Damien Barling: WWE Backlash This Sunday

Sunday will bring us one of the stranger WWE PPV in recent memory. Not, House of Horrors strange, but strange in the sense that one month ago you would have never guessed you’d see some of these matches.

No more glaring example of this then Jinder Mahal challenging Randy Orton for the WWE title. I’ve said what I’ve had to say about Mahal. Prior to becoming the number one contender, he had one 1 televised singles match in two years. Since winning that 6 way match, the WWE has done a good job of making him look like a strong heel. Sure, they’ve gone with the tired method of making a foreign born performer and over the top heel but cool. Sure, Jinder screams in a foreign language to get heat, just like the Iron Sheik, Muhammad Hassan, Davari, Rusev, and pretty much everyone else has. Jinder has the look WWE likes (regardless of how he got it). How they get out of this match will be a story in itself. Does anyone believe Jinder Mahal will be the WWE champion come Monday? Is he a one and done main event guy? Will he be built for the long term? These are all questions that will be answered when this PPV ends Sunday.

Not to be outdone, the tag team division also has a head scratching team grabbing a title shot. Much like Jinder Mahal, The Fashion Police have been nothing more then a comedy routine for months. Also like Mahal, they some how won a number one contenders match to challenge the reborn duo of The Usos. Jimmy and Jay have been extremely entertaining since their aggressive promo they cut on American Alpha from the front row of a Smackdown Live show. Theres no way The Usos should lose here, but again, what do you do with the Fashion Police? I find their skits entertaining but have little interest in seeing them in the mix some of the other tag teams on Smackdown.

The women’s division has a faction called the Welcoming Committee and Charlotte is teaming with babyface, though, she isn’t quite a babyface yet. At least it doesn’t look like it. The crowd wants to cheer her but she’s such a natural heel its hard to fall in love with her. Naomi is the champion but I feel like Charlotte will be the story of this match. Perhaps they pair her off with Tamina to elevate her status or don’t they don’t go the full babyface route and set her up with Becky Lynch.

AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens is going to be awesome. Theres no reason and no way this match doesn’t wind up they best of the night. AJ is the best performer in the company and Kevin Owens his far behind. His Face of America shtick is fantastic and his one day character evolution from Raw to Smackdown shows what a truly incredible performer Owens is. The winner of this match maybe Randy Ortons next opponent.

Shinskue Nakamura will make his main roster in ring debut Sunday against Dolph Ziggler. While this match doesn’t feel like a big deal, by all appearances, WWE is treating Nakamura like a marquee star. Theres no question, in the ring, Ziggler can go with anyone. I don’t see this, and hope it isn’t, a long term program for the King of Strong Style and much like some of the matches listed above, this should be a one and done for Ziggler. Where Nakamura goes leading into SummerSlam may give us an idea of what WWE has in mind for him through the rest of 2017.

This has the chance to be a really compelling pay per view despite the fact most of the matches feel like nothing more the transitions into the next programs. Check back in Sunday night following the PPV for a full review of the show.

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