WWE Payback 2017
April 30, 2017
SAP Center
San Jose, California

Watch: WWE Network

Meet our previewers:

  • Jeff Martin: VOW’s resident cartoonist (go read his comics at heat.rentathugcomics.com) and guy who’s willing to write previews for WWE B-shows, but isn’t willing to watch them live.
  • Joe Lanza: Internationally acclaimed broadcast journalist as heard on BBC Radio. The King of Banter. The most compelling voice in wrestling media. The most subtweeted man on wrestling Twitter. Tinder Mahal.
  • Lee Malone: Resident OTT reviewer. Most likely to volunteer for WWE previews. Bray Wyatt apologist.

Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson

Jeff Martin: This sure is a thing that’s happening. It’s the most “pre-show” match possible. I’m guessing the winner of this one will move on to challenge the Hardy Boyz, unless they keep feuding with Sheamus and Cesaro, so I think Team Southpaw Regional Wrasslin’ will pick up the win.  Prediction: Gallows & Anderson

Joe Lanza: I feel like we’ve seen this a million times, but I’m OK with that because these teams have an odd chemistry. Not that I think it’s imminent, but it feels like we’re waiting around for Cass to turn on Enzo, but I think the other way around would work better. Prediction: The Club

Lee Malone: This match screams pre-show but will still be a perfectly fine warm up match. Feels like Gallows & Anderson have been around forever while doing little thats been worthwhile. A win here could set them up for a feud with The Hardys. Prediction: Gallows & Anderson

WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Neville © vs. Austin Aries

Jeff Martin: It feels like the Cruiserweight Classic was a decade ago. As absurd as it is, the two guys who have benefited most from the CWC weren’t in it. The winner, TJ Perkins, is Neville’s new henchman, which suggests the title might change hands here. There aren’t any more babyfaces for Neville to beat as long as Akira Tozawa is trapped in… whatever it is that’s happening with Brian Kendrick. Prediction: Austin Aries

Joe Lanza: This has been a fantastic feud between two of the best WWE workers of 2017. Neville is the most compelling champion in the company, and I’m not ready for him to lose the title yet. The problem is if you beat Aries again, I’m not sure where he goes from here, and you risk cooling off a guy who gets good crowd reactions. I’m OK with either result, but if Aries loses, I sure hope they have something more interesting planned for him than an undercard 205 Live feud. Prediction: Austin Aries

Lee Malone: What a feud this has been. Austin Aries has been phenomenal since arriving on 205 Live and Neville is the best Cruiserweight champion we have ever seen in WWE. I would love for A-Double to win but something tells me The King of the Cruiserweights will continue his reign. Prediction: Neville

WWE United States Championship
Kevin Owens © vs. Chris Jericho

Jeff Martin: I really enjoyed this storyline going into WrestleMania, but shuffling Owens to Smackdown and starting a program with AJ Styles over there has left Jericho to tread water while awaiting his loss and exit from the promotion. I was higher than most on their WrestleMania match, so I’m looking forward to this one, despite the lame-duck build. Prediction: Kevin Owens

Joe Lanza: This is ending at precisely the right time. Prediction: Kevin Owens

Lee Malone: This match should have been a major deal and feud ender with some real juice. Instead its a cold conclusion between two guys now on separate rosters. Bring on Owens vs Styles. Prediction: Kevin Owens

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

Jeff Martin: I’m already done with the Hardy Boyz as a team. Their return was a wonderful moment, but the RAW tag team division is such an afterthought that they’ve lost most of their luster for me. Even so, I don’t think they’re going to split until the rights situation surrounding the Broken Matt character is resolved, so they’ll probably hang onto the titles for a while. Prediction: Hardy Boyz.

Joe Lanza: It feels like we’re in a holding pattern with the Hardy Boyz until WWE is done negotiating with The Owl. Personally, I’d love to see a grumpy, apathetic Christian Cage thrown on a plane and forced to show up at the Impact Zone for another lazy, uninspired “I used to work here” promo, but unfortunately I think Meek Mahan is simply gonna cut a check this time. Prediction: The About To Be Broken Hardy Boyz

Lee Malone: This will be a really good match. And I just wonder could Cesaro & Sheamus putting a hellacious beating on Matt lead to him becoming Broken once again. Probably not but we know Broken Matt isn’t far away. Prediction: The Hardys

WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Bayley © vs. Alexa Bliss

Jeff Martin: Thank goodness Alexa Bliss can talk, because without Charlotte, the RAW women’s division is GRIM on the stick. Still, the inability of the main roster to book Bayley has transitioned from appalling to fascinating as we await Sasha Banks turning heel. Four matches in, and this show looks like it’s going to follow last year’s WWE PPV pattern: builds that don’t make you care about what will probably turn into a good card. Prediction: Bayley.

Joe Lanza: Everyone loves Alexa, but it’s time to start delivering in these big matches. She was called up too early and is learning to work on the fly, and I think long term she’ll be fine, but I can’t shake the memories of some of her cringe inducing early PPV bouts until she puts them firmly in the rear view with a couple of bangers. Bayley is a more than capable opponent, so to me this is a put up or shut match. I’m watching this one closely. With the roster changes, I think Alexa wins the title and kicks off a long term program. Prediction: Alexa Bliss

Lee Malone: Bayley’s championship reign just hasn’t delivered what we all hoped for. She beat Charlotte a month early, the 4 way at ‘Mania wasn’t great and the Sasha turn we all anticipated has not happened. Alexa feels like a perfect Raw brand champion great on the mic and passable in the ring. It feels like a good time for Bayley to lose and hopefully build to a big moment when she can regain the title. Prediction; Alexa Bliss

Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe

Jeff Martin: I’ve been a lot more interested in Samoa Joe on the main roster than I was toward the end of his NXT run. He feels like a perfect fit on RAW. This is also one of the few post-WrestleMania feuds that feels like it has some direction to it. I’m quite looking forward to this match, and hopefully a few more in the series.  Prediction: Samoa Joe

Joe Lanza: Seth Rollins is the most unfairly maligned wrestler on the roster, but with that said I can’t pretend I’m ever excited about his matches. I think Joe is very clearly past his physical prime, but has made up for it with smart nuance between the bells and some great character work. I have no feel for who wins. Prediction: Samoa Joe

Lee Malone: Joes first big match since his call up from NXT and we all know a motivated Joe can produce greatness. Seth has actually been pretty likeable recently and finally seems to have the crowd fully behind him. This match could be sneakily great and a platform on which to really build Joe. Prediction: Samoa Joe

Roman Reigns vs. Braun Stroman

Jeff Martin: This is the other feud that has some direction. That direction is, primarily, Roman Reigns and very heavy objects going down until they collide with the floor. Braun’s increasingly silly rampages have been a lot of fun, and I’m hoping they escalate that somehow. Maybe Braun will rip down the TitanTron and beat Roman Reigns over the head with it, or snatch a plane out of the sky and drop it on the Big Dog. I just realized that if I booked RAW, the budget for props to be smashed would SKYROCKET. Braun seems like he’s being set up for Brock, so he probably wins. Prediction: Braun Strowman

Joe Lanza: Nothing is stopping the Reigns Train, not even a red hot Braun who appears to be hotter right now than Roman has ever been. It feels like the timing is right to change course and go full steam ahead on Braun, but repeat after me, NOTHING IS STOPPING THE REIGNS TRAIN. I don’t know who is winning this match, but Roman is ultimately winning the feud, and Roman is beating Brock Lesnar in New Orleans to a mind deafening chorus of boos. I have a suspicion that Braun’s monster build is meant as nothing more than to give Roman a credible monster to topple. That’s unfortunate, as they may genuinely have something with the guy, but repeat after me, NOTHING IS STOPPING THE REIGNS TRAIN. There is a decent chance Braun is cooled off significantly by the end of this, and reduced to doing wacky comedy. Prediction: THE REIGNS TRAIN CHOO CHOO

Lee Malone: Can I just focus on Braun and not mention the other guy in this match? No? Look we all know Roman will ultimately conquer the monster that is Braun Strowman. But Braun is getting reactions that Roman can only dream of. If WWE had any viable competition right now Vince and HHH would change whatever long term plans they have for Roman and get fully behind Strowman. Unfortunately we all know thats not going to happen. Braun may win the battle but the Roman Empire will always win the war. Prediction: Braun Strowman

House of Horrors Match
Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt

Jeff Martin: This is either going to be Kennel From Hell levels of stupid trainwreck that nobody cares about, or my favourite match of all time. My favourite wrestling is VERY stupid wrestling, so if they lean into the possibilities of something this absurd, I might really love this. I think most of you have already formed your opinion on this match, though. Even though the rules haven’t been explained at all, it’s assuredly going to be full of Bray Wyatt goofiness, which always has potential to fall flat on its face. Unfortunately, the result isn’t in doubt at all, as even without the Superstar shakeup making it a foregone conclusion, Bray Wyatt never wins feuds. Prediction: Randy Orton.

Joe Lanza: Bray Wyatt is shit, this feud is shit, and whatever this thing winds up being, it’s virtually guaranteed to be absolute shit. No interest, no prediction. Prediction: Embarrassment for all involved

Lee Malone: How do I preview this match? What is a House of Horrors match? Some people will say any match involving Bray is a house of horrors. I personally like Bray and try to enjoy his goofiness but man is this feud crap. Orton after being at his most interesting as a Wyatt Family member is back to boring RKOOUTTANOWHERE Randy. And we all know Wyatt isn’t winning a feud because well has he ever?! This is possibly the first match ever that could benefit from a surprise Jinder Mahal appearance. Think about that. Prediction: Randy Ortonal appearance. Think about that. Prediction: Randy Orton