WWE Payback 2017 – Results and Review

To some degree, this year’s edition of Payback manages to live up to its name. Also, we got matches that went against the predictions of many fans and pundits.

To kick us off was the United States title bout between former best mates Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho. Beforehand two things were continually repeated. The first was it’d be match of the night. The second, there was no way Y2J could beat Owens.

Not because he’s not good enough or worthy, but because he’s leaving WWE again soon to tour with Fozzy and it’d undo putting KO over at WrestleMania.

Don’t cha just love it when a certainty goes the other way.

It was a good match – as expected. The story of the characters translated into clever spots. Owens reading the Jericho playbook and pouncing with various counters. And the finger stretch of KO. Well, that happened again and it made Jericho go ballistic.

Jericho Owens Payback 2017.png

An injured finger meant no ability to reach the rope and Jericho secured gold with The Walls. Expect him to drop the title on SmackDown Live this week.

New rule for these WWE PPV reviews: unless it’s a 205 Live event, I refuse to comment on the Cruiserweight Division. With such a strong identity, it shouldn’t be present on RAW or its PPVs.

No problem welcoming The Hardy Boys (or Boyz, whatevs). They defended the tag gold against Sheamus and Cesaro. This was a better match than expected. Matt took the ring to start and the crowd once again shouted “Delete.” This time he acknowledged and used the chant himself.

Whether this means WWE has given permission or if Broken Matt Hardy is willing to face legal trouble, is something we’ll find out in the passage of time. We’ll also see if the heel turn from the contenders after their defeat means their beatdown will be a catalyst for The Hardys becoming broken in the WWE.

Broken Matt Hardy.png
Broken Matt Hardy?

Another shock result was Alexa Bliss beating Bayley. The smart money was on Bayley retaining but with the heat growing between these two. It’s easy to see why Vince wants to pull the trigger on Alexa’s push. She has a good look and is convincing in the ring. The problem WWE has now is the RAW Women’s Division feels flat.

Alexa Bliss Payback Champion.png

This match summed it up. It wasn’t bad but it won’t live long in the memory.

Unlike the House of Horrors match. It was horrific, alright. Okay, elements were conceived well. The music was eerie, the camera work decent (apart from when you could see the cameraman’s shadow, d’oh) but this wasn’t the supernatural fright fest Bray promised, we expected, and the match needed.

A reincarnated Sister Abigail? Nope.

Monsters coming out of walls? Nope.

Dangerous props hurting Randy Orton at will? Nope.

A dirty kitchen with a heavy refrigerator? Er, yeah, that’s about the sum of it.

WWE House of Horrors.png

Maybe Bray Wyatt loves watching reality TV shows where filthy houses get cleaned and he sees messy ones as horrible? In this case, it was a House of (cleaning) Horrors. But a scary place Randy “can never leave”? Please. It’s best for everyone concerned if we leave the concept fast.

Wyatt jumped in the limo back to the arena.

To fill the gap, The Kingslayer faced one of HHH’s henchmen, Samoa Joe. These two are a great example of wrestling in this world of entertainment. No doubt that Seth Rollins is the more agile but Joe holds his own.

To tell the match they went down the old path of Rollins still suffering from a dodgy knee. It’s a leveller and gave Joe something to focus on. It gave us a Texas Cloverleaf to admire – and we just don’t see enough of those nowadays.

Rollins won as expected but with a clever reversal into a pin from a submission position. It was intelligent and doesn’t harm Joe at all.

What isn’t intelligent is the continuation of the House of Horrors match, as per the stipulation – it ends in the ring. Why was Wyatt still staggering around after a cosy limo drive to the arena? I mean, no matter the beating, you ain’t so bad after 30 mins of chilling.

Michael Cole trying to big-up the House as a place of purgatory is almost as laughable as the match itself. And guess what . . . yeah, Randy made it back from that place and looked fresh as a daisy. At the match restart, only one thing was expected – RKO from Outta Nowhere.

We got that but also Jindar Mahal with the WWE Championship as a weapon. That same title Bray Wyatt has suddenly lost interest in when it comes to the rematch he is owed. WWE messed up transferring him to RAW. It robbed him of a legit WWE Title rematch and all of his momentum.

This meaningless win just places him in further limbo.

Two men far away from that are Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman. They faced off with the former Shield man heavily bandaged. There’s always the fear with Roman this means he’ll suffer only to look like even more of a Superman.

Roman Reigns Braun Strowman Payback 2017

 

But this match showed WWE Creative can listen at times. The best way to keep Reigns face (although, why on earth do they want to?) is to garner sympathy. He suffered through this match with only a slight comeback. Strowman’s victory came from a clean pin. Reigns kicking out with one surprise before falling.

After the match, more shocks came. Strowman took the steel steps into the ring, stood them tall on their side, and dropped Roman onto them. Then – this was the kicker – he picked them up, lifted them tall over his head, and slammed them into a defenceless Reigns.

The blood was pouring from Roman, and even the chants of “Thank you, Strowman” didn’t take away from the impact. This was brutal and even I felt sorry for Reigns.

Overall, a decent PPV.

7/10

Roman Reigns Payback 2017

 

WWE Fastlane 2017 – Review

Clive Balls back at the helm with another WWE review. I now realise why Danny Simms brought me to the site, for events like 2017’s Fastlane. Sure, it’s tops when I’m smashing out detailed match-by-match analysis (as seen with the recent Elimination Chamber) but he wanted that viscous WWE-knocking viewpoint I’d printed elsewhere. I really didn’t want to do what The Rock always insisted and Just Bring It, but WWE “creative” forced me. Made me, in fact

They did that when they served up the crock of sh*t that will go down as this year’s WrestleMania foreplay PPV. Being honest, we can’t act surprised, the signs were there (in blazing big neon, more distracting than a Chris Jericho jacket) that Kevin Owens would be made to drop the belt to Goldberg.

But come on. Man. There’s always hope they won’t be so dumb. And if they are, at least be creative with it.

Before we get to that travesty. Let’s skim the other key matches from the night. I’m not going too in depth – because quite frankly, if WWE don’t care and can’t be creative, why should I? – but a look at some highlight the points that will close this piece out.

A semi-positive note is Samoa Joe’s submission victory over Sami Zayn. The big man is being portrayed as Triple H’s newest henchman. But unlike so many before, this one can handle himself without the need for mob mentality. A clean win here is a major step to injecting him into a major feud. Maybe even Triple H and Seth Rollins?

As for Zayn, he has been painted as the popular trier that will more often than not, come up short. The readymade Dolph Ziggler replacement. So a loss means nothing.

We’ll tie the two women’s results into one thought because those four women will (probably) go to WrestleMania in a four-way for the title. First up Sasha Banks avenged her Royal Rumble defeat to Nia Jax. This is clever booking (see, they can do it sometimes). Jax still looks strong, it was her application that let her down. Banks scores a needed victory over a dominating figure.

Flick to the Raw Women’s Championship bout. Bayley seems out of place in this division as a leader of the pack. Interference from Banks prevented Charlotte Flair from reclaiming gold. The match itself wasn’t great, the result at least makes some sense. The belt has been passed around too much. Now we have a weak but fan-favourite heading into the year’s main PPV with a strong chasing pack.

The Cruiserweight match deserves a mention. Indeed, it was for many the best match of the night. That’s like picking your favourite illness. I guess you need to be invested in the division. When I see the purple ropes, my mind wanders. It should be a good division but it’s an annoyance on Raw and its PPVs.

WWE Jack Gallagher

Speaking of annoyances, Jack Gallagher got over despite losing to Neville. Ooops. That wasn’t the plan. This was a placeholder bout. Filler. Instead “creative” has an extra ball to juggle.

Okay, let’s get it done. Roman Reigns defeated the unstoppable, invincible, monster of destruction, unassailable Braun Strowman. Are we surprised? Not any longer. It’s the WWE way. Feed talent to their chosen characters. It’s been pointless building Strowman for this result to occur.

Reigns Strowman

We didn’t even get the expected Undertaker interruption to set-up a WrestleMania bout and protect Strowman from a clean loss. Just more of the same Reigns bull.

Speaking of bull, I can’t skip around the houses for another minute. The main event. The main disappointment.

Let’s be clear, Brock Lesnar vs Goldberg at WrestleMania will sell perfectly well on its own. It didn’t need the Universal Championship attached. But Vince McMahon in his wisdom believed otherwise. After Sunday’s shenanigans, it may actually turn some viewers off.

What we got was a match that lasted 21 seconds. The longest reigning Universal Champion dropped the title in the time it takes to sneeze.

Let that sink in for a moment.

I’ll make no bones about it: Goldberg is being protected because he’s physically unable to wrestle a bout of any note. That’s WWE’s problem heading into the next PPV. We’ll probably get a two-minute match where Lesnar destroys Goldberg and the veteran will retire again with less than five minutes of wrestling to add to his history.

On Sunday, Kevin Owens delayed the match, rolling in and out of the ring. It was pointless. It wasn’t tricking the audience, we know how long these things run and there was less than four minutes on the clock.

WWE Owens Goldberg

Jericho did come out – as expected – but it didn’t validate how Owens can be caught off-guard and make it okay to let Goldberg have another smash-and-grab.

It’s creative suicide from the WWE. They have devalued a new title and the credentials of every top guy on the active roster. All for a former WCW man they never really liked during his first run with the company.

It’s madness. At least KO and Y2J will give us a good US Title match at WrestleMania.

3/10

Jim Ross Tweeted the only thing WWE deserve applauding for during Fastlane:

WWE Royal Rumble 2017 – Review

Thirty years of the thirty man battle royal (apart from when it was forty men or included Chyna) brings us to a unique moment in WWE PPVs: there are no clear winners to choose from in this year’s Royal Rumble.

First up, we had the Raw Women’s Championship match. Charlotte is pound-for-pound better than her old man. He may have had the charisma, she has pure ability than not many male performers from any period of sports entertainment history can better. The Bayley match didn’t showcase this, the result wasn’t surprising.

Charlotte is the champ with only Sasha Banks on her level but they can’t fight every PPV.

Next up, was the Universal Championship. Even though most expected a Roman Reigns win, with it, another forced push at the top, the Chris Jericho subplot meant an Owens victory could lead to a fight between the buddies later down the line for the gold.

Fans clearly cheered KO, the Cena fans (kids) liked Reigns throwing Y2J into the shark cage. Roman being hated for being the next Cena isn’t a marker of success. He needs a character reboot.

The match had a good pace. A pyramid of chairs early on was a teaser. The first big spot was Owens frog-splashing from the top rope to the outside, putting Roman through a table in the process.

Of course, Reigns kicked out. The commentators played up broken ribs but considering The Beast Incarnate Brock Lesnar fell so fast to Goldberg with this kayfabe injury, it makes no sense Roman Reigns can shrug off the same ailment.

Jericho then provided brass knuckles (knuckle dusters, my UK friends). Owen provided a brass knuckle punch. Reigns provided a kick out at two.

Owens ended up going through the stacked chairs and an announce table. Then appears Braun Strowman to smash Reigns against another announce table, his head dangerously close to a monitor in the process. Then a slam through a table propped in the corner of the ring.

Again, head smashing against objects.

It gave Owens the win, keeps the rise of Reigns at bay, and raises questions about Strowman’s big game mentality.

It also increased Jericho’s chances of winning the Rumble later in the night.

In the following match, Neville took the Cruiserweight title but that’s all I’ll say about a division that hasn’t worked and should be given a separate platform on a permanent basis. Other than the awkwardness of changing the ropes every twenty minutes, it is sinking on the normal roster.

Styles and Cena in their WWE Championship match told a good story, the tease of tying with Flair’s record by winning with the figure-four was good.

Fair play to WWE, after seven hundred different finishers followed by two-counts, an AA from the top rope, followed by the look on Cena’s face, victory seem assured. Styles kicked out.

In the end, it took another AA, immediately rolling into another AA, for Cena to get the three count and record equalling sixteenth title.

The victory increased The Undertaker’s chance in the Rumble.

Remember Jericho’s chance improving early in the night? Well he started against Cass as the number two draw in the Rumble match. We’ve done this twice before with Y2J, there’s no suspense or enjoyment watch him set stamina records again. It would have been better to see him emerge in the last five.

So, this isn’t the place to deliver a blow-by-blow account of the entire Rumble. There are live feeds for that, and to be honest, there weren’t that many big spots. Even Kofi Kingston’s annual Rumble breath-taking escape was reduced to him landing on his chest on the top of the ring post.

Also, there were no surprise blasts from the past. No Kurt Angle.

If you can detect a slight disgruntlement it’s because once again, the modern WWE managed to build an event, add all the right ingredients, then not know how to use them.

The omission of Seth Rollins is a bizarre decision. As the entrants came and went, we quickly came down to a thin field with not too many names to follow. That trimming was thanks to Braun Strowman but again, he looked dangerous. His size should be storyline scary, his actions in the ring storyline devastating. The reality is, he’s one move away from ending someone’s career.

Baron Corbin relieved the wrestlers of Strowman and it set up the final act. We all knew Brock Lesnar and Goldberg were to come, along with The Undertaker. That was one potential combination to end the match.

When Lesnar finally appeared, he either threw people over the top rope or took them to Suplex City. Until Goldberg entered, speared and dispatched him over the top rope. Embarrassing for Brock, but more awkward for WWE that after that quick act, the aged superstar look immobile.

Chris Jericho had spent half the match hidden from the ring action. So was this to preserve him for a big finish? The KO v Y2J Wrestlemania main event? Nope. It was to serve zero purpose other than extend his record for longest career time in the Rumble match.

When the final man entered, the arena erupted – into a chorus of boos. It was Roman Reigns, a man no adult wanted to win. Again, he was booked to look strong, eliminating The Deadman who had taken the ring for his own with a dashing late appearance.

It was cheeky of WWE to tease the idea of another Reigns Rumble win. It riled the crowd and a match that started with several possibilities came down to Roman or the Wyatt family.

Thank the Lord that the RKO exists and a fresh direction, with a continuing storyline woven in, takes centre stage. Maybe WWE has finally learned, and Roman will have to earn his crust.

After this Rumble, it looks like that will be against The Phenom. And hopefully best friends Jericho and Owens can still book that big Universal Title bout.

6/10 (I’d have added 3 points for a shock The Miz win.)