WWE Backlash 2017 airs live from Chicago, Illinois this Sunday, May 21st on the WWE Network. It’s the first Smackdown Live exclusive pay-per-view since WrestleMania and the Superstar shake-up. Depending on how you look at it, it’s either a very interesting card or a lackluster one. To me it looks like a show with the potential for a lot of great wrestling right up until the main event. Throw in one of WWE’s most famously vocal live crowds and we could be in for an interesting night.
Here’s your complete WWE Backlash 2017 card, but remember the card is subject to change. They could always add Mojo Rawley Vs. Konnor from The Ascension at the last minute.
WWE Backlash 2017:
- WWE Championship Match: Randy Orton (c) vs. Jinder Mahal
- WWE United States Championship Match: Kevin Owens (c) vs. AJ Styles
- Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos (c) vs. Breezango
- Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler
- Naomi, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch vs. The Welcoming Committee (Natalya, Carmella, and Tamina Snuka)
- Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin
- Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan
- Kickoff Match: Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English
As always, we’ve put together the NWO of internet smarks to share our analysis and predictions for all eight matches. After you’ve read what we think, go down to our comments section and tell us how you see Sunday’s show playing out.
Here’s what we want to see happen and what we think will happen at WWE Backlash.
Kickoff Match: Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English
What Should Happen: Aiden somehow pulls this off. Maybe Tye slips on tears English cried earlier in the match allowing Aiden to take advantage and get the pin. Come on WWE, it’s the Backlash pre-show – you can give Aiden English a win. Dillinger can afford the lose. He has a chant people love doing so he’ll be fine. English is good. He has a proven track record of taking outside the box gimmicks farther then most people could. It’s only been a few weeks since he’s become the crying drama king and it’s already something I look forward to seeing on the show. Give him more screen time and see what he does with it. Aiden English could be more for Smackdown than just an overly emotional Curt Hawkins.
What Will Happen: They are going to have a longer and more competitive version of the same match we’ve seen them have on Smackdown. Tye is going to win the third of what will probably be ten straight victories over Aiden English stretched out over various pay-per-view pre-shows and Smackdown Live episodes for months to come. Dillinger will eventually have to beat someone on the main roster other than Aiden English but for now WWE seems to be in no rush.
Bill Hanstock — Aiden English is getting a PPV singles match! Kinda! Obviously this ends with Dillinger winning and making English cry again, but I’m fine with that. Let’s let these two semi-unsung (no pun intended) NXT heroes get their day in the sun. Wild stat: Depending on how you’re counting it, there are between 11 and 14 NXT alums on this PPV. THE SYSTEM WORKS.
Chris Trew — If you knew how many times I have played Tye Dillinger’s entrance theme first thing in the morning you would know the answer to this question. I am not reasonable.
Danielle Matheson — Tye Dillinger is a St. Kitt’s boy done good, and I think they’d take away my passport if I didn’t pick him.
Scott Heisel — Tye’s come out on top for their first two meetings, so it stands to reason that Aiden English should at least eke out one victory, right? Either way, I expect to hear English’s singing drowned out by 15,000 drunken Chicagoans chanting, “CM PUNK! CM PUNK!”
Brandon Stroud — Tye Dillinger’s character was made to lose, but he’s been winning. Aiden English has been losing, and brooding. To me, all signs point to English doing something shitty to pull out an unfair victory during the kickoff, and probably crying (but with joy this time) after the win. Honestly? I just want to see singles star Aiden English winning matches and being a thing on WWE TV for longer than a cycle so I can stop convincing myself I willed it into existence.
Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan
What Should Happen: After a long hard hitting match the two men should embrace, raise each others arms, and declare that the family is reunited. The tag team of Harper & Rowan go on to help rebuild the Smackdown tag team division as they have great matches with American Alpha and Breezango before finally winning the belts from the Uso’s. Why not? It’s not like they are doing anything else with these guys.
What Will Happen: If they are given enough leeway and the time they need these guys could end up having the sleeper hit of the show. I’m not sure why no one seems to be excited about this match. Have you all forgotten that Luke Harper is fantastic? These guys work really well together. I see no reason why this shouldn’t be great. It feels like they are putting the spotlight a little more on Rowan right now than Harper. He has this new Steampunk Sheep Clown thing he’s doing, so I’m picking him to win.
Bill Hanstock — Okay, sure. Rowan won a match against Harper on Smackdown recently, so why not? Hopefully this is used as a showcase for Harper, and hopefully Rowan can show us something new from his repertoire. Harper wins, and then I dunno, put HIM with Ziggler for a while.
Chris Trew — Just want to say I’m happy these guys finally get to show off their chemistry in the ring together. I bet they would make a decent tag team too. Really excellent pairing here that I think is really gonna turn some heads.
Danielle Matheson — Luke Harper, unless we get a run in (roll in?) from GHOST TRACTOR. In which case my money is, as always, on GHOST TRACTOR.
Scott Heisel — Couldn’t care less about either of these two guys. Honestly, and maybe this is an unpopular opinion, but I think they should both be taken off TV, completely repackaged and kept as far away from one another as possible. End the Wyatt Family feud now, for the betterment of America.
Brandon Stroud — I’m okay with this being added to the card as long as Rowan doesn’t debut any new spooktacular powers and make the ring look like a bunch of wine bottles. Luke Harper should roll, clean, unless someone on the Smackdown creative team has dementia and we’re turning Rowan into the next Jinder Mahal.
Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin
What Should Happen: Sami Zayn should win this match clean. And not by some kind of fluke or because Baron messed up and he capitalizes. Sami should out wrestle Corbin and pin him. I’m tired of one of the best wrestlers in the world being made to be a lovable loser. It’s not like they are trying to protect Corbin. He has lost to everyone in the last few months. Orton, Styles, Ambrose. A clean lose to Sami could be used as the last straw that causes Corbin to get his stuff together.
What Will Happen: Probably a lot of sliding in and out of the ring by Baron Corbin. This should be another under the radar great match. Corbin works really well with smaller guys and Sami works really well with everyone. As I mentioned before, Corbin has been on a bit of a losing streak the last few months. WWE math dictates that it’s time for him to get a strong win. Who better to give him that win but Sami? That’s what he does right now.
Bill Hanstock — Poor, poor Sami. Only here to serve up those Ls. Barry C is the future (of Smackdown main event heels), and he needs to keep having something significant to do. Sometimes “something significant” just means “beating Sami Zayn on PPV.”
Chris Trew — Baron Corbin, future Money in the Bank winner, is winning this match just like he’s going to eventually win over all of your hearts when he walks down the ramp at Wrestlemania New Orleans next year with 50 lone wolves riding motorcycles alongside him.
Danielle Matheson – Sami. Bonus points if Samoa Joe shows up and also claims to have picked up the win.
Scott Heisel — My wife is a huge Sami Zayn fan and roots for him relentlessly. She always asks me, “Why does Sami Zayn always lose?” I tell her it’s because is someone people root for relentlessly, so it doesn’t matter if he wins. This makes her sad, but she still roots for him relentlessly. Sorry, Sami. Have fun staring at the lights Sunday night.
Brandon Stroud — Like Tye Dillinger, Sami Zayn is made to lose. I’m going to say Zayn gets a surprise victory out of nowhere, though, to enrage Baron Corbin and keep the beef going. Nothing says “Sami Zayn gets an empty victory to build to a second match where he gets his ass obliterated” like him personally requesting to fight a guy bigger than him. Say hi to your Strowman for me.
Naomi, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch vs. The Welcoming Committee (Natalya, Carmella, and Tamina Snuka)
What Should Happen: This should be a one-on-one singles match between Naomi and any of the other five women. It’s almost June and the Smackdown Live Women’s Championship has only been defended in one singles match on pay-per-view this year. The rest of the shows have had six-person tag matches and a six-pack challenge. If the blue women’s belt is ever going to be on the level of the red one, they are going to have to have a series of strong one-on-one pay-per-view title matches to get it there. This feels more like a match that should be on Smackdown Live than Backlash.
What Will Happen: A lot of people think this match will end up being a good old fashion Flair ruse and Charlotte will end up turning on her team. That feels logical but I don’t think they are going to do it. If anyone is turning, it’s going to be Becky, but I don’t think that will happen Sunday either. I see a good but typical six-person tag match taking place with Carmella pinning Naomi again, just like she did this week on Smackdown. Carmella and Naomi will go on to feud over the belt while Becky and Charlotte continue with their uneasy alliance for a few months before Becky finally turns on her.
Bill Hanstock — I would like to go on record as saying that “The Welcoming Committee” is actually a badass name for a stable, and I don’t care if that makes you think less of me. The bad guys will win when Charlotte turns on Naomi and Becky and proves that you should
never trust a Flair. And then the Welcoming Committee becomes the actual in-canon Four Horsewomen.
Chris Trew — Can I say how intrigued I am by this entire angle? Can I also say that The Welcoming Committee should wreck shop? Can I be in The Welcoming Committee?
Danielle Matheson — You’ve got three of arguably the best WWE has to offer vs two generational wrestlers whose generational finishers still somehow look like total dogshit, and a submission finisher so convoluted its set-up is as awkward to watch as a T-Rex trying to execute a Killswitch. I like Carmella and I’m happy to see Tamina back in action, but if their team wins wrestling is fake.
Scott Heisel — Is it too early to predict the Charlotte heel turn? No? Okay, Charlotte gives the big boot to Naomi and Natalya scores the pin.
Brandon Stroud — This is where Charlotte randomly turns on Naomi and Becky, right? Time Warner Cable wins, because if they don’t, they are pretty embarrassing.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler
What Should Happen: This match should close the show. Over the years Backlash has been home to some of the biggest WWE main roster debut matches in history. Brock Lesnar and his grandpa Goldberg both had their first matches on WWE television at Backlash Pay-Per-Views.
This Sunday we will see what is arguably the biggest Backlash debut yet. I know it’s been watered down a bit by the year he spent retired in Florida but Shinsuke Nakamura’s first match in WWE proper is a big deal and it should be treated that way. A great way to do that would be to have it end the show.
It may not be the best match on the show (that will probably be Owens/Styles), and it’s not a title match, but it will probably end up being the most talked-about match of the show, and unless Mahal is winning the belt, I can’t imagine a more talked about ending than Nakamura destroying Ziggler and the show going off the air with the announcers talking about how Nakamura is now in the WWE and nothing is ever going to be the same.
What Will Happen: A great match that no matter how good it is, people are going to be disappointed with for some reason.
Bill Hanstock — These two are going to try like hell to recapture the magic of Zayn vs. Nakamura, and they’re almost certainly not going to live up to it. WWE made everyone wait way too long for Nakamura’s first main roster match, so it’s just important that we get past it and move on to him actually doing things. Nakamura wins, unless Ziggler gets frustrated and kicks him in the dick and then we have to do this AGAIN.
Chris Trew — Hold on, booking a flight to Vegas right now to pick up a Golden Nights shirt and to place my life savings on Shinsuke Nakamura pinning Ziggler clean.
Danielle Matheson — Virginia Woolf one said “Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more.” Thanks Dolph.
Scott Heisel — How bummed is Corey Graves that f*cking Byron Saxton gets to call the first Kinshasa on the main roster? Nak for the win.
Brandon Stroud — Nakamura knees Ziggler so hard he does two backflips. After the match, Ziggler holds the back of his head for some reason and cuts a promo about how he’s the best in this business but for real and all he needs is an opportunity. Bonus points if Ziggler sells for a monkey dressed like Nakamura.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos (c) vs. Breezango
What Should Happen: I’m not sure what should happen. My heart is playing games with my mind. My brain says the Usos should win. It doesn’t make sense for Breezango to get the belts here but I want them to so bad. These guys are both so good, and before they found each other I was extremely worried they would be future endeavored. Now suddenly they are contenders and nothing would make me happier to see them win those belts.
What Will Happen: I think Breezango may just win this one. I’m not convinced they are leaving Chicago with the belts but I think they’ll be victorious. The WWE has done such a great job building Breezango up over the last month that I don’t see them simply losing to the Usos.
Bill Hanstock — Boy, I would absolutely love for the fashion police to take this one. There’s a strong chance that I’m wrong, but I see the Usos retaining. They’re too dastardly and vicious, and besides, the New Day is waiting in the wings to come in and hold the Smackdown titles for god knows how long. Usos retain, but Breezango gets their first showcase match ever, and that’s a great step forward.
Chris Trew — The Usos squash Breezango across the board. Better music, a better walk to the ring, better move set, and they are also probably better at dancing and posing although they’ll never let us know because they are also way better at playing it cool.
Danielle Matheson — Me: “I find it hard to get emotionally invested in most WWE programming.” Also me: “If Breezango loses I will personally burn WWE headquarters to the ground.” Breezango wins or one of you supplies me with an ironclad alibi.
Scott Heisel — I’ve loved the Breezango pairing ever since it started, so to see them finally get elevated has been thrilling for those of us who love comedy jobbers. The Usos have been straight fire on the mic the past two weeks, though, so I see them retaining for now — but I
wouldn’t rule out a rematch and a title swap on Smackdown Live next Tuesday.
Brandon Stroud — This is the one I’m looking forward to the most. I’m looking forward to this more than I’ve looked forward to any WWE pay-per-view match this year, oddly. The Usos are God-tier right now, and Tyler Breeze and Fandango have been among the most underappreciated talents (and comedic talents) on the roster for years. This has story, build, and purpose. I want the Usos to retain, but I want Breezeango to find great victory in defeat, and continue to build themselves as a tag team until they get a moment they truly deserve. One day, they will be H.
WWE United States Championship Match: Kevin Owens (c) vs. AJ Styles
What Should Happen: This should be, hands down, match of the night. I can’t imagine it won’t be. Two of the best wrestlers in the world meeting at around the peaks of their careers. It’s a shame that the feud has been uneventful because a little more drama and higher stakes can always help make a great match a classic but these guys are good enough that they may not need the help.
What Will Happen: It will be the match of the night. This is a tough one for me to call. I could see this going either way. I think AJ Styles is winning the belt. It feels like that’s the direction WWE wants to go. Whoever wins, I think the loser will end up winning the briefcase at Money In The Bank.
Bill Hanstock — I think it’s way too early in the “New Face of America” gimmick for Owens to drop his precious United Sates Championship. I believe he will retain via underhandedness, and we’ll keep this feud going for one more cycle. Besides, the next Smackdown-branded event is Money in the Bank, and there’s no way we’re going to accept AJ Styles not being in a MITB match for the second year in a row. (Not that he needs it; we just want to see him in that match.)
Chris Trew — Kevin Owens is my church and AJ Styles is my preacher. I’m not a religious person so I don’t know if that makes any sense but what I’m trying to say is that Kevin Owens needs the title and AJ does not. Keep it on Kev.
Danielle Matheson — In the debate over which kind of wrestling is better or more valid than others, I think we can all agree that DAD FIGHTS are better than almost anything else. This one is a tough call. My heart says AJ, but my DAD FIGHTS heart says Owens. Owens it is.
Scott Heisel — BOTH THESE GUYS! BOTH THESE GUYS! But in actuality, KO is gonna win, and it’s gonna be a goddamn barn-burner — part of me thinks this could actually be the main event of Backlash.
Brandon Stroud — Hot take: this will probably be pretty good. Picking Owens to retain, because I’d hate to see the Face of America lose the “America” part so quickly again after stutter-stepping in the feud with Jericho.
WWE Championship Match: Randy Orton (c) vs. Jinder Mahal
What Should Happen: Randy Orton should do something new. Anything. Something that’s outside of his wheelhouse. Something that makes me think that just maybe I haven’t seen everything Randy has to offer. Something to give me hope that not every Randy Orton WWE title defense this summer is going to be the exact same match until we get to SummerSlam.
Randy has been doing the same old same old for over a decade now. At least Cena added a sixth move eventually. Not Randy. The only thing new you will see in a Randy Orton match is the slightly different way his opponent is going to jump into the RKO. The Viper has gotten stale and by grounding him with people who are fun to watch like Styles, Zayn, and Nakamura he comes off as even more boring.
What Will Happen: A lot of boring chants during those headlocks Randy Orton makes so much money doing. This match will probably be pretty good. Randy has a tendency to only be as good has his opponent in matches like this, and if you don’t step up to the plate neither will he. But I think Jinder Mahal will. Jinder has worked hard to get back on the roster and put himself in a position where when they needed someone like him, he was ready to be that guy. I think he knows he will have to have the best match he has ever had if he wants to stay there. In the end Orton will win. There is no way he is going to lose his first title defense.
Bill Hanstock — This is the very rare case of not REALLY knowing whether the “no chance of winning” guy is actually going to win the world title. Much has been made of WWE’s new business partnerships in India, and the thought that might influence the result of this match.
You also have to factor in the high chance of shenanigans with the Singh Brothers at ringside. But I think ultimately, no. Jinder will not capture a world title before Cesaro does. Randy wins with an RKO and we move on to the next one. Rusev, maybe?
Chris Trew — This reminds me of that time Hardcore Holly fought Big Show at the Royal Rumble for the title. Only difference is back then I did not tailgate and get homemade Hardcore Holly airbrush shirts. Jinder me, baby.
Danielle Matheson — Boy, this sure is a match that’s happening. Can I say GHOST TRACTOR again? Aw, f*ck it. Jinder wins, and I find out about it the next day ‘cuz I chugged a bunch of NyQuil after the tag match and was asleep by the time the bell rang. HEAR THAT, STAMFORD PD? I WAS ASLEEP IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRY I DIDN’T DO IT
Scott Heisel — Jinder Mahal certainly isn’t the most unworthy challenger for the WWE World Championship of all time (I mean, James Ellsworth got a shot six months ago), but there is a chance, however minute, that they put the belt on him, which is bonkers. I can’t recall a time where a guy went from enhancement talent to the main event so quickly, and without the natural crowd reaction to support it. Then again, people do love booing this guy, but it’s borderline Vickie Guerrero heat already. Randall scores the victory, but I don’t think this feud is over.
Brandon Stroud —
Bray: “I had two of the worst Randy Orton matches in history.”
Jinder: “Hold my beer.”
Unless Jinder Mahal’s been secretly training at Dragon Gate and is gonna bust out a bunch of high-speed, high-flying offense to pay off Orton’s feud with the independent circuit, this is going to be a Jinder Mahal match. You’ve never seen a really great one, and God bless him, I don’t think you ever will. He’s that local heavyweight at your indie show that everybody knows but nobody gets excited about, who calls the crowd stupid so everyone can boo and a popular guy can beat him up. Except competing for the WWE Championship. In the main event of a WWE pay-per-view.
Part of me really wants Jinder to win this, just for the absurdity of WWE Champion Jinder Mahal, but I’ll go with Orton after 12 minutes of underwhelming stomping.
Now It’s Your Turn
We want to hear from you. What do you want to see happen at Backlash? What don’t you want to see? What are your predictions? Drop down into our comments section below to tell us and the rest of the internet. Then come back here on Sunday for live coverage, an open discussion thread and results.