WWE Payback 2017 looked to be hot mess from the jump – and WWE managed to stave off some of that “hot mess” while still delivering some questionable moments. I’ve got a live Raw to attend in less than 24 hours so let’s get to this recap!
WWE Payback 2017 Recap – Kickoff Show
WWE. Then. Now. Forever.
It’s a Kickoff Show. Renee Young hosts with Jerry Lawler and Sam Roberts. Within the first few minutes Lawler manages to say something tone-deaf. We have a social media lounge segment with Sheasaro and Charly Caruso. And, Sasha Banks joins the panel at one point to discuss the women’s title match.
On to the advertised segments:
First up is the tag team match between Enzo & Cass and Gallows & Anderson. Enzo & Cass are out first and we get their usual spiel. Tonight’s pre-match promo revolves around “Chinese food” because that is where the “wheel of promos” landed before they went out. Gallows & Anderson are out next wearing vests that SAnitY probably envy.
Match #1: Enzo & Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
What’s the most pedestrian thing that could possibly happen here? Enzo rolling up Gallows after Cass breaks up a Magic Killer? Yep, you nailed it. This Raw caliber match, down to the finish, had absolutely no reason to exist. In the spirit of “keeping it positive”, Enzo managed to avoid breaking his neck at Payback this year. Otherwise, if it walks like a Raw segment and talks like Raw segment… well, you know.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – Gallows & Anderson are being absolutely wasted in this run. I hope they’re being paid well.
Next, we get a backstage segment with Matt Hardy acting “broken” more than he ever has on WWE TV – he even does the “broken” laugh! The Golden Truth enter and they demand a match on Raw with whoever wins the tag titles.
After that is the Social Media Lounge segment where nothing of note really happens – beyond the typical Sheasaro bickering and one-upmanship.
The Kickoff Show closes out with Miz TV. Much like your standard Miz TV segment on weekly TV, Miz berates his guest and it gets physical. Tonight’s guest is Finn Balor. Miz is annoyed out of the gate since Finn’s entrance “takes 5 minutes”. Miz proceeds to call Finn a failure for winning the Universal Championship and then getting injured and having to surrender it the next night. Meanwhile, Miz was over on SmackDown making the IC Title relevant again. After pushing Finn to his limits, Finn is up and Miz hides behind Maryse. Finn goes to leave and Miz loses it when Finn’s music is played. Finn decides that Miz is “worth it” after all and hits him with a Slingblade and a running dropkick into the corner to end the segment.
No Ambrose, no IC title. Man, it’s almost like they didn’t plan this “Shake-Up” at all!
On to the main show.
WWE Payback 2017 Recap
Unauthorized interception or receipt prohibited. WWE. Then. Now. Forever. Your standard PPV hype video, pyro, and we’re live from San Jose.
Jericho (w/ light up scarf) is out first. I’m sad he wasn’t wearing the new jacket that Dean got him! Kevin Owens (w/ New Face of America Titantron) is out next.
Match #1: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Chris Jericho (WWE United States Championship Match)
I’m angry at this one for selfish reasons. The last time I got to see Chris Jericho perform live was the night that Triple H blew out his quad. Yeah, that long ago. I was supposed to see his farewell from Raw tomorrow night, but I guess that’s happening on Smackdown now. Yeah, they seriously put the U.S. Title back on Jericho after it became blatantly obvious he’s going on tour with his band for the Summer. The match is all right. The big moment comes about two-thirds of the way in where KO breaks up a Walls of Jericho by getting one finger on the rope in call back to the spot from WrestleMania. Jericho then targets the finger by slamming KO’s hand behind the steps. This prevents KO from being able to use his hand to hit the Pop-Up Powerbomb in what looked like it would be the predictable finish. Instead, Jericho counters that into the Walls of Jericho. This time, Kevin Owens has nowhere to go and taps out.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – An okay match, but I’m more concerned with where we go from here. Best case scenario is that Jericho loses the title on Tuesday to Owens and/or Styles (who has a title shot against the winner). The darker timeline has the WWE United States title going on hiatus with the WWE Universal Title. Which… just… no.
Post-match, Jericho signs an autograph for a little kid in the front row who has a List of Jericho clipboard.
Next, Aries is out for the Cruiserweight Championship match. Neville enters last.
Match #2: Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries (WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match)
Good, but not great. So far neither match between these guys has been quite what I expected. Neville went over by cheating at WrestleMania and he retains here by getting himself DQed in yet another moment that felt like something we’d just see on weekly TV. Aries appears to have Neville’s number, especially in this match where he hits the vast majority of his arsenal setting up for the Last Chancery. But, WWE just seems unwilling to pull the trigger on a Aries title reign. Neville gets himself DQed in this match by grabbing the ref while he is locked in the Chancery. Neville pushes off on the ref and sends him flying and gets the disqualification.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – I’m just not feeling this feud anymore. It feels like it’s gone on longer than it needed to and like I said in my predictions, Aries is one of the guys on 205 Live that needs this belt the least. I’d have given this a “Thumbs In The Middle” but an intentional DQ finish is something you give away on free TV, not on a PPV.
Sheamus and Cesaro (w/ footage of “mutual respect” between the Hardys and Sheasaro) are out next. Matt and Jeff enter last to a huge pop. Massive delete chants to open and the match and throughout.
Match #3: Matt and Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Sheamus & Cesaro (WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match)
Sheamus is as stiff as ever in this match as Jeff Hardy shoot loses a tooth and Matt Hardy’s eye starts bleeding – and that’s BEFORE the post-match beat down begins. Needless to say, the Hardys retain here as just about everyone thought they would. Jeff loses his tooth due to a ridiculous looking kick to the face from Sheamus. I’m not even sure how Matt ends up bleeding – perhaps an errant uppercut? Either way, Matt ends up taking a ride in the Cesaro Swing and Sheamus hits a White Noise off the ropes – but Brother Nero is in to make the big save. Sheamus manages to hit Matt with a slam, but alas, Brother Nero has blind tagged himself in and hits a Swanton to Sheamus, crushing Matt in the process. Jeff covers Sheamus and picks up the win for his team.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – An absolutely brutal looking match – but definitely the right choice to keep the belts on the Hardys for now.
Post-match, hugs and mutual respect hand shakes… until… Cesaro pulls Jeff off the ropes during his post-match pose and the beat down begins. Matt is pulled into the ring and Cesaro holds him while Sheamus hits a Brogue Kick. A random Sheasaro heel turn is not something I expected here. Well, I guess we have Mick Foley to thank for this since he put this team together.
Meanwhile, Braun is backstage and he cuts a promo on Reigns. Braun likens Roman to a “wounded animal” and vows to put Roman out of his misery later tonight.
Alexa Bliss (w/ footage of her warning Bayley on Raw) is out next. Champ actually enters last yet again tonight. Bayley gets a huge hometown pop.
Match #4: Bayley (c) vs. Alexa Bliss (WWE Raw Women’s Championship Match)
Probably my favorite match on this show. Bayley comes correct in this match and looks better than she has in some time. I figured we’d be getting a title switch when Alexa kicks out of the Macho Man Elbow from the ropes and sure enough that’s what happens. Bliss ends up hitting her snap DDT finisher, essentially out of nowhere, and becomes the first woman to hold each brand’s Women’s Title. I feel like I’m almost under-selling this match in this recap, but it was an enjoyable watch and definitely shakes up the Raw women’s division a bit.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – That Sunset Flip Bomb spot though.
The PPV is now roughly half over and there are no more title matches on the card. Let that sink in.
Next, JoJo announces the House of Horrors match rules – the match starts in the house (pre-taped) and ends in the ring (live). We get some awkward commentary from the announce team to fill time until the Wyatt stinger hits and we go to the “house” portion of the match.
You can tell it is pre-taped because a limo is driving down a road in the dark and it is sunny outside in California when this is allegedly happening. I know it’s an easy joke to make – but seriously, this lack of attention to detail matters. Your PPV will be during the day because it’s on the West Coast. Shoot the “house of horrors” stuff at the similar time of the afternoon in that locale. Or, I dunno, don’t do this match until you have a PPV on the East Coast where it will be dark already?
So, we see inside the limo and it’s Orton, shirtless, but wearing pants (!) and he eventually gets out of the limo and stares at the house. The house itself is bathed in a blue light and we see Bray through the windows at various points. Before Randy can approach the house, a driverless tractor rolls by. Sadly, Tony Schiavone doesn’t open the door as Orton has to kick the door down.
What ensues is an on again / off again brawl inside a small one bedroom house in Richmond, Missouri. Almost nothing from that amazing sounding “survey” that WWE sent out makes it into this “match”. No “Sheeple”, no fire… NO PITCH FORKS! Nope, just a brawl inside a house, with a “creepy doll room” interlude, that comes to a conclusion in the kitchen. Randy tries to ram Bray’s head into the sink, but Bray counters and knocks over a fridge onto Orton. Bray leaves the house, stops briefly in the front yard to say “Follow the Buzzards” (turning the lighting on the house from blue to red), and leaves for the arena in Randy’s limo.
So, opinion time. Was that good? No. Was it as bad as I feared it would be? Also, no. It just sort of… was. I seriously hope WWE allows the Hardys to be involved in the creative for the “broken” stuff… or… wow… that’s going to be a rough go.
Next, Seth and Joe have to try to follow that. Seth is out first. Joe is out last.
Match #5: Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe
I’ll freely admit I was completely distracted by the spectacle of the “House of Horrors” to pay too much attention to this match. What I did takeaway from Joe / Rollins is that Seth is going to be selling that knee for the rest of his career. Joe targets Seth’s knee for most of the match’s run time, while Seth gets small flurries of offense in. Rollins mounts his big comeback, tries for a Buckle Bomb but can’t, so he hits Joe with a Falcon Arrow for 2. Joe battles back with an attempted Coquina Clutch, with Seth counters several times into pinning predicaments – the final time getting the three count and the win.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Okay for what it was and having to be sandwiched into the middle of the “House of Horrors” spectacle. I’m sort of worn out on this feud already, so having Seth just barely squeak out a win tells me this continues to Extreme Rules – which I’m not super hyped about yet.
Meanwhile, the limo arrives and Bray staggers out and heads to Gorilla Position. The way this is shot we get a long hard shot of “Neil’s Workbox” as Bray walks away – someone’s “other comment” on the House of Horrors survey made it onto the show!! Bray’s stinger and theme hits and he’s out to the ring. After doing his full entrance, he blows out the lantern and Randy is right behind him.
We get a short “no holds barred” match that involves chairs and Bray getting sent into the non-English announce table. Randy sets up for the RKO in the ring, when the Singh Brothers appear out of nowhere. Randy fights them off and walks right into a Sister Abigail – but no! Randy blocks the Abigail, but here is Jinder Mahal who takes out Randy with the stolen WWE Championship belt. Bray hits Randy with the Sister Abigail and wins the “match”.
Well, I definitely enjoyed that more than the stuff in the house. At least having Mahal and co. show up gives SmackDown creative something to build from heading into Backlash. Also, giving Bray the win (tainted or no) hopefully puts this Orton / Wyatt stuff to bed forever.
Main event time – already. Braun is out first. Roman’s music hits to boos and he’s eventually out with his body significantly wrapped up with tape.
Match #6: Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns
Braun delivers a beating just shy of that Lesnar vs. Cena match a few years ago. The “Roman gets destroyed, Braun goes over strong” match we all wanted finally happens here. Roman mounts a bit of a comeback, but the big story here is that Braun has damaged Roman enough that he can’t Superman his way out of this one. Roman hits a Spear but Braun kicks out. Yeah, that happened. On a WWE PPV. Roman manages to kick out of the first running powerslam from Braun, but Braun powers Roman up into his triangle submission, and then transitions into a second running powerslam. 3 count. Roman Reigns just lost clean for the first time in almost a year. Wow.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Roman sold his ass off and Braun delivered. One of the best segments on this entire show. Well booked and well performed by both men.
Post-match, Braun tosses the steps into the ring to a huge “Yes!” chant. It’s worth mentioning the crowd was purely savage when it comes to Roman on this show. As Braun drops Roman onto the steps and later rams them into Roman’s sternum – the crowd rejoices with a “thank you, Strowman” chant. Roman starts coughing up Karo syrup – and you know what that means – internal bleeding! Fit Finlay is out to check on Roman and a “you deserve it” chant erupts as Roman is guided to the back. Reigns stops over by the commentary table to the side of the stage and EMTs with a stretcher are out. Roman declines the stretcher as we go off the air.
I accidentally left the Network running (I had no intention of watching “Raw Talk”) and noticed we see Roman wander into the back and spit up Karo syrup onto a white wall. Yuck. EMTs attempt to get Roman into an ambulance but BRAUN ISN’T FINISHED. Braun comes running in and hits the open door of the ambulance with his body – knocking it off the vehicle! Roman fights off Braun by ramming the lone attached door of the ambulance into him until Braun wanders off.
WWE Payback is a hard one to gauge. I absolutely loved how the show ended, Bliss winning was a good choice, and Jericho / KO was a fun match. But overall, the booking decision of putting the U.S. title on a guy leaving on hiatus, the details that annoyed me with the House of Horrors match, and the Raw-quality level of the rest of the show didn’t really make this one feel too special either.
Oh well, no point in worrying about what could have been since I’ll be at Raw in just a few hours.