SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
PWTorch columnist Pat McNeill is taking a break from his losing fantasy football franchise to cover the WWE Backlash pay-per-view. Join us for his unique point of view. Or don’t.
The usual Hall of Fame panel is here for the Backlash Kickoff show. Lawler doesn’t think the crew is serious enough. And the Richmond Coliseum is a vintage building. Ho hum. Tom Phillips, can you save us? Tom’s interviewing Heath Slater & Rhyno.
The Kickoff Show is also running live on YouTube, which explains the relentless plugs for WWE Network.
I know people hate fantasy booking, but I want to answer the people who were wondering how anyone could possibly make Backlash interesting, given the current Smackdown roster. Well, I would have kept the same card, and moved Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Gran Metalik and Kota Ibushi vs. TJ Perkins up three days and put them on at Backlash. It would put Gabe Sapolsky in bad spot, but you could send, say, Tozawa and Swann up to New York for a Sunday night and call it even.
Anyhoo, time for our Kickoff match. It’s Apollo Crews vs. Baron Corbin in a return bout from NXT London back in December. That commitment to a Smackdown only pay-per-view didn’t even make it through the preshow.
Remember, the only place you can see Randy Orton not wrestle at WWE Backlash tonight is right here on the WWE Network.
Corbin hits the End of Days for the win at about the same time JBL referenced the legendary fighter “Smoking Joe Louis”. Not sure which move was more painful.
Renee Young interviews Nickelodeon’s Jagger Eaton. No, I’m not making this up. Jagger exits the interview without getting Renee’s digits. Rookie move.
Booker picks AJ Styles to win the main event because he’s been in the ring with Styles before. Oh, really? Where did that happen, Book?
We open the pay-per-view with a somber remembrance of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, fifteen years ago today. Then we get highlights from the past four weeks of Smackdown while Shane McMahon plays Buzzword Bingo on the voiceover.
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan open the show by thanking the crowd. I know we’re setting the bar low, but how about we never call the Smackdown crew “Team Blue” again? That’d be a great start.
David Otunga’s the only person here who could get away with calling Naomi the dark horse in this match. Fortunately, he’s the one who said it.
So, the opening match is a six-way for the WWE
Divas, I mean Smackdown Women’s Title. If the Raw belt was designed by Strawberry Shortcake, the Smackdown belt was designed by her good friend Huckleberry Pie.
I hate to say it, but Mauro Ranallo’s better when paired with JBL. With Daniel Bryan, you have two super excited announcers, and that only works on Fox College Football broadcasts.
I enjoyed Mauro putting Alexa Bliss over as the shortest person on the roster. I didn’t believe him until I remembered El Torito had been released.
They’re giving Carmella a lot to do during this match, which is…an interesting choice.
I finally figured out Alexa Bliss’s gimmick. In honor of former PWTorch writer Mark Madden, WWE has made Alexa the Cruiserweight Bully.
Wait, this is an elimination match? Talk about interesting choices. Anyway, Alexa’s gone and Naomi is gone.
Nikki eliminates Nattie with an Argentine backbreaker. Carmella rolls up Nikki and grabs a handful of…um…ah. Anyway, Nikki’s eliminated.
Becky makes Carmella tap to the Disarmer, and the crowd loves it. The right person wins the title.
Miz meets up with Jagger Eaton backstage. Jagger fails to compliment Miz on his awesome Galaxy Quest jumpsuit.
Bray Wyatt beats up Randy Orton backstage. Looks like Randy’s injured. Gee, if only Orton had read the PWTorch homepage, this could have been avoided.
David Otunga points out how stupid it is that the Usos earned another shot in the tournament by injuring Chad Gable. I’m sorry, that made entirely too much sense for the commentary table. Let’s get Booker T warmed up in the bullpen.
It’s the Hype Bros versus The Usos. Actually, this does feel like the second match of a pay-per-view, so mission accomplished.
The Usos hit a double chop block, and one of them makes Zach tap to a half-crab. It’ll be another five months before Ryder turns on Mojo, but it’ll be worth the wait.
Heath Slater’s ready for his team’s big title match. He’s psyched. Oh, by the way, Heath’s wife may have put some bad surimi in the crab dip. But I’m sure that won’t, um, come up during the in-ring segment.
The Miz faces Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental Championship, as we’re in Day 2,830 of Miz’s never ending I/C title reign.
Backstage, Miz wants to renegotiate his deal, or he’s jumping to Raw. Ha! Like Stephanie’s going to pay better than Shane.
If you want to know why I don’t bet on sporting events, go ahead and flip over to NBC for a few seconds. I’ll wait.
This is a longer and surprisingly good match, ending with Maryse spraying the atomizer into Dolph’s eyes to give Miz the win. Can we turn Dolph heel already? Nobody’s going to cheer for him until we do.
We go to the Hall of Fame panel, who laugh at Ziggler for being a chump.
Our next match will be Bray Wyatt against what’s left of Randy Orton. Can’t wait.
Orton can’t get doctor’s clearance, so Bray wins this one by forfeit. Fantastic. Sorry to any of the paying customers out there who wanted a semi main event.
Wait. We DO have a suitable substitution for Randy, and it’s Kane! Kane versus Bray Wyatt in a no holds barred match. It’s better than nothing.
We have serious time to kill, so let’s brawl around the ring and use chairs.
I’m going to answer a question no once has asked. Is anything happening here at Backlash that we couldn’t have done Tuesday night on Smackdown? Not so far.
Bray gets a running start and sentons Kane through the announce table. I stand corrected.
Look, they’re trying, and this isn’t hateful or anything. But we’ve seen Kane versus Bray Wyatt a dozen times. I’m pretty sure the point was to give Orton and Wyatt something new.
Randy hobbles to the ring, hits Wyatt with an RKO from not quite outta nowhere, and Kane gets the win.
AJ Styles makes fun of a couple of indy guys backstage. But unlike the others, at least he’s saying it to their face.
WWE No Mercy returns in four weeks. Really? Do you mean it?
Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. The Usos. The fans, who desperately want something of note to happen, cheer for Slater.
Time for Slater to take the heat. And take it. And…take it.
Fortunately, Rhyno gores an Uso and Slater gets the pin. Slater and Rhyno are your Smackdown tag team champions! I’m really happy for them. Now, we need to do something about the look of those belts…
Interview. Heath Slater plans to celebrate by buying his family a doublewide. That must be quite the contract.
Time for the main event. Dean Ambrose versus AJ Styles for the WWE Title. Now we’re getting somewhere.
This was a crazy match, but not as crazy as what we used to see from Styles in TNA. There’s a ref bump. Styles hits a low blow and a Styles Clash to win the WWE World Heavyweight Title. Believe it or not.
Well, damn. WWE took what looked like a disappointing B show and turned it into an historic occasion. That turned out to be fun. Enjoy the postgame show, and VIP members should stay tuned for the Roundtable, coming up next.