This week, Jonathan Maldonado, Jordan Chaffiotte and Wes Keefer will be giving their reactions to the Backlash 2018.
Question 1: Seth Rollins vs. The Miz was the consensus match of the night. What did you like (or dislike) about this match and what do you see moving forward for these superstars?
MALDONADO: I loved everything about this match. Seth Rollins has been on an absolute tear this year and his title run so far has been nothing short of phenomenal. He's getting wonderful matches out of everyone he enters the ring with and I'm so happy to see his comfort level soar since returning from injury in 2016. He's the right man to lead Raw in Brock Lesnar's absence with the Universal Championship. Forget Roman Reigns and all his drama, Raw is Monday Night Rollins.
What's even better about this match is The Miz. Not only is he the hottest promo and act in the WWE, he has vastly improved in the ring. His move set feels and looks natural, his counters are timely and believable. Keeping the Miztourage from ringside at WrestleMania and his solo showing against Rollins at Backlash is enough to prove the A-lister can go between the ropes.
The Miz is the WWE Champion the company needs. While AJ Styles is the consensus best wrestler in the company, his feuds are not going to bring the WWE Championshop the credibility and showmanship it deserves with his current booking. His biggest strength as a character is all wrestling, all the time. The Miz on the other hand brings a flair for the dramatic, wonderful heel work and the passion for the seemingly unattainable. He is simply the most fun at the top of the card. Styles has nothing left to prove in his career, he's the absolute best. The Miz, however, has the WWE title run potential that escaped him the first time. Get the strap on this guy STAT.
CHAFFIOTTE: Guys. GUYS. This was so good. This was easily a contender for match of the year. I love it when Miz gets in real offense, he's hardly the sub-par wrestler that people make him out to be. Even without the Miztoruage or his lovely wife in tow, he was able to pull of just enough of the dirty tricks without sacrificing his credibility. Even though it would not make sense for both mid card titles to be on SmackDown, there were more than a few moments where I thought he had gotten the job done. That's how you know a match is excellent. Meanwhile, Rollins completely stole the show with this performance. The worked injuries served him well without making him come off too overly-cautious, a challenge he's struggled with since returning. He is quite easily doing his best work since giving up his championship. I was hoping for an appearance by a noticeably missing Finn Balor, perhaps on commentary or just at the end to congratulate Seth and remind him who is still in line. Without that, though, it's not like the match suffered, I just would've enjoyed it.
So next up, Seth ought to continue his feud with Balor, it's probably the hottest thing on Raw right now. Their chemistry is undeniable, and I actually enjoy that they share similar move sets. This is really a story that started back at SummerSlam with the Universal Championship and to me, it feels like neither can truly move on until they hop over the other. They're both stuck. Which means Balor is not going to stop chasing Rollins. They should continue to be both rivals and friends, teaming up as often as they face each other. Balor can take the belt off Rollins in a SummerSlam do-over and then honestly, Rollins is due for a world championship run. Whether Reigns is the champion by then, or it's Bruan Strowman or even still Brock Lesnar, he is ready to be the marquee guy once more. We've never gotten to see face Rollins as a world champion, it should be a fun ride.
As for Miz, I hear there's someone on SmackDown who would like to have a word with him. That word is "yes!"
KEEFER: Rollins is in the middle of an unbelievable push at the moment and it almost made sense that these two men met in a match for the Intercontinental Championship. Miz, say what you want about him, revolutionized the belt and made it the big deal title that we needed with Lesnar absent with the Universal Championship. Rollins has taken it over and continued the trend of keeping it popular and “must-see,” as Miz proclaims.
A key thing I noticed was the fact that Miz has greatly matured as an in-ring performer, making him the overall package. The crowd has taken more a liking to him as well, even though he is a heel. The Miz is bound for a great push with Money in the Bank coming up, but this is also just the beginning for Rollins. He is the champion we deserve and he has backed it up with words. He brought out the best in Miz and even made Mojo Rawley look decent. Rollins will continue being a great IC champion, but he will move on. Whether it is the rumored feud with Dean Ambrose when he returns or finally getting that crack at Lesnar, Seth Rollins will be someone who also jumps Reigns.
As a side note, Tyson Kidd is striking gold with his producing so far and was the mastermind behind Rollins vs Miz.
Question 2: Carmella beat Charlotte Flair clean to retain the SmackDown Women's Championship. Did you see this result coming and how does this shape up the women's division on SDL?
MALDONADO: Last week I vouched to get the belt back on Charlotte as soon as possible, but I've turned on this, with trepidation. Carmella needed this win and that performance. Retaining was the right move. Sure she's the quintessential chickenshit heel, but if she's going to be the champ, this was important. However, that fact that her performance was against Charlotte and ended cleanly leaves me with mixed feelings. It cheapens the Asuka situation and makes little logical sense in the bigger picture.
What iss exciting about this moving forward is The IIconics factor. Carmella can continue her reign with the help of the wildly entertaining duo and keeps the run believable. I'm totally in for a summer of Money Mella leading to SummerSlam weekend. It should be a fun ride with the heels having the upper hand.
It is still odd to see Charlotte as the underdog, especially since she's much better as a hell than best friends with her most credible opponents. She'll undoubtedly lean on Asuka and Becky Lynch to fend off the trio of Carmella and The IIconics and while that’s fine for now, I hope she turns on everyone and assumes the role of menacing Queen.
CHAFFIOTTE: Admittedly, I watched this after the fact and nothing brings down a match like watching it while answering emails. Still, I thought this was pretty good. Listen, Charlotte is always going to have to overcome the fact that she never looks like an underdog. Even if she's the challenger, even if she's the face, even if she's gotten beaten down by those uneven attacks. It may have helped to have a worked injury be a bit more pronounced, at times it felt like Charlotte had just laid down. Ultimately, though, they told the right story and yes, Carmella needed a clean win. It was not what I expected, I figured she'd get herself DQ'd via the IIconics or a count-out to retain, but I'm glad they did it. Credibility is easy to lose and hard to gain in this business.
Backlash is always full of these tying-up-loose-ends stories. Charlotte may be pissed but she ought to turn her attention elsewhere for now. There are a lot of rumors regarding a women's tag belt in the near future, and SmackDown really has the depth to contribute several good teams. Becky Lynch and Charlotte can be one of them at least for the initial tournament. It'll give both of them a chance to shine outside of the title picture. Asuka is clearly next, so Carmella's going to have to get crafty about avoiding her. So far I'm enjoying her time as champion, I don't want to see it to end too quickly.
KEEFER: Like most of the matches after Rollins vs Miz, this one was lackluster as well. The results were predictable in the sense that Carmella would retain. She just cashed in and WWE is still trying to see how she clicks as the champ. Honestly, I assumed The IIconics would at least make an appearance in this match,as they have been tormenting Charlotte. It is true that Carmella was in need of a clean win, but she is still the bottom of the pack in my opinion. I watched the match and I was annoyed with her, and not in the fun way a heel makes you feel. She was just annoying. WWE did do a good job of hiding her flaws, as she isn't the best performer on the roster.
As for The Queen, she doesn't lose much heat as she was hurt and taken advantage of. She will likely continue to get the title back, but there are other storylines that she can help out with. More specifically, she can be a partner with her best friend Becky Lynch and her foreseeable heel turn. She feels like a weak link and could take on The Queen to prove herself. SDL needs a fresh title picture, whether Carmella remains champ or not.
Question 3: AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura battled in a No Disqualification match to another...double count out? What is going on with this storyline?
MALDONADO: That was the best match of the trilogy so far and it was damn fun. Did the ending suck? Absolutely. In the end though, keeping this feud alive despite the ridiculous low blow stuff is the right move. It's playground nonsense for now, but I'm positive things will really heat up moving into the summer (pun intended).
With Samoa Joe lurking and potentially making this a three-man feud, things are about to shake up for the better. This of course is assuming WWE doesn't continue the cross promotional feud between Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe. Hopefully Jinder Mahal keeps Reigns occupied enough to prevent that from happening.
CHAFFIOTTE: Shoot me, I'm having a good time here. Is it what a dream match should be? No. Has it already gone on a little too long? Yeah, probably. Do I really need to see this again? Ehh, let's see how they find a way to finally have a definitive ending first. I would think if it goes past Money in the Bank it might start to wade into X-Pac heat territory but I'm also not convinced it's been butchered. After all, Nakamura is more interesting now as a heel than he has been since his debut.
Styles seems uncharacteristically desperate, resorting to the lowest form of offense, pun intended. What can I say, I'm having fun. We just need to make sure this has a direction before it's too late. If we couldn't solve this in a no-DQ, maybe the next move is a Last Man Standing. Granted, that is possibly the exact opposite of what we're trying to accomplish here, but that makes it sort of interesting. We could suggest that both are smart enough to avoid anything that would create mutually assured destruction (and the writers are smart enough to not write it in.) It'll take too long and we will have more false finishes than the rest of the show combined, but at least we'll have a clear winner. Ideally, Nakamura.
KEEFER: Everyone thought it was over after the dream match at WM. Instead, Nakamura turned heel and kept his story with Styles rolling. It has in fact been quite entertaining to tune in every week and see Nakamura work on the mic and in the ring with his now iconic low blows. The whole “Speak no English” angle has me rolling in laughter every time he says it.
With that being said, the matches are still epic themselves. The finishes are horrible, but make sense. It keeps people wanting more and keeps the feud going. There has to be a clear winner soon though before it gets stale and it needs to be Nakamura. Styles is a great champion, but Nakamura has potential WWE can still tap into to. WWE does keep shooting itself in the foot with these no-DQ stipulations that end in a double count-out. A Last Man Standing match is the popular and obvious choice.
Those are our thoughts on the issue, but where do you stand?
Let us know your answers to these questions in the comments below!