Payback 2017: Thank You Strowman! And Reigns. Rollins Too. Throw in Joe. Maybe Jericho?

Payback 2017
Date: April 30, 2017
Location: SAP Center, San Jose, California
Commentators: Michael Cole, Booker T., Corey Graves

And now, the most oddly booked, unnecessary and likely meaningless pay per view of the year! We’re four weeks removed from Wrestlemania and somehow it seems like a far more distant memory. This was going to be your run of the mill rematch pay per view but the Superstar Shakeup has rendered a lot of the top matches worthless. Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt is now non-title while Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho haven’t interacted in weeks. Fun for everyone you see. Let’s get to it.

Kickoff Show: Enzo Amore/Big Cass vs. Anderson and Gallows

Enzo and Cass talk about Chinese food and say that Anderson and Gallows’ fortune cookie will call them sawft. Amore pounds on Anderson to start and hits a running kick to the ribs. The offense doesn’t last long though as Gallows kicks him down and works on the arm until we go to a break.

Back with Anderson breaking up a hot tag attempt at the last minute, only to have the second attempt work a few seconds later. Cass starts cleaning house with the corner splashes, only to have Enzo make a blind tag. Gallows pulls him off the apron a second later for a big crash but Cass breaks up the Magic Killer. A small package finishes Gallows at 6:39.

Rating: D+. This was only there so Enzo and Cass could fire the crowd up and there’s nothing wrong with that. What there is something wrong with is how lifeless this feud has been over the last few weeks that it’s dragged along. Enzo and Cass really could have used the Revival for their next feud but instead we’re stuck here thanks to injury. Not bad but really not interesting.

We’re not done on the Kickoff Show as we have MizTV with special guest Finn Balor. Miz asks what the deal is with the long entrance and Finn says it’s the Balor Club. That doesn’t quite make sense as Miz wants to know what it takes to get into the Balor Club. Finn puts it up to the crowd who approve of Maryse but not so much of Miz.

We hear about Balor’s success worldwide but Miz thinks Finn might feel like a failure. Balor mentions all the injuries he suffered in a match that he still managed to win and become the Universal Champion (my goodness imagine where his career would be if he didn’t win that match). Miz mentions all the time away and asks what’s next for Balor. Finn makes it simple: he wants his title back.

Miz brings up Lesnar being the Beast but Balor is ready to fight a bigger man, just like he has for his entire career. A fight is about to break out but Miz hides behind Maryse. Miz isn’t worth the beating so Finn goes to leave, only to have Miz call him out. One Sling Blade later and Miz is quickly shut up as Finn destroys the set.

The opening video is a simple look at the matches with a theme of retribution. Nothing special but it’s all it needed to be.

US Title: Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens

Owens is defending after taking the title from Jericho at Wrestlemania. The story would call for a big violent gimmick here but nah, let’s just let it be a standard rematch instead with IT’S RAW VS. SMACKDOWN serving as the gimmick instead. Kevin bails to the floor to start and gets sent into the announcers’ table to let Jericho take over. Owens has to roll away from a Jericho dive to the floor but makes the stupid decision to roll back inside, allowing Jericho to hit a top rope elbow to the jaw.

The springboard dropkick is broken up (which should be attributed to Owens being such a big Jericho fan) and Owens nails the Cannonball against the barricade. We hit the chinlock (Owens: “ASK HIM!”) as Cole continues running down both guys’ resumes. One heck of a clothesline drops Jericho again and it’s right back to the chinlock. Back up and Jericho misses a charge but gets in a quick enziguri for two of his own.

A superkick out of the corner gives Owens two more and the Cannonball is good for the same. The Pop Up Powerbomb is countered with a hurricanrana into the Walls. Owens gets to the ropes by a finger again so Jericho crushes the hand beneath the steps. The bad hand means Owens can’t hit the Pop Up Powerbomb so it’s back to the Walls….for the tap out and the title at 14:06, sending Jericho over to Smackdown.

Rating: C. The ending helped it a lot (shock value can indeed do good things) but this felt like it was a long stretch of house show level stuff until Jericho started to go after the hand. Changing the title is a good idea though as they needed to do something to get off to a good start instead of having Owens beat a huge crowd favorite. Odds are Jericho loses on Smackdown anyway so it really doesn’t mean that much.

Jericho signs a kid’s List on the way up the ramp.

Cruiserweight Title: Neville vs. Austin Aries

Neville is defending in another Wrestlemania rematch where Neville raked the eyes to retain the title. An armdrag and a running shoulder in the corner have Neville flummoxed early on and it’s time to lay on the top rope. It’s way too early for the 450 though as Neville dropkicks the rope for the break.

We’re already in the chinlock for a bit before Aries fights up and hits the middle rope elbow to the back. Aries sends him outside for a suicide dive, followed by a suplex back inside. A running forearm in the corner looks to set up the 450 but Neville bails out to the floor for safety. Not that it matters as Aries grabs a sunset bomb to set up the Last Chancery. Neville is in trouble but grabs the referee for the DQ at 11:19.

Rating: C+. This was getting good until the ending. I’d assume this sets up a third match at Extreme Rules but they’re to the point where Aries almost needs to win the belt. It’s still a good feud but this one didn’t have anywhere near the steam that the previous one did. I’m not sure they can really drag it out another month but that’s never stopped WWE before.

Aries post-match protests don’t get him anywhere.

Tag Team Titles: Sheamus/Cesaro vs. Hardys

The Hardys are defending after winning the titles at Wrestlemania in a ladder match. Cesaro and Matt start things off as an OBSOLETE chant starts up. Jeff comes in for a BROTHER NERO chant and it’s almost immediately back to Matt. So much for that chant. Cesaro and Sheamus start in on the arm but it’s right back to Jeff to speed things up. The legdrop between the legs and a seated dropkick set up the splash for two. Why does no one else ever do that?

Not that it matters as Sheamus sends him hard out to the floor and it’s time for the heat segment. Sheamus’ middle rope knee gets two and it’s off to the chinlock. Back up and Sheamus kicks him in the face with Corey calling him the “alabaster gladiator”. It’s right back to the chinlock as Jeff seems to have lost a tooth somewhere in there. He’s still able to kick Cesaro away and make the hot tag though as things pick up.

A DELETE middle rope elbow sets up the Side Effect for two. Matt’s moonsault misses though and it’s the Cesaro Swing into the Sharpshooter. A rope is quickly grabbed so Sheamus comes back in for a super White Noise in a great crash. Jeff makes a last second save but Sheamus breaks up the Twist of Fate. Sheamus powerslams Matt but Jeff makes a blind tag and hits the Swanton for the pin to retain at 12:48.

Rating: C. Another Raw match here with the Hardys still needing a real team to feud with, at least until Revival gets back to take the titles away. As has been the case both times tonight, the match was fine though it’s nothing that I’m going to remember tomorrow. Matt and Jeff are still good in the ring but they don’t quite have the same spark from when they made their return. It’s not early enough for a big change, but the Broken stuff needs to happen before it goes too long.

Post match the Hardys shake their hands, only to have Sheamus and Cesaro turn on them and beat them up. If that doesn’t set up a rematch with the Broken Hardys at Extreme Rules, nothing is going to.

Braun Strowman promises to hurt Roman Reigns.

Women’s Title: Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley

Bayley is defending in her hometown. Bliss gets slammed to start and a knee drop gets two, followed by a long series of rams into the buckle. Alexa comes right back with a HARD shot to the head and the slow beating begins. As is normally the case, Alexa beats on Bayley and looks extra annoyed while doing so. She gets so much mileage out of her facial expressions. The chinlock is quickly broken so Bliss clotheslines her back down. Bliss spends a bit too much time trash talking though and gets caught in a Stunner over the ropes.

A belly to back suplex gives Bayley two but she takes too much time going to the ropes and gets sent hard into the buckle. Bayley can’t get the super Bayley to Belly and gets pulled down with a Code Red for two. Bliss gets kneed in the face though and the Macho Elbow gets two more. A rollup gives Bayley two but the kickout sends her into the post. Bayley is so stunned that a DDT gives Bliss the pin and the title at 11:19.

Rating: C+. So to clarify, Bayley is NOT Naomi and is no better than anyone else that loses in their hometown. Bliss winning is fine but it really does seem that these hometown losses are just there to show that WWE is still in charge. The match was good enough and proof that playing a character well is far more important than what you can do in the ring. Bliss’ in-ring work might not be the best but it’s passable enough to be carried by her great mannerisms.

We recap the House of Horrors match, which means we’ll finally get to know what the heck it is. The match is non-title due to the Superstar Shakeup but that gives Bray a slight chance of winning, perhaps due to some Jinder Mahal interference. Randy Orton beat Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania for the title and this is the (meaningless) gimmick rematch.

Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt

Non-title. The match is going to start in Bray’s House of Horrors and will wind up in the ring where it’s pinfall, submission or forfeiture. We go to the inside of a limo where Orton is firing himself up and wearing pants. The House of Horrors is an actual house….and a tractor goes by with no one on it. The door is locked so Orton kicks his way in and we start the rapid camera cuts.

Bray’s voice says run and he jumps Orton from behind. Randy is thrown into various things as the House of Horrors looks like a not great house that is being renovated. Bray disappears but reaches through a wall to choke Orton for a second and a half. The next room has baby dolls hanging from the ceiling in various mutilated forms and we hear babies talking.

Cue Wyatt for another attack but Orton throws him through a wall. They head to another room with more dolls and some weird structure made of sticks. That goes nowhere so it’s off to a kitchen (the refrigerator says WE’RE HERE) with Orton getting the better of it. Bray tries to climb onto a counter and gets in a low blow. The refrigerator is shoved down onto Randy so Bray walks outside and steals Orton’s limo. We’ll come back to this later.

We recap Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe. Rollins was injured at Joe’s hands earlier this year so tonight is really just about payback. As is often the case, the simpler ideas work best.

Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe

Joe punches him up against the ropes to start and they’re quickly on the floor with Rollins chopping away. Seth hits the big suicide dive and a second one does just as well. The big guy gets smart and goes after the knee before hitting the suicide elbow to send Rollins over the announcers’ table. Graves: “Like a flying school bus!”

A backsplash onto the knee has Rollins screaming and his comeback is cut off almost immediately. The Knee Capper sets up the kneebar until Seth scrambles to the ropes. Joe grabs a powerbomb into a half crab into the Texas Cloverleaf but Joe is at the ropes again. Seth comes back with a Sling Blade, followed by a superkick to the neck for two of his own.

For some reason Seth tries the Buckle Bomb and the knee gives out, though it’s fine enough for a Falcon Arrow a few seconds later. That great looking frog splash bangs the knee up even more so the cover is only good for a delayed two. The Koquina Clutch is countered with a quick rope climb but Joe grabs the hold again, only to have Seth roll over for a cradle and the pin at 16:03.

Rating: B+. It’s definitely the match of the night so far which was what most people had coming in. Rollins winning is the right call as it would have been really stupid to give him the win last time and then job him here. Joe dominated the match until the ending where he got caught (ignore his shoulder being up) so this was about as well done as they were going to get.

Wyatt arrives back at the arena and stumbles into the ring. Cue Orton from behind with a chair (no word on how he got back) to start the beatdown, including sending Wyatt over the announcers’ tables. There’s the Elevated DDT off the table and Orton follows it up with another chair to the back. Back in and the RKO is loaded up but here are the Singh Brothers to go after Orton. They’re dispatched just as quickly and there’s the RKO to Wyatt. Now it’s Jinder Mahal with the belt to Orton’s head twice in a row, setting up Sister Abigail for the pin at 4:22 shown in the ring, not counting about ten minutes in the House.

Rating: D. The house stuff was more stupid than bad and that’s a major improvement. They would have been in big trouble if it had been stuff like they did at Wrestlemania so it was more just there instead of anything all that terrible. Wyatt winning might be a stretch but I’d much rather him actually get a win than lose all over again with the RKO being the great vanquishing force. Not the best concept here but it’s going to be a more forgettable idea than on a list of all time horrible concepts and that’s a major victory.

We recap Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns. Strowman destroyed Reigns in an incredible segment but has since gone 0-1-1 against Big Show and Kalisto for reasons that aren’t clear. Tonight Reigns is back for revenge.

Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman

Reigns is very banged up coming in. He goes right after Strowman and hits a clothesline off the steps to drop the monster on the floor. The apron kick is pulled out of the air and Strowman chokeslams him onto the announcers’ table. A powerslam gets two and Reigns is getting some sympathy for FINALLY being an underdog.

The bad shoulder is sent hard into the steps and it’s off to a waistlock back inside. Strowman misses a charge into the corner and Reigns somehow hits a Samoan drop for two. They head outside with Reigns charging at Strowman and managing to send him into the post twice in a row.

The spear gets two back inside (giving us a reaction from a young girl that we’ll likely see weekly from now on) but the second attempt hits boot. Two Superman Punches drop Braun but a third is caught in that head and arm choke. The powerslam only gets two so Strowman does it again for the pin at 11:20.

Rating: B+. This was WAY better than I was expecting and Reigns losing is probably the right call. I mean, I really don’t need to see him vs. Lesnar at Wrestlemania XXXIV but if that’s where we just have to go, you have to take Reigns down a few pegs first. Really good power match here and that was easily the way to go.

Post match Strowman throws in some steps (Fans: “THANK YOU STROWMAN!”) and drops Reigns ribs first onto the steel in a big crash. Braun lifts the steps over his head and brings them crashing down onto his ribs in a cringe inducing landing. Strowman is as over as free beer in a frat house and Reigns is bleeding from the mouth (Fans: “YOU DESERVE IT!”) to end the show.

Overall Rating: B-. The really low expectations helped this a lot, as did having Jericho win and not having the House of Horrors match be a disaster. The ending was really good and Joe vs. Rollins was quite the match as well. Raw is looking strong, or at least it would if there was anything for these guys to be fighting over. Good show here, though I still wonder how long they can stretch things out with Lesnar not likely wrestling until July.

Results

Chris Jericho b. Kevin Owens – Walls of Jericho

Austin Aries b. Neville via DQ when Neville grabbed the referee

Hardys b. Sheamus/Cesaro – Swanton Bomb to Sheamus

Alexa Bliss b. Bayley – DDT

Seth Rollins b. Samoa Joe – Cradle

Bray Wyatt b. Randy Orton – Sister Abigail

Braun Strowman b. Roman Reigns – Powerslam

Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and pick up the NXT: The Full Sail Years Volumes I and II, now in PAPERBACK. Check out the information here:

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12 comments

  1. Your Eternal Reward says:

    I hope heel Cesaro doesn’t revert to ‘I’m a foreigner boo me’ role.

    [Reply]

  2. Greg9911 says:

    They really overprotect reigns. They must absolutely love that guy…

    [Reply]

  3. Dmxfury says:

    Meh, ok show. Feel bad for Bayley and her booking. HoH felt very WCW. Glad Braun won and then dominated but why not have him do that leading up?

    [Reply]

    NightShiftLoser Reply:

    Definitely had a Vampiro-in-a-graveyard feel to it, especially with them throwing a match in between segments.

    [Reply]

  4. Sebastian Howard says:

    Think you’re underrating the show, thought all of the matches (with the exception of Orton/Wyatt of course) were all really good. Bliss/Bayley was REALLY over with the crowd and the main event was pretty shocking. The post match short fight in Raw Talk was pretty cool too.

    [Reply]

  5. Jay H (the real one) says:

    I had low expectations going in but I enjoyed it. I actually kinda liked how they did the HOH Match, different and was kinda having flashbacks to Undertaker/Mankind in the first Boiler Room Brawl. I am a Roman Reigns fan but Braun Strowman is just on fire right now, i like where things are headed with him. Kinda hope he and Brock Lesnar will be one of the Main Events of Summerslam if they can hold off. I was also surprised Chris Jericho won back the US Title but i am guessing we get a 3 way with him KO,and AJ Styles at Backlash.

    [Reply]

  6. M.R. says:

    Why is Owens losing the belt to win it back two days later a good thing? Surprise over sense is never good and with Jericho taking off I don’t see why you have Owens lose here.

    [Reply]

  7. paybackreview says:

    Rock solid show, if slightly predictable. Good stuff throughout, though you overrated the disappointing Rollins/Joe match.

    [Reply]

  8. Dragon says:

    There is going to be a big void when Jericho leaves….who is just as entertaining and good on the mic that can fill that void? Ambrose? I don’t think so.

    [Reply]

  9. Decent show, enjoyed HoH more than I thought I would

    [Reply]

  10. BestSportsEntertainer says:

    House of Horrors was a great match. Deserved at least a B.

    [Reply]

  11. Justin says:

    I was embarrassed to be a wrestling fan at the HOH match. Totally cringeworthy, even my 7 year old said “how did Randy get to the ring if he had a refrigerator on him & Bray stole his limo in the country?” And she still thinks WWE is real. One of the worst matches I’ve ever seen

    [Reply]

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