WWE Backlash 2017 predictions: Picks, matches, preview, PPV podcast, rumors

WWE's build to Backlash has left a lot to be desired, but that doesn't make SmackDown Live's first pay-per-view since WrestleMania 33 any less important to the direction of the brand.

Though there was plenty of time to get here, the eight-match card had three of its bouts added in just the last week -- none of which are particularly noteworthy. Still, three of the brand's four titles will be defended on the show, which emanates live from Chicago on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET. (The kickoff show begins one hour earlier at 7 p.m.) 

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WWE Backlash 2017 predictions

Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English (Kickoff Show)

BC: Give English credit for transitioning nicely out of his Vaudevillains character and back into his original NXT gimmick as an annoying crooner. That said, there's little to no buzz for this feud, booked to put "The Perfect 10" over. Pick: Dillinger wins 

AS: Dillinger brings a 2-0 record against English into this match, and though WWE is giving English a chance with his new "Drama King" gimmick, a win here is incredibly unlikely. Pick: Dillinger wins

Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan

AS: Normally, there would be no internal debate here. Haprer is better in the ring and has a brighter future, but WWE had Rowan win clean recently on SmackDown despite the fact that Harper had an outside chance at the No. 1 contendership for the WWE title heading into WrestleMania. Ultimately, I think -- and hope -- this is a case of 50/50 booking and Harper gets the win back despite the recent minor Rowan push. If not, WWE is wasting a legitimate talent. Pick: Harper wins

BC: WWE's attempt to evolve Rowan's character (see Tuesday's episode of Talking Smack) as anything more than a Wyatt Family henchman hasn't been so smooth. But considering the great physical shape Harper is in and how great he works, here's to hoping this is just a launching pad to something much more important. Pick: Harper wins

Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn

BC: This has all the makings to be a stay-busy feud with Corbin until bigger opportunities open up. He has mostly looked the part of a top heel since being given a stronger push over the past year. Zayn, meanwhile, continues to lose (and lose badly) each time he's on TV. So what does that mean for Sunday? You guessed it, an upset win. Pick: Zayn wins

AS: If I've said it once on the podcast, I've said it a thousand times: Sami Zayn is a loser. That's nothing personal, it's just how he's being booked. His gimmick is corny, and there's no reason to believe he's going to win any match in which he's participating. I expect both of these guys to be in the Money in the Bank match in a month -- if Corbin isn't fighting for the WWE title -- so this head-to-head rivalry should end here. Pick: Corbin wins

Naomi, Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch vs. Natalya, Carmella and Tamina Snuka

AS: The obvious move here is to have Flair turn on her teammates and leave the match, showing her time as a face was only a rouse. The problem? Whether WWE goes that direction or not, there's no future for the so-called "Welcoming Committee." They go nowhere if they win with Flair's help and remain irrelevant if they lose. The only way they look strong is with a clean win, which is not going to happen. No matter what I guess, it will be wrong, so ... Pick: Welcoming Committee wins

BC: If you have nothing good to say about a feud, should you say anything at all? This program has been a muddled waste of top talent, interrupting what had potential to be a strong Naomi-Charlotte program. We'll probably end up there anyway. Watch out for a suddenly babyface Flair to go back to her natural heel ways after defeat. Pick: Welcoming Committee wins

Tag Team Championship -- The Usos (c) vs. Breezango

BC: The elevation of Tyler Breeze and Fandango from a forgotten comedy act to a well-pushed comedy act has succeeded from an entertainment standpoint. But unlike the surprising push Heath Slater and Rhyno saw in winning the tag titles, it's more important here for the repackaged heel Usos to stay strong, knowing that big business against American Alpha and/or The New Day awaits. Pick: The Usos win and retain their titles

AS: This one is simple. The Usos are stronger than ever -- in the ring and on the mic -- while Breezango is still developing as a team. They don't even have a team finishing maneuver yet. This boost as No. 1 contenders has given them some much-deserved time in the sun, which will bode well for the entire tag team division. Remember: American Alpha and The New Day are waiting in the wings to contend for this title. Pick: The Usos win and retain their titles

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler

AS: Oh man, I would love it if Ziggler won this match. This guy has absolutely carried the build for Nakamura's debut over the last four weeks. Hopefully the great work he's done here has proven to WWE that he deserves to be in a singles title race because he's most certainly not getting a win over Nakamura in the King of Strong Style's main roster in-ring debut. Where Nakamura goes from here, though, is anyone's guess. I could see this rivalry continuing for another month, perhaps due to a post-match beatdown by Ziggler. Pick: Nakamura wins

BC: The decision to delay Nakamura's in-ring debut on the main roster has succeeded in building anticipation. It has also put pressure on WWE to deliver in presenting his character as serious and dangerous as Nakamura looked in NXT (instead of his goofy "artist" portrayal on SmackDown Live of late). Ziggler is the perfect foil to sell Nakamura's stiff, MMA-inspired strikes, and his heel persona should play a role in getting him a cheap win to kickoff the feud. Pick: Ziggler wins

United States Championship -- Kevin Owens (c) vs. AJ Styles

BC: In all reality, this should be the main event on Sunday. It should also be for the WWE championship. But with those regrets behind us, this one has full potential to ultimately steal the show, featuring the top two performers on the SmackDown brand. Look for KO to cheat on his way to victory. Pick: Owens wins and retains his title

AS: Talk about a match that could truly go either way. Owens dropping the U.S. title would allow him to jump into a main-event program with Randy Orton, but Styles winning it would keep him out of that level -- where he deserves to be entering Money in the Bank. Plus, a third title change in six weeks is always ill-advised and Owens' "Face of America" gimmick would come to a screeching halt. Either superstar can absorb the loss, but I have a feeling it will wind up being a show-stealing match with a dirty finish. Pick: Owens wins and retains his title

WWE Championship -- Randy Orton (c) vs. Jinder Mahal

AS: Sigh. I truly cannot believe this match is even happening. Mahal being elevated to the main-event picture was a tough sell from the beginning, but he did a good enough job in his first week as the No. 1 contender due to a newfound aggression that was showcased. Since then, Mahal has simply proven to be completely underwhelming -- both in the ring and on the mic. He's just not ready for prime time, let alone being the standard-bearer for the SmackDown brand. It's not impossible for him to win -- you'll hear others talk about WWE's push into India -- but Mahal's elevation alone was enough to satisfy that charge. Pick: Orton wins and retains his title

BC: All the good feelings surrounding Mahal's surprise push to the main event level have dissipated the more it has become apparent he's just not ready. But Orton really never should've been the champion in this spot to begin with and doesn't need the belt moving forward. It's hard to imagine WWE putting that much effort into Mahal without giving him an actual shot with the belt. The reign will ultimately be transitional, but it will happen. Get ready, here comes Jinder. Pick: Mahal wins the title

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Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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