This year’s Payback stands in strange, but not unfamiliar territory.
It’s the first PPV after the Superstar Shakeup, and much like Battleground was last year after the first WWE Draft in a long time, it’s the culmination of a number of different storylines affected by the sudden messing of the status quo. Much like the fallout from the Draft last year, it seems as though WWE did not plan their storylines in the long-term to move around the Shakeup, resulting in a strange card that doesn’t look like any of the PPV cards we’ve been getting lately. (Okay, RAW still looks like this, but the addition of a token SmackDown match from out of nowhere is strange as all hell.)
SmackDown has an advantage going into its first post-WrestleMania exclusive PPV, Backlash. For once, it’s not the show that’s scrambling to produce a decent event 4weeks after; but even if it was, it would still have done its best to produce a card worth watching. Actually, that may have been a better excuse to give Jinder Mahal a title shot from out of nowhere.
Let’s go take a look at the card from the bottom to the top:
Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
For what it’s worth, the RAW tag team division truly is more stacked on paper than the SmackDown division (especially while we’re all waiting for the New Day to finally show up, whenever that is), so I’m okay with matchups like this happening and giving the other two teams something to do. The unfortunate thing is that nobody knows who’s going to win, because this is a retread of a match we’ve seen a dozen times on the Red Show, and I’m not exactly sure what the stakes are.
Winner: Gallows and Anderson (but could go either way)
Austin Aries vs. Neville (c) for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
I genuinely thought WrestleMania was going to be the time Aries scored a huge, scene-changing win, but they had other plans, which included TJ Perkins finally turning heel. Now that that’s out of the way and Neville literally has no new faces left against whom he could defend the title, it’s time to shake things up over on 205 Live and have Aries win the title. It opens up the spot for two new heel challengers, and guys like Brian Kendrick should they go down that route again.
Winner: Austin Aries (new Cruiserweight Champion)
The Professional Warriors (Cesaro and Sheamus) vs. The Hardys (c) for the RAW Tag Team Championship
This may honestly be the low-key match of the night, considering the amount of talent involved. I think it’s pretty much perfunctory here for the title to stay with the hot Hardys, especially with the amount of buzz they’re getting simply for the speculation on when they’ll become BROKEN. In the meantime, I see a simple but strong Sheasaro heel turn, which would freshen up their run before their inevitable breakup.
Winner: The Hardys
Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens (c) for the WWE United States Championship; winner goes to SmackDown Live
Again, a match that’s pretty foregone as the only smart and logical decision of the entire Superstar Shakeup establishes that the United States Champion is heading to SmackDown. And since Owens has already made himself home on Tuesday nights as the Face of America, and Jericho is going on another Fozzy tour for the foreseeable future, it’s all too obvious who’s going to win this.
Winner: Kevin Owens
Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe
The match we knew we needed to get at Fastlane (if it weren’t for that knee injury that we still don’t know is real or not) is finally happening, and this may very well be the singles match that steals the show. (I still have my money on the tag title match, though.) I want this feud to last all the way until SummerSlam, however, especially if Rollins is to undergo a big redemption arc; it’s just strange that the big win against Triple H already happened, and he still has to go through Joe. It can be argued that Joe is the deadlier threat due to his actual status as a full-time wrestler, so they’re going to need to keep building him up as a legit threat. More prison yard killer than school yard bully.
Winner: Samoa Joe
Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt in a House of Horrors match
The less said about this match, the better. We don’t even know what kind of things a House of Horrors match entails, and I stopped caring the moment they complicated this by transporting Wyatt to RAW (presumably to set up the eventual BROKEN Hardys feud) and removed the title from the picture. Yes, it built up Jinder Mahal, but Wyatt was entitled to his rematch.
Winner: Randy Orton
Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley (c) for the RAW Women’s Championship
It seems like someone truly believes in Alexa Bliss’s talents, and for good reason—in her short time on the main WWE roster, she’s quickly established herself as a wrestler who stands all the way out from the rest of the women’s division. Her character work is one of a kind in a sea full of strangely robotic personalities (save for Becky Lynch), quickly covering up whatever weaknesses she may have in the ring. Moving her to RAW seems to be a chance to make her even more mainstream, which could only be a good thing as she anchors the division. That, and they’ve messed up Bayley pretty bad.
Winner: Alexa Bliss (new RAW Women’s Champion)
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
Like many Roman Reigns matches, this is both easy and hard to call. On one hand, Braun Strowman is a hot prospect, a breakthrough star made by accident by a corporate machinery desperate to get his opponent over. And even without Reigns in the equation, they were going to invest in Strowman for the future because he’s, after all, a Monster Among Men. On the other hand, #ReignsWinsLOL.
I suppose it all comes down to what you’re willing to believe. Personally, it’s just hard to believe otherwise at the end of the day.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Who do you have winning on Monday morning, local time? Let’s talk about it!
PWR Wrevolution X 2017 is happening tomorrow, April 30 at the UNILAB Bayanihan Center! It’s the biggest show of the PWR year, and it’s going to be insane! PWR Champion John Sebastian is defending his title against Chris Panzer, who’s looking to redeem himself after a string of bad luck in 2016; PHX Champion Peter Versoza will be defending his title against his former partner SANDATA and either Ralph Imabayashi, or “The Golden Boy” Chino Guinto in a three-way match; “The Senyorito” Jake de Leon goes up against Filipino-Canadian “Beautiful” Billy Suede, and a whole lot more! Local wrestling is alive and well, everyone, so if you’ve got free time this Labor Day weekend, do make your way down to the show! For more details, check out the Philippine Wrestling Revolution Facebook page!
Do you listen to podcasts? Would you want to listen to a local podcast about pro wrestling? If the answers to those questions – especially that last one – are yes, then you should check out the cleverly-named Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, featuring Mellow 94.7 DJ and PWR General Manager Stan Sy, wrestling writer and Wrestling God Romeo Moran, and all-around multimedia person and former voice of PWR Raf Camus! This week, the boys talk to PWR Champion John Sebastian in a heartfelt conversation before his title defense at PWR Wrevolution X! Listen to it here! – Rappler.com
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