WWE hasn’t put on a bad PPV in 2017, and this one somehow maintained quality into the post-show, as the main event fall-out continued. A night full of entertaining matches, and one dud, so overall the kind of PPV you hope for on a Sunday evening. A befitting close to the WrestleMania season.

Pre-Show

Enzo & Cass versus The Club

The chicken/Chinese food promo lost me about three “how you doin'” in. Felt like The Club were working against some local talents, as E&C were disjointed the whole way. The roll-up win works with the story of the rest of the bout, but I wish they didn’t cut away right after Enzo slid out of the ring, and fell over. Quick match, had a commercial, and totally reeked of pre-show.

A backstage segment with The Hardyz and Goldust? Main takeaway from this was Matt Hardy’s teeth are white as fuh…

Sheamus/Cesaro showing they have zero chemistry in the “Social Media Lounge”. Sheamus reminds me of Richard Christie from The Howard Stern Show, all of a sudden.

Miz TV w/ Finn Balor

Aside from them using the term “Balor Club” four times, and Balor’s voice kind of sounding like a joke when he says it, I thought this was one of the better Miz TV episodes. Miz is too good at making the heelest faces, and Balor wasn’t wrong about Miz getting his ass kicked every episode.

Main Show

WWE United States Championship Match: Chris Jericho versus Kevin Owens (C)

A nice touch by Kevin Owens to walk around his face (of AMERICA) that was plastered on the stage when he entered. It’s a shame the “New Face of America” gimmick ends here. The match was solid, but it’s one of those bouts that could fit anywhere on the card. No crazy moments, but it was a good continuation of their match from Mania. The fingers of Kevin Owens (rope break, thumb to the eye, etc) being the star of the show, and the surprise title change, were the highlights.

The crowd really put this match over-the-top. Atmosphere was everything, and San Jose chanting “TAP” along with the Walls of Jericho gave this that PPV feel.

WWE Crusierweight Championship Match: Austin Aries versus Neville (C)

Having Booker T put over Neville as being above his weight class to start his career was a good piece of commentary. I’m not a big fan of guys matching for matches, especially during a PPV, but these two looked like figures with a head-swap (as Michael Lafferty pointed out on Twitter).

The match was hard-hitting. Felt like Aries went full speed into Neville four or five times, and each one looked heavier than the time before. They did a good job of making this feud continue, while also having Aries hit Neville with EVERYTHING he has. Cruiserweight Championship matches continue to matter while these two battle in them. They are to the WWE Cruiserweight Title what Juvi and Kidman were to WCW’s Cruiserweight Title.

Raw Tag Title Match: Sheamus & Cesaro versus Hardy Boyz (C)

Jeff Hardy is still as good as anyone at being a human bowling ball. Cesaro pulled off one of the most highlight reel-worthy leg drops since HulkaMania stopped running wild. The leg drop was almost as awesome as the kick from Sheamus that actually knocked Jeff Hardy’s tooth out.  Cesaro may actually have one of the Top 3 babyface movesets in the WWE, but he’ll never get the World Title run(s) he deserves.

For once the tight camera angles after a maneuver worked, as the near-fall for Sheamus’ top-rope White Noise was shot perfectly. I saw no chance for SheaSaro when they showed no chemistry on their pre-show segment, but they put up a solid effort in making the Hardy Boyz look like the best tag team in the business.

The post-match beatdown is HEEL 101, and I love it. Good guys win, bad guys throw a tantrum, and wreck bodies with a sneak attack. A few weeks ago I said Cesaro is primed for the foreign heel role that Sheamus used to fill in the main event scene, and I think that’s exactly where they’re going with him. Will the Cesaro Swing make the transition to heel with Cesaro? In this day and age of WWE… maybe.

Raw Women’s Championship Match: Alexa Bliss versus Bayley (C)

Another hometown hero fails to defend the Raw Women’s Championship. I feel like Bayley and Alexa fit as opponents almost as perfectly as Charlotte and Sasha. I was surprised that Alexa didn’t cheat in any way to beat Bayley, but I guess they’re saving that for her title defense. Quality match with a surprising finish. The weakest part was the commentary, but Michael Cole is involved, so what’s new?

Somewhere Jake the Snake is smiling over that DDT finish.

House of Horrors Match: Bray Wyatt versus Randy Orton

Pre-taped, so it was hard to take seriously. I mean, this isn’t Roddy versus Goldust in a Backlot Brawl. It felt like these dudes were fighting over whether or not to get the cable turned off in their crappy rental house. The place had electric stoves, which is not what I picture in some decrepit House of Horrors, but here we are.

This match was too unintentionally funny to be the WORST match of 2017, but it’s close.

Seth Rollins versus Samoa Joe

Pretty standard match with a dead crowd, and pretty lame salesmanship by Seth Rollins on his knee. We seen Neville/Aries and Y2J/KO have this same match, but better, tonight. It was even the first roll-up since the Pre-Show. Overall, I think if the crowd was still into the show, it could have been more enjoyable, but felt like something that should have been on Raw. Joe’s shoulder not even being down for the pin might be part of the story tomorrow, but just felt like part of the mess in the moment.

House of Horrors Match (CONT)

Just when you thought we were out, Randy Orton teleports from a refrigerator to the ring to continue battling with Bray. Jinder Mahal, and the Artists Formerly Known as The Bollywood Boys (who wore #TOYSPOTTING colors during the attack), were the saviors of this whole thing. Jinder may even be Sister Abigail with the way this whole House of Horrors was going.

Bray wins, but it doesn’t feel like it’s going to do him any favors.

Braun Strowman versus Roman Reigns

This felt like a match out of the Hulkamania Era, and that’s a compliment. The taped-up hero goes against an unstoppable monster, and this time the monster won. They did a good job of putting over Roman Reigns’ pre-existing injuries the entire match, and the two dudes in the ring did the rest. Best match of the night for the best storyline WWE has going. I just wish Braun Strowman would smash Roman’s ribs into the turnbuckles before he did his powerslam(s).


Top 3 Stars of WWE Payback

  • * Braun Strowman: The win was big, but the post-match SQUASH was what really made him the star of the show!
  • ** Roman Reigns: Played his part perfectly. Sold the ribs, made you think he could win for a second, and had one of the funniest near-fall kick-outs I’ve ever seen.
  • *** The San Jose Crowd: I love a lively crowd, and I think San Jose did their job as well as any WWE superstar this evening. “You deserve it” while I typed this, and Roman walked out injured, was the icing on the cake.

–Jeff

WrestleMania 33 FULL Review