WWE Backlash preview & predictions: Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles; Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt

WWE Backlash, the first PPV of that name since 2009, will be the first brand split PPV of the new era. The build has been rather solid, but seems a bit rushed as SummerSlam is still fresh on everyone’s minds. Unfortunately, that isn’t changing anytime soon, given the rest of the year’s schedule.

The main event of the show will be AJ Styles getting another crack at the WWE title, this time challenging Dean Ambrose for the title. Getting a big win over John Cena at SummerSlam has cemented him as a top act on the brand, so it only makes sense to go in this direction while the iron is still hot. Whether or not he wins the title, however, is another story.

Ambrose is also pretty much cemented as a top guy on the blue brand for the moment. Timing is probably not on AJ’s side, but it could be if there are more rematches afoot in the coming months.

Your previewers with pick points to date:

Steve Khan (WWE SmackDown Live Recapper) (44 points)
Kyle S. Johnson (Columnist) (43 points)
Bryan Rose (New Japan/CWC Reporter) (40 points)
James Cox (WWE Superstars Recapper & WWE DVD Reviewer) (40 points)
Brian Hoops (Daily Pro Wrestling History) (24 points)
Jeremy Peeples (Lucha Underground Recapper) (22 points)
Ryan Frederick (UFC Reporter) (15 points)
PeachMachine (Embalming Fluid Taster) (14 points)
Paul Fontaine (MMA Writer and Recapper) (6 points)
Kevin LaRose    (WWE Main Event and Total Divas Recapper)
JJ Williams (NXT/CWC Spoiler)
Winner Advances to SD Tag Title Match: The Usos vs. The Hype Bros

Bryan Rose: Usos finally turned heel in the last week. They needed that as while they’re a good team, they are just stale as hell in the role they’ve been in for years. This gives them some momentum, and I don’t see it being derailed by The Hype Bros., who I don’t think were even getting much of a push on NXT before being called up.

    Winner: The Usos

Steve Khan: The Usos should win. They just turned, and the Hype Bros already lost to Slater & Rhyno on SmackDown.

    Winner: The Usos

James Cox: Wouldn’t put it past them to put over the Hype Bros, but Usos should win.

     Winner: The Usos

PeachMachine: This is a punishment match for the Usos. They must have irritated someone.

    Losers: The Usos

Brian Hoops: Throw away match.

    Winners: The Usos

Jeremy Peeples: Usos are getting a push, the Hype Bros are just another team…in a roster of maybe six teams – Usos win this easily.

    Winners: The Usos

Paul Fontaine: Rhyno and Slater are winning the tournament and they’ve already wrested the Hype Bros, so we don’t need to see that match in the finals again. Logic says the Uso win, so of course….

    Winners: Hype Bros

Kevin LaRose: The Hype Brothers are super over good guys, the Usos just destroyed the top contenders in the tournament, turning heel. The Usos are winning by nefarious means.

    Winners: The Usos

JJ Williams: The Hype Brothers as Daniel Bryan calls them will be no match for the redundant Uso Brothers who are clearly on their way to the silver.

           Winners: The Usos

Kyle S. Johnson: This is building to a Usos vs. American Alpha program. The Hype Bros are perfect fodder for getting over a newly-turned heel team.

    Winners: The Usos

Ryan Frederick: There is a clear direction of going to an Usos vs. American Alpha program and this is just a throwaway match added to the card to fill time. Usos win and advance.

       Winners: The Usos

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch vs. Carmella vs. Naomi vs. Natalya vs. Nikki Bella

Bryan Rose: This will probably not be pretty. Any time a women’s match goes beyond 3 or more people it probably isn’t going to turn out good. In terms of who’s winning the title, Becky makes the most sense, but they could also go with Nkki. No one is really strong on a heel side, so makes sense you go with one of those two. I’ll go with Becky.

    Winner: Becky Lynch

Steve Khan: After tapping out on SmackDown, I can see Nikki going heel, but I’m not sure how that plays into this match. They won’t have Lynch win just yet but they do need to establish the new title. I’ll go out on a limb, I guess, and say Natalya.

    Winner: Natalya

James Cox: I think it’s Becky Lynch’s time, but I see it going down to her and Nikki.

     Winner: Becky Lynch

PeachMachine: Bliss sucks. Lynch is the worst performer on the roster. Carmella is lost alone. Naomi’s entrance is rad. Natalya is fantastic… but I’m picking Nikki because of the Total Bellas TV show.

    Winner: Nikki Cena

Brian Hoops: Another match that no one will care about. Natalya is the only one that can carry the match and resemble a credible champion.

    Winner: Natalya

Jeremy Peeples: Nikki is getting the biggest overall push of the group, but she’s a part-timer, so I don’t see her getting it until Cena’s back. Becky seems logical, but it would also make sense for her to be frustrated by losing a lot and turn heel. That would be awful for her character, so I’m going with a win for her in this “history-making” match.

    Winner: Becky Lynch

Paul Fontaine: The promo “battle” to kick off Smackdown did something I didn’t think was possible…it made me less interested in this match. I’m fairly certain that Nikki Bella takes this bout for some reason though and ends up feuding over the belt with Carmella.

    Winner: Nikki Bella

Kevin LaRose: Nikki came back on the heel team at Summerslam, while Carmella was on the good team. Now Carmella is heel for attacking Nikki Bella for no reason. This could only mean one thing: Naomi is winning.

    Winner: Naomi

JJ Williams: Launching a new title on a brand that needs strong babyface characters for both television and live events says this is the perfect time to reward Becky Lynch for her past couple years work.

            Winner: Becky Lynch

Kyle S. Johnson: This one is absolutely a toss-up. Becky should get it, but it seems almost as likely that the belt would wind up on Nikki.

    Winner: Becky Lynch

Ryan Frederick: If it were me, I’d put the title on Becky Lynch. I don’t see them doing that, though, at least not right now. Nikki Bella has been pushed the hardest since she came back, and it seems like she’s the choice to win.

       Winner: Nikki Bella

Intercontinental Championship: The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler

Bryan Rose: The Miz retains. Dolph Ziggler is pretty much useless as a character. He cuts promos like he’s a main eventer but never pulls off the wins to attain the status of one. Unless they just don’t care about this title right now, Miz is probably retaining.

    Winner: The Miz

Steve Khan: Ziggler losing again would suck for him, but Miz has some momentum for once, so I’ll go with Miz retaining.

    Winner: The Miz

James Cox: I think it’s time for a switch, Miz has had the title for a long time now. He doesn’t need it.

     Winner: Dolph Ziggler

PeachMachine: There’s no point to this feud. Thus no winner is necessary.

    Winner: Alan4L

Brian Hoops: The fact they have moved on from Apollo Crews so quickly tells you volumes what WWE thinks of his upside. Would make zero sense to take the title off the Miz and a clean loss to the Miz for Ziggler drops him to entry level status.

    Winner: The Miz

Jeremy Peeples: These two have had good chemistry before, but this just feels like a rushed program with no real reason to exist. There is one Miz match people want and we’re not getting it, so the winner here doesn’t seem important.

Winner: The Miz

Paul Fontaine: Miz might as well keep this belt until Daniel Bryan comes back to wrestle or forever, whichever comes first. Ziggler should be in next year’s BOLA tournament or something.

    Winner: The Miz

Kevin LaRose: Ziggler is passing by the Miz now on his trip back down the card. Wave goodbye to the Main Event, Dolph.

    Winner: Miz

JJ Williams: It isn’t the time to take the Intercontinental title off The Miz yet, Dolph needs a good match here as well to make people care if this is all leading to a burn out heel turn down the line.

           Winner: The Miz

Kyle S. Johnson: Miz is suddenly one of the most talked-about guys on Smackdown, which in and of itself would almost indicate that WWE now decides to take the IC belt off of him. Miz should win the match by nefarious means, and this feud will probably continue.

    Winner: The Miz

Ryan Frederick: The Miz has a lot of momentum and it seems like the angle is going towards Dolph Ziggler turning heel because he can’t win when it counts. I see Miz cheating his way towards victory.

      Winner: The Miz

Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt

Bryan Rose: Here’s the gist of their feud: Bray Wyatt talked. Randy Orton responded by talking and telling a story about a snake. Here we are. Doesn’t feel compelling in any way, shape or form. Probably some sort of lame finish to continue the feud. Let’s go with Bray?

    Winner: Bray Wyatt

Steve Khan: This feud will likely continue which points to a win for Bray, but Orton needs a win after SummerSlam.

    Winner: Randy Orton

James Cox: Orton should win to save face after that SummerSlam finish.

     Winner: Randy Orton

PeachMachine: They should just put the Bo Dallas and Wyatt together and watch their real life drama unfold.

    Winner: Irwin R. Schyster

Jeremy Peeples: Orton needs to rebound from Brock, and Bray can lose any match as long as he says spooky things afterwards. Bray can win when Harper returns.

    Winner: Randy Orton

Brian Hoops: After the beating he took at SummerSlam, WWE owes Orton to squash Wyatt.

    Winner: Orton

Paul Fontaine: First match of a feud that’s probably going to have go through Survivor Series. The heel should win and Orton should have enough control over his own program to make that happen. I like Luke Harper returning to help cost Orton the bout.

    Winner: Bray Wyatt

Kevin LaRose: Wyatt’s alway running around trying to bring the evil out of his opponents. Someone needs to bring the evil out of Wyatt. Wyatt loses. Dejected, he goes on a Spirit Quest, eating gelato, going on dates, and praying. He finds himself.

    Winner: Randy Orton

JJ Williams: As with most talents coming out of a program with Lesnar, we are going to act like their last program didn’t happen. Randy Orton will win and move on to the title picture.

          Winner: Randy Orton

Kyle S. Johnson: Is it possible for both guys to win? Because god knows that both Bray and Randy both could use one here. Given that Orton’s most recent claim to fame was being beaten to near-death and bled dry by Brock Lesnar, he probably needs it just a bit more.

    Winner: Randy Orton

Ryan Frederick: Randy Orton needs the win more after Summerslam and this is likely the first match of a series. Bray can always lose and it not kill him, but he should be kept strong in a losing effort. Going with Orton to win this time.

       Winner: Randy Orton

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: Heath Slater and Rhyno vs. TBD

Bryan Rose: I’m guessing it’s gotta be Slater and Rhyno, right? Makes sense considering they wrote Gable and Jordan out of the finals. Though it doesn’t make any sense for the Usos to do a job early, but whatever. The Slater stuff has been the most interesting part of Smackdown so far.

    Winner: Heath Slater and Rhyno

Steve Khan: I figure it’ll be the Usos in the finals. Maybe they’ll cheat to win and delay Slater getting a contract, but taking American Alpha out of this spot was obviously by design, so I’ll go with Slater & Rhyno. Perhaps Jordan (and Gable) will interfere to cost the Usos.

    Winner: Heath Slater & Rhyno

James Cox: Credit to Slater, he’s really made the most of his position and the stuff they’ve given him.

     Winner: Heath Slater & Rhyno

Jeremy Peeples: Rhyno and Slater have great chemistry and solid momentum  – they should win this.

    Winner: Slater and Rhyno

PeachMachine: It’s gotta be the Ascension.

    Winner: Ascension

Brian Hoops: Good storyline with Slater, I say keep it going.

    Winners: Slater/Rhyno

Paul Fontaine: Slater and Rhyno are the best thing on Smackdown, besides Talking Smack, and maybe my favorite thing on the main roster right now. They absolutely deserve the titles. That said, I suspect they somehow lose, continuing the storyline of Heath trying to get a contract. Maybe Rhyno turns on him or something.

    Winners: Hype Bros (oh, and Peach is an idiot)

Kevin LaRose: The stakes couldn’t be higher. The whole world wants to see Slater in a brand new above ground pool. WWE isn’t that cruel as to deny us that.

    Winners: Slater/Rhyno

JJ Williams: The now heel Usos will cheat to win the greatest prize in the historic Smackdown tag team division’s history against the lovable team of Heath Slater and The Rhyno. After all those weeks of actually being a tag team, it just wasn’t enough to beat the lifetime tag partners.

           Winners: The Usos

Kyle S. Johnson: The “Slater must win or he doesn’t get a contract” stip might resonate a bit more if WWE didn’t break stips like they were crackers at communion. Usos will win the belts, Slater and Rhyno will get signed anyway, the world keeps on spinning.

    Winner: The Usos

Ryan Frederick: They have something here with this Heath Slater angle. I have the feeling they’ll keep it going by having them lose here, but maybe Slater is the guy to beat Miz to get on the show. The Usos by cheating to further cement their heel turn.

       Winners: The Usos

WWE Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles

Bryan Rose: Well, I dunno. Personally I think Smackdown should be headed by Styles as champion. He has all the momentum in the world after beating John Cena clean at SummerSlam, and it just feels like the right moment to do it is here at Backlash. Ambrose has been fine as champion, but nothing out of this world. AJ consistently working Smackdown main events I think is the best thing to do at the moment, but since WWE doesn’t normally book like that…hell, I dunno. I’ll go with Styles anyway

    Winner: AJ Styles

Steve Khan: This should be interesting. The real World Champion against the guy who beat the face of the company. Styles should be the champion even if there was only one brand, but it also seems too early to take the title off Ambrose. This is the first split-brand PPV, so they should really start off strong, and that could be good news for Styles.

    Winner: AJ Styles

James Cox: Ambrose really surprised me on the Stone Cold podcast; I wouldn’t want him as my babyface champion if that’s how he’s going to be. Styles is fantastic, it’s time.

     Winner: AJ Styles

PeachMachine: This should be a hair match. Both men have horrible hair, especially Ambrose who is slowly losing it to time.

    Winner: Mother nature.

Jeremy Peeples: Styles is the best overall act in the company, while Dean is pretty ice-cold after the Dolph program that saw each man shine and yet their stock plummeted. AJ should win this and become the only man to win the TNA, IWGP, and WWE Titles.

    Winner: AJ Styles

Brian Hoops: Only match that has any intrigue. Beating Styles clean in this match removes any intrigue for future matches. They need to keep both guys strong and build to a rematch. Styles should be the champion and let Ambrose chase him for the title in a series of rematches. To make a statement on the first brand split PPV, look for a title change.

    Winner: AJ Styles

Paul Fontaine: I’m going with the upset and a new champion here. Ambrose has been slacking it for months now and it may be because he knew this was coming. AJ should get a good run before dropping the belt to Cena at the Rumble.

    Winner: AJ Styles

Kevin LaRose: Dean Ambrose is the Bruce Willis of WWE. That’s cool. I like his attitude.

    Winner: AJ Styles

JJ Williams: This match is a test for AJ Styles to see if he can get yet another great match out of a WWE sculpted superstar. Can’t see them taking the title off Ambrose this soon after putting him over both Rollins and Reigns clean so recently, could see them stretching this program out and possibly adding Cena in to make it a triple threat in the coming months so for now I’m going with Dean Ambrose to retain.

            Winner: Dean Ambrose

Kyle S. Johnson: Despite reasonable doubt, AJ Styles became a top guy in WWE by sheer virtue of being one of the best wrestlers on the planet. Along the way, he’s also become one of the company’s most entertaining and compelling acts, and he seems to get more and more comfortable on the microphone and in long segments as each week passes. Dean has been a bit flat of late, and I can’t see AJ eating a pin this early into what should be a huge hot streak that builds to the return of John Cena.

    Winner: AJ Styles

Ryan Frederick: I’m torn on this one. Dean Ambrose is perfectly fine as champion, but AJ Styles is the biggest star they have on Smackdown. They have the face that runs the place angle going, and Styles should win the title this time. It’s not the last time we see these two square off.

      Winner: AJ Styles

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