Powell’s WWE Backlash 2016 live review: Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles for the WWE Championship, first WWE Smackdown Tag Champions and Smackdown Women’s Champion, Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt


imagesBy Jason Powell

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WWE Backlash 2016
Aired live on WWE Network and pay-per-view
Richmond, Virginia at the Richmond Coliseum

Backlash opened with a graphic regarding the 9/11 terrorist attacks… A Backlash video package narrated by Shane McMahon aired… The broadcast team of Mauro Ranallo, JBL, and David Otunga was at ringside. Greg Hamilton was the ring announcer…

Shane McMahon made his entrance and slapped hands with fans before entering the ring. Daniel Bryan made his entrance and the fans greeted him with a “Yes!” chant. The Spanish and German broadcast teams checked in briefly from their spots at ringside.

Shane thanked the fans for making Smackdown Live a success. He said they were responsible for Smackdown ratings soaring (he must have missed Tuesday’s numbers) and the social media numbers improving. He said they were giving the red team all they can handle. Bryan and Shane spoke about the title matches. Shane said the women’s title match would start immediately…

1. Becky Lynch vs. Nikki Bella vs. Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Natalya vs. Carmella in an elimination match for the new Smackdown Women’s Championship. Alexa’s look appeared to be inspired by Harley Quinn. Nikki may have been in Wonder Woman mode. Four women quickly ended up at ringside, leaving Lynch and Naomi to go one-on-one during the opening minute.

Lynch sent Naomi to the floor and then went up top, but Carmella returned and cut her off. Bliss performed her handstand moves on Nikki and got a two count. Nikki came back with a big kick off the second rope and got a two count on Bliss. Alexa performed a sunset flip powerbomb on Nikki for two.

Natalya ran over Bliss and dropkicked her for two. Lynch returned to the ring and worked over Bliss until Natalya grabbed her from behind and executed a German suplex. At 4:45, Bliss applied the Code of Silence on Nikki, who escaped with an Alabama Slam. There was a tower of doom spot with Natalya underneath Bliss and Carmella. We got our first “this is awesome” chant of the night.

At 8:25, Naomi performed a springboard dive onto all of her opponents on the floor. Naomi performed a Blockbuster on Bliss, who was on the shoulders of Natalya, making it a Blockbuster and powerbomb combo. Naomi pinned her at 9:40.

Naomi went for a springboard move and leapt into a forearm from Nikki. Natalya dropped Nikki with a shot, then forced Naomi to tap to the Sharpshooter at 10:50. There were rapid fire eliminations with Nikki Bella pinning Natalya, then Carmella pinning Nikki. After Nikki was eliminated, Carmella shoved her from behind, leading to Nikki slapping her.

There was a brief “Becky” chant. Caremalla worked over Lynch and a “Let’s Go Becky” chant started. In the end, Lynch applied the Disarmer for the submission win.

Becky Lynch defeated Nikki Bella, Naomi, Alexa Bliss, and Carmella in an elimination match to become the first Smackdown Women’s Champion.

After the match, Lynch was interviewed in the ring by Charly Caruso and thanked the fans for believing in her every step of the way. “Becky Balboa, baby, we did it,” she said…

Powell’s POV: Good effort from the women. There were stretches where it was very good and a few slower moments, but it was entertaining overall. The closing moments with the final two didn’t feel all that dramatic, but the live crowd was happy to see Lynch win. I still maintain that they would have been happier if WWE had told her story more effectively or saved her first win for somewhere down the road, but she’ll be a fine champion in that the fans like her and she can have good matches with anyone in the division.

Backstage, The Miz spotted Jagger Eaton’s locker room. The Nickelodeon show child host answered and it turns out that he took Miz’s dressing room. Eaton invited Miz to appear on his show, then said that he’d rather have John Cena instead. Miz got hot. Eaton told Miz to have his people call his people…

Backstage, Bray Wyatt slammed a door onto the right leg of Randy Orton. A referee tended to Orton…

Powell’s POV: And there it is. There were multiple reports that Orton has not been medically cleared, so this injury angle is likely designed to get him out of his advertised match with Wyatt.

2. Jimmy and Jey Uso vs. “The Hype Bros” Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley to earn a spot in the finals of the Smackdown Tag Title tournament. The winning team will face Heath Slater and Rhyno in the finals. The Usos wore new black gear. Otunga tried to say there is a method to Mojo’s madness. He said that Mojo gets the fans involved and makes every match a home game.

Ryder got off to a fast start and caught both Usos with a kick from the ring as they were on the floor. Mojo charged and knocked both Usos down again. The Usos ended up working over Ryder for a stretch. Ryder nearly made a hot tag at 7:00, but he was cut off.

Rawley took the hot tag at 7:55. Rawley threw shoulder blocks and a clothesline at Jey Uso, then performed a pair of corner splashes. Rawley cleared Jimmy from the ring, then caught Jey going for a move off the top and slammed him down. Rawley tagged in Ryder, who hit a huracanrana from the ropes for two.

Jimmy took out Rawley on the floor, then tripped up Ryder as he was setting up for a move. Jey clipped Ryder’s knee, Jimmy kicked it from behind, and then Jey applied a leg hold for the submission win…

The Usos defeated The Hype Bros in 10:10 to advance to the tournament final.

Powell’s POV: A decent yet forgettable match with Ryder doing the bulk of the work for his team and building up to that hot tag. The Usos new look is okay, but here’s hoping they ditch the tired theme song now that they’ve turned.

Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Heath Slater and Rhyno. Slater said nothing can stop a rhino. Slater came back and shook Young’s hand, thinking the cameras were off. Slater spoke about how nervous he is until Rhyno informed him that they were still on the air. “You’ve been swerved,” Slater said. Slater also acted like he crapped his pants, which played into something he spoke about as he was talking about how nervous he was…

A Conor’s Cure spot aired, then a commercial hyped the finals of the Cruiserweight Classic for Wednesday night… A video package set up the Intercontinental Title match and included footage of the Daniel Bryan and Miz confrontation on Talking Smack…

Powell’s POV: I’ll take Slater’s wife and kids at the trailer over poop jokes. By the way, Zack Zimmerman will be attending the CWC Finals in person on Wednesday, and you can join me for live coverage as the show airs on WWE Network.

3. The Miz (w/Maryse) vs. Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental Championship. Backstage, Miz was shown venting to Bryan about being overlooked and under appreciated. Miz said Smackdown needs the IC Championship, and he wants to renegotiate his contract. Miz said negotiations will get a little tougher once he retains. Miz is losing.

Ziggler threw a pair of nice dropkicks and then teased a superkick, but Miz dropped to a seated position to avoid it. Ziggler approached Miz, who reached up and pulled Ziggler into the ropes. Miz went on the offensive for a stretch. At 4:30, Miz catapulted Ziggler over the top rope and down to ringside.

Miz performed his own version of Daniel Bryan’s inverted surfboard. Miz followed up with a series of dropkicks in the corner. Otunga and JBL agreed that Miz was taunting Daniel Bryan. Miz performed his running clothesline. Miz went up top and came down with a double ax handle.

Miz set up for his finisher, but Ziggler countered into a pin. Miz kicked out, then Ziggler caught him with another nice dropkick at 9:35. There were dueling chants between some fans, but it didn’t pick up with the majority of the crowd. Miz came back with a slingshot sit-out powerbomb for a two count. Miz came up selling a shoulder injury briefly.

Later, Ziggler applied a sleeper hold. Miz headed to the corner and dropped down, causing Ziggler’s head to hit the turnbuckle to break it. Ziggler came back with a DDT for a two count. Ziggler sold knee pain as he got up. Ziggler set up for the superkick, but Miz caught his knee, kicked him, and DDT’d him before applying the figure four. Ziggler reached the ropes to break it.

Miz went for the move again, but Ziggler kicked him off and then caught a charging Miz with a superkick. Ziggler had Miz pinned, but Miz put his foot on the ropes to break the pin. Miz tried to leave, but Ziggler caught him and placed him back in the ring, Maryse distracted Ziggler briefly. Miz rolled him up, Ziggler rolled through, and Miz kicked out. Miz caught him with a shot, then Maryse sprayed something into Ziggler’s eyes. Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale for the win…

The Miz defeated Dolph Ziggler in 18:20 to retain the Intercontinental Championship.

Powell’s POV: The best match of the night thus far. I really thought they were setting up a Miz loss by having him act so cocky with Bryan, but I like that he can now annoy Bryan with ridiculous demands. It feels like they are building to a Bryan vs. Miz match, but that’s highly unlikely, so my guess is that Bryan will eventually introduce a wrestler to challenge Miz. Roderick Strong? Samoa Joe? I’m not sure where this leaves Ziggler. I continue to hold out hope for a heel turn, but there was nothing about losing in this manner that would seem to suggest that is happening.

The Kickoff Show panel spoke and recapped Baron Corbin defeating Apollo Crews…

Bray Wyatt made his entrance. The ring announcer stated that Randy Orton was not cleared to compete due to injury. The fans booed loudly. Wyatt insisted that he get the official ten count. Referee Charles Robinson made the ten count and then raised Wyatt’s hand. As Wyatt was about to leave, the ring announcer said Wyatt would be competing in a no holds barred match against “this man.” Kane made his entrance.

4. Kane vs. Bray Wyatt in a No Holds Barred match. They fought to ringside early. Kane cleared off one of the broadcast tables. Wyatt emerged and struck him with the ring bell. Back inside the ring, Wyatt hit a running cross body block.

Kane came back with a big boot. Wyatt rolled to ringside, picked up a chair, and struck Kane’s leg with it. Wyatt worked over Kane with the chair. Wyatt set up for a move on the chair, but Kane performed a DDT onto the chair instead at 4:00.

At 5:00, Kane set up for a chokeslam through the table, but Wyatt gouged his eye to escape it. Wyatt followed up with a stiff clothesline. Wyatt placed Kane onto a broadcast table, then performed a running senton from one table onto Kane on the other. The table broke and the fans chanted “holy shit.” The Spanish broadcast team could be seen calling the match from behind the barricade. Funny.

Back inside the ring, Wyatt set up for Sister Abigail only to have Kane chokeslam him for a two count at 8:10. Kane set up for a move on the chair. Instead, Wyatt recovered and performed a uranage on the chair for a two count.

Randy Orton limped out with his leg heavily bandaged. Orton entered the ring and performed the RKO on Wyatt. Orton left the ring and then Kane chokeslammed and pinned Wyatt…

Kane defeated Bray Wyatt in a No Holds Barred match in 10:50.

Powell’s POV: No bitching from me about Wyatt losing here. After all, the fans were already pissed that they didn’t get to see Orton wrestle as advertised, so it was logical to have his replacement go over, and a bonus that Orton was able to hit his finisher.

AJ Styles was shown walking backstage. He passed a pair of local wrestlers who apparently just stood around backstage dressed to wrestle for no apparent reason. Styles said he knows where they are at in their careers. He said they are destined for failure, but now they can say they met AJ Styles on the night he won the championship…

A WWE Network commercial aired… The broadcast team recapped the Usos vs. Hype Bros from earlier in the show to set up the tag tournament final…

5. Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso vs. Heath Slater and Rhyno to become the first WWE Tag Team Champions. The broadcast team played up the idea that Slater would either be a tag champion or unemployed. There was a “Let’s Go Slater” chant as the match started. There was also a brief ECW chant when Rhyno tagged in.

At 2:10, the Usos suplexed Slater into the ring post, then Jimmy superkicked him. Jimmy rolled Slater back inside the ring and covered him for two. The Usos isolated Slater for the next few minutes. Rhyno took the hot tag at 8:10 and worked over Jimmy.

Rhyno performed a suplex and then set up for his finisher, but Jimmy avoided it and sent Rhuno into his corner. Slater tagged in and then hit neckbreakers on the Usos. Slater performed a DDT on Jimmy, but Jey pulled Slater off his brother to break the pin. Slater took care of Jimmy. Jey superkicked Slater. Rhyno performed the Gore on Jimmy. Slater covered Jimmy and pinned him…

Heath Slater and Rhyno defeated The Usos to win the Smackdown Tag Team Championship.

After the match, Charly Caruso interviewed Slater, who let out a big yell after she congratulated him on winning the tag titles and his contract. Slater said he knew there had to be a mistake when he wasn’t drafted. He thanked Shane and Bryan for letting him in the tournament with his main man Rhyno. Slater said this is the biggest night of his life with the exception of a couple of his kids being born. “Yo, Beulah, we’re getting a doublewide, baby!” Slater concluded…

Powell’s POV: Creative did a nice job of making people care about the team of Slater and Rhyno in a hurry. I still question whether some of the over the top elements of Slater’s act are for the benefit of people backstage than viewers, but it’s nice to see a lovable enhancement wrestler finally get a moment. On the flip side, I am surprised that the Usos lost the match lean if only because they are so early in their heel run. I suppose there’s nothing stopping WWE from simply having the Usos take the tag titles as soon as Tuesday night.

The Miz and Dolph Ziggler commercial for KFC aired… A video package set up the main event…

Ring entrances for the main event took place. AJ Styles was out first and then Ambrose came out wearing the title. Hamilton delivered in-ring introductions for the title match and noted that Styles wants to be called The Face That Runs The Place…

6. Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles for the WWE Championship. There was a dueling chant for the wrestlers as the match got underway. There was a loud AJ Styles chant with a tamer “Let’s Go Ambrose” chant early on as well. Styles caught Ambrose with a really nice dropkick at 5:30 and got a two count.

At 11:00, Ambrose leapt off the ropes and hit Styles with an elbow on the floor. Ambrose rolled Styles back inside the ring and charged him, but Styles moved. Ambrose came right back with a facebuster for a two count. Ambrose went up top. Styles charged, but Ambrose leapt over him. They jockeyed for position and Styles ended up suplexing Ambrose into the corner.

Styles set up for the Phenomenal Forewarm. Ambrose ducked the move, kicked Styles, and went for his own finisher. Styles avoided that and ended up driving his knee down onto Ambrose’s knee the corner. Styles put the boots to the knee of Ambrose and then wrenched on the knee in mid-ring. Ambrose slammed his other leg onto the face of Styles to break the hold.

Styles applied the Calf Crusher at 15:45. Ambrose crawled and reached the ropes to break the hold. Styles reapplied the hold. Ambrose reached back and grabbed the head of Styles and drove it into the mat repeatedly to break the hold again.

At 17:30, Styles went for the Styles Clash. Ambrose avoided it. Styles caught Ambrose with a kick to the head on the apron. Styles set up for a move on the apron. Ambrose recovered and catapulted Styles into the new ring posts. Ambrose clotheslined Styles from behind and rolled him back inside the ring.

Ambrose performed a bulldog out of the corner at 18:55 and then rolled up Styles for a two count. Styles came back with a series of quick strikes that he capped off with a clothesline. Styles performed the backbreaker onto his knee. Styles followed up with a spinning powerbomb for a two count.

Styles slammed Ambrose to the mat and then went to the apron. Styles performed a springboard 450 for a near fall. Ambrose came back with a neckbreaker. Ambrose threw a series of knees at Styles, then got a running start before kicking him to ringside. There were some scattered boos from the Styles fans.

Ambrose performed a suicide dive that sent Styles over the broadcast tables. Ambrose threw Styles back over the table and then threw Styles over the barricade. Ambrose ran across a pair of tables and then dove onto Styles in the crowd.

At 24:00, Ambrose threw Styles back inside the ring as the fans chanted “this is awesome.” Styles caught Ambrose with a Pele Kick. Ambrose no sold the kick by coming right back with the Lunatic Lariat. Ambrose set up for his finisher, but Styles shoved Ambrose into the referee to avoid Dirty Deeds. REF BUMP! Styles low blowed Ambrose and then performed the Styles Clash for the win…

AJ Styles pinned Dean Ambrose in 24:55 to win the WWE Championship.

Powell’s POV: A strong main event with the right guy going over. Ambrose just clicks better as the scrappy challenger than as champion. Styles give Smackdown a top notch champion who can have a great match with anyone on the roster.

Overall, a good first effort for the Smackdown brand. It helped that there were guaranteed to be new champions crowned, and obviously you can’t close every show with a WWE Championship change, but for only having six matches they did a nice job of filling the time. In fact, the show ended 22 minutes before the top of the hour. It wasn’t the longest show, but it should be enough to satisfy those who still paid the big pay-per-view price. I will have more to say about Backlash later tonight in the exclusive audio review with Jake Barnett that will be available exclusively for members, and again on Monday in the Backlash Hit List. Thanks for watching along with me.


Readers Comments (5)

  1. Brutal card line-up, terrible roster and that headache inducing camera they’re using tonight is a bigger heel than Reigns.

    It won’t be long before they put on a PPV as bad as Great American Bash 2004.

    • Except that the show was solid. Regardless of what you think about the roster, Smackdown has consistently been the better show since the Brand Split began.

  2. I don’t have the WWE Network since my wife hates wrestling and I would hardly watch it with her having to watch what she likes or she will leave the room. So I always stay updated with Powell’s report and have for years. I work while my wife sits home all day watching tv and this weekend I didn’t watch anything I wanted to. So I hope Styles wins. He more than has earned it.

  3. I thought this was a. good PPV. While none of the matches stood out as instant classics, I don’t think any of them fell below the three stars grade. Both the intercontinental and world title matches were four star, and if not for a couple of clunky moments in the women’s match, it would have been there as well. Overall, this was a solid effort for the blue brand.

  4. Overall, a solid effort from the Blue Brand. The two matches that stood out for me were the Intercontinental and World Title matches. Both definitely in the four star range. Other then the clunky spot with Naomi and Natayla and a few moments that dragged, the women’s match could have been there too. I thought Becky’s emotion was genuine. The rest of the card was solid as well. Rhyno and Slater winning the titles was an unexpected outcome, but the announcers did mention that Slater was a three time former tag champ. I did groan when Kane was announced as Bray Wyatt’s opponent, but they surprised with a decent match. I am to the point where I believe Kane should become a special attraction type character like Undertaker. He does not need to be on my TV night after night. Who were those two wrestlers AJ Styles talked down to? Other than minor nitpicks, this as a solid show.

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