By Jason Powell
WWE Payback 2017 Kickoff Show
Aired live on WWE Network and social media
San Jose, California at SAP Center
-The broadcast team of Renee Young, Jerry Lawler, and Sam Roberts checked in from the desk. Lawler was asked if he knows what a House of Horrors match is. He said he has been divorced before, so he’s lived in a house of horrors before.
-Charly Caruso checked in from the social media lounge and hyped an appearance by Sheamus and Cesaro, who will answer the very worst of the questions submitted by fans via social media.
-The hosts discussed the U.S. Title match. Lawler picked Chris Jericho to win, Roberts picked Kevin Owens retaining.
-Sasha Banks joined the hosts at their desk and discussed the Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss match for the Raw Women’s Championship. Lawler picked Bliss to win, Roberts picked Bayley.
-The next discussion was on Samoa Joe vs. Seth Rollins. In a shocking twist, Lawler and Roberts agreed. They both predicted a Rollins win.
-The broadcast team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T checked in. JoJo was the ring announcer. Cole noted that it was a sellout crowd that was still filing into the building.
1. Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Enzo and Cass did a Chinese food themed schtick. Enzo started strong only to be isolated by the heels. He was dumped to ringside before a break. [C]
Cass tagged in and worked over both heels. Booker said Cass is a star in the making. “No doubt about that,” Cole said. Later, Anderson and Gallows set up for their finisher on Enzo, but Cass broke it up with a big boot to the head of Anderson. Enzo caught Gallows with a small package for the win…
Enzo Amore and Big Cass beat Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson in 6:35.
Powell’s POV: The broadcast team played it up like the match was all Anderson and Gallows, yet it was stolen by Enzo and Cass.
-Backstage, Matt Hardy told Jeff Hardy that there game plan would remain the same for taking care of Sheamus and Cesaro. Goldust and R-Truth showed up and praised them. Goldust said he would talk to Kurt Angle about issuing a challenge of the tag champions and he hoped it would be them. Matt said he’d love to give them a match. Matt started breaking and said “absolutely” and “tremendous” and said he would love to give them a match because they are so entertaining…
-The panel spoke about the return of the Hardys briefly. Sheamus and Cesaro were shown hanging out in the social medial lounge. [C]
-Charly asked Sheamus and Cesaro questions that fans submitted via social media. She asked what their strategy is. Cesaro said winning. Sheamus said they don’t really have a plan. Cesaro said they have a strategy, but they obviously haven’t talked about it.
Charly asked how they feel about the Hardys being more experienced than they are. Ugh. Finally, she asked which one of them is the better athlete. They accused the question of coming from Matt Hardy’s second social media account. They also agreed that the question was there to create tension.
Powell’s POV: Sadly, one of the fan questions labeled them as Shesaro. Let’s hope that one doesn’t stick.
-The hosts set up a Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt video package. Renee said the House of Horrors match will be a no holds barred match that will start in the house and make it’s way too the arena.
-The Miz and Maryse made their entrance for the Miz TV segment. The crowd booed once they were in the ring. “Are you done?” Miz asked. Miz delivered his introduction for the show and then delivered a big introduction for Finn Balor, who then made his entrance.
Miz once again asked if the fans were done, then he asked if Balor was done. Miz said it was a five minute entrance. The fans cheered. Miz took exception and asked if they were really cheering a five minute entrance. Miz asked Balor what this is (the crowd). “This is Balor Club,” Balor responded. Miz asked what it takes to be in the club and if he and Maryse could be. Balor said it’s not his call, it’s a club decision. He left it up to the fans, who booed (there were some cheers for Maryse).
Miz said he did his homework and he knows all about Balor’s history. He said he had promise when he went to WWE. Miz said Balor became a champion and a star wherever he went. Miz pointed out that Balor was a first-round pick who was selected before him in the WWE Draft. Miz asked if Balor feels like a failure given the way his first year panned out.
Balor ran through the injuries he suffered and noted that he finished the match and became champion. Miz said Balor was WWE Universal Champion for a whole 24 hours. “If that’s not a failure then I don’t know what is,” Miz said. He said failures relate to failures and that’s why all the fans were in the club.
Miz said Balor is too small and he fights with his heart rather than his brain. Miz asked what’s next. “I’m gonna get my title back,” Balor said. Miz asked if he knows how the Universal Champion is. Balor said he did. Miz continued to play up Lesnar as the champion and said he would break him in half. “Hell, I’ll wipe the floor with you,” Miz said. Balor said he’s faced bigger men his entire career and he likes his odds.
Balor gave Miz a chance to join the “Finn Balor just kicked my ass club.” Balor removed his jacket. Miz put Maryse in front of him and smirked. Balor said every episode of Miz TV ends the same way, with Miz getting his ass kicked. Balor said he would be the bigger man because Miz wasn’t worth it. Balor started to leave, but Miz threw a fit. Balor gave him a sling blade clothesline and a dropkick…
Powell’s POV: A good segment. Miz carries every speaking segment, and Balor came off well. The live crowd loved him and I like that they planted the seed for an eventual Balor vs. Lesnar match.
-The hosts discussed Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns briefly and then ran through the Payback lineup. Lawler and Roberts predicted that Strowman would be too strong for Reigns…
Join me for live WWE Payback coverage in a separate story on the main page.