By Jason Powell
WWE Payback 2017
Aired live on WWE Network and pay-per-view
San Jose, California at SAP Center
WWE Payback opened with a video package… Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T were on commentary. JoJo was the ring announcer. Cole noted that the venue was sold out with 13,694 in attendance…
Powell’s POV: Welcome to live coverage. Just a reminder that Jake Barnett and I will be reviewing the show in members’ audio later tonight. Plus, Will Pruett and I will co-host Prowrestling.net Live and take your calls on Monday at 3CT/4ET at PWAudio.net.
1. Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho for the U.S. Championship. Jericho wore a light up vest and was greeted with Y2J chants. Owens was booed during his entrance. Cole noted that the U.S. Champion coming out of the match would move to Smackdown. Owens rolled to ringside to start the match, but Jericho followed and was the early aggressor.
Jericho went to the ropes for a springboard move. Owens grabbed Jericho’s head and slammed it into the top of the ring post casing and took offensive control. Owens picked up some two counts. Jericho came back and connected with an enzuigiri for a two count of his own. Owens caught Jericho with a superkick for a two count at 9:45.
Owens went for his finisher, but Jericho held the ropes. Jericho went for the Codebreaker, but Owens caught him. Jericho came back with a Lionsault, but Owens put his knees up. Owens performed a cannonball in the corner and got a two count. Booker T was the only person alive who thought Jericho was “finished” after the cannonball.
Owens went for his finisher again, but Jericho countered into a huracanrana and applied the Walls of Jericho. Owens reached the ropes to break the hold at 11:55. Cole said it was deja vu from WrestleMania in that Owens reached the ropes with one finger again.
At ringside, Jericho kicked the ring steps into the hand of Owens. From that point, Owens sold a hand injury and was unable to put Jericho up for the Popup Powerbomb. Jericho came back and applied the Walls of Jericho and got the win…
Chris Jericho defeated Kevin Owens in 14:00 to win the U.S. Championship.
Powell’s POV: Well, they like to stay one step ahead of us. Everyone (including me) assumed Jericho was losing because of the upcoming Fozzy tour, but they went the other way. I can’t imagine this is going to stick in terms of Owens remaining on Raw. Smackdown has a shortage of top heels, and he’s the best heel on the brand. I’m not sure how they will get to it, but I assume that Owens will still end up on Smackdown with the U.S. Championship soon.
A WWE Network commercial aired…
2. Neville vs. Austin Aries for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. Cole noted that Aries won a four-way qualifier to earn the title shot. Cole noted that Neville has been champion for 91 days. Aries performed a dive over the top onto Neville and rolled him back inside the ring. Aries went up top for his finisher at 3:30, but Neville kicked the top rope, which caused Aries to fall off the ropes.
Neville connected with a missile dropkick for a two count at 5:45. A short time later, Neville gloated on the ropes, but Aries dropkicked his backside and went back on the offensive. At 9:00, Aries performed a neckbreaker and followed up with a suicide dive. Aries rolled Neville back inside the ring and covered him for a two count.
At 10:45, Aries performed a sunset flip powerbomb off the ropes and then applied the Last Chancery. Neville grabbed the referee when he couldn’t reach the ropes. Neville pulled the referee over him and Aries and was disqualified…
Austin Aries defeated Neville by DQ in 11:20.
Powell’s POV: A creative finish to keep the title on Neville yet not have Aries take another pinfall loss to Neville. I enjoyed the WrestleMania match more, but I like the finish even though it’s obviously not a satisfying one. Meanwhile, Dot Net reader Archer noted in the comments section on the free version of the website that he believes the stipulation is that while Jericho goes to Smackdown with the U.S. Title, Owens will actually stay on Smackdown despite losing.
A WWE Backlash ad aired and focussed on Shinsuke Nakamura… The broadcast team set up footage from the Kickoff Show of Sheamus and Cesaro answering questions in the social media lounge…
3. Jeff Hardy and Matt Hardy vs. Sheamus and Cesaro for the Raw Tag Team Championship. The fans chanted Delete, which Matt acknowledged by looking back and forth before smiling. A “Brother Nero” chant started. The Hardys took the early advantage, but Sheamus flung Jeff to ringside.
Sheamus and Cesaro took turns working over Jeff. Sheamus kicked Jeff, who lost one of his teeth. Jeff came back with a twisting dive off the top rope onto both challengers and then checked his mouth. Jeff caught Cesaro with a kick and then tagged in Matt. At 8:50, Matt did the Broken laugh, let out an old school yell, and then said, “Delete” before leaping off the second rope.
At 9:25, Cesaro avoided a Matt Hardy moonsault attempt and then caught him with a springboard corkscrew uppercut. Cesaro performed the Swing on Matt. “Matt Hardy is going to think he’s in a different universe when this is over,” Graves said. Cesaro applied the Sharpshooter on Matt, who was bleeding from the face. Jeff reached in from the floor and put his brother’s hand on the rope to break the submission hold.
Sheamus tagged in and performed White Noise from the middle rope. Jeff broke up the pin attempt. Jeff took out Cesaro. Matt ducked the Brogue Kick. Jeff stood in the corner waiting for a tag. The referee had to tell him he was in the wrong corner, so Jeff went across the ring to the other corner. Matt tagged Jeff unbeknownst to Sheamus, who put Matt down with a bodyslam. Jeff performed a Swanton Bomb on Sheamus and then pinned him.
Matt and Jeff Hardy defeated Sheamus and Cesaro in 12:45 to retain the Raw Tag Titles.
Afterward, Jeff called for handshakes. All four men shook hands. The champions were left to celebrate. Cesaro pushed a celebrating Jeff off the ropes. Sheamus attacked Matt. Cesaro held Jeff in front of the ring post on the floor and then Sheamus Brogue Kicked him from behind into the post. In the ring, Cesaro held Matt while Sheamus performed a Brogue Kick…
Powells’ POV: A rough night for the Hardys from a physicality standpoint with Jeff losing a tooth and Matt suffering a cut on his forehead, but the match was enjoyable. The post match angle was strong. I wondered where they would go after all of the apprehensive handshakes on Raw, but I actually thought they were going to end this with the round of handshakes. The attack by Shemaus and Cesaro was violent and changes the dynamic of this program. It will be interesting to see how their heel push affects The Revival once Scott Dawson is healthy.
Backstage, Braun Strowman said Roman Reigns is a wounded animal and he’ll be looking for him to put him out of his misery once he’s finished with him later in the show…
4. Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship. Bayley received a good hometown ovation and a lot of fans held up small “Hugger Section” signs for her. Rather than stick with the hometown introduction, WWE thought this was a great time to introduce the international broadcast teams. Yes, really. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. The fans popped big for Bayley.
Bliss had the first prolonged stretch of offense. In a fun spot, she stood on Bayley’s hair and pulled up on her arms and counted along with the referee in a condescending manner. Bayley came back and went for her finisher, but Bliss blocked it and slammed Bayley face first into the corner at 7:45.
Bayley cut off Bliss on the ropes and set her up for her finisher, but Bliss fought out of it and performed a sunset flip powerbomb into a pin for a two count. Bayley came back with a running knee and then went to the ropes and performed an elbow drop for a two count. Bayley caught Bliss in a small package for a two count. When Bayley picked her up and set up for an apparent suplex, Bliss countered into a DDT and pinned Bayley for the win…
Alexa Bliss pinned Bayley in 11:15 to win the Raw Women’s Championship.
Powell’s POV: They did a good job with the replay of showing Bayley’s head hitting the ring post off a kick out. They also could have played up Bliss slamming Bayley’s head into the corner early on, but Cole was effective in pointing out the head injury the moment that Bliss hit the DDT. The match exceeded my expectations. Bliss has been excellent on the mic and a work in progress in the ring, but she and Bayley put together a really nice effort.
Graves thanked Papa Roach for the show’s theme song… Cole noted that Bliss became the first woman to win the Smackdown and now Raw Women’s Championship.
Powell’s POV: Who would have guessed that would happen when Bliss was drafted? She’s done a terrific job.
A video package set up the House of Horrors match… JoJo stood in the ring and spoke about the match briefly. The broadcast team also spoke about the match. They were interrupted by a Wyatt video flash…
5. Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt in a no holds barred House of Horrors match. A limo was shown on a road. Orton exited the limo and spotted a house that was lit up blue. “What the hell?” Orton asked. Wyatt could be seen in the upstairs window as the lights in that room flickered. A tractor without a driver was shown moving in reverse.
Orton looked inside a side window of the house. Wyatt was on the patio briefly in a doorway. Orton kicked the door open and entered the creepy house. The door closed behind Orton. Wyatt attacked Orton from behind and then welcomed him before running him into the wall. Wyatt left the room and Orton ended up following. Wyatt reached through a hole in the wall and grabbed Orton by the throat briefly.
Orton entered a room where dolls were hanging from the ceiling and some had scissors or needles poking through them. Later, Orton and Wyatt fought in the kitchen. Wyatt got the better of it and dumped the refrigerator on top of Orton. Wyatt yelled and exited the front door of the house. Wyatt knelt down on the lawn and said, “Follow the buzzards.” The house lighting turned from blue to red.
Wyatt sat down in the limo and began smiling as he looked at the house. Wyatt closed the door and told the driver to take him to the arena. Wyatt sang the “whole world in his hands” song and then he laughed again. The Wyatt video flashed again.
Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt in a no holds barred House of Horrors match to be continued.
Powell’s POV: Either Randy Orton is driving the limo or he is has the refrigerator in a chinlock right now.
The broadcast team spoke and said they’d never seen anything like it. The fans were booing. Graves questioned if Orton was okay. Cole said you have to win the match in the arena. Cole said Orton had a fridge on top of him and Wyatt was on his way to the arena… A Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe video package aired…
6. Samoa Joe vs. Seth Rollins. Cole noted that Joe was undefeated in singles action in WWE. He also noted that it was only the second time these two had ever met (the first was at ROH Rising Above 2008). Rollins got out to a quick start and connected with a clothesline after leaping off the barricade at ringside. Rollins followed up with a pair of suicide dives. Joe came back with a suicide dive of his own at 3:40.
Rollins and Joe traded punches. Joe swept the bad leg of Rollins and then performed a senton on his bad knee. At 7:25, Joe applied the knee tapper. Joe applied a knee bar, which Rollins eventually broke by reaching the ropes. Joe remained on offense and told Rollins that he brought it all on himself. Joe applied a cloverleaf. Rollins reached the ropes again.
At 10:35, Rollins caught a charging Joe with a forearm. Rollins performed a sling blade clothesline. Rollins performed a Blockbuster for two at 11:30. Rollins got another two count off a superkick and then went back to selling the knee. Rollins pulled himself up and went up top before Joe cut him off.
They ended up back in the ring where Rollins hit a Falcon Arrow for a two count. Rollins followed up with a frogsplash. He clutched his knee before covering Joe for a two count. Graves said that was Seth’s best shot and he wouldn’t get one better than this. At 15:10, Joe turned Rollins inside out with a clothesline and then applied a sleeper. Rollins rolled Joe over into a pin for the win…
Seth Rollins pinned Samoa Joe in 15:55.
Powell’s POV: I’m surprised to see Joe lose, but the important thing is that he didn’t lose decisively. Sure, he was pinned, but it’s not like he took Seth’s finisher and was laid out before being pinned. Personally, I would have had Rollins get on a roll only to have Joe get the same type of win simply to keep Joe’s unbeaten streak going so that it meant more when Rollins or someone else eventually defeated him.
A WWE Network commercial aired… Cole hyped Raw Talk for WWE Network after the show with Renee Young and Jerry Lawler as hosts, and Alexa Bliss, Sheamus, and Cesaro as guests…
5.5 Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton in a House of Horrors match (continuation). The limo arrived at the building. Wyatt climbed out the door and then coughed. He slowly made his way toward the Gorilla position. Wyatt received a full entrance. After Wyatt’s entrance, Orton showed up in the ring behind him without any explanation for how he got there. Orton had a chair and struck Wyatt with it.
At ringside, Orton tossed Wyatt over one of the broadcast tables and then performed a hanging DDT off the table. Orton brought Wyatt back to the ring when he was attacked by the Singh brothers (a/k/aBollywood Boyz). Orton took care of the Singh brothers. Wyatt tried to take advantage of the distraction, but Orton caught him with an RKO out of nowhere. Jinder Mahal showed up and hit Orton with the WWE Title belt. Wyatt hit Sister Abigail for the win…
Bray Wyatt beat Randy Orton in a House of Horrors match in 4:20 (arena time).
Powell’s POV: We’ll all look back on this and laugh someday. The House of Horrors element of the match was on the high end of realistic expectations. There was no hocus pocus or insects or over the top fires, it was just two guys brawling in a creepy house. They kept it quick in the arena and did the wise thing by letting Wyatt win his match while also shifting the heat from Wyatt to Jinder Mahal.
After some advertising, the broadcast team set up a video package for the main event…
7. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman. More boos than cheers for Reigns, who had his left shoulder heavily bandaged to sell his storyline injuries. Cole told viewers not to count out Reigns and noted that he beat the Undertaker. He said Reigns is as valiant as they come. Reigns entered the ring and punched Strowman. Reigns jumped out to a quick start with a running clothesline off the ring steps. There were loud boos, though some fans could be seen standing and cheering.
Reigns went to ringside after Strowman and went for a Drive By, but Strowman caught him and threw him into the barricade. Strowman chokeslammed Reigns onto a broadcast table. Back inside the ring, Strowman punched the ribs of Reigns and then kicked him. There were dueling chants for Reigns that ended when Strowman performed a running clothesline in the corner. Strowman stood on Reigns while leaning against the ropes at 2:20.
Cole said Reigns was seriously hurt and Strowman was just picking him apart. Cole asked if Reigns came back too soon. Strowman ran Reigns into the ring steps. Cole called this “suicide” for Reigns. Back inside the ring, Strowman delivered a clothesline and covered Reigns for a two count.
Reigns came back with clotheslines and a discus punch before following up with a Samoan Drop. Reigns went for a cover, but Strowman kicked out strong. At ringside, Reigns performed a Drive By. Reigns let out a war cry and charged Strowman, who caught him. However, Reigns ran Strowman into the post.
Strowman charged Reigns, who moved, causing Strowman to run into the post again. Strowman barely beat the ten count. Reigns speared him for a two count. Strowman kicked Reigns’s bad shoulder. Reigns came right back with two Superman Punches. Reigns ran the ropes, but Strowman caught him in a standing triangle before power slamming him for two. Reigns barely lifted his arms, so it didn’t look good and fans booed. Strowman expressed disbelief. Strowman picked up Reigns again and power slammed him again and pinned him…
Braun Strowman beat Roman Reigns in 11:50.
After the match, Strowman brought a piece of the bring steps into the ring and set them up on their side. The fans chanted “Thank you, Strowman,” as he lifted up Reigns and dropped him chest first onto the steps. Strowman picked up the ring steps and slammed them down onto the chest of Reigns. There was a mix of cheers and boos. Agents Adam Pearce and Dave Finlay came out and scolded Strowman, who shoved them aside before heading up the stage.
The fans cheered Strowman when he turned and posed. Agents and referees tended to Reigns and the fans chanting, “Thank you, Strowman.” Cole narrated highlights of the match. Reigns was shown bloody (presumably the fake kind from the mouth, but I didn’t see when it started) and rolling out of the ring with some help from the agents and referees. There was a “You deserve it” chant. Reigns collapsed in front of the broadcast table. EMTs showed up. Reigns declined their help and opted to walk out on his own as the show went off the air (the post-match with Reigns struggling backstage continued on Raw Talk)…
Powell’s POV: A good big man main event. There were a couple of awkward moments, but they worked really hard and the fans were into everything and all of the near falls. It’s good to see they went with Strowman going over clean. Reigns had built-in excuses, and Strowman would appear to be next up for Lesnar.
Overall, the show exceeded expectations. Heck, how could it not given the lousy build? We had a good main event, two title changes, Sheamus and Cesaro turning, and House of Horrors was nowhere near as campy as it could have been. I will have more to say about the show later tonight with Jake Barnett. Be sure to check out Prowrestling.net Live on Monday at 3CT/4ET with Will Pruett and I taking your calls at PWAudio.net. I will also be a guest on Tuesday night’s The Ross Report podcast at PodcastOne.com.