The SmarK Rant for WWE Backlash 2016 – 09.11.16
We start with a “Freedom is not free” text crawl remembering 9/11. Well at least this show won’t be known as the worst thing ever to happen on this date.
Live from Richmond, VA
Your hosts are Mauro Ranallo, David Otunga and JBL.
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan start us out, because we’ve got 3 hours to waste and only 5 matches booked.
Smackdown Women’s title: Becky Lynch v. Natalya v. Naomi v. Alexa Bliss v. Carmella v. Nikki Bella
Naomi’s outfit tonight:
Hopefully Naomi consults a medical professional about that. The new belt somehow looks even more like a souvenir toy than the Universal title, and this is elimination rules, because we’ve got three hours! Becky clears the ring and works on Naomi’s arm to start, but the kick combo stops that. They head to the floor, but Carmella cuts off Becky’s dive and gets a rana for two. Next up, Alexa goes after Nikki and drops a pair of knees for two, but Nikki hits her with a springboard kick for two. Natalya cleans house, but Naomi gives her a full nelson bomb for two. Carmella gets the headscissors thing on Nikki, but Nikki escapes with an Alabama Slam for two. They do the Tower of Doom spot out of the corner with Nattie and Alexa gets a nice sunset bomb on Becky for two. I’m growing concerned about Naomi, who hasn’t been seen since about the 2:00 mark and might be dead from radiation poisoning caused her outfit. Thankfully she returns and clears the ring, then follows with a dive onto the pile of women. Back in, we get another Tower of Doom spot, and this results in Naomi pinning Alexa at 9:40 to eliminate her first. She tries springboarding onto Nikki and gets caught with a forearm, and Nattie puts her away at 10:46 with the Sharpshooter. Nikki with a TKO on Natalya to finish her at 11:50, and Carmella rolls up Nikki at 12:02 to eliminate HER. So that leaves Becky v. Carmella, and Carmella slaps her around and yells a lot. Becky with a pair of suplexes, but Carmella cuts off the comeback, only to walk into the Disarmer at 14:20 to give Becky the first title. Very energetic match, although it felt like they hit the 10:00 mark and then suddenly had to go home. ***
Meanwhile, Bray Wyatt attacks Randy Orton and injures his knee, which is weird because I could have sworn they already announced that Orton was injured and wouldn’t be here tonight.
The Usos v. The Hype Bros
Winner of this barnburner gets Slater & Rhyno for the tag titles in the finals. The Usos are in EVIL BLACK so you know they’re heels now. And thankfully they’re dressing differently so I have a fighting chance to tell them apart. Mojo throws Jey around to start and Zack pounds away on Jimmy and hits the Usos with a dropkick off the apron when they head to the floor. Back in, Zack immediately gets punked out by Jey and the Usos take over. Heat on Ryder and the Usos are actually cool again, so now the crowd is CHEERING them. And yet they still won’t turn Roman Reigns. Jey with the chinlock, but Ryder escapes with a neckbreaker and Jimmy is forced to cut off the tag. Hot tag Mojo and he runs wild with the usual, but the Usos clip Zack and Jimmy finishes him with a kneebar at 10:13. An OK match as Zack Ryder somehow manages to job twice in a single elimination tournament.. **
Intercontinental title: The Miz v. Dolph Ziggler
We get some DRAMA before the match, as Miz decides to hold up Daniel Bryan for more money on the way to the ring. You know, that tactic has failed miserably for people in the past. And didn’t they do a big angle on Smackdown two weeks ago where they weren’t allowed to be on TV with each other? Miz runs away to start, but they take it to the mat and do their basic TV match, leading to Ziggler getting catapulted to the floor as I wait for Mauro to throw to a commercial break. Miz works him over on the floor and back in for two. Miz works the back and goes to a surfboard, then mocks Daniel Bryan and hits the corner clothesline. Ziggler reverses the Finale into a rollup and makes his usual comeback with a billion clotheslines and an elbow for two. Miz misses a charge and hits the post, but comes back with a slingshot powerbomb for two. Miz goes to the knee now, but Ziggler catches him with the fameasser for two. Sleeper on Miz and he’s going out like he’s watching the Ziggler match from Summerslam, but a shot in the corner breaks it up. Dolph with the leaping DDT for two. Miz comes back with the DDT and gets the figure-four, but Dolph fights to the ropes. Miz tries again, but walks into the superkick, which gets two. Miz bails and Ziggler hauls him back in, but they trade rollups for two. Maryse sprays Rick Martel’s Arrogance into his face, however, and Miz finishes with the Skull Crushing Finale at 18:18. Why the screwjob finish? Decent match, although the selling was all over the place, as usual for both guys. And Ziggler is just deader than dead as any kind of a top guy that people buy into. ***
No Holds Barred: Bray Wyatt v. Kane
Randy Orton forfeits, so instead Kane randomly takes his place. Bray kidnapped him three years ago, you see, and now IT’S PERSONAL. They immediately fight to the floor and Kane clears a table, but Bray brings him back in and slugs away to take over. He pounds away with a chair and gets two from that. Kane comes back with a DDT on the chair, but they head to the floor and Bray puts him the table with a senton. Back in, Kane blocks Sister Abigail with a chokeslam for two. Alas, Bray comes back with the uranage on the chair for two to cut off Kane’s comeback, and now Randy Orton limps out to distract Bray and hit the RKO on him. And this time the chokeslam finishes at 10:50. Really? We’re putting Kane over in 2016? So Bray doesn’t even get heat on him through the end of this show? **
Meanwhile, AJ Styles stops to inspire a couple of indy geeks who are standing around backstage for unexplained reasons.
Smackdown tag titles: The Usos v. Heath Slater & Rhyno
Slater’s entrace music is pretty amusing. Slater holds his own for a minute (literally) and the Usos quickly go to work on him in the corner. Chinlocks follow and the Usos cut off the ring and double-team Heath gets beat up forever and finally makes the hot tag to Rhyno after 8:00 of boredom, and he runs wild but misses the Goar. Heath tags himself back in and hits neckbreakers on his own, but the Usos quickly cut him off. Rhyno hits Jimmy with the Goar behind the ref’s back and Slater pins him to win the titles at 9:55. So Heath gets the contract and the titles. I don’t really know where you can go with the story from here, unless it’s just the Usos winning them next month to set up the American Alpha chase. Nothing much to the match, although Heath’s exuberant “We’re getting a double wide” was a funny line. *1/2
WWE World title: Dean Ambrose v. AJ Styles
Styles slugs away to start, but Dean comes back with a backdrop and tosses AJ, only to see his dive foiled. Back in, AJ with a neckbreaker and he works the neck to take over. Dropkick gets two. Ambrose comes back and stomps the proverbial mudhole in the corner, but misses a charge and hits the post. They fight to the top and Dean tries a backdrop superplex, but the spot goes kind of badly and they lose control on it. Ambrose makes a comeback with a backbreaker for two, but AJ bails, so Dean follows with a flying elbow to the floor. Back in with a facebuster for two. Dean goes up, but AJ rolls through on him and suplexes him into the turnbuckles. They counter out of each others’ finishers and AJ crushes the knee and goes to work on it. Dean fights back, but AJ rolls him into the Calf Crusher and Dean makes the ropes right away. AJ takes him down right away for another try at it, but Dean rams his head into the mat to escape in a nice counter. They head to the apron and Ambrose catapults him into the post for a sick looking bump. Back in, Ambrose with the bulldog and cradle for two as the crowd has actually turned on Ambrose and is booing the comeback. AJ fires back a fireman’s carry neckbreaker for two, but Dean backdrops out of the Styles Clash. AJ with a backbreaker into a powerbomb this time, for two. Springboard 450 gets two. Dean comes back again with a neckbreaker and fires away, and again the crowd completely turns on him. Back to the floor and Ambrose hits him with a dive into the tables and they brawl into the crowd and back to the ring again. Back in, AJ catches him with the Pele, but Dean hits the rebound lariat and the crowd is still booing him. Dirty Deeds, but the ref is bumped, so AJ goes low and hits the Styles Clash to win the title at 25:00! Crowd wasn’t gonna accept any other result, and it was the right one to get that belt onto him ASAP. A great main event, although again a cheap finish after a great match. ****1/4
Pretty much what we all expected going into this – a mediocre midcard padded out with filler, with a great main event and AJ winning the big belt for the first time. Mild thumbs up.