WWE hit the SAP Center in San Jose, California last night (Sun., April 30, 2017) for its Payback pay-per-view (PPV) and it was a much better night of pro wrestling than anyone could have possibly anticipated going in. And that’s a good thing!
Hit up the live blog for complete results and blow-by-blow coverage of every match on the card. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.
Defeat is not my destiny
What a strange position we're all in regarding Roman Reigns now.
Here's a guy who took the last few weeks off television to sell an injury angle to help put over a big monster that is booked as a heel but everyone loves and cheers. Then he came back and was roundly booed, for reasons that don't really hold much water anymore, put on one hell of a main event match, and laid down and did the clean job to once again put over the big monster everyone is cheering for. He beat up his body and bled for it.
How did fans in the arena respond to this?
They chanted "Thank you Strowman" as Braun was attacking after his victory, then "You deserve it" as Reigns was barely able to take himself backstage to get medical attention. The hate for this man by one segment of the fan base is strong enough, or they want that attention bad enough, to ignore that he had, essentially, given them what they seemingly wanted.
He gave Strowman a great match, sold like he was near death (it really was an all time sell job), and lost. What else is there for him to do in a situation like this?
Roman Reigns is one of the best pro wrestlers in the world and no amount of hate from those who hate him is going to change that. It's also painfully clear that no matter how good he gets, those who hate him will continue to do so, whatever the circumstances may be. It's time to stop caring even one bit about how anyone reacts to him and focus on the incredible work he continues to put in, show after show.
It's also time to gear up for Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar, which is just going to be BONKERS fun.
Keep whatever’s left of me
There were a lot of storytelling issues with the House of Horrors match between Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt, this much is obvious. Orton showed up in a limo, for some reason, wearing jeans but no shirt, for some reason, there were tractors going backwards on their own, for some reason; the list goes on and on. Some of the worst were things like WWE asking us to go with the idea that it was live when Payback was held in San Jose and the match went on while it was still light out yet it was dark when Orton was pulling up to the house.
Really, very little of this made sense.
So much of their issues have been about Sister Abigail and Orton burning her resting place to the ground to take Bray's power before Wyatt bathed in her ashes to get it back. There wasn't really a callback to the any of that. It was just two dudes in a weird, dirty house beating each other up.
Frying pans, low blows, refrigerators and all.
All that said ... I liked it.
I REALLY liked it.
It was goofy as hell but they committed to it in a way that I could let go of all my ideas of what I think pro wrestling should be and just let them take me wherever they wanted.
Sadly, where they wanted to take me was back to the arena to finish up with a regular old match with a lame run-in finish by the guy Orton is now feuding with over on SmackDown. Had they stayed in the House of Horrors, this would have been a stupid fun match, so far outside the norm we would have to appreciate it if only for that fact. But by the end it was the same tired finish we always seem to get with WWE.
All the best to all the rest
Alexa Bliss def. Bayley: They had a fine match, and Bayley deserves a bunch of credit for that fact, but the finish came so suddenly it didn't do justice to everything that came before it. That kind of muted reaction to what they're pushing as a historic title change -- Bliss is now the first woman to hold the Raw and SmackDown women's titles -- is unfortunate but count this fan among the many who are happy because this means we'll be getting a whole lot of Bliss television time on Monday nights.
Hardy Men def. Cesaro & Sheamus: They were building this as two respectful teams respecting each other and we were all so focused on the Hardys being broken we didn't even consider that Cesaro and Sheamus would get fed up and knock them around after the bell. Later, Sheamus was making fun of "breaking" the two, then Matt responded by saying "I WILL EAT YOU." This could be just what we've been waiting for. And the match was really fun!
Chris Jericho def. Kevin Owens: They told a good story in the match, with Jericho injuring the Finger of God, and that being what helped lead him to victory. This felt like the right way to finish off their feud but it leaves a lot of questions regarding why they booked the Superstar Shake-Up the way they did and what happens going forward. Even that is good if only because it creates intriguing for what they do next.
Austin Aries def. Neville: DQ finishes never feel good, but it made sense considering what they were doing and Neville losing more and more of his own self confidence as Aries outperforms him time and again. This will have to come to a head at some point and soon. Say, I wonder what would happen without rules? Oh and look at the next PPV on the schedule.
Seth Rollins def. Samoa Joe: I didn't even notice until a rewatch that Joe's shoulder was up during the pinfall. That would give them a reason to keep this going, which would be fine. This was a good match.
Miz TV: Miz was great here, as usual, and made Finn Balor look like a legitimate star. They also established a wider motivation for Balor, that he wants his Universal championship back, even if it's going to take some time before they get to that. It really is amazing, though, how Miz can create interest in a program in just one segment.
This was a fun show, much better than the complete lack of hype it had going in.