The SmarK Rant for WWE Payback – 04.30.17
Live from San Jose, CA
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Corey Graves & Booker T
This show is so anticipated that I literally kept forgetting it was on tonight.
US title: Kevin Owens v. Chris Jericho
Jesus, even the German announce team has gone to three people now. Kevin immediately runs away and Jericho follows for the brawl, and he’s MIGHTILY over tonight. Owens bumps off the apron, but Jericho hits him with a flying elbow on the way into the ring for two. He goes for the Lionsault and Owens bails to the apron and sends Jericho into the ringpost to take over. Cannonball into the railing. The stips here are really weird, as this is a RAW PPV, but the winner of the match gets to go to the loser Smackdown brand and face AJ Styles at the next Smackdown PPV. Seems backwards. Why not make it loser leaves town? Into the ring for Chinlock City and a neckbreaker for two. Jericho comes back with a rollup for two, but Owens cuts him off again with a clothesline for two. Jericho fights back with chops, but Owens DDTs him for two. Back to Chinlock City, and Jericho fights up, but misses a charge and lands on the floor. Back in, Jericho fights back again with a double axehandle and enzuigiri for two. Owens levels him with a superkick for two, however. Jericho evades the powerbomb, but the Lionsault misses and Owens Cannonballs him in the corner for two. Another powerbomb is reversed into a rana by Jericho and he rolls into the Walls as the crowd goes nuts for it. And KO gets the finger on the ropes again in a callback to Wrestlemania, so Jericho stomps on the hand and beats on it outside. HE’LL NEVER PUT A FINGER ON THE ROPES IN THIS TOWN AGAIN! Back in, Owens hides behind the ref, then pokes him in the eyes and rolls him up for two. Superkick and powerbomb, but the hand is too injured and Jericho gets the Walls AGAIN. And this time Owens can’t reach the ropes and TAPS?!? Jericho gets his revenge and wins the US title in a match better in every conceivable way than the Wrestlemania one. They had great crowd heat, they worked harder and faster, and the finish was great. ****1/4 Jericho is an amazing worker, because he spent months as the most vile and annoying heel in the company, and suddenly he turns and everyone loves him again.
Cruiserweight title: Neville v. Austin Aries
The momentum of the show is somewhat stalled by the EIGHT MILLION COMMERCIALS that they have to air while they make the ropes purple for this. Like really, they couldn’t just put a colored spotlight on the ring like they used to do for Sin Cara’s matches? They fight for the lockup in the corner and Aries holds an armbar through some flying attempts by Neville. Neville bails and Aries follows with a dive, but he goes up and Neville dropkicks him down on the way in. Neville goes to a chinlock as Cole goes on and on about who was “gaining momentum” on RAW, as if it’s the most valuable asset as a wrestler. It doesn’t matter if you’re the champion, the important thing is who has the MOMENTUM. Aries only gained “a little bit of momentum” from the tag team win on the go-home show, so he’s clearly the underdog here. Neville pounds Aries down and stalls. Aries makes the comeback with the STO and pendulum elbow, and an elbow to the back of the head gets two. They fight on the apron and Aries puts him on the floor and follows with a dive, which gets two. Neville cuts off the forearm strike with a back kick, but Aries keeps coming with a back suplex and sunset bomb, into the Last Chancery, but Neville hits the ref for the DQ at 11:20. Good match, shit finish. ***1/2
RAW tag team titles: The Hardy Boyz v. Sheamus & Cesaro
Matt is looking decidedly wacky and maybe even a bit broken during his entrance. The crowd is immediately all over it, chanting “Brother Nero” and “Obsolete” right away. The Hardyz work on Cesaro in the corner. Booker: “The Hardy Boyz could have easily chosen to have singles careers, but they chose to be together!” Except for, you know, their long and successful singles careers where they’ve each held multiple singles championships. Matt gets double-teamed in the other corner and Cesaro hits the running forearm for two. Back to Jeff and he makes a comeback on Sheamus with his usual stuff, but Sheamus dumps him to the floor and Cesaro throws him back in for two. Cesaro with a gut wrench for two. Sheamus goes up with a kneedrop for two and we hit the chinlock. Over to Cesaro with a legdrop for two. They double on Jeff in the corner and Sheamus gets a backbreaker for two and back to the chinlock. Jeff fights out with the Whisper in the Wind and it’s hot tag Matt. Bulldog gets two on Cesaro. Side Effect gets two. It’s BONZO GONZO and Matt goes up and misses the moonsault, allowing Cesaro to hit a springboard uppercut and Giant Swing. Sharpshooter follows, but Matt makes the ropes. Sheamus gets rid of Jeff and hits a White Noise off the middle rope, but that only gets two. Jeff now sends Cesaro into the crowd, and Sheamus DDTs Matt for two. Jeff tags himself in and hits the swanton on Sheamus to retain at 12:42. Kind of just a match. **1/2 They do the big respect thing after the win, but then Cesaro & Sheamus change their minds and return to beat the hell out of them afterwards. Booker is ALL ABOUT IT. This felt more like something that should have been on RAW to set up the PPV match.
RAW Women’s title: Bayley v. Alexa Bliss
Note: They are not “wrestling”, they are “performing” here tonight. Bayley drops a knee for two and Alexa bails and yells at the fans, so Bayley gets a baseball slide for two. Bliss catches her with a forearm and works on a chinlock, and an elbow gets two. Minor note: The referee was apparently sent to an actual hospital after the collapsing ring incident two weeks back, rather than the usual “local medical facility”. Alexa works a chinlock for quite a while, but Bayley makes the comeback with various clotheslines and a nice side suplex for two. Bayley gets the elbow off the middle rope, but Alexa sends her into the turnbuckle and they fight to the top. Bliss with a sunset flip for two, but misses the standing moonsault and Bayley goes up with the flying elbow for two. Bayley pounds away in the corner, but Bliss runs her into the post and hits a DDT to win the title at 11:14. So once again don’t defend a title in your hometown, because no good can come of it. **1/2 I don’t get anything they’ve done with Bayley this year.
HOUSE OF HORRORS match: Bray Wyatt v. Randy Orton
So this begins, literally, in a house, after Orton is driven there in a limo. Perhaps a scary haunted limo, I’m not sure. Do they have Uber in the dark dimension where Bray Wyatt’s House of Horrors resides? Bray is apparently a proficient landowner in addition to being a wrestler, because Orton already burned down one of Wyatt’s houses and now there’s another one. I should also note that Orton arrived in the limo without a shirt, but wearing normal pants and shoes. So anyway, Orton arrives at the house and doesn’t even knock, because apparently Vipers have NO MANNERS. We proceed to get a bunch of “scary” jump cuts while Bray attacks a few times while dressed like your drunk uncle, and Orton gets distracted by a room filled with dolls hanging from the ceiling. If they were LJN dolls and they were hanging from nooses, I would suspect my dad as the culprit because he used to do that to my collection. Orton wanders around the house randomly breaking stuff and stumbling across effigies and such. I hope he goes through the medicine cabinet, because I’m perversely interested to find out what’s in there. Bray keeps mysteriously appearing after jump cuts as they fight in the kitchen in the least terrifying horror movie ever, and Bray drops a fridge on him. Bray is…upset about this? Concerned? He yells a lot but I’m not 100% sure of his motivations here. Can Bray win the match by fridge? Regardless, he heads outside and uses code word “Follow the Buzzards” to have Google Home turn his red lighting scheme on, and now Orton is totally fucked. Because, you know, he’s buried under a fridge AND the house is all red. So Bray gets into the limo and sings to the driver, despite the controls for the sound system being RIGHT BEHIND HIM.
So back at the arena, the crowd boos the shit out of this nonsense. And apparently the match has to continue later, or something? WHAT THE FUCK WAS THE POINT OF THAT?
Also, no chance the Uber driver isn’t Randy Orton. Or maybe he hangs onto the bottom of the limo like Sideshow Bob, I dunno. Whichever is the scarier option.
Samoa Joe v. Seth Rollins
How are people supposed to be paying attention to this match knowing that Randy Orton is BURIED UNDER A FRIDGE somewhere in California? They quickly fight to the floor and Seth hits a springboard clothesline off the railing, and back in for a dive. Joe goes after the knee and hits his own dive, but the crowd is clearly burned out from the intensity of the House of Horrors and just doesn’t have anything left to give here. Joe works on the knee in the ring and hits an enzuigiri for two. Joe works him over in the corner and the crowd is just wrecked from the House of Horrors and doesn’t care at all. Joe with a kneebar, but Seth makes the ropes. Joe with a powerbomb for two into the half-crab, but Seth escapes and fights back with the slingblade. Blockbuster gets two. Seth with the seated side kick for two and they fight to the top, but Seth stupidly tries the powerbomb out of the corner again and his knee gives out. He gets a falcon arrow instead and goes up with a frog splash for two. They slug it out and Rollins puts him down with the enzuigiri. Joe catches him with the Coquina Clutch, but Seth rolls it over for two. Joe tries again and Seth rolls him over again and gets the pin at 15:57. I feel like Joe needed that win a LOT more than Seth did. Much like the crowd, I wasn’t into this one at ALL. It was fine, I guess, but ultimately just felt like a couple of guys going nowhere and doing stuff. **
OK, back to the IMPORTANT part of the show. The limo arrives from the mystery house with Bray Wyatt. Reminder: Randy Orton is still trapped in a haunted house with a fridge on top of him. In case you’d forgotten.
Bray Wyatt v. Randy Orton
So now the match starts for real, as Orton of course magically appears when the lights go up, having escaped from the fridge and called his own Uber. I presume the driver assisted him with the fridge situation in exchange for a five star rating. There will be no such rating for this atrocity, that I assure you. Orton beats on Bray with chairs on the floor, while trying to sell the complex emotions involved in being attacked in a haunted house and buried under a fridge only to make it back to the arena. So anyway, now the Bollywood Boys attack him, followed by Jinder Mahal. And Sister Abigail finishes at 4:10 because of course it does. I think we can safely call this whole thing -***** without much hesitation, one of the most ridiculous and downright retarded “matches” I’ve ever seen. You probably thought they couldn’t top the Wrestlemania match where they projected bugs on the mat, but you’d be WRONG.
Braun Strowman v. Roman Reigns
Reigns is in rough shape, what with being crushed in an ambulance and his brother dying, but was he buried under a fridge? NO. So fuck him. Reigns sends Braun to the floor right away, and that proves to be a mistake because Braun hurls him into the railing and chokeslams him onto the German table. Being an efficient and well-built German table, it fails to break, sadly. Back in the ring, Strowman puts the boots to him and runs his shoulder into the post. Cole: “Did Roman come back too soon?” The man was thrown off a ramp while strapped to a stretcher and then overturned while in the ambulance and returned TWO WEEKS LATER. What the fuck do YOU think? Strowman with a bearhug on the mat, but Roman fights out with a samoan drop for two and they head to the floor again. Reigns fights back and runs him into the post, and we get the traditional spot where Strowman charges and hits the post to knock himself out. Back in, Roman with the spear for two. Strowman counters another try with the big boot, but Reigns gets the superman punch. Braun catches him with the choke and gets a powerslam for two in a sequence where the timing felt really off. Another powerslam gets the pin at 11:44. Kind of a disappointing match, actually, with Strowman just kind of hitting a couple of moves to win after absorbing all of Reigns’ big stuff. *** It certainly didn’t feel like much of a main event. They do the big heat on Reigns with Braun dropping the steps on his injured ribs and causing internal injury, and the crowd chants “Thank you Strowman” as a result. And then “You deserve it” while the agents are helping poor Roman to the back.
Any show with the House of Horrors match gets a hearty thumbs down and a “fuck off” to boot from me.