WWE Backlash 2016: Preview & Predictions

The first Smackdown Live-branded PPV takes place this Sunday when the stars of the “blue brand” compete at WWE Backlash on the WWE Network. Since the brand split in July, the only PPV that the WWE has held was Summerslam and it featured wrestlers from both Raw and Smackdown Live. Now, Smackdown Live must carry a three-hour show on their own and I am curious to see how they do. Sure, there are two titles on the line and two new championships will be earned, but with only six announced matches, it will be interesting to see how the show goes.

1. The Miz (w/ Maryse) (C) vs. Dolph Ziggler – Singles match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship

The Miz has been on a roll the past couple of weeks since his confrontation with GM Daniel Bryan on Talking Smack. In my opinion, he is one of the best heels the WWE has and the fans just naturally hate the guy. Dolph Ziggler has stepped up to challenge the Intercontinental champ and I’m really not sure how he fit into this situation. He lost to WWE World champ Dean Ambrose at Summerslam and lost a match that would have given him another shot at Ambrose’s title. And now, he is thrown into this feud. As much as I like Ziggler, he seems to be playing the same role he did when the brands were not split and that is a shame. He is a great talent, but I don’t see this title switching tonight. And I actually don’t want to see The Miz lose it just yet. I like his work lately and I want to see it continue.

Winner: The Miz

2. The Usos ( Jimmy & Jey) vs. The Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley) – Tag Team match where the winner in the the Smackdown Tag Team Championship Final

The Usos lost to American Alpha on this week’s Smackdown Live and then turned heel and attacked Jason Jordan and Chad Gable. In this attack, Gable was injured and American Alpha were taken out of the tournament final. Instead, The Usos were given another shot at being in the finals if they can beat The Hype Bros. Ryder and Rawley lost to Heath Slater and Rhyno and have another opportunity to make their way into the finals as well. But I believe The Usos will win here setting up the final match.

Winners: The Usos

3. The Usos (or The Hype Bros) vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno – Tag Team match in the finals of the Smackdown Tag Team Championship Tournament

As I said, I believe this will be The Usos against Slater & Rhyno for the right to be the first-ever Smackdown Tag Team champs. However, whether it is The Usos or The Hype Bros, I am picking Slater and Rhyno to win. The stipulation was set that if Slater’s team won, he would receive a Smackdown Live contract and, in all honesty, he has been one of the highlights of the show every week. Smackdown Live needs more talent and keeping Slater on the show just makes sense. And it gives Rhyno something to do.

Winners: Heath Slater & Rhyno

4. Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton – Singles match

After his big match against Brock Lesnar at Summerslam, Randy Orton returned to Smackdown Live and was immediately the target of Bray Wyatt. Every week since then, the two have traded promos and tried to hype this match up. But personally, I’m a little worried about how this match turns out. Orton lost to Lesnar after being busted open with an elbow to the head and I just have a hard time seeing him lose yet again. And that means that Bray Wyatt, a wrestler with so much potential, will lose again in another big match. He seemingly always loses on the bigger stages and I am afraid that he will take the pin once again. I don’t want that to happen, but I have a bad feeling that nothing will change with Wyatt regardless of the brand split.

Winner: Randy Orton

5. Natalya vs. Carmella vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Nikki Bella vs. Becky Lynch vs. Naomi – Six-Pack Elimination Challenge for the WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship

All of the women on Smackdown Live, except the suspended Eva Marie, will face off to become the first-ever Smackdown Women’s champion. While I still believe that Raw has the better Women’s division, the ladies of Smackdown Live have been very impressive lately. Lynch, Bella, and Natalya have consistently been good in the ring for a while and newcomers Carmella and Bliss have looked better than I thought they would. And for as much as I didn’t like Naomi just a year ago, she definitely has improved and could hold her own in the ring. There are a few good choices here that could win, but my pick is Becky Lynch. She was a big part of the women’s revolution when she debuted on Raw with Charlotte and Sasha Banks and has worked hard since then to always be at the top of the division. And she was the first woman drafted to Smackdown Live and giving her the title would validate that decision. And let’s face it, the other women either don’t need it or have plenty of time to improve and earn the title in the future.

Winner: Becky Lynch

6. Dean Ambrose (C) vs. A. J. Styles – Singles match for the WWE World Championship

I don’t know what happened, but I have been less and less interested in Ambrose’s title reign. I was really excited to see him win the championship at Money in the Bank and just as happy to see him retain the title at Battleground. But since the brand split, things have changed and his title reign is not as interesting anymore. It has nothing to do with him being on Smackdown Live as I watch that just like I do Raw. I’m just not sure what happened. Maybe it is his goofy character on screen. I’m not sure. Something is just not connecting with me. He had an alright match with Ziggler at Summerslam and now faces A. J. Styles, a wrestler that my interest has grown in after a great match with John Cena at Summerslam. Styles really has been the best part of Smackdown Live recently and I think it is time for a title change. As much as I’ve lost interest in Ambrose, I have gained it in Styles. Hopefully, something can change and I can get behind Ambrose again because I do like what he has done for the most part. But I think Styles has earned and deserves the title right now. He can win at Backlash and carry Smackdown as champion for a long time. Despite being with the WWE for less than a year, the time is now for Styles to be one of the faces of the WWE.

Winner: A. J. Styles

Daryl Karpinski, Jr.