Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over twelve years now and have reviewed over 6,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?

Backlash 2017
Date: May 21, 2017
Location: Allstate Arena, Chicago, Illinois
Commentators: Byron Saxton, Tom Phillips, John Bradshaw Layfield

It’s time for another Smackdown exclusive, which could mean things are hit or miss tonight. The card isn’t exactly the best with Jinder Mahal challenging Smackdown World Champion Randy Orton and AJ Styles challenging Kevin Owens for the US Title. Other than that though, this is kind of a stretch for a pay per view. Let’s get to it.

Kickoff Show: Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English

This is their third match and this time English sings himself to the ring. Dillinger starts with the ten but English says this is his town (which it actually is). English starts cheating to send Dillinger into the corner though and the posing takes us to an early break. Back with English working on a chinlock until the comeback starts up. Tye knocks him down and drops a knee before hitting the ten left hands in the corner. Aiden gets in an elbow but misses a Swanton, allowing the Tyebreaker to finish him off at 8:18.

Rating: C-. This was all you would have expected it to be and there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t think anyone is taking Dillinger seriously as a major star right now but there’s a lot of value in having a cheer/signature deal that’s going to wake the fans up every single time. The TEN thing is going to work so just stick with the classics.

The opening video doesn’t have much of a theme but it does touch on almost all of tonight’s matches.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler

Makes sense for the opener and DEAR GOODNESS do the fans love Nakamura. Feeling out process to start with Ziggler not being able to do much, other than be told to bring it. Nakamura takes him into the corner and starts picking up Good Vibrations. Dolph grabs the neckbreaker over the ropes and slaps on a chinlock as the fans are actually split.

Ziggler’s dropkick and the Shot to the Heart get two but Nakamura kicks him in the head to take over again. The running knee in the ribs connects as they’re not exactly going crazy out there. A triangle doesn’t last very long with Ziggler making the ropes. It’s way too early for Kinshasa so Ziggler hits the Fameasser for two.

Ziggler tunes up the band but has to settle for the Zig Zag for another near fall. A powerbomb of all things is broken up and Nakamura kicks him in the head again, only to get superkicked in the back of the head. That’s not enough either so Ziggler tries a single leg, earning himself some knees to the head. The middle rope Kinshasa misses but the regular version is good for the pin on Ziggler at 15:48.

Rating: B. Certainly not a classic but it was a fine way for Nakamura to show that he was there. I don’t think anyone was expecting a masterpiece here but Nakamura just doing the greatest hits is getting a bit old. He’s pretty much lived off his reputation from the Zayn match and hasn’t gotten back to that point since. I’m not saying he can’t but I’d like to see it again. Then again, maybe it’s because this was the dark match at the last two house shows I’ve been to so there’s not much of a fresh factor here.

Here’s the full Fashion Files segment from Tuesday to fill time.

Tag Team Titles: Usos vs. Breezango

Breezango is challenging and Breeze is still in the janitor costume, complete with mustache and mop. Jimmy comes at him and gets stopped with a mop to the fact. That earns Tyler a superkick and the mop is broken, much to the fans’ annoyance. Fandango comes in for some hip gyrating….and Breeze is now dressed as an old woman, complete with blue hair, a dress and a cane. Fans: “LET’S GO GRANDMA!”

We get the standard set of spots: flashing and the Bronco Buster, only to have Jimmy kick him down as well. JBL goes along with the whole gag and gets a dress thrown at his head. Jimmy goes shoulder first into the post and the hot tag brings in Fandango. Everything breaks down and Jey is sent outside, leaving Jimmy to take an Unprettier for two. Breeze is sent over the barricade but comes right back with a dive to take them down. JBL says these guys are about to win the titles and it’s a superkick to Fandango to retain the titles at 9:12.

Rating: C. This is going to vary quite a bit depending on your taste. I’m a big Breezango fan so I liked some of the jokes, but, as usual, JBL really hurt things here with all of his talking about how funny things were. It’s the beating you over the head with the COMEDY that gets old and JBL is horrible about it. I’m fine with Breezango not winning here but hopefully they stick around.

We recap Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin, which is your standard bully vs. underdog story. Corbin has jumped Zayn multiple times now and Sami is fighting back.

Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin

Zayn starts fast and sends Corbin to the floor for the flip dive, only to have Corbin bail away. Sami isn’t willing to wait and dives onto Corbin to send him into the barricade as it’s one sided early on. Back in and Corbin starts the power game with some forearms and a bearhug to slow things down. A spinebuster drops Zayn again and his high crossbody is good for two.

Another shot to the back slows him down though and a chokebreaker gives Corbin two more. He takes Sami up top, only to get taken down with a sunset bomb for a nice near fall. Sami’s tornado DDT is broken up and Corbin makes things even worse by blocking the exploder in the corner.

Instead he grabs two more off a crucifix, only to walk into Deep Six for another two. They’re trading near falls here and it’s not half bad. Sami gets sent outside but comes back in with a boot to the face, followed by the Helluva Kick for the clean pin at 14:19. JBL is rather stunned by the upset and I can’t say I blame him.

Rating: B-. Cool. They told a good story here with Sami hanging in there as long as he could until he caught Corbin with his one big move. Corbin can win the rematch but at some point they had to give Sami a big win to keep his credibility. I’m very surprised here and that’s not a bad thing. Good match and a win that Sami probably needed more.

Xavier Woods, Ember Moon, Zack Ryder and someone else play Rocket League on Up Up Down Down.

Jinder Mahal and the Singh Brothers arrive an hour and twelve minutes into the show. Tonight he’s going to turn this city into a beautiful thing despite everything thinking he’s evil and horrible. We hear some Punjabi with Mahal promising to become champion.

Welcoming Committee vs. Charlotte/Becky Lynch/Naomi

Lynch has a long red mohawk tonight and gets thrown into the corner for her efforts. It’s off to Charlotte to take over on Natalya but the strutting gets her in trouble as she’s knocked into the Welcoming Committee corner. That doesn’t last long either though as it’s off to Naomi, who takes the beating for her team as well.

Becky gets pulled off the apron to prevent another tag though and Tamina gets two off a Samoan drop. The second attempt at the hot tag works a bit better and Becky comes in with the Bexploder for two on Natalya. Carmella has to break up the Disarm-Her and Tamina adds a shot of her own, setting up the Sharpshooter to make Becky tap at 10:07.

Rating: D+. This was as uninteresting as you would have expected it to be and that’s fine. The Welcoming Committee needed this win and as stupid of an idea as they are, they should have gone over here. Becky taking the fall is fine and the best option, especially if it leads to her joining the team (not logical but the best choice).

We recap the US Title. It’s another simple story: the Face of America vs. the Face That Runs the Place. Owens is extra smug lately but has shown how violent he can get against Chris Jericho.

US Title: AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens

Owens is defending. AJ is all fired up to start so Owens bails, only to have them switch places with AJ smirking a bit. Back in and AJ scores with a dropkick but Owens just blasts him with a clothesline to take over. We hit the chinlock with Owens demanding to ASK HIM, followed by a DDT and two backsplashes for two. Owens spends a bit too much time talking trash though and gets caught in belly to back faceplant.

The fireman’s carry flip into a backbreaker gives AJ two and he smiles a bit. Styles takes too long going up top though and gets caught with a superkick, followed by a big double underhook into a neckbreaker for a cool looking move. Owens isn’t done as he sends AJ outside with Styles’ knees going into the steps. A Cannonball against the barricade sets up a Cannonball against the leg in the corner as Owens certainly has a target.

We hit a half crab and an ankle lock of all things but AJ has fought Kurt Angle before and dives over to the ropes. Owens takes him up for a superplex but gets pulled down with a sunset bomb for two, only to have the Phenomenal Forearm broken up. A double underhook implant DDT gives Owens two but frustration starts to set in, allowing AJ to score with the Pele.

Now it’s Styles taking him to the top for a superplex, meaning Owens can use the swinging superplex for two more. They head to the apron with AJ getting in a suplex on the apron but both guys are done. Owens throws him into the timekeeper’s area but eats a Phenomenal Forearm. AJ isn’t done though and loads up the Styles Clash on the top with JBL freaking out. His foot actually goes through a hole in the table though and Owens beats the count back in at 21:09.

Rating: B+. Oh yeah that worked. These two beat the heck out of each other and traded bombs until Styles literally slipped and fell for the loss. You know there’s going to be a great rematch and that’s going to be awesome as well. I had a blast with this match and it’s easily the second best match of the weekend (nothing was touching that UK Title match though).

We look at the Kickoff Show match.

Erick Rowan vs. Luke Harper

This would be the cool down match. They take turns driving each other into the corner to start before taking a quick trip outside. Back in and Rowan starts throwing Harper around as the announcers recap the history between these two. Rowan misses a top rope splash though and bails to the floor, allowing Harper to hit one heck of a suicide dive. Back in and Harper’s slingshot hilo gets two, followed by Rowan powerbombing him for the same. A slugout doesn’t get anyone anywhere so Rowan clotheslines him down. That means it’s time to go talk to the mask, allowing Harper to get in a discus lariat for the pin at 8:26.

Rating: D+. This was fine for what it was supposed to be as the fans get a much needed breather after the outstanding US Title match. These two aren’t the most interesting pairing in the world but they’re fine for two people hitting each other with big power moves for a few minutes. I’m sure we’ll get a rematch here too.

We recap the Smackdown World Title match. Jinder Mahal won a Six Pack Challenge and has attacked Randy Orton a few times, including stealing the title belt for a week or so.

Smackdown World Title: Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal

Orton is defending and attacks Mahal before the bell. The beating goes on for a bit until things are separated Jinder is ready to go. Orton is right back on top of him and hammers Mahal all over the ring, including taking him outside for a beating on the floor. Mahal gets in a shot to the arm and takes over though, setting up a variety of armbars back inside.

With the offense that limited, Orton sends him shoulder first into the post to get a breather and grabs the superplex to put both guys down. Orton throws him with a fall away slam for two, followed by a neckbreaker from Mahal for the same. They head outside with Orton beating up the Singh Brothers, allowing Mahal to post the bad arm.

Not that it matters as Orton throws him back inside for the RKO, only to have the Singh Brothers pull Mahal outside. The Brothers are thrown onto the announcers’ tables, followed by a double hanging DDT back inside. Mahal sneaks in though and grabs the Khallas for the pin and the title at 16:47.

Rating: D. So yeah that happened. I have no idea what to think about it but yeah that happened. I’m sure this is going to end next month in St. Louis at Money in the Bank but hey, at least Bray Wyatt lost the title to Orton for a good reason right? The match was what you would expect from these two of course but…..dang yeah that just happened.

We get a long celebration and a ton of fan reaction shots to end the show.

Overall Rating: C-. It wasn’t bad and the ending was a big surprise but that doesn’t mean it’s something that should have happened. This show really didn’t need to exist but that’s what you have to get to keep those subscribers coming in. The main event is the definition of throwing the title around like a prop, which is annoying and something we just kind of have to live with. Not a horrible show by any means but nothing you need to go out of your way to see, save for the US Title match.

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 60,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 6,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.

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