By all accounts, WWE Payback is a B show. There’s no doubt about that. This Raw brand-exclusive card won’t even feature Monday night’s top title because Brock Lesnar only appears on the important shows. It might be easy to write this one off as non-essential viewing but in my opinion, that would be a mistake. If you miss this show, you may very well miss a lot.
There are many potential major storyline developments as well as possible show-stealing matchups that could go down. First, the Hardyz are straying more and more into the Broken realm of their characters and I definitely don’t want to miss any of that. Also, I believe a pairing like Neville and Austin Aries is just one example of a match that could very well tear the house down. And even more important than all of that, this will be Braun Strowman’s first post-Ambulance flip Pay-Per-View. I do not want to miss out on that. As I flesh this all out, I find myself getting more and amped up about this supposedly B show.
Below are five points that will make me excited to turn on the WWE Network this coming Sunday night. Like usual, these lists are coupled with a companion video, which this time around is a simple PPV preview. You can watch it HERE or find it embedded below.
First up on my list is a WrestleMania rematch that I think could surprise a few people.
5. The House Of Horrors Match…really!
Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton’s rivalry peaked months ago. I’d peg the climax to be when Orton showed up to Wyatt’s cabin in the woods and burnt it to the ground, irrespective of his dead sister’s ashes below the floorboards. The whole thing was so metal and really should’ve been the final segment before their final match.
The problem with all of that was that the feud kept continuing and never had any tricks that were nearly as cool as the house burning down moment. They tried a nifty visual screen projection at WrestleMania, but it mostly fell flat. Kudos for trying something new but what did a ring full of bugs actually accomplish? I think both of these guys know that the rivalry has treaded water for many weeks now and that could lead to some extra effort during this Payback encounter.
At least part of the match will be pre-taped, so they can try things out and watch them before they air. The power of editing can be used to their favor. Things that just don’t work can be cut out entirely. Also, people aren’t really high on this so expectations are way low. I have a feeling that they’re going to surprise us more than a little. I expect something campy and if they can bring at least 20% of an Evil Dead kind of vibe to the table, I’ll be all about this.
4. Raw Gold For Bliss
I am a huge fan of Alexa Bliss. I’m not exactly at an “Alexa Wins or I Riot” level of how much I like her but I’m wouldn’t say that I’m too far off. Since jumping to Raw after the Superstar Shakeup, I’ve been hoping that she could become as important of a player on Monday nights as she was on Tuesdays. So far, that looks to be the case.
Bayley will defend her Women’s Title against the Five Feet of Fury and I know who I’m rooting for. There’s the Sasha Banks factor that could prevent a title change, which does have me worried a little. The Boss has been working on a looming turn against her Hugger buddy and we may see that play out at Payback. Alexa Bliss very recently chose to take a DQ loss in a singles match against Banks so it makes sense if Banks is involved somehow. If she does interfere, I’m hoping it results in Bliss’ favor.
Regardless if my girl Ms. Bliss wins or not, I’m invested in her character. She’s become a standard for what it means to be captivating, a skill she emits one glance of abhorrence at a time.
3. Matt Hardy’s Next Brilliantly Broken Chapter
Rumors have been ramping up over the past few days that WWE has been ironing out the legalese so that Impact will let go of their claims against the Broken Universe. This has me beyond stoked. Matt Hardy has been extremely conflicted on screen and on social media, using mannerisms from all stages of his career. He’s suffering from an identity crisis but seems to be hinting that the version we all really, really want might get it’s WWE debut imminently…
The CELESTIAL VOICES have told me the GENESIS of my Modern Testament nears.
My VESSEL will be blessed if I push it to unseen parameters.
— MATT HARDY (@MATTHARDYBRAND) April 28, 2017
I feel like this nostalgia run of Team Extreme has a little bit more life left in it but if it’s time for the 7 Deities to transform Matt’s vessel, then there’s no complaints. The Tag Titles happen to look good on Cesaro & Sheamus, anyway. Regardless of the outcome, the Hardyz are fun and their challengers are solid wrestlers. This will be a good match. Any storyline developments are all just added bonus for me.
2. Many Potential Great Wrestling Matches
I may be heavily invested in a few of these bouts but the honest truth is that many of these matches haven’t captivated me with a brilliant backstory. I sometimes have to think for a second to remind myself why many of these competitors are fighting against each other. But even though I’m a little foggy sometimes as to why exactly Seth Rollins and Samoa Joe currently hate each other (something about Triple H and Stephanie), I don’t need a rich setting to need a reason to watch those two wrestle. They’re both really good at wrestling and as a fan of the sport, that’s more than enough for me.
Other matches that I think look promising when scanning through the card are Neville vs. Austin Aries, Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss, and Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho. I wouldn’t peg anything on the card as a potential dud. As long as each bout is given a sufficient time this will be a strong wrestling card.
1. Massive Devastation From Braun Strowman
The Monster Among Men has been on an epic tear lately. He’s shoved Kalisto off of the entrance ramp while stuffed inside a dumpster, destroyed the ring via a top rope Superplex of The Big Show, and flipped a Roman Reigns-infused ambulance with his bare hands. Braun is ridiculously awesome and I expect more cartoonish feats of strength on Sunday.
As excited as I am about the quality of wrestling on the card = I just talked about it in the previous point – this is what I’m most looking forward to. WWE has actually done a great job in presenting him as a force that’s capable of ripping anybody’s head off at any point if they’re silly enough to look at him the wrong way. I’d go so far as to use the term ‘giddy’ to describe how I feel when I think about what Strowman might do at Payback.
My belief is that this will be a huge win for Braun, positioning him on a collision course with Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title at SummerSlam. Brock will ultimately win that huge title match and if I’m game planning it all out, Roman will win in another singles match at Survivor Series against Braun. This sets up the rumored main event for next year’s WrestleMania, but in the meantime we get several months from an unstoppable behemoth. Payback is on the front end of this run, so I might even go bold and call that Braun’s win will be clean.
Braun Strowman is far and away the reason I am most excited about Payback. I laid out several other points and overall I think it could be a very good show. What do you think? Am I wrong to be so optimistic? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter. I thank you for reading and before you go, why not listen to myself and a couple of buddies run through the whole card, making our predictions. I made it easy, simply click PLAY on the embedded video below…