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    Tuesday, May 23, 2017

    The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Backlash 2017

    When the pro wrestling machinery is on in full power, it's on, and nothing will ever be quite like it. Case in point: when you talk about Backlash 2017, all you'll ever be talking about is Jinder Mahal winning the WWE Championship.

    Not Shinsuke Nakamura finally debuting in a WWE main roster ring, not Breezango pulling their own weight in a comedy match-turned-serious bout, not even Kevin Owens defeating AJ Styles in the most clever countout finish we've seen in a long time. The story will always be the company's biggest metanarrative at the moment—that they let someone who was a virtual pushover just a couple of months ago go so far as to win the biggest prize in the business.

    Maybe because it was the company's planned expansion into India, Jinder's home country. Maybe it could be because Jinder had been a hard worker and positive figure backstage, suspicious bulking aside. The fact remains that when they really want to, WWE will make you believe that just enough effort and perseverance will get you far, and Jinder had been one lucky son of a gun to be one of the few to get the business end of the dream factory.

    The good news is that Jinder did do the best he can and play his role to a tee, even if in the bigger picture, it still amounts to just doing enough to get by and earn the win. The match itself was the right amount of eventful for a championship main event, and Orton made Jinder look good by being the exact kind of wrestler this match needed. They all earned the match result, and enough intrigue to get everyone tuned in to SmackDown tomorrow.

    And that's where we'll find out whether this bit of booking was a swerve for the sake of a swerve. WWE's got a history of using Orton to steal the thunder of their newest champions, like Christian in 2011 and Daniel Bryan in 2013. The fear of the Viper taking back his title is all too real. Until then, Backlash will serve as a reminder that SmackDown is and forever will be a land of opportunity, with the right people either winning (Shinsuke Nakamura, Sami Zayn, Tye Dillinger) or getting just the exact amount of exposure they need (Breezango, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan) to keep the whole show is competitive, and people on their toes.

    Meanwhile, the perception is nice, but remember to not delude yourself into complacency, thinking that hard work will always trump politics. Jinder Mahal worked hard to redeem himself and his spot in the machine, but his win—like all big victories and angles, only more so with this—is all politics. They're all lucky that many of us are willing to get behind this, but a backlash at Backlash would have been the ultimate irony. A

    Match of the Night

    Of course it's Styles vs. Owens. This is the match you all woke up early to see, isn't it?

    But seriously, it's rare to see a countout finish done right. Many of it in modern pro wrestling is lazy—while sometimes, it's the right call for the story, the match worked in the ring rarely ever earns the admittedly anticlimactic finish. Trust AJ and KO to know exactly what to do to get the countout over and continue their story.


    • I absolutely wish Ziggler and Nakamura didn't start the show. While the objective of the curtain-jerker is always to get the crowd hot for the rest of the night, I felt like the moment was too big to open with; it could've used a little more last-minute buildup to main-event the first hour. Zayn/Corbin could've easily opened the show and achieved the same goal.

    • That said, the card order could've been a lot better. It's a shame that a decent match such as Luke Harper and Erick Rowan would have to be the bathroom break between the two title matches; they wouldn't have this problem at all if they still made some quality backstage segments to go on the PPV.

    • Interesting choice to have the Welcoming Committee take the pin. It means they're willing to give the SmackDown women's division a little more parity and competitiveness, and that's always good. Consider me pleasantly surprised.

    • I hope Breezango doesn't fade back into lowercard oblivion after their loss against the Usos. It's clear that the plan moving forward is to have the Usos be the strongest heels against the New Day, but now they need to make sure that the Fashion Police don't lose the goodwill they've earned. Also, they're going to need another heel team that's stronger than the Ascension... what's American Alpha doing lately?

    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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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Backlash 2017 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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