MPW9 Another Week in Wrestling: BACKLASH 2016

Mondo Wrestling 8 9.14.16

Knocked off track, trying to keep up to date with a bullet point style grazing of highlights, low-lifes, and oddities from the past few days of wrestling.

WWE Backlash

The GOOD

Smackdown Live’s first single brand only network special/pay per view since the brand split phase began was a very successful one. It retained the same relatively stripped down ethos of Smackdown, stretching out matches enjoyably. The focus on the program establishing its title scene had a simple but easy to get behind philosophy: wrestling to win championships.

 

The Six Pack Challenge for the Smackdown Live Women’s Championship

There was a good flow to the match, with an overall high quality of work. Alexa Bliss (my official favorite women’s wrestler on Smackdown) had a new look that at first glance was only slightly different, but added a lot of flair and character, going for something of a comic book villain, a little bit of a mean Barbie vibe with a splash of dominatrix leather. She also looked impressive during the match. It is not a surprise that she went on to become top contender to the title on the following episode of Smackdown Live.

While Carmella is not known for her technical wrestling skills, she played up her heel-ish persona quite well, adding an element of instability. She looked veruy intense overreacting to Nikki Bella slapping her, leading to a pretty vicious exchange of slaps before Becky Lynch would win the title. The new women to move up from NXT all looked strong leading up to the finish of the match. Becky is a compelling baby face champion, having kept up with Sasha and Charlotte when they moved up to RAW but never getting the title there. This carves out a niche for her.

 

The Miz VS Dolph ZIggler

This was a very good match with plenty of back and forth and a good conclusion, making The Miz continue to look strong since his more aggressive side came out some weeks ago on Talking Smack, yet by way of underhanded tactics. This gives Ziggler something to gripe over, yet if he does not see a change in character soon he will loose a lot of credibility as an interesting member of the roster.

 

The Tag Team Championship Tournament

This was a very nice continuation of the story from Smackdown live which left American Alpha knocked out of the tournament, the Usos as heels, and Slater and Rhyno barreling towards the titles and Heath’s official WWE contract being signed. The Usos came off well as heels, in some slick black ring attire. And, in a move we rarely see on WWE main roster programming we had a straight up feel good moment: Slater and Rhyno won, with Slater getting in some good offense, and then going on to celebrate in the ring. It didn’t feel overly rehearsed. In fact, one of the things that might be making their story as successful as it is owes to Heath’s storyline seeming a reaction to fans getting behind him. The chemistry between Heath and Rhyno feels organic and a bit spontaneous. A great moment with talent that probably would not be in the spotlight if not for the brand split.

 

AJ Styles VS Dean Ambrose

This was a very good match. AJ continues to be incredible at pacing matches and pulling out an impressive array of moves. Ambrose stepped up his meanness. The end of the match signaled an exciting direction with Styles’ star continuing to rise as the new Smackdown champion. The heel-lish low blow before the win showed AJ could get the win on his own yet is still not taking the high road.

 

The WEIRD

Randy Ortron (not) VS Bray Wyatt

This was an ok way to recover from a shift in plans, as Randy Orton was not ok to wrestle, but covering for it with a staged ‘attack’ angle in the backstage area by Bray did not look very convincing. Orton coming out to deliver an RKO during Bray’s impromptu match with Kane did not help support the premise either. But it was an OK match considering it may have been cobbled together quickly. It did seem a bit soon for Wyatt and Orton to be having a full on match, and Wyatt did look good with running senton spot onto Kane on the outside ring announce table.

 

—–

A lot of good things happened ion the show, and talent far from the top of the spectrum seemed only to gain from their work during the show. It has left plenty to look forward to from the Smackdown Live brand.

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