Tuesday, April 30, 2024

WWE Backlash France Preview & Predictions

This Saturday WWE brings their annual PPV Backlash to France.  And apparently they don't think all that much of France, because this is kind of a nothing PPV, truth be told.

Thus far only five matches have been announced and while they should all be decent from an in-ring standpoint, there's precious little going on story-wise.  Yet oddly no "Where's the story??" complaints from the WWE faithful.  Weird.  WWE is not surprisingly in a place where they blew their load with WrestleMania and clearly didn't have much planned after that in the short-term.  Without Dwayne and Roman around they don't seem to know what to do with themselves, case in point the mostly, well, *pointless* WWE Draft, wherein 90% or so of those drafted are on the same show they started on, and no one of any real consequence jumped brands.  They're just punting until they can start building for Cody vs. Rock.  It's quite an indictment of their creative vacuum that a 51-year-old whose career peaked during the Clinton administration is the guy their long-term booking is built around.

Anyway let's take a look at this card....

Randy Orton & Kevin Owens vs. Solo Sikoa & Tama Tonga

Sweet Jesus, this Bloodline bullshit won't ever go away, will it?  Now it's down to the C-team for the time being.  No Roman, no Rock, no Jimmy, Jey's doing his own thing, so now we're left with Solo who loses all the time, and the 41-year-old Tama Tonga, whom Eric Bischoff referred to as a "great YOUNG talent," proving that Eric had never heard of the guy before he debuted on Smackdown.  And yet he expects to be taken seriously when he offers AEW booking advice.  Anyway, nothing about this match interests me; Tonga was a solid but usually pretty unremarkable part of NJPW's roster and I can't imagine he'll light this place on fire given WWE's creative limitations.  But if they want The Bloodline to stay relevant till Roman gets back I have to think they win here.  Oh, and Owens is gonna end up eating the pin.

Pick: Solo & Tama

WWE Women's Tag Team Championship: Kabuki Warriors vs. Bianca Belair & Jade Cargill

Anyone else find it strange and a little troubling that almost every wrestler of color in WWE is grouped together with folks of the same ethnicity?  Asuka/Kairi/IYO, Bianca/Jade/Naomi, the LWO, Santos Escobar's group, The Pride, The Bloodline (that one made sense until Tama joined, as he's not even a blood relative of the Anoa'i family).  Shit's becoming kinda reductive, no?  Anyway I think Bianca and Jade win the straps here and go on to dominate this nonexistent division.  I guess if you're gonna hotshot a title onto a woman who's only had like three televised matches it may as well be the one that doesn't mean anything?  By the way, Jade's in-ring presentation is still identical to what she did in AEW, which begs the question: What exactly did she learn at the Performance Center?

Pick: Bianca and Jade

WWE Women's Championship: Bayley vs. Naomi vs. Tiffany Stratton

This should be a fun match, as Bayley's great and Tiffany is super promising.  I question the wisdom of putting her in this match only to have her lose, but maybe she'll be protected and Naomi will take the pinfall.  Bayley's clearly not dropping the belt this soon.

Pick: Bayley retains    

World Championship: Damian Priest vs. Jey Uso

What a weak-ass title match.  If you were gonna have Priest cash in on Drew so fast, is it too much to ask that you have a big marquee match/feud planned for him?  Drew, the former champ, is in a way hotter feud, and the guy he's feuding with isn't even cleared to wrestle.  Jey is over as a tier 2 guy but he's not hot at a main event level, in spite of his moniker.  Guy's coming off the worst match of WrestleMania weekend and no one buys that he might win the title here.  Priest is undoubtedly just keeping the title warm for Drew to regain it at Clash at the Castle anyway.  What a nothing-happening match this is.

Pick: Priest retains   

WWE Championship: Cody Rhodes vs. AJ Styles

Here's a match that should be very good but has literally no story, that thing WWE is allegedly so good at and prides itself on.  Cody and AJ haven't interacted basically at all, AJ is coming off a loss at 'Mania, and he's only here because he won a half-assed Eliminator thingy (three of the six participants lost at 'Mania), where he avenged his loss to LA Knight.  Which kinda means AJ is still really feuding with Knight and not Cody.  They aren't exactly setting Cody up for a landmark title run if his first defense is against someone he's got no real beef with.  Couldn't they have started a real feud for their top star, to kick off this new era?  They at least tried to do that last year when he WASN'T champion coming out of 'Mania (there was still no proper explanation for Brock attacking him but at least it was a feud).  But so far he's just done a victory lap and now he'll turn back a challenger with zero heat.  Ya know, I'm beginning to think Triple H isn't the creative genius WWE fans think he is.  Match should be good if AJ is motivated, but this is a house show main event.

Pick: Cody retains

Yeah soooo, they went from the most-watched WrestleMania ever to.....a show.  Good, maybe the product will cool down and we can all stop verbally fellating WWE and realize that "better than the shitshow Vince was peddling" doesn't mean "greatest era ever."

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