SmackDown Live will introduce two new champions at the very least this coming Sunday during Backlash, the first brand-exclusive pay-per-view of the new era. If AJ Styles defeats Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler takes down The Miz, we could be looking at four new title-holders, but we’re guaranteed two. That’s because SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon and General Manager Daniel Bryan introduced two brand new titles that will be the exclusive property of the blue brand.
Two weeks ago on SmackDown, the two declared that the six current active members of the women’s division (Eva Marie is currently serving a suspension for violating the WWE Wellness Policy and will miss Backlash) will compete in a six-pack challenge match to determine the first women’s champion of SmackDown. The match was later amended to incorporate an elimination stipulation similar to what we saw last Monday when RAW decided its new Universal Champion.
During the same segment, Daniel and Shane declared that the six existing tag teams would compete in a tournament to decide SmackDown Tag Team Champions. Heath Slater joined up with Rhyno who would take on The Headbangers to make the bracket an even eight teams. It was a one-time deal for The Headbangers, who enjoyed some success in the 1990s, but Slater and Rhyno are turning into a pleasant surprise as a unit.
Originally, the plan was for The Usos and American Alpha to advance to the finals, where they’d compete for the SmackDown titles at Backlash. It was at the pay-per-view where Jimmy and Jey would have turned heel on Jordan and Gable, though there was some conflict as to who would have won the belts. However they sliced it, a rivalry would have continued beyond this Sunday.
— WWE (@WWE) September 7, 2016
As it turns out, the WWE gave the green light to an Uso heel turn one week earlier. As we saw, American Alpha defeated Jimmy and Jey in surprisingly quick fashion, setting up the turn after the match as the two teams were supposedly about to shake hands. The attack resulted in a storyline injury to Chad Gable, which will prevent he and Jordan from wrestling in the tournament championship at Backlash.
Instead, the two teams who lost in the semi-finals this past Tuesday on SmackDown Live (The Usos and The Hype Bros.) will face each other for the right to take on Slater and Rhyno later on during the pay-per-view, and the winners will finally be crowned SmackDown Tag Team Champions. According to Cageside Seats, The Usos are currently the front-runners to win both matches and walk out the new champs.
The idea behind this decision being that the other three babyface tag teams could chase the heel Usos for the championships as we head into the fall. Ultimately in that scenario, American Alpha would be the ones to dethrone The Usos, as the writing team adds the sympathy vote to their already climbing stock.
— WWE (@WWE) September 7, 2016
However, there has been some recent groundswell for the most surprising pairing in the field, that being Heath Slater and Rhyno. Their recent promos, backstage segments, and on-location interviews have earned the two a lot of support backstage, forcing the booking team to potentially reconsider their decision to go with The Usos. Again, the end game and payoff from all of this will be Jordan and Gable capturing the gold and leading the SmackDown tag division into the new era. But Gable’s kayfabe injury will keep them out of action for two to four weeks, and Slater and Rhyno have made a compelling case to leapfrog them in the interim.
— WrestleSite (@wrestlesite) August 31, 2016
What are your predictions for all four title matches this Sunday at SmackDown Live’s first brand-exclusive pay-per-view, Backlash?
[Image via WWE]