The Backlash kick-off show begins with the panel of Renee Young, Peter Rosenberg and Booker T. The five-time Champion throws his pinky up to the fans in the All-State Arena and they give a big cheer. We cut backstage to see Dasha Fuentes in the Social Media Lounge, and Sami Zayn will be joining her later tonight.
We see a great video hyping the debut of Shinsuke Nakamura and his opponent, Dolph Ziggler. Booker T says you know someone is really great when you know of them before you ever see them. He compares the mythos around Nakamura, to that of The Great Muta. Rosenberg agrees with Booker and says that Nakamura will fully arrive tonight. Booker contradicts and says that you cannot count Dolph out of the match. Peter Rosenberg questions the last time we had a debut this anticipated. Booker says that Nakamura captivates you when he is on screen and you can’t look away. Renee asks who needs the win more, to which Rosenberg and Booker agree that all the pressure is on Shinsuke to perform and win.
Will The ARTIST Known As @ShinsukeN bring ART to LIFE when he battles @HEELZiggler in his @WWE in-ring debut?#WWEBacklash pic.twitter.com/wTGPuVMJFz
— WWE (@WWE) May 21, 2017
We get a quick pitch for the WWE Network, as well as the Raw-exclusive PPV, Extreme Rules, in 2 weeks. James Ellsworth joins the panel to discuss the upcoming women’s tag match. Renee asks him how Carmella, Natalya and Tamina are feeling ahead of the match, to which James says they’re feeling great. Ellsworth says The Welcoming Committee has walked out of SmackDown Live at the top of the division. He says he is the “homeboy” of The Welcoming Committee. Renee asks what credibility he has, to which Ellsworth rightly says he pinned AJ Styles three times. As for his vision for the group, Ellsworth says they want Carmella to get a title match, seeing as she’s pinned Naomi twice. Rosenberg asks what the nature of his relationship with Carmella is, to which Ellsworth dances around the answer. Booker asks if it’s “real” and pounds his fist with his palm. Ellsworth says he just got a message from her and he leaves.
The panel quickly discuss Sami Zayn Vs. Baron Corbin. Booker says that Sami is always on the cusp of breaking through and he will do so eventually, whether it’s busting down the front door, or coming in the back. Rosenberg says we know Sami has a big heart but he doesn’t have big enough hands to tackle a wolf. Rosenberg says Sami is great but he can’t handle Corbin. Booker disagrees and says Sami will find a way to prevail and Renee says she hopes he is right.
Moving on, the Tag Team Championship match is next. Booker starts by saying he does not like Breezango but he does like both Tyler Breeze and Fandango. He doesn’t care for the police gimmick and the dancing around, so he thinks The Uso’s will do what they do and take care of business. Just then a figure stands in front of the camera and I figured it was a misplaced fan but it’s Erick Rowan. Rowan wanders around the back of the panel, wearing his creepy clown goat mask. Rowan simply stares at them, strokes his beard, and moves right on through. Back to business, Rosenberg says he thinks The Uso’s are in the midst of transitioning from a great tag team, to an iconic tag team. Renee thinks The Uso’s are great but she loves Breezango.
Good to see you, @ERICKROWAN…. #WWEBacklash @rosenbergradio @BookerT5x pic.twitter.com/1s3CU659rW
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) May 21, 2017
We get a backstage interview with Dolph Ziggler. He is asked if he is prepared, to which he says he is. Dolph says he has watched all of Nakamura’s matches and…oh wait, no he hasn’t. There is no footage because Nakamura hasn’t wrestled. Ziggler confirms that he and Nakamura will be the first match on the show. He promises to “beat the living hell” out of Nakamura. He says he feels bad for the fans who are here to chant for Shinsuke, but he feels even worse for Nakamura.
After a video package, the panel start to talk Kevin Owens and AJ Styles. Rosenberg starts by saying he believes AJ is the best Superstar in the entire world. He predicts that this US Championship duel will be the match of the night. Booker says a lot of guys in the back will disagree with Rosenberg and say AJ isn’t the best, one of whom is Kevin Owens. Booker reckons Owens is a modern hybrid who can do anything despite his size. Booker calls this a dream match. Renee asks if AJ winning the US title tonight would solidify him as the best in the world? Rosenberg says he already is solidified as the best and asks Booker who he thinks is better, to which the former Champ says Kevin Owens. Booker calls AJ “good”, before saying Owens will retain.
We see Sami Zayn in the Social Media Lounge with Dasha. She asks if he thinks he has a chance of beating Baron Corbin. Sami says he doesn’t think they would ask this question to anyone, like John Cena. He says he feels labelled as the underdog has led people to believing that he is always a million-to-one shot to beat everyone but on any given night he can beat an AJ Styles, a John Cena, or a Randy Orton. Zayn is then asked if he feels SmackDown Live has benefited him thus far, to which he says SmackDown is more about competition than politics.
No time for encores, @WWEDramaKing! The PERFECT 10 @WWEDillinger has ARRIVED to the #WWEBacklash #Kickoff! @WWENetwork pic.twitter.com/XYLdV1ECIE
— WWE Network (@WWENetwork) May 21, 2017
Tye Dillinger Vs. Aiden English
The match begins and Tye takes the upper hand right away. English manages to create some distance by going to the apron. While on the apron, English yanks Dillinger’s arm and pulls him hard into the ropes. English takes control of the match and grounds Tye with a rear chinlock.
Dillinger climbs to his feet with the will of the Chicago natives but English puts him back down. English sings as he has Dillinger in the chinlock. Again Tye climbs to his feet and this time he muscles-out of the move and rolls English for a near-fall. Atomic drop from Dillinger, then a huge chop to the pale chest of English.
Dillinger ducks a clothesline and hits multiple flying forearms. Dillinger hits ten punches in the corner and the fans love it. Tye, looking for his finisher, removes his knee pad but English rolls to the apron. English uses the ropes to his advantage again and stunners Tye neck-first onto the top rope. English goes to the top rope but Tye tosses him off. Dillinger looks for a frog splash but English moves.
English starts to get frustrated and pulls his hair. He bodyslams Dillinger and takes to the top rope. English leaps off but nobody is home. Dillinger catches him with the Tye Breaker for the win!
THAT’S IT! A PERFECT 10 #TyeBreaker seals the deal as @WWEDillinger defeats @WWEDramaKing in the #WWEBacklash #Kickoff! pic.twitter.com/TTeDvUFurG
— WWE (@WWE) May 21, 2017
Winner: Tye Dillinger
We return to the panel as the fans in the All-State Arena chant “10!” Renee and Rosenberg join in the chants and a reluctant Booker eventually joins.
Renee asks Rosenberg and Booker how they see the match between Rowan and Harper going. Erick Rowan returns to the panel, just as they start discussing them. Rowan throws a burlap sack onto the table, which has all of his masks. He is asked about the match but he ignores them, removes a blue mask from the bag and tears it. Booker tries talking to him but Rowan ignores him and takes the handkerchief from Peter’s blazer. Rowan ties the handkerchief to his mask and walks off. Rosenberg and Booker are too shaken to make predictions.
We move on to the main event: Jinder Mahal Vs. Randy Orton for the WWE World Championship. Booker says Jinder got lost over the years but here he is now, in the main event. Rosenberg says that Orton is so talented but he often doesn’t bring his everything to the table, so questions if Randy will take tonight too lightly. The kick-off show ends with a video package for the main event.