Welcome to Backlash… with added “Wrestlemania” just to mess with nerds trying to alphabetise things and to pretend it’s more important than it is. Like a “Super Sunday” between West Brom and Southampton.
WWE Universal Title
Roman Reigns © vs Cesaro
It’s always a challenge when someone ‘bites’ with the fans like Cesaro is currently doing. The gut says to give him a title shot and to put him into the picture, but at the same time, it doesn’t really feel like it’s time to end Roman’s Reign (no pun intended). This creates a situation where – unfortunately – neither man should really be losing.
There are a number of potential outs though, and it should be a fairly easy story to tell. Paradoxically, if the WWE is genuinely behind Cesaro then he shouldn’t win his first WWE title at a ‘lesser’ PPV like Backlash, but rather build him up to win at Summerslam. If Cesaro loses here, it has to tell a story.
Roman is the heavy favourite to retain (currently 1/6 on versus 7/2 for the Swiss Superman) so I expect that we’ll see him win via Uso related shenanigans and with Cesaro looking strong enough to come again. That said – a small bet on Cesaro could be worth a bet – he ain’t winning the title here – but he winning by DQ / Count-Out could actually be a positive sign long term (Cesaro wins but not the title, Reigns ducks another challenge throwing Usos / Rollins in the way to keep us until Summerslam).
Prediction: Roman Reigns Wins
WWE Title Match
Bobby Lashley © vs Drew McIntyre vs Braun Strowman
Drew having a successful title reign during a period when no fans were there is a difficult one for history to judge. Was it a success? How did people “really” feel about him? The guy *looks* like someone who should be the face of the company (ICW’s Mark Dallas once described Galloway/McIntyre as looking “like a Disney Prince”, but it feels like a lost opportunity for him to peak during the covid-era.
Hopefully Drew gets another run at the top soon enough, but I don’t think he’s doing so here. The triple threat rules keeps everyone strong and with Braun being the biggest outsider (7/1) I assume that “The Monster Among Men” will be the one taking the fall.
Lashley is the heavy favourite to retain here (1/2 on versus McIntyre at 9/4) and a triple threat rules out a DQ/Countout finish, so a strong favourite is even more likely to win (see caveat on the Cesaro/Reigns match).
Presumably we go from here to McIntyre vs Braun for a month or two and allows Lashley to build up his title reign with a new challenger du jour whomever that may be. Given how clean Lashley won at ‘Mania it would seem strange for him to drop the title here (Drew needs some rebuilding away from Lashers) but nothing is impossible in the WWE.
Prediction Bobby Lashley Wins
WWE Smackdown Women’s Title
Bianca Belair vs Bayley
There was a period of time in the WWE where if they had a new champion, they’d throw Kane at him in his first feud to “establish them as Champion”. PROGRESS did the same thing with Zack Sabre Junior. And I think Bayley may be taking this valuable role here – not the person who will be the central point of the division, but an above solid hand who can lose to the new champ and give them credibility without dropping any of their own.
The bookies have got Bianca at a whopping 1/10 on to retain here and it’s really the only sensible result. Bayley puts in a good performance and helps to show that Belair’s Mania victory wasn’t a one off.
If anything, I’d say that Bayley’s odds of 11/2 are *too short* – there’s literally no upside to her winning here; the story is establishing Bianca as champion, not setting Bayley up for a longer term story.
Not sure where either goes after this match, but it could very well be the surprise match of the evening if they’re given enough time to do what we know both (especially Bayley) can do on the big stage.
Prediction: Bianca Belair Wins
WWE Smackdown Tag Team Titles
The Dirty Dawgs (Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode) © vs Rey Mysterio & Dominik Mysterio
I like that they’ve at least made the effort to give Ziggler and Roode a team name – “The Dirty Dawgs” has a real late 80s Southern Wrasslin’ Team name to them. Although it’s a shame they never were given a Christmas Gimmick and called themselves “Team RooDolph”
This really should have been at Mania; especially given that I’m (and the bookies) are expecting Los Mysterios (Mysterii? What’s the plural of a Mysterio?) to win the titles. Unless one Mysterio turns on the other, then it’s a fair bet that they win here. For as much as I appreciate the matching gimmick and actual team name, The Dawgs have always felt like a placeholder team with the suggestion being that a lot of the things that are positive about them are being driven by the performers themselves as opposed to being a reflection of a plan to improve the team.
A lot of recent-ish title changes has meant that this show – the first one after Mania – is likely to be quite low on the numbers for title changes, so why not have one here. Maybe that’s the exact reason it *wasn’t* on the Mania card? Rey & Dom are 4/9 vs the Dawgs at 13/8 which I think are quite short for Team Mysterio (even at 4/9) so could be worth a punt. You won’t make a lot, but it’s a pretty safe bet.
Prediction: Rey & Dominik Mysterio Win
WWE RAW Women’s Title
Rhea Ripley © vs Charlotte Flair vs Asuka
The RAW Women’s Title match is literally the exact same story as the Universal Title Match with Rhea playing the part of Bobby Lashley, Charlotte as Drew and Asuka as Braun. In fact, the odds are almost identical to their counterparts – Rhea is 4/7, Chazza is 2/1 and Asuka is 13/2
It’s well established that Charlotte is the “crown jewel” of the WWE’s Women Division (arguably more so than Becky Lynch) and – much like with Drew – the Triple Threat allows the person that they’ve got the longer term locked in plans for to be in a big role but not lose. Asuka could have really done with not losing here given how clean she lost at Mania, but she’s the one losing here for sure.
It seems pointless for Rhea to drop the title now in what is becoming a somewhat crowded Women’s title scene, and a scene you have to assume that Alexa Bliss will be getting back into the main title picture scene of too soon enough.
Rhea needs a strong win here and will very likely get it. Especially if she has to deal with zombie voodoo magic soon.
Prediction: Rhea Ripley Wins
Damian Priest vs The Miz
I have a hunch with this one and (at time of typing) it’s the only match without odds published, so it’s hard to know whether this hunch is going to be validated. I think that the bookies will back Priest here (being the relative new-comer to the main roster) but I think that The Miz wins – making it a good one to put some money on.
Priest got a big Mania spotlight on him and – although Bad Bunny got most of the plaudits – I thought that “The Archer of Infamy” handled himself well on what was really the biggest match of his career (at that point). Miz is a lot better than people give him credit for and I think he gets the win here to ‘recover’ a bit from the Mania loss.
It won’t be clean, but that’s kinda the point. It doesn’t need to be. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Miz should win only if he’s going to win it with shenanigans. It would be a nice little cap to the feud and then allow both men to go and do something different each with their heads held high.
Prediction: The Miz