For the second time in seven months, WWE will present Backlash, and although it is the event has the same name, the complexion of Smackdown Live could not look any more different.
Back in October, Smackdown Live had Dean Ambrose defend the WWE championship against AJ Styles in the main event.
This time around, the WWE title match looks much, much different.
Regardless of what is on top of the card, the event will emanate from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., which should at the very least make for a fun atmosphere.
Whether this event delivers or not is a different story, but until then, here are my predictions:
WWE championship – Randy Orton (c) vs. Jinder Mahal
WWE has tried really hard to convince fans the Mahal legitimately has a chance to walk out of Backlash the new WWE champion.
Try as they might, WWE’s creative team was not able to convince me one bit. In fact, I could not be more confident in Orton retaining the title after the way Mahal has been booked recently.
Mahal has won all of his matches since becoming No. 1 contender, including one over Styles, and left Orton lying in a heap on the most recent edition of Smackdown Live.
What that says to me is that Mahal is destined to come up short Sunday night.
Prediction: Orton RETAINS the WWE championship
WWE United States championship – Kevin Owens (c) vs. AJ Styles
Although this is for the United States title, this is probably the match I’m looking forward to the most.
What makes it even better is that I can see it going either way.
The deciding factor for me, though, was that I think Owens has a lot of legs as United States champion and losing to Styles simply doesn’t feel right to me.
I am not a huge fan of Styles losing, so I can see Owens somehow getting himself disqualified to hang on to his title.
Prediction: Owens RETAINS the United States championship
WWE Smackdown Tag Team championship – The Usos (c) vs. Breezango
Breezango has been one of the few bright spots on Smackdown Live in recent weeks, but their run in the title picture will probably come to an end after losing to The Usos Sunday.
It was very, very fun while it lasted.
On the flip side, I have enjoyed The Usos since being paired with Breezango. The champions actually received some time on the microphone and delivered what I believe to be some very entertaining promos.
Prediction: The Usos RETAIN the Smackdown Tag Team titles
Naomi, Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch vs. Natalya, Carmella & Tamina
The bad gals — Natalya, Carmella and Tamina — have stood tall over the good gals at every turn leading up to this match, which makes me believe that the good gals will finally get one up on their rivals at Backlash.
Prediction: Naomi, Flair & Lynch def. Natalya, Carmella & Tamin
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler
The creative build to this match has not been great, but this isn’t really about that.
This is about the highly anticipated in-ring debut of Nakamura, who I am sure will receive a grand ovation from the Chicago fans.
The entire promotional aspect of the event has been built around Nakamura, which tells me that there is no way he is going to lose.
The only question is whether he and Ziggler can deliver a quality match in the ring together. Given the talent level of both men, I believe they can.
Prediction: Nakamura def. Ziggler
Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin
Corbin has beaten the daylights out of Zayn every time they have run into each other, which tells me Zayn could steal a victory at Backlash.
Prediction: Zayn def. Corbin
Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan
I’m still not sure why this is happening, but since Rowan won on Smackdown Live a couple of weeks back, I’m going with Harper here.
Prediction: Harper def. Rowan
Kickoff match – Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English
I do not see a reason for Dillinger to lose so I am going with him.
Prediction: Dillinger def. English