WWE returns to pay-per-view (PPV) -- if your cable provider is carrying the event, of course -- tomorrow night (Sun., Sept. 11, 2016) live from the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Virginia with its Backlash event starting at 7:00 p.m. ET with the Kickoff show leading right on into the main course at 8 p.m. ET on the WWE Network.
Set for the card: Dean Ambrose defends the WWE championship against AJ Styles, a Six-Pack Challenge determines the first SmackDown women’s champion, and so much more.
Luckily for you Cagesiders, our staff of learned wrestling blowhards is here to help figure out just how the event is going to play out with predictions for each match on the card.
Let's get to it.
WWE BACKLASH PREDICTIONS
Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles
Geno Mrosko: I can’t see a title change here, at least not yet. They should try to push this out through Survivor Series and put the strap on Styles there. That means he needs to take an “L” here. Pick: Ambrose
Sean Rueter: When this feud is over, I expect the Phenomenal One to be carrying the strap. But I don't believe this is a one match program, because I really don't know who's ready to challenge either guy on the other side of it. Look for this to end somewhat controversially so they can do it again at No Mercy (and probably Survivor Series) before AJ officially takes over as the Face(?) That Runs the Place. Pick: Dean Ambrose
Kyle Decker: AJ Styles just beat John Cena twice in a row, which hasn't been done since... well since Cena became the top face in the company. A feat like that isn't wasted on a losing effort to jokin' Dean Ambrose. At least it shouldn't. Pick: AJ Styles
Cain A. Knight: This is the toughest match on the card to predict. It seems inevitable that Styles will eventually beat Ambrose for the championship, but I'm not sure if WWE is going to pull the trigger on that move right now. The SmackDown roster is very thin and so WWE will probably need to drag some of these feuds out over the span of a few pay-per-views. And considering that Styles just left Ambrose down in the ring this past Tuesday, I assume that means Ambrose will be the one standing tall at the end of this event. Pick: Dean Ambrose
ReverendKain: Three-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Two-time TNA World Heavyweight Champion. Two-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion. One-time John Cena Champion. One-time WWE World Champion. Pick: AJ Styles
Geno Mrosko: They’ve pretty clearly built this up for Nikki Bella to win, give the title some “legitimacy,” and continue trying to get Carmella over. Pick: Nikki Bella
Sean Rueter: Let's get cynical, because Becky Lynch's WWE career calls for it. There are reality shows to promote, and three women in this match which star in them. Plus, one of them is John Cena's partner and, now that she's a babyface, can feud with a certain suspended heat magnet non-wrestler. I hope they shock me and give the Lasskicker a moment she deserves (just don't chant about it, okay?), and there's a chance they could give Natty a lifetime achievement award. But, I don't think so. Pick: Nikki Bella
Kyle Decker: I'm between Nikki Bella and Becky Lynch on this one, though the New Era is full of surprises. Since she was drafted first and a "New Era" esque superstar, I'm going with a big win for the Lass Kicker, but I really wouldn't be surprised if Nikki or even Natalya ended up taking it. Pick: Becky Lynch
Cain A. Knight: Becky Lynch needs this win more than anybody else, but unfortunately she is going to be cast aside for Nikki Bella. Nikki Bella just tapped out to Carmella this week, and the main reason that happened is because Nikki is going to win the championship and then feud with Carmella over it. Maybe next time, Becky. Pick: Nikki Bella
ReverendKain: Normally, I'd put the Emerald Queen over but Carmella being a thorn in her side, I don't think that's gonna happen. So then my next thought is to put my beloved Queen of Hoss Style, the World's Strongest Pixie, Dynamic Bliss over but she's gotten so little shine in the build here, so we'll play it safe and assume this is finally Becky's moment. Pick: Becky Lynch
Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt
Geno Mrosko: I’m not quite sure. I’m guessing they’re going to keep Orton strong for the Brock Lesnar rematch in Chicago later this month. Pick: Orton
Sean Rueter: Funny I didn't think of either of these guys as title contenders when predicting Ambrose/Styles. In my defense, it's because they both really need a big win, making this match bad news for one of them. I suppose Erick Rowan or even a rumored to be almost ready Luke Harper interfering are options - and either could conceivably interfere in aid of either man - but I'm guessing they don't have the Viper lose again heading into his big rematch, even if it is on a house show. Pick: Randy Orton
Kyle Decker: Bray Wyatt really should win this, being the younger star who is full time. But Randy just played good soldier by playing punching bag to Brock Lesnar and a reward is in order. Plus, a Randy victory after getting squashed by Brock just makes Brock look even beastlier. Pick: Randy Orton
Cain A. Knight: Bray Wyatt's booking has been the same for years, and that means he's going to ramble a bunch of meaningless nonsense on television and then lose to the bigger star on PPV. I don't see Vince booking Orton to take another big loss right after getting his ass kicked by Lesnar last month. There is also potential for a screwy ending here if WWE is planning to keep this feud going for a while, but even in that case I don't think Randy gets pinned. Pick: Randy Orton
ReverendKain: The Eater of Worlds thinks he's gotten into Randy Orton's head, but Randy Orton's mental scars have mental scars. He ain't afraid of no ghost. Pick: Randy Orton
The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler
Geno Mrosko: Nothing about any of this would be interesting if they booked a title change. Pick: Miz
Sean Rueter: It wouldn't be the Neverending Intercontinental Title World Tour if it ended here, would it? Pick: Miz
Kyle Decker: I'm still not entirely sure what they are doing with Ziggler. They are building him up as somewhat important but he continues to lose all the time. Since they just heated up Miz with that Talking Smack promo, I can't imagine he'll drop the title here just to transfer that heat to Ziggler. Instead, Miz retains and Dolph's continual losses, which has become story, can lead to a heel turn/character change. Pick: The Miz
Cain A. Knight: Well I hope that Ziggler wins, but it seems more likely that Dolph will lose once again and then turn heel in the upcoming weeks. I don't think WWE is going to follow up the acclaimed Miz promo on Talking Smack by immediately taking the championship from him. Pick: The Miz
ReverendKain: Dolph is, by his own admission, a loser. A guy who keeps getting opportunities and failing. Confirmation bias is a hell of a drug. Pick: The Miz
Hype Bros vs. The Usos
Geno Mrosko: It doesn’t matter. Pick: Usos
Sean Rueter: Even as a Hype Bros fan, there's no chance (in hell) they're even getting to the final. Pick: Usos
Kyle Decker: Even if they lose the final, I think the heel Usos win this one. You don't turn a team heel just to have them job to the Hypo Bros. Sorry, I ain't hyped. Pick: The Usos
Cain A. Knight: This is probably the easiest match on the card to predict. There is close to no chance that the Usos turned heel only to immediately lose to these guys. And the Hype Bros just lost to Slater and Rhyno last week on SmackDown, so there's really no point in running that unspectacular match again as the final match of this tournament. Pick: The Usos
ReverendKain: I like the new vicious Usos a lot, and they're going to destroy poor Zack's knee in new and inventive ways here. All the hype in the world ain't gonna help that. Pick: The Usos
Rhyno & Heath Slater vs. TBA
Geno Mrosko: It doesn’t matter the opponent, Slater messed around and got over and Rhyno has new life teaming with him. WWE has a long history of running with mismatched partners like this for a short run while they work out the rest of the division running programs like The Usos vs. American Alpha on the strength of an injury angle. Pick: Rhyno & Slater
Sean Rueter: The newly evil Samoans and the amazingly over enhancement talent is your tag team tournament final. As in the bag as I am for Slates & Rhyn, I see the logic in going with Jimmy & Jey. Plus, you can either have Bryan & Shane give Heath a contract anyway in an emotional scene, or keep dangling it in front of him for a while. Pick: The Usos
Kyle Decker: This is a tough one to call because I can see the Usos beating Heath Slater & Rhyno to get some major heat, denying the fan favorite a contract once again. But I can also imagine American Alpha interfering in order to get a measure of revenge on the Usos and to give Heath Slater and Rhyno a feel good moment. In the end, I'm going to say that the Usos win this, drawing major heat for screwing over two fan favorites in a week. Heath can remain a free agent, which has been a great story. Pick: The Usos
Cain A. Knight: I think more juice can still be squeezed from the Heath Slater free agent gimmick. Meanwhile, it's hard to ask for a more effective heel turn than unfairly injuring American Alpha and also taking food off the paper plates of Heath Slater's kids. Pick: The Usos
ReverendKain: Look, Rhyno believes in Heath. Rhyno wants Heath's kids to have that above-ground pool forever and ever. But the Usos are unstoppable, and I have to apply the same logic here that I apply to my beloved Revival-- if you got legs, you're gonna lose. Johnny Gargano knows. Pick: the Usos
Those are our picks, Cagesiders.
What are yours?