Jinder Mahal did the improbable by winning the WWE Championship last night. Find out what I thought about that and more in my WWE Backlash 2017 analysis!
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler
I don’t think you WWE could have drawn up Shinsuke Nakamura’s main roster debut better than what happened at Backlash. I knew Dolph Ziggler would be an excellent opponent for Shinsuke, but he was even better than I expected. Dolph was the perfect heel to face Nakamura. He always has a chip on his shoulder and he really got the point across that he felt like he was better than Nakamura.
I expected this match to be a relatively quick victory for Nakamura. It’s not that I didn’t think Ziggler was worthy of being in there with him, I just felt that WWE would probably want Nakamura to get a dominant victory in his first match on SmackDown Live. Ziggler had this match won multiple times hitting the Fameasser, Zig Zag, and a Super Kick at different points in the match. Nakamura kicked out of every one of those moves to the delight of the crowd.
Nakamura would finally grab the victory with a Kinshasa continuing where he left off in NXT. This match made me see Ziggler in a better light than I have lately. Ziggler just hasn’t had many opportunities to make his mark since turning heel. Unfortunately, the hope was that the opposite would happen when he became a heel. For as short of a feud as it was with Nakamura, I really felt that Dolph did a lot of good things with it considering he had to carry nearly the whole thing until Backlash.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
SmackDown Live Tag Team Championship Match: Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango) vs. The Usos (C) (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso)
I feel kind of stupid for expecting this to be anything less than a comedy match considering the Fashion Files stuff in previous weeks. I just really thought that Breezango was going to be given an opportunity to shine in a decent match. That’s not really what happened for the most part. A big focus of the match was on Tyler Breeze dressed as a janitor and then as a grandma apparently going undercover. There was even a comical, “Let’s go grandma” chant.
It was a relatively short match that ended with Fandango being Super Kicked off the top rope and being rolled up for the 3-count. It was a surprising finish considering Breezango was in control moments before this. I never really expected The Usos to lose, but it would have been nice to put the comedy away for this match and actually see Breezango perform up to the level that they can. This is a good team and I do like the characters, but at some point, that stuff has to be secondary.
Winners and STILL SmackDown Live Tag Team Champions: The Usos
I think there’s more money in these guys breaking up and feuding with each other right now with Fandango as the heel and Breeze as the face. It’s obvious that they’re never going to get anywhere with their current configuration after what we saw tonight.
Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin
I’ve been impressed with Baron Corbin for different reasons than you may expect. Corbin is becoming a very good all-around star. He can have good matches with a variety of different people with different styles. This has been more apparent with matches with guys like Kalisto and Sami Zayn. Corbin has done an excellent job being dominant while still losing to smaller guys like these. Corbin lost after a quick Helluva Kick to Zayn on this night.
Winner: Sami Zayn
It may seem like Corbin losing is a step back for him, but I don’t think this is the last we’ll see of Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin. Corbin will likely win the grudge match. Even if he doesn’t, this doesn’t slow his momentum at all. He still put up a good performance and looked like the big heel that he’s supposed to be. I’ve liked this type of booking from WWE. They manage to have both stars come out of the match better than they came into it which is what you would hope every match can do.
I hope this is a launching point for Sami Zayn. He’s been held back for the past year and I really think it’s time that he makes his way into at least the US title picture. If he has another match with Corbin, I hope that it doesn’t take away any momentum that he gained with this victory. WWE seems so hot and cold with him that I never know what to expect.
Charlotte Flair, Naomi, and Becky Lynch vs. Natalya, Tamina, and Carmella w/ James Ellsworth
I had very low expectations for this 6-woman tag match. These matches are almost never good. There are too many personalities vying for attention and it ends up being a jumbled mess. People miss spots, the finishes look sloppy, I just don’t like them. With that being said, I still hoped that this match would be the sleeper hit of the night. It certainly wasn’t that.
The entire match ended up in Tamina knocking Charlotte and Naomi out before Becky could knock Tamina out of the ring. As soon as she did that, Natalya caught her in the Sharpshooter and Becky tapped. The whole match consisted of the heel team using little distractions here and there. It was pretty generic by nature and I think it was the worst match of the night.
Winners: Natalya. Tamina, and Carmella
With as much talent as these 6 women have, it’s sad to see them struggle to fit everything into a 10-minute match. After seeing this, I just want this feud to be over. It’s not elevating anybody to have this feud continue. That probably means we’ll see it for another month or two, but still. I may be being a bit harsh, but I expect more, as I should. This isn’t 2008 anymore. These women can all wrestle and they deserve more than to be an afterthought which is what this feud is turning out to be. The only saving grace will be if someone has a turn because of this and the likely candidate is Charlotte turning heel once again.
WWE United States Championship Match: Kevin Owens (C) vs. AJ Styles
This match is what many would consider being a WWE dream match. It’s likely these two have faced off before in ROH or something like that, but I’m not particularly sure. All I know is that it’s far different than battling in WWE. This is the biggest stage in the world between two of the biggest stars in the world right now and they delivered.
Owens assaulted AJ’s knee throughout this match smashing him on the steel steps, applying a single-leg Boston Crab, and just generally getting shots in whenever he could. This would play into the finish slightly as both men fought outside of the ring. Styles would go for the Styles Clash on the announce table, but his leg got caught in the wiring inside the table and he was counted out as Owens got back in the ring.
Winner and STILL WWE United States Champion: Kevin Owens
A lot of people thought this finish was ridiculous, but I loved it. This opens up the possibility for another match between these two guys at the next PPV. It also allowed Owens to continue his title reign without actually winning which plays into his heel character. After seeing this match between these two guys, I’m excited to see another. They had an incredible match with a lot of near falls and big spots. I’m interested to see what both guys have to say on SmackDown.
Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan
Yep, these two had yet another match against each other, this time at Backlash. I’m pretty much done with seeing these two guys fight each other. I don’t feel like Rowan ever gets the chance to do anything else. As I’ve said before, I think these guys need to find their identities without each other.
Harper won this match with his Discus Clothesline. It was a pretty even match between the two guys. I like what both of them can do in the ring. They’re both so impressively agile for big men. I’m glad they got their chance on a PPV, but now it’s time to put this to bed. If Talking Smack was any indication, Rowan has more creepiness in his future and that works for him. I think Harper would do well to completely revamp his character and start talking. He’s great on the mic, he’s just never been able to show that.
Winner: Luke Harper
WWE Championship Match: Randy Orton (C) vs. Jinder Mahal
Just a month ago, no one would have expected something like this to be the main event of this PPV, but here we are. The fact is that Jinder Mahal worked to obtain this position on the card. He did everything right. He got in great shape, he made the most of his opportunities when he was able to do a promo or have a match. Then, he was shipped off to SmackDown and was afforded an immediate opportunity and he took it.
Jinder Mahal did win the WWE Championship at Backlash 2017. This was a lengthy match and Randy Orton did everything he could to even the odds, but it was doing exactly that that led him to a loss. Orton ended up IEDDTing The Singh Brothers after multiple instances of interference in the match. After he did that, Mahal appeared out of nowhere and took him out with that Cobra Clutch Slam for the 3-count.
The only other times I can remember seeing an audience so shocked are when Lesnar defeated Undertaker and when The Miz won the WWE Championship. It’s clear that most people didn’t believe that Jinder would win. What I enjoyed was seeing the incredible amount of people giving him a standing ovation and cheering him after his victory. This is a heel who has been specifically running down the fans in promos for weeks and still, a lot of people were happy for him. I was one of those people.
I remember the guy who fought Seth Rollins in the final for the NXT Championship. I remember him fighting for 3 minutes of TV time in 3MB. I remember when he got released. Then, he came back and WWE used him to enhance other talent. I really thought Jinder would never get his big chance and then he went to SmackDown and everything changed. Jinder Mahal is an example of how if you work for something, you can achieve it. It may not happen overnight, but eventually, someone will believe in you enough to take a chance on you. The only final words I have today are, congratulations Jinder Mahal. You deserve it.