DON “THE PREDICTOR” MURPHY — PREVIEW & ANALYSIS OF WWE “BACKLASH”

Posted May 5th, 2018 by 1Wrestling News Team

“THE PREDICTOR” PREDICTS: WWE BACKLASH 2018

By Don “The Predictor” Murphy

If there’s supposed to be a post-WrestleMania lag, you’d never know it by the pace the company is keeping.  On the heels of a marathon event in Saudi Arabia last Friday, comes WWE Backlash, emanating from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey this coming Sunday night.  This is the first pay-per-view (aside from the “big four”) to feature both Raw and Smackdown brand matches, which I think is a needed change.  The product tends to oversaturate the market.  Separate brand pay-per-views within 1-2 weeks of each other was getting to be too much.  I’m hoping this approach leads to better storyline builds, with more matches that mean something.  With that ramble out of the way, let’s run down the card!

WWE Championship Match/No Disqualification: AJ Styles defends the WWE Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura

Topline Thoughts: If you read my preview for their match at the Greatest Royal Rumble, you’ll remember that I was hoping for the performance we all know they are capable delivering.  I’m still waiting and I’m hoping Sunday night is the night. Don’t get me wrong, their match in Saudi Arabia was better than their match at WrestleMania, but it just hasn’t captured the magic of their 2016 encounter in Tokyo, Japan. As for the result, I fear that too many Styles wins, or non-finishes will burn this storyline out, and I believe these two can carry this throughout the summer.  To take this to the next level, I thinking this is the time to put the title on Nakamura, putting Styles into chase mode and building to a final showdown at SummerSlam in August.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Shinsuke Nakamura wins the WWE Championship

WWE Intercontinental Championship Match: Seth Rollins defends the WWE Intercontinental Championship against the Miz

Topline Thoughts: There are a couple of matches on the Backlash card signed prior to the Superstar Shakeup, to close out a couple of programs.  This is one of them.  While it will be a solid outing with Rollins likely going over, it’s what happens post-Backlash that intrigues me.  Rollins is a fantastic performer in the ring and on the mic, and I like how he’s being positioned as the “working” champion, with Brock Lesnar on a limited schedule. I’m hoping that elevates him back to main event status, but in the very least, he is making the Intercontinental title more credible.  For the Miz, I have no doubt that he’s on to great things on Smackdown, with a high-profile program with Daniel Bryan in the future.  Plus, it looks like they may be putting him with Cass down the road, which elevates Cass up the card as well.  So, this will be a good program ending and the trajectory for these two is looking good.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Seth Rollins retains the WWE Intercontinental Championship

WWE United States Championship Match: Jeff Hardy defends the WWE United States Championship against Randy Orton

Topline Thoughts: While this match has been thrown together over the past two weeks, I have no doubt it will be a solid effort by two legacy stars.  It really hasn’t been established why these two have a gripe with each other, other than Hardy holding the title, which I suppose is reason enough.  Post-Backlash, I think Hardy is in the middle of one more big push up the ladder, as he’s shown to have some more mileage in the tank.  With Orton, you know what you’re getting – the good and the bad.  Could they pull another Orton heel turn here?  Sure.  Will it mean anything in the long run?  It will be another twist in the story, but nothing we haven’t seen before.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Jeff Hardy retains the WWE United States Championship

WWE Raw Women’s Championship Match: Nia Jax defends the WWE Raw Women’s Championship against Alexa Bliss

Topline Thoughts: As I’ve said before, Alexa Bliss is one of the best heels in the company.  Even without a physical altercation over the last several weeks, she’s managed to build anticipation for this match, positioning Nia as the bully, while getting jabs in at the same time.  I do think they should do a better job at building Nia as a babyface and giving the fans a reason to rally behind her, much like they did going in to WrestleMania.  Perhaps this will be the next step after the program with Bliss concludes.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Nia Jax retains the WWE Raw Women’s Championship

WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship Match: Carmella defends the WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship against Charlotte Flair

Topline Thoughts: I’m hoping they give Carmella a run with the title before moving it off of her.  What she lacks in the ring, she makes up for by playing an obnoxious pest heel that you want to see the babyface get her hands on.  This won’t be a mat classic, but it will be fun.  I’m not sure if her association with Billie Kay and Peyton Royce is a real thing, but I expect them to play a role in the finish.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Carmella retains the WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship

Singles Match: Roman Reigns meets Samoa Joe

Topline Thoughts: This is another cross-brand match that looks to end this program.  While Reigns is due for a win after back-to-back losses by Brock Lesnar, I really think Joe needs the win here, clean or not, so that he can begin programs on Smackdown from a place of being dominant.  Moving forward, there are several big programs that await him, including AJ Styles (which seems to be starting) and Daniel Bryan.  For Reigns, it looks like the Lesnar program will continue, but it’s unclear who will be his primary opponent before that time.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Samoa Joe defeats Roman Reigns

Singles Match: Daniel Bryan meets Big Cass

Topline Thoughts: Cass is a work is progress, and while I like what I’ve seen so far, I don’t think he’s ready for the definitive victory over Bryan.  This is likely the beginning of a lengthy program and I see Cass getting disqualified or counted out, which will lead to a post-match attack on Bryan.  He’s also not the best worker, so pairing with Bryan will give him needed experience.  It will just be interesting to see if Bryan can lead Cass to a better than average match.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Daniel Bryan defeats Big Cass (likely by DQ)

Tag Team Match: Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens meet Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley

Topline Thoughts: It seems odd to me that these four were thrown together after Monday night, with no storyline build.  All four have tremendous upside and Strowman is arguably the top babyface in the company.  I’m hoping this is temporary because right now they appear to be lost in the shuffle.  Having a lot of talent is a nice problem to find, but when someone gets over, or can get someone over, a good creative team needs to find ways to include them in meaningful storylines.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley defeat Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens

Pre-Show/Singles Match: Bayley meets Ruby Riott

Topline Thoughts: I’m hoping the Riott Squad finds new life on Raw, but so far, it seems to be more of the same.  In addition, Bayley and Sasha Banks have been stuck in meaningless programs since the beginning of 2018.  It looks like the goal is to bring them back together to fend off the Squad, and I’m hoping that takes place here, or at least soon, so that we can move on.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Bayley defeats Ruby Riott

Follow me on Twitter: @don424

Category: Wrestling.

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