Monday, May 22, 2017

WWE Backlash 2017: In Perspective (A 1-2-3 Podcast Feature)

Comic Frontline & Zone 4's 1-2-3 Podcast presents another installment of the new monthly written feature here on Comic Frontline: In Perspective!

Brant Fowler, co-host of 1-2-3 Podcast breaks down and discusses each match on the card. This month, it's WWE BACKLASH, a SMACKDOWN LIVE only Pay-Per-View available on the WWE Network!

Welcome back to "In Perspective!" Last night was the SMACKDOWN LIVE only Pay-Per-View, WWE BACKLASH, and as I'm writing this I just finished watching the event. And needless to say, but I'll say it anyway, there are ***SPOILERS***.

BACKLASH is SMACKDOWN LIVE's equivalent to RAW's PAYBACK. Instead of getting revenge, the Superstars are lashing out at their grudges, so to speak. And most of the card for this event was pretty solid. There were some highlights and a couple of snoozers, but for the most part, I found BACKLASH quite enjoyable. And considering I haven't been loving SMACKDOWN LIVE as much since the "Superstar Shake-Up," I consider that a good thing. But let's get into the matches.


This was a great match to open the PPV. The positive and negative thing about Dolph Ziggler is that the man can go! And he always puts on a show. He's used a lot to put other Superstars over because he looks great, is very skilled, and sells his opponents better than anybody out there today. Add to that the MUCH anticipated in-ring debut of the King of Strong Style, Shinsuke Nakamura and you have one heck of a match on your hands.

Now, Nakamura actually didn't do a whole lot in this match, but what he did do was very entertaining. As JBL pointed out during the match, Nakamura has one of the most expressive faces in the business. So when he gets hit, you can feel it in every contortion of his face. It really adds to the intensity and drama.

Ziggler gave Nakamura everything he had. He hit him with just about every move in his arsenal, from the Famouser, to the Super-Kick, to the Zig-Zag, and Nakamura kept coming back. There was a wicked Super-Kick to the back of Nakamura's head when he was on his knees that seemingly knocked him out cold, but he kicked out.

Ultimately, the King of Strong Style was just too much for Ziggler. Delivering a number of forearm shots and kicks, and knees to the gut, it was a running knee strike to the side of Ziggler's head that took him out for the win.

Again, this was a fantastic way to start this PPV. I would have liked to have seen Nakamura do more, and not make Ziggler look like he could never beat Nakamura no matter what he did, but I still liked the match a lot. I just don't know what you do with Ziggler after this.



Okay, so I have not been the biggest fan of Tyler Breeze and Fandango, like, ever. I just never thought they were that entertaining. It was fun to do the dance along with Fandango's music, and I thought Breeze's original gimmick was very telling of the times. I'll give them both those small nods. But this whole Fashion Police thing has been boring and contrived. Until last night.

I have to admit that the Law & Order intro for their segments is growing on me too, but it was really their performance in this match that kind of won me over. Breeze was dressed as a janitor and was mopping the ring. He used the mop to keep The Usos at bay, and even pulled off a few cool moves. Then he changed and became Granny Breeze with a cane, and did the same. It was fun, it was funny, it was entertaining. And for a minute there it looked like Breezango might actually win!

I really like the transformation of The Usos. They were fun with the face paint and colorful clothes, and the kids loved them, but it got old fast. This feels more like who they are, or at least that dark side of their personalities. I've seen Jimmy on Total Divas and he's a goofy guy, but when it's time to get serious he's as serious as they come. So this feels more like him.

Anyway, the hijinks aside, this was actually a really good match with a lot of high-flying, striking, and back-and-forth action. It spilled outside a couple of times, and things got intense. The Usos tossed Breeze into the crowd but had to grab his legs as he almost careened right into a kid in the front row! That was a bit amusing. Ultimately, The Usos bested Breezango, but not easily. Breezango wasn't just a joke, they were a serious threat that got in the heads of The Usos by having a little fun. I was impressed.



This could really be classified as a grudge match of sorts, but I honestly didn't have high hopes for this one. I've never really jumped on the bandwagon of Sami Zayn, "The Underdog from the Underground." I don't know why, but I just never bought into the hype. Baron Corbin, on the other hand, I feel is underutilized and better than a lot of people give him credit for. Still, I thought this would be a boring match. I'm so glad I was wrong.

Sami Zayn battled Baron Corbin throughout this match. It was a lot of give and take on both sides with each Superstar getting in tons of big shots at each other. Zayn blasted Corbin with a few hard clotheslines, and Corbin beat down Zayn with some signature moves of his own. Zayn did something to his lower back and struggled with that all through the match, and Corbin capitalized on it plenty.

I thought it was clear cut going in who would win: Baron Corbin. Not because he's bigger and a bully, but because Sami Zayn quite frankly loses a lot. He's like Dolph Ziggler in that way, he sells really well so they use him to put over other Superstars. Not last night, though. That night belonged to Sami Zayn. He managed to deliver a spot-on Helluva Kick that toppled the big man and put him down for the three count.

Nice job, guys, you both surprised and impressed me this time around!



I didn't like this story line when it started and I like it even less now. I don't know why, but WWE feels the ONLY way to handle the Women's Division is to put them all in factions. We've seen every single incarnation of the division devolve into this formula for the past several years. STOP IT! There's SO much more you could be doing with them!

Rant aside, this was an okay match except for one major flaw I'll point out in a bit.The Welcoming Committee (Natalya, Tamina and Carmella with James Ellsworth) were a well-oiled machine in this match. They had frequent tags, kept one member of their opposing team in and beat her down relentlessly, thwarted tags, and showed some real skill. The other team, not so much. In fact, they didn't even do that much. Charlotte saved a few pinfalls, and got a few licks in. Becky did most of the heavy-lifting (and the losing, but we'll get to that), and Naomi, well, that's my nitpick.

Naomi, the SMACKDOWN WOMEN'S CHAMPION was barely in the match. Every time you thought she was going to be in the match she got knocked out. The one time she was in the match she did her Glow Kicks, but then quickly got taken down, dragged around by her hair, and beat down by Carmella.

Carmella, by the way, also underrated, just saying.

The finish saw Natalya submitting Becky Lynch with the Sharpshooter. Kind of a lackluster ending that made the one Superstar you're trying to push looking weak, and your Women's Champion being a complete non-issue.



This was the match of the night, hands down. But am I really surprised? Of course not. These are two of the top guys in the world today, and they obviously know how to bring out the best of each other.

This was not a feud, it was just about the title, which I thought was refreshing. However, Owens made it personal by attacking AJ's leg, and that totally fits Owens' personality.

Styles was, as usual, Phenomenal (pun intended). And Owens looked like he trimmed up a bit (his weight and his hair!). This was a true catch-as-catch-can match with both Supsertars giving their all, putting on a great show, and both coming out looking stronger than ever.

If you've ever seen a Kevin Owens match, and you've ever seen an AJ Styles match, I don't even need to explain this match to you. You know with both of them you get above and beyond, pulling out signatures and finishers, utilizing the announce tables, the steel stairs and the barrier. AJ countered and delivered a sick suplex to Owens on the ring apron, and Owens slammed Styles' leg hard into the ring post. He also delivered a cannon ball on the same leg later on.

The match ended by count out because AJ fell through the announce table and got that bad leg caught up in the wires thanks to a shot by Owens, who rolled into the ring for the victory.

Sure, it sucks to see a title match end that way, but again, you have AJ looking robbed and better than ever, and you keep the strap on Owens making AJ and whoever else chase it. It was a very good match.



Worst match of the night. Not because it was a bad match, because honestly it wasn't. But where it was placed on the card, and how long the match was made it boring and aggravating for me.

This was easily the longest match on the card. I don't know if AJ and Owens finished their match too soon, or if Orton and Jinder weren't quite ready, or if it was always supposed to be that long. Whatever the reason for the length of this match, it did a disservice to the viewers in my opinion.

Luke Harper and Erick Rowan are former members of the Wyatt Family. I guess Rowan technically still is, but there isn't really a Wyatt Family anymore. And newsflash to Rowan, he's left the Wyatt Family before, so his reason for dealing out punishment was a bit weak.

Anyway, the match itself was better than it should have been. These guys are actually pretty talented, and definitely more agile than their tall frames would suggest. Especially Harper. Of the two, he's always been the more entertaining to watch. Rowan was literally replaceable (Braun Strowman, anyone?). But anytime you have two big guys battling, the match really needs to be kept short. It's not nearly as exciting as Vince McMahon seems to believe.

Harper won, by the way. I honestly don't remember how...



Tell me I'm not alone in thinking that there was NO WAY Jinder Mahal was walking out with the title last night. I mean seriously, the last time we saw him he was battling Heath Slater for a contract only to disappear again. And before that, he was part of Slater's 3-Man Band group! This guy?

Not to mention he's TERRIBLE on the microphone. Lovely carpet the Singh brothers put out for him to stand on while being interviewed and becoming a typical foreign Superstar, bashing America to try to get heat. Sigh

Orton, with a fresh hair cut, was at the top of his game in the match. He pulled out everything but the kitchen sink on Jinder. Jinder countered with a ground game, slowing things down, and a few strikes. Really, the guy doesn't have much in his bag of tricks. Why else do you think they gave him stooges?

Orton was cleaning house late in the match, getting frustrated with the constant interference. There was a spot where we was belly-to-back suplexing the Singh brothers on the announce tables. The first one landed almost flush with a bounce (these are very small guys, by the way, and much smaller than Orton). The second, however, over shot! Orton must have had a little too much torque on the throw as he flipped completely over landing on his face. Orton turns around and flashed the camera a face that said "Oops, hope he's okay. haha" without saying a word. It was priceless.

Orton then finally delivered the double hanging DDT to the Singh brothers only to be caught from behind by Jinder who finished Orton off with his Cobra Clutch Slam thingy? Weak finisher, I'm sorry. Billy Gunn tried to use a version of that at one point. His was better and it still sucked.

So your winner and new WWE Champion, Jinder Mahal? Yep, that happened.


Overall, I thought BACKLASH was pretty good, but far from perfect. Most of the matches were entertaining, surprising and kept me on the edge of my seat. I liked a lot of the stories leading up to the matches, and the outcomes while mostly predictable were fun to watch. That WWE Title match, though... I don't know what to think about that. Not quite as good as PAYBACK, but still pretty good.

What did you think of BACKLASH? And more importantly, what did you think of this feature?!  Let me know in the comments below!

And if you've never listened to or watched 1-2-3 Podcast, you can find the playlist here:

And if you're really bored, you can find my old wrestling blog, Kayfabe here before I eventually delete it!:

Kayfabe Wrestling Blog

Check out my WWE PAYBACK edition of "In Perspective" here:

WWE Payback 2017: In Perspective (A 1-2-3 Podcast Feature)

Join me next month as I cover RAW's EXTREME RULES, with a Fatal Five-Way match to determine the number one contender to face Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship!

Brant Fowler is the co-founder of Zone 4 and one of the Frontline Six. He's also Co-Publisher of Last Ember Press. Check out his YouTube channel every Monday for Monday Musings, and find him most Tuesday nights on Frontline LIVE!

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