This week, Robert DeFelice, Jordan Chaffiotte, and Jonathan Maldonado will be giving their thoughts on this past Friday's WWE Greatest Royal Rumble, and previews WWE Backlash 2018!
We end a tumultuous few months with this Sunday's WWE Backlash. Let's take a look at three of the top matches on the card and give our predictions. Does the YES Movement crumble at the feet of the Gotham Goliath? Is this the night that we finally crown the King of Strong Style? Which Samoan behemoth will stand tall at the end of the show? Let’s discuss…
Question 1: Two months ago, the idea of Daniel Bryan wrestling full-time was a pipe dream. After a record-breaking performance this past Friday during the Greatest Royal Rumble Match, this Sunday, he will be making his one-on-one pay-per-view return against... Big Cass. What do you think of this match, and who do you think wins here?
CHAFFIOTTE: Ahhh. AHHHHHH. That's how I react every time Daniel Bryan steps into the ring because Bryan is my favorite. He's my absolute favorite, he's everything that is right about wrestling, but he also represents the very real risks that come along with it. Every time he steps in the ring, I'm nervous about it.
That being said, things are going really well for him so far. I don't expect BackLash to be any different, provided he doesn't take a bad bump or a bad boot to the head. Cass isn't a half bad opponent for him. I'm not sure I understand his motivations, but such is the way it goes when it comes to midcard heels. Bryan is at his best when he's fighting guys twice his size and he can help lead Cass to a really strong showing. Bryan is also at his best when he's fighting from beneath, and that means it's a bad call to have him win and win and win some more. Cass ought to win this one after Bryan takes him to town. That reinstates Bryan's underdog status and gets some heat on Cass which he can use to maybe get involved in the US Championship. Will Bryan win his Match of the Year here? Probably not. But as a summer pay-per-view in the middle of the card, it'll be good. Let's be real, we're biding our time for Miz vs. Bryan, and that's alright with me.
MALDONADO: I like this more for the placement of Big Cass against a big name. He’s been on fire with his promos and he has a lot of potential to wreak havoc on SDL just being the big guy on the roster wanting to pick on anyone and everyone he feels is inferior. I feel like this is what Baron Corbin should have been.
Anyway, this question is more about and Daniel Bryan. This is a fun way to get him back in regular feuds, almost symbolically calling back to his David vs. Goliath run back in 2014. It feels right not to jump right into a program with The Miz. Those two have a long journey ahead of them and a warm-up feud for Bryan is the way to go.
Jordan makes a good call in reestablishing Bryan as an underdog and having him drop this one to Cass. Of course, this can’t end clean if that’s the case, but I’m fine with that. This match to me seems intended to advance Cass than serve as a step for Bryan. Bryan is fine as he is, Cass needs this more as he is just returning and really starting his singles run.
DEFELICE: First off, it's crazy how long ago it seems that Daniel wasn't cleared to compete. Second, I'm surprised that they haven't immediately pushed him to the moon and given him a championship match. I think the greatest Royal Rumble performance was stuff they should have saddled him with at the beginning of his WWE career. As far as his match against Big Cass is concerned, I go back to a podcast Bryan did with Chris Jericho in 2015, where he said that he wanted to work with everyone on the roster and show why everyone was worthy of a WWE contract. I definitely think that is the philosophy taken here.
Cass has a solid spot filling the Baron Corbin role of being the one traditional WWE main eventer on a roster filled with major names from the independents. I see Cass winning, with help from The Miz. The Miz and Daniel Bryan feud is still the big money match to be had on Smackdown Live, and this will bring us one step closer...
Question 2: Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles will be competing against each other for a third time in four weeks on a marquee stage. How are you liking this feud so far? Do you think Nakamura is more appealing as a heel? Who do you see walking out of Backlash with the WWE Championship?
DeFELICE: I think they established at WrestleMania that just having a dream match isn't enough. I am definitely way more into the Nakamura character, and their feud subsequently now that he has some edge to him and I'm surprised they didn't give him the win at the Greatest Royal Rumble event. I expected a switch there and then a quick switch back to AJ here, but since they didn't go with that, I will say that Nakamura walks out of Backlash with the WWE Championship. Although, if he doesn't win here, it might be time to start thinking about the reality that he may never be WWE Champion.
MALDONADO: Heel Namakura is the best Nakamura. While I’m not crazy about his new theme, it certainly fits this persona, as well as that sweet new vest. It’s time AJ Styles feuded with a worthy heel, and Nakamura is the right one.
I do have to admit however, this feud is severely lacking in real heat. This low-blow thing has to end. As of the go-home show Nakamura is still at it and AJ Styles four weeks after Mania is none the wiser. Let’s get a little more creative, and a little more adult. Low-blows have a high school prank feel to them, especially when they’re done so many times. Have them brawl backstage every now and then, have Nakamura interfere with real strong style shots during AJ matches, something.
Hopefully this feud endures and we get a true classic sometime soon. I don’t think it will come at Backlash, it’s not a big enough stage. AJ will likely retain, even in a no-disqualification environment against a heel. AJ doesn’t strike me as the traditional face who will avoid getting real down and dirty to retain. Actually, I think the no DQ stipulation is a set-up for AJ to return the low-blow favor for the win.
CHAFFIOTTE: Heel Nakamura is everything. I'm not a big fan of Strong Style, quite simply it's just not my cup of tea. I can, however, appreciate a good worker when I see one. For the past few years, that's what Nakamura has been for me. His matches are always fantastic but they're not what I'm most excited for. This heel turn has changed all of that because now I have no idea what he's going to do next. Wrestling is meant to be fun, and this is a lot of fun.
I feel that the only reason he hasn't won it yet is that they had no intention of making any moves at the Greatest Royal Rumble. AJ has held on to the belt for a long time, and while it's been well-deserved, it also doesn't feel premature. With literally nothing happening in the title scene over on Raw, the WWE Championship is the most important story right now. Nakamura is the right guy to hold it down, as charismatic heels often are. He has a pre-written story with any honorable babyface on the card after disrespecting the sport. I hear Daniel Bryan might be available soon.
Question 3: After another loss to Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns finds himself in the interpromotional main event of the evening against Samoa Joe. Who wins this match? Will this match matter next week? Most importantly, where do both guys go from here?
MALDONADO: Reigns has to win this one, right? He’s had two major losses on PPV in a row, certainly, they can’t book a third? He’s still the biggest full-time name in the company, I can’t imagine they continue to bury him. Unless WWE is actually responding to crowd reactions for Reigns.
That said, I think he beats Samoa Joe. Joe’s been talking a lot of smack about Brock beating Reigns when Joe’s also fallen victim to The Beast. He deserves a dose of karma for that and AJ needs a reason to shoot back at Joe following that promo on SDL. Which brings me to where Joe goes from here. He enters the WWE title picture and adds some life to the low-blow Mania going on between AJ and Nakamura.
As for Reigns, it’s hard to tell. Maybe it’s a feud with Lashley to determine the #1 contender in the lead up to SummerSlam. Honestly, I think he’s best served to win the Money in the Bank briefcase and cash in on Brock during his match against Lashley or Strowman SummerSlam.
CHAFFIOTTE: Samoa Joe might just be the best heel in WWE right now. He's ruthless in the ring and in promos. We believe that he's just a bad dude, he doesn't need any more motivation than that. I think this match is a good moment to show off just how good Joe is. We all know how the summer months go around here, I'm not mad about it. We won't see a whole lot of consequences coming out of these sort of non-title matches. That doesn't mean it can't serve a purpose.
Joe could really use a win. He's been out on injury for a while and just suffered a loss at the Greatest Royal Rumble. Now that he's on SmackDown, he has a clean slate and a chance to be one of the top heels. Losing to Roman Reigns, bless his heart, not a great way to go about establishing that. It's not that I think Reigns is disposable, but technically speaking he did just beat Brock Lesnar. They had him beaten and bloody, pinned in the middle of the ring, and still, he's the top guy and the strongest babyface. Passing out to the gnarliest finisher on the roster today isn't going suddenly make him look weak. It's not like they're worried about people turning on him, it's way too late for that. Give Joe the win and give him some momentum towards the United States Championship. A feud between Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe? Now that's something.
DeFELICE: I'm going to make a choice for my mental health, and completely stay away from all frustrating conversation about Brock Lesnar here.
Joe's lined up to be a big star on SmackDown. Roman is the one with really no back door here. For that reason, I'm tempted to say that Roman Reigns picks up the victory here. However, there's always the possibility that someone from the Raw roster costs Roman, bleeding into a new feud for Roman, and allowing Joe to become top dog on Tuesdays. Both possibilities considered, I'm going to go with Roman picking up the win here, and Joe and Roman shall continue their rivalry in the co-branded Money In The Bank Ladder Match next month.
Those are our thoughts on the issue, but where do you stand?
Let us know your answers to these questions in the comments below!