Tye Dillinger def. Aiden English (Kickoff Match)
This was much more of a match than their two previous encounters on SmackDown Live (which were essentially squashes), but it was really just that: a match. Don't get me wrong, it was fine for what it was and there wasn't anything technically wrong with it, but because it lacked importance, it was hard to care. The outcome was never in doubt, but thankfully, Dillinger and his "ten" gimmick is over enough that the fans in attendance gave him a raucous reaction and weren't totally bored by this.
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Dolph Ziggler
I've seen some criticism over this match opening the event and how it should have been positioned higher up on the card, but honestly, if it wasn't going to headline Backlash, it might as well have started the show, and I was glad it did. Another complaint was that it was too back-and-forth, and I do agree that the victory should have been more one-sided for Nakamura. Then again, they were aiming to contest a quality match and they did just that, which I can appreciate. I think we can all agree that Nakamura is such a star and has a bright future ahead of him on SmackDown Live.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos def. Breezango
For months, I've said that WWE should just let Breezango ditch the comedy and do their thing in the ring so they can get over with the audience as babyfaces. While this contest consisted of more comedy than exhilarating action, it was a nice mix that ultimately exceeded my expectations. The Breezango disguises were actually comical and the Chicago crowd ate it up. It was fun when they let loose at the end and the fans were bummed when The Usos retained. I hope this isn't the last we've seen of Breezango as title challengers because the crowd bought into them big time here.
Sami Zayn def. Baron Corbin
Zayn and Corbin have collided in Triple Threat and multi-man matches before but never a one-on-one outing if my memory serves me correctly. This was a pretty good match and more competitive than I thought it would be. The commentators praised Corbin afterward for how dominant he was throughout, but he didn't own as much of the match as they claimed he did. The clean finish was also slightly surprising, but maybe Corbin is bound for bigger things in the form of the Money in the Bank briefcase. Besides, Zayn desperately needed a notable victory at this point.
Natalya, Carmella and Tamina def. SmackDown Women's Champion Naomi, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair
I had a difficult time attempting to invest in this feud coming into the event, but I held out hope the match would change my mind. Unfortunately, it didn't. As a match, it was decent, but absolutely nothing about it was memorable and I'm sure we'll see a receive a rematch on an upcoming episode of SmackDown Live. In fact, this felt like it belonged on TV. Additionally, nothing was accomplished. Natayla pinned Lynch, not Naomi, so it's not like she'll be getting a title shot any time soon, and we still don't know what side of the fence Charlotte is on.
United States Champion Kevin Owens def. AJ Styles by Count-out
I figured this would be the best bout of the night as soon as it was announced and it unquestionably was. The storytelling in Owens' matches has been spectacular recently and this was no different as he targeted the same leg he injured last Tuesday. That was the focus of this matchup with it preventing Styles from hitting the Phenomenal Forearm and then getting caught in the commentator's table at the end. I've never been huge on doing non-finishes on pay-per-view, but this was logical to keep the feud alive while protecting both men.
Luke Harper def. Erick Rowan
It's cool Harper and Rowan made the pay-per-view, but why? Harper is as underutilized as they come, and he should have won here over Rowan, but having him immediately get his victory back after Rowan beat him clean on SmackDown earlier this month is 50/50 booking at its finest. Worse yet, there was no story told or sense of urgency, but rather two big guys beating each other up. The crowd sat on their hands for this and I can't blame them for it.
Jinder Mahal def. Randy Orton to Win the WWE Championship
I might be in the minority on this, but I didn't think this was as strong of a match as some fans have made it out to be. I will say the start of the matchup with Orton immediately going for Mahal was clever and the finish with The Singh Brothers getting involved was well done, but the middle portion of the bout almost put me to sleep. It was painfully lifeless, but that's merely because Mahal is a mediocre performer/wrestler and nothing more. Is he truly capable of carrying a brand as its champion? I commend the company for trying something new and we'll see where it goes, but I'm not yet sold on the idea of Mahal being in possession of the top title.
Of the five SmackDown-exclusive events we've had since the dawn of the Brand Split last summer, this was easily the weakest, but it was a fairly enjoyable show from start to finish. The title change will obviously get people talking and Owens vs. Styles was excellent, while the tag title match was a blast and Zayn and Corbin worked well together. The women's match was forgettable and Harper vs. Rowan was purely filler, but the good outweighed the bad and made this a solid show.
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