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WWE Backlash 2017: Preview, Odds, & Predictions

Trevor Dueck

by Trevor Dueck in Entertainment

Updated Jan 17, 2018 · 9:39 AM PST

Photo Credit: Megan Elice Meadows (Flickr)

Get ready for WWE’s SmackDown pay-per-view, Backlash, on May 21st, “right here, in Chicago, Illinois!” (Mick Foley cheap pop.)

The Chicago crowd is always an interesting element. They’re usually pretty loud and will try to hijack matches with nonsensical chants, like the predictable “CM Punk!” name-calling that’ll occur throughout the evening. (Let’s hope that dies a similar death to the “You Screwed Bret” chant that the WWE had to endure every time it made a trip to Canada.)

This is the first SmackDown event since the Superstar Shakeup and, after some confusing matches at WWE’s last RAW pay-per-view, Payback, which also featured SmackDown talent finishing their Wrestlemania feuds, things seem to be back to normal and there is balance in the force.

Superstars like Kevin Owens (United States Champion) and Randy Orton (WWE Champion) can now focus on new feuds within a pretty diminished SmackDown roster. It’s that lack of depth that leads me to believe that there won’t be a lot of titles changing hands during this minor event on the WWE calendar.

Instead, Backlash will likely add fire to new rivalries, like Baron Corbin and Sami Zayn or Kevin Owens and AJ Styles. That is what’s the most intriguing about this event, the matchups.

If given enough time, some of the matches on this card — like Kevin Owens vs. AJ Style; Nakamura vs. Ziggler — could be early contenders for “best of the year”. Both of those matches will intrigue the the pro-wrestling purists and should entertain. The question is: will the WWE put one of these two matches on last?

There’s a decent chance since there is no real excitement for the WWE Championship match between Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal, neither among fans nor the WWE itself.

Will we see an upset in that title match? Who knows. But not knowing is the fun part of predicting these storylines and that’s exactly what I’m here to do.

As I write this, the full card has yet to be been confirmed — a couple of minor matches could be added to fill it out — but we have enough of the meat and potatoes to chew on.

WWE Backlash Odds and Predictions

Note that one or two minor matches may be added over the next week, like a rumored singles match between Erick Rowan vs. Luke Harper.

Jinder Mahal at Superstars taping in London
Photo Credit: Ed Webster

WWE Championship Match: Randy Orton (c) vs. Jinder Mahal

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Whoa, whoa, whoa, let’s slow down a minute on Jinder Mahal, it’s already crazy enough that he’s getting an unexpected title shot, but in my humble opinion, it would be much too soon for the Indo-Canadian to actually win the WWE Championship.

Yet the WWE seems to love screwing with its viewers and, lately, the writing and swerving have kept wrestling smarks and fans on their toes. Maybe unpredictable booking is the point of this card.

It wasn’t too long ago that Mahal was nothing more than a jobber. His sudden ascension has no rhyme or reason, other than to make an instant star so the WWE can gain more fans in the big market of India.

But fans like me don’t like these types of aggressive and overbooked pushes. It comes across as too fake and manufactured. And yes I’m well aware of the irony of that comment when talking about sports entertainment.

In my opinion, the purpose of this match should be meant to get Mahal on the map. Let’s hope that the WWE invests more time and energy into making new stars and doesn’t use this booking to create one out of the blue. SmackDown really needs more depth and Mahal might be a star in the making but it’s not his turn to shine yet.

I see Orton winning, but I wouldn’t be shocked by some sort of unique swerve here. If Mahal wins, it will be dirty and probably due to outside interference by the Singh Brothers.

The WWE can’t be serious about putting the title around Mahal’s waist, but if they are, I only see him as a transitional champion who will lose to a bigger star or in a Randy Orton rematch.

I’m going to go with the safe choice here but I’m very tempted in taking the potential WWE swerve angle. Nothing surprises me anymore.

Predicted winner (and odds): Randy Orton (2/3)

SmackDown Tag Team Championship: The Usos (c) vs. Breezango

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This should be a squash match for the tag champs. I see no way that Breezango wins this unless the WWE feels compelled to have this feud continue past Backlash.

That said, John Cena and Nikki Bella beat Breezango a month ago with Bella slapping her finisher on Breeze and forcing him to tap out. Kind of embarrassing, no? Not to mention Breezango really hasn’t been used much on SmackDown over the last few weeks, except for really dumb comedy segments like the one above. (SMH.) In the end, they haven’t even been built as a possible threat and it doesn’t appear they are getting any kind of real push. Breezango is just kind of filling a spot in the tag team division.

I see the WWE wanting to continue to build the Usos back up to their former glory, and although this looks to be a fun and maybe competitive match, it’s just a minor speed bump for the team of Jey and Jimmy Usos who will hopefully have a stronger feud in the not too distant future.

Predicted winner (and odds): The Usos (1/9)

United States Championship Match: Kevin Owens (c) vs. AJ Styles

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This has the makings of not only the match of the evening but maybe early candidate for match of the year. Let’s hope the powers-that-be give these two greats the time they deserve to put on a great show.

Although I had picked Owens to win at Payback against Chris Jericho, due to Jericho going on tour with his band Fozzy, the WWE threw a twist and had Y2J win the United States Championship, only to have Owens win it back a couple days later on SmackDown.

Owens now moves on to a showdown with AJ Styles.

This new matchup is pretty much a pick’em. Owens, SmackDown’s #1 heel, just regained the title, and having him lose it again on such a short turnaround doesn’t seem logical. Yet, he’s facing AJ Styles, who is the best in the biz; it’s not out of the question he’ll steal the title away.

At the end of the day, I have to side with Owens; if you want the United States Championship to have any kind of value on SmackDown, it’s not a good idea to have it change hands too many times.

In what should be a very physical match full of close calls, I see Owens hanging onto the United States Championship via some sort of controversial or cheap win. I feel they need to give Owens a good run with that title. Maybe he does eventually lose it to AJ if this feud continues — God, I hope so — but not yet.

Predicted winner (and odds): Kevin Owens (9/11)

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler

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We will finally see The King of Strong Style, Shinsuke Nakamura, make his in-ring debut on the WWE’s main roster against the talented Dolph Ziggler. For whatever reason, Ziggler seems to always be the gatekeeper for NXT call-ups.

A match between these two has the potential to steal the show. Both men are fabulous workers but this seems to me a pretty easy one to predict. This is Nakamura’s first match on the “big show” and he is so over with the fans; the WWE will look to build him into a title contender. They see a star in the making here and they will do what they can to get him to main-event status.

Ziggler is the perfect opponent because he has made a living at making his opponents look great. In some ways, it sucks because Ziggler is terribly underused and is far too talented to be jobbing like he does.

Predicted winner (and odds): Shinsuke Nakamura (1/19)

Naomi, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch vs. Natalya, Carmella, and Tamina

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At first glance, it looked like the SmackDown’s Women’s Champ, Naomi, was entering a feud with Charlotte Flair. However, a couple weeks ago, Carmella, Tamina, and Natalya attacked Charlotte because they felt she had jumped the title queue when she moved to SmackDown from RAW. They didn’t view her as a worthy #1 contender.

It now appears Naomi, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch have been forced into an alliance to shut down this new women’s faction, “The Welcoming Committee.” This will probably mean a face turn for Charlotte.

The women’s division is always hard to predict. The storylines are all over the place. I imagine this feud will continue, but I see the team of Naomi, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch winning this time around because I think the WWE’s wants to build Charlotte as a face going forward. But anything can happen here and the odds reflect that.

Predicted winner (and odds): Naomi, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch (2/3)

Rumored: Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn

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As of May 10, this match hasn’t been confirmed yet, but it seems likely.

Baron Corbin versus Sami Zayn has the potential to be an excellent feud. If they have a great match at Backlash, the WWE shouldn’t hesitate to continue the rivalry afterward. Both these guys have a ton of potential and are underused, and both deserve big pushes going forward.

But only one man can win and this match will feature Zayn’s technical prowess against Corbin’s power moves. This is actually the toughest match on the card for me to predict. My only strong feeling is that it won’t end cleanly. Since I have to pick a side, I’ll go with Corbin the win here so that the WWE can build him as an eventual top heel.

Predicted winner (and odds): Baron Corbin (1/1)


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