After playing second fiddle for most of WrestleMania 34 and losing crucial talent to RAW in the Superstar Shake-Up, SmackDown has spent about a month licking its wounds.
The Randy Orton Era as champion has been apathetic at best. The loss of Miz and Alexa Bliss left a chasm on the roster. The resurgence of Jinder Mahal has been questionable. And on top of it all, Mauro Ranallo is gone. Strange times, indeed.
However, Backlash is SmackDown's first attempt to self-correct and reset their navigation towards SummerSlam. To their credit, this show is aligned nicely and should provide some good direction.
With that said, let's take a deeper look at the card and find out what results will be best for business.
Randy Orton Should Squash Jinder Mahal
Look guys, as fans, this is our classiest moment. We held WWE accountable for rolling out the old xenophobic narrative, calling WWE dated and out of touch. We empathized with Jinder for being cornered into such rudimentary character. We even supported Mahal, saying "he's actually doing OK!" What a weird, meta world we live in.
Despite the goodwill of the people, it's time for this Jinder Mahal thing to end. Yes, his story is good, but by no means are we dealing with Daniel Bryan 2.0. He's played his part, and in reality, the WWE Championship has suffered.
Let's right the ship here and get back to business. To redeem himself and this championship, Orton needs to dominate this match. However long it takes to RKO Mahal and J & J Security, uh, I mean, The Singh Brothers is exactly how long this match should run. This gives this most over finisher in the company its spotlight while elevating Orton. The better Orton looks, the better it will when he eventually loses the title.
The question is not if Randy Orton will win, but if he wears Lex Luger's USA undies to do it.
6-Woman-Tag Needs to get us Closer to Becky vs. Charlotte
Under no circumstance can SmackDown's 2-hour airtime support all 6 of these women on a weekly basis. WWE knows this and will use this
Even though Naomi is
Are we building to a SummerSlam showdown? Probably so. Let's establish the roles and motives at Backlash. WWE hasn't had a meaningful women's feud in, well, I'm not sure if they have in recent memory. Point is, WWE, not just Smackdown needs Becky vs. Charlotte.
Win or Lose, AJ Styles has to Become a Bigger Babyface
This will be a great match. But the outcome it arbitrary. In what will likely be the first of 3 fights, it's more important to re-iterate AJ Styles as a babyface than him actually winning the match. The ways WWE accomplishes this are abundant.
Both of these men are popular. If WWE can, they need to further distinguish their characters. Let's try to chip away at KO's fan section by having him cheat to beat AJ Styles. That way, we like KO less and root for Styles more.
So as much as it may sting, it is important that Styles loses this match. It's the best medicine for us and WWE.
The Usos Narrowly Beat Breezango
For the first time since the brand split the SmackDown tag division has some momentum. Since their heel turn, The Usos have been the division's most attractive act. Their departure from face paint was long overdue.
And it's going so well.
Well written humor goes a long way in WWE.
With New Day absent, this division is one big free market. Teams like the Usos and
For that to happen, The Usos need to retain at Backlash, but in a competitive, fiery match. It's best for all parties to have
Shinsuke and Dolph Should Main Event
With Orton and Mahal so clearly being a one-off feud, there's little reason for it to close Backlash. Instead, WWE should entrust that time to a man they are rumored to be enamored with.
It's hard to say anything original about Shinsuke Nakamura by now, but the guy is special. Extraordinary talent should get extraordinary opportunities. If the plan is to make Shinsuke a headliner, let's go ahead and send that message by having him main event his first WWE pay-per-view.
Is it heavy handed? Maybe a little. But it's not like he's 20-something just breaking into the business. Nakamura is ready for take-off. Why waste time? Unleash!