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WWE Backlash 2020 feels like a filler event, despite the fact that it’s been advertised as featuring “The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever”.
Most of Sunday’s card is underwhelming, and by the time Extreme Rules comes along, it could feel like both events only needed to be one show.
Still, sometimes the most bland events have the biggest surprises. Once in a while, WWE swerves its audience with an unexpectedly good pay-per-view.
When it comes to Edge vs. Randy Orton, Braun Strowman in a Handicap match for the Universal Championship, Asuka vs. Nia Jax for the Raw women’s title and more, will there be any shocking outcomes?
Before the show begins, let’s run down the card with one last round of picks for who will win at Backlash.
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It would be extremely deflating if all that effort was taken to do the Money in the Bank match, have Becky Lynch anoint Asuka the new champion and then have her drop the belt this quickly to Nia Jax.
This should be more of a story of Asuka proving herself by overcoming a tough obstacle—Jax is the largest athlete in the women’s division—rather than a tale of a new champion being crowned.
To further drive home that point, Charlotte Flair has already started to feud with The Empress of Tomorrow. It wouldn’t do either of them any good to have Jax win the title and for Flair and Asuka to fight over nothing.
This is one of the easiest matches to call for this event. It must go to Asuka.
Prediction: Asuka retains.
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Another easy prediction is that Braun Strowman will overcome the odds to beat both The Miz and John Morrison in this 2-on-1 match.
Most of the time, Handicap matches are set up to make the underdog look good.
Granted, the last time The Monster Among Men was defending a title on a pay-per-view against multiple opponents, he dropped the Intercontinental Championship to Sami Zayn. So it’s not out of the realm of possibility for him to come up short.
But Morrison and The Miz are so clearly filler opponents, as they have continued to remind audiences that Bray Wyatt isn’t done with Strowman.
Behind the scenes, Wyatt’s just had his second child with JoJo, which is likely why he’s been absent since Money in the Bank. He should be coming back in time for Extreme Rules and/or SummerSlam to pick up where he left off.
The Fiend vs. The Monster Among Men makes more sense as a title feud rather than going in the direction of The Miz and Morrison in a co-champions angle.
This is a means for Strowman to beat more people and look strong before circling back to a program with his former mentor.
Prediction: Strowman retains.
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Matches like Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus are tough to pick, as this feud is by no means ending at Backlash, making the outcome almost meaningless.
WWE could go in any number of directions and end at the same destination.
For instance, Hardy could win here and Sheamus could attack him after the match or on SmackDown to set up a gimmick bout at Extreme Rules. The reverse could happen, particularly with Sheamus cheating, which wouldn’t stop Hardy from seeking vengeance and setting up a rematch.
However, Hardy’s the one fighting from the lower position. He suffered a bigger loss with the car accident storyline than what happened with Sheamus losing to Daniel Bryan in the Intercontinental Championship tournament semifinals.
The Celtic Warrior has been more physically dominant, so it wouldn’t hurt for The Charismatic Enigma to get one over on him to provoke another attack.
For the most part, flip a coin. Both Superstars winning makes sense, and it’s unlikely anyone knows what WWE will decide for this part of the story. The only guarantee is that this won’t be the end of the feud and that Hardy will get the best of Sheamus by the feud’s conclusion.
Prediction: Hardy wins.
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WWE has teased Sasha Banks and Bayley feuding since before the 2018 Royal Rumble. For whatever reason, the fuse is never lit and the two just continue to allude to a split without ever doing it.
Such little effort has been put into Bayley’s run with the SmackDown Women’s Championship this past year that it’s not surprising The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection are tag team champions again. It’s the simplest, laziest way WWE can drag out the buildup to their inevitable split.
They wouldn’t have won the belts if that weren’t the game plan. Nor will they drop the titles until closer to SummerSlam, if not well after that point, given this feud’s beyond slow burn.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross won’t just win the titles back. That will have made this all for nothing.
The IIconics could become champions, but they teased a potential split weeks back too. Oddly, it’s more likely they will break up before Banks and Bayley at this point.
There’s no way Banks and Bayley lose this match. That would require their feud to properly begin afterward.
Prediction: Banks and Bayley retain.
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Speaking of the idea that a deposed champion shouldn’t just win back a title quickly after dropping it, Andrade held the United States Championship long enough. Now, it’s Apollo Crews who deserves a run with the gold.
The champ got new theme music on the latest episode of Raw. If WWE invested in that, the game plan must be to back him for a real title reign and not just a cup of coffee before giving it back to Andrade.
Tension has been rising within Zelina Vega’s stable too. Perhaps Andrade will come up short in this match because of her involvement or some interference from Angel Garza, which would lead to those two feuding going forward.
For Crews to get a fair shot as a champion, he can’t be brushed aside this fast. He must at least hold the title until Extreme Rules in July, but even that would be a far cry from a decent enough title reign.
This should be his first step, not his final act.
Prediction: Crews retains.
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Ditching Lana and replacing her with MVP has done wonders for Bobby Lashley’s character. Instead of being the stoic player in a melodramatic storyline, he’s back to being a bad ass.
The soap opera side of sports entertainment has never been Lashley’s forte. Thankfully, his match against Drew McIntyre should be a hard-hitting affair, in which he is in his element.
Unfortunately, it is not the time to be challenging The King of Claymore Country, as he’s not dropping that title anytime soon.
Far too much time and effort was invested in making McIntyre a big deal this year. He was given the biggest spotlight possible with his Royal Rumble victory, and he toppled Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 36.
Losing to Lashley just two months later would be an astonishing reversal of momentum and bring into question what WWE stands to gain from punishing its talent from getting over and stopping that train.
Mistakes like that have happened all too often, such as with Rhea Ripley dropping the NXT Women’s Championship to Charlotte Flair in April, but here’s hoping WWE has learned from that mess and won’t do the same with McIntyre.
Prediction: McIntyre retains.
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It’s no grand prediction to say Edge and Randy Orton won’t have the greatest wrestling match ever, as this is hyped to be.
For one, consider Edge’s ring rust from nearly a decade away from the ring.
They could still have a phenomenal match, though. After all, they are two legends—one is a Hall of Famer; the other is a guaranteed future first-ballot inductee.
They have held more world titles than anyone in history save for John Cena, Ric Flair and Triple H.
As far as a winner’s concerned, lean toward The Viper.
Edge won their fight at WrestleMania, which could have been the end of their feud. WWE is keeping it going for a reason other than just to give Orton a win in return and call it quits or for Edge to win again.
This match has rules for a reason: so Orton can break them.
He will win by doing something duplicitous, such as holding Edge’s tights, hitting him with a low-blow when the referee is distracted or ramming him into an exposed turnbuckle.
That way, he can claim he was the smarter of the two, thus proving himself the better wrestler while showcasing how Edge was right that his career wasn’t based on respect for the business and that he took shortcuts to victory.
Then the two can settle their score for good in the rubber match at either Extreme Rules or SummerSlam.
Prediction: Orton wins.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.