We’ve already taken care of the superstars missing from Backlash 2017, but who are the lucky few who will not only perform, but likely steal the show in some capacity?
Whether it’s in a scripted or a non-kayfabe sense by factoring in everything from wins/losses, how much of an emphasis WWE puts on that superstar, their momentum heading into the next television episode, match performance and everything between, here’s the shortlist for who I think will be coveting the most of the spotlight:
The past few weeks have been huge for Jinder Mahal as he’s transitioned from a jobber who doesn’t even show up on a regular basis to a world title contender.
This is huge, and there’s been no shortage of coverage for how grand of a position he is now in, with JBL repeatedly reminding the audience that these opportunities don’t come around too often for most people and all it takes is one chance to make it big.
Sadly, for Mahal, I can’t imagine this is his time to win the WWE Championship. I’d even go so far as to say he probably never will win it, but that’s at least up for more debate than when it comes to Backlash.
Rusev has already been set up to a certain extent as the next No. 1 contender for Money in the Bank and while he and Mahal have had some issues in the past, I can’t imagine WWE will not only take the title off Orton, but book Mahal vs. Rusev as the main event of that pay-per-view.
Too much time and effort was spent with the feud between Orton and Bray Wyatt to throw it all away for what essentially equates to a “the guy’s physique has improved” and “let’s try to upgrade our marketing in India” thought process.
Mahal will impress and hopefully set himself up to be taken more seriously going forward, but he’ll ultimately come up short.
Let’s face it, even though there are five other women in this match and one of them is the champion, the entire women’s division on SmackDown has revolved around Charlotte Flair since the Superstar Shake-Up.
Her presence on the brand is the entire reason this six-woman tag team match is even happening, as The Welcoming Committee only formed as a response to her joining Tuesday nights.
There’s absolutely no way she isn’t booked as the focal point of this match, whether or not her team wins. The story will either be how she and her cohorts were victorious or how she, Naomi, and Becky Lynch weren’t able to overcome Natalya, Tamina and Carmella, and what the repercussions will be for Charlotte rather than for the division as a whole.
If you’re asking who I think will come out of the United States Championship match looking like the rightful winner, my pick is AJ Styles. If you’re asking who will actually win and who will have more time dedicated to him on the SmackDown to follow this event, then I have to lean towards Kevin Owens.
I’ve mentioned this several times over the past few weeks, but it bears repeating: Owens just started this Face of America gimmick. That is almost entirely dependent upon him holding the US title to be able to have that claim.
If he were to lose the title, they’d be dropping the gimmick, and I think it’s just too soon for that to happen.
Not only do I not think Owens is losing the title here, but I would go so far as to say he isn’t going to lose it to Styles at all in the future. I don’t know when the transition to the next champion will happen, but my gut tells me it’s Shinsuke Nakamura or Sami Zayn who will take the title away from Owens, not Styles, although there’s a slight possibility Mojo Rawley gets the accolade (but I doubt it).
KO will find a way to win here, by hook or by crook.
The guy is on the poster for goodness sake. Of course he’s going to be one of the biggest talking points of the night!
This will be Nakamura’s first match on the main roster and it just so happens to be against one of the best in-ring performers of the past decade.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Shinsuke Nakamura legitimately has the potential to be a Match of the Year candidate, so if it comes anything close to that, Nakamura is going to turn a lot of heads in this performance with or without a victory—although the easy bet is to say Ziggler comes up short so he can continue to complain that Nakamura was simply lucky, demanding a rematch for the future.
Those are my picks, but who do you think will end up being the primary focal points? Drop your predictions in the comments below!