After dominating Raw as a unit for the better part of six months, and kicking off their feud with an all-time great segment in “The Festival of Friendship” back in February, it came down to this.
Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens also picked up another wrinkle thanks to the “Superstar Shake-Up”. The United States championship has been around the waist of one of these men for a while, but when the champ, KO, was moved to SmackDown in the post-WrestleMania roster shuffle, it was revealed that whoever won this match (booked before the Shake-Up) would keep the belt on Tuesday nights.
Early on in their match at Payback tonight (April 30) it was all Y2J. When Owens tried to pull his usual trick of bailing shortly after the bell, Jericho gave chase and took control. The veteran employed some aerial offense on his former friend, but went up top once too often. The man who calls himself “the new Face of America” pushed him off the top rope to gain an advantage, and after some cannonball sentons into the barricade, almost won via countout.
Jericho beat the count, but it was “Headlock City” time back in the ring as KO stayed in the driver’s seat.
Y2J fired off comeback after comeback, but KO had an answer for each. A sustained run which included an attempt at the Walls of Jericho ended with a loud superkick. A Lionsault landed on Owens’ knees.
But the Prizefighter couldn’t put his fellow Canadian away, either. And when a Pop-Up Powerbomb was countered, Jericho finally locked in the Walls... but just as in their ‘Mania bout, a single finger reached the ropes to force the break.
The Ayatollah then targeted (as Corey Graves called it) “the New Finger of America”. When he trapped Owens’ hand behind the ring steps and kicked them into the post, the referee called for a break to check on the champ’s ability to continue. He used that opportunity to deliver a thumb to the eye.
But it wasn’t enough. Jericho got his submission maneuver locked on again, but this time, without his finger, KO couldn’t force the break. He had to tap, and - for now - Y2J is champ and headed to SmackDown.
Of course, reports say he’s leaving WWE for a time to tour with his band Fozzy, so this may not be over yet. In the meantime, we got a really fun match which provided a nice capper to the last three months of great story.
Get complete Payback results and coverage of every match on the card by clicking here.