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The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Backlash 2016



The man who once carried TNA is now a WWE champion.

This is 2016, everyone. The WWE has finally lived up to the first W in its name, embracing all other companies and the legacies they created and sent out into the world. Shinsuke Nakamura won the NXT Championship last month, while AJ Styles finally won the WWE Championship this morning. One can say that both men were always destined to reach the highest levels of wrestling in the world, but in doing what they did, pulling the trigger on what needed to be done, they finally popped the mythic, fabled bubble the WWE has notoriously put itself in for the past decade.

Finally, the W can stand for World again.

It's a bit of a shame that Dean Ambrose's first run with the title ended this way; if you step back from the magical haze that surrounds AJ Styles's first WWE title win, it's pretty clear that the Ambrose reign was aborted. For reasons both his and Creative's fault, it just wasn't working the way it should have. They tried, especially with the Dolph Ziggler feud, but the uncertainty that came with Ambrose's uneven tweener alignment was palpable. Somebody needed to be booed, and perhaps it was too early for Dean to be the Stone Cold kind of anti-hero in the attempt to anchor SmackDown. This was a reset that he needed.


As for Backlash, it was exactly the kind of event SmackDown needed. From the outset, two brand-exclusive PPV events in one month sounded like both a terrible idea and a much-needed fix for the old paradigm, where the one-and-a-half-month wait between two brand-exclusive PPVs was too long, especially in times of famine. But SmackDown handled their talent so well, maximizing them and not even letting the show get to three full hours when it didn't have to. It played out like a special episode of SmackDown Live, and most times, that's just really what you need on a random Sunday night in September.

In fact, Backlash stands as an unsung milestone not only for SmackDown, but for the rest of the WWE. The show was a low-key beacon of hope, a signifier that even if it's at least for now, even if it's only for Team Blue wrestling, WWE is committed to making some important changes around here. They're willing to tell better stories and they're willing to let them play out, and they're willing to let everyone wrestle to their hearts' content, and get over in the process. 

Of course, if you only have two hours a week to build up a three-hour show, there won't be too much to cram. Backlash's only flaw is that it was born too soon, slapped together a mere three weeks after SummerSlam—in contrast, RAW's Clash of Champions is getting five weeks, and they're still figuring out their way with two weeks left. To put together a tight show like SmackDown did in a much shorter amount of time, and make a really huge moment as well, is impressive. A-


Quick results

  • Baron Corbin def. Apollo Crews in the kickoff

  • Becky Lynch def. Carmella, Nikki Bella, Natalya, Naomi, and Alexa Bliss in a Six-Pack Challenge to become the first SmackDown Women's Champion

  • The Usos def. The Hype Bros to advance to the finals of the SmackDown Tag Team Championship Tournament

  • The Miz (with Maryse) (c) def. Dolph Ziggler to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship

  • Bray Wyatt def. Randy Orton by forfeit

  • Kane def. Bray Wyatt

  • The team of Heath Slater and Rhyno def. The Usos to become the first SmackDown Tag Team Champions

  • AJ Styles def. Dean Ambrose (c) to become the new WWE World Champion

Photo from WWE

*****

Romeo Moran (@roiswaris the Editor in Chief of Smark Henry and one of the three hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He gets by in this hard knock life through working in publishing. Smark Henry was his and Stan Sy's original vision of a watering hole for local wrestling fans. He roots for the undersized guys who hit hard, but really hates Davey Richards with his entire soul.

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