Tuesday, May 2, 2017

WWE Payback 2017

The first show after Wrestlemania used to be just as much of an event as the Showcase of the Immortals itself, especially after a somewhat poor showing. Sometimes, it would be Mania Rematches that surpassed the original, while at other times, it would just be a solid show all around. Back in the day, it was easy to get excited for that follow-up show because they were generally intriguing cards on the build-up.

Wrestlemania 32 may have had a forgettable main event, but the follow-up PPV gave us an awesome one in AJ Styles vs. Roman Reigns. Austin vs. Rock at Mania 15 was fun, but their match at the following month's PPV was even better.

This year's Payback PPV - a RAW-only PPV no less - features nothing that has me remotely excited outside of a Kevin Owens/Chris Jericho rematch whose endgame seems set in stone... and to call my reaction "excited" is kinda stretching it. This show was so up there in the "must-see" that I spent my Sunday evening playing Roadsters on N64 (poorly, at that) and selling an air conditioner online that it wasn't until the tail end of the evening that I realized there was a PPV going on.

In any event, I PVRed a Monday replay and made a note to watch it for the purposes of this write-up. My thoughts on this show will be as brief as my relative interest in this show... and consider the "go-home" shows drew the lowest ratings EVAR, I can't say that I'm alone in my general apathy of this show.

Chris Jericho defeated United States champion Kevin Owens to win the title and now we have another title to be held by Abeyance due to Chris going on tour... or is he possibly dropping the title elsewhere down the line? This was a case where the match was sort of going through the motions on the road to what seemed like a very obvious ending and then towards the end takes a detour and goes the other way in a nice little surprise... even if all you're doing is delaying the inevitable by hot potato-ing the title, but... whatever. I'm not WWE Creative.

Highlight of the match was Owens using a finger on the ropes to break the Walls and Jericho responding by beating the shit out of the hand, which might seem humorous but proves instrumental in rendering Owens' powerbomb finish DELETED!

Austin Aries defeated Cruiserweight champion Neville via DQ when Neville manhandled the ref; Neville retains the title. My guess is they want to hold off until the next RAW PPV where Aries would eventually get Neville in a street fight or something. Not a bad match between the two, but the ending deflated the whole thing for me and I'm just... meh.

Raw Tag-Team champions #CONFLICTED Matt and #OBSOLETE Jeff defeated Cesaro and Sheamus to retain the titles. Cesaro and Sheamus then beat up the Hardyz - possibly breaking them again - and turn bad... well, it was bound to happen, wasn't it? Hopefully, they're just disgruntled wrestlers and not fodder to be turned into evil foreigners because we really don't need that with these guys. Anyway, this was a thing that happened... don't take that as a bad thing; it just happened.

FUN FACT: Jeff Hardy suffered a BROKEN tooth during this match... or is that a DILAPIDATED tooth?

Alexa Bliss defeated Raw Women's champion Bayley with a post hit and a DDT to win the title... because sure, why not? Apparently, Bayley is from San Jose and since the show takes place at San Jose and she's the hometown hero, WWE logic dictates that she loses even if there's no logical reason to do so... ah, but you're forgetting the conversation that Vince Russo claims begins and ends with the word "logic."

Here, allow me to refresh your memory.

The House of Horrors match... which, as it turns out, is NOT for Randy Orton's WWE title - is mostly pre-taped stuff. Randy goes into a house, there's some silly editing and camera tricks taking place, it's mostly distracting stuff that I don't really pay attention to until the very end where Bray gets the upper hand by trapping Randy in a fridge and steals Randy's limo. I'm conflicted here. On the one hand, I like the idea they're trying to go for here; less an actual match and more of a vignette or mini-movie with a little more production, not at all dissimilar to what the Hardyz were doing with their Final Deletion Or Decay Broken stuff in TNA.

On the other hand, though, the execution was shit. Whereas the Hardy stuff was ridiculous and over the top that it starts to grow on you once you see enough of it, the House Of Horrors was just plain weird and tried to present itself "in a serious fashion." And it doesn't work because the editing is jarring, the fight in the house was just too dull, the tone is embarrassing, and the whole thing just feels flat.

Kudos to WWE for trying something different because we really need that... but maybe next time, you should just let the Hardys produce this stuff. They seem to have a knack for it.

Seth Rollins defeated Samoa Joe with a roll-up while locked in the Koquina Clutch submission. I actually like that finish because it's Seth winning through clever means rather than beating Joe straight up, which would've been stupid if you're trying to make Joe into this monster killer. A pretty good match that kept the energy up and probably did a good job of keeping both guys in a strong position. Can't complain one bit about this one; I liked it.

And then Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton show up at the arena to continue their fight... and then Jinder shows up to hinder the Orton and Bray scores a pinfall and I just don't care. It's over, it's done. Let's all move on with our lives and be done with it.

Braun Strowman defeated Roman Reigns in a surprisingly less than stellar match that featured Braun shrugging off Roman's offense and hitting a couple moves to win. Fueled by the crowd chanting "Thank you, Strowman" or some urge to inflict more pain, Braun slams some steel steps to the injured ribs of Roman Reigns, who comes off as such a sympathetic character that the crowd chants "You deserve it" in regards to the bloody beating. Man, San Jose was full of dicks that night.

Disclaimer: San Jose may or may not have been full of dicks that night.

This is a mixed bag sort of thing. Some folks thought it was a good show, others... not so much. Unfortunately, I find myself falling in the latter category and this is owed entirely to the fact that despite the quality of the matches, there is very little reason for me to care about any of it. Jericho vs. KO was probably the only real highlight for me and then the rest of it was just a big ball of meh. When you have a minor-level PPV with two title changes and the only thought that comes to mind is "Well, that was a thing that happened," then there's something wrong.

All in all... eh, that was a thing that happened.

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