Hello wrestling fans and welcome to another edition of Slammer Jabber. This week we take a look back at the events of WWE Payback from this past Sunday, the fallout on Raw and Smackdown, plus a surprising new prospective owner for the National Wrestling Alliance. Lets get started with WWE Payback, a surprisingly good show.
Despite the lack of enthusiasm from many fans going in, overall WWE Payback was a very solid show with most of the in-ring delivering good matches across the board with one notable exception. We'll get to that in a minute.
First of all, we had a cracking main event between Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman which made Strowman look like an absolute beast. I know I say this week in and week out, but good lord Strowman is fantastic. Reigns was coming in injured having been off TV for a few weeks selling the ambulance attack, which helped but Strowman did really well here. The post-match attack looked really good, and the angle that spilled over into Raw Talk with the backstage assault and the ambulance makes me think we're getting an ambulance match at the next Raw PPV, which I believe is Extreme Rules. A really solid main event here.
Further down the card, I really enjoyed the two title changes. Alexa Bliss going over Bayley was a surprise, although the fact it was in Bayley's home town perhaps should have signalled that, given WWE seem to have a real aversion to people winning in front of their biggest supporters. The match itself was very good, and the chemistry between Bayley and Bliss was far better than I expected it to be. Bliss winning the belt and becoming the first person to win both Raw and Smackdown Women's belts, rather than any of the "Four Horsewomen" was a nice touch too. Chris Jericho beating Kevin Owens was a big surprise as this was rumoured to be Jericho's last show before he heads off with Fozzy for a while, so it certainly came out of nowhere that he made Owens tap out. More on this later when we get to Smackdown, obviously, but a nice moment for Jericho.
The Hardys vs Sheamus & Cesaro was a fun tag match, and I enjoyed the post-match turn from Sheamus & Cesaro, it should hopefully breathe new life into them as heels and make for a more interesting dynamic to this feud other than mutual respect. Seth Rollins vs Samoa Joe was a good battle, not the best match I've very seen but it made both look strong, and gives them somewhere to go after with both moving forward, while Austin Aries and Neville had easily the best match of the night despite the screwy ending.
A good show overall, and one that...oops sorry I almost forgot about the House of Horrors match. Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt was gloriously terrible, poorly thought out and yet weirdly captivating for me. I appreciate that is a divisive stance on a match that many people absolutely hated, but I weirdly enjoyed it. There's no getting away from the fact it was insane, and in no way good, but it certainly entertained me. From Orton getting out of a limo topless and seeing Wyatt upside down in the upstairs window, as well as a tractor driving itself backwards I knew I was watching something pretty special. The match itself was a slightly rubbish brawl attempting to recreate some sort of sub-Rob Zombie effect in what was supposed to be a dingy house, that actually didn’t look that bad. Eventually, after some strange brawling including using pots and pans we got Wyatt throwing a Fridge on Orton and leaving, in the limo that Orton arrived in. Now, given Wyatt is seemingly able to teleport, why would he need the limo. More so, it was never explained how Orton beat him back to the arena, why it was dark at the house when it was early evening in the local area where the show was being held, or exactly what the rules of this match were. I disliked the finish with Jinder Mahal and The Singh Brothers, but I appreciate why it happened, although Wyatt using their help seemed odd. Basically this whole match was a bit mad, and although it lacked the camp value of something like The Final Deletion, I enjoyed how absolutely crazy, and completely ill-advised this was by WWE standards.
Payback was a very enjoyable show all in all, and while the House of Horrors match is probably the big talking point I enjoyed the show, and it certainly showed the WWE are doing very well in terms of the in-ring stuff. Now just to sort that pesky booking out.
I find it hard to believe I'm even thinking this in 2017, but somehow Dean Ambrose was the star of the show for me on Raw this week. He managed to walk a fine line between goofy and funny, and still came out of it looking good. His faux backstage interviewing was genuinely funny without feeling overly scripted, and his involvement in the Seth Rollins and Finn Balor segment pushing the importance of the Intercontinental Title as the main belt on Raw actually did really well in terms of elevating the title, especially while Brock Lesnar is off shooting things until July. Balor and Rollins both came across well here, as did The Miz (which goes without saying) and I massively enjoyed Miz ripping Rollins about his "Seth Freakin Rollins" nickname, well overdue. The match itself for the main event was really enjoyable with all three guys putting a good shift in here. The Bray Wyatt interference was predictable but gives Balor something to do until Lesnar is ready for him which is fine with me, even if I have my misgivings about all the potential spooky stuff with Wyatt and Balor. Equally I'm happy to see Samoa Joe and Seth Rollins continue, as I feel there are still legs in that programme, especially with a stipulation match in the coming weeks. A nice reset for the Raw upper mid-card, and a good set up for the next few weeks. Speaking of Bray Wyatt, his back and forth with Kurt Angle was good, if not a bit unnecessary unless it is going somewhere down the road. I suspect it was just to establish Bray as one of the top heels on the brand, but I'm not sure if taking out Finn in the main event wasn’t enough to make that happen.
I very much enjoyed the opening segment with the whole Raw women's division for Alexa Bliss's coronation. It nicely set her up with future matches against Sasha Banks, teased a feud with Nia Jax, and of course the rematch with Bayley which shows how much the division has benefited from the Superstar shake-up. The ensuing match was fine for what it was with Alexa again getting the pin on Bayley to further cement her as champion. I'm really looking forward to seeing where this goes in the coming weeks as this has been a real shot in the arm for the division.
The rest of the show was fairly uneventful really. Sheamus & Cesaro's explanation for turning on The Hardys and subsequent confrontation was standard, if not exceptional; Ap0ollo Crews vs Heath Slater was a nothing match, as was Enzo Amore vs Luke Gallows which both seem like pure filler. Austin Aries vs TJ Perkins was a fine cruiserweight bout, as was Jack Gallagher, Rich Swann & Akira Tozawa vs The Brian Kendrick, Tony Nese and Noam Dar but it really didn’t offer anything to get invested in.
A decent show, but nothing special, although perhaps hurt by the lack of Roman Reigns or Braun Strowman.
The blue brand continued this week with the arrival of Chris Jericho. The opening segment building up a potential match with AJ Styles was a nice touch especially as it gave a rub to Styles, and the interaction with Kevin Owens provided a nice link between the two. The actual match between Owens and Jericho was very good, arguably better than their contest at Payback. The post match was vicious and a great way to send Jericho off for a few months, and allows them to do abig return against Owens further down the line, while also making Owens seem even more like the top heel on Smackdown. Well done all round.
The women's division is also looking increasingly interesting after this week's show. The backstage ambush of Charlotte by Tamina, Carmella, and Natalya was really well done and set up a nice babyface role for Naomi before Charlotte came to the rescue. Obviously the involvement of Becky Lynch is interesting and while the heel turn tease was well done, I'm glad she is evening the odds as it sets up a nice dynamic between the two sides moving forward, even if it did end with the heels standing tall.
The rest of the show was very enjoyable. The Breezango skit was really well done, and even if it's not necessarily the intention will definitely end with them being babyfaces for the match with The Usos at Backlash. Tye Dillinger vs Aiden English was a fine short TV match and did a bit more to help with developing English now he's on his own. Dolph Ziggler vs Sin Cara was a good way to build up Ziggler for his match with Shinsuke Nakamura at Backlash, and they are wisely keeping Nakamura out of the ring until then to make it a big deal, which makes sense. Finally we had Jinder Mahal beating Sami Zayn which was helpful in building Jinder up as a threat to Orton, but it doesn't much help Zayn. Also, I'm surprised that Orton didn't get involved here, given Mahal cost him the match against Bray Wyatt at Payback, but I suppose he was selling the beating he took in the House of Horrors.
A good show this week, absolutely flew by and felt really fresh and impactful.
Great Balls of Fire
WWE have generally got a fairly good track record with naming their big monthly shows. Even the smaller shows like Payback, Battleground, Unforgiven, Backlash, Judgement Day, No Mercy etc are all very much within the theme of combat that WWE theoretically, or at least form a storyline perspective conforms to. That said, this week we got the news that the July Raw brand PPV will be changing its name from Battleground to, ahem, Great Balls of Fire. Yes, you read that correctly, Great Balls of Fire. If I'm honest, I can't fathom the logic here unless WWE have licensed the rights to the song and want to cash in on it. If you thought it was painful watching various performers crowbar "Payback" into promos, then imagine what it'll be like for this show. With Brock Lesnar due to defend his Universal title on this show, I have to imagine that Paul Heyman will legitimately have to say "Great Balls of Fire", completely seriously, in trying to sell this show, which could be brilliant or an absolute disaster. If there was ever a bit of news that played into the idea that Vince McMahon does a number of things to amuse himself, this is certainly it.
Billy Corgan to buy the NWA (not the band)
You might have thought that Billy Corgan's bitter experience with Dixie Carter, Impact Wrestling, and Anthem would have put him off getting involved with a wrestling company for good. However, the Smashing Pumpkins frontman is tenacious if nothing else, as he now appears to be in the process of purchasing the rights to the NWA. No not that one, the National Wrestling Alliance. Now the confusing history of the NWA has been the source of many articles, books, headaches and arguments over the years, but it has certainly been devalued and separated from the WCW portion of its lineage and these days it doesn’t amount to a huge amount. Still, you have to think Corgan has a plan and some financial backing as well as a potential TV deal up his sleeve or there is no way he'd be investing in this, or at least you’d hope.
Well that is it for me this week, I'll be back next week with more of the fallout from Payback, the various happenings from Raw, Smackdown and whatever news breaks in the world of professional wrestling in the next seven days. Keep it locked here at Screenjabber for all the best movie, Blu-ray, DVD and video game reviews, as well as all the latest news, podcasts and more. Until next time, so long folks.