Kevin Owens v. Chris Jericho – U.S. Championship Match
Solid match between the two former best friends. It was a lot better than the one that they had in Wrestlemania. I expected Kevin Owens to win this match considering that Chris Jericho is going on tour with his band this summer. But lo and behold, Jericho actually won the match. After Kevin Owens repeated the touching the ropes with one finger, Jericho went berserk and started beating on Owens’ hand. I thought this was a nice touch and helped explain why Owens couldn’t pull off certain moves later.
Neville v. Austin Aries – Cruiserweight Championship
These two always put on solid matches with one another so this one was no surprise. What made the match was the surprise ending. It was clear that Neville was going to lose after being put into a submission hold. So what did he do? Well assault the referee to get disqualified. So technically Austin Aries won the match but since you can’t win a title due to disqualification, Neville retained. It was a good solid way to keep Neville as a heel and extend the feud between the two.
The Hardy Boyz v. Cesaro & Sheamus – Raw Tag Team Championship
A face versus face match that has been brewing over the past few weeks with distrust between the two teams. This was one of the best matches of the night as all four competitors were giving it their all. There was also some not so subtle “Broken” Matt Hardy going on. There might still be a lawsuit going on for the rights for the gimmick. While Matt wasn’t full on Broken, he was shouting “Delete” and calling Jeff “Nero”. The Hardy Boyz ended up with the victory and and Jeff with a missing tooth. Despite the two teams ending up on mutual respect, Sheamus and Cesaro turned heel by attacking the Hardy’s after. With The Revival out for injury, the tag division needs new heels and they stepped up. This all might be the start to the Hardy’s becoming broken.
Bayley v. Alexa Bliss – Raw Women’s Championship
The biggest surprise of the night. Alexa Bliss beating Bayley to become the Raw Women’s Champion and the first Raw/Smackdown Women’s Champion. Alexa Bliss isn’t the best in ring worker but she certainly stepped up to compete with Bayley. The two had a really good match with Alexa being the opportunist. A ring move where Alexa kicked out and sent Bayley flying into the ring post and thus leaving her dizzy. The ref showed concern for Bayley but Alexa screaming out, “She’s fine!” while beating on her was the highlight for me. With hints about Sasha turning heel to face Bayley have been brewing for a while, this is a new wrinkle in the proceedings.
Bray Wyatt v. Randy Orton – House of Horrors
Here we go, the strangest match of the night. The first half was a pre-taped portion (in Missouri while the actual event was in California) was set in a dilapidated house full of spooky imagery. This segment wasn’t bad, at least to me, but the overly produced look did it no favors. But the second half which took place in the ring where Randy despite being left in the house managed to get there at the same time as Bray was interesting. Of course just as Randy looked like he was going to win, he was attacked by Jinder Mahal and The Singh Brothers. This managed to get Bray the win while heating up the feud between Orton and Mahal. It was an interesting match but not one I’d like to see again any time soon.
Seth Rollins v. Samoa Joe
A solid match between two solid performers. There was nothing really much to this match other than what was mentioned. Rollins managed to get the win due to some trickery on his part. This was a match I could see going any way. But with Rollins beating Joe, it is a way to keep this feud going between the two. The look Joe gave Rollins at the end just screamed that this would continue for at least a few more months.
Roman Reigns v. Braun Strowman
The grudge match between Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman continued. Reigns really selling the injury (at least as much as he could) helped the match move along. He did certainly look battered but his kayfabe injuries would totally make him immobile and especially doing the things he was doing. Strowman destroyed Reigns by the end and even continued beating on him afterwards. Ending with Reigns spitting up blood. Reigns and Strowman have a really good chemistry with one another as both their matches so far have been good and their storyline of not liking one another is believable. The aftershow knocked the wind out of the match with Braun looking like a buffoon but the actual match was good between them
WWE Payback Score: “B”
The event moved along at a good pace with little to no filler. The House of Horrs match messed up the flow but it didn’t take away too much. There also was little to no “wow” moments but that didn’t hurt it from being entertaining on a solid level.
The WWE just underwent a “Superstar Shake Up” a draft that was not a draft. WWE logic. So certain people who were on the Raw brand got moved to Smackdown and vice versa. Unfortunately Smackdown did lose Dean Ambrose, Alexa Bliss and The Miz. I like Dean but they didn’t know what to do with him despite being the Intercontinental Champion. The Miz seemed to having a resurgence in his career thanks to the brand split. No one on Smackdown could compare to his mic skills. Alexa Bliss is a rising star who’s already been champion twice and with no one to feud with.
But what did Smackdown gain? Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, The New Day, Rusev, Charlotte Flair, Tamina Snuka and Lana. Kevin Owens was my favorite wrestler on Raw with great mic skills and equal talent in the ring. Sami Zayn is a great talent who was being squandered on Raw. Charlotte Flair was a five time women’s champion on Raw and there was nothing left for her to do. All these elements play a factor in the various people brought over to Smackdown.
Already from the first night we already had a great three way match between AJ Styles, Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin to determine the number one contender for the U.S. Championship currently held by Owens. Styles won that match and it will great to see Styles and Owens feud. The Women’s Division is a bit of a question mark at the moment. Who will start feuding with Naomi for the title. It shouldn’t be Charlotte just yet as her star is so bright so it would be best to see her feud somewhere else.
The main title, the WWE Heavyweight Championship, is in something of limbo. It is currently in contention with a feud between Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt. The main problem is Bray Wyatt has been switched to Raw so no way he’s winning. Randy Orton is also in something of a lame duck championship run. He’s solid but there’s no pop to him. Probably because it’s vague if he’s supposed to be a face or heel. He did burn down someone’s house.
But there is Shinsuke Nakamura who already has a huge fanbase due to his worldwide reputation and the work he put in at NXT. There is a lot of great talent on Smackdown at the moment. It already has been interesting to see post Wrestlemania and how the product is going to be. Hopefully the creative teams and wrestlers work some great programs to entertain.