April 30, 2017
WWE Payback lived up to its name as there was a lot of revenge had during the Raw Exclusive (featuring many SmackDown Live stars?) Pay Per View.
Those who read the dirt sheets might not have been all too surprised by the outcomes of Payback, as nearly every story line progression assumption that was floating around before the bell rang seemed to come true. However, if you are one who prefers to sit back and let the action come to you, it is hard to call Payback a disappointment.
In desperate need to wrap up a few story lines, and kick a few new ones off, Payback felt more like hitting the reset button, rather than hyping us up for what is to come (save for a few key moments.)
Here are a few thoughts match-by-match:
Pre-Show Match: Big Cass and Enzo defeat Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
Who cares? Not saying that the four men involved in this match are not talented (they are,) but this match is one we see every single week on Raw. It is boring now.
United States Title Match: Jericho makes KO tap, will head to SmackDown with the U.S. Title
Everyone thought that this was going to just be a quick ending to the Festival of Friendship feud. Jericho is going on tour with Fozzy soon, and Kevin Owens is doing some pretty damn good work on SmackDown with his Face of America gimmick. So, it just made sense that Jericho would push KO to his limits, but eventually the French-Canadian champ would prevail. Oh how we were wrong.
I will be the first to admit that I am a huge Jericho mark, so maybe I loved this match a little more than I should have. But, it was good seeing Jericho not only win, but win by submission. And, sure, KO has a re-match coming his way, but I can home for Jericho vs. A.J. Styles at Backlash.
Note: Jericho delivered a pretty sweet top rope diving elbow in the first moments of the match.
Cruiserweight Action: The King of the Cruiserweights retains title, Austin Aries Wins by DQ
The Cruiserweight division leaves a lot to be desired, but these two always put on a great show. Their Payback 2017 match was no exception. Despite a wonky ending, they gave a good encore to their WrestleMania 33 match, and I am really looking forward to the next matchup where Aries has to win that beautiful, purple title.
Raw Tag Team Championship: Hardy Boyz defeat Cesaro and Sheamus
No match involving the Hardy Boyz (or Cesaro) is going to be bad. This match was solid from start to finish. But, perhaps the most important part of it was what happened right at the end: Cesaro and Sheamus turned heel.
Maybe having another heel tag team other than The Club will help Raw face teams like Big Cass and Enzo.
Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss defeats Bayley
Surprise, surprise! A female superstar lost in their hometown. While Bayley winning the championship was a great moment, I have not been in love with her run, and was growing a little bored waiting for Sasha Banks to turn heel. When the Superstar Shake Up brought Bliss to Raw, I immediately wanted that white, red, and gold to be around her waist.
Bliss is one of the best heels working in the entire company, and heels always work best with a title around their waists. I cannot wait to see what kind of attitude Bliss brings to Raw tonight.
Note: Bayley still delivers the best top rope elbow drop in the entire company.
House of Horrors Match: Bray gets a taste of his own medicine, but beats Randy Orton
Everyone is going to complain about this match. It really did not matter what WWE did, everyone was going to complain about this match. Sure, they have kind of fumbled Bray, and it makes sense if people are bored of Randy Orton, but I enjoyed this silly gimmick.
The pre-taped House of Horror was … Well, it was awkward (and not just because Orton was wearing pants.) It was hokey, and kind of bad, but I liked it.
What really saved the match was its ending: Bray found his way back to the arena and was standing in the ring celebrating when all of a sudden Randy popped up behind him classic Wyatt style. Just when it seemed this was setting up the WWE Champion going over Wyatt for a second straight PPV, Jinder Mahal and The Singh Brother came to the ring and took Orton out with his own Championship, setting Bray up for the win.
I like that Bray got to win on a PPV, and that they furthered the idea of Mahal being a devious and dangerous heel.
Settle The Feud (Maybe?): Seth Rollins defeats Samoa Joe
WWE had a tough booking here. Both Rollins and Joe need to remain looking strong, but someone has to lose (and you already used your DQ finish earlier in the night!)
Rollins working injured is supposed to help gain him some babyface love, but it never seems to quite work for him. Luckily, Rollins is amazing in the ring, and Joe is … Well, he is also amazing. These two have good chemistry, and Rollins getting the desperation win did an good job at keeping both guys looking strong, and allowing this feud to continue.
Coming Out Party: Braun Strowman defeats Roman Reigns
Creative has gone out of their way since WrestleMania 33 to make Braun Strowman look big and mean. He destroyed Roman Reigns, keeping him off of TV for two weeks before Payback, and even put Big Show through the ring. However, I had the same fear a lot of the WWE Universe did: Roman Reigns was going to be fighting injured, and he was going to overcome all of the odds and conquer his attacker – it IS his yard, after all.
Well, Payback opened with a surprise and ended with an even bigger one. Not only did Strowman win the match, he did in handily.
If we did not think of Strowman as a beast before, we certainly do now. Reigns hit all his moves: Spear, Superman Punch, etc. And it did nothing (Reigns spear led to a one count!) The monster was not done with just pinning Reigns, either. After the bell, Strowman brought the steel stairs into the ring and went to town on Reigns.
Payback ended with a beast worth of taking on the Universal Champion, THE beast, Brock Lesnar.
Note: This was the perfect booking for WWE and Roman Reigns. Reigns came to the ring with his shoulder heavily bandaged, and the announcers talking up his broken ribs, and hurt shoulder. This means that Roman looks like a brave warrior walking into the ring to fight a beast even though he is broken. I am glad the WWE realized they did not need to have his arm raised in order for Reigns to looks good here.
Final Takeaway: Payback had some solid story telling, and I am interested in what is going to happen week to week on Raw now. However, I do not think I will be running to the WWE Network to rewatch it anytime soon.