Welcome to another edition of WWE Heat Index, wherein we discuss the interest level for the various feuds heading into the pay-per-view events. This time around, we’re focusing on Backlash 2018 coming this Sunday night.
The way this works is a pretty simple three-way breakdown of Hot, Lukewarm and Cold. If you like something and you’re very interested in how WWE is setting up the program, it’s Hot (aka Good). If you’re a bit on the fence about it and see some problems, but it’s not awful, then it’s just Okay or Lukewarm. The ones that are the most problematic that you have no interest in are Cold (aka Bad).
WWE Championship No Disqualification Match: AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura = Hot/Lukewarm
By this point, I’ve seen these two wrestle enough to know that the match will be good, but not something that I’ll be adding into my notes for a potential “match of the year” candidate.
Oddly enough, even though I’m usually past a feud by the time they’re having their third meeting without a title change or something, and I’m much more of a fan of AJ Styles than Shinsuke Nakamura, I’m actually excited to see another encounter where we could see a new champion be crowned.
Going forward, I don’t know how excited I’ll be to see what will probably be another match between the two at Money in the Bank where AJ Styles gets his rematch, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe = Cold
Reigns will be booed. Samoa Joe will be cheered. Either WWE makes the right call and has Samoa Joe win this match to give him a little bit of momentum now that he’s on SmackDown LIVE, or they make the wrong decision and have booked this specifically to give Roman Reigns a win back following his two losses to Brock Lesnar, which will only result in people being more annoyed with him, rather than happy to see him get a win.
WWE continues to book Roman Reigns as someone who is supposed to be cheered in victory and sympathetic in loss, but it hasn’t worked for years, yet moves like this prove that that isn’t changing, so why should I get invested if there’s no progress?
Raw Women’s Championship Match: Nia Jax (c) vs. Alexa Bliss = Lukewarm/Cold
Their size difference makes it hard for me to really get too much into this match itself, even though I think the anti-bullying promos Alexa Bliss has been doing have been kind of funny.
I’m really hoping that this is mostly just a squash and we can move on to a feud where someone is more of a viable contender to Nia Jax, but I also wouldn’t be too upset if Alexa Bliss were to get a sneak victory, as she has more options for opponents who can have actual matches with her.
It’s a tough call to say this is a Cold, but it’s certainly not a Hot, so for me, I’m stuck between Lukewarm and Cold as when I look onto this card, if this match were to be cut, I wouldn’t be terribly distraught.
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Carmella (c) vs. Charlotte Flair = Lukewarm
My problem with feuds where one person has been booked as a talented athlete and the other has been booked as a coward who never wins unless there’s something cheap is that whenever those types of people have matches together, you might as well just fast forward until the end.
Charlotte Flair will be the one in charge, but will over-sell some rather weak attacks from Carmella to give them a bit of an exchange here and there, and we’ll waste about 15 minutes until one of two outcomes happens: either Charlotte Flair simply wins the title back and this has all been an exercise in killing time after WrestleMania, or Carmella will win due to some sort of distraction or interference by The IIconics, so everyone will leave the arena feeling like Charlotte Flair should have won but got screwed over.
Then, we’ll probably see another tag team match on the following episode of SmackDown LIVE or something, and rinse and repeat.
United States Championship Match: Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Randy Orton = Hot/Lukewarm
At the beginning of April, if you would have told me that this would be where the United States Championship’s direction would go, I would have been rather confused.
Still, I’m a much, much bigger fan of seeing this match than what we were originally scheduled to get with Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal, as that’s a feud I don’t need to revisit at any point in the near future for any reason.
I’d much rather prefer a few other competitors to be paired up, if we’re talking ideals (such as maybe including Shelton Benjamin in the mix here for a triple threat), but for now, I’m cool with seeing a match that hasn’t happened in over a decade.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Seth Rollins (c) vs. The Miz = Lukewarm
Sadly, I’m not as into this as I would have been if the Raw/SmackDown LIVE dynamic wasn’t a factor.
With The Miz being on a show that already has a midcard title, it pretty much guarantees that Seth Rollins is retaining, so there’s almost no point in watching this, unless WWE wants to throw everybody a curveball and then have to try to figure out how to course-correct afterward, and I’m not down for that chaos. I need some stability after these past few weeks!
The match should be fine, as these two know what they’re doing.
Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass = Hot/Lukewarm
As odd as it is for Big Cass to be the first person Daniel Bryan feuds with upon his return to the regular roster, I’m actually into this feud.
I was hoping Big Cass would return as a babyface instead of a heel, which didn’t happen, yet he’s still progressing more than he was when he was feuding with Enzo Amore, so that’s a bonus.
The “big man picking on a smaller man that he’s jealous of” storyline is interesting enough to keep me going, and I think Daniel Bryan will be able to get a decent match out of Big Cass.
I don’t want this to be some feud that lasts for 5 months or anything like that, but for now, I’m giving it a thumbs up. Let’s see what they can do together.
Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn = Lukewarm
This is lame, and the only reason I don’t have it as a Cold is because I like three out of the four people in the match.
We just saw this exact same pairing in an even more grandiose form on Raw, so why is this supposed to be anything interesting now that Roman Reigns and Jinder Mahal are out of it? Nothing is on the line, so this is just a regular Monday Night Raw tag team match.
I’ll pass on the complete lack of story and functional purpose, as I’m not even interested in seeing a feud between Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley, if one of them were to turn heel (which I would hope would be Bobby Lashley, in that case, too).
I also find it strange that this is on the card, but neither tag title is represented. That just goes to show how WWE values those championships.
With that being said, I’m still big on Braun Strowman, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, so I’ll be more into watching this match than some of the other fights on the card, despite its irrelevance.