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Consecutive games in which Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. has hit leadoff home run

Heel Turns: Backlash could sizzle

Posted by Achilles Heel On May 6

Dedicated Heel Turns readers know that the Greek God of Wrestling doesn’t approve of the mixed brand pay-per-views. The major problem with having wrestlers from both Smackdown and Raw on each pay-per-view is that it reduces the opportunities for wrestlers to appear on these events.

Despite my objection, Achilles Heel recognizes that Sunday’s “Backlash,” the first of the mixed brand pay-per-views, shapes up to be a pretty good show. With WWE Universal  champion Brock Lesnar not on the card, the main event features AJ Styles defending the WWE Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura in a no-disqualification match. The no-disqualification stipulation results from Nakamura, who turned heel with a post-match attack at WrestleMania, repeatedly delivering low blows to Styles. The stipulation could lead to a title change, but Achilles Heel finds it more likely that Styles uses a low blow of his own to defeat Nakamura.

The mixed-brand pay-per-view, along with the superstar shakeup, leads to several matches with wrestlers from both brands. Roman Reigns faces Samoa Joe, and Seth Rollins defends the Intercontinental Championship against The Miz. Rollins has elevated his game lately, and he should retain the Intercontinental title against Miz, the former champion who is now on Smackdown. Samoa Joe also is now on Smackdown. He could defeat Reigns, but it shouldn’t be clean. There should be some sort of interference, which allows Joe to use a win over Reigns to bolster his credentials if he challenges Styles for the WWE Championship, while, at the same time, building sympathy for Reigns in yet another attempt to rally WWE fans to support him.

A particularly interesting match features Jeff Hardy defending the United States Championship against Randy Orton. The storyline is that Orton lost the United States title at WrestleMania without being pinned. Hardy then won the title from Jinder Mahal on Raw, then brought the title back to Smackdown as part of the superstar shakeup. The Greek God of Wrestling’s only fear is that outside interference could taint the finish of this match.

There are two women’s title matches at Backlash (8 p.m., WWE Network). Charlotte Flair gets a shot to regain the Smackdown Women’s Championship from Carmella, who cashed in her Money in the Bank opportunity to take the title from an injured Flair. Nia Jax defends the Raw Women’s Championship against Alexa Bliss. Achilles Heel doesn’t see a title change in either match, although Carmella pales in comparison to Flair in terms of being championship material. There are three women’s matches on the card, with Bayley battling Ruby Riott during the kickoff show.

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn take on the powerful duo of Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley. It’s difficult to figure out how Owens and Zayn can win this match – unless there is dissension between Strowman and Lashley. There also is an interesting contrast in styles between Big Cass and Daniel Bryan. A win by Bryan would stop Cass’ upward push almost before it begins, so Big Cass might pick up a big victory.

Backlash should be a good show if the matches are given time to develop. The back-stage stuff should be kept to a minimum in order to allow the in-ring action to shine.

*****

GREATEST RUMBLE: The Greek God of Wrestling, whose moniker might be considered blasphemy in Saudi Arabia, won’t go through the entire card from The Greatest Royal Rumble in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Instead, he will make some general observations.

The most obvious thing for viewers is that the front few rows were reserved for VIPs rather than regular fans. Instead of regular seats, the VIPs sat in large comfortable chairs more appropriate for a luxury hotel suite than for ringside. Dressed in the traditional long white robes and kaffiyehs, the VIPs, who were all men, didn’t appear to be as involved in the matches as regular fans. Although the camera cut away quickly when it happened, there were times when VIPs got up and left, seemingly always on their cell phones, in the middle of a match. They were there because they are “important” instead of being there because they are huge fans of WWE.

It was also interesting to see what caused the biggest reactions from the crowds. High-flying moves drew big reactions. Standard signature moves of competitors often didn’t draw much of a reaction, as if the fans weren’t familiar with the wrestlers’ move sets.

As has been mentioned before, a concession WWE made in return for holding this major event in Saudi Arabia is that women didn’t wrestle on the show. Women in Saudi Arabia are just getting the right to drive in Saudi Arabia this year, so many in this country are not close to being ready to see women wrestle.

In the signature match, Braun Strowman won the 50-man Royal Rumble. Daniel Bryan set a record for the longest time in a Royal Rumble, but he was eliminated near the end by Big Cass. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt defeated Cesaro and Sheamus to capture the vacant Raw Tag Team Championships. No other titles changed hands, with WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar defeating Roman Reigns in a steel cage match.

*****

WORLD WARS: Ring of Honor’s War of the Worlds Tour is skipping Philladelphia this year. The North American events, featuring wrestlers from Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling, will be held in Lowell, Mass. (Wednesday), Toronto (Friday), Royal Oak, Mich. (Saturday) and Chicago (Sun., May. 13).

In Lowell, Dalton Castle defends the Ring of Honor World Championship against Matt Taven. In Toronto, Cody Rhodes will square off with Jushin “Thunder” Liger. The main event in Michigan features Mark and Jay Briscoe defending the Ring of Honor Tag Team Championship against Bushi and Naito. The Chicago main events pits Los Ingobernables de Japan (Naito, EVIL, Sanada, Bushi and Hiromu Takahashi) against the Bullet Club (Cody Rhodes, Marty Scurll, Adam Page and Matt and Nick Jackson).

*****

LONDON CALLING: WWE and Ring of Honor are headed to Europe. WWE leaves this week for a two-week tour covering many European countries, including England, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Austria and the Czech Republic. Ring of Honor travels across the pond for events in Edinburgh (May 24), London (May 26) and Doncaster (May 27).

*****

WOMEN IN PRIME ROLE: Achilles Heel applauds Impact Wrestling for giving women a larger role. An angle with Su Yung, Rosemary and Allie was in the main event slot during Thursday’s show; however, the women’s matches in Impact Wrestling pale in comparison to the matches in WWE. Honestly, not a lot of what’s happening on Impact is capturing the Greek God of Wrestling’s attention.

*****

WWE COMES TO ALLENTOWN: Before departing for Europe, WWE will be in Allentown on Monday (7:30 p.m.) for a Smackdown house show at PPL Arena.

*****

HIDDEN GEM: The main event so Combat Zone Wrestling’s “Prelude to Violence” show on Saturday at the Colossal Sports Academy at The Coliseum in Voorhees is a 4-wa elimination match for the CZW Wired Championship. There also will be a doors, ladders and chairs match, but the hidden gem may be a match between Rich Swann and Dezmond Xavier. It’s good to see that Swann has reconsidered retiring after his legal issues stemming from an alleged domestic violence incident.

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