WWE Champion Randy Orton, AJ Styles and Sami Zayn Brawled with Jinder Mahal, United States champion Kevin Owens and Baron Corbin
Considering it sounded like Mahal's voice was hoarse, I give him credit through his promo. It wasn't great, but it was straight-to-the-point in hyping his upcoming WWE Championship match with Orton. Everyone else cut solid promos as well, and although it was a pretty paint-by-numbers segment with one interruption after another, the live crowd didn't seem to mind, and more importantly, three major feuds with furthered with one segment to set up the night's main event.
Natalya def. Becky Lynch
The in-ring work from the SmackDown Live women since the Superstar Shake-up has been solid, but I still can't bring myself to get invested in this program pitting all of the heels against all of the babyfaces. I will say that they're trying their best with it, though I hope we can move on to individual feuds again after Backlash. Most of this match consisted of the commercial break, but what we did see was decent and Natalya winning keeps heat on the "Welcoming Committee" (what a terrible name by the way).
Erick Rowan def. Luke Harper
I feared coming out of WrestleMania 33 that these two would be put together in a program, but at this point, I actually wouldn't hate it because at least it gets Harper on TV in a meaningful role (prior to this bout, he hadn't appeared since the Six-Pack Challenge three weeks ago). He's by far one of the most underutilized talents they have right now. This match may not have lit the world on fire, but it was actually better than you would expect for as long as it lasted, and that could be due to how well they know each other. That said, Rowan winning clean was a total travesty.
Shinsuke Nakamura Confronted Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler's goofy Jackson Five promo last week was lousy and downright disappointing, but his promo here was way better. This was the serious side of Ziggler I hoped to see when he turned heel months ago, so it's better late than never. Nakamura kept his mic work short and sweet per usual, but I really wish he'd ditch the mouthpiece so it'd be easier to understand him. This was undoubtedly the best thing we've seen from Ziggler and Nakamura so far that successfully got me hyped for their first in-ring encounter.
Breezango def. The Ascension
In front of any other audience, the crowd wouldn't have cared less about this, but Breezango (and specifically Fandango) are especially over in England, so they were hot for them here. It was a basic bout otherwise, but I appreciate the effort to give them momentum ahead of their SmackDown Tag Team Championship match. Meanwhile, The Usos continue to kill it with their Briscoes-esque promos and their heel transformation has been a blast to watch to over the last eight months.
Jinder Mahal, United States Champion Kevin Owens and Baron Corbin def. WWE Champion Randy Orton, AJ Styles and Sami Zayn
I liked how the match was given quite a bit of time and everyone was able to shine at one point or another. The early goings were fairly formulaic, but they picked up the pace after the second commercial break toward the end and the crowd was engaged in the action. As expected, all six Superstars hit their finish as the match came to a close, and Mahal pinning Orton for the victory was huge. That absolutely positions him as a threat to the title at Backlash.
One of my biggest criticisms of Monday's Raw was that the English crowd was significantly quieter than usual for whatever reason, making it a dull night on the whole in my opinion. Thankfully, with the crowd for this show being a lot livelier, it was an upgrade over Raw as well as the last few editions of SmackDown. The card for Backlash is virtually complete, and as a result, each match and segment on the show served a purpose and was more focused. This was a enjoyable episode by and large capped off with a fun main event. Hopefully next week's go-home show can sell viewers on Backlash who aren't yet convinced it should be a kickass event.
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