Dot Net staffer John Moore attended WWE Payback on Sunday in San Jose, California and sent the following notes.
The same crew that usually does a great job doing the pointless cruiserweight ring transition took about 20 minutes to take apart the Kickoff Show table. I think some components were stuck as there were a group of stage hands playing tug o war with some of the pieces that appeared to be jammed.
As for crowd pops, Bayley received the huge hometown pop, but it was cool to see (and better since the challenger comes out first) Alexa Bliss receive a standing reaction from the crowd. This was a huge contrast to right after the draft and it’s great to see that people see Bliss as a huge star. It’s also still encouraging to see the women’s match not be the bathroom/concessions break. The match came off very well with the crowd and might have been Bliss’s best match ever…
The cruiserweight match had people’s attention surprisingly. Neville draws a lot of heat as a true heel and people don’t cheer him, yet love to boo him. Austin Aries seemed to be a favorite amongst the Bay Area for some reason, but that’s a positive in that they didn’t sit on their hands as we’ve seen fans do during Raw cruiserweight matches.
The bathroom break was the House of Horrors match with Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton. I thought it was fine for what it was, but I understand the crowd being disappointed in watching a movie with the screen so far away. Some fans were hoping Wyatt would come out sooner since they held their cell phones out, but they figured out that this was a pre-tape quickly. Some fans were piling it on thick with their anger as to it not possibly being shot in San Jose (I joked that it looked like an Los Angeles/Westwood house, but of course that flew over my friends heads since they are Bay Area natives). They also disliked that it was dark in the video yet broad daylight outside since it doesn’t get dark until about 8 p.m.
Behind Bayley, The Hardy Boys received the largest pop of the night. The Bay Area also seems like an area that was huge into the Final Deletion as they were doing this thing when the Hardys were in TNA and they attend indie and WWE shows. Matt tried to get them on cue, but the crowd seemed to be doing the Delete and Obsolete hand gestures a bit too fast. The post match angle also went over really well to get people to hate on Cesaro and Sheamus.
The main event was just as you would have expected. Braun Strowman was the huge babyface hero to the masses while Roman was a heat magnet. Interesting note, when the WWE Trademark thing popped up on the bottom of the upper screen signifying that the show was officially over, 90 percent of people were still locked in their seats waiting for Braun to run out and do more of a beatdown. This was from his past beatdowns where they love cheering his returns for more.