In the best of times, Backlash is rarely an impactful pay-per-view, but the odds feel really stacked against it this year. While NXT pulled off an impressive In Your House last week, the main roster has to contend with a mixed bag of matches, no fans in the audience, and some questionable strategies to get heat. Let’s take a look at the card:
Sheamus vs Jeff Hardy
This has built with Sheamus setting up Hardy for a DUI, managing to combine two things WWE loves: employing local extras as police officers, and exploiting their talent’s personal lives. This storyline was received so poorly, it made Matt Hardy tweet about it before his wife. At least there’s the chance Elias will make a miraculously recovered run-in in one of his tight tank tops during this one.
Prediction: Hardy kind of has to win, otherwise this already uncomfortable story is going to feel pointless as well.
Randy Orton vs Edge
Grit vs genes, hard work vs hardly working; it’s the Greatest Wrestling Match ever, which is a very bold claim when you remember Stokely Hathaway vs Orange Cassidy exists. Edge and Orton’s match at WrestleMania was pretty fun for the first ten minutes, so let’s hope they keep this one short and sweet. Kind of like Randy’s venture into activism on Twitter.
Prediction: Edge finishes his comeback story on a high note, then heads back to Syfy to demand a Haven reboot.
Women’s Tag Team Championship: Bayley & Sasha Banks (c) vs. Nikki Cross & Alexa Bliss vs. The IIconics (Triple Threat Match)
Banks and Bayley just won the titles from BlissCross last week on SmackDown, and now the Boss and 2 Bayley 2 Straps have to defend against both the former champions and the returning IIconics. The Aussies picked up momentum with Billie Kay’s victory over Nikki Cross on Raw, but is it enough to best the two time champs?
Prediction: I’m sure someone in WWE will end Sunday night crying on the locker room floor, but I’m going with Banks and Bayley retaining here.
United States Championship: Apollo Crews (c) vs. Andrade:
Crews took the US title from Andrade a few weeks ago, and Zelina Vega’s best friend is out for revenge. After winning a triple threat against Angel Garza and Kevin Owens, Andrade has a chance to get the belt back and once again rock some neon orange championship fits.
Prediction: Apollo’s in his first title reign ever, I hope they’re smart enough to keep the momentum rolling for him.
Raw Women’s Championship: Asuka (c) vs Nia Jax
Nia made an impactful return to Raw a few weeks ago, following nearly a year out of action. After squashing some other ladies on the roster, she took out Asuka’s partner Kairi Sane last week, and even stole Asuka’s green makeup look for extra intimidation points. It looks like Nia might be a real threat to the champ this weekend.
Prediction: I’m going with Jax, although I’d rather see the Empress hold onto the title for a while longer.
WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre (c) vs Bobby Lashley
Much like my parents nearly two decades ago, Lashley and Lana have realized this whole thing isn’t really going anywhere. The Almighty has partnered with MVP, which is probably a step up unless you’re still on Tik Tok, I guess. McIntyre had an emotional win at Mania, and just adopted an adorable kitten to hold in his large arms, so they both have a lot going for them right now. What’s better than two big dudes slugging it out? For Vince McMahon, really nothing.
Prediction: I can’t see McIntyre losing the belt just yet, and Lashley hasn’t been made to look like the strongest challenger.
Universal Championship: Braun Strowman vs The Miz and John Morrison (Handicap Match)
Big ol’ country boy takes on two city slickers in this one. Miz and Morrison have been playing their best frat bros; pulling pranks and beating up Strowman’s car for a few weeks. Now it’s time for them to get some comeuppance in a match that, God willing, doesn’t go over 4 minutes.
Prediction: Obviously Strowman, although for half a second I invite you to imagine a world where John Morrison is Universal Champion. We could have had it all.