AJ Styles Interrupted United States Champion Kevin Owens on The Highlight Reel
Owens mocking Chris Jericho by hosting The Highlight Reel was great given their history, and it was a nice way of promoting his upcoming championship clash with AJ Styles at Backlash. They had a solid back-and-forth on the mic, while Jinder Mahal cut a decent promo of his own. He really should have hit a home run here considering he hasn't done so in the build to his bout with Randy Orton, but at least it tied in to his match against Styles on this show.
Jinder Mahal def. AJ Styles
If anyone was going to get an above-average match out of Mahal, it would have been Styles. While this wasn't a bad bout, it wasn't on the same level as other stellar matches Styles has had with other opponents. It wasn't a lack of chemistry as much as it was that Mahal just isn't that talented of a performer in the ring. If nothing else, he continued to build momentum by beating Styles here, and Styles was protected via the interference from Owens.
Breezango def. The Colons
Personally, I've enjoyed the Fashion Files segments and I think the majority of the audience has as well. I don't know if Breezango are going to be beloved babyfaces come Chicago at Backlash, but their recent string of matches has certainly helped. The match wasn't much of note, and having The Colons on offense for so long didn't do Breezango many favors, but that shows The Colons won't be a jobber tag team like they were on Raw.
The Contract Was Signed For the Six-Woman Tag Team Match at Backlash
As I've said a million times in the past, contract signings are the most tired troupe in wrestling, but if they're done well, they can successfully add to my anticipation for an event. Unfortunately, this contract signing failed to accomplish that. None of the mic work from those involved was particularly memorable, and the feud already wasn't compelling in my opinion, so this was a missed opportunity to make the match at Backlash feel important.
Carmella def. SmackDown Women's Champion Naomi (Non-title)
Carmella does have the potential to be a breakout star in the SmackDown women's division down the road, but she's simply not at that point yet, either as a character or as a wrestler. That was evident in this match with Naomi, which was just sloppy and disjointed. Granted, Naomi isn't the most polished competitor, but she's an incredible athlete, whereas Carmella still needs plenty of work. That said, it looks like she's next in line for a title shot now that she has pinned the champ twice.
WWE Champion Randy Orton def. Baron Corbin (Non-title)
Orton vs. Corbin is a much more appealing match to me than Orton vs. Mahal, so hopefully this is a possible program for the title later in the year. Granted, neither of them are all that exciting to watch in the ring, but they have produced two solid matches so far, though this wasn't too different from their previous encounter. I wish Corbin would have received more mic time heading into his Backlash match with Sami Zayn, and I wouldn't have had him lose clean here, but it was a good match and the post-match angle with Mahal was strong in positioning Mahal as a threat to the title.
As a go-home show, I don't think this edition of SmackDown Live did a hell of a lot to change my excitement level for Backlash, but each advertised match at the event received an ample amount of attention throughout the night (except for the Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English Kickoff show match). It was slightly more serviceable than Raw this week, but still nothing to write home about.
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