The first PPV after Wrestlemania was a strange one, but I felt it delivered. Some booking decisions were perfect, others were completely confusing, and the in-ring quality of matches was great. There are definitely some positive and negative takeaways to come from this PPV.
Chris Jericho Vs. Kevin Owens: United States Championship Match
Well that was unpredictable! With the consideration that Jericho is leaving to tour with his band, I didn’t see a Jericho win coming, and I don’t think anybody else saw it coming either. The concept of KO’s new “Face of America” gimmick was just getting started, and I think people were excited to see KO and AJ Styles feud. Nevertheless, these 2 had a great match, probably match of the night, and it was better than their match at Wrestlemania. The pace was quicker, the chemistry was better, and the story-telling was brilliant. Whether the right man won or not is up for discussion.
The match was structured great, and there were a ton of great spots in this match. I must say, KO surely must be one of the best in-ring psychologist in WWE. The big focus on this match, believe it or not, was Kevin Owens index finger, the same finger that saved him the match at Wrestlemania. KO used that same finger to get to the rope to get out of the Walls, and that sent Jericho into a rage, Jericho punished that finger using the steel steps. From that point on, KO failed to execute his pop-up power bomb, and also failed to reach the rope using that finger again. KO tapped out to the walls. As I said previously, the outcome can be discussed as to whether the right man won or not, but regardless of that, it was a great match. I also wanted to mention, KO has been looking sharp lately, maybe its the clean shave, and clean haircut.
Austin Aries Vs. Neville: Cruiserweight Championship Match
After this match its clear, Austin Aries is going to be the one to defeat Neville for the cruiserweight title. He’s the right guy to do it, he’s over as a babyface, and he’s a great in-ring technician.
These two have great chemistry in the ring, and they prove time after time that they are the top guys of the cruiserweight division. Neville is great as a heel, mocking the crowd, and winning using heel tactics. This match wasn’t one sided, but down the stretch, Aries had his number, chest slaps, chin breakers, the pendulum elbow, which all led to Aries’ heat seeking missile suicide dive. Back in the ring, Aries was presumably going for a 450 splash, which Neville avoided, but Aries turned into a sunset flip power bomb and then transition to the last chancery. As Neville was about to tap, he grabbed the referee, knocked him over, and then the ref disqualified him. The DQ finished worked in this situation, but it is showing that Neville can’t actually beat Aries, he needs to resort to underhanded tactics. The match was good, not great, but it definitely served its purpose.
Sheamus & Cesaro Vs. The Hardy Boyz: Raw Tag Team Championship Match
The three big talking points from their match, Sheamus & Cesaro turn hell, Matt Hardy is as broken as ever, and Sheamus kicked Jeff Hardy’s freakin tooth out of his mouth! Seriously, this was a good match, and I think tag team wrestling is as good as its been in a very long time. The Hardy’s remain undefeated in their return, and Sheamus & Cesaro undergo a necessary attitude change.
The crowd was hot for this one, hot for the nostalgia Hardy’s, but also for Broken Matt and Brother Nero. All match, all anyone heard were “DELETE” chants, or “Brother Nero” chants, or “OBSOLETE” chants, etc. The crowd was hot for Matt’s out of WWE gimmick. Nevertheless both teams got in their nice spots, and I must say, I think Cesaro’s corkscrew springboard uppercut is one of the best moves in wrestling. The match finishes after a blind tag by the Hardy’s, Sheamus goes to pin Matt, but Jeff hits Sheamus with a Swanton for the 1-2-3. The post match featured some handshakes, arm raises, and just as Sheamus and Cesaro left the ring to allow the Hardy’s to celebrate, they hopped right back in attacked them, heel turn confirmed.
Bayley Vs. Alexa Bliss: Raw Women’s Championship Match
WWE really did it, they made Bayley lose in her hometown. I said in the prediction blog that I thought they wouldn’t do it again, long behold, i was very wrong. Alexa beat Bayley in the centre of the ring. I don’t think WWE understands, this was an absolute crowd killer, along with every other hometown loss. The crowd was so hot for Bayley, she arguably got the pop of the night, and they were behind her the whole match. I understand that the hometown hero can’t always win, but they are starting to pay the price, the crowd seemed deflated for the rest of the night until the main event. However, Alexa called her shot, and she’s now held both Women’s titles, the first women to do so.
The match was great, and probably Alexa’s best since moving up to the main roster. I mentioned in the Shakeup blog that Alexa going to Raw was a great move, and would allow her to engage in new feuds, with better in-ring wrestlers, and this feud with Bayley had already produced a hell of a match. One great highlight was when Bayley hit Alexa with a nasty looking shining wizard, then a Macho Man elbow, and that led to a great false finish. The match ended when Alexa launched Bayley into the ring post by kicking out of a pin, which looked brutal, then reversing a small package into a DDT.
Randy Orton Vs. Bray Wyatt: House of Horrors Match Part. 1
I just don’t know where to start, this was might have been the most awful thing I’ve ever watched, and I loved the Final Deletion. This just wasn’t even close, and I don’t even understand what made this house a horror. It was just an old, dusty, creeky, cobwebs everywhere, cracks in the walls, poorly furnished, voodoo figures, and more strangeness kind of house. Interesting to point out, the house must not be too far from San Jose, so I guess Bray has been faking the whole New Orleans cult thing. But seriously, this was a terrible ten minutes of pre-taped fighting. The way this match works is, they start in the house, then someone must be pinned, submitted, or the opponent forfeits from horror in the ring to win. Randy walked in this house, they began to attack each other in different rooms, and finally when Bray gets the upper hand, he drops a fridge on Randy. Yes, he really dropped a fridge on him. Bray left the house, stole Randy’s limo, which he took to the house, and told the driver to take him to the arena.
Samoa Joe Vs. Seth Rollins
After this crowd had just watched its home town hero lose, then watch that awful 10 minutes of the House of Horrors match, kudos to these two guys for trying to get the crowd engaged again. Unfortunately, the dead crowd really hurt this match. It was a ROH dream match in a WWE ring, but it only kind of delivered, which feels odd to say. Clearly this was the match of the night for the hardcore fans, considering their move-sets were built by the indie scene.
The match was a dream if you loved seamless transitions from Joe, or pure athletic ability from Rollins. Joe’s methodic pace is awesome to watch, focusing on that knee, at one point giving Seth’s knee a senton. After, Joe caught Seth is mid air, gave him a knee capper, then transitioned to a knee bar. The best sequence came when Joe hit seth with a power bomb, rolled it into a half crab, then turned it into a Texas cloverleaf. For such a big guy, Joe moves around like he’s a cruiserweight. In spite of that, Seth still won the match, countering Joes Coquina clutch into a pin. The match was definitely a great match for the hardcore fans, but if this feud continues, id like to see them steal the show.
House of Horrors: Part 2
I didn’t think it could get any worse than part 1, then I saw Jinder Mahal on a Raw PPV. This match continued to a still dead crowd, Bray made his entrance all the way to the ring from backstage, and when the lights finally turned on, Randy was behind him. They began to brawl, Randy got the upper hand, he was setting up for the RKO, and then the Bollywood Boyz attacked Randy. This then led to the the babyface come back by Randy, he hit Bray with an RKO, but the numbers game always wins. Jinder attacked Randy with his own belt, which led to Bray pinning Randy after a Sister Abigail. All I can say is, thank god this is over. Ill be saying the same when Jinder Vs. Randy is over. Its time to give someone believable a title shot.
Braun Strowman Vs. Roman Reigns
What a match. This was everything it should’ve been, hard-hitting, brutal, and realistic. Sometimes this most important factor of a great main event is the realism. For example; Cena Vs. Lesnar at Summerslam was by no means a mat classic, but it was a great match based on pure brutality, along with the right outcome. Thats what these two matches have in common, pure brutality and right outcome.
Roman Reigns deserves a lot of credit for this match. He sold his injuries perfectly, and put Braun over which is best for business. Roman made it look as if he was only using one arm the entire match, even hitting a spear with just that one arm. Regardless, none of it was enough to top Braun Strowman on this night. Braun chokelsammed Reigns on the announce table, tried to murder Roman in the centre of the ring, powerslammed him twice, and won cleanly in the centre of the ring. Braun wasn’t done there, he went into all on assault mode with the steel steps, dropping Roman on them, then hitting Roman with them right in the rib cage. The lasting image from this nights main event will be Reigns coughing up blood while Braun roars over him.
This was good show, which I truly enjoyed. Obviously WWE always comes up with some confusing booking decisions, but they are all with purpose. Bayley is better when she is chasing the title, Joe and Rollins are going to have another match, and Jericho and Owens are going to settle this once and for all on Tuesday. Payback was a good show, with some minor bumps, but had some really good wrestling to make up for it.
Show Grade: B
Match of the Night: Chris Jericho Vs. Kevin Owens
How did you feel about the show? How could they have done it better? How would you have done it? Leave a comment below, and watch out for The Wrestling Fanatics next review.