WWE presented their first pay-per-view since WrestleMania on Sunday night and even though it was built up to be a lackluster event, the WWE Universe expected much more from the event as a whole and the matches included in the show. Payback did have its own fair share of shocks and surprises, but once again it seems that the actual show failed to live up to the hype and the WWE Universe were surprised by just how underwhelming the event actually was.
The Superstar Shakeup was the main reason for many of the problems with the build up to Payback, but WWE could easily have saved the event in the weeks leading up to it, but chose to allow many of the matches to go forward despite the fact that they made no sense when different stars had made the switch to different brands.
The good thing about Payback now is that it’s in the rearview mirror and WWE can learn from it. Even though there were some obvious issues with the show, there are also a few positives.
The following is a list of ten things that WWE got wrong at Payback and five that they probably managed to get right when it comes to looking at the bigger picture.
15. Wrong: Where Was Dean Ambrose?
Dean Ambrose has recently made the switch over to the Raw Brand thanks to the Superstar Shakeup a few weeks ago and it seems that WWE made the decision to not include the current Intercontinental Championship on the first Raw pay-per-view since WrestleMania.
This means that there were only two Raw Championships on the line at Payback, with the United States Championship heading over to SmackDown and Brock Lesnar holding the Universal Championship hostage somewhere. Ambrose should have been part of the show, even if it was a continuation of his feud with The Miz, he was a definite miss throughout the event. WWE could have easily rectified this.
14. Wrong: Did Matt Hardy Blade?
This was something that was picked up on social media last night. Matt Hardy was already bleeding before he received a Brogue Kick from Sheamus at the end of the match between The Hardyz and Sheamus when Cesaro and the Celtic Warrior finally turned heel and attacked their opponents.
Hardy had a lot of blood on his forehead after the kick when the camera found him on the canvas and it’s thought that Hardy may have bladed. As of yet, there is no viral video proving whether or not Hardy did decide to bleed from the kick, in a match where his brother lost a tooth, but if he did then it is definitely a questionable decision, to say the least.
13. Right: Alexa Bliss As Raw Women’s Champion
Alexa Bliss made history at Payback when she became the first woman to win both the SmackDown and the Raw Women’s Championships. It was a fantastic match between Bayley and Alexa that shockingly ended with Alexa knocking Bayley headfirst into the ring post and then hitting the DDT to win the title for the first time.
Sasha Banks’ interference was something that many fans expected, but it seems that the plug was pulled on this and The Boss never appeared to help her friend. Monday Night Raw is now ready for the reign of Bliss, and it could be one of the most interesting Raw Women’s Championship reigns to date.
12. Wrong: House Of Horrors Match
The WWE Universe expected something close to TNA’s The Final Deletion when Bray Wyatt invited Randy Orton to the House of Horrors for what is expected to be their final showdown. Orton walked into a house that was full of creepy objects and a tractor that was running on its own.
There was a room that was full of baby dolls that were tied to the ceiling and when the duo finally brawled into the kitchen Randy had a refrigerator dropped on top of him. The fight then came back into the WWE arena after a long drive back in a limo for Bray, but the thought of many of the WWE Universe right now is that the match itself was a letdown, but why were the expectations so high to begin with?
11. Wrong: Why Was The Limo Driving In The Dark?
When the House of Horrors match was broadcast on WWE TV, it said that it was LIVE, but it wasn’t the biggest give away was the fact that it was still daylight in San Jose when the limo was driving down the road in the dark.
Given how fast Bray managed to get back to the arena, it can’t have been very far away either, which means that the entire segment had obviously been prerecorded and edited while WWE were trying to tell the WWE Universe that it was actually live. There were many other giveaways throughout the embarrassing match, but this was the biggest fall through of WWE’s plotline, with Dave Meltzer himself tweeting that it was still daylight in San Jose when Randy and Bray were in the dark.
10. Right: The Hardyz Retained The Raw Tag Team Championships
The Hardyz won the Raw Tag Team Championships when they made their shock return to WWE back at WrestleMania and many of the WWE feared that, much like when they made a brief appearance in Ring of Honor and won the Tag Team Championships, it would only be for a few weeks.
Payback proved that The Hardyz are in it for the long haul this time when the real life brothers retained their Championships against the team of Cesaro and Sheamus in what was actually a decent match. It is a match that WWE has been building for the past few weeks and one that the WWE Universe had overlooked, but luckily, it seems that it followed through with the hype.
9. Wrong: Chris Jericho As U.S. Champion
Chris Jericho is leaving WWE following this week’s Monday Night Raw, so why does it make sense for him to be defeating Kevin Owens to become United States Champion? Jericho has to be at a gig with Fozzy on Friday to begin their tour, so it makes no sense allowing him to become a two-time Champion and sending him to SmackDown.
Unless Jericho loses the Championship on Raw and then is fired from the WWE, or there’s a loophole that WWE can allow Kevin Owens to use against him, it’s a confusing one. Only time will tell, but this could easily become one of the worst decisions of the night.
8. Wrong: Jinder Mahal Becoming Involved In Orton’s Match
Jinder Mahal took Orton’s Championship on SmackDown this week and has been gallivanting all over the city ever since. Jinder has the upper hand, there was nothing for him to come back for and get interfered in Bray’s match.
Bray is a Raw superstar so he wouldn’t want to help him, it just feels like another pointless person interfering in Bray’s match because WWE is reluctant to give him a clean win. Bray deserved to win that match clean and it was going well until Jinder and The Bollywood Boys decided to interfere. This added nothing to the build up to Orton’s match either, since Jinder didn’t really need to become involved.
7. Right: Braun Strowman Defeated Roman Reigns
Over the past few months, WWE have booked Braun Strowman like a beast, but it was thought that Braun would come face to face with Roman Reigns once again and it would be very similar to when they duo collided for the first time at Fastlane back in March.
Braun deserved the win and WWE obviously felt the same way as they allowed Braun to get the upper hand in what was shockingly the main event of the night. Roman wasn’t in great shape after the match and WWE still allowed the fight to go into the backstage area. Braun attempted to attack Roman once again, but this time Roman had it well scouted and it worked really well. It was one of the best moments of the entire pay-per-view.
6. Wrong: Austin Aries Deserved To Win The Cruiserweight Championship
Austin Aries is a TNA legend. He’s already made his mark in WWE over the past few months and it seemed as though he was going to take the Cruiserweight Championship from Neville at Payback after weeks of their back and forth rivalry that has also included many other members of 205 Live.
Neville once again decided to use some different tactics and managed to retain his Championship but it did mean that Aries won via DQ which gives him a rematch. It was a great way to prolong the feud, but this felt like it was Aries’ best chance to finally lift a WWE Championship. It seems that this match will be taking place at the next WWE pay-per-view as well.
5. Wrong: Enzo and Cass Defeated The Club
Enzo and Cass have been a strange team ever since they were promoted to the main roster. They haven’t won a Championship in WWE as of yet and it seems that they are just floating around the mid-card waiting for a chance.
The Club are former Tag Team Champions, and there are rumours that they could be about to team back up with Finn Balor to recreate The Bullet Club and the last thing they needed was a defeat to a team like Enzo and Cass, who are in a much worse position than them on the WWE card. Hopefully, WWE finds a way to spin this in The Club’s favour and send them back after The Hardyz at some point, but right now it’s hard to see how Gallows and Anderson can climb out of this current rut.
4. Right: Seth Rollins Defeated Samoa Joe
The Architect finally got his hands on Samoa Joe after what had been a crazy few months for the former World Champion. Joe had almost cost Seth Rollins his chance at revenge against Triple H at WrestleMania so this match had easily become personal.
The match itself saw Joe target the knee of Rollins again and Rollins sold the injury well throughout the match and even managed to reverse the same clutch that caused him injury a few months ago to pin Joe’s shoulders to the mat for the three count. The only issue was the fact that one of Joe’s shoulders was actually up at the time.
3. Wrong: Why Wasn’t Finn Balor In An Actual Match?
Finn Balor appeared on The pre-show to tell The Miz and the WWE Universe that he was going after Brock Lesnar and the Universal Championship he never lost. The problem was that he wasn’t in a match so he couldn’t send a message. The most Finn could do was deliver a slingblade to Miz to show Brock that he was ready.
Finn hasn’t had a great return to WWE after suffering a concussion a few weeks ago. Maybe this was one of the reasons why WWE felt the need to keep him out of a match at the first Raw pay-per-view of the new WWE calendar, but it made the show lackluster. Payback needed someone like Finn on the card in a better position than on Miz TV on the kick off show.
2. Wrong: Why Wasn’t The Universal Championship Defended?
Leading in from number three, Brock Lesnar wasn’t there to defend the biggest title on Monday Night Raw at Payback either. WWE knew what they were getting themselves into when they decided to give the title to Brock at WrestleMania, so the WWE Universe shouldn’t be surprised by his part-time ways at this point.
It has been announced as well that Brock’s first title defence will actually be in July, which is incredible considering he won the Championship last month. The biggest title on the brand should be on the line at every event, and Brock should never have been given the belt in the first place if he can’t defend it.
1. Right: Cesaro And Sheamus Heel Turn
After weeks of showing sportsmanship to The Hardyz and apparently stating that they respected them, Payback showed that Cesaro and Sheamus had had enough of the veterans and decided that it was time to take a stand.
After shaking hands with The Hardyz when they had retained the Tag Team Championship, Cesaro and Sheamus returned to the ring to ambush Matt and Jeff and hit Matt with a brutal superkick. This rivalry has finally picked up pace and Payback was the perfect place for this to happen. It will be easier for the WWE Universe to get behind this kind of rivalry moving forward now that it’s face and heel rather than face versus face.