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Can The Mid-Card Save WWE Backlash?
Less than 24 hours after NXT Takeover Chicago, WWE's stand alone brand Smackdown has a chance to blow it out of the water. Being only very good NXT Takeover was one of the weaker NXT Pay Per Views in recent history. The only disadvantage Smackdown has is it's strange choice as main event. We have a stale Randy Orton as WWE Champion taking on Career Mid-Carder Jinder Mahal. WWE seem to only be pushing Jinder because of his 'New' freakish looking physique.
Shinsuke Nakamura v Dolph Ziggler
Dolph enters to a sea of boo's. Shinsuke as usual gets one of the biggest pops in todays WWE. His haunting entrance music always gets the crowd singing along. Both competitors trade holds but Dolph gets phsyical first laying a slap on Shinsuke's face. Nakamura responds not long after with a slap of his own along with some taunting. He hits a big knee on a lifeless Ziggler.
"Ziggler sucks" chants ring out as Dolph has a sleeper on his opponent. The King of Strong Style hits continuous knees to Zigglers legs and head. DDT from Dolph but a kickout from Shinsuke. "Famous'er" finish from the Show Off but a kickout. Zig Zag on Nakamura but the same outcome, he can't put him away before the 3 Count.
A kick to the back of the head sways the momentum towards Dolph but a spit to Nakamura's face swings the advantage back to the crowd favourite. KINSHASA!!!. The finisher from Shinsuke and the 1...2...3. Your winner is Shinsuke Nakamura. This was a good match and great way to kick off a Pay Per View.
AJ Styles is shown backstage. The crowd cheers.
Breezango give us one of there funny "Fashion Files" segments.
Breezango v The Usos for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships
John Bradshaw Layfield refer to the Usos as the tag team of the decade. Definitely the last five years anyway. Tyler Breeze uses his mop as a weapon (shades of Perry Saturn and Moppy!). Breezango are actually getting cheered, when did they even become babyfaces?. Tyler has dressed up as a grandma at ringside, so he is officially a comedy act now. Breeze uses veteran X-Pac's Bronco Buster.
Bradshaw gets hit in the head by some stray grandma clothes. This has turned into complete comedy, the unamusing WWE kind of comedy for 3 year old kids. The teams concentrate on actual wrestling for the last 30 seconds of the match with a flip over the top rope from Fandango but makes the mistake of going back up. He gets flipped off onto the mat and is covered for the win. Usos retain. Pure comedy match that wasn't very entertaining.
Sami Zayn v Baron Corbin
We see footage from Smackdown of Sami Zayn getting beat down. This has turned into a weekly occurence and is starting to make him look like the geeky kid at school who gets beat up all the time. Baron looks quite excited while entering, probably because he already knows Sami is just a stepping stone to greater things (that is the way Zayn is being booked lately anyway).
The first big move of the match is a backflip off the barrier from Sami. Baron continues the beat down from Smackdown. The crowd chant for both men suprisingly. Zayn is favouring his back. Corbin hits a big Back Breaker but can't put his opponent away. "Ole" chants from the crowd but Corbin puts Sami down and warns him to "Stay down!".
Cross body from the top but The Lone Wolf kicks out. Baron is very quick for a big guy which is a formula for successful champions in the WWE (e.g. Brock Lesnar and Batista). Back and forth power moves and kick outs dominate the next few minutes. Helluva kick hits Corbin, the ref counts the 3. This is a suprising win for Zayn purely because of the way he has been booked. Another hurdle for monster Corbin but this shouldn't ruin his momentum. An excellent match.
Jinder Mahal cuts a promo about Chicago hating him, and the world hating him. He claims the world will become believers just like India already are. He is the 'Maharajah!!".
James Ellsworth skips, yes skips into the arena to introduce his "girlfriend" Carmella.
3 on 3 Smackdown Womans Match
So we have the babyfaces Charlotte (wierd that she is a crowd favourite now), Becky Lynch and Naomi versus the heel team of Natalya, Carmella and Tamina. Becky nearly scores a roll up pin early on Natalya. "Whoooo!!" chants when Charlotte tags in. The tags are coming quick but no-one is doing anything exciting.
Carmella steps up and starts doing some good things. She is impressing in a star studded field of diva's. Tamina nearly takes Naomi's head off with a forearm. Snuka's high impact is a stand out. Natalya puts Lynch in the sharp shooter for the tap out. She gets a victory for her team. Very similar to the Wrestlemania Woman's match. Not enough time to make it great.
Kevin Owens v AJ Styles for the US Championship
Highlights are shown of Owens 'Taking out' Chris Jericho so he can go on tour with his band Fozzy. Both men engage in tie ups to start the match. They try to better the other taking it in turn applying headlocks. "Stupid Idiot" chants show that Jericho is missed in the WWE everytime he leaves (he had a spectacular run this time around).
The pace slowly quickens with a few clotheslines and hard punches. Owens applies a sleeper hold slowing the pace down again. Three Senton's to AJ can't keep him down for the 3. Anticipation builds for AJ to unleash with some pace. He delivers with strikes, back hands and kicks. Face slam on Kevin can't keep him down. Kevin counters the Styles Clash but AJ scores with a knee to the back of the head.
Neckbreaker!. Owens folds Styles up like an accordian. Cannonball proves Owens is on top, he is targeting the right leg of The Face That Runs The Place. If AJ is selling a knee injury this means the pace might not pick up and the match could end up being average.
Owens' head bounces off the mat after a big powerbomb from the top rope. They go to the top again this time AJ collides with the mat after a powerbomb. A Suplex to the apron with Owens copping the bump brings "Holy Shit" chants from the crowd. Styles with a Phenomenal Forearm off the announcers table rocks Kevin.
AJ's foot gets tangled in some cables sticking out from the where the announcers sit, he gets counted out and Owen's scores a cheap victory. Unique finish to the match but the contest that showed the most promise on the card didn't really take off. Taking AJ's legs away was tactically great for Kevin but not for the fans.
Eric Rowan v Luke Harper
Not much of a reaction for both men unfortunately. Luke's new look is great. Typical "Big man" match in the first few minutes with either high impact or sleeper holds. Eric starts worrying about his mask ringside sort of like Al Snow used to talk to 'Head'. Harper does a suicide dive landing on Rowan's forehead. Eric hits a powerbomb in the middle of the ring. Luke recovers to hit 2 superkicks and then a running elbow to put the big man down for the pin. Luke wins the battle of the former Wyatt family members.
Randy Orton v Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship
Jinder has that 'Young and Hungry' look to him tonight. Could this be the start of the Maharajah Era. Randy is fresh off trolling the internet community about being successful and not having to wrestle in bingo halls for $80 like some former WWE talent (Bubba Ray Dudley). Randy starts off like a rocket suprising Jinder. The ref even asks if he wants to quit. Randy continues the beat down on the outside of the ring with some ground and pound. Jinder recovers and takes the match back into the ring. Jinder has some support from the crowd, they are enjoying some fresh talent in the main event.
The sleeper holds continue, Randy is favouring his left arm. Orton could really be injured, he has struggled with injuries in the past. Another sleeper hold (perhaps their next match could be a 'sleeper hold' match!). Superplex of the top rope nearly got Randy the cover. Back and forth punches are followed by a couple of clotheslines from the Champion.
Orton looks uncomfortable while moving his arm, can he really sell this good?. Randy teases an RKO but Jinder rolls out of the ring. Randy puts the Singh brothers through the announcer's table, nearly breaking Samir's neck. The Singh Brothers recover to cause a distraction so Jinder can smash Orton's shoulder into the ring post twice. The injury must be a work, he is REALLY convincing at the moment. More distraction from the Singh Brothers enable Mahal to catch Randy unawares, hitting the Khallas to get the 3 count. Randy could not kick out because of his 'injury', Yes it was a work all along. Good job Randy but he loses the title, and your new WWE Champion is...Jinder Mahal!. Parts of the crowd look shocked. The Modern Day Maharajah is the new king in town.
All in all a pretty average main event. With Owens v Styles not living up to expectations and Zayn v Corbin the match of the night, the answer is NO. The mid-card could not save Backlash tonight.