The first brand-exclusive PPV of the latest roster split was in the lap of Smackdown Live. In the past, Smackdown had always had its reputation as the B-Show and the pressure was on. Would the blue brand be able to set the tone for the new Smackdown era? Let’s take a look at what transpired at Backlash 2016.
Backlash 2016 | Opening Segment
For the show, we will be looking at only the matches for a review, but this one segment had to be mentioned. Everyone was pumped for this PPV. Smackdown Live had a great roster of talent and had been doing very well opposite Raw in the ratings…
For Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan to come out and steal this anticipation was awful. In true McMahon fashion, Shane, and to a lesser extent, Bryan had to ensure the spotlight hit them. They should have let their show’s talent do the talking.
Backlash 2016 | Match #1 – Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, Carmella, Naomi, Natalya, and Nikki Bella
6 Pack Challenge for the Smackdown Live Women’s Championship
This is what should have started off the show. Most of the women in the match were getting crowd responses, and Lynch was beginning to realize her potential. There were a few cool spots during the match and there were no glaring issues with the work rate.
Ending it with Carmella and Lynch seemed an odd choice as Naomi or Nikki Bella would have created more suspense. It was the right call to have Lynch win, she was over as hell and was the top female star on the show. Somehow, apart from Nikki Bella who retired, all these girls are still on the main roster in 2022 which is quite a feat considering the releases in the past 6 years.
Backlash 2016 | Match #2 – The Uso’s v The Hype Brothers
Second Chance Match in the Smackdown Live Tag Team Title Tournament
This match was the fill the vacancy left by American Alpha after they were attacked post-match by The Usos.
There isn’t much to say about the match. There was no real chemistry between the two teams. It was put in place to get the Uso’s over as heels, which they did accomplish. Other than that character development, there isn’t much there.
The Usos got the win, deservedly, and moved on to the finals.
Backlash 2016 | Match#3 – The Miz v Dolph Ziggler
Intercontinental Championship Match
One of the best feuds of 2016 was responsible for one of the best matches on this card. Dolph Ziggler and The Miz were both over in their face and heels characters and were able to craft a compelling contest.
The technical aspect of the beginning minutes was only matched by the sell job by both men. Every person in that building believed that the shoulder and knee of the wrestlers were legitimately hurt. It was great and helped to keep the audience engaged in the match.
A lot of people groaned at the match finish but it was effective. Both men were mid-feud during this and there was still some juice left. Miz using his wife to blind Ziggler got The Miz some great heat and provided for a more satisfying blow-off down the road.
Backlash 2016 | Match #4 – Bray Wyatt v Kane
No Holds Barred
This was supposed to be Bray Wyatt v Randy Orton, but a pre-match attack on Orton left him unable to come to the ring. This led us to this bathroom break match.
No Holds Barred stipulations are supposed to enhance the match but this one hurt it. It was too slow and the weapons usage saw no creativity. Plus, Kane was way past his prime and he had no place being in the match.
This Kane issue also bent minds with the finish. Orton interfering made sense, but having Kane go over was a mistake. It did nothing to help Bray Wyatt going forward.
Backlash 2016 | Match #5 – The Uso’s v Heath Slater & Rhyno
Smackdown Live Tag Team Championship Match
Of the two teams The Uso’s will be remembered longer than Heath and Rhyno, but that didn’t hold back the best story of the beginnings of Smackdown Live. Slater had gotten himself over with the crowd and WWE, for once, was smart enough to run with it. He connected with the fans and everyone was chomping at the bit to see him earn employment.
Heath played the face in peril for most of the match. It was the right move and went a long way to getting more heat on the Usos. Sure, The Uso’s could have benefitted from the win but this was the perfect ending to a great story arc for Slater. The pop from the crowd was thunderous and it was a great moment from the PPV.
Backlash 2016 | Match #6 – Dean Ambrose v A.J Styles
WWE Championship Match
Styles and Ambrose were the two biggest names on the Smackdown Live roster. It was only a matter of time before they faced off in a ring.
This was the best match of the night by far. Both men were at the top of their game and their styles meshed well in the ring. It allowed for both wrestlers to keep up a fairly quick pace and keep us on the edge of our seats the entire time.
There was a particular reversal spot that deserves mention here. After various crisp reversals, A.J landed a cringe-worthy suplex on Ambrose into the turnbuckle. This showed off some great wrestling ability with a stiff finish.
It was a great match that involved some great technical wrestling and brawling. Having A.J cheat to win was a bold move and one that didn’t make A.J look great. But it made sense to do to protect Ambrose. All in all, this was a great first outing from Smackdown Live. They were able to put together a solid foundation of champions that helped to carry the brand forward.
There were some slow points to the night and some booking decisions were odd but this didn’t take away from the overall product. It is a shame that this type of success wasn’t sustained over a long period.