WWE has reinstated Backlash as part of the new Smackdown Live brand, and it will be making its return Sunday night, September 11th. The build-up was rushed as it had to be thrown together in just three weeks following SummerSlam. It seems like they might have been able to stuff together a fairly interesting card. Here are my thoughts on it:
1) THE COWARD AND THE LION: Miz has recently experienced a reemergence as a formidable force in the WWE, riding what is now his longest of 5 IC title runs. With his voice returning and his wife by his side, Miz has now begun to see a bit of that past glory find its way back to him. But, Ziggler’s career is beginning to careen out of control as he keeps finding himself on the short end of every big match opportunity he comes to. Despite being incredibly gifted with a strong fan-base, the hungry lion just can’t seem to win when it really counts. At this point, I think the best angle Dolph has going for him is the fact that he can’t win the big one. Miz has a lot of momentum, especially after the heated lashing he gave to Daniel Bryan on Talking Smack. Where we stand now, having Dolph take the IC belt wouldn’t be as good as having him “go back to the drawing board” and think things through before coming back with a new attitude. I personally think they should, for now, keep this belt with the Miz and all the heat his newfound momentum has brought him.
2) THE VIPER VS. THE MONSTER: Here are two guys who know how to get brutal. Orton just came off his savage beating at the hands of the Beast only to find himself in the sights of a Monster who eats worlds and evokes the Devil. Bray Wyatt has a score to settle with Randy for the death of Husky Harris–which may have been the best thing Orton could have done for Bray–but that death gave rise to a reincarnation of a man with no remorse who walked straight out of the fire. However, Bray seems to have lost his edge of late, but still managed to gain respect. Orton has a lot to lose after being on the shelf for so long with an injury and then the quick KO at the hands of Lesnar. If WWE is really interested in ushering in a new era, their best bet is to punctuate it with the rising serpent striking down the familiar viper with what would be the night’s biggest upset.
3) THE NEW TAG TITLES: Heath and Rhyno have definitely got something together, for sure. I personally think they should call themselves the Two Man Brand. But, I say we can’t let it end here. The Usos, with their recent long-needed heel turn giving them relevance again, stand as the best bet for the titles. While they may not be new era, having them reign as heels would certainly add a different dimension on the newborn division. Meanwhile, what of Heath? Well, they could keep him and Rhyno together and use the time to legitimize them as a formidable tag team, or WWE could set up a Rhyno vs. Slater angle that could see Heath finally winning his contract and calling himself, “The One Man Brand!”
4) SOMETHING NEW AND SOMETHING BLUE: I personally favor the Smackdown Live Women’s division over Raw’s by quite a margin. While I love Bayley and mark-out big time for Charlotte, I really don’t care about anyone else wrestling on that show. I think Nia Jax and Dana Brook both have potential, but we need to see if they can book them correctly. But, I thoroughly enjoy all the styles and attitudes of the SDL superstars (even Lynch, who I used to be not able to stand, has grown on me). I would be okay with any of them winning–especially Bliss because I think she is so solid and so sound in the ring, and has a great character going for her–but, I’ll be objective and admit that Becky Lynch is the primed sure-shot for this belt–or she should be, anyway: she is a hardworking competitor, has taken the bumps and the losses, and really has the crowd behind her. If they want to start the division off right, they need to go with the Lass Kicker.
5) WHO’S THE FACE THAT RUNS THE PLACE?: While I truly like and respect Dean Ambrose, do I even need to explain why allowing him to hold onto the title is not the best idea? Ambrose’s reign has almost felt a little flaccid in comparison to his journey to make it there. But, he has been churning out a lot of subpar matches lately while AJ Styles has been turning in some of the best performances of his career, generating huge crowd reactions as a heel, and somehow learning to be a very good orator–something I thought would never happen. AJ is nowhere near being new era (he is only two months younger than Cena), but his style is what the new era competitors are more in the mold of. For years, WWE’s matches have been set at a pretty predictable, blase, mechanical routine of wrestlers going through the motions each match, performing the same couple of moves in the same order against the same guys for months, over and over and over. However, since the breakout of NXT, things have been on a gradual change: wrestlers are taking risks again, going out of their way to entertain, shaking up their move-sets. WWE has even been guilty of doing things that are somewhat new and surprising lately, qualities they have severely lacked for most of the last ten to fifteen years; and, the new style these wrestlers are wrestling was made popular in America by guys like A.J. Styles. While he cannot take sole credit, he is definitely the Indie guy who’s gained the biggest following, having reached a level of popularity that transcended the need to even sign with WWE, which is evident by the extremely lucrative deal they gave him and by the fact that he was allowed to bypass NXT completely and jump straight into the big time by debuting in a match as significant as the Royal Rumble. Since then, he has delivered 100% all the way through. Both he and the WWE have benefited from his arrival. So, the major investment in him by the WWE along with his exemplary style is why AJ needs to be the man. Ambrose is great–I am a fan–and he served well as the guy to steer the top spot from Roman Reigns, whom the crowd just did not get behind, but it has reached its peak and it’s time to turn that belt over to the man who represents the new style.
Anyway, hope it’s a good show. It will be interesting to see what happens.