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Thursday, November 23rd 2017.
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WWE Payback 2017

by Scrooge McSuck

WWE Payback 2017

- Live on the WWE Network on April 30th, 2017, from the SAP Center in San Jose, CA. Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T are calling the action, unless otherwise noted. This is a Raw "Exclusive" show, but the Superstar Shake-Up put them in a position to feature two matches with guys from Smackdown Live.

Enzo & Cass vs. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows:

The Kickoff Match is starting earlier than anticipated, around 7:15 ET. Round 745 in their never-ending series, and the former Club are pitching a shutout, best to my knowledge. Enzo and Anderson start. Enzo targets the ribs for the 10-seconds he's on offense. Gallows and Anderson take turns working the arm. Blind tag on a roll up and Gallows takes Enzo down with a single-arm DDT. We come back from a short break with Enzo still in trouble. Enzo with a tornado DDT and they somehow botch the fake hot tag spot. Enzo fights out of the corner and this time Gallows yanks Cass off the apron before the tag. Cass with the hot tag on the third attempt and cleans house. Anderson gets sent over the top with a clothesline, and the Empire Elbow connects on Gallows. Cass with a trio of Stinger Splashes. Anderson saves his partner from a third, and Enzo with the blind tag. Anderson nails him with a running knee, knocking him into the barricade. Back inside, Cass saves Enzo from the Magic Killer, and Enzo cradles Gallows for three at 6:33. Well, didn't see that coming. Enzo pinned somebody! *1/2 Same match we've seen from these teams, every week, for the last four months.

- Miz-TV with special guest Finn Balor. As much as I enjoy me some Miz and his trolling ability, I hate filler segments like this instead of finding a place on the card for guys like Balor, Miz, or Dean Ambrose (you remember, the INTERCONTINENTAL Champion). Miz runs Balor down for being a failure and gets laid out with a sling-blade and running dropkick for it.

WWE United States Championship Match:
Kevin Owens © vs. Chris Jericho:

It's a cross-promotional match! If Jericho wins the US Title, he moves to the Smackdown Live roster. Owens is the "New Face of America", despite being from Quebec. Owens bails, but Jericho follows to bring the pain. Jericho with a dropkick and forearm to knock Owens off the apron. Diving elbow only gets one. Owens meets a boot in the corner and Jericho takes him down with a bulldog. Owens rolls away from the lion-sault and counters the springboard dropkick by ramming his head to the post. Owens sends him to the barricade and hits the cannonball. Back inside, Owens with a senton for two. Modified neck breaker for two. Jericho fights out of a chin-lock and rolls Owens up for two. Owens with a clothesline for two. DDT for another two count. Owens slows it down with another chin-lock. Jericho misses a dive to the corner, falling to the floor. Jericho rallies and comes off the top with a double axe-handle. He sweeps the legs but Owens blocks the Walls of Jericho. Jericho with an enzuigiri for two. Jericho with a flurry of chops in the corner. Whip across the ring and Owens surprises him with a Super-Kick for two. Jericho avoids the Pop-Up Powerbomb and Owens counters the Code Breaker. Owens gets the knees up on the lion-sault and hits a cannonball for two. Jericho counters the Powerbomb with a hurricanrana and turns Owens over with the Walls of Jericho. Owens crawls his way to the ropes, and hooks it with one finger, forcing the break. Jericho stomps on the hand in frustration. Jericho wedges the hand between the ring and steel steps for more punishment. The referee creates a distraction for Owens, allowing him to thumb the eyes and roll Jericho up... for two?! Owens with a Super-Kick, but the hand is too hurt doing a Powerbomb. Jericho sweeps the legs and applies the Walls again. Owens reaches for the ropes, but Jericho pulls him back to the middle and KO TAPS OUT at 14:01?! Color me surprised. ***1/2 Good opener, and more enjoyable for me than their WrestleMania match. Maybe it was the lower expectations?

WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match:
Neville © vs. Austin Aries:

Aries won yet another multi-man contenders match on 205 Live to earn this title shot. Neville has only been champion for 91 days. It feels a lot longer than that, honestly. Lockup to the corner and Aries with a clean break(!). Crisscross and Aries with an arm drag. Neville goes to work on the arm, but Aries counters with a fireman's carry into a cover. Aries with a pair of deep arm drags. Neville with a head scissors, but Aries escapes and hits a basement dropkick. Aries with an elbow and somersault senton. Neville bails and Aries follows with a plancha. Back inside, Neville straddles Aries across the top rope. Neville stomps away and whips him hard to the opposite corner. Neville comes off the top with a missile dropkick for two. Neville wastes time posing, allowing Aries to recover and knock him to the floor. Back inside, Aries with brutal slaps to the chest, gut buster, and STO. Snap mare out of the corner and a flying elbow across the back for two. Aries knocks him off the apron with a neck breaker and follows out with a sweet tope suicida through the middle and bottom ropes. Back inside, Aries covers for two. Neville blocks the Last Chancery and escapes with a jaw breaker. Neville counters the Discus Five-Arm with a roundhouse kick. Neville misses an enzuigiri. Aries with the shin breaker and reverse exploder. He hits a forearm in the corner and hits a sunset-flip Powerbomb into the Last Chancery. Neville can't make it to the ropes, so he grabs the referee and hurdles him across their bodies, drawing a Disqualification at 11:17. ***1/4 Weak finish to a good match. "The referee had no choice." I'll remember that the next time a referee gets pushed around and doesn't call for the bell.

WWE Tag Team Championship Match:
The Hardy Boyz © vs. Sheamus & Cesaro:

Matt is looking and acting a little more BROKEN every week. Matt and Jeff won singles matches over the last two weeks. Matt and Cesaro start. Lockup to the corner and a clean break. Another lockup and this time, Cesaro gives this clean break. The Hardys take turns working the arm. Whip to the corner and Jeff with Poetry in Motion. Matt with a sloppy small package for two. Sheamus with a rolling senton on Matt for two. Cesaro with the running uppercut for two. Sheamus short-arm clothesline for two. Whip to the ropes, Matt slips out of a slam and tags Jeff. He hangs Sheamus across the top rope, and hits an inverted atomic drop, double leg drop across the crotch, and splash for two. Sheamus escapes an arm-bar, throwing Jeff through the ropes for a hard bump to the floor. Back inside, Cesaro with the dead-lift gut-wrench suplex for two. Sheamus with a flying knee drop for two. Did Matt say, "come on, NERO"? Sheamus blocks a tag with a punt, and it knocked Jeff's tooth out! Does he have a capped tooth, because they called the tooth getting knocked out WAY too soon to notice (Update: it was a BROKEN tooth). Jeff hits both challengers with a twisting somersault. Matt with the hot tag, sending Cesaro to the buckle. Clothesline and running bulldog gets two. Matt with a flying bionic elbow and Side Effect for two. Jeff with a splash onto Sheamus on the floor. Matt goes high risk and misses a moonsault. Cesaro with the Swing (about 20 reps) and Sharpshooter, but Jeff helps Matt reach the ropes. Cesaro with an uppercut and Sheamus with a Super-White Noise for two. Cesaro catches Jeff diving off the apron, but gets dumped over the barricade. Jeff is out of position for the finish, so they have to stall for him to get to his own corner. Jeff with the blind tag, and he nails Sheamus, covering Matt, with the Swanton Bomb, to retain at 12:44. *** Good work, just felt like just another match. They do the expression of respect afterwards, only for Sheamus and Cesaro return for a mild beat-down, turning heel, I suppose.

WWE Women's Championship Match:
Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss:

We're in Bayley's hometown, so we should be on high alert. I love how they've recycled everything about Bliss' quick rise to the SD Women's Title: lucking into a title match by stealing a pin in a multi-person match, then using fairy tale references and the "Cinderella" story coming to an end. Bliss looks like she's wearing Iron Man inspired tights tonight. Secret alliance with the Avengers? They jockey for position. Whip to the corner, Bayley avoids a charge. She plants Bliss with a slam and comes off the ropes with a knee drop for two. Bayley with a baseball slide dropkick to knock Bliss off the apron. Bliss comes back with a hard forearm smash and pounds away in the corner. Bliss stretches out Bayley while standing on her hair and covers for two. Bayley escapes a chin-lock, but runs into a clothesline. Bliss hotdogs and gets hung up across the rope for it. Bayley with running axe-handles and flap jack across the turnbuckle. Bayley with a suplex and the sliding elbow and clothesline combo. Elbows to the midsection and a twisting side suplex for two. Bliss blocks the Bayley-to-Belly and sends her into the middle turnbuckle. Bliss scales the ropes, Bayley follows. Bliss fights her off and hits a Code Red for two. Bliss with double knees, but misses the Insult-to-Injury, and Bayley hits her with a running knee. Macho Man Elbow gets two. Bayley stomps a mudhole in the corner. She sits down on another sunset flip attempt, but gets kicked into the post. Bliss takes advantage of the opportunity and hits a DDT for three at 11:11, becoming the first woman to win the Raw and Smackdown Women's Titles. **1/2 This was every Alexa Bliss match, ever. It's OK, but I'm going to forget everything about it 15-minutes later. I didn't honestly expect them to switch the belt, but they were in San Jose, so I should've seen it coming.

House of Horrors Match: Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt:

How convenient the match will find its way to the ring, even though it's not even starting IN THE ARENA. This is Non-Title, and how even more convenient this week that Jinder Mahal stole the WWE Championship from Orton? This is allegedly live, on location, close enough to the arena to be within driving distance, but it's dark out. Sun is still up at 5:30 PT, just to let everyone know. Maybe they warped to Lower Uncton for the stuff on location, where it's always surrounded by darkness. Cool points to anyone that gets the reference. Bray's "House of Horrors" is glowing purple. I guess it's the same building that Orton burned down two months ago? There's a flickering light and a tractor driving itself. Am I watching a wrestling show or a terrible made-for-TV horror movie? Orton kicks in the locked front door to enter. Wyatt attacks from behind and throws him into the wall. LAMP DOWN! Orton gets a lucky strike, so Wyatt runs like a multi-part, boss fight, where you have to pursue the enemy. Wyatt reaches through the plywood to surprise Orton (and fail at a jump scare attempt). There's a room with a bunch of dismembered dolls hanging around. They also seem to be babbling. What the F*CK am I watching?! I've had more enjoyment from a root canal. Orton pursues Bray and throws his uneaten dinner against the wall. What a jerk! They fight in the kitchen, with pots being strewn about. Orton beats Wyatt with a flurry of short rights, and he just laughs at him. Wyatt goes low before Orton scrambles his brains with a skillet and drops the refrigerator on him. No, there wasn't a William Perry cameo, but God knows it would make this a better experience. Bray leaves to get to the arena, but it seems like Orton pulled a Jason Voorhees magic trick, clearly acting as the driver since it was the only means of transportation. The live crowd is not pleased with what they saw. TO BE CONTINUED!

Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe:

I don't even want to watch the rest of the show at this point. Joe is seeking revenge on behalf of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Rollins knee might rival DDP's ribs for longest milking of an injury in wrestling history. Feeling out process early until Joe starts pounding away. Whip to the ropes and Seth sends him to the floor with a dropkick. To the floor, Joe sends Rollins over the barricade, but Rollins quickly recovers and springboards off with a clothesline. Rollins with a tope suicida and this crowd seems meh. Joe catches Seth by the leg and hits a dragon screw between the ropes. Joe hits him with a tope suicida, knocking him into barricade behind the announcer's table. Joe gets the better of a slugfest and hits a rolling leg sweep. Joe with a senton across the knee. Rollins tries to come back with chops, but gets nailed in the corner with a twisting enzuigiri. Rollins with a Super-Kick, diving forearms to the corner, and a neck breaker. He climbs the ropes, but Joe catches him with the Knee Capper and grapevines the leg. Joe with a Powerbomb into a single-leg crab, but Rollins makes it to the ropes again. Rollins surprises Joe with elbows and a sling-blade. Rollins with a series of strikes and the Block Buster for two. The knee gives out on a suplex attempt. Joe misses a senton and Rollins hits a Super-Kick for two. Rollins slips between the legs of Joe and stupidly goes for a Buckle-Bomb, but has enough strength to hit a Falcon Arrow for two. Rollins with a Frog Splash for two. They trade forearms. Joe with a series of slaps and Rollins counters with a jumping roundhouse kick. Joe catches him off the ropes with the Coquina Clutch, but Rollins rolls him down into a cover for two. Joe obliterates him with a clothesline and hooks the hold again, and again Rollins pins him down, this time for three at 15:58. *** Another match with fine work, but that House of Horrors crap killed my interest and the crowd wasn't into it as much as you'd think.

- Part TWO of the House of Horrors Match between Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton. To my surprise, Orton WASN'T the driver, but somehow made it back to the arena despite being left for dead and having no means of transportation other than a tractor that couldn't go faster than 10 mph. Orton nails him with a chair and they brawl around ringside. Orton hits the draping DDT, using the announcer's table instead of the ropes. Orton sets up for the RKO, but the Singh Brothers (formerly known as the Bollywood Boyz) attack from behind, only to get thrown around like trash in Bray Wyatt's House of Horrors. Wyatt goes for Sister Abigail, but Orton counters with an RKO. Here's Mahal to nail Orton with the WWE Championship BELT. TWICE, and Bray finishes with Sister Abigail. The in-ring stuff lasted all of 5-minutes, to go with 13 of the most excruciating moments of my wrestling related life. That was, without a doubt, the worst 12-minutes of content on a WWE program I've seen in years (referring to the on-location portion). Worse than the Old Day. Worse than the typical Stephanie McMahon promo where she emasculates everyone on the roster. Worse than anything that anyone could throw at me. This was an embarrassment to watch and associate with professional wrestling.

Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman:

Final match of the evening. Yes, neither the Universal or Intercontinental Title were defended on this show. In successive weeks, Strowman kills Reigns by throwing him off a ramp while strapped to a stretcher and tipping over an ambulance, kills Big Show with a ring-exploding Super-Plex, and kills Kalisto by pushing a dumpster off the stage (it was only an 18-inch drop at best, but still...). Crowd STILL loves him more than Reigns. Reigns attacks before the bell and pulls the ropes down on a charge. He uses the steps as a springboard to nail Braun with a clothesline. Strowman walks away from a dive and throws Reigns into the barricade with a double throat clutch. Choke-Slam across the announcer's table. Strowman no-sells a clothesline and hits Roman with an avalanche. Reigns gets sent shoulder-first to the post. To the floor and Reigns gets introduced to the steps. Strowman with a clothesline for two. Reigns fights out of a bear-hug and hits a Samoan Drop for two. They take a tumble over the top rope and Roman hits him with the Drive-By. Strowman gets sent to the post and just barely beats the count back into the ring. Reigns with a Spear for two. Strowman counters a Superman Punch with a boot. Reigns slips out of the over-head back breaker and hits a pair of Superman Punches. He goes for another Spear (hitting the ropes twice), but Strowman counters with the standing triangle choke and hits a Running Powerslam for two. Strowman peels him off the canvas and hits him with another Powerslam, this time for three at 11:42. Roman Jobs! Looks like Strowman vs. Brock might happen after all. *** Another good match, more because of the booking and structure, than the moves used. Post-match, Strowman smashes the injured ribs with the ring steps, and the crowd chants "Thank You Roman" and "You Deserve It" at Reigns while being attended to. Turn. Him. HEEL.

Final Thoughts: Nothing stood out as a must-see match, but the show was filled with good performances. Unfortunately, the House of Horrors Match killed the show mid-way through, and the crowd seemed completely drained until the Main Event when it was time to hate Roman Reigns again. Take away the House of Horrors Match, and you've got a fun throw-away show that gave us quite a few surprise finishes, but with that 20-minute albatross included, this is a must-skip show with nothing on its own outweighing the bad and justifying a 3-hour block of valuable time to sit down and watch.

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