WWE Backlash (2017)

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Review

(Brand: SmackDown Live – Allstate Arena – Chicago, IL. – May 21, 2017)

Kickoff Show

Panel Hosts: Renee Young, Booker T, Peter Rosenberg. Social Media Lounge Host: Dasha Fuentes.

Did Booker T just call Shinsuke Nakamura a “kid?” He also name-checks the Great Muta.

Rosenberg puts over Nakamura’s work in the ring.

Booker T says that he takes exception to the “Strong Style” tagline because he did it 20-years ago. No disrespect to him or his career…but he needs to sit his ass down. He was a great wrestler but he never worked a stiff style like that on a regular basis.

Rosenberg emphasizes the importance of a win for Nakamura.

How in the hell is Extreme Rules in two weeks?

James Ellsworth is out on the panel to add insight to the Women’s Division tag match. He looks like he dug through Jerry Lawler’s dumpster to find his outfit. His performance during this segment isn’t even worthy of a cable access show. He is terrible.

Erick Rowan interrupts a discussion about Breezango. He is wearing a mask and doesn’t say a word. It makes for an awkward, pointless moment.

Dolph Ziggler cuts a promo about his match. He says that Nakamura doesn’t exist prior to the WWE. He promises to disappoint all the “fanboys” when he wins. The company can never resist taking a shot at the Internet whenever possible.

The chemistry between Booker and Rosenberg is weak at best. They talk but don’t really say anything.

Zayn is the guest on the Social Media Lounge. Bland questions. Bland answers. I’d love to seem him get a re-boot in his old “El Generico” persona. This current character is barely treading water.

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Tye Dillinger defeated Aiden English.

Tom Phillips, JBL, and Byron Saxon are out to call the match.

Dillinger sings his way to the ring. Apparently, he is from Chicago. He shits all over the town to a big reaction.

English: “You like me. You really like me.”

The audience goes berserk for Dillinger and the “ten” chant.

Dillinger hits a “Flying Burrito.” He catches English in the “Tye Breaker” for the win.

Serviceable match. Nothing special. The live crowd is really feeling Dillinger.

Rowan back out. He plops a burlap sack on the desk and sits down.

Booker: “You’re looking real jacked, baby.”

Everyone but Young is terrible during this segment.

I’m really hoping that Mahal goes over for the title tonight. A fresh main eventer is needed.  He, Owens, and Roode all are doing things that feel tied to the Donald Trump presidency. Mahal with the charges of racism, Owens as the “Face of America,” and Roode’s “Bobby Roode’s NXT” catchphrase.

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Main Card

Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Dolph Ziggler.

Ziggler is out first. He is wearing a black St. Edward’s hoodie and silver trucks with the American Flag down the right leg.

Audience: “Na-ka-mu-ra!”

The arena goes black and his music hits. (Editor’s note: I’m singing along with the live crowd as Nakamura makes his way to the ring.)

Ziggler sits on the announcer’s table. He flippantly checks his pulse while he waits.

Phillips mentions the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

The audience is cheering the SmackDown newcomer.

Zigs catches Nakamura with neckbreaker. He then snaps off a pristine dropkick.

Ziggler: “You see me, boy?” as he grips his opponent’s face.

The King of Strong Style catches Ziggler in a triangle. Ziggler grabs the ropes.

Zigs hits a “Fame-ass-er.” He comes withing a hair of a pinfall. Nakamura is holding his shoulder.

Ziggler is priming “Sweet Chin Music.”

Nakamura kicks out of a “Zig Zag.” He retaliates with an ax kick to the back of the neck.

Nakamura kicks out at 2 3/4.

Ziggler spits in his face.

Nakamura with some savage knees to the ribs and the temple. He strikes with an elbow to the back of the neck, and “Exploder,” and the “Kinshasa” for the victory.

While I’ve seen people complain about this match, I thought is was pretty good. It felt like this was a toned-down peek at what Ziggler might look like if he had a run in New Japan.

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SmackDown Live Tag Team Championship

The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) (c) defeated The Fashion Police (Tyler Breeze & Fandango).

Breeze is out in his undercover disguise as a janitor.

Audience: “Mop! Mop! Mop!”

The Usos are misfiring. They feel humorless.

Jimmy Uso gets the mop to the face.

Breeze changes costumes and is now dressed like an old lady.

Audience: “Let’s go, grandma!”

Phillips: “Grandma Breeze got ups!”

Jimmy Uso looks like he has gotten heavy.

Breeze hits the “Unprettier” for two.

Fandango is on the top rope. He gets superkicked in the face and pinned.

This was an incredibly entertaining match. Breeze was the star of the segment. He has so much charisma that is being wasted. He should be a singles performer.

Sami Zayn defeated Baron Corbin in an upset.

Corbin is dismantling Zayn. He yells “no chance” as he crushes Zayn in a bearhug. He rocks in with a spinebuster for a two-count.

Later, Zayn kicks out of the “Deep Six.” He hits the “Helluva Kick” for the pin. The crowd explodes.

I’m stunned. The Fed never lets Zayn win. The match was average but the finish had punch.

Why was Corbin wearing a shirt?

The Singhs and Mahal arrive. They lay out a carpet for him before he exits his limo. Mahal declares that Chicago is “full of haters.” He says that he is going to turn his title shot into something positive.

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The Welcoming Committee (Natalya, Carmella & Tamina) (w/ James Ellsworth) defeated Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair & Naomi.

The Welcoming Committee feels like a poorly conceived and executed indy gimmick.

Charlotte chops away on Natalya.

Tamina mugging Flair.

Carmella tags in. She is crossbodied by Naomi, who is pathetically trying to get the audience to chant “Glow.” They aren’t having it.

Lynch with an “Exploder” and “Disarmer” on Natalya. Natalya catches her in the “Sharpshooter” for the submission.

The match felt a little long.

Lynch’s bright red David Bowie mohawk doesn’t work for her.

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United States Championship

Kevin Owens defeated AJ Styles by countout.

This match is framed as a “territorial dispute” by the announcers.

It looks like Owens has trimmed off a few lbs.

The opening minutes feel plodding.

Owens scurries from a “Styles Clash.” He hits a cradle neckbreaker that looked rough.

Owens avoids a “Styles clash” on the apron.

Styles is selling his leg. Owens tortures him with an ankle lock.

Styles scores big with a sunset powerbomb off the top rope. He goes for the “Phenomenal Forearm,” but his leg gives out and he crashes.  He hits a “Pele Kick.”

Owens suplexes his opponent off the top rope.

Styles suplexes Owens on the apron. Owens is screaming. Styles hits a “Phenomenal Forearm” outside the ring.

Styles leg is caught in the announcer’s table. He is counted out of the ring as the audience boos.

This was a solid match built around the story of Styles’ leg. They held enough back to leave meat on the bone for a rematch.

Luke Harper defeated Erick Rowan

Harper’s new gear is too reminiscent of Corbin’s. He should go back to the coveralls.

JBL mentions Sgt. Slaughter.

Harper plows into Rowan at full speed outside the ring. He massacres him with a dive.

Harper hits a “Senton” and a tilt-a-whirl side slam.

Rowan gets a “two” after a powerbomb.

Harper with a clothesline and pinfall.

This was a physical match between two big hombres. They did a lot more than I expected.

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WWE Championship

Jinder Mahal (w/ Singh Bros.) defeated Randy Orton to become the WWE Champion.

I’m so stoked for this match.

Mahal is vascular AF. Damn.

Orton jumps Mahal mid-introduction. The two fight around ringside.

Bell finally rings.

Orton goes for an “RKO,” but the challenger avoids it.

I love these oddball title defenses. Back in the day, I loved it when “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan got a title shot against Sgt. Slaughter.

Audience: “Let’s go, Jinder!/Jinder sucks!”

Mahal charges Orton in the corner, which the “Viper” avoids. Mahal cracks his shoulder hard into the turnbuckle.

Orton fires off a “Superplex” a la his father, “Cowboy” Bob Orton.

Orton with a “Fallaway Slam” and a “Hanging DDT.” He scuffles with the Singhs outside the ring.

Mahal runs Orton into the post.

In the ring, Orton strikes with an “RKO.” Singh is pulled from the ring by the Singhs to prevent a pinfall.

Orton destroys both brothers on the announce table. Samir Singh takes a dangerous and scary bump on his head.

Orton executes double “Hanging DDTs” on the Singhs.

Mahal comes up from behind and catches Randy Orton in “The Khallas.” He pins him to become the new WWE Champion.

Fans jaws drop.

Mahal walks out into the audience. He is being cheered far more than I would have guessed.

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This is fantastic. It has a classic feel to it. Jinder Mahal is an old-fashioned foreign heel who WANTS TO BE DISLIKED. Yes, having a performer of Indian descent, though he is actually Canadian, makes political and financial sense in regards to the WWE Network, Mahal is also the right guy at the right time. A jobber mere months ago, Mahal is a prime example of what the WWE promotional machine can accomplish when it puts its mind to it. I’m very happy for the guy and wish him a prosperous title reign.

-Ted Zep

More Wrestling

NXT TakeOver: Chicago (2017)

WWE Payback (2017)

WrestleMania XXXIII (2017)

NXT TakeOver: Orlando (2017)

WWE Hall of Fame (2017)

 

 

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