The first pay-per-view that’s resulted from July’s WWE brand split is set for Sunday night with Backlash 2016 in Richmond, Virginia. It will only include wrestlers that perform on “SmackDown Live,” and all four of the brand’s titles will be on the line.
Dean Ambrose, who was SmackDown’s first pick in the 2016 WWE Draft, will put the WWE World Championship on the line against the brand’s No.2 overall pick, AJ Styles. The recently introduced SmackDown Women’s Championship and Tag Team Championships will also be on the line for the first time at Backlash.
John Cena was the No.3 pick of SmackDown, but he isn’t on the match card. Other SmackDown notables that aren’t scheduled for the PPV include Baron Corbin and Apollo Crews.
Below is a look at the entire card for WWE Backlash 2016, as well as predictions for each match.
WWE World Champion Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles
He hasn’t even been in WWE for eight months, but it’s time for Styles to win the company’s top title. Styles is clearly the top performer on “SmackDown Live,” and he might find a way to defeat Ambrose clean. If Styles does lose, it could be because of interference by Cena, who hasn’t appeared on WWE TV since SummerSlam and might not be finished feuding with Styles.
Prediction: AJ Styles
SmackDown Women’s Championship Six-Pack Challenge
Having recently returned from a long hiatus because of her neck injury, Nikki Bella should be the favorite to become the first ever SmackDown Women’s Champion. Carmella and Alexa Bliss probably don’t have a real shot to win the title, since neither has ever even had a singles match on a PPV. Naomi and Natalya have been around for a while, but Nikki’s biggest competition comes from Becky Lynch, who was the first woman selected by SmackDown in the draft.
Prediction: Nikki Bella
The Usos/Hype Bros. vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno — SmackDown Tag Team Championship Tournament Final
Heath Slater & Rhyno were supposed to face American Alpha in the final of the SmackDown Tag Team Tournament, but the latter team won’t compete because of an injury to Chad Gable. That means The Usos will fight the Hype Bros in a semifinal match at Backlash, with the winner going on to face Slater & Rhyno for the titles. The Usos turned heel on Tuesday, likely setting them up to win the belts. A win for Slater would land him a contract with SmackDown, and he should remain a free agent since his storyline is one of the most entertaining in all of WWE at the moment.
Prediction: The Usos
Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt
It’s become clear that WWE doesn’t believe Wyatt needs many wins to remain one of the top stars on SmackDown. He’s become the wrestler that other superstars beat when they need a win of significance. Wyatt will play that role for Orton, who was just brutalized by Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam.
Prediction: Randy Orton
Intercontinental Champion The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler
The Miz is one of the most interesting characters in WWE at the moment, and there’s no reason to have him lose the belt to Ziggler. Ziggler has become known for losing big matches and making his opponents look good, and that will continue on Sunday.
Prediction: The Miz