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WWE Payback 2017: Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt full match preview

The final fizzle of a once-great feud in a gimmick match nobody knows anything about.

WWE Champion Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt

House of Horrors match

Because the inanity of bugs projected on the mat during a WWE Championship match at WrestleMania wasn’t enough, WWE Champion Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt will settle their differences tonight in a House of Horrors match.

Don’t know what a House of Horrors match entails? Well, you came to the right place…

…But not because we know what a House of Horrors match is exactly. In fact, nobody knows—well, presumably WWE knows, since the match is less than 12 hours away, but we can’t be entirely sure.

The road to Payback

The great shame of this feud is that up until Luke Harper was unceremoniously removed from the picture, it was one of the more complete stories WWE was telling on either brand. Orton all along was playing Wyatt—and he publicly announced his plans to do so—but his commitment was such that there remained some doubt as to whether he had in fact fallen and become a real part of the Family; Wyatt was blinded by his newfound glory that a top competitor like Orton was helping him achieve, and was too enamored with the idea of converting such a lofty prize; and Harper was certain from Day One that Orton was and always would be a snake. The dynamic between the three was always tense and frequently wildly compelling.

But when it was decided that Harper would not be part of the WrestleMania match, he fell totally to the wayside. The feud that had been about human interactions and the motifs of vengeance, greed, and loyalty suddenly became about “bathing in ashes” and burning down sacred burial grounds (admittedly, a highly entertaining segment). It all fell apart so very, very rapidly, as a story that was grounded in familiar humanity veered into hokey supernaturalism wildly out of place in 2017.

To make matters worse, Orton and Wyatt pair proceeded to have a brief, blasé wrestle in Orlando reflecting none of the emotional charge that the feud had built up, instead relying on the ridiculousness of insects on the canvas to ... entertain (?) viewers. Orton eventually won the championship with an RKO. Gone were any human, emotional elements that were the hallmark of the feud for months—realistic, enticing relationship dynamics proving not to be WWE’s aim.

How we’ve missed you so, Luke.

In the weeks since WrestleMania, Wyatt has continued to badger Orton, first losing a tag team match with Erick Rowan on the post-Mania SmackDown Live to Orton and Harper—a match that ended with Wyatt shaking his head and muttering in disbelief on the entry ramp. Since then he’s popped up to disrupt Orton’s segments and also cut promos on Raw related to the feud. At one point he challenged Orton to the House of Horrors match, and for some reason The Viper accepted without knowing anything about the contest.

None of it has mattered one bit, though Orton unintentionally told a great joke last Tuesday when he noted, “I don't exactly know what a House of Horrors match is, but for some reason I feel like Sunday I'm gonna find out."

Well ... yeah?

So, here we are—a championship program that ran on SmackDown for eight months will conclude in a non-title gimmick match on a Raw pay-per-view. Wyatt already ostensibly began a program with Finn Balor two weeks ago on the red brand, while Orton’s actual title feud with Jinder Mahal continued last Tuesday when Mahal absconded with the actual championship title in Des Moines.

What’s at stake?

As aforementioned, not the WWE Championship. Apparently upon losing the top prize in sports entertainment, Wyatt immediately lost interest in gaining it back. Given that the bout was quietly changed to non-title, the boringly logical conclusion is that Wyatt will get his win back tonight in his own designed match. It matters even less than that, though, as given the Superstar Shake-Up the feud already effectively ended a week after WrestleMania when Wyatt appeared on Raw.

Heel, supernatural Bray Wyatt is a deader than dead character. Which is quite possibly how WWE wants him—if they’re not intent on ever heating him up to be a real top star, then their usage of Wyatt makes plenty of sense. Otherwise, we’ve reached the point where his promos have conclusively proven to be a load of mumbo-jumbo, and his constant ineffectiveness has prompted some viewers to reach for their remotes whenever the familiar Wyatt derp is heard. Without a significant rebranding, he’s merely a time-filler at this point.

This House of Horrors match is more or less WWE’s equivalent of the Pro Bowl.


Tune in to the WWE Network tonight to find out whether it’ll top last year’s Ambrose Asylum match!


Who will win?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Bray Wyatt
    (114 votes)
  • 43%
    Randy Orton
    (87 votes)
201 votes total Vote Now

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