Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Heel Turns: Backlash could be excellent

Posted by Achilles Heel On May 20

Achilles HeelIf you’ve been on the fence about watching WWE single-brand pay-per-views, take the Greek God of Wrestling’s advice and watch Backlash. There are some “can’t miss” matches and the potential is there for Backlash to be a tremendous event.

Instead of starting with the WWE Championship match, let’s begin with the two most-anticipated matches for Sunday’s show (8 p.m., WWE Network): A.J. Styles vs. Kevin Owens, and Shinsuke Nakamura’s first televised match since being brought up from NXT.

Nakamura, billed as The Artist known as Nakamura, should receive an off-the-charts superstar reception from the Chicago crowd. His opponent, Dolph Ziggler, is a terrific wrestler in his own right. Although there is the possibility of an upset for Ziggler, which would prolong this feud, expect WWE to make the crowd happy with a big victory for Nakamura in what should be an entertaining match.

How can the United States Championship match between Owens and Styles be anything less than entertaining? Two of the best independent wrestlers in recent years, Owens and Styles have been among the company’s best – Styles was WWE’s best wrestler in 2016 – since arriving in WWE. Owens just regained the U.S. title from Chris Jericho, so it’s too soon for a title change. Expect Owens to retain the U.S. Championship.

The WWE Championship will be on the line, with Randy Orton defending against Jinder Mahal. Although WWE has been building up Mahal during the past two months (see last week’s Heel Turns), Achilles Heel isn’t certain that the fans are buying Mahal, who had always been relegated to the mid-card or a comedy act, as a top contender. Hopefully, the Chicago crowd doesn’t demonstrated its disdain for Mahal by ruining this match with irrelevant chants (i.e. C.M. Punk!). There is the possibility of a title change, with the “Maharajah” taking the title back to India, a country in which WWE is trying to make a concerted push. But the way Mahal has gotten the better of Orton almost every week indicates that Orton will prevail Sunday.

The Smackdown Tag Team Championship is also on the line, with Jimmy and Jey Uso defending the titles against Breezango (Fandango and Tyler Breeze). It’s not clear if Breezango is a heel team or face team, so the crowd dynamic will be interesting. The Greek God of Wrestling is pleased to see Breeze, who was terrific in NXT, get a higher profile, but the Usos should retain their titles.

A potential sleeper match – and Achilles Heel means that in the most positive way possible – is the six-woman tag team match pitting the team consisting of Smackdown Women’s champion Naomi, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch against the Welcoming Committee (Natalya, Carmella, Tamina). Natalya will have to carry most of the action for the heel faction, but this has the potential to be an excellent match. The “good girls” should win, but there is potential for dissension, which could lead to a victory for the heels. How well Naomi, Charlotte and Becky work together should be as interesting as the rivalry between the two teams.

The other matches feature Sami Zayn taking on Baron Corbin and a battle between former Wyatt Family members Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. Zayn almost never has a bad match. The potential for a Zayn upset is there, although Corbin should be the favorite. Harper is extremely talented and woefully underutilized. If he can pull a good match out of Rowan, it will be a huge accomplishment. The kickoff show (7 p.m.) pits “The Perfect 10” Tye Dillinger against former Vaudevillains member Aiden English. Dillinger almost certainly will emerge victorious.

With two matches – Styles vs. Owens and Nakamura vs. Ziggler – almost guaranteed to be excellent, and with several other matches with the potential to be very good, Backlash has the potential to be extremely entertaining. The Greek God of Wrestling recommends that you don’t miss it.


SWEET HOME, CHICAGO: On Saturday night (8 p.m.), one night before Backlash, NXT presents NXT Takeover: Chicago. Hideo Itami, one of NXT’s huge international signings, challenges Bobby Roode for the NXT Championship in the main event. Itami, who has had his NXT career hindered by injuries, has an opportunity at gold, but the Greek God of Wrestling expects Roode’s “glorious” championship reign to continue.

Asuka defends the NXT Women’s Championship against Ruby Riot and Nikki Cross in a triple threat match. Asuka should prevail as Riot and Cross take each other out. There seems to be no way that Riot and Cross can work together for very long against Asuka.

The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar) are scheduled to defend the NXT Tag Team Championship against Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa in a ladder match, but Ciampa injured his ankle this week at a house show in Kentucky. If Ciampa works the match, you would expect that he would be limited.

Tyler Bate defends the WWE United Kingdom Championship against Pete Dunne. If you’ve never seen either of these wrestlers, you’re in for a treat. The card is rounded out by what should be a terrific match between Roderick Strong and Eric Young.


OK IN THE U.K.: Pete Dunne earned the opportunity to face Tyler Bate for the WWE United Kingdom Championship on Saturday be defeating Trent Seven in a No. 1 contenders match that was part of the United Kingdom special shown Friday night on WWE Network. Bate successfully defended the title against Mark Andrews on the show, which was another interesting and entertaining show on WWE Network.


TANAHASHI INJURED: Hiroshi Tanahashi sustained a biceps injury during last Sunday’s Ring of Honor television tapings at 2300 Arena. If the injury requires surgery, Tanahashi could be sidelined for six months or more.


SEMI-SPOILER: As you probably know, the Greek God of Wrestling detests spoilers, so he won’t be providing a rundown of angles and matches from the Ring of Honor tapings at 2300 Arena. He will, however, tell you that Adam Cole delivered a speech that appears to confirm the item in last week’s Heel Turns stating that it appears Cole is leaving Ring of Honor, likely for NXT or WWE.


SAY IT AIN’T SO: Achilles Heel’s fears appear to be justified. It appears that the Josh Matthews-Jeremy Borash feud on Impact Wrestling is going to lead to a tag team match involving both men at Slammiversary.


OH, WHAT A RUSH! Lio Rush defeated Joe Gacy last Saturday at Combat Zone Wrestling’s “Sacrifices” to become the new CZW world champion. In other matches, Father Matt Tremont defeated Joey Janela in a steel cage match, Zack Sabre Jr. beat David Starr, Maxwell Jacob Feinstein topped Johnny Yuma to become the CZW Wired champion, and Shane Strickland defeated Sami Callihan. There were a bunch of run-ins at the end of the Callihan-Strickland match, including MASADA, who announced that he will enter CZW’s Tournament of Death on June 10 in Townsend, Del.


SOMERS DIES: Many of today’s fans may never have heard of Doug Somers, but he was part of an entertaining tag team with Playboy Buddy Rose in the AWA during the 1980s. Somers, who passed away this past week at age 65, and Rose engaged in a terrific feud with The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Janetty).


GOING TO HELL-ERTOWN: CHIKARA goes to Hellertown, Pa., next Saturday for Aniversario: School Reunion. The main event is a 10-man tag team match.


JAPANESE INVASION: Io Shirai, a big star in Japan, is coming to WWE, according to Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer. Kairi Hojo, another major star for the Stardom promotion, already announced she was leaving the company, presumably for WWE.


STROWMAN SIDELINED: Braun Strowman’s monster push, if you’ll pardon the expression, has been delayed. Strowman, who was being built up to challenge Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship, had elbow surgery. The surgery could sideline Strowman for months. In the televised storyline, Roman Reigns shattered Strowman’s elbow with a series of chair shots.


GOING EXTREME: With Braun Strowman out of the picture, Raw general manager Kurt Angle announced an Extreme Rules fatal five-way match to determine the No. 1 contender for the WWE Universal Championship. The match, which will take place June 4 at Extreme Rules, will feature Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe and Bray Wyatt.

Other matches at Extreme Rules include Dean Ambrose defending the Intercontinental Championship against The Miz, with Ambrose able to lose the title by disqualification; Alexa defending the Raw Women’s Championship against former champion Bayley in a kendo stick on a pole match; Matt and Jeff Hardy defending the Raw Tag Team Championship against Sheamus and Cesaro; and Austin Aries trying for a third time to wrest the Cruiserweight Championship away from Neville.

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