WWE Backlash 2018
May 6, 2018
Prudential Center
Newark, New Jersey

Watch: WWE Network

Meet our previewers:

  • Joe Lanza: Leader, hardcore wrestling intelligentsia.
  • August Baker: “Papa Bear” August Baker is back for another WWE Preview. Follow @augustbaker12 on Twitter for some seriously lukewarm takes.
  • Lee Malone : VOW Irish correspondent, avid fan of a WWE Preview and next member of VOW staff to be married. Follow my wrestling and marriage takes on Twitter @Malone_713.

Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass

Joe Lanza: It’s way too early to declare victory in the “I can’t wait for all of the Daniel Bryan dream matches we’re going to get!” debate, but we’re not off to a great start. Who wouldn’t love to see Bryan vs Almas, Strong, Styles, Nakamura, Balor, Gargano, Black, TJP, Ced, Brock, *insert your fave here*? Look, the argument was never that WWE didn’t offer the best potential matchups. They currently possess the deepest and most loaded roster in wrestling history. The argument was that they probably wouldn’t deliver on most of them. Why people think WWE was ever going to send Bryan on some sort of dream match tour is a mystery to me. That simply isn’t what they do. Any “dream” feuds you get out of this will be entirely by accident. The only thing shocking about Cass as the first big program is that it wasn’t Kane. Prediction: Cass

August Baker: Look… they really can’t have Bryan lose to Cass, right? This can not possibly be what the WWE is going to do with one of their top stars. It boggles the mind. Fingers crossed, this is just a speed bump for Bryan until something more interesting. Literally anything would be more interesting. Not only is this an unappealing match up, it’s an extremely lazy story. “You’re little and I’m big so I’m better than you, hurr hurr.” Despite the many, many, many missteps the WWE takes every month, I can’t fathom Cass winning this until it happens. Prediction: Daniel Bryan

Lee Malone : Almas, Styles, Samoa Joe, Nakamura, Jeff Hardy, The Miz are all dream feuds that could be a reality for Daniel Bryan on the Smackdown roster alone right now. Instead we are being give Big Cass vs small underdog Bryan. It is almost like WWE refuse to do any other story with Bryan other than he is small and an underdog against these giant men. Look good for Cass getting the biggest singles match of his career so far but this is such a disappointing, if not predictable direction for WWE to take with Bryan.  Prediction: Daniel Bryan

WWE United States Title
Jeff Hardy (c) vs Randy Orton

Lee Malone: I have enjoyed the build to this match. Hardy debuting on Smackdown as US Champ and stealing Orton’s spot was fun and for the first time in a long time it feels like Randy has a bit of an edge to him. The RKOOUTTANOWHERE to Hardy on Smackdown planted enough doubt that maybe Randy is sliding back into his old ways. Looking into my crystal ball though Hardy seems the perfect target for a debuting Andrade Cien Almas and a prolonged feud between the two would definitely be something I would enjoy. I feel it is too soon to beat Jeff and honesty Randy doesn’t need the title Prediction : Jeff Hardy

Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe

Joe Lanza: I love the setup for this. “Roman, you totally suck and I bet Brock beats you again!”. So the heel was….correct? Joe also lost at GRR, so what we have here is a couple of losers coming off losses. Hot match! Prediction: Joe should win, but with this company, would it shock anyone if Roman can’t beat Brock to save his life but takes Joe down with him in his pit of misery and failed pushes? Prediction: Roman

August Baker: The promos Joe has been cutting just makes me look back at his career with some sadness. How good would it have been if Joe had been given the spotlight he deserved a decade ago when he was at the top of his physical game? Even Joe at 60% is better than most, and his matches with Roman in the past have been pretty good, so this should be no different. Joe has declared his intentions to challenge for the WWE title, so I have to figure he gets the win here, especially since Roman has nothing obvious going forward, except being sad. Prediction: Samoa Joe

Lee Malone: Since his return Joe has been fire on the mic and it seems obvious that big things are in the works for Joe’s immediate future. He has been put opposite Roman on Raw and immediately on Smackdown opposite AJ Styles. If Joe vs Styles is the next big feud for the WWE Title, I sure hope it is, well then it would be a good idea to give Joe a definitive win over Reigns. Another loss for Roman isn’t going to do any harm right now and with no obvious direction for Reigns I see no reason for him to beat Joe. This will be the match of the night if the main event doesn’t deliver   Prediction: Samoa Joe

WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship
Carmella © vs. Charlotte Flair

Joe Lanza: It feels like it’s waaaaaay too soon for Carmella to lose the title, but when it comes to any title in this company aside from the Universal and maybe the WWE Championship, traditional analysis is a waste of time and no decision they make matters all that much if at all in the grand scheme. That makes matches like this really hard to predict, so as per the usual with WWE, when in doubt, pick the outcome they shouldn’t do because that’s usually what will happen. Prediction: Charlotte

August Baker: The Smackdown Women’s division is stacked, so of course the champion is one of the least talented of the bunch. With Asuska, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte as stand outs, there’s no reason for Carmella to have to belt. But this is WWE, who looked at the 205 Live roster and decided Enzo Amore should be their representative. Carmella doesn’t even bring Enzo’s charisma to the table, so I’m not sure what her point is, but I am sure she gets some bullshit win here. Prediction: Carmella

Lee Malone : With all the talent on the roster Carmella is the last woman not named Lana that should be Womens Champion. That said Charlotte doesn’t need the title to remain relevant and personally I would like to see Naomi get back in the Womens Title mix after Charlotte gets her rematch    Prediction: Carmella

WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Nia Jax © vs. Alexa Bliss

Joe Lanza: My fear with all dual brand PPV’s moving forward is that because titles will be defended more frequently, we’ll get more frequent title changes. But in this case, Jax beating Bliss at Mania was the conclusion of a good story, but it’s a story with nowhere else to go. Jax is kind of a bore, and Bliss is awesome in the role of the heel being chased. Put the title back on her. Prediction: Bliss

August Baker: This story wrapped up at Mania, and should have ended the next night on Raw. Instead it drags out, with Bliss doing these awkward “She’s the real bully” promos that just don’t work for me. Jax has been getting good reactions, so i think taking the title off her would be a mistake. I don’t know where either lady goes from here though. Ember Moon could be a suitably challenger, and it’s impossible to ignore the Rousey-shaped shadow over this entire division. Prediction: Nia Jax

Lee Malone: Why this feud has continued on Post WM I don’t know but here we are. A loss for Nia in her first defense makes little sense while Alexa, similar to Charlotte on Smackdown can remain a relevant part of Raw without the title. Although, Alexa and Mickie opposing Natalya and Ronda Rousey for a couple of months seems the logical direction and maybe the powers that be feel the title is best served on a heel to build up for Ronda to beat  Prediction: Alexa Bliss

WWE Intercontinental Championship
Seth Rollins © vs. The Miz

Joe Lanza: If they ever get around to the Miz/Bryan program, and I’m not totally convinced that they’ll ever do it, it won’t need a title at stake. So wasting my time applying logic to anything associated with the WWE midcard, Seth should go over here to really cement his feud victory, while Miz smoothly transitions to the Bryan thing after whatever the hell is happening with Cass is over. Prediction: Seth

August Baker: It’s remarkable how often WWE backs themselves into these kind of matches. They control all the booking, there’s no reason for this kind of thing to happen. Now that they are on different shows, and needing to maintain a title balance, Seth is pretty obviously winning here. And he should. The IC title is a good spot for Rollins, especially with Raw’s Universal Title still in No Man’s Land. The Rollins/Balor story is just getting started, and Miz will presumably at some point be in Daniel Bryan’s crosshairs. This feels like a filler match. Prediction: Seth Rollins

Lee Malone : We all know Rollins is retaining here. It will be a good match. Some will shake, some will declare The Miz underrated and others will just shrug and will have forgotten the match ever happened by next Wednesday  Prediction: Seth Rollins

Braun Strowman & Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

Joe Lanza: WOOF was Lashley really bad at the GRR. That’s sort of been what Bobby is over the last few years. He’s either really, really good (vs Drew Galloway in TNA), or really, really horrendous (vs Jeff Cobb at WrestleCon Supershow). In this case though, he nearly injured everyone he touched in the Rumble match, and despite the designs for a mega push (one of which I believe won’t take anyway, as Lashley simply isn’t a top level star and never will be), I don’t think that has gone unnoticed. I think he eats a pin here. Prediction: Owens & Zayn

August Baker: I admit, I don’t know why Lashley is here. And by here I mean in WWE at all. His in ring skills don’t make up for his lack of personality or charisma. He has a muscular look and nothing else. There are a dozen other guys in the company already who could be in this role. But I expect him to get pushed, because he’s a Vince guy, or at least used to be. We’ll see how long he can be completely mediocre. Anyways, the other three men are a treat, but this match has no real point, so the winners don’t matter. Prediction: Strowman & Lashley

Lee Malone : Why is this match happening on a PPV? It’s a second hour, three segment Raw match at best. Why are Lashley and Strowman a team? Why can’t WWE do anything interesting with Owens & Zayn? Best I can hope for her is Owens & Zayn win and they get a prolonged run with the Raw Tag Titles  Prediction: Owens & Zayn

WWE Championship
AJ Styles © vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Joe Lanza: Now THIS I can sink my teeth into. I’m way into this feud now. I still think they should’ve done the Nak turn on Smackdown to build the Mania match and then done the GRR bout at Mania, but what’s done is done and it’s all minor gripes now. These guys have a killer match in them, we know this because we’ve seen it, and the added intensity of the turn really made their bout at GRR the most interesting thing on a largely mundane 6-hour show. As I wrote in the review on this very site, I had no problem with the double countout under those circumstances, and I think if handled with care you can stretch this thing out until SummerSlam and blow it off there. Prediction: Nak

August Baker: I’m not convinced this will be a great match. I’m not convinced that matters anymore. I just want to see AJ get punched in the dick. Maybe twice. Maybe even thrice. As far as I’m concerned, every dick punch will earn this match an extra star. I do hope Nakamura doesn’t just become the dick punch guy though, that it’s just a strategy used for this feud. Nakamura needs to be this kind of disrespectful heel, so hopefully with future opponents he’ll get to them in other ways. In any case, I’m not yet tired of watching AJ get doubled over in pain, so I’m looking forward to this one. Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

Lee Malone : I really want this to be a great match. AJ Styles is my favourite wrestler of all time and Shinsuke as been, pardon the pun phenomenal since his heel turn and it really feels like Nak has been wasted as a face in WWE over the past couple of years. With Joe likely the next challenger it makes sense for AJ to retain here and Nak to ball shot his next target on Smackdown. If AJ retains and moves onto a feud with Joe and Nak were to move into a feud with Daniel Bryan it is possible the wrestling bubble may just burst with excitement. The No DQ stip makes perfect sense following the double count out at GRR and being the main event of the show, the time is now for these two to have the great match we all know they are capable of Prediction: AJ Styles