5 Good/5 Bad – WWE Payback 2017

Welcome to the first of a new 5 Good/5 Bad series that will now look exclusively at WWE PPVs, starting with this past Sunday’s Payback. The first pay-per-view since the […]

Welcome to the first of a new 5 Good/5 Bad series that will now look exclusively at WWE PPVs, starting with this past Sunday’s Payback.

The first pay-per-view since the ‘Superstar Shake-up’ was not a highly anticipated one. Payback’s match card was average at best mainly due to the build, but on paper there were a few matches that had the potential to be very good, plus one match that nobody had idea what to expect in the form of the first ever ‘House of Horrors’ match.

So how did the event play out? Did it over deliver or fail to capture the fans’ imagination?

And more importantly, what was good and what was bad?

#1 Bad – Nobody cares for Reigns

When will WWE learn that booking Roman Reigns as a face just doesn’t work?

Although the fans got what they wanted in Braun Strowman getting the big win over Roman, the show concluded with the spotlight solely on Reigns instead of celebrating Braun’s victory.

After the match, Strowman continued to attack ‘The Big Dog’ as the fans chanted “Thank You Strowman”, which should be a clear message to the decision makers in the back that the audience do not feel sympathy for Reigns when he is being assaulted. But it appears that Vince and co. are still not hearing this, resulting in a flat ending to the show as nobody cared for Roman’s injuries in the way that WWE had hoped they would.

#2 Bad – Samoa Joe vs. Seth Rollins

Another former Shield member that the fans do not seem to be accepting as a face is Seth Rollins.

He is not being rejected in the same way as Roman, but something about Seth’s face run just isn’t clicking with the WWE audience and that was evident in his match with Samoa Joe at Payback.

Joe vs. Rollins is a dream match for many fans on paper, but in reality, people just haven’t been invested in this angle. Joe has made a tepid start to his main roster run and needs to establish his character to the larger audience and Seth is not working as a babyface for similar reasons. Why should the fans be cheering for Seth? He has the respect from them for his in-ring skills and comeback from injury, but he hasn’t changed much as a character since he was the despicable heel with The Authority a year or so ago.

Seth and Joe are both great workers and put on a solid match this past Sunday, but the lacklustre build and poor character development resulted in a match that the audience were very passive for.

#3 Bad – ‘House of Horror’ Part One

A lot of people feared the worst when the ‘House of Horrors’ match between Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton was announced, and in that sense, the match lived up to expectations.

It was just awful, WWE have had a month or so to plan this match and the best that they could come up with was a ghost tractor, weird stick symbols and lots of baby dolls scattered around a house.

The production of it was terrible too, the apparent ‘live feed’ of the match, that took place on an unfathomably dark evening in California, had tons of post-production with a spooky soundtrack and plenty of fast cuts, plus you could see the cameraman’s shadow on the wall on multiple occasions!

This was only part one. After Orton got squashed by a fridge (Yes, that actually happened!) Bray and Randy then traveled to the arena for the final of the match.

#4 Bad – ‘House of Horror’ Part Two 

Bray arrived at the arena in a limousine, which was a bizarre choice for the mode of transport in this match, around 20 minutes after the ‘fridge incident’ but somehow, Orton got there before him despite having no apparent way of getting there, unless he used the ghost tractor!

Orton, who had apparently fully recovered from being crushed by a refrigerator in the 20-minute window, got the better of Bray during this part of the match. That was until Jinder Mahal and the Bollywood Boys interfered to cost Orton the match.

That’s right, Bray Wyatt couldn’t win his own concoction of a match without the help of Jinder and the Singh brothers, and we’re meant to buy him as a top heel in the company.

This whole thing was bad from start to finish and has done nobody any favours. It wasn’t even cringeworthy enough to be funny, it was just terrible.

#5 Bad – Hometown loser…again

WWE’s habit of having the local superstar lose in front of their family continued at Payback as Bayley lost her Raw Women’s Championship in her hometown of San Jose, California.

This result surprised for multiple reasons, but mainly because we seemed to be heading into a Bayley vs. Sasha Banks feud for the title in the next few months. Bayley’s championship reign has been mediocre, but I think working a program with Sasha as the heel would have at least given Bayley a memorable moment from her run as champion.

Although this has made the ‘Bad’ list, I’m not entirely disappointed with the outcome of this match as…

#1 Good – Alexa Bliss continues to impress

A year ago, Alexa Bliss was in NXT and was used more as a manager for Blake & Murphy than as a legitimate superstar in her own right. But now she is a three-time Women’s Champion on the main roster and has become the first ever female to hold both the Raw and Smackdown Women’s Championships.

It’s been an incredible rise for Alexa since her main roster call-up and I don’t think many people can argue that she doesn’t deserve it. She is arguably the best female on the mic in the entire company right now and is improving in the ring with every match.

Bliss is far from the finished article, yet she is a believable and deserving champion and has become the first breakout star of the WWE Women’s division since the Four Horsewomen.

#2 Good – The new, new face of America

The first match of the night for Payback was Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens for the United States Championship.

This was a great way to start the show, it was a good match between two superstars that the fans are both invested in. The only downside to this contest was that it seemed very predictable that Owens would retain considering that Jericho has been rumoured to be taking a break from the company soon to tour with his band, Fozzy.

However, Jericho pulled out a shock victory to reclaim the U.S. Championship and, in doing so, move from Raw to Smackdown Live.

It remains to be seen where this feud goes now as I don’t think many people were expecting this outcome. But as for their match at Payback, it was another solid outing from the former best friends and in my opinion was slightly better than their WrestleMania bout.

#3 Good – Cruiserweights shine

Another WrestleMania rematch that took place at Payback and was arguably better than the original bout was the Cruiserweight Championship match between Neville and Austin Aries.

Aries and, in particular, Neville have been fantastic over the last month or so and have added some much needed legitimacy to ‘205 Live’ and the Cruiserweight division as a whole. Their matches have been great and told a great story that looks set to continue if the finish of their latest match is anything to go by.

Neville was on the brink of tapping out to the ‘Last Chancery’ before resorting to desperate measures by attacking the ref, thus retaining his title by disqualification. Therefore, it seems as though Aries is due another shot at the championship, which I for one am still interested to see.

#4 Good – Ruthless and toothless

The Hardy Boys vs Cesaro & Sheamus for the Raw Tag Team Championships was a hard-hitting, action packed bout which was probably my favourite match of the night.

The battle between the two teams and, in particular, Sheamus and Jeff Hardy was physical and saw the latter take a rough bump to the outside before losing a tooth after a stiff kick from Sheamus later in the match. The most newsworthy moment came after the match, the Hardys had successfully retained their titles and shook hands with their opponents before celebrating their victory.

However, Cesaro & Sheamus would then return to the ring to attack the Tag Team Champions and turn heel in the process. I think it was the right decision to move them in a fresh direction and I’m looking forward to see where they go from here.

Who’d have though that when this story started that Cesaro & Sheamus would go on such a compelling journey?

#5 Good – A solid show overall

Payback has received mixed reviews from fans, but personally, I think it was a decent show.

The first half of the event was stronger than the second, there was some great in-ring action which made the PPV worth purchasing. The somewhat surprising victories for Jericho and Bliss, plus Cesaro & Sheamus’ heel turn, made for what will hopefully lead to some interesting character development in the following weeks.

However, I think Payback will mainly be remembered for the debacle that was the ‘House of Horrors’ match, but that shouldn’t overshadow what was a fun night of wrestling.