Sunday marked the beginning of a new era in WWE with the first pay-per-view that featured only performers from “SmackDown Live.” Three new champions were crowned at WWE Backlash 2016 in Richmond, Virginia.
Backlash was highlighted by the WWE World Championship Match between Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles, giving Styles a fourth opportunity to win the belt for the first time in his career. Since being introduced just a few weeks ago, the SmackDown Women’s Championship and Tag Team Championship were also up for grabs.
Some of the biggest stars on the “SmackDown Live” roster didn’t participate in any of the matches on Sunday’s card. John Cena was left off the PPV completely, and he hasn’t appeared on WWE programming since SummerSlam on Aug.21. Randy Orton didn’t have a match, though he did make an appearance on the show.
The event featured seven matches, including the pre-show. Every match had a conclusive finish, though the PPV likely set up several rematches to take place in the near future.
WWE World Champion Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles
Less than eight months after making his WWE debut, Styles is the top champion on “SmackDown Live.” The main event between Styles and Ambrose stole the show as the two wrestlers went at it for close to 25 minutes. Styles was able to steal the victory after he pushed his opponent into the referee, allowing him to deliver a low blow to Ambrose that went unnoticed. The new champ hit a Styles Clash for the pinfall, ending Ambrose’s 84-day title reign.
Winner: AJ Styles
Intercontinental Champion The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler
To the surprise of almost no WWE fans, Ziggler lost yet another title match. With Maryse watching the match from ringside, The Miz distracted the referee, allowing the champ’s wife to spray an unidentified substance into Ziggler’s eyes. The Miz then hit a Skull-Crushing Finale for the win, remaining the longest-reigning singles champion in WWE.
Winner: The Miz
SmackDown Women’s Championship Six-Pack Challenge
The first woman selected by “SmackDown Live” in July’s WWE Draft is the brand's first-ever women’s champion. Becky Lynch was the last wrestler standing in Sunday’s six-women elimination match, forcing Carmella to tap to the Dis-arm-her. Alexa Bliss was the first wrestler eliminated in the match, followed by Naomi, Natalya and Nikki Bella.
Winner: Becky Lynch
The Usos vs. Hype Bros. (Tag Team Championship Tournament Semifinal)
It was The Usos’ first match since turning heel on Tuesday, and they brought their new attitude to Sunday’s semifinal match. Just days after injuring American Alpha’s Chad Gable, The Usos did the same to Zack Ryder, targeting his knee and forcing him to tap to a Tequila Sunrise submission.
Winner: The Usos
The Usos vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno (Tag Team Championship Tournament Final)
The Usos won a spot in the finals of the tag team championship tournament by beating The Hype Bros. earlier in the night, but they came up short against the team of Heath Slater & Rhyno. The eventual winners were dominated for much of the match, but Rhyno delivered a Gore that allowed Slater to get the pinfall, making them the first-ever SmackDown Tag Team Champions. By winning the match, Slater also earned a full-time roster spot on “SmackDown Live.”
Winner: Heath Slater & Rhyno
Kane vs. Bray Wyatt
Orton was scheduled to face Wyatt on Sunday, but an injury forced WWE to take him off the card. Orton was replaced by Kane, who didn't get much offense in for most of the impromptu No Holds Barred Match. But Orton found a way to get involved, making his way to the ring and delivering an RKO to Wyatt, which allowed Kane to hit a Chokeslam and get the victory.
Baron Corbin vs. Apollo Crews
The match wasn’t advertised in the days leading up to the PPV, but Corbin and Crews faced off on Sunday’s pre-show. Corbin ended the match after hitting End of Days, and Crews continues to search for meaningful wins since being called up to WWE’s main roster.
Winner: Baron Corbin