By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
These predictions were made with no help from the betting lines because I’m not a dirty, rotten, filthy, stinking, cheater. In other words, I’m guessing just like you are. Join me for live coverage of WWE Backlash beginning with the Kickoff Show at 6CT/7ET. Dot Net Members will have exclusive access to the audio review that Jake Barnett and I will record after the show. Join us on our ad-free website via PWMembership.net.
Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe: The build to the match consisted of some strong promos from Joe while Reigns mostly stood there and took the abuse. Joe is on fire on the mic these days and he will be a terrific addition to the Smackdown roster, though I suspect this match is about getting Reigns a win. Reigns came up short in back to back matches with Brock Lesnar and I don’t believe Vince McMahon has given up on his obsession with making him a top babyface. In a perfect world, Joe wins clean and it’s another step toward Reigns reaching his breaking point and finally turning heel. But this isn’t a perfect world, it’s Vince McMahon’s storyline world and it’s completely flawed when it comes to his perspective of Reigns.
Roman Reigns wins.
AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in a No DQ match for the WWE Championship: The addition of the No DQ stipulation is interesting in terms of how it plays into the finish. I like the idea that Jake Barnett laid out on Dot Net Weekly that has this match taking place at some point after the Joe vs. Reigns match. An angry Joe is bitter over his loss and ends up attacking Styles, which somehow leads to Nakamura winning the WWE Championship. That would explain why they felt the need to have Joe confront Styles on Tuesday’s Smackdown when it’s a segment that felt like it could have waited until after Backlash.
Shinsuke Nakamura wins the WWE Championship.
Seth Rollins vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship: Sure, WWE could surprise us by having Miz win, giving Smackdown two secondary championships, and then they could somehow have Miz or the U.S. Champion drop a title to a Raw wrestler on a future show. It seems like a lot of work when the alternative is to just keep it simple. It’s too bad the outcome feels so predictable, but this should still be a fun match.
Seth Rollins retains the Intercontinental Championship.
Nia Jax vs. Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship: I’m still waiting for that moment when Jax truly connects with the audience. She had a chance right before WrestleMania when she finally addressed why the antics of Bliss and Mickie James were so upsetting to her. The explanation was obvious and it was written to be all about her and not in a way that would make the fans truly relate on a personal level. Meanwhile, the Bliss PSA spots have been hilarious, but it’s not like she’s really insulting the fans in the process. As for the outcome, Jax just won the title and I doubt they will move it off her this quickly.
Nia Jax retains the Raw Women’s Championship.
Carmella vs. Charlotte for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: This is a real test for Carmella. She has improved tremendously on the mic, but we’re still waiting to see if she can deliver in the ring. She responded to critics via social media recently by letting them know that she hasn’t had a singles match on pay-per-view since 2016. She noted that she’s been working hard since then, and she’s obviously looking to silence those critics via her performance in this match. I hope she can. As for the outcome, again, they just put the title on Carmella and it seems premature to have Charlotte regain it. My guess is we get some interference by the Iiconics that leads to the champion keeping her title.
Carmella retains the the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass: This is a big test for Cass in terms of showing what he can do while in the ring with an elite wrestler. I’d like to think that WWE officials want to put Bryan over strong this early in his return from a lengthy medical leave. At the same time, I could see them opting to put more heat on Cass by having him steal a win from Bryan to keep the feud going. I don’t have a strong feeling about the outcome, so I’ll go with the babyface going over and the heel getting his heat back with an attack either right after the match or on Tuesday’s Smackdown.
Daniel Bryan wins.
Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn: WWE took a strange approach to setting up this match by having Strowman pin Owens in a six-man tag match on Monday’s Raw. Could that be a tell that they actually intend to have the heel duo go over in this match due to some sort of issue between Strowman and Lashley? I haven’t been shy about pointing out that Lashley is a better heel than a babyface. Rather than fantasy book, I’ll make this prediction as if I actually had money on the line by playing it safe.
Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley win.
Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton for the U.S. Championship: This would be the least predictable match of the night if they actually go to a clean finish. My guess is that we don’t get a clean finish because Shelton Benjamin interferes or they brawl to a double count-out or something along those lines.
Jeff Hardy retains the U.S. Title without actually getting clean pinfall win.
Bayley vs. Ruby Riott (Kickoff Show): I’d have a lot more interest in this match if Sarah Logan, Liv Morgan, and Sasha Banks were all banned from ringside. Obviously, they are telling a story involving the Riott Squad having the numbers advantage while Bayley and Banks continue to act like petulant children. I was really hoping for a Banks heel turn, but this all seems to be leading toward Bayley and Banks getting back on the same page to fight off the trio. I doubt that happens on the Kickoff Show, so I assume this is more of what we’ve been getting with the numbers advantage helping Riott.
Ruby Riott wins.
Check out the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell below for an interview with Shawn Daivari fresh off his appearance at the WWE Greatest Royal Rumble event.