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WWE Backlash 2016: Pay-per-view Analysis and Predictions

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WWE Backlash is scheduled to take place on Sunday, September 11, 2016 in Richmond, Virginia. It will be the first brand specific pay-per-view for WWE following the return of the brand split that took place in July 2016. The twelfth installment of the Backlash pay-per-view will create history with the crowning of the first ever SmackDown Women’s and Tag team champions.

The card comprises of six matches where four titles will be on the line during the course of the event. In this article, I shall look at all six matches and predict the possible outcomes and winners.

The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) vs. The Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley) in a tag team match to determine the finalist for the tag team tournament to crown the SmackDown Tag team champions

Initially, American Alpha beat the Usos to book a spot in the finals of the tournament against Heath Slater and Rhyno. However, after the contest, the Usos attacked American Alpha and injured Chad Gable, turning heel in the process and ruling American Alpha out of the tournament finals. This match was then set for the pay-per-view, with the winner of the contest advancing to the finals of the tournament.

Although the Hype Bros are on a hot streak, WWE just turned the Usos heel and their heel antics following the match against American Alpha means that the company is rooting for them to grab the other finalist’s slot. The Usos winning also makes it easier from a storyline perspective since WWE would want a heel vs. face match in the finals of the tag team tournament. Heath Slater has been over as a babyface with the crowd and WWE would want a heel team against him and Rhyno in the finals. Hence, the Usos winning makes perfect sense in this scenario.

Author’s prediction: The Usos win this bout and advance to the finals of the tournament.

The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler for the WWE Intercontinental Championship

Can the Miz retain his IC title against Ziggler?

WWE has not done a good job with the buildup to this bout. The storyline did not explain why Ziggler, after losing to Ambrose for the WWE World title at SummerSlam suddenly decided to pursue the Intercontinental title.

Miz on the other hand, has been a spectacular heel up to this point. His heel shenanigans has helped him receive heat from the crowd. On the August 23 edition of Talking Smack, his promo against the SmackDown General Manager, Daniel Bryan blurred the lines between kayfabe and reality as well as putting the spotlight on him. Ziggler then called Miz coward time and again during the next two editions of SmackDown forcing Miz to slap him during Miz’s match against Apollo Crews on the September 6 edition of SmackDown.

While WWE has scheduled yet another Miz vs. Ziggler match for the IC title, they have totally ignored their IC title bouts from 2014 where both the superstars traded the title between themselves during the feud. A mention of their past bouts and how Ziggler won the title from Miz twice back then would have been a nice plot to their current storyline.

Despite the lackluster buildup, trust these superstars to pull off a good bout again on a pay-per-view. Nevertheless, the feud needs to end here as the crowd are not invested into this at all. Additionally, the Miz has been a top notch heel for the blue brand and deserves a longer run with the title. Thus, it would be foolish for the creative to book his loss in this bout.

Author’s prediction: The Miz retains the IC title.

Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch vs. Nikki Bella vs. Natalya vs. Carmella vs Naomi for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship in a Six-pack elimination challenge match 

WWE SmackDown Women's Championship Six-pack elimination challenge match
Who will walk away with the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship at Backlash?

The creative has made a total mess of the SmackDown women’s division. They put everyone in the division into the title picture in a clumsy manner. There was no qualifying tournament for the new women’s title, unlike the tag team championship for the blue brand. Hence, new talents like Carmella and Alexa Bliss are suddenly in contention to win the top prize of the women’s division for SmackDown without having to prove themselves to the audience.

There is no clear storyline for this match, rather interesting subplots to which WWE must capitalize on, to make this match interesting for the WWE Universe.  Also, the addition of former Divas champion Nikki Bella adds value to the division and the title match. The buildup to the match has only seen the faces teaming up to wrestle the heels twice and promos from each of the competitors as to why they think they deserve to be the inaugural champion.

Becky seems to be the most eligible candidate to win the title since she has put on stellar performances up to this point, including her triple threat match against Charlotte and Sasha Banks at Wrestlemania 32 for the Women’s title. It would be intriguing to see her beat Natalya last to win the title; do not forget that their personal rivalry is far from over. WWE could also book her to pin Nikki last. Nikki is the longest reigning Divas champion and a clean win over her would cement Becky as the top dog of the women’s division in the blue brand.

Author’s prediction: Becky Lynch becomes the inaugural WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion

The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno; Tag team tournament final for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship

Heath Slater has changed WWE’s plans quite surprisingly. He has been so over with the crowd after his confrontation with Brock Lesnar that WWE simply decided to shift focus on him and his partner, Rhyno during the buildup to the Tag team tournament final.

Slater and Rhyno are only a win away from becoming the inaugural SmackDown Tag team champions
Slater and Rhyno are only a win away from becoming the inaugural SmackDown Tag team champions

The crowd is strongly behind Heath and Rhyno for this match. The stipulation says that they must win in order for Heath to get the SmackDown contract. Although their bouts have not been great up to this point, the creative can book a strong heel vs. face bout in the final of the tournament.

The heels should dominate for most part of the bout and almost end Heath’s hopes of getting the contract. Rhyno should be tagged in later into the bout and he should go on a rampage from then onward. It would be marvelous to see Heath Slater get the pin for his team, thus winning the SmackDown Tag titles and securing a contract that would allow him to provide for his family.

Heath and Rhyno can then go on to be a polarizing tag team like Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan) with Rhyno costing Heath the title later into their reign, thus setting up a big match between themselves at Survivor Series.

Author’s prediction: Heath Slater & Rhyno win the WWE SmackDown Tag team titles and Heath gets his SmackDown contract

Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt in a Singles match

Will Orton be able to stop the Eater of the Words at Backlash?
Will the Viper be able to stop the Eater of the Worlds at Backlash?

There has not been any physical confrontation between Wyatt and Orton prior to this match. Verbal exchanges have been the only means to set up their bout for Backlash. Both Orton and Wyatt have put on stellar matches before and Backlash will be no different.

It will be a hard-hitting bout with both the superstars tearing each other up. WWE would be foolish to end their feud just after this bout. This can be a three-match feud with the final bout being scheduled to take place at Survivor Series with a No Holds Barred or Last Man Standing stipulation.

For the time being, the creative team should book Orton to win this match. Orton lost to Lesnar by TKO at SummerSlam and WWE already announced their rematch that is scheduled to take place at the WWE Live Event at Chicago on September 24. Orton needs some momentum heading into that match and the way forward is by beating Wyatt at Backlash. However, Wyatt should emerge victorious at the end of this feud that will lead to him being one of the top heels of the blue brand.

Author’s prediction: Randy Orton defeats Bray Wyatt

Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles for the WWE World Championship in a Singles match

Who will walk away with the top prize of the company at Backlash?
Can Ambrose fend off AJ Styles to retain the WWE World title at Backlash?

The main event will feature two of the top superstars of this generation battling it out for the top prize of the company. Dean’s run as a champion was great until the brand split. He put on stellar matches against his Shield buddies, Reigns and Rollins.  But ever since the brand split, the title reign has fallen flat. His title reign has lacked energy.

Styles on the other hand,  has received positive reactions from the crowd for his promos as well as his matches in SmackDown despite being a heel. He also has huge momentum going into this match after defeating John Cena in their feud at SummerSlam. Styles mentioning this victory in the promos has made him a credible threat to Dean’s title reign.

It would be foolish on the creative’s part to pull the trigger on Dean’s title reign this early. They can however, inject energy into the title reign by having Ambrose turn heel during the match. Dean’s lunatic fringe character has run its course and he needs a heel turn to bring depth to his character as well as to elongate his title reign. The heel turn would shock the crowd as well and they would now be more interested to tune in to SmackDown Live next Tuesday to see what Ambrose does afterwards.

The other choice that WWE has is simply let Styles beat Ambrose either clean or by shenanigans. It would do injustice to Dean’s title reign and character since he would not garner much sympathy from the crowd after such a finish. Additionally, it would be a huge mistake to book a disqualification/no-contest finish in the first ever brand specific pay-per-view since this brand split. Hence, a Dean Ambrose heel turn leading to him retaining the title is what’s best for business!

Author’s prediction: Ambrose turns heel and retains the WWE World Championship

WWE only got three weeks after SummerSlam to build up storylines for Backlash. Although the creative has not done much to further the storylines, it will be up to the wrestlers to put on classic bouts and take the plots further. They undoubtedly have the capability to do so. It will be quite interesting to see what unfolds this Sunday at Backlash and which superstars stand tall after their respective bouts!

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