9/11 WWE Backlash Review: AJ Styles wins the big one as Smackdown sets off on its own for a PPV special


WWE Backlash Review
September 11, 2016
By: Adam Martin of Wrestleview.com

It’s certainly not off base to say the first Smackdown Live PPV presentation tonight had little to no buzz heading into the show this weekend.

Maybe it was the buzz of CM Punk’s UFC debut or a full day of the NFL that caused considerable distractions. Either way, the Smackdown go-home show to hype Backlash was very underwhelming and didn’t really create the interest WWE may had hoped for.

While we saw a slew of new champions crowned for team blue and a pretty significant one with AJ Styles, I can’t help but ignore the fact that a majority of the show felt like a run of the mill weekly episode of Smackdown despite the efforts of all involved in WWE.

AJ Styles wins the big one

Let’s just take a moment to take in what happened tonight. AJ Styles, a guy who without a doubt was the poster boy for TNA for over 10 years, was just given one of the most important championships in the history of professional wrestling/sports entertainment. It was crazy enough to see WWE take a chance on the guy and have him debut in the Royal Rumble. Now he’s a major world champion in the biggest wrestling company today. What a journey this guy has taken and it’s safe to say many didn’t expect this one to ever happen.

It was also pretty clear that Dean Ambrose as champion just wasn’t working out. The crowd reactions are there, but the character development certainly wasn’t. Far too much emphasis was put on The Shield and without that, you are left scratching your head and trying to figure out exactly what the goal of Ambrose’s character in WWE is. It was pretty surprising to me that they gave him the ball back in June at Money in the Bank. The summer experiment with Ambrose fell even more flat at SummerSlam and wasn’t going anywhere.

WWE is certainly ushering in a new era and Styles looks to be primed for an interesting run if he’s able to keep up the momentum. The biggest difference between Styles and Ambrose is just flat out interest. Styles, after breaking away from The Club, was able to use a John Cena win to morph into an overconfident bully that also finds a way to get the job done. Ambrose? He’s a dude doing stuff in matches while making crazy faces and uncomfortably bad backstage skits. Ambrose showed some promise in a promo last Tuesday night on Smackdown where he dropped the “whatever man” stuff and showed some focus. Maybe a continuing feud with Styles will be able to pull something new out of the Ambrose character. I was honestly preparing to write a review tonight asking why WWE was intent on sticking with this guy. It would seem WWE was ready to move on and I was pleased to see it.

“We’re getting a double wide, baybay!”

I know many hardcore NXT fans were not happy with WWE pulling American Alpha from this show tonight as part of the Smackdown tag team tournament. I get it. I’m not taking anything away from Alpha as they are a solid tag team and will undoubtedly get a run with the titles on Smackdown. However, the makeshift tag team of Heath Slater and Rhyno are just flat out more interesting and entertaining right now. Kudos to WWE for recognizing that in recent weeks and giving the team a run. I’m really looking forward to what is next.

Becky Lynch gets Smackdown gold

One of the biggest questions coming away from the draft was what was to become of the women’s division with the newly introduced Women’s Championship staying on RAW. I think tonight provided a good answer as to why team blue will be just fine without that title. All six girls worked very hard tonight and I thought they put together a fun little elimination match. Even though Carmella gets crickets in her entrance, she’s really starting to come along much stronger as a heel. Becky was the right choice to get things started.

Quick Thoughts

* What’s a Jagger Eaton?

* Kane and Bray Wyatt tried hard, but that was such a throwaway match.

* I’m really enjoying The Usos so far in the new heel role.

* Mojo Rawley has some pretty impressive and powerful offense.

* The Miz as the annoying star wanting to renegotiate his contract is fun.

Overall Impression

While I can’t ignore the fact that a majority of this show felt like your typical weekly episode of Smackdown, the AJ Styles title win to close the show and the very entertaining Heath Slater and Rhyno tag team was able to nudge this show up from feeling just average to pretty good. I’m a little concerned with how quickly we are getting the next Smackdown only show (No Mercy on October 9). WWE made a really good call to cool back down to 12 PPV’s a year and now adding a slew of these brand only specials may be hitting overexposure fast. I could be wrong, but the vibe tonight wasn’t exactly thrilling.

A majority of our readers (59% as of Sunday evening) gave Backlash a thumbs up.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know your Backlash thoughts in the comments below.

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