WWE Payback 2017 Recap & Analysis

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Alexa Bliss and Chris Jericho became new champions at WWE Payback 2017! Read about what I thought about the entire show inside!

Kevin Owens (C) vs. Chris Jericho for the WWE United States Championship

It’s been a long saga between Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho. It’s been one of the best stories that WWE has come up with all year. WWE has been incredibly patient with this story and has really let it play out in an organic way. I really thought that this story would reach its conclusion at Payback, but that didn’t seem to be the case as Chris Jericho defeated Kevin Owen to become the new WWE United States Champion. This also means that Chris Jericho joins the SmackDown Live roster. It was originally said that whoever wins the title at Payback would join the SmackDown roster, but I’m guessing that Owens is still a part of that roster too.

I really liked the match that these two guys had at Payback Jericho and Owens have continuously had good matches and this was no different. The focal point of the match was on Kevin Owens’ finger tip which once again got him out of The Walls of Jericho. The provoked Jericho to attack Owens’ fingers eventually crushing them in the ring steps. This prevented Owens from hitting a Pop-up Powerbomb which then led to Jericho locking in The Walls of Jericho again. Owens could not grab the rope with his bad hand and he tapped out giving Jericho the victory.

This was a surprise victory for Jericho to me. I really expected this match to be won by Kevin Owens and for this feud to be over. That’s not at all what happened and now we can expect at least one last rematch for the title. Jericho has said he is leaving soon to tour with Fozzy so I wouldn’t be surprised if this feud ends on SmackDown on Tuesday night. It’s been one of the better ones of the year and I certainly won’t complain if this somehow lasts another month.

Winner and New WWE United States Champion: Chris Jericho

Neville (C) vs. Austin Aries for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship

It’s been a crazy feud between Neville and Austin Aries over the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. In a lot of ways, this is the feud that has really reinvigorated my interest in the Cruiserweight Division. Before these two started to feud, I was really starting to sour on the division and felt like WWE wasn’t taken it as seriously as they should. I fully expected Austin Aries to win the title in this match, but that’s not quite what happened.

The whole match felt like Neville was constantly fighting off the attack from Aries.It was one of the few matches where I felt like Neville was at a distinct disadvantage throughout the match. It was nice to see that vulnerability that Neville hasn’t really shown against anyone else. It looked as though Aries would get the victory as he had Last Chancery locked in, but Neville pulled the referee down after her couldn’t get to the ropes. The referee would get up and disqualify Neville which means he retains the title even though Aries gets the victory.

I like the decision to keep the title on Neville a little while longer. The chase for the title is going to be a better story right now than Aries winning it right away. I’m not sure they have any ideas on who the next challenger would be either. Considering how much this title has been passed around since its inception, I’m glad we’re seeing a longer, drawn out feud. I’d love to see a Ladder Match or something like that between these two to end their feud.

Winner by DQ: Austin Aries, Neville Retains the WWE Cruiserweight Championship

The Hardy Boyz (C) vs. Cesaro & Sheamus for the Raw Tag Team Championships

It’s been a weird few weeks for these two teams. In singles action, Jeff and Matt both won their matches over Sheamus and Cesaro. We started to see some tension, but then cooler heads prevailed and both teams shook hands. In true WWE fashion, that was a precursor for what was to come.

Cesaro and Sheamus came out aggressive in this match, maybe more aggressive than I’ve ever seen. Sheamus even knocked out Jeff’s tooth! I really think that they’ve done a great job evolving into a powerhouse team from their more dysfunctional days. These guys made the most of a team that probably never had long-term plans and have become one of the best teams on Raw. 

The Hardys would win the match after a blind tag from Jeff Hardy. Sheamus covered Matt thinking he was the legal man, but Jeff was. Jeff hit the Swanton Bomb as Sheamus was covering Matt. Jeff would then cover Sheamus for the 3-count. After the match, the teams would shake hands as usual and the Hardys posed for the crowd. As they posed, Cesaro came back and knocked Jeff off the tope rope and Sheamus knocked Matt out of the ring. The continued to assault the Hardys with Sheamus giving jeff a Brogue Kick into a ring post and then giving Matt one in the ring.

I feel like there are so many more options for Sheamus and Cesaro as a heel team. It’s something that needed to happen and I’m glad it did with them. I’d have to think that if these two get another shot at the titles, they’re going to take them. I think there are legs for this feud to continue now and I’m interested to see what happens. This could be an opportunity to bring in the Broken gimmick.

Winners and Still Raw Tag Team Champions: The Hardy Boyz

Bayley (C) vs. Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship

The build-up for this match was probably the shortest out of any matches on the card and yet this was the one the intrigued me the most. Alexa Bliss came to Raw with a distinct goal in mind and that was to bypass all the drama and dethrone Bayley and become the Raw Women’s Champion. She wanted to end the fairy tale and she did just that.

I thought that these two women had a pretty good match. I think the familiarity from their NXT days probably helped that. I always love the little touches that Alexa throws in like the way she calls the crowd rude for booing her or the way she covers her ears when they chant for her opponent. If you’re not an Alexa fan, take a deeper look at everything she does. She’s one of the best characters on the roster. Alexa would win the match after Bayley got launched into the ring post on Alexa’s kick out of a pin. Bayley would attempt a quick inside cradle but only got a 2-count. Alexa would transition right into a DDT to get the win and the Raw Women’s Championship.

It’s one thing for Bayley to lose the Raw Women’s Championship, it’s another to lose it in her hometown by pinfall. I think WWE was smart in doing that. No one expected Bayley to lose and they got that shocked reaction out of the crowd. This doesn’t hurt Bayley and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her win a rematch. Even if she doesn’t, this is a feud that I wouldn’t mind seeing at multiple PPVs. 

Winner and New Raw Women’s Champion: Alexa Bliss

Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton in a House of Horrors Match

No one knew what to expect going into a House of Horrors Match. None of us have ever seen one before and WWE could have taken it a bunch of different ways. They chose to be conservative with it and made it just another match in WWE history.

The match started in the House of Horrors. Who knows where that actually is? Randy pulled up in a limo and saw Bray’s silhouette in the upstairs window. He walks in and it’s a pretty run down house with random objects strewn about. Bray attacked Randy from behind and then disappeared after the two fought for a bit. He would attack Randy again as he went through the house. I liked the flashbacks to Wyatt videos from the past with the object in the house. That was a nice touch. Eventually, Bray would push a fridge onto Orton and then leave in the limo back to the arena with Orton still under the fridge. That was it for the house portion. Really underwhelming, but I didn’t expect much else. It was a weird concept to begin with.

Back in the arena, Bray comes to the ring and poses as if he’d won when Randy shows up behind him. The two fight for a little while until Randy it attacked by the Singh Brothers. He fights them off and is ready to RKO Bray when Jinder Mahal comes in and hits him with the WWE Championship. Bray hits Sister Abigail for the victory. Jinder left again with the title.

I felt like this whole match could have been done differently. If it had ended with a clean win, I think I would have been fine. It was the interference that rubbed me the wrong way. Bray certainly didn’t need that. I get that they’re trying to build Jinder, but that could have been done after the match. This just made Bray look weak. I’m just glad this feud is finally over. It went on one month too long.

Winner: Bray Wyatt

Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe

As much as I love Seth Rollins, I’m getting sick and tired of seeing the same type of match every time. I get it, he has a bad knee. Joe spent almost the entire match attacking and exploiting Seth’s knee as everyone hoped for a comeback. I get that this is the story and they have to work within the story, but it’s just getting tired and old at this point. I think the injury angles in WWE are getting out of hand.

Rollins would win the match as he rolled Joe on his back while he was in a Sleeper Hold for the 3-count. It was a cool way for Rollins to get a surprise victory and I don’t think anybody expected him to pull it out. I don’t think these two are done feuding, but I would prefer that they were. I don’t think there’s a whole lot left in this story. Any further matches in this feud will be similar and I’m just not enjoying this feud for whatever reason. It’s certainly not for a lack of talent.

Winner: Seth Rollins

Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns

Speaking of injury angles, how about this one between Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns? This feud has been generally pretty one-sided and I’m really surprised that WWE is having Braun destroy Roman week after week. I’m even more surprised because this is at a time when a lot of WWE fans hate him even more for “retiring” The Undertaker. It was no different on this night.

Braun dominated a good portion of the match. Roman did hit a Spear and couple Superman punches near the end, but it was Strowman who was victorious after a Powerslam. He wouldn’t stop there though as he attacked Reigns with the steel steps. He ended it by hitting Reigns in the gut with the steps. Reigns did start bleeding and I’m really not sure whether it was real or not. It happened instantly after he got hit with the stairs which led me to believe it probably wasn’t.

Reigns would refuse a stretcher and get to the ambulance on his own. Strowman then tried to attack him again and ended up taking the door right off the ambulance. I don’t know where everything goes from her, but this has reached the uncomfortable stage. It may be a work, but still. This is getting a bit excessive. If Strowman isn’t pushed to face Lesnar after all of this, I’ll be shocked.

Winner: Braun Strowman

The Final Word

I went into Payback thinking it would be horrible and for the most part, the second half was. It was a weird thing to have all the title matches go on first, especially when we had two title changes. I enjoyed the show up until the House of Horrors Match, that’s when it lost me. I expected that from this show as it was more a transitional PPV after the shake-up. I think the next Raw PPV will have much better main event matches. This always seems to happen when a part-timer holds the WWE Universal Championship, though. They really need that title on someone who’s around all the time. It’s hard for a show to matter when the main title doesn’t even really exist.

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