Here we go again. In case you haven’t had enough big shows in the last month, it’s time for Backlash 2018, which isn’t exactly a show that I’m fired up to see. A lot of the matches have been done either at WrestleMania 34 or at the Greatest Royal Rumble, or even both in one case. The show doesn’t have any sizzle to it and the wrestlers seemed spent this week on TV. Hopefully things can pick up on the bigger stage though. Let’s get to it.

Kickoff Show: Bayley vs. Ruby Riott

Does anyone else think this third women’s match was added as an apology for the Greatest Royal Rumble issues? I’m not saying that’s good or bad but it feels like a very real possibility. This is a match designed to help advance another story in the form of Bayley vs. Sasha Banks and that’s perfectly acceptable. Banks vs. Bayley should be outstanding and they’ve both been dealing with Riott on the way there.

The Riott Squad attack Bayley and Sasha Banks: Raw, April 16, 2018

The Riott Squad attack Bayley and Sasha Banks: Raw, April 16, 2018

I’ll take Bayley here as she overcomes the odds of the Riott Squad (and potentially Banks) to set up the big match down the line. That’s going to be the case with another match later on the card and it’s not doing much to make me think that this is more than a pit stop on the way to something more important. This should be a fine match, but nothing that we wouldn’t see on Raw. In other words: it’s perfect for what it’s doing.

Raw Women’s Title: Nia Jax(c) vs. Alexa Bliss

Assuming Bliss is capable of having the match after her recent cosmetic surgery, I’m not sure what to do here. I know the most logical move is to just have Jax squash Bliss once and for all to keep the title, but is that really necessary? Jax got her big win at WrestleMania and honestly, she’s not the most thrilling champion in the world. You get the idea of the character with one look at her and she doesn’t need to be champion to make that work. Bliss is the more versatile star and could be a top star for a long time to come.

Nia Jax tosses Alexa Bliss around the ring like a rag doll: WrestleMania 34 (WWE Network Exclusive)

Nia Jax tosses Alexa Bliss around the ring like a rag doll: WrestleMania 34 (WWE Network Exclusive)

I think I’ve talked myself into it so I’ll go with Bliss regaining the title here. Bliss is the more interesting option as champion and there’s no reason to keep the title on Jax. She got the big title win so just move us on and get back to Bliss having really good matches against the rest of the division. Jax can get the title back to recharge her career later, but the WrestleMania win is all she’s going to need for a long time.

Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass

I’m surprised we haven’t found out that Cass is working for Miz yet. That’s what makes the most sense in the whole thing as Miz can easily say that Cass is an upgrade over the Miztourage (which he is) and that he’s sent Cass to deal with Bryan wanting revenge. At the end of the day, all that matters is getting to Bryan vs. Miz, which should be one of the most entertaining stories in a long time.

Big Cass confronts Daniel Bryan during the Superstar Shake-up: SmackDown LIVE, April 17, 2018

Big Cass confronts Daniel Bryan during the Superstar Shake-up: SmackDown LIVE, April 17, 2018

Of course I’ll go with Bryan though, as there’s no reason to have him lose for a LONG time. Let him go out there and make Cass look better than he has in his entire career and see what he can get out of the big guy. It makes perfect sense and as mentioned, it can keep things moving towards the important matches down the line. Just don’t let Cass kick Bryan in the head too hard. Please?

SmackDown Women’s Title: Carmella(c) vs. Charlotte

Please let me be right on this one. I really don’t want to see Carmella wasting our time as being the champion in over her head who still manages to escape the more talented challengers over and over. She’s the latest example of someone winning the title by way of the mythical briefcase and that’s almost never a good idea to bring someone up to the next level. I know Charlotte has held the title for a long time but I’d take that over Carmella as champion.

Charlotte Flair & Carmella sign contract for their match at Backlash: SmackDown LIVE, April 24, 2018

Charlotte Flair & Carmella sign contract for their match at Backlash: SmackDown LIVE, April 24, 2018

Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening. As much better as Charlotte would be as champion, WWE isn’t likely to be wasting the Money in the Bank cash-in so close to the next Money in the Bank show. Odds are the Iconics cost Charlotte the match here to continue that feud and we move on the someone like Naomi challenging for the title. Hopefully we get the title back on Becky Lynch sooner rather than later, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes some time to get the thing off of Carmella.

Braun Strowman/Bobby Lashley vs. Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens

Pick your favorite reason why this one does nothing for me. Is it because one of the teams has to lose? Maybe because we just saw this match a few weeks back on Raw? Or do you prefer that we could have had Lashley and Strowman win the titles at WrestleMania and skipped the whole Nicholas thing? Either way, I’m not exactly thrilled with this one as every day Strowman isn’t the World Champion or at least chasing the title is another wasted day.

Braun Strowman & Bobby Lashley vs. Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens: Raw, April 23, 2018

Braun Strowman & Bobby Lashley vs. Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens: Raw, April 23, 2018

I’ll go with the monsters winning, but there’s almost a guaranteed split to set up a feud coming up soon. I can’t imagine they’ll win the titles (Lashley is no Nicholas) but I’d rather go with the feud than wasting Strowman in a tag team for months on end. Zayn and Owens would be better options to go after the titles (on their way to the World Title scene that is, whenever Lesnar finally loses the stupid thing) down the line, though for now I’ll have to live with them losing.

United States Title: Jeff Hardy(c) vs. Randy Orton

Well, it worked ten years ago right? Hardy’s singles run is starting to take shape and if it’s anywhere near as successful as it was back in the day, the WWE is sitting on at least a silver mine. He’s still crazy popular and there’s money to be made in pushing him like this (assuming he doesn’t screw the whole thing up again of course). Orton is still flailing around like he’s been doing for years now and while that’s not good, he’s a good choice for this match.

Jeff Hardy joins SmackDown LIVE: April 17, 2018

Jeff Hardy joins SmackDown LIVE: April 17, 2018

As you might have guessed, I’ll take Hardy to retain here as he could use another big win under his red, white and blue belt. A nice run as US Champion could go a long way in making Hardy seem like a big deal again and if this leads to him getting back to the main event on his own, it could be a lot of fun for WWE and the Hardy fans. Orton losing isn’t going to do a bit of harm to him and it’s the right call here. Hardy retains, as he should.

Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe

Let’s get this one over with. I’m sure you know where this is going and that’s not the best thing in the world. Reigns recently lost in Saudi Arabia in another match that makes him look like the least successful undisputed top stars of all time. Now that he’s lost to Brock Lesnar (again, though this time due to being screwy rather than just getting pinned), it’s time to get him back on track and who cares what that costs to get him there.

Samoa Joe confronts Roman Reigns: Raw, April 16, 2018

Samoa Joe confronts Roman Reigns: Raw, April 16, 2018

So yeah, I’ll be going with Reigns over Joe here because that’s what WWE thinks will make me get more interested in the Raw main event scene. Samoa Joe could be ready to become one of the top stars on SmackDown Live but for some reason we’re likely getting another Reigns win to no reaction because that’s what matters in WWE, no matter what happens. The match will likely be very good as it usually is between these two, but Reigns wins because that’s what he does.

Intercontinental Title: Seth Rollins(c) vs. The Miz

Egads can we get done with these interpromotional matches already? Either wait for after Backlash to set up the roster switches or don’t announce stuff for the pay per view until after the switches have been made. Things like this takes away from the drama (unless they have some big surprise switch in mind) as they’re not likely going to send the title back to SmackDown, or send Miz back to Raw, in such short order. Then again either of those things would make my head hurt more than anything else so maybe I should bet on them.

Jeff Hardy helps Seth Rollins and Finn Bálor push back The Miztourage: Raw, April 9, 2018

Jeff Hardy helps Seth Rollins and Finn Bálor push back The Miztourage: Raw, April 9, 2018

I’ll go with the hopefully sane choice though and pick Rollins to retain. WWE seems interested in pushing the heck out of him and it wouldn’t make a bit of sense to take the title off of him yet. Let Miz get ready for his Bryan feud and go from there while Rollins finds someone new to feud against. Rollins needs the title more at this point, though there’s no question that Bryan vs. Miz for the title is very appealing. But yet, Rollins retains.

SmackDown World Title: AJ Styles(c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

This is No DQ and there’s not much of a reason to keep the title on Styles here. In theory this could be used to switch Styles over to a #1 contenders feud with Samoa Joe, which could set up a heck of a match for the title, though heel vs. heel would need to be addressed. They’ve built Nakamura up for months now though and having him lose in another title match wouldn’t make sense.

Did AJ Styles apologize to Shinsuke Nakamura?: SmackDown LIVE, May 1, 2018

Did AJ Styles apologize to Shinsuke Nakamura?: SmackDown LIVE, May 1, 2018

Again I’ll go with a decision that might come back to haunt me and pick Nakamura to walk out with the title. He’s been primed up to become champion for over a month now and if he loses again, I’m really not sure what else they can do to keep him back near the top. Go with the smart move here as Nakamura Kinshasas Styles low to win the title.

Overall Thoughts

I’m just burned out on the big shows right now. WrestleMania 34 was just a month ago and now we’re on a third major show since then (including a show whose presentation was on par with WrestleMania). There comes a point where it’s too much in such a short span and we passed that last Friday. It’s hard to make myself care about a bunch of people and matches that I saw on a bigger stage recently but that’s the WWE calendar for you.

I’m not sure how this show is going to fill in the extra hour, as eight pay per view matches don’t seem like enough for the time. Either they’ve got something planned or the four hours isn’t accurate. One way or another, it’s going to be a long night that hopefully gets wrapped up so the wrestlers (and fans) can have a breather.

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 26 wrestling books. His latest book is the WWE Grab Bag.

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