Welcome to The Wrestling Kennection's LIVE coverage of WWE Payback 2017!
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Kickoff Tag Team Match Enzo & Cass vs. The Club
RESULT: Enzo & Cass win via pinfall; Enzo pinned Gallows with an inside cradle for the three count.
THOUGHTS: Run-of-the-mill match between these two teams, as could be expected when you've had two teams face off so many times in the last year; there's no anticipation to the feud as it's been far overdone.
The outcome surprises me a bit, as with the commentary gushing about Cass evolving as a singles star, I figured we were heading towards a split, and yet Enzo sneaks out a win, thanks to Cass. That may be a prelude to Cass having enough of saving Enzo, or simply another no-direction match with a predictable outcome.
WK KING OF PPV: Ken - 0/9 Greg - 0/9 Mike - 1/9 Nick - 1/9 Brian - 0/9
WWE United States Championship (If Jericho wins, he goes to Smackdown) Kevin Owens (c) vs. Chris Jericho
RESULT: NEW CHAMPION Chris Jericho wins via submission; Jericho tapped out Owens with the Walls of Jericho.
THOUGHTS: Again, another surprise win, as Owens had seemingly settled down on SD Live and had a feud with Styles lined up, and now Jericho's thrown onto the SD roster with his second US Title victory.
The match itself was fine, but lost a step from their WM 33 encounter. I did like the call back to the "one finger" spot from their previous match, and even having it factor into the finish. So now we can add a finger to the number of oddities that Jericho has somehow gotten over since his latest return.
Considering that Backlash is coming up soon, we will most likely see a rubber match between these two, perhaps with Styles thrown into the mix depending on when his #1 contendership will be cashed in.
WK KING OF PPV: Ken - 0/9 Greg - 0/9 Mike - 2/9 Nick - 2/9 Brian - 0/9
WWE Cruiserweight Championship "King" Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries
RESULT: Austin Aries wins via DQ; Neville grabbed and threw the ref, resulting in the disqualification.
THOUGHTS: A fun, aggressive follow-up to Neville and Aries' WM 33 match, with Aries showing a degree more seriousness in keeping the pressure on Neville, not really giving him a chance to snake his way out like before.
The DQ ending, like I've said at previous PPVs, only works in certain circumstances, and this was one of them; Aries was clearly closing in on the championship, and Neville, without another recourse in his deep bag of tricks, resorted to grabbing the official to cause the DQ. The finish keeps the championship on Neville, adds another heelish layer to his character and keeps Aries in the running for the title, so no problem here.
WK KING OF PPV: Ken - 0/9 Greg - 1/9 Mike - 3/9 Nick - 3/9 Brian - 1/9
RAW Tag Team Championship The Hardy Boyz (c) vs. Cesaro & Sheamus
RESULT: The Hardy Boyz win via pinfall; Jeff Hardy hit a Swanton Bomb on the back of Sheamus for the three count.
THOUGHTS: A fun back-and-forth between the Hardys and "Shea-saro" (ugh), as was expected going into this match. The ending was a nice switch-up from the Twist of Fate-Swanton combo, with Sheamus doing everything he could to avoid it, only to fall to a blind tag from Jeff and a Swanton...OUT OF NOWHERE!
The heel turn was also something a lot of people expected; Sheamus and Cesaro were clearly frustrated at trying to be "good sportsmen" and decided it upon themselves that the nostalgia of the Hardys has officially run out. It works at this point since with Epico and Primo on SD Live, a new team was needed to fill out RAW's heel tag ranks, and with The New Day on the blue brand, a new team in the Hardys is needed to fill out the top face spot.
WK KING OF PPV: Ken - 0/9 Greg - 3/9 (LOCK) Mike - 4/9 Nick - 4/9 Brian - 2/9
RAW Women's Championship Bayley (c) vs. Alexa Bliss
RESULT: NEW CHAMPION Alexa Bliss wins via pinfall; Bliss hit a DDT for the three count.
THOUGHTS: Given the large amount of focus placed on her homecoming by commentary, as well as WWE's 50/50 booking habits for hometown superstars, it occurred to me in hindsight that they might go with the title switch to Bliss, who makes history as the first RAW and SD Women's titleholder.
Their match was pretty good, with the most aggression we've seen out of Bayley yet, and more of the subtle, cunning tactics we've come to expect from Bliss. It was a fun, athletic affair that didn't quite hit all of the best points, but with Bliss' win and the eventual rematch, we should expect more from these two ladies down the line.
WK KING OF PPV: Ken - 0/9 Greg - 3/9 Mike - 4/9 Nick - 6/9 (LOCK) Brian - 3/9
Singles Match Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe
RESULT: Seth Rollins wins via pinfall; Rollins countered the Coquina Clutch into a fireman's carry roll-up for the three count.
THOUGHTS: A great match between these two former ROH stars, with Samoa Joe's technical savagery mixing well with Rollins' tenacity. Joe would constantly pick apart at Rollins' bad knee, stunting a lot of Seth's trademark offense. Rollins would mount comebacks, only for Joe to cut him at each turn, leading Rollins to make a desperation counter to roll up Joe for the three count.
It was an effective first encounter between Joe and Rollins; Joe looked dominant throughout, Rollins only got the win through a desperate roll-up, but still keeps his momentum from WM 33, and that somewhat fluky ending leaves things open for an extended encounter between Rollins and Joe down the line.
WK KING OF PPV: Ken - 1/9 Greg - 4/9 Mike - 4/9 Nick - 6/9 (LOCK) Brian - 3/9
House of Horrors Match (No DQ, No Countout, Match ends by Pinfall, Submission or Forfeiture) Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton
RESULT: Bray Wyatt wins via pinfall; Wyatt pinned Orton after two title shots to the head (courtesy of Jinder Mahal) and a Sister Abigail
THOUGHTS: Normally with first-time stip matches, I try to give the stipulation and the competitors some benefit of the doubt, but I really couldn't with this one. The first half was mildly interesting, with a lot of cultist motifs, mood lighting and sudden film cuts to disguise what basically amounted to Wyatt jumping Orton in different rooms of a dank, decrepit house and dropping a fridge on him. However, whereas The Hardys' "Final Deletion" reveled in its absurdity and camp, the House of Horrors tried too hard to be taken as a serious stipulation and came off more like a direct-to-DVD reject straight out of WWE Studios.
Once Bray arrived back at the arena, expecting a forfeiture with no Randy in sight, cue Orton LITERALLY appearing out of nowhere (seriously, ZERO explanation; they could've said he snuck into the arena in the trunk of the limo, but nope, nothing) and beating Bray to a pulp. I was pleasantly surprised, though, to see Mahal and the Singh Brothers get involved; it gives Mahal a big rub by costing Orton a marquee match and gives him some of that much-needed credibility towards challenging Orton at Backlash for the WWE Championship.
Overall, it was a bust; the first half went on longer than I would've liked and seemed really cornball at times, and the second half was more about continuing Orton's feud with Mahal going into Backlash. The question mark coming out of this, though, concerns Bray Wyatt. Even with this victory, what does that really mean for Bray? A future Universal Title shot? A supernatural feud with the "Demon King"? Some tangible goal instead of being shunted below the big names on RAW? Hopefully, but given WWE's "quality" booking of Wyatt throughout his time on the main roster, I'm doubtful.
WK KING OF PPV: Ken - 1/9 Greg - 5/9 Mike - 6/9 Nick - 7/9 Brian - 4/9
Singles Match Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
RESULT: Braun Strowman wins via pinfall; Strowman pinned Reigns following a pair of running powerslams.
THOUGHTS: If there was any bright spot for this PPV (at least for yours truly on an otherwise dismal night), it was this. BRAUN did exactly as anyone would expect him going up against someone way less than 100%, even if it was Roman Reigns, and absolutely maul him, and pick up the win in convincing fashion.
Roman doesn't fall too far off his upstream journey as it can be claimed he returned too soon for the sake of his personal honor and vengeance against BRAUN, and BRAUN claims a solid win over Reigns and further establishes himself as the likely next competitor in line for a Universal Title shot, if Michael Cole's post-match words were any indication. Is this all simply a prelude to Roman "coming back strong" and ultimately overcoming the monster-among-men champion? Most likely, but let's enjoy BRAUN's brutality for the time being.
Overall, the show was a solid effort from the RAW brand (with obvious exception to the House of Horrors, which dragged down the second half of the show), with new champions, a possibly MARVELOUS shift in the tag team division, and BRAUN being BRAUN.
WK KING OF PPV: Ken - 2/9 Greg - 6/9 Mike - 7/9 Nick - 7/9 Brian - 5/9
MAIN EVENT "TIME-BREAKER" ROMAN REIGNS VS. BRAUN STROWMAN, 11:50