Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Monday, May 22, 2017

WWE Backlash 2017, One Day Removed from Live Blog

1. Aiden English vs. Tye Dillinger

ER: I'm happy to see English doing his theatrical singing again, his whole act and in-ring was one of my favorite things about 2014 NXT. Dillinger's giant collared vest looks like something one of the women might wear for a PPV title match, cosplaying the Evil Queen. Whereas English has some amazing Van Gogh Starry Night tights, which is probably just the second instance of fine art being used on tights, after Rick Rude used Renoir's A Portrait of Cheryl Roberts. And I really dug this match until the exchange of bad looking finishers. The opening go behind stuff was really good, loved English yanking Dillinger's arm and shoulder into the top rope. After spending his whole intro song running down Chicago, I appreciate English yelling "This is my town!!" before whiffing a punch. Dillinger has a bad flying forearm but some shockingly nice corner 10 punches. If your gimmick is the whole "10" thing, you may as well perfect the move most associated with a 10 count. English hits a silly flipping neckbreaker and then starts breaking down afterwards, with JBL saying English is a true method actor, who can turn the tears on and off on command. Obviously JBL has no clue what method acting is. If English was a method actor they would have needed 27 takes on him crying, broken up by a 45 minute call to his Stella Adler-trained acting coach (or, someone who talked to someone at a party once, who they thought was Stella Adler). Dillinger's finisher is terrible.

2. Dolph Ziggler vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

ER: This wasn't really the match I was expecting them to work, but it was probably better than the match I was expecting. Ziggler actually works like a heel and it's not just a Nakamura showcase. He does get to through a bunch of knees, and instead of working a counter-heavy style they work a lot of spots where Ziggler is almost as quick to the shot, Nakamura's shot was just stronger. I never once put it past WWE to have Nak lose his debut main brand match, so the Ziggler near falls resonated huge with me. Did I really think a Zig Zag would end the match? Not totally, but again, it didn't seem unbelievable. I liked Ziggler using actual amateur things here and there, like his desperation single leg that saw Nak sprawl. I don't think people know quite what to make of Nakamura's facial selling, but I imagine it catching on big. When someone takes a superkick to the back of the head, I just don't think most are expecting someone's eyes to cross and body to curl up like they just got pogo'd by Scrooge McDuck. But this was good, thought the nearfalls worked, all the big knee strikes looked good, nice match.

3. Breezango vs. Usos

ER: Anybody griping about the brand extension can just stop. I get to see Tyler Breeze in an actual PPV title match, and no way was that ever happening pre-extension. Here he's undercover bossing as a janitor, and I for one hope he mops the floor with the Usos (*soundbite*)! And if the Nak/Ziggler match was not what I expected, then this match really was not what I expected. WWE likes to keep their bad comedy to the backstage skits, rarely working actual outright comedy matches. Indy wrestling is lousy with comedy matches, WWE pretty much just had Santino and Michael Cole overlaughing at jokes (although Santino was still getting fairly regular laughs out of me through his tenure). Not all of this comedy works, but getting over with comedy is pretty much the only chance Breezango has, and it certainly seemed like it was working. Breeze still brings painful looking bumps, and the fans seemed to buy his nearfall. His turnbuckle head tuck/superkick spot on the Usos is one of the only times I've seen that spot almost work, as he held onto the tucked head until the other one threw the kick, and the kick looked like it was aimed at Breeze. The spot with the Usos catching a Breeze dive and tossing him into the barrier was killer, with Breeze almost crushing a couple kids. Fun match.

4. Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin

ER: This match should have worked better for me, but there was something that didn't click. I think it might have been because Sami was the underdog babyface working an injury, but the match was worked with Corbin almost always fighting to come back. The announcers acted like Sami was the one fighting back, and Sami's body language acted that way, but it felt like Sami controlled 70% of this match. If he wasn't actively doing a move, he was reversing a move. So it took a genuinely impressive selling performance from Zayn, never overdone in an ohhhhhhh my baaaaaaaack kind of way, but more in the way I get up in the morning and carefully pick up a pair of socks from the floor. For all his well played back clutching, Zayn somehow just never seemed that much in danger. He would pull off a move with a bad back, but then when Corbin would counter with a slam it would get rolled up. I dunno. I thought it made Zayn look strong, but the layout didn't work for me.

5. Carmella, Tamina & Natalya vs. Becky Lynch, Charlotte & Naomi

ER: Tamina has been on the main roster for SEVEN YEARS. I'm sure I'm missing some people, but is there anybody else you can think of who's been around for 7 years and still gets a "new phone who dis?" reaction every time she comes out? Now with her new gear she just looks like a less stacked Nia Jax, like when a curvy girl loses weight but it all gets lost from weird areas. Tamina is actually wearing a more slim fit version of Viscera's old gear. That's what it is. Tamina - after seven years - still doesn't seem like she totally knows how to walk through ring ropes. Carmella yanking Lynch off the apron was a great spot, Natalya doing a stomach kick 2' away from Naomi, less so (Natalya has looked really, really awful in-ring the last couple months). My my what a poor match. It wasted so much time getting to the finish, only for the finish to feel incredibly rushed. Lynch was hardly in the match but was apparently completely worn down in seconds by Natalya's sub. Carmella was the only one who came out of this looking any better, and they've already established that Carmella has no chance of going anywhere (which is a shame, as I think they rushed her debut so badly that it ruined what could have been with her).

6. AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens

ER: Really, really good match with a couple of incredibly satisfying spots based around an injury. Styles' knee buckling on the springboard and the finish where his leg gets dropped through a vacant announce table monitor hole while setting up a Clash, were awesome, well played moments. Normally a count out finish would be a major let down, but I thought the set up throughout the match for something like this was so good that it totally worked for me. Owens smothered him nice to start, locking on snug headlocks and trying to ground Styles, and once Styles started to break out I like Owens immediately going for the fat attacks (the big senton, the bigger cannonball, and then the awesome cannonball with AJ's leg prone). The knee gets played up nicely the whole match, the announcers say really bizarre things during AJ's comebacks ("Pele kick to the face of America!" What the fuck!?), they do a couple pretty lunatic spots (that driver off the top and that apron suplex), but all that knee stuff kept this nicely grounded in meaningful reality. Clever finishes sometimes get way too clever for anybody's good, but this finish worked. Awesome stuff.

7. Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan

ER: I should have been flipping out for this one, but maybe this whole feud just feels way too late. Harper felt like he could have broken out over a year ago, and here he is. Both guys do stuff I like, and Harper is still my boy, that back elbow out on the floor was sick...but this just felt so low stakes. This felt like a Smackdown match that gets cut away from.

8. Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton

ER: Well I ended up loving this one more than I thought was possible. Fewer things move my needle less than "Randy Orton main event title match", but I was sold on this match from before the bell. Orton jumps Jinder and knocks him to the floor, and Jinder takes a couple nasty bumps over the table and into the announcer chairs, and the match hasn't even officially started. And once it does it becomes somewhat clear that Jinder doesn't have great offense, but that's okay! We can work around those things. I'll give more credit for trying a nice kneedrop to the chest and not really succeeding, than trying some kind of convoluted offense. Jinder works over Orton's shoulder in engaging-enough ways, and Orton mostly commits to selling it. Things naturally pick up once the Bollywood Boys start running interference, and both of them take insanely stupid bumps on the announcers table, especially Gurv. Orton makes a long and unmistakable "ohhhhhhh shittttttt" face after he watches himself dump Gurv on his head, but he's over it by the time he's DDTing both of them. And then, Jinder improbably gets the win! I have no takes on Jinder, don't care about any of the outrages surrounding him. It's a bold move to immediately push a guy so brazenly on the gas, yes. Wrestlers are on gear. It's a thing. We know that. And Mahal doesn't seem like a great wrestler, but it's a new face in the mix, AND he at minimum knew how to work as an intense heel. That can go a long way. Orton was weirdly motivated here (which he has not been in a year), and I say they just go all the way and work a juice angle. Because right now Jinder has one of those gross 1999 WCW power plant juice bods (though truthfully needs more bloat and HGH belly), like someone who just found a stash of 20 year old anabolics and is now a title winning superstar. Make that his gimmick. Instead of Homer finding a can of Billy Beer in his fringe jacket, Jinder finds a bunch of expired juice in some BodyPUMP gear he picks up at Salvation Army. I hate giving away money like this.

Good show, wasn't expecting much of anything from the listed card. Women's tag was the only outright bad thing on the card, and that match was pretty meaningless in the grand scheme. The card was worth watching a day later, pleased with my decision.

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