By Brad Carroll
After a better-than-expected Backlash PPV Sunday night, which saw Jinder Mahal win the WWE world championship, it’s only fitting there was a bunch of “winners” who came out of the event. There’s a few “losers” too, but overall, Backlash was an enjoyable show, both from an in-ring standpoint and some well-done comedy as well.
Here are the winners and losers from the SmackDown event:
Jinder Mahal: Was there a bigger winner in all of WWE last night than Jinder Mahal? He’s actually the biggest winner of the entire year. After all, who goes from glorified jobber to world champion in a matter of weeks? Mahal did that by pinning Randy Orton Sunday at Backlash with a Cobra Clutch Slam outta nowhere. The match overall had way more energy than anyone could have expected, and that was thanks to a fired up Orton, who got the crowd into the match with a raucous start, attacking Mahal before the intros were finished. Give Orton credit for creating the atmosphere, but Mahal gets the biggest winner tag for proving himself on the big stage. As I mentioned in our preview, Mahal was given the ball, it was now up to him to score. And he did (just as I predicted, I might add). His celebration after the win was pretty epic, too. He needs to be great Tuesday night, but this was an amazing start to the era of Mahal.
Breezango: The Chicago crowd ate up the antics of Tyler Breeze, who went undercover as a janitor and old lady during the match, playing off their Fashion Police and Fashion Files sketches. The crowd cheered for his mop and then chanted “Lets go, Grandma” in what can only be described as one of the funniest in-ring moments in a long time. And if you didn’t laugh, you need to take wrestling a little less serious. I loved every minute of it. Fandango also proved he can wrestle, impressing with his move-set in the ring. Breeze and Fandango were better and more entertaining than the Usos, but couldn’t come away with the titles. But it didn’t matter, Breezango got completely over with the crowd at Backlash and a title reign should be in their future.
Sami Zayn: There isn’t a guy on the roster who needed a win more than Sami Zayn, as he was teetering on become a full-time glorified jobber. But in the “land of opportunity” Zayn pulled off a minor surprise, beating Baron Corbin cleanly. It was the complete opposite of how Zayn has been booked so far, with him simply losing match after match to make another (less talented) wrestler look good. But Zayn flipped the script here and got a big win. Maybe the WWE is finally ready to put some effort into building Zayn as a major player.
Kevin Owens and AJ Styles: The ending wasn’t what anyone wanted, a countout victory by Kevin Owens over AJ Styles, as Styles’ leg fell into a hole in the announcers’ table and got tangled in wires, but it was everything one could have hoped for. It appears these two are going to get another match to fully decide a winner, and that’s a victory for all of us fans.
Shinsuke Nakamura: It wasn’t his greatest match, but Nakamura was way over with the crowd and got a highly-competitive victory over Dolph Ziggler. And even Matt Straub had to get excited when his entrance music hit. It sets Nakamuro up nicely going forward on SmackDown Live.
Baron Corbin: As good a win as it was for Sami Zayn, it was as bad a loss for Corbin, who saw his momentum stalled with the defeat. Corbin might just get the win back on Tuesday night, which would make the Backlash bout meaningless, but for now, Corbin losing to Zayn drops him down to lower mid-card status.
Women’s Division: The six-woman match had the right winners, the Welcoming Committee, but really, what was the point? Who challenges Naomi for the women’s title? Carmella isn’t ready for it, Tamina is an afterthought and Natalya is way too old and lame. It’s a weird set-up all around as the three best wrestlers are teaming against the three worst.
Randy Orton: I’ll give him credit, Orton was really good in this match and putting him here really isn’t fair, but he did lose to Jinder Mahal, so yeah. Orton never really felt like a world champion this time around, so getting the belt off him makes a ton of sense. Mahal now has the chance to do what Orton couldn’t, elevate that title. Good luck; it’s not going to be easy. Orton, though, was really good in this match and he nearly killed the Singh Brothers too with some crazy-looking table spots.