WWE – Payback 2017/ Backlash 2017 (Cert 15)
2 Discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 162 minutes approx. (both discs)
With the rosters now split in two and the number of PPV shows now doubled to two a month instead of one brand running a show alternately, this has posed a release problem for WWE Home Video, the solution being to be the shows out in a double DVD set (Oh and the back cover spoils the results of two title matches so be warned).
Convenient for fans, double the work for reviewers like me…
The red brand gets the first post-WM PPV show but it is not without a few caveats. Firstly, the RAW on the night after WM 33, Vince McSenile announced that there would be a “Superstar Shake-up” beginning on the following week’s RAW, where selected talent would be exchange across each brand. However, on SD Live the next night, Bray Wyatt evoked his rematch clause against Randy Orton for the WWE Title.
So of course, come RAW seven days later Wyatt is moved to Monday nights! Orton remains WWE Champ on SD yet the PPV match stays, telegraphing the result of the match since Brock “Part Timer” Lesnar is Universal champ on RAW! Similarly, US champ Kevin Owens was drafted to SD but a rematch for former champ Chris Jericho was also booked for this show. Doh!
Taking place on April 30th 2017, at the SAP Centre in San Jose, California, in front of just under 12,000 fans, with commentary from Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Booker T.
As ever, while my match reviews won’t contain any results, expect plenty of opinion.
WWE US Title Match – Kevin Owens (c) vs. Chris Jericho
To avoid a duplicate botch job with the blue brand’s secondary title like they did with the WWE title, they added a stipulation that if Jericho won the title, he would join the SD roster. But it was public knowledge that Jericho was leaving to play rock star with his band Fozzy, so a win for him here would be a disaster right? Good match to open the show, but there is just that feeling they could do a bit more and really tear the house down.
WWE Cruiserweight Title Match – Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries
A-Double came so close at WM 33 (well the pre-show) to beating Neville but was beaten by a poke to the eye. Aries apparently went through four other guys to earn a rematch but it happened on 205 Live which no-one watches. At least he got on the main card this time. Technically a very well worked match that started to really pick up until a dumb finish ruined everything.
RAW Tag Title Match – The Hardy Boyz (c) vs. Sheamus & Cesaro
With the ownership of the Broken Hardys gimmick still a matter of legal dispute between Matt Hardy and Anthem/Impact Wrestling/GWF/TNA/whatever the hell they are called this week we have to make do with this nostalgia act version of the Hardys. Decent match all told, notable for Sheamus literally kicking a tooth out of Jeff’s mouth and some post-match shenanigans designed to further this rivalry.
RAW Women’s Title Match – Bayley (c) vs. Alexa Bliss
Having been ported over from SD Live Bliss looks to make history to be the first woman to hold both brands’ women’s titles. It’s clear Alexa has won over Vince or someone with influence as I am sure most people’s money would have been on Charlotte having that honour bestowed upon her. Good match given the relatively short time and of course helped by Bayley being the hometown hero, which is also a curse booking wise…
House Of Horrors Match – Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt
Oh boy oh boy oh boy…. Where to start? Well, they didn’t announce until the last minute that this was a non-title match so Orton wasn’t in danger of dropping the belt back to Wyatt. Secondly, they had no clue what they were doing evident by constantly being unable to explain what the match would entail until it was show time.
It transpired to be a pre-filmed clip set in a house near by the arena but were caught but as it was night time in the film but still light outside the arena despite being billed as “live”. Then a shirtless Orton (because of course) wanders around the empty house with dolls hanging from the ceiling which apparently constitutes “horror”. Anyway, they end up in the kitchen where Wyatt traps Orton under a fridge then leaves, returning to the arena.
To be continued….
Samoa Joe vs. Seth Rollins
Despite working a hard match the arena audience were bored by the previous fiasco, chanting “Boring” and booing throughout the film clip, putting these two behind the eight ball in getting them invested in the action again. This was another occasion where Joe would work over Rollins’ legs but Seth would still do high flying moves in his comeback. Still, decent for what it was but not the show-stealer it could have been.
Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt Part II
Wyatt arrives back in the arena and as soon as the lights came back on guess who was already in the ring? Yup – Randy Orton! Not only is he so powerful that he can lift a fridge off himself he can also teleport himself to the arena AND have time to shave before Wyatt arrives! How he didn’t get heat for exposing the lack of continuity by shaving I don’t know – a lesser person would have fired on the spot!
Anyway this was truly horrific in more ways than one and if you didn’t feel your IQ drop to zero after watching this, I’m guessing you either didn’t have one to begin with or you are Vince McSenile.
Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns
With Lesnar taking a well earned three month break from WWE after doing bugger all for most of the year as per his ludicrously one-sided, low-returns contract, Reigns gets to headline another show, just because. Strowman has surprised everyone by really stepping up after the initial brand split and feuding with Reigns has done him wonders, least of all making him the biggest babyface by trying to kill Reigns every week on RAW.
This was no different and Strowman had all the momentum in the world after breaking the ring with Big Show and capitalised on it as much as the protective booking of Reigns would allow him to. Not a great main event but the fans enjoyed seeing Roman being mauled to within an inch of his life so it’s all good.
The awkwardness of changing the roster a just a few weeks before this show was just one issue working against it, the other, as always is the booking. WM 33 was not the pivotal event it should have been due to too many wrestlers who had been building momentum, like Strowman, being forced to step aside while the old timers returned to take their spots on the card instead.
What that does is put extra pressure on this show when said up and comers now are expected to resume taking up the everyday slack in the hope nobody noticed the big pause in the middle, whilst Vince also panders to his favourites and the capricious voices in his head. The result is a mixed bag like Payback, featuring hard work but spurious outcomes, and mind numbing Wrestlecrap failures like the House of Horrors which will live in infamy for the rest of time.
Best Match – Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho by default
Payback Kickoff Show Match – Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows
MIZ TV with Finn Balòr
Rating – ** ½
Over to the boys and girls in blue for their post-WM effort. By this point the new roster had taken shape and some of the title matches had even been booked ahead of the RAW fronted Payback show! Not that it was especially good news on all fronts however as the right to challenge the WWE champ Randy Orton was decided by a Battle Royale, which was won by the prolific and credible Jinder Mahal.
Yup, the jobber who was fired in 2014 then brought back to be a jobber again on RAW after the draft split last year, whose only singles PPV match saw him being killed by Big Show at Fast Lane, then was jobbed out of the Andre Battle Royale by an American football player on the WM 33 pre-show!! Orton must be wetting himself…
Taking place on May 21st 2017 at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois before 9,800 fans and your commentators are Tom Phillips, JBL and Byron Saxton
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler
I never thought I would see the day when I would be typing the name Shinsuke Nakamura in relation to a WWE review but there you go. I’ve been a fan of the former New Japan ace since 2005 but like many I wondered how he would fare under the WWE banner. His run in NXT allayed some of those fears but, aside from his debut against Sami Zayn, we never got to see THE Shinsuke Nakamura!
Sadly now he is under Vince’s watch we may never see it, as Vince has no clue how to book foreigners without resorting to stereotype. This match should have been the ultimate showcase for Nakamura to prove he is more than a stunning ring entrance but instead he spent most of the time selling for Ziggler. If you are new to Nakamura, go to YouTube or even New Japan World (NJPW’s equivalent of the WWE network) and check out the King of Strong Style’s classic bouts there.
Smackdown Tag Title Match – The Usos (c) vs. Breezango
The newly heel Usos beat American Alpha (remember them?) then Breezango won a Beat The Clock Challenge to become No 1 Contenders. Breezango have started the Fashion Police Files skits where they play detectives, often dressing up in disguise to solve a crime. This is important as it plays a big part in this match and no doubt had Vince in hysterics backstage whilst everyone else held a minute’s silence for pro wrestling.
Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin
Zayn jumped across from RAW to SD with Kevin Owens despite having their “final ever match” together at least five times since then. This match came about after Sami saved AJ Styles from a beat down by Corbin and Owens and Corbin attacked Sami on Talking Smack which is a post-SD Live interview show no-one watches. Sami worked hard as usual while Corbin’s hairline continues to recede. That’s all I have. Sorry.
Becky Lynch, Naomi & Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya, Tamina & Carmella
Yes, Charlotte is now a face by default having jumped to SD from RAW. Because Nattie, Carmella and Tamina objected to Charlotte receiving star treatment, they gave her a warm (read: violent) welcome, hence the group briefly being known as The Welcoming Committee. Okay match, shorter than it should have been for a six women tag and a surprise result to boot.
WWE US Title Match – Kevin Owens (c) vs. AJ Styles
There’s me complaining about the DVD cover spoiling match results when I’m doing the same by discussing this match, since Owens defeated Jericho on the SD Live after Payback for the US title! AJ turned face without turning face won a triple threat match to challenge Owens. Best match of the night by a country mile until the lousy ending, designed to put more heat on Owens for when AJ (presumably) does dethrone him for the title.
Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan
Despite both guys desperate to prove their worth, being in the death spot meant this match had no chance of getting over. Harper turned face somewhere during the Orton-Bray Wyatt feud and Rowan was out with another injury. Stuff happened, somebody won, the Pope is still Catholic.
WWE Title Match – Randy Orton (c) vs. Jinder Mahal
Okay, the real reason Mahal is getting this push is because WWE wants to break into India in a big way and with a tour coming up, having an Indian main eventer will benefit them on that front (just like it did with Great Khali) – except Jinder is from Canada. Anyway, Jinder is doing the usual foreign heel shtick of accusing Americans of being racist (your point being?) and has the Singh Brothers (former the Bollywood Boys) as his lackeys.
The highlight of the match (as such) was Orton nearly killing the Singhs by dropping them head first on the announce table but they are small and foreign so Vince looks the other way. I’m sure you can guess the rest.
SD may have the smaller roster but this hasn’t stopped them from working any less harder and delivering the goods in the ring, buttressed by strong, logical booking that gets everyone over and creates interest in the matches. But somewhere between Elimination Chamber and this show, the wheels seem to have fallen off for the blue brand, wholly evident in the farce that is Backlash.
If Vince can’t even book Nakamura right, a guy whose charisma and workrate basically books itself, then there is huge cause for concern for the Tuesday night troupe. And now, bringing Cena back to become a 17 time champ is NOT the answer either.
Best Match – Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles
Backlash Kickoff Show Match – Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English
Rating – ** ½
Man In Black