Backlash returns to the WWE PPV schedule after a one year hiatus. The event will take place Sunday June 14th at 7pm ET (Kickoff Show begins at 6pm ET) at the WWE Performance Center with an audience limited to WWE employees. There are seven matches scheduled with the main attraction being "The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever" between Edge & Randy Orton. Below is a preview of each match on the card and predictions for each match based on recent booking. In the comments, share your picks to win and your favorite Backlash memories.
Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Bobby Lashley
After winning the WWE Championship from Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 36, McIntyre defended the title successfully against Big Show, Andrade, & Seth Rollins. McIntyre continues to grow more comfortable in his role as the WWE Champion every week while continuing to get promo time and matches against quality talent on RAW. Since WrestleMania 36, Lashley has been moved away from Lana and paired with MVP as his mouthpiece. Lashley's Full Nelson is being pushed as unbreakable and the focus has been brought back to his athletic ability instead of stories outside of the ring.
Drew & Lashley have never faced each other in singles competition in WWE, but they had a feud in TNA/Impact that yielded some very good matches. Drew has not pinned or submitted Lashley in a singles match yet. Lashley has three strong wins over McIntyre in TNA/Impact but hasn't found his footing since coming back to WWE. The pairing with MVP might be just what Lashley needs to take him to the next level in WWE.
This match will be full of power moves. Lashley is 6'3" and weighs 273 lbs and McIntyre is 6'5" and weighs 265 lbs - the ring is going to be shaking every time these massive athletes execute a maneuver. McIntrye and MVP may be the ones who can finally make Lashley into a main-eventer in WWE. If this effort is successful, look to McIntyre to be champ for a while because RAW has a lot of new talent that needs to be established in the eyes of the audience and in the eyes of Vince McMahon. This feud will likely continue until Extreme Rules next month.
Drew McIntyre via pinfall
WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP (2-ON-1 HANDICAP MATCH)
Braun Strowman (c) vs. The Miz and John Morrison
Fresh off his victory over Bray Wyatt at Money In The Bank, Braun Strowman tagged with Otis in a match against Miz & Morrison. The next week, Miz & Morrison roasted Strowman on The Dirt Sheet. Strowman defeated The Miz easily in a match the next week on SmackDown in spite of interference from Morrison. The two then challenged Strowman to a handicap match for the Universal Championship at Backlash.
On paper, Strowman shouldn't stand a chance against the former tag team champions. Individually, each Miz & Morrison have enough accolades that the combination of the two should dominate Strowman. Bray Wyatt has been gone for too long since his defeat. The Fiend should come back and get revenge on Strowman in this match resulting in a no contest.
No Contest due to interference from The Fiend
WWE RAW WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP
Asuka (c) vs. Nia Jax
Since returning to action on the RAW after WrestleMania 36, Nia Jax has beaten the crap out of Asuka's tag team partner and good friend, Kairi Sane. Jax is a legit 6ft and weighs close to 270lbs. Asuka's dominance in WWE is unmatched: she has won every title that she is allowed to compete for in addition to being the victor in the Royal Rumble match, the Money In The Bank match, the Mixed Match Challenge. Jax has made herself impossible to ignore and will be the first challenger for Asuka's RAW Women's Championship.
Jax had a run as RAW Women's Champion two years ago as a babyface but is all heel today. Since her return from injury, Jax has added Paige's former finishing move, The Rampage DDT, to her repertoire. Jax isn't in a position to defeat Asuka right now. This match also may be a set-up for Extreme Rules, but with Charlotte coming back to RAW from NXT, it seems like there's a lot more interest in an Asuka/Charlotte feud because Charlotte is the only woman Asuka has never defeated in all of WWE.
Asuka via submission
WWE WOMEN'S TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
Sasha Banks and Bayley (c) vs. The IIconics vs. Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss
Bayley and Sasha just keep getting better and better as a heel duo. Their victory celebration after defeating Bliss/Cross for the tag team championships was just so perfect and evil. When the IIconics made their return to RAW, Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross completely underestimated them and lost a non-title match to the Australian duo. As great as the IIconics are right now, Bayley and Sasha should have the tag team titles for a little longer. Bliss and Cross are going to need to find their edge again to keep up with the evolving Women's Tag Division or they may find themselves split up sooner than later.
Bayley & Sasha Banks via pinfall
WWE US CHAMPIONSHIP
Apollo Crews (c) vs. Andrade
The resurrection of Apollo Crews continues with what should end the feud between him and Andrade. Andrade has all the tools to be a main event player and this feud could be the end of his time as a mid-carder. Andrade and Zelina Vega have been wildly successful since pairing together in NXT and although they've hit a rough patch recently, the two should stay together for a while longer. Andrade had such great chemistry with Drew McIntyre in NXT that it would be a shame to not have the two wrestle one another for the WWE Championship later in the year. A loss to Apollo Crews here will not derail Andrade's career, but it will help solidify Crews as United States Champion. Crews' new attitude and new music have helped to complement his otherworldly athletic ability and wrestling skills. Crews has been positioned as white-meat babyface, much like Kofi Kingston was in his feud against Daniel Bryan. If Andrade & Crews are successful in this match, it should position Crews to be someone that a great heel can get massive heat off of for taking advantage of him and Andrade could move towards the main event. Expect an athletic affair that will likely set a pace that no other match on the card will be able to top. The finish to this match will likely be muddied by some interference from Angel Garza (who got in Andrade's way during a triple threat match this past week on RAW) who will likely be Andrade's next feud as RAW shuffles its deck as the show transitions away from Paul Heyman running the show.
Apollo Crews via pinfall
Randy Orton vs. Edge
Two of the biggest stars in wrestling for the past twenty years will clash in what's being advertised as "The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever". The marketing for this match has felt incredibly insulting and has done a disservice to both performers as it has done a disservice to the audience. The last match between these two was a 45-minute brawl through the performance center that received a mixed reaction from fans, which is why this marketing is so curious: is it because someone in WWE is bitter that not everyone loved the match? Labeling this match the way WWE has, changes the conversation from "who do you think is going to win" to "why did they do that"?
The match itself should be a straight-up wrestling match and has already been recorded so WWE can edit it to be an even better match. Rumors are that the match was an excellent wrestling match that highlighted what both men do well while still being a hard-hitting fight. Keeping in mind that Extreme Rules takes place next month: Randy Orton is going to cheat at the end of the match and steal a win so the two can continue their feud at Extreme Rules. No matter how great these guys do, this match has already been shot in the foot by its own marketing and the knowledge that there's an Extreme Rules event next month.
Randy Orton via pinfall
Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus
Jeff Hardy's return after a year-long absence due to injury and substance abuse problems has hit its first major obstacle: Sheamus. Sheamus recently returned from injury as well, but Sheamus has been flummoxed by Hardy's focus and discipline in spite of Sheamus' mind games. Sheamus has had Hardy arrested and publicly drug tested in the middle of the ring in an attempt to humiliate him. Hardy was bailed out by Jamie Noble in time to ruin Sheamus' chances in the Intercontinental Championship Tournament and Hardy doused Sheamus in his urine after the public drug test.
These two have wrestled each other many times in tag team matches but have only faced off in singles competition three times with Hardy getting the victory in all three matches. This match will be an absolute beatdown of Jeff Hardy until Sheamus' rage leads him to make a mistake that Hardy will exploit to achieve victory. Hardy is getting a lot of TV time right now as WWE is building him as a recovering addict who uses the mental discipline techniques he learned to fight addiction as an aid to him fighting opponents. If you find this storyline controversial or if you're enjoying it, please remember: it's great to have wrestlers as excellent as Sheamus and Jeff Hardy healthy and wrestling again.
Jeff Hardy via pinfall