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WWE “Payback” Pay Per View Live Reaction for 4/30/2017 – Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman, Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship, The “House of Horrors” Match, More

Tonight, we get the first Raw branded pay per view after Wrestlemania called Payback.  This show airs live on WWE Network and pay per view and comes to us from the SAP Center in San Jose, CA tonight starting at 8PM EST.  The WWE Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar, won’t be there tonight, but four other championships are up for grabs.  Alexa Bliss attempts to take Bayley’s Raw Women’s Championship in Bayley’s home town.  Will she succeed?  Will Sasha Banks interfere and cost Bayley her title?  Will the Hardys successfully turn away the challenge of Sheamus and Cesaro?  Does Kevin Owens keep his US Championship as he again faces his former best friend Chris Jericho?  Can Austin Aries dethrone the King of the Crusierweights, Neville?

The full card is as follows:

  • Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (Pre-Show Match)
  • Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton in a House of Horrors Match
  • Bayley (c) vs. Alexa Bliss; Raw Women’s Championship
  • Kevin Owens (c) vs. Chris Jericho; WWE United States Championship.  If Jericho wins, he is transferred to Smackdown.
  • Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries; WWE Cruiserweight Championship
  • Matt and Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Cesaro and Sheamus; WWE Tag Team Championship
  • Samoa Joe vs. Seth Rollins
  • Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns

Pre-Show:

They showed fans outside the arena, then panned in to the pre-show panel.  It’s Renee Young, Jerry Lawler, and Sam Roberts from Sirius XM.  King made fun of Roberts’ hair.

They immediately talked about the “House of Horrors” match between Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton.  King said no one knows what to expect in the match tonight.

Renee sent it to Charly Caruso in the Social Media Lounge.  She will talk to Sheamus and Cesaro later and do a Twitter Q and A.  They went back to the panel to hype WWE Network and some of the upcoming events on the Network.

The panel discussed the Jericho vs. Owens match.  Roberts felt that if Jericho won and moved to Smackdown it would be a big loss for Raw.  King said if hate were written on the sand in the desert it wouldn’t describe how Jericho felt about Owens.  Roberts picked Owens and King picked Jericho.

They noted the other events on the pre-show, with Enzo and Cass taking on Gallows and Anderson and The Miz hosting Miz TV with Finn Balor.  They fed it to a hype video for the show that focused on Reigns vs. Strowman.

Sasha Banks joined the panel to talk about the Women’s Championship.  She was wearing Bayley’s shirt, exclusive to tonight.  I can’t help but feel like Bayley is going to be seeing Sasha in a role in this match tonight.  Sasha clowned on Bliss for walking out of their match on last Monday and said she wouldn’t make a good champion.

Renee asked where Banks would watch from and she said she had a ticket.  Roberts and Banks picked Bayley to retain and King picked Bliss.

They moved on to talk Rollins vs. Joe and Renee fed it to a video package.  The panel questioned Rollins’ health and whether he could maintain his momentum going against Samoa Joe.  King noted that Joe knows how to exploit weaknesses, but Renee asked where Joe goes from here if he doesn’t win.  Roberts said Rollins has to win to prove his win over Hunter wasn’t a fluke.  They all picked Rollins to win.  I think they need to have a dirty finish,  personally.

They swung down to Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Booker T for the first match.

Match #1 – Enzo and Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson:

Winner:  Enzo and Big Cass

The Reax:  The story going in on this one is a bit weak, and it stems from Raw last Monday.  Gallows and Anderson attacked them last week before a six-man tag match, so that’s how we got here.  Enzo and Cass did their normal entrance gimmick.  Cass said there were a bunch of Chinese foods that they weren’t.  Enzo’s a good mic worker and he had the fans with him for this.  Cass closed with the SAWFT line.

Enzo flew out of the box quickly and attacked Anderson with ground and pound and a kick.   Live crowd was digging it and chanted “how you doin'” as he threw the early offense.  Anderson cut Enzo’s offense off by getting a knee up, then tagged to Gallows.  They isolated Enzo and controlled the offense going to a break.    The ad was for the Network.  Sure, WWE, sell me on something I already have and watch (I know, I know, it’s for those on other platforms).

Enzo hit a DDT and leaped toward Cass, but he didn’t get the tag.  Was this a botch?  Hard to tell.  More offense from the heels, then Enzo got a hope spot for a tag but Gallows pulled Cass off the apron.  Smart heel move by them.  Cass finally got the hot tag and went to work on both men.

Cass slammed Gallows then hit the Empire Elbow, followed with a couple corner splashes.  Anderson pulled Gallows out of the way of the third one.  Cass has a good hot tag, I will say that.  Enzo blind tagged in, but he had no idea where he was.  Gallows and Anderson roughed the faces up at ringside, then set Enzo up with the Magic  Killer. Cass booted Anderson to ringside and Enzo rolled Gallows for the win.  They weren’t happy in the ring as Enzo and Cass left.

A good match that got the crowd energy going.  They were into Cass and Amore and reacted to their offense.  I still stand by wanting Gallows and Anderson to have been the world beater heels and just dominate, but, I digress.

They panned backstage to the Hardys talking about moving on from Sheamus and Cesaro by hitting a Swanton/Twist of Fate combo.  In walks Golden Truth to talk about old times like the Carolina Connection and “that time in that car…”.  Golden Truth said they were happy to see them back but would issue a challenge to the winner of the title match tonight.  Matt said the match would be entertaining.

The panel hyped The Hardys vs. Sheamus and Cesaro, then Renee sent it to the Social Media Lounge with Sheamus and Cesaro to answer fan questions off of Twitter.  The questions focused on the match with the Hardys.  Sheamus commented on the “fading away” of the nostalgia of the Hardys’ return, which I might be happy to see.  They sold how they were there to win the titles.  The two engaged in some playful banter about who was better, but it wasn’t really all about them turning.  They closed by hyping partying in Europe.

With the panel, King said whales are going extinct while ants are fine, so size won’t matter.  Rosenberg and King both picked the Hardys to win, but Renee said Sheamus and Cesaro would win.

They hyped the House of Horrors match and fed it to a video package recapping the feud between Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt.  No mention of the title involved here, so, we’ll see.  I’m still really curious how the live crowd will react to the pre-taped part of this match.

FINALLY! We get some information.  Renee said it’s a no-holds barred match that will start in the “House of Horrors” then end in the ring by either pinfall, submission, or forfeiture.  That’s more than we’ve known to this point.   The panel discussed the match but did not make predictions.  Renee hyped WWE Network again.

Time for Miz TV.  The live crowd seemed to have a mixed reaction to Miz and Maryse as they came to the ring.  Cole called Miz a jewel that Raw picked up in the Superstar Shakeup.   Once the music came down the reaction seemed to be more boos than cheers.  Honestly, Miz gets more heat than most heels.  He called this a special Payback edition of Miz TV and welcomed Finn Balor to the ring.

Balor got a good reaction as he walked out in the leather jacket.  Cole hyped him as the “first ever Universal Champion” and Graves called him “James Dean cool and John Wayne tough.”  I like that statement – I might keep that in my pocket for other reasons.  Miz seemed disinterested as he watched the entrance.

Live crowd was really into Finn and chanted for him but Miz asked “are you done?”  He got upset about the length of the entrance by Balor and they responded with “yes” chants.  Crowd seems hot for this so far.  Miz asked what this was and Balor replied “this is Balor Club.”  Miz asked if he and Maryse could be in, and Balor put it to the people.  Resounding no.  “Sorry, Balor Club says ‘nope!'”

Miz called it a surface issue and Miz TV gets deep.  He said he wanted to get to Balor’s core if he had one.  He referenced Balor’s history and said wherever he went he became a champion and a star.  He referenced Balor’s stops in Europe, Japan, and Mexico and put him over as the longest reigning NXT Champion as well as being the first round draft pick.

He asked Balor, looking back on that year, if he felt like a failure.  Balor said only if considering his injuries he finished the Universal Championship match and won the title was considered a failure.  Miz said that Balor was champion for a day and failures relate to failures which is why the fans love him.  He said Balor is too small, then put himself over for holding the Intercontinental Championship.

Miz asked what’s next for Finn, and he said he would recapture his title.  “Exqueeze me?”  Miz asked if Balor knew who the champ was and Finn said he did.  Miz talked about Brock Lesnar and said Lesnar would break him in half.  Balor said he fought bigger men all his life and liked the odds.  Balor told Miz he could join two clubs – the Balor Club, which we know won’t happen, or the “Finn Balor just kicked my ass club.”  Miz put Maryse in between them, which drew a “Maryse is a brave woman” comment from Graves.

Balor told Miz that Miz TV always ends with him getting his ass kicked, but Balor wouldn’t do it “because you’re not worth it.”  Balor went to leave and Miz got upset that Balor closed.  Balor hit him with a slingblade then shotgun drop kicked him into the corner before leaving.  Booker said Miz TV got canceled.

The fans were into this segment.  It didn’t seem to overstay its welcome and Balor didn’t seem to get too overexposed on the mic.  I would be on board with a Balor/Miz story to get Balor reset as he looks to move forward after returning from injury.  I know they teased Balor/Wyatt too.  We’ll see which way they go.

The panel briefly talked about Reigns vs. Strowman, then ran down the entire card.  They circled back to close the show with discussion on Reigns vs. Strowman.  King said Reigns might not be able to stop the monster.

WWE “Payback”, Live from the SAP Center in San Jose, CA;

The show opened with a video package that recapped the various feuds on this show.  Pyro shot off and Cole, Graves and Booker checked in.  Cole said all scores would be settled and it’s the first pay per view in San Jose in ten years.  That explains the hotter crowd than normal.

Match #1 – Kevin Owens (c) vs. Chris Jericho; WWE United States Championship;

Winner:  Chris Jericho to win the WWE United States Championship.

The Reax:  Jericho came to the ring to a good reaction as the challenger.  The story is a continuation between the two going into Wrestlemania, with Jericho essentially getting a rematch in this one.  If he wins, he packs his bags to Smackdown too.  I’m interested in whether the crowd stays this hot all night as they were really into Jericho.  Owens got a mixed reaction and a whole new Tron package since they’re hyping him as “The Face of America.”  They introduced various foreign announce teams.

Graves said he was honored that “the face of America” was on a Raw branded event and Raw has been hollow since Owens left.  As normal, Owens bailed from the ring at the bell but Jericho retrieved him and roughed him up early on.  Jericho set up a move off the ropes to the floor but Owens rolled in, only to take a flying elbow once he stood up.

Jericho hit a running bulldog and called for the Lionsault but Owens rolled to the apron.  Jericho set up the jumping drop kick but Owens ran his face into the buckle (they sold it as the ring post) then hit him with a cannonball at ringside.  Owens returned to the ring as the official started the count.  The live crowd chanted “ten” with the count, but there’s no sign of Tye Dillinger in this match.  Jericho barely beat the count but took a back senton.

Owens slowed the pace down with rest holds while Cole ran down Jericho’s title accomplishments.  Booker T put himself over as doing many of the same things.  Jericho came back with a chop and a roll-up but ate a clothesline.  Cole said he didn’t want to lose Jericho from the Raw roster.  The way they keep pressing the “champion’s advantage” issue on commentary , it makes you wonder if they’re going to go with a dirty finish.  Big DDT from Owens for a near fall.

Owens wore Jericho down with a chinlock and Booker called him a prizefighter.  Jericho hit a couple chops and tried a corner splash but Owens moved, which sent Jericho to the floor.  Jericho struggled in at seven.  After some chopping, Owens threw Jericho to the apron but he landed there then went top rope where he hit a double axe handle.  He tried for the Walls, but Owens threw him off.

Jericho threw some chops then an Irish whip but Jericho took a superkick on the charge.  Near fall.  Owens set for the pop up powerbomb but Jericho held on. He tried the Codebreaker but Owens countered out again.  Moments later Owens hit a cannonball.

Owens looked for another pop up powerbomb but Jericho came up with a nice huracanrana counter that led to Jericho putting him in the Walls.  Owens struggled into the ropes and got a finger on them.  That was a decent callback to how Owens survived in the Wrestlemania match.  Jericho attacked the hand of Owens as a result, slamming it off the steps and kicking the steps while Owens’ hand was in there.

Jericho posed and Owens sold the pain.  The official didn’t see the thumb to the eyes and Owens rolled up for two.  That’s heel tactics – I have no issue with that.  Moments later, Owens tried for the pop up powerbomb again, but couldn’t get Jericho up because of the hand.  Nice sell.  Jericho locked in the Walls and Owens tapped out.  That’s not a finish I saw coming.  Jericho celebrated with the title and they recapped it.

Fozzy – Jericho’s rock band – goes on tour I believe starting May 5 or May 6, which is this coming weekend which has been publicized on social media and such.  So putting the title back on Jericho here seems very curious, but yet they can get themselves right back out of it on Tuesday if they want to.  I can easily see a write-off angle happening on Smackdown that gets the title off of him, but adds value to the broadcast Tuesday night.  The match was very good, and the live crowd was hot for it.

WWE Shop and WWE Network ads ran, then it was time for the Cruiserweight match.

Match #2 – Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries; WWE Cruiserweight Championship;

Winner:  Austin Aries by disqualification, Neville retains the championship

The Reax:  Aries got the entrance first, then Neville.  We’re sort of continuing the Wrestlemania feud here, but sort of not.  Aries won a Fatal Five-Way to win the right for this match.  Graves said Aries has an overabundance of confidence but Neville is on another level.  Neville’s music change was much needed in order to fit his heel persona and I’m in love with it.  Cole may have given his title run a kiss of death by listing how long he has had the title (91 days, since Royal Rumble).  Neville has a 6-0 pay per view streak.

Add to this a point that the commentary team mentioned – is Neville inside of Aries’ head after beating him at Wrestlemania?  After an early tie up, Aries hit an armdrag then Neville backed off to the corner.  They tied back up.  Seems like the crowd had settled in to watch this, rather than picking a side to cheer or boo – at least in the early going.  Aries used a fireman’s carry into a cover.

The two engaged in a good sequence of spots where Aries hit arm drags then Neville used a leg scissor.  Aries handstanded his way out and hit a low drop kick.  Neville backed off to a corner, and Aries posed on the corner.  The commentary team called that Aries’ cockiness.  Aries kept up the pressure, flying on Neville at ringside then going top rope.  Neville drop kicked the ropes and sent him crashing down awkwardly.  Neville took over.

After some stomps, Neville played to the fans to boos.  Neville continued to control the offense and drew some boos.  The fan reaction is shifting to Aries at this point.  Booker put Neville over for having a mean streak and has been going out and proving himself.  Neville went top rope for a drop kick for two.  The commentary team inexplicably compared Neville to Houston Rockets’ James Harden.

Neville started wasting time playing to the fans and taunting when he ate a kick from Aries that sent him to ringside.   Strike exchange ensues at the apron, then Aries tried a suplex into the ring.  Neville landed on his feet and threw a shot, then Aries hit chops.  He followed with an STO then the pendulum elbow, then a snapmare takedown into a flying elbow off the second rope.  Fans reacted to the two count.

This is a strong match so far as Neville worked into a headlock.  They worked at the ropes, with Aries hitting a reverse DDT thru the ropes and followed with a suicide dive.  Good near fall that the fans counted along to.  Aries looked for Last Chancery but Neville countered out.  Now the fans are split as they chanted for both men.

The action started to pick up, with Aries looking for a Discus Five Arm.  Neville countered out, then Aries avoided a move.  A bit later, Aries went top rope and Neville met him there.  Aries hit a sunset flip bomb and rolled it into the Last Chancery.  Aries sold tapping, but eventually grabbed at the official and tossed him over the two men.  The official threw the match out at that point.  Aries was disgusted but Neville got to keep his title.

Again, not a finish I expected.  Part of me felt like this was going to be the moment that the title would change hands.  That said, I think there is some mileage left in the feud and this gives the company an option to be able to go back to it one more time.  Aries has a legit complaint with how this finished off.  Logical from the booking standpoint.  I think they built nicely to a solid finish and suspect the booing was based on the heel cheating his way out.  Or at least that’s what I hope.

They ran a WWE Films ad then a Shinsuke Nakamura package.   The commentary team hyped the tag team match for next and fed it to a recap of the social media lounge segment featuring the challengers.

So far, a solid start to this show.  Two really great matches that I fully enjoyed and the crowd seems to be into it.  Let’s see if the trend continues.  Tag team championship next.  As Sheamus and Cesaro entered, they recapped some of the moments between the two teams leading into this.  Both teams got decent reactions when they entered, with the Hardys being the stronger of the two.

Match #3 – Matt and Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Sheamus and Cesaro; Raw Tag Team Championship

Winner:  Matt and Jeff Hardy to retain the Raw Tag Team Championship

The Reax:  Delete chants in full force before the bell here.  Will we see that gimmick eventually?  Hard to say.  There’s definitely some “Brother Nero” chants too.  Early tie up from Matt and Cesaro, who broke cleanly.  Matt used an arm breaker of the shoulder but Cesaro rolled him up.   Jeff tagged in and focused offense on Cesaro’s left arm.  Rapid tags early from the Hardys, with Jeff hitting Poerty in Motion.  Cole says it’s vintage.

Good match storytelling can involve a body part and that’s what the Hardys did early.  Sheamus tagged in and hit a rolling senton on Matt and they isolated Matt.  Cole talked about the things Sheamus has accomplished in WWE, but Booker says he needs his edge back.  Sheamus and Cesaro worked quick tags and isolated Matt.

Matt escaped a Sheamus move and tagged to Jeff.  He fired up and did his leg drop between the legs, covering for two.  Jeff went to work on the arm but got slung to ringside.  Nasty spill on the recap.  Cesaro fed him in and covered for two.  Cesaro hit a gutwrench suplex for two, then there’s double team offense before Sheamus threw a flying knee.  Another two count.

Fans rallied behind the Hardys as Jeff hit a jawbreaker.  Big kick from Sheamus that resonated hard – get that man a dentist!  Sheamus kept the striking offense up then tagged to Cesaro who hit a big leg drop for two.  Cesaro keeps proving his athleticism – just wish the company would see it as a singles talent.  Sheamus and Cesaro controlled Jeff with rapid tags.

Jeff continued to sell for Sheamus and Cesaro, but fought both of them off and hit a splash off the ropes to take both men out.  Cesaro locked on to Jeff to keep him from tagging but Jeff hit an enzugiri and tagged.  Matt fired up with headbutts to “delete” chants, then hit a bulldog.

There are shades of the “broken” gimmick throughout Matt’s work, so I’m really curious if that happens in WWE, and if they will get it right.  Matt hit the Side Effect and Jeff took Sheamus out at ringside.  Matt tried a moonsault a bit later but Cesaro moved, so Matt crashed and burned.  Cesaro hit a springboard uppercut, then it was time to go swinging.  20 swings later, Cesaro locked in the Sharpshooter.  Matt crawled to the ropes and Jeff gave a mild assist to get the rope to him.  Sheamus blasted Jeff at ringside.

Sheamus hit White Noise from the second rope, but Jeff saved the cover before three.  Jeff tried to take out Cesaro but Cesaro caught him.  Jeff dumped Cesaro over the barricade at ringside.  Sheamus tried for the Brogue Kick but Matt avoided.

Late, Sheamus countered out of a Twist of Fate attempt and sent Matt to the ropes.  Jeff blind tagged, Sheamus slammed Matt, but Jeff hit the Swanton for the win.  After, the four men stared each other down then shook hands.  They all posed together then Matt and Jeff celebrated with the titles before Cesaro and Sheamus returned to attack.  They roughed both men up at ringside, then fed Matt in and hit him with a Brogue Kick.  Sheamus and Cesaro posed with the belts then gave them to Matt and Jeff, who were laid out.

Heel turn much needed here.  The show of respect stuff is fine, but this was a part of the story telling it seemed.  They called it “frustration boiling over” on commentary.  Cole called it a pathetic display as they fed it to a recap.  I like it that we’re getting the next level of development to Sheamus and Cesaro, and the fans reacted to it with the way WWE wanted them to.  Let’s see if the company can keep it going for them.  Is this a gateway to bring back the “broken” gimmick.

Braun Strowman cut a promo on Reigns, saying he found the biggest mistake of his life.  He said the only thing Reigns would be looking for is for Strowman to put him out of his misery.

Alexa Bliss made her way to the ring for the title match.  They recapped the angle from Raw between Bayley and Alexa.   So far, the show is delivering on the merits of a hot crowd and good in-ring work.  The Jericho title win and the heel turn by Sheamus and Cesaro are newsworthy moments so far.

Match #4 – Bayley (c) vs. Alexa Bliss; Raw Women’s Championship

Winner: Alexa Bliss to win the Raw Women’s Championship

The Reax:  Alexa, for being the heel, got a nice reaction on her entrance.  Bayley got a big pop, since this is her hometown and all.  The story here really isn’t as much about the two in the ring as it is about Sasha Banks, as I see it.  Will Sasha come out and involve herself?  Will this set up a future story between her and Alexa, or heading to SummerSlam with Bayley?  Huge reaction to Bayley during the in-ring introductions.

Bayley controlled the early action, taking the offense to Alexa full on.  The commentary team talked about working in your hometown and the added pressure of being in front of family and friends.  Alexa responded to the early offense with a big kick that resonated hard.  Graves pulled out a year-old reference about Bliss being the Pittsburgh Penguins on this night with  how they took out the Sharks (who play in this arena).  That was last year’s Stanley Cup final, if you’re not familiar.

Bliss started to control the offense, getting a two count.  The official in the ring was the same one who was in the ring during the implosion between Big Show and Strowman and he was “hospitalized.”  Bliss continued to keep up the offense, taking advantage of referee counts where she can.  That’s heel work and it was drawing a reaction, if not all of the desired effect.  Fans rallied behind Bayley as Alexa locked in a chinlock.

Bliss kept up the pressure with a surfboard then slammed Bayley face-first to the apron outside.  Bliss spent too much time taunting, which let Bayley hit what looked like an RKO or a stunner through the ropes.  Bayley went on a run with her version of Snake Eyes and a running clothesline.   Side suplex netted her a two count.

Bayley threw a flying elbow from the second rope then set up the Bayley to Belly but Alexa threw her face first to the buckle.  Bliss went top rope, where Bayley met her with a forearm.  They’re doing fine here so far.  Bayley tried for the Bayley to Belly then used a sunset flip to get two.  Bliss got upset, then tripped Bayley down and hit double knees.  Bayley hit a running knee of her own.

Bayley goes top rope, looking for the Macho Elbow and delivering.  Good near fall.  Fans are getting into this action at this point and the match is picking up to a good pace.  Bliss slapped Bayley then Bayley started stomping away on her.  Bayley countered a sunset flip bomb by sitting down into a pinfall, but Bliss kicked her off.  Bayley went face first to the post.  Ouch.

Bliss taunted but Bayley rolled her up for a small package.  Bliss came back with a DDT for the win.  Bliss posed and wiped her feet on the mat as they ran a recap.  They hyped that Alexa made history by winning both the Raw and Smackdown women’s championships.

I have to wonder if Bayley legit got hurt.  She immediately grabbed her head when she hit the post, and it does beg the question.  It could have just been a good sell though.  They went home fast after that moment which is why I wonder.  Again, that’s a good heel move to capitalize on a moment like that.  But anyhow, a solid women’s match that delivered well especially down the stretch.  The fans were invested and enjoyed it, and reacted to the title change, which adds another newsworthy moment on this show.  Bliss showed her continued improvement in the ring in this match.  It says something that there were fans cheering the title change.  No Sasha, here, so a clean match.

They fed it to a video package hyping the Orton vs. Wyatt match, which was up next.

Match #5 – Randy Orton (c) vs. Bray Wyatt; House of Horrors Match;

Winner:  Bray Wyatt

The Reax:  JoJo did not call this a title match, so I assume the title is not on the line.  She clarified the rules, though, saying it would end in the ring with a pinfall, submission, or forfeiture.  Commentary didn’t get much time to talk as they went to the pre-taped portion.  Orton showed up to a house in a limo and surveyed the scene, asking “what the hell?”

I’m not sure how much of this I will recap in a play by play style.  It’s a very cinematic style piece in the early going, complete with creepy horror flick music and all.  Orton, who was wearing pants (which is somewhat shocking) kicked his way into the house and asked where Wyatt was.  Wyatt jumped him from behind with strikes and the brawl was on.

Wyatt said Orton took everything from him, so he would take everything from Orton.  Wyatt controlled the early brawl, striking at will.  Orton cut Wyatt off by hitting him with something glass (I missed it – laptop in the face and all) and Wyatt ran off.  Orton went looking, only to get goozled momentarily.  Orton escaped then went into a room where there were dolls hanging from the ceiling.  They filled in the creepy child voices.  That was campy.

Wyatt attacked, but Orton was able to fend him off momentarily.  Wyatt hit him with what looked like a crib (the “haunted house” lighting didn’t give me a good look).  Wyatt left, then Orton went after him yelling “where you at?”  Orton entered another room with more dolls, this time tied up in a teepee like structure.  He turned and left, entering the kitchen.

Wyatt ran in, so the brawl got started again.  Orton got the better of it, roughing Wyatt up against the sink.  This isn’t a wrestling match, this is a brawl.  They have the arena crowd muted out, so I have no idea how they’re responding to watching this unfold in front of them.  One has to believe they’re restless, but it’s hard to say.  Wyatt dumped a refrigerator on Orton.

Here’s a question I have – how do the two men sell this once it’s in the arena?  I mean, they’re beating the holy hell out of each other here.  Thankfully, no campy imagery so far, and no parlor tricks.  They’re just being street-fight physical.  Wyatt left the house and went out to the porch.  Wyatt fell to his knees and yelled “follow the buzzards” outside and laughed.

Wyatt staggered away and got in a waiting car.  Looks like we’re heading to the arena portion of this.  He laughed and told the driver to take him to the arena.  He sang “he’s got the whole world in his hands” as the car started to take off.

Cole checked in live, and there’s boos in the background.  He reminded us of the rules and said Orton has a refrigerator on him and Wyatt is in route.  So, are we getting a break between the two segments of the match?  Anyhow, the commentary team moved on and hyped Samoa Joe vs. Seth Rollins by feeding it to a video package.

Look below after the Rollins/Joe match for the conclusion.

Looks like we’re getting a match before the finish of the House of Horrors match, so, here we go to the next match.

Match #6 – Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe;

Winner:  Seth Rollins

The Reax: The story here is pretty simple – Samoa Joe nearly cost Rollins Wrestlemania, and Rollins defeated Joe’s “clientele” Triple H.  Rollins wants revenge for what Joe did to him, nearly costing him Wrestlemania.  Rollins got a decent reaction as the face.  Cole did acknowledge that the two are competing against each other for the second time.  The two met on the independents and Ring of Honor I believe.

Early dancing around and tie-ups.  Joe teased going after the knee, but Rollins fought out with chops.   Joe threw jabs.  They hyped the size difference between the two as Rollins hit a drop kick on Joe that sent him to ringside.  Rollins dove out on Joe and played to the crowd.  Rollins kept up the pressure momentarily, but Joe sent Rollins into the timekeeper area.  Rollins flew off the barrier into Joe.

The two worked back to the ring, and Rollins teased another top rope move so Joe ducked outside.  Rollins hit him with a pair of suicide dives.  Joe started to move his focus to the bad knee of Rollins, then Joe hit a suicide dive of his own.  Some “Joe” chants, but the fans seemed to have just settled in to watch.  The two exchanged strikes, then Joe hit a leg sweep low at the knees.

Joe continued to focus offense on the bad knee.  This is what heels do, and it’s smart offense by Joe.  Back senton by Joe onto the knee, then a sinister smile.  The two exchanged strikes, then Joe sent Rollins to the corner followed with an enzugiri.  Joe picked Rollins up and threw some jabs and chops as they fought in the corner.  Rollins rolled out of the way of a charge.

Rollins threw clotheslines that didn’t send Joe to the mat.  He followed with corner splashes and a neckbreaker that got some applause.   Rollins went top rope but Joe caught him and hit what commentary called a “knee capper.”  Joe went to the knee bar.  Rollins struggled and got to the ropes to break it.

Joe kept the pressure on as fans started to rally behind Rollins.  Joe slingshot Rollins up, and Rollins landed on his feet.  Joe hit a powerbomb then went into a half crab that Joe transitioned into a cloverleaf.  The story is all in the knee right now, and if they wanted to have Joe win then this is the out for Rollins that his leg couldn’t hang in there.

Joe set up something in the corner but Rollins hit a couple of forearm shots then a slingblade.  The fans woke up for that.  Rollins avoided a splash then hit an enzugiri and a blockbuster for two.  Rollins sold his knee again.  The pacing is slow here, but methodical which makes sense for the character of Joe being vicious.  Joe tried another back senton to the knee but Rollins rolled away and then hit a low superkick for two.

Rollins went top rope but Joe crotched him then went up with him.  Rollins tried to set up a powerbomb but the leg didn’t hold.  He followed with a Falcon Arrow that drew an “ooh” given the size disparity.  Rollins followed with a frog splash for a good near fall that the crowd reacted to.  Both men sold.

Strike exchange ensued and Rollins hit a jumping kick.  Joe locked in a sleeper  but Rollins escaped.  Joe met him with a shot that turned Rollins inside out.   The commentary team said Joe didn’t get all of the hold.  Joe was able to get it the second time though.  Rollins rolled Joe over to the mat though with what looked like a fireman’s carry into a pinfall attempt and scored the win.

Well, that was a surprise if only because I thought they would go with a dirty finish in order to keep the story going.  I don’t think, given how much offense Joe got here and how he looked so dominant, he was hurt by this.  All it could take is one strong attack by Joe on tomorrow’s Raw broadcast and turn this all back around.  A solid match between the two that wasn’t loaded up with big crowd popping moments and such, but I think it told the kind of story they were looking to tell.

More WWE Network ads.  If this is airing on the PPV and trying to convince fans to change platforms, fine – but I don’t need to see it.

Looks like we’re picking up the balance of the House of Horrors match.  The limo that brought Wyatt to the arena showed up backstage, and Wyatt struggled through the backstage area.  Commentary said we’ve not seen Orton since Wyatt dumped the refrigerator on him and a forfeiture is coming.  As Wyatt made his way to the ring, they recapped the brawl from the house.

Wyatt did a good job of selling the beating from the house as he walked to the ring.  Graves said that Wyatt delivered in that he is in the ring and Orton is nowhere to be found.  Boos for Wyatt as he posed.  Orton jumped in the ring with a chair, and this fight is back on.  Orton beat Wyatt with a chair then roughed him up all over ringside, dumping him over the commentary position.

Orton hit the hanging DDT off the commentary table.  Crowd starts a “we want tables” chant (I think).   Orton continued to press the offense, holding on to his left arm.  More chair shots to the back.  The fight spilled back inside and Orton got some cheers for posing.  He coiled to strike with the RKO, but here comes the Singh Brothers.

Orton disposed of them pretty easily, but Wyatt set up for Sister Abigail.  Orton countered and hit the RKO.  Jinder Mahal jumped in the ring and hit Orton with the title and hit him twice with his own title belt.  Wyatt hit Sister Abigail, watching Mahal as he did.  Wyatt picked up the victory.

This makes sense, actually, even if it wasn’t the strongest reaction from the crowd.  Wyatt is on Raw now, not Smackdown, so this feud has to end so this is a way to do it.  Wyatt finally gets to go over in a feud that, while may not have been the best executed, means something because of who Orton is.  Mahal is the next contender for Orton, so they need to build that match as they head to Backlash on May 21, and this is a way to get that story moving.  Thankfully, not too much campiness and dumbness to this match and aside from the cinematic stuff at the house, it felt pretty much like a street fight or hardcore brawl.

They hyped Shinsuke Nakamura wrestling at Backlash on May 21, then moved on to hype the main event, which is Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns.  Sitting here watching the video, it’s validation that WWE has seemed to handle Braun Strowman pretty well so far and have built him up.  Turn WWE’s production team loose and they can make anyone look good.

Match #7 – Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns;

Winner:  Braun Strowman

The Reax:  Strowman was fired up coming to the ring.  Cole hyped Raw Talk for after the pay per view.  Boos pretty strong as Strowman’s music died down, then fired up as Reigns’ music hit.  He emerged bandaged up to sell the issues from Strowman’s previous beatdown.  Strowman smiled as Cole recapped all of the damage Strowman caused.  Booker put Reigns over for walking down there even with Strowman out there.

Reigns didn’t wait, throwing strikes before the bell, then kept the pressure up by hitting a flying clothesline off the steps.  Reigns went for a Drive By, but Strowman caught him and threw him.  He followed with a chokeslam on the commentary table.  Reigns threw a clothesline but no effect.  Strowman picked up the offense in the face of dueling “Let’s go Roman” “Roman Sucks” chants.

Strowman focused on Reigns’ injuries, locking a hammerlock on and throwing him shoulder first to the post.  Reigns fell to ringside.  Smart strategy for the monster Strowman.  He kept up the pressure, throwing Reigns into the steps.  Cole put Reigns over for being one of the toughest in WWE, but Graves called this an unwinnable situation.  Booker T said Reigns has to defend his yard on a weekly basis.

Strowman continued the onslaught, getting a near fall after a clothesline.  Strowman locked in a midsection hold to wear Reigns down, and the commentary team hyped the injuries and how the hold had an effect on them.  More dueling chants for/against Reigns.   Reigns fought to his feet then sidestepped charges from Strowman.

Reigns threw a clothesline that had little effect, then tried for a Superman punch but Strowman caught him.  Moments later, Reigns hit a big Samoan drop but Strowman kicked out so strong that Reigns landed on his feet.  Impressive, and the commentary team sold it in line with Roman’s injuries.  Moments later, both men tumbled to ringside.

Strowman fed Reigns in but Reigns rolled through and ran back around to hit the Drive By.   Reigns called for the spear but Strowman caught him and tried a powerslam.  Reigns escaped and ran Strowman to the post.  One of the things that the commentary team noted was that the official was giving a lot of leeway here, but had no choice but to start the count.

Strowman slid in to beat the count but Reigns met him with a spear for a good near fall.   Both men sold, and the commentary team asked if this was his last shot.  Reigns called for a spear again but Strowman caught him and set for a powerbomb but Reigns escaped and hit two Superman punches.

Moments later Strowman locked in his standing triangle, then hit a running powerslam.  Good near fall, and Strowman was shocked.  Strowman picked Reigns up and hit a second running powerslam for the win.  A big and meaningful win for Strowman here…more on that in a moment.  Strowman left while Reigns sold, but he grabbed the steps and tossed them in.  Cole noted that Reigns cost him victories before.

More officials ran to ringside to stop him, and Booker said he didn’t like this.  I think something ugly’s going to happen here too, but we’ll see.  “Thank you Strowman” chants rise up.   Strowman dropped Reigns on the steps while the commentary team recapped earlier action. Strowman held the steps, then slammed them into Reigns chest.  Male fans cheered, some booed, then agents went to ringside and chased him out.  Reigns sold in the ring as Strowman posed at the stage.

Cole sold panic and concern and demanded where the EMT’s were while trainers and officials tended to Reigns.  They showed the step shot again, and Graves said he enjoys watching Strowman but this crossed the line.  Reigns struggled from the ring to boos.  Fans chanted “you deserve it” while Reigns walked, assisted, up the ramp.

Reigns made it to the commentary position but down on the floor, and EMT’s arrived.  Reigns said he wasn’t getting on the stretcher and walked toward the back as the show ended.

My initial thought here was that they’d go to a dirty finish or some sort of no-finish (double count out, double disqualification, etc.) in order to either move the story on or just keep both guys’ momentum going.  Strowman has been the unstoppable monster, and Reigns just beat the Undertaker – so it was curious as to what they would do.  A lot of people may have expected a LOLROMANWINS moment, but that didn’t happen.

But Strowman instead comes out of this looking really strong for beating the man who beat the Undertaker, and Reigns has the out of not being 100 percent going into the match so Strowman didn’t get the best version of Reigns.  The rumor flying around is that Strowman will go against Lesnar at some point, so you need to keep him in a dominant position as much as is possible.  The match itself was nothing special, really, but was sold well in that Reigns had his hope spots against a guy who was otherwise unstoppable.

I really can’t say too much that was bad about this pay per view, really.  I think there were a lot of things that made sense to do (like the Strowman situation or the heel turn by Cesaro and Sheamus) and we got some newsworthy moments such as Alexa Bliss winning the title from Bayley and Chris Jericho winning back the US Championship.  Overall, the show felt well wrestled and the crowd seemed into most of the show, so that helped out quite a bit.

The Superstar Shakeup didn’t really help this event in the build-up and I wonder if it would have made more sense to wait until after it to shake things up when there’s more time to build to the Smackdown pay per view than rush into the Raw side.  I guess it was a “no time is better than the present” mentality by booking, and here we are.

The biggest thing to all of this is how they follow it up, and we’ll find that out starting tomorrow on Raw.  I’ll be back for that coverage tomorrow night at 8PM EST.  Thanks for hanging around tonight.

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About Bill Wentz (1520 Articles)
Ring-Rap.com's Senior Columnist, writing with the site since 2009 and a lifelong wrestling fan dating all the way back to the early Wrestlemania years. As a strongly opinionated fan, you can get my thoughts regularly on Ring Rap Audio and Around the Ring on Thursdays, as well as in "Wentz's Blog" in print. Look for my live show reports as well for MMA, WWE, ROH, and more. Outside of wrestling, I have a strong obsession with trucks, winning awards statewide with a truck dubbed the "Brahma Bull Edition." Interact with me on Twitter @Bill_SoonerFan or by email at bwentz@ring-rap.com

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