WWE returns to pay-per-view (PPV) -- if your cable provider is carrying the event, of course -- tomorrow night (Sun., April 30, 2017) live from the SAP Center in San Jose, California with its Payback event starting at 7:00 p.m. ET with the Kickoff show leading right on into the main course at 8 p.m. ET on the WWE Network.
Set for the card: a HOUSE OF HORRORS match (whatever the hell that is), Roman Reigns returning to battle Braun Strowman, and more!
Luckily for you Cagesiders, our staff of learned wrestling blowhards is here to help figure out just how the event is going to play out with predictions for each match on the card.
Let's get to it.
WWE PAYBACK PREDICTIONS
Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt (House of Horrors)
Geno Mrosko: I’m just hoping the “House of Horrors” is a literal house and that there is a hologram of Sister Abigail that scares Orton so much Wyatt wins via shock and awe. Pick: Wyatt
Sean Rueter: One guy has a bunch of features on WWE’s website and social media about being a 13-time champ and an all-time great. The other guy is Bray Wyatt. Pick: Randy Orton
Kyle Decker: I really should pick Randy Orton. He's always booked well and it feels weird picking Wyatt over him. However, without the title on the line (I think?) and this being a gimmicky match that we still don't have any clue about, this is the perfect chance to give Wyatt a big win without making Orton look bad. Randy losing because he couldn't escape the room of mirrors in time to fend off the evil clown and beat Wyatt down the slide doesn't mean he won't be able to RKO Jinder Mahal in 30 seconds. Pick: Bray Wyatt
Cain A Knight: WWE has done a poor job of explaining what the hell this match even is, but maybe that's a good thing considering their debacle of a match at WrestleMania. I'm interested to see what odd shenanigans they pull out for the pre-taped portion of the match, but the (probable?) lack of a championship defense means I'm less excited for whatever happens once they get to the ring. Bray Wyatt desperately needs a win here, just as he needed to win at WrestleMania. Considering that he often loses his most important matches while winning most of his meaningless matches, Bray Wyatt will probably win this meaningless match. Pick: Bray Wyatt
Reverend Kain: I have some special insight to this one, guys! See, just this past weekend, North Jersey indie promotion Game Changer Wrestling ran their very own House of Horrors Match. That was a bloody deathmatch war between GCW Champion Matt Tremont and Supreme, so I wouldn't expect WWE to take too much from it stylistically, but the champion won that one, so I have to assume all things being equal that's gonna happen here as well. Pick: Randy Orton
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
Geno Mrosko: If Kalisto showed us anything it’s that for all his might, Strowman is not exactly technically proficient. Reigns can take a beating like Kalisto can’t. Pick: Reigns
Sean Rueter: I mean, Kalisto can beat this Strowman guy. Sami Zayn has a win over him. I’m not picking against the proprietor of this here yard. Pick: Roman Reigns.
Kyle Decker: Last time these two met, Roman had a date with the Undertaker a month later. There was no way he was going to lose going into that feud. But now, the Big Dog doesn't have a big match around the corner. He'll meet up with Brock eventually, but it's definitely possible that Braun does first. Because of that, I expect the Monster Among Men to win here in a way that makes both men still look pretty good. I hope he does something crazy like throw the Titantron at Roman or use his strength to stop the rotation of the Earth to get the upperhand on the Big Dog (even if it kills us all in the process). Pick: Braun Strowman
Cain A Knight: I have yet to see a good match from Braun Strowman and I don't see any reason to expect that to change here in a gimmickless match. Conventional wisdom is that Strowman will win this match because he will be facing Lesnar soon. I guess Roman's kayfabe injuries can be used as an excuse for his eventual loss here, but it seems pretty strange to book a guy who just retired Undertaker to lose to a guy who couldn’t even win on the WrestleMania pre-show. This match just isn't for me and I hope they get the Lesnar/Strowman match over with as soon as possible so that Braun can be sent back down the card after Great Balls of Fire. Pick: Braun Strowman
Reverend Kain: Is Roman even gonna be able to compete? Pick: Braun Strowman
Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho (US championship)
Geno Mrosko: WrestleMania and the “Superstar Shake-Up” really robbed these two of putting together an all-time feud. Here’s to hoping they go out with a bang in a match that has an obvious winner. Pick: Owens
Sean Rueter: Even as a Friend of Jericho, I can’t do... IT. I guess I’ll just have to be on The List, because THE PICK IS IN, MAN... Pick: Kevin Owens.
Kyle Decker: With Jericho headed out to tour with Fozzy really soon, this may be the last time we see Y2J for awhile. Because of that, it's a safe bet that Owens defeats him on his way out. I could even imagine a post match beat down that leaves Jericho stretchered out to help build KO further. However I could also envision that Jericho leaves the ring last as the fans thank him for this current run. What they do post match is more of a question to me than who wins it. Pick: Kevin Owens
Cain A Knight: This one is as straightforward as it gets. Owens is going to defeat Jericho in one of the best matches of the night, and then move on to continue his storyline with AJ Styles on SmackDown. Pick: Kevin Owens
Reverend Kain: I don't know what kind of formal powers being the Face of America may or may not convey, but I'm not in a hurry to find out by picking against the man and bringing his wrath down upon me. Pick: Kevin Owens
Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss (Raw women’s championship)
Geno Mrosko: If Monday Night Raw has taught me anything when it comes to the booking of its women’s division, it’s that I don’t know anything. Pick: Bliss
Sean Rueter: Whoever wins, this probably sets us on a path toward a four-to-six person championship match at SummerSlam. Calling this pretty much solely on a theory WWE wants us to second guess the “people lose in their home town” trope. Pick: Bayley
Kyle Decker: I don't think a title change is completely out of the picture, but I'd be surprised. Sasha vs. Bayley definitely feels like it's still in the cards, possibly a SummerSlam match at the site they had their epic encounter two years ago. Because of that, I see Bayley holding onto to the title into the summer. Pick: Bayley
Cain A Knight: So everyone wants to know if WWE is going to book Bayley to lose the championship in her hometown. On the surface that sounds really dumb to me, especially if the idea is build to a Sasha and Bayley match at SummerSlam. On the other hand, there is a bunch of time to fill between now and August, and one way to fill that time is to have Sasha and Bayley chasing Alexa for a while. Alexa doesn't do much for me yet as a performer so I'm hoping that Bayley wins and gets the big hometown pop. My guess is that Bayley will retain because WWE will want Charlotte (rather than Alexa) to become the first superstar to win the women's championship on both brands. Pick: Bayley
Reverend Kain: Something something fairy tale something something evil witch something something short chokeslam something something wrestling with the mass of a neutron star something something sorry Bayley. Pick: Alexa Bliss
Hardy Men vs. Cesaro & Sheamus (Raw tag team championship)
Geno Mrosko: I’ve been pushing the idea that what will break the Hardys is a lack of success. Nothing warps a man’s mind quicker than defeat. Pick: Cesaro & Sheamus
Sean Rueter: Do Matt & Jeff need the belts? No... no they do not. In fact, they’re much more interesting without them. Pick: Cesaro & Sheamus
Kyle Decker: I'm hoping for the Hardys to lose the titles eventually to break Matt, but I think they'll likely get a little more nostalgia out of them while they get everything cleared with Impact. Anyway, if I think anyone breaks here, it’s Sheamus and Cesaro after a loss. Pick: The Hardy Men
Cain A Knight: This match intrigues me more than any other on the card. The Hardyz have won every match on Raw leading up to this, which usually means a loss is coming their way on the PPV. That could very well happen and be the impetus that causes Matt Hardy to become broken, or maybe they lose after Cesaro and Sheamus turn heel. Or maybe things have been booked this way because Sheamus and Cesaro are going to lose here once again and then finally break up. I don't really have any clue where this one is going and am looking forward to see how it plays out. Things have been way too cordial between these two teams thus far and one way or another I expect all of that is going to change at the end of this match. Pick: The Hardy Boyz
Reverend Kain: I really like the idea of a loss breaking the Hardyz, but I can't see just flipping the titles off of the Boyz back to Cesaro and Sheamus. If anything I feel like that's a snap TV challenger type situation to belt a new team to the titles. But then Extreme Rules is the next show and begs for ESCALATION. (Pretend I said that all broken.) I dunno, I'm down with either outcome here and am honestly more curious to see if the Hardyz will actually be allowed to wrestle on their last indie date tonight (being filmed for Highspots Network!), or if Meek Mahan's mercy only extended to House of Hardcore. Pick: Hardy Boyz
Neville vs. Austin Aries (Cruiserweight championship)
Geno Mrosko: Nothing they’ve done leading up to this match makes me think they’ve been preparing to change the title around. Pick: Neville
Sean Rueter: While TJ Perkins pretty much exists to protect A-Double from a clean loss, and I really don’t want to see the King lose his crown, I’m following my potassium-loaded heart. Pick: Austin Aries
Kyle Decker: This is a tough call. I can’t see Aries losing two but at the same time, TJP is there to protect the King. I could see Aries winning but via DQ as TJP gets involved to prevent Neville from losing his title. Pick: Austin Aries
Cain A Knight: I don't think it's ideal for Austin Aries to start his main roster run by coming up empty in two straight title matches, but it doesn't feel like the right time for Neville to lose just yet. Aries won a tag match on Raw and stood tall on 205 Live this week, so Neville is probably winning on Sunday. Pick: Neville
Reverend Kain: All the pieces in play here, I'd love to see Aries win, but I'm not seeing it this time. Maybe we go to a DQ or other non-finish and they can reuse the House of Horrors at Extreme Rules next month to really settle it! Pick: Neville
Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe
Geno Mrosko: He already beat THE KING OF KINGS, why wouldn’t he be able to beat the king’s muscle? Pick: Seth Rollins
Sean Rueter: Since
it’s Joe’s PPV debut, and he’s a proxy for a guy who probably wants his win back, I don’t see Seth busting out that controversial new finisher in San Jose. Pick: Samoa Joe
Kyle Decker: I just want to point out that while Seth Rollins thinks it’s cool to call himself the Kingslayer, in Game of Thrones that was used to mock Jamie Lannister for stabbing the king in the back. Since Joe won’t be shouting “Burn them all” to allow Seth to stab him when his back is turned, I say Joe goes over here. Pick: Samoa Joe
Cain A Knight: I think it's backwards booking to have Seth Rollins face off with the king's enforcer after already defeating the so-called king, but that's what happens when Triple H has to be forced onto every WrestleMania card even when the timing of the story doesn't call for it. Rollins has defeated Joe's team in both tag matches on Raw leading up to this match, and Seth also successfully thwarted Joe's attempted ambush after Kurt Angle shook Seth's hand in the ring during the announcement that Seth was staying on Raw. Samoa Joe has to get one over again on Seth at some point, and so it makes sense for that to happen at Payback. Pick: Samoa Joe
Reverend Kain: Rock and a hard place here. Neither guy can lose, both guys are dominant competitors, so... I'm going frivolous. Samoa Joe has an excellent orange cat and Rollins is a lame dog guy. I think we all see who wins here. Pick: Samoa Joe
Realest Guys vs. Good Brothers
Geno Mrosko: Enzo Amore was called a butt nugget. That happened. Other stuff has happened here but do you remember it? Pick: Good Brothers
Sean Rueter: If Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder (wired jaw and all) don’t show up and stomp these nerdy butt nuggets into oblivion, what does it even matter? Pick: The Revival
Kyle Decker: I dunno. Let’s say they use the injury from Enzo on Monday to allow Anderson and Gallows to get the win. Yeah, that sounds fine. Pick: The Good Brothers
Cain A Knight: I expect Enzo to get tossed around for the better part of 10 minutes before Big Cass hits a big boot and ugly elbow for the win in a very blah match. Pick: Enzo & Cass
Reverend Kain: Gotta support my hoots. And hey, by my count, in straight two-on-two tags, they're 3-1-1 with the Realest Guys. Open and shut, my friends. Pick: The Clubski
That’s how we see the card playing out.
How about you?