Well SmackDown Live, it's time to grow up and this Sunday is the day you leave home. Say goodbye to Mother Monday Night Raw and prepare for the real world of brand-exclusive Pay-Per-View events.
Are you ready to present Backlash? Have you staked your card the best you can? Are you going to miss Monday Night Raw there holding your hand? Will you burn out in a fit of fiery adolescent behaviour?
This Sunday live from Richmond, Virginia, the Blue Brand of Superstars will step out and step up as they attempt to outshine Monday Night Raw when SmackDown Live presents Backlash as the first brand-exclusive Pay-Per-View of this New Era.
Anything can happen as WWE will look to make this a memorable and perhaps monumental event. Here we will provide 10 bold predictions of our own for WWE Backlash 2016.
10. Paul Heyman Will Appear
Like it or not, the seed of a Brock Lesnar/Shane McMahon match has been planted. This occurred at the conclusion of SummerSlam when Shane McMahon - who was out to check on the welfare of Randy Orton - received an F-5 from "The Beast."
At Backlash, look for a Brock Lesnar reference from Shane McMahon and expect a guest spot from Paul Heyman who will approach McMahon with a condescending "apology" on behalf of Brock Lesnar.
Obviously Shane McMahon will not accept and will proceed to berate Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar; further watering this seed and slowly setting up the inevitable match somewhere down the road.
9. Daniel Bryan Will Confront The Miz
The Miz cut the promo of his career on Daniel Bryan a few weeks ago and the internet entered Meltdown Mode. Bryan called The Miz a "coward" and the Intercontinental Champion took great exception to Bryan's choice of words.
At the Backlash Pay-Per-View event, a perfectly placed backstage segment between The Miz and Daniel Bryan would add some extra spice to a show that will certainly require some added zing.
This would be the right time for Daniel Bryan to proclaim that The Miz will lose the Intercontinental Championship to Dolph Ziggler later in the evening; sparking more of a fire unde rThe Miz in the process.
8. The Hype Bros Defeat The Usos...with Help
On Sunday, The Hype Bros will face The Usos for the opportunity to advance to the final round of the SmackDown Tag Team Championship tournament where the winners will challenge Heath Slater and Rhyno.
The Usos recently turned heel and "injured" Chad Gable of American Alpha which means there is a score to settle. American Alpha were slotted to compete in the Finals but the Samoan twins would take that away.
Look for redemption in this match. If not from both members of American Alpha then at least from Jason Jordon who should cause some sort of distraction/interference enabling The Hype Bros to score the pinfall.
7. Heath Slater and Rhyno Win The Tag Team Championship
Someone is going to walk out of Backlash as the inaugural WWE SmackDown Tag Team Champions and while all signs were pointing towards American Alpha, it appears the "injury" to Chad Gable will place this on hold.
As we already mentioned, The Hype Bros should steal a victory from The Usos to qualify for the Finals against Heath Slater and Rhyno; setting up a different look for the Tag Team Championship regardless of the outcome.
Of course, there's no reason for The Hype Bros to claim the straps. Heath Slater has been over in a big way these past few weeks and even if this proves to be a short Tag Team Championship reign; Slater and Rhyno should capture the titles.
6. Bray Wyatt Destroys Randy Orton
What happened at SummerSlam between Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton cannot be ignored. In fact, it should be used against Orton in the immediate future. The beating Orton received at the hands of Lesnar should have "softened The Viper."
As a result, Bray Wyatt should completely annihilate Randy Orton this Sunday; leave Orton laying once again (in a less gruesome manner than SummerSlam). This leaves the door open for a new Orton.
We get it: Randy Orton is a humanized version of a snake who can strike at any moment. It's played out and time for a new direction. Bray Wyatt needs to destroy Orton in order for this to occur.
5. The Miz Retains The Intercontinental Championship...Clean
The Miz and Dolph Ziggler have been caught in the WWE cellar for most of their careers; unable to break through the bolted door. With similar backgrounds, these two will feed well off each other in the ring.
In a match that should entertain; not steal the show but certainly entertain, expect The Miz to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Yes, that may not prove surprising but expect the victory to come in a clean fashion.
Dolph Ziggler is the ultimate runner-up in WWE and that will not change on this night in Virginia. No, Ziggler will once again sell like nobody else but will fall up short to The Miz as "The Show Off" tallies another loss on his record.
4. Dolph Ziggler Turns Heel
This should be the loss that finally send Dolph Ziggler back to that dark corner of the heel world. Ziggler has been a face for far too long and while the people continue to show their love and affection for Ziggler, they provide the perfect reason to turn.
Attacking The Miz post-match would not constitute as a heel turn as The Miz himself works a heel role. However, having Dolph Ziggler grab a microphone in a fit of lost-another-one-rage would work well.
Dolph Ziggler can simply attack his supporters and blame the fans for his inadequacies as a WWE Superstar. This is not a new formula but it remains tried, tested, and true. Turn Ziggler on the people and bring back #HeelZiggler.
3. Nikki Bella Wins The SmackDown Women's Championship
By all accounts, WWE cannot go wrong with any of the six competitors in this match (Nikki Bella, Natalya, Becky Lynch, Naomi, Alexa Bliss, and Carmella) walking out as the inaugural SmackDown Women's Champion.
However, someone is going to take home the title and that someone will be Nikki Bella as it makes the most sense at the moment. After all, Bella is back from injury and looking to reestablish herself as the Alpha Female in WWE.
Nikki Bella holds the "prestigious" distinction of being the longest reigning Divas Champion of all time at 301 days. This title is going to require a push from the start while resting on the shoulder of Bella.
2. AJ Styles Wins The WWE World Championship
Following a massive win over John Cena at SummerSlam, WWE must ride this AJ Styles momentum into the foreseeable future. Right now, Styles is the nest thing going on SmackDown Live and this cannot be ignored.
Dean Ambrose gave it all he could as WWE World Champion but the thrill is gone and the lunacy has quickly subsided into a gentle eccentricity. Somewhere along the way Ambrose lost that championship feeling.
It is time for a shift on SmackDown Live and a new hope for the Blue Brand. That hope comes in the form of the well-traveled AJ Styles. The yearning and years have finally lead Styles to WWE and it's time to claim the company's ultimate prize.
1. John Cena Returns
According to his personal Twitter account, John Cena will be on tour overseas and will miss the first exclusive SmackDown Live Pay-Per-View of the New Era; or at least that's what we're made to believe.
How can SmackDown Live's first steps away from Monday Night Raw not include John Cena? The biggest damn star in WWE (Yes, Cena remains top dog). This could simply prove to be a swerve-tweet in order to enhance the element of surprise.
Of course, John Cena will not appear until the final moments of the show, when AJ Styles is celebrating his newly won WWE World Championship. Cena/Styles needs another chapter; one with the WWE World Championship involved.