. The bit here was Slater saying things not knowing he was indeed being recorded live on the air. They had already done it during the “Social Media Lounge” segment, so a second run here wasn’t too necessary, but we did know that people liked the Slater/Rhyno duo and that was what mattered most.
– The WWE Intercontinental Championship match between Champion Miz and Ziggler didn’t necessarily have a “story” headed in besides the idea of Ziggler riling up an angrier Miz who took offense to being called a coward as the days of his Title reign climbed into the 150’s. The backstage segment before the match where Miz rubbed in Bryan’s face that he could still wrestle and deserved a reworked contract that met his A-Lister needs was perfect. He peppered that up as he openly mocked Bryan’s in-ring style as he did the “Yes!” gesture upon running dropkicks in the corner. Things broke down into an intense back-and-forth bout that captured the crowd’s attention down to the end. Great near-falls here too. Easily the best match at this point of the show and just when it seemed like Ziggler was in position for a win, he was protected when Maryse sprayed a foreign substance into Ziggler’s face to transition into the Skull-Crushing Finale to help Miz retain. Whatever leads to another bout between these two. They’ve worked together countless times over the years, but they find new ways to reinvent the rivalry.
– We’ll briefly acknowledge the Wyatt victory over Orton by way of forfeit as confirmation that Orton wasn’t medically cleared to compete due to the “injury” from earlier. This led to the announcement that Wyatt would compete in a No Holds Barred match against someone revealed to be Kane. While the Big Red Machine has felt useless since the Draft, this was a good way to utilize him and cram Wyatt into a style they could both work. The match wasn’t anything special outside of the announce table back splash spot by Wyatt until the finish, a smart way to advance the Wyatt-Orton feud without them having a match, as we got to see Orton stumble his way to the ring and manage to hit an RKO on Wyatt for a nice pop that led to Kane’s chokeslam to win the match.
– The backstage segment with Styles and the two rookies was a logical way to show off Styles’ self-absorbed confidence and belief that he was better than the two guys despite that he came from the same place they did, yet he was successful in spite of them.
– The Tag Team Tournament Finals between The Usos and Slater/Rhyno to crown the inaugural WWE SmackDown Tag Team Champions and a Slater SmackDown Live Contract with a victory was an easy story to tell, as the enraged Usos essentially squashed Slater and prevented him for the longest time of tagging into Rhyno. They pulled out every trick in the book, but it worked because the crowd was so emotionally invested into Slater. The place almost let loose once Rhyno was tagged in and he geared up for the Gore. A brief tease where Slater tagged back in, which made it look like the Usos might take advantage of Slater’s rushed judgment, but it reverted back to the feel-good story, as Rhyno hit the Gore behind the Referee’s back and Slater got the three-count for pop of the night next to Orton’s RKO. Best part of it all was that Slater got an official roster spot and a genuine babyface celebration moment.
– The WWE World Heavyweight Championship match between Champion Ambrose and Styles was given enough time to tell a nice story and felt like the right time for Styles to capitalize on his momentum with a Title victory in contrast to Ambrose’s increasingly stale babyface “high risk, bad behavior” gimmick. The confirmation of this was the crowd’s rejection of Ambrose, who worked twice as hard to get some chants in his direction, as most favored Styles. The “story” here was Styles and his “planned chaos,” as he was several moves ahead of Ambrose most of the time. The avalanche back-to-belly superplex spot by Ambrose on Styles looked a bit mistimed, but still was vicious enough to pass. Styles began to target Ambrose’s calf, while Ambrose took every opportunity to kick Styles plain in the face in addition to administering submission maneuvers. The crowd dug the spot where Ambrose catapulted Styles head-first into the ring post while on the apron. Styles retaliated with a springboard 450 splash for a nice near-fall. Ambrose came right back with a stiff dropkick that sent Styles to the floor and followed up with a suicide dive. The action in the last 10 minutes was high on drama and simply excellent. Also liked the dirty finish in that Styles blatantly low blowed Styles with the Referee down and followed up with the Styles Clash to make himself the new World Champion in less than a year for a huge pop. His rise to stardom is simply unprecedented. The right move too, since he could easily pull a great match out of almost anybody and be the guy to lead the roster, seemingly in the wings for a John Cena return that could be a Survivor Series match.
- Pre-Show – Baron Corbin def. Apollo Crews via pinfall
- WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship – Six-Pack Elimination Challenge – Becky Lynch def. Natalya, Carmella, Alexa Bliss, Nikki Bella and Naomi to become the first-ever Champion
- Tag Team Tournament – “Second Chance Challenge” – The Usos def. The Hype Bros. via pinfall to advance
- WWE Intercontinental Championship – The Miz (Champion) (w/Maryse) def. Dolph Ziggler via pinfall to retain
- Bray Wyatt def. Randy Orton via forfeit
- No Holds Barred – Kane def. Bray Wyatt via pinfall
- If Heath Slater Wins, He Gets A SmackDown Live Contract – WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship – Tag Team Tournament – Finals – Heath Slater/Rhyno def. The Usos via pinfall to become the first-ever Champions
- WWE World Heavyweight Championship – AJ Styles def. Dean Ambrose (Champion) via pinfall to become new Champion
Posted on October 29, 2016, in WWE and tagged AJ Styles, Alexa Bliss, Apollo Crews, Backlash, Baron Corbin, Becky Lynch, Booker T, Bray Wyatt, Carmella, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Heath Slater, Jerry Lawler, Kane, Lita, Maryse, Mauro Ranallo, Naomi, Natalya, Nikki Bella, Randy Orton, Renee Young, Rhyno, Shane McMahon, The Hype Bros., The Miz, The Usos. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.