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Kickoff Show Singles Match "The Perfect Ten" Tye Dillinger vs. "The Drama King" Aiden English
RESULT: Tye Dillinger wins via pinfall; Dillinger pinned English following the Tye-breaker.
THOUGHTS: A decent opener, with some moderate crowd heat on English after he railed on his hometown audience. I like the little things Aiden did here to spice up his parts of the match, like singing during rest holds. When you find ways to add to your in-ring practices, it shows good initiative.
Dillinger winning here doesn't surprise me, though, as he's been riding high since his SD debut. I also wouldn't be surprised to see him step up into the US Title picture in the next few months.
WK KING OF PPV Mike - 1/9 Ken - 1/9 Greg - 0/9 Nick - 0/9 Julie - 1/9
Singles Match "The Artist" Shinsuke Nakamura vs. "The Show Off" Dolph Ziggler
RESULT: Nakamura wins via pinfall; Nakamura pinned Ziggler following the reverse exploder and the Kinshasa.
THOUGHTS: I liked the choice of this being the first match; WWE had promoted Nakamura's debut as a really big deal, so it only made sense that he would kick off Backlash versus Ziggler to get the Chicago crowd hyped.
It was a solid opener, though I felt like they tried a little too hard to make it "epic" by stretching out the heat segments for Ziggler. Streamline the first half of the match to match the fast, back-and-forth pace of the second half, and you get a real four-star debut for Shinsuke. As it was, though, Shinsuke won his debut (thank goodness) versus against an aggressive Ziggler in front of a hot crowd, so no complaints there.
WK KING OF PPV Mike - 3/9 (LOCK) Ken - 2/9 Greg - 2/9 (LOCK) Nick - 0/9 Julie - 2/9
Smackdown Tag Team Championship The Usos vs. Breezango
RESULT: The Usos win via pinfall; Jey Uso pinned Fandango following a superkick on the top rope.
THOUGHTS: Opinions will be divided on this, but I thought this match-up was hilarious, what with Breeze's numerous "undercover" disguises. What helped was that hilarity added to the match rather than take away from it, as Breeze used his comedic disguises as a mind game to take advantage of an Usos team that was lulled into looking at Breezango like a joke.
It was different; unlike most wrestling fans, I can appreciate different approaches to a match, especially when the wrestlers involved can pull of those approaches seamlessly like Breeze did. The second half was more about the competitiveness, with Breezango pulling off a few good near falls before the Usos ultimately came away with the victory.
WK KING OF PPV Mike - 3/9 Ken - 4/9 (LOCK) Greg - 3/9 Nick - 0/9 Julie - 3/9
Singles Match Sami Zayn vs. "The Lone Wolf" Baron Corbin
RESULT: Sami Zayn wins via pinfall; Zayn pinned Corbin after catching him coming in with a Helluva Kick.
THOUGHTS: Another solid affair here at Backlash, with Zayn picking up what was a great "underdog" win versus Corbin, who spent the majority of the match basically shellacking Sami again and again until he could barely stand. It wasn't totally one-sided, with Zayn getting in bits and pieces of offense, and the ending was more about Zayn catching Corbin unaware for a split second rather than a truly "triumphant" super babyface comeback, which makes for a nice touch of realism when you're someone in Zayn's shoes looking any opening to win, big or small.
I don't imagine Corbin will take this loss lying down and the feud will most likely continue. I liked them and AJ mixing it up the month before, so I certainly wouldn't mind seeing them in the US Title mix come Money in the Bank.
WK KING OF PPV Mike - 4/9 Ken - 4/9 Greg - 4/9 Nick - 1/9 Julie - 3/9
Six-Woman Tag Team Match Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair & Naomi vs. Natalya, Carmella & Tamina Snuka w/James Ellsworth
RESULT: Team Natalya wins via submission; Natalya submitted Becky Lynch with the Sharpshooter after a distraction by Tamina.
THOUGHTS: The Welcoming Committee made their official team debut (which, in hindsight, "Your Kennection" should have considered beforehand) and came out with the win in a short, somewhat solid affair. Becky taking the loss works here, as the story on Smackdown Live is Naomi versus Charlotte for the Women's Title, and you couldn't have either woman take the fall leading into their eventual rematch.
WK KING OF PPV Mike - 5/9 Ken - 4/9 Greg - 4/9 Nick - 1/9 Julie - 4/9
Singles Match WWE United States Championship "The New Face of America" Kevin Owens (c) vs. "The Phenomenal" AJ Styles
RESULT: Kevin Owens wins via countout; Owens trapped Styles' injured leg in the announce table, leading to the countout.
THOUGHTS: Fantastic match between these two former Ring of Honor luminaries. Owens had laser focus on the leg he injured last Tuesday and effectively picked it apart throughout the match, escalating each assault, from the ring post to the steel steps, and a transition from a Canadian Maple Leaf (Lance Storm shout-out) to a sick-looking Ankle Lock. It was a nasty, technical side to Owens' in-ring style that I'd like to see more often.
Styles was "phenomenal" in his performance as well, doing well to sell the work on his bad right leg, forcing him to find different ways to achieve his trademark offense like the Clash and the Phenomenal Forearm, using the ring apron and the barricade. He took Owens' best shots (including that sickening pumphandle neckbreaker) and gave the "New Face" nothing but fits, leading to Owens resorting to trapping Styles' leg in the announce table for the countout win.
Most columnists will frown on the countout as a result, but I like it; it keeps the championship on Owens following his recent dispatch of Jericho, gives him a win on PPV, but at the same time keeps Styles in the US Title conversation with the ambiguity of a countout loss.
WK KING OF PPV Mike - 6/9 Ken - 5/9 Greg - 4/9 Nick - 1/9 Julie - 6/9 (LOCK)
Singles Match Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan
RESULT: Luke Harper wins via pinfall; Harper pinned Rowan after a pair of superkicks and a discus clothesline.
THOUGHTS: The cool-down match following the ultra-competitive Owens-Styles match, this match between the two former Wyatt members was a basic, but effective slugfest between the two big men.
It seems like Rowan's suffering from "multiple gimmick disorder", flip-flopping from dressing in a clown-like sheep mask and popping random balloons to 'communicating' with his mask during a match. It's like an oddball mix of Pennywise and Kane circa 2010.
WK KING OF PPV Mike - 7/9 Ken - 6/9 Greg - 5/9 Nick - 1/9 Julie - 7/9
Singles Match WWE World Championship Randy Orton (c) vs. Jinder Mahal w/The Singh Brothers
RESULT: NEWWWWW Champion Jinder Mahal wins by pinfall; Jinder pinned Orton after hitting the Khallas (cobra-clutch slam).
THOUGHTS: That'll show me for trying to hinder the Jinder with my predictions...
I suppose that will also teach me to know better than to trust dirt sheets come prediction time for a PPV, but I digress.
Overall, this was another solid match on the card, which it had to be at the least, as WWE was in untested waters as far as having Jinder Mahal in a PPV main event. He did some really good, technical work on Randy's arm, Orton's history of shoulder problems being public knowledge, though he did drag the heat segments at times, which almost lost the crowd.
Orton wasn't bad here, but opening salvo aside, it felt more like he fell into "greatest hits" mode throughout the match and really only began to fire up near the end of the match when dispatching the Singh Brothers, one of whom Orton dropped near head-first on the announce table with a release suplex. Yikes! In the end, however, the brothers proved effective in keeping Orton preoccupied long enough for Mahal to pull off the biggest win of his career. In hindsight, it was probably best to get the title off of Orton, who hasn't been on his A-Game since his feud with Wyatt went deep-freeze cold.
Mahal's victory was indeed shocking, but WWE needs to ride this emotional momentum upward and forward and not just coast on the character's zealousness and country-based fanaticism, or we're looking at an WWE Champion who will draw as well as JBL did in his heyday, e.g. terribly.
WK KING OF PPV Mike - 8/9 Ken - 6/9 Greg - 5/9 Nick - 2/9 Julie - 8/9
MAIN EVENT "TIME-BREAKER" Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal TIME: 15:53