By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Hits
Jinder Mahal vs. AJ Styles: It was a wise move to put Jinder in the ring with one of the best wrestlers in the world. Styles did the heavy lifting and made this match passable. Owens attacking Styles puts some heat on him heading into their match on Sunday and the outcome was logical given that Mahal is going for the big belt at Backlash. It will be interesting to see if Owens injuring the knee of Styles is something that carries over to Sunday.
Randy Orton vs. Baron Corbin: A minor Hit for a match that really needed a dive. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. This was a decent match and all, but I doubt it moved anyone when it came to Backlash. For that matter, the post match angle with Jinder Mahal attacking Orton off a distraction was formulaic and ineffective.
Charlotte, Naomi, and Becky Lynch vs. Natalya, Tamina, and Carmella contract signing: A minor Hit for a segment that did a good job of making the six-woman tag match feel like a showdown. Charlotte making it clear that she intends to go after the Naomi’s championship coming out of Backlash was an added bonus. The Naomi vs. Carmella match filled some time and eventually put more heat on the heels heading into Backlash.
Tyler Breeze and Fandango: A minor Hit for a slightly better edition of the underwhelming Fashion Files series (complete with Fandango’s knockoff version of Derek Zoolander’s pronunciation of eugoogalizer line). They also picked up a decent win over a Colons tag team that felt like it mattered for two weeks after the shakeup. The Usos continue to cut better babyface promos as heels than they ever did as babyfaces.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Go-Home Show: There wasn’t a lot to dislike from a segment to segment basis, but Smackdown failed as a go-home show. Granted, part of the problem is that Backlash has a weak lineup, but I was hoping some of the storylines would come together and the company would provide a good final push that would leave viewers feeling more excited about Sunday’s show. Unfortunately, Backlash falls behind both NXT Takeover: Chicago and the WWE UK Championship Special in my order of most anticipated weekend shows. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I have felt so apathetic about a WWE pay-per-view event. It’s certainly possible that the show will turn out to be entertaining, but the final push felt lifeless and uninspired.
Kevin Owens, AJ Styles, and Jinder Mahal opening: Owens taking over the Jericho talkshow was fun and left me wondering if we will see Jericho return sooner rather than later. The fun ended there. The segment succeeded in terms of laying out the previously advertised matches, but it failed when it came to making the Owens vs. Styles match feel as important as it should, particularly on a pay-per-view event with a couple of shaky title matches. Worst of all, Jinder sounded like he was half asleep as he spoke. I have been open minded about the Mahal push from the start. I was really hoping Mahal would win over viewers with strong mic work or an impressive in-ring outing leading up to Backlash, but it just didn’t happen.
Jason Powell and Jake Barnett co-host the Dot Net Weekly and Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast combo show and discuss Raw Underground and other WWE concepts, The Rock's group buying the XFL, the Marty Jannetty story, AEW Dynamite and NXT TV, and more...