And so ends the solo branded live special era in WWE; not with a bang, but with WWE BACKLASH 2018. I have to admit, I’m not a fan of the dual-branded PPVs returning because I think a lot of talent is going to get buried and not get the live special (or PPV or whatever they are called in the Network Era)appearance they deserve anymore. Like this show for instance… no Cruiserweights, no real tag teams. I feel like we are going to see a lot of the same faces every single big show now. Not a fan. Say what you will about the brand split, but the idea behind it was that more talent would get better exposure. When am I ever going to get The Fashion Police on a PPV now? Never, that’s when.
Regardless, let’s talk less about my bitching and more about what is going to happen at WWE Backlash 2018.
DANIEL BRYAN VS BIG CASS
Big Cass is going to win this match. And what’s more, Big Cass SHOULD win this match. Let’s look at the most important issues here: 1) Daniel Bryan is over forever and ever amen and is a grand and glorious underdog babyface, and 2) Big Cass is just back from an injury and is establishing himself for the first time as a serious heel threat and a solo star without Enzo talking with him. Cass just needs this more, and that’s okay. Bryan can lose here and become the #1 contender on Tuesday night and everyone would be okay with it. He’s bulletproof. Cass losing, however, puts a huge crimp in his growth. Not saying he should ever be a big star.but if he is hamstrung from the start… we’ll never know.
SAMOA JOE VS ROMAN REIGNS
Roman Reigns lost at Wrestlemania. Roman Reigns lost at the Greatest Royal Rumble. Roman Reigns ain’t losing three big shows in a row. Joe really shouldn’t be losing here, either, and as crummy as it may be, a no-decision might be the best result here (well… Joe–currently the best promo man in the industry–winning clean is the best result, but that ain’t happening). Maybe they double countout by brawling into the crowd? Maybe Lesnar makes a surprise appearance and pummels Roman for the DQ? I don’t know, something. But barring a mutually beneficial result like that… Roman will likely win here. Joe is moving brands, anyway, so the specter of this loss won’t really hang over him.
BOBBY LASHLEY & BRAUN STROWMAN VS SAMI ZAYN & KEVIN OWENS
Boy, Kevin and Sami have been on… what’s the opposite of a “tear”? They have not been able to buy a win in the last few months. Going up against a dominating Braun and a newly returned Bobby Lashley doesn’t seem like aces for their chances, but… what if a miscommunication between Bobby and Braun leads to a heel turn for the former and a feud? Possibly a “Prove He’s Ready For Brock Again At Summerslam” feud fo The Monster Among Men? This is best for everyone involved: Kevin and Sami keep their heat and remain a threat, Braun is given something to do, and Lashley (who I never really cared much for) plays a veteran role in pumping Braun’s aura.
JEFF HARDY VS RANDY ORTON – US TITLE MATCH
I imagine that this time when these two face off, Jeff Hardy won’t do a Swanton Bomb from something very, very tall in a small, small space. Just have a feeling. Beyond that… wow, can we just let the US Title sit the hell still for a bit and gain some momentum? It has hot potatoed all over the Smackdown Live mid card for a while now, and I often forget who even has it. It’s barely even a prop, much less a championship, at this point. Jeff needs to retain and build this belt up a bit… so when he loses it to Andrade Almas in a few months, it feels meaningful.
CHARLOTTE VS CARMELLA – SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH
Well they aren’t just going to give Charlotte the belt right back… are they? I mean, Carmella has felt pointless ever since WWE let go of James Ellsworth, but to have Charlotte just take the strap right back would be an admission that the whole Carmella experiment is over. And she has been righteously obnoxious since becoming the champ and is at the best she has been Post Ellsworth. Might as well let her run with it for a while before feeding her to Asuka. She won’t–and shouldn’t–win clean, but she should go over.
ALEXA BLISS VS NIA JAX – RAW WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH
Like Carmella, Bliss has become a gloriously detestable heel of late with her “Moment of Bliss” segments. It’s definitely choreographing that she will lose, though, because in the modern world, you can’t have someone be this much of a bully and then go over. Which is a shame because Alexa is so much mire talented than Nia, and the former was a great centerpiece of the Raw division during her title reign. Nia wins here and then moves on to the next biggest heel on Raw… Ruby Riott and the Riott Squad, I guess? That could be fun.
THE MIZ VS SETH ROLLINS – IC TITLE MATCH
I should be more excited for this match because it has the potential to be the best on the card. Both these guys have done such great work with this title. But with The Miz bound for Smackdown, the ending is in no doubt: Seth will retain and continue Miz’s legacy of making the Intercontinental Title the most important championship on Raw. This will be the last hurrah here for Miz before moving brands and entering the Daniel Bryan feud we so desperately need, and Rollins has already vanquished Balor, it seems. Could Ziggler/McIntyre be up next for the champ?
SHINSUKE NAKAMURA VS AJ STYLES – WWE TITLE MATCH
Boy, you HAVE to pull the trigger on Nakamura here, don’t you? The loss at ‘Mania made sense with the imminent heel turn, but if he doesn’t end up capturing the belt, what are they even doing with him? He’s been exceptionally fun as a villain, and WWE needs to ride that. Also, there has to be an eventual Shinsuke/Bryan world title feud in a few months, right? We’ve earned that.