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Payback 2017 Review... Why's this called Payback again...?
No really why was this called "Payback" again...? Because the only one that any Payback was Chris Jericho, and then the flip-flop between Orton and Bray... And maybe Strowman got payback for losing at FastLane...? And Alexa Bliss...? Maybe...? The uncertainty in my writing should give you an idea of how bad I thought this was in terms of outcomes, but the matches were decent at least. So let's get into that.
U.S. Champion, Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho was our first match of the night. It felt pretty standard for the kind of feud they had. Granted that's to be expected with Jericho and Owens being good workers with good choreography, but the story behind this was one of betrayal. Owens and Jericho were at one point the best of buds, until Owens betrayed Jericho.(I find that he has a knack for doing that...) You'd think, Jericho would charge Owens and pummel the crap out of him, before Owens retaliates and the match devolves into a chaotic brawl. We did get some chaos however, when Jericho hooked Owens in the "Walls Of Jericho" submission hold, before Owens got released it by grabbing the hold, with his index finger. Jericho loses it and slams Owens' finger into the steel steps and then smashed them in the wedge between the steps and corner of the ring. Jericho then tosses Owens back into the locks him in the Walls Of Jericho again, and become U.S. Champion as Owens taps out. Despite being understandable and a pay off to Jericho adding Owens' finger to his list of "those who have it coming," this felt hellish on Jericho's part. But in his defense, he was also frustrated which can result in this kind of outcome. But this result was a genuine surprise, mostly because I had heard Jericho would be leaving to go on tour with his band Fozzy. So I thought Owens would retain, but it was apparent that Jericho wasn't leaving just yet.
What followed was Cruiserweight Champion Neville vs. Austin Aries for the CruiserWeight title. This too was a good match, and I dare say a favorite. I enjoyed seeing Neville and Aries toss each other around, perform high-flying moves, and trade holds. I even enjoyed the finish of Neville pulling on the referee to escape Aries' "Last Chancery" submission hold. Now admittedly I didn't enjoy it because DQ finishes in PPVs have become teeth grindingly irritating to me, but it makes sense for Neville as a heel to do something so desperate to retain.
Next was The Hardy Boyz vs. Sheamus and Cesaro for the tag team titles. This was also a good match as there was some improvement in the choreography between the Hardy and Sheamus and Cesaro compared to WrestleMania where their choreography was a tad sloppy. The Hardy high-flying played off well against and Cesaro's strength based styles, which is what made this enjoyable. From the high spots by the Hardyz and slams from Sheamus and Cesaro. Cesaro however being impressive as always with his strength and european uppercuts. The Hardy retained however this is where Sheamus and Cesaro blind-sided and beat the snot out of them. Thus cementing a heel turn.
Next was RAW women's champion Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss. This match started out slow which bugged me given how talented these women are. But it eventually picked up in pacing, as Bayley and Alexa utilized moonsaults, clotheslines, supplexes, an various other moves. Bailey dominated some of the match, before Alexa came back, and nailed Bayley with a DDT, which cemented her as the new RAW women's champion.
Same Joe Vs. Seth Rollins... I forgot about this one too actually, and I don't know why. Especially since it was another match that dealt with the subject of "payback." Samoa Joe wanted payback for Seth Rollins tricking Triple H into pushing Stephanie McMahon through a table. And does it pan out for Joe to get his payback...? Well we'll get to that, as during this match Joe worked Rollins' injured knee here and there. Rollins persevered however managing a few suicide dives, and filler slams. But things looked bleak win Joe locked in a rear naked choke. Rollins however managed to roll Joe onto his back, and won with the three count. So no, Joe did not get his payback.
And then what followed was a match that as of the writing of this review, I completely forgot about:"The House Of Horror's Match." I personally think this match was overhyped by Bray Wyatt, because it turned out nothing like I imagined. I sadly it was very underwhelming. It was a one story house with baby dolls dangling from the ceiling. I sadly expected to see something out of Silent Hill, but oh well. As for the fight itself? Engh, it was simple and average. They punched each other, tossed each other about the house. The match ended with Bray dropping a fridge on top of Orton, before Bray left the house. After Bray returns to the arena, Orton appears behind them, and they continue to fight, as Bray was overpowered. The Sing Brother(formerly known as the Bollywood Brothers) and Jinder Mahal interfered, and pummeled Orton, allowing Bray to win with his "Sister Abigail." Then as Orton lied defeated, as Jinder Mahal and the Sing brothers swarm in to pick the remains of Orton.
And lastly was Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman. This was another match with the implication of "payback," as Reigns was payback for Strowman tossing him off a landing, and tipping over the ambulance. And did he get it? Well again, we'll get into that,(though at this point the answer should be obvious) as Reigns came out with bandaged shoulder and ribs. Roman fights like a wounded underdog, as he was tossed about by Strowman. Reigns sold his injuries, and struggled valiantly against Strowman. Strowman ended up winning but tainted his victory by continuing to pummel Reigns, and then pummeled him with the steel steps. Despite this after Referees managed to get Strowman to back off, Roman left the ring of his own power. This lead to Strowman following Reigns to an ambulance in a garage, where they brawled, as Strowman sustained an injury that put him out for a few months.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion...
The US Title match was a good technically wrestled match, but I would've liked more in-ring psychology given the narrative of a "betrayed friendship" being told. I feel that should've played more of a role in the wrestling choreography, but it didn't. But Jericho winning was a genuine surprise, so it get a "B-" for that...
The Cruiserweight was a good technical match as well, and despite Neville's mild show boating it felt like there was very little story told. The only saving grace was that infuriating finish. Which for me earns this a C+.
The Tag-Team Title match I give very little credit to, as the Sheamus and Cesaro fought hard to try and obtain the tag-team titles. And I did enjoy that there was better choreography between The Hardy Boyz and Sheamus and Cesaro. And that heel turn despite it being predictable felt genuine. The foundation of their heel turn was frustration at losing to the Hardy Boyz and fed up with being good sports. This for me was a B-.
Bayley vs. Alexa started off slow, but ramped up later on. I give this a C- because I expect better from these two, though given how consistently these wrestlers are on the road, it's no wonder some matches aren't as energetic as others.
Samoa Joe and Seth Rollins' match was better told with in ring psychology, as Joe worked over Rollins' injured knee, and Rollins fought to overcome this obstacle. I even liked the ingenuity of Rollins' win with rolling Joe onto his back for a three count pin. This was a B+ for lack of Joe getting any payback...
Then was "House Of Horrors" match... It was a D, because the "House Of Horror" lacked any real horror, and while Bray did win, thus getting his "payback," he got it through interference by Jinder Mahal and the Sing Brothers, and with no title on the line. So it was half hearted payback, since Bray won the match with interference and not getting the title as a prize.
And Braun Stroman Vs. Roman Reigns, and for me this was a C-. Why? 1. Reigns didn't win, thus no payback for him. 2. They did that stupid underdog "will he or won't he win" booking for Roman Reigns. I get that WWE wants Roman Reigns to be popular, but what they don't get is that Reigns doesn't need to be an underdog to get over. He can still be a big guy who says little and usually speaks with his fists. Things haven't changed that much from the 80s with kids idolizing truly macho-men. Why Vinny Mac and crew don't get that baffles me. But apparently Reigns got his "payback" but only after the match which is too little too late for me.
So with very little "payback" to be had, and very little in ring stories being told with the wrestling choreography during each match, I'd say this was a C-.