This week we take a look at how Carmella is becoming a legitimate star on SmackDown. We also look at the big heel turn for The Usos and what a positive it is for the veteran team. Other topics include the 6-pack Challenge at Backlash, Apollo Crews, and predictions for Sunday!
Women’s 6-Pack Challenge at Backlash
A 6-pack Challenge ushered in a new era in 2001 when Trish Stratus won her first Women’s Championship. It looks like we could be seeing something similar at Backlash with six women who could all stake a claim at the gold. The great thing that I’ve noticed with the SmackDown women’s division is that there is a nice mix of veterans and rookie stars to round out the roster.
We have someone like Naomi who has never been a champion despite being around for years. Natalya has been a champion before, but has been hungry for another chance for a long time. Nikki Bella was the longest-reigning Divas Champion in history. Alexa Bliss and Carmella are brand new to the roster and looking to make a name for themselves. Becky Lynch has been around for the past year and is ready for her opportunity to carry the women’s division.
It could easily be the right time for any one of these women to carry SmackDown into a new era. If I had one prediction, it would probably be Carmella considering her rivalry with Nikki Bella right now. My personal favourite would be Becky Lynch. I’m hoping that the Lass-Kicker can pull through and win her first Women’s Championship after not have any title runs in NXT or WWE thus far.
Apollo is someone who just isn’t quite catching on with the people behind the scenes on SmackDown. Crews can go out and have a great match with anyone, but he’s never given time on the microphone to develop his character. It’s hard to truly get through to the fans when they know very little about you. This was even touched on on Talking Smack which is part of the reason I love that show.
Apollo has so much potential to be a cornerstone guy in WWE, he just needs the opportunity to show he’s more than an athlete. Crews will go far in his career, but it will take some investment from WWE as well. I really think he needs to be the one to take the Intercontinental Championship from The Miz when the time comes. That title was made for Apollo. Crews could build a name for himself by being a strong champion over many months and developing his character during that run.
I’ve never seen a woman get the upper-hand for so many consecutive weeks over someone as highly-regarded as Nikki Bella. It’s certainly Nikki’s time to build the future of the women’s division and she’s doing just that. Carmella really looks like she has Nikki’s number over the last three weeks. Carmella looks to be the main star that SmackDown is looking to build around right now. It’s hard to argue with that as The Princess of Staten Island has a unique look and personality all her own. I’m happy that Carmella got the chance to be a heel. She excelled in that role in NXT and she has a nasty side to her that can really get under the skin of the WWE Universe.
Carmella is improving a lot in the ring and she’s becoming more confident with every match. I’d love to see her get an opportunity to have some good 10-minute singles matches to show what she can do. The limited time on SmackDown seems to be a bit of a problem with that. There is a possibility that she could win the SmackDown Women’s Championship Sunday. A huge victory like that could be a big launching point in Carmella’s career.
I really believe that Carmella will benefit a lot from working with the established stars on SmackDown. She’s been thrown right in the thick of everything and hasn’t looked out of place to me. It’s hard to believe that she’s still fairly new to the wrestling world, but realistically, she is. I definitely think Carmella will be a big success on SmackDown as long as she is given the opportunity to grow as she has been thus far. Being featured prominently every week goes a long way to building confidence (not that Carmella lacks any of that anyways). I’ve been loving her character more every week.
Did I really see that? Did The Usos actually turn heel? All I can say is that it has been a long time coming. You can only stay at the top of the tag-team division for so long as a face without becoming stagnant. Tag-team wrestling has always seemed to be more of a transitional thing. Teams emerge and break-up much like Hollywood marriages. The Usos are bound by family ties though and it’s unlikely they will be breaking up anytime soon.
I’ve thought that The Usos have needed a change for a long time and they made quite a change tonight by taking out Chad Gable for 2-4 weeks in the storylines. This accomplished things for both teams. For The Usos, it established them as the biggest heel team on SmackDown. For American Alpha, it created the chase for the titles after Gable returns. I’m almost certain The Usos will become the SmackDown Tag-Team Champions at this point. With the way American Alpha were being built up for the titles, it only makes sense that this feud will be for the titles once they return.
I really like this heel turn, but eventually I think the smart money would be a feud between the brothers. That’s pretty much a natural order of things in wrestling, but I really could see these two having some incredible matched together.
Fandango got some time on the mic as he has here and there recently. His quick promo last night reminded me of when he first started with the Fandango character. He was humourous, had a lot a mannerisms, and was unique. That’s what was taken away from him when he started being pushed down the card. Hopefully this is the start of a resurgence for this once popular character. Fandango has a lot of upside if used properly. I feel the exact same way about Tyler Breeze. I’d like for these two guys to possibly feud sometime in the near-future. It could create a pretty entertaining feud with both characters being so similar.
Dean Ambrose continues to display heel tendencies, while AJ Styles is slowly displaying a few face tendencies. I could definitely see a double-switch at Backlash and Ambrose retaining in an under-handed way. I think that would benefit both guys. I do bet on Styles finally winning the big one though.
Bray Wyatt continues to build himself up to be as ominous as he once was. SmackDown has definitely had wonderful character development.
Kane made another quick appearance. I have to wonder if he will continue to squash guys building up to one last monster run. I really think he deserves a World Championship run to end his career.
Slater and Rhyno advance to the tournament finals and we finally meet the rest of Heath’s family. This angle keeps getting weirder by the day, but I like it.
Curt Hawkins arrives next week…finally.
Predictions for Backlash
- Women’s Championship -- Carmella
- Second Chance Tag Match -- The Usos
- Tag-Title Match -- The Usos
- Intercontinental Title Match -- The Miz
- World Title -- AJ Styles
- Orton vs. Wyatt -- Randy Orton
SmackDown was great leading into Backlash. There are a lot of questions that will be answered this Sunday and I’m really looking forward to that.