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Payback: A Big Payoff For Monday Night RAW

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To say RAW exclusive PPV specials have been underwhelming since the brand extension is a huge understatement. Last night’s Payback event however may be proof the “B” show is turning the corner. Working with a clean slate after WrestleMania and without so much as an appearance by their two premiere title holders in Brock Lesnar and Dean Ambrose, the RAW brand produced an excellently timed, logically booked event that was enjoyable from start to finish.

The Pre-show really got the crowd going early and made it easy for the rest of the roster to keep the momentum going with intense performances that were perfectly placed on the card and well booked by the creative team for the duration of the show. The match and finish were good and while we’ve seen Enzo and Cass take on the Club more than enough over the last few months it’s a good win for Enzo and Cass. MizTV was a great way to get two big stars out in front of the San Jose crowd. Finn Balor shined here, able to go shot for shot with one of the best on the microphone in The Miz and really felt like a star. With one line he set up a potential SummerSlam main event by stating that he was “going to get his belt back” before we all watched the Miz get beat up, again (yeah, he’s happy to be back on RAW).


Y2J’s Curtain Call?

Jericho and KO kicked off the main show with a solid back and forth match with a faster pace than their WrestleMania bout and a finish I didn’t see coming. The finish was a fitting end to their feud with Jericho getting his revenge by making the dastardly Owens submit. Jericho now heads to SmackDown with the US title and ships KO back to RAW. If this is his last match as an active competitor this year, maybe ever, it was a good way to go out for Y2J.

I was all in on KO taking over SmackDown but now that he’s going to be moving back to RAW, Jericho getting the win here was the smart decision creatively for two reasons. The first is now you can put KO and Samoa Joe back together on RAW. With both men coming off losses at Payback the RAW roster could be in for a rough night should the vicious pair reunite tonight.The second is Chris Jericho is likely finishing up his run this week before his band Fozzy goes on tour. His match with AJ Styles is supposed to take place at Backlash in three weeks in Chicago, but if WWE writes him off television on SmackDown Tuesday night it should happen at the hands of Baron Corbin. Taking out a legend like Jericho would certainly continue to raise his profile and setup a big time match with Styles, who he’s already been feuding with for weeks for a vacant U.S. Title at Backlash. It’s a simple way to continue Corbin’s push and having him capture a vacant U.S. title lets WWE build the blue brand’s mid-card around the young talent. Defeating Styles underhandedly at Backlash can also move AJ Styles out of the mid-card title picture and back to main event WWE Title matches where he belongs.

The Feud Continues

Neville and Austin Aries had another quality match and I’m happy their feud is going to continue. Both guys have put on a hell of a program that I’m hoping pays off with a 2 out of 3 falls or a 30 minute iron man match at Extreme Rules. That sunset flip powerbomb off the top into Aries’ submission hold “Last Chancery” was a great spot to finish off a match that would end in DQ. Like I said I’m happy the feud is continuing and I have zero problem with the finish. Neville’s escape with the Cruiserweight title here would set off a cascade of heel highlights that would permeate the rest of the show.

Just What RAW Needed, More International Heels

The tag team title match was athletic and intense from bell to bell and helped raise the bar for the tag division going forward on RAW. Cesaro and Sheamus really impressed here. I think my eyes popped out of my head when I saw the height Cesaro was able to get on that leg drop. All four guys worked great together here and have me excited to see another match between them for the titles. The heel turn and assault on the Hardyz post match was fantastic and adds some depth to Cesaro and Sheamus as a team. Sheamus has been a stellar heel throughout his career but I think a lot of people forget how good Cesaro was as a bad guy. He’s been a fan favorite for quite some time but I’m anxious to see what facets he can add to what I’m hoping is a quality run as a heel going forward. The only problem is most of the international talent on the main roster are all heels now. Hopefully these two don’t get lost in that shuffle, and we don’t get the League of Nations all over again (for the love of God no, please no).

Hometown Bliss

Payback kept rolling with a fourth consecutive title bout, this time for the RAW Women’s Championship in champion Bayley’s hometown. Excellent placement on the card here as the hometown girl kept the crowd from cooling off. I didn’t have high expectations for this match going in but I thought it was very good and both women told an excellent story. The last 8 minutes or so in particular were fantastic as there was one high impact sequence after another until the conclusion of the match. Alexa Bliss and Bayley’s styles mesh well together and they really tore it up while only scratching the surface of what has the potential to be a great feud going forward.

The evolution of Alexa Bliss continues to impress. From a peppy cheerleader gimmick and then to a heel manager in NXT, to being a two time SmackDown Women’s champion and one of the premiere female villains in wrestling and now making history by being the first woman to be SmackDown and RAW Women’s Champion. Bliss gets better by the week and adds a much needed shot of sex appeal that differentiates her from the rest of a talented women’s division on Monday Nights.

Bray Wyatt wins on PPV

Here’s a sentence that’s going to get me some major criticism…I liked House of Horrors. I said it and I stand by it. It was very different from what we see on WWE television week after week and in this case that was a good thing. I didn’t get any kind of “Final Deletion” vibe from it. It came off as a more Lucha Underground style of production to me. Close quarters brawling combined with an eerie supernatural motif not unlike some stuff fans might have seen from Mil Muertes on Lucha Underground.  Bray and Orton made the most of what they had to work with telling a believably brutal story and I was a big fan of how both men sold the damage that had been inflicted on them. If the only illogical piece of creative booking on a RAW show is “How did Randy Orton beat him back to the arena when Bray took his limo?” I can get over it. Especially when the finish gets Bray a PPV win and Jinder’s involvement protects Orton and gets their program firing on all cylinders three weeks before Backlash.

Great use of Jinder here, the shot of the Hindu announce team earlier in the night tipped their cap a bit but regardless, with such a short time to build him as a credible threat WWE is doing a great job with Jinder thus far. House of Horrors like Jinder Mahal isn’t something weekly audiences are used to. They’re both something different than what fans are fed month in and month out. I’m not saying you should like or dislike them just because they’re not what we’re used to, but don’t arbitrarily hate every time WWE tries…emphasis on tries, to do something a little outside their own norms.

Just the Beginning?

Samoa Joe and Seth Rollins delivered a methodical and technical showcase of how a long built rivalry is supposed to be executed at a PPV special. The heart of Rollins pitted against the malice of Samoa Joe made this my favorite match of the night hands down. Rollins and Joe can go out and have good to great matches with anyone they get in the ring with but after last night putting them with each other for an extended period of time could give us some of 2017’s best matches. While Joe suffers his first loss I liked the roll up finish, he stays strong and Rollins survives Joe more than out and out defeats him which is a good call. No shame in taking your first L at the hands of a 2 time WWE champion in a PPV show stealer.

RAW IS STROWMAN

Braun Strowman is the fans’ avatar for all of their hatred for Roman Reigns and disappointment over the Undertaker’s departure and that’s why the crowd has been responding to him regardless of the devastation he leaves in his wake week after week. While his push seems like it’s more about humanizing and generating sympathy for Reigns right now, Strowman is on a collision course with Brock Lesnar at…gasp…Great Balls of Fire in July.

Roman was so taped up in this match it was unbelievable that he was able to generate offense at any point in the match. That said he sold great for Strowman who put down another brutal beating on Reigns to the delight of the WWE universe. Strowman gets the victory here while Roman wasn’t 100% going in. He beats Reigns clean, leaves him laying and spitting up blood in the ring before he practically crawls to the back post match.The beginning of RAW Talk undoubtedly set up an Ambulance match between the two at Extreme Rules as it saw Strowman attempt to attack Reigns again while he was seeking medical attention at the back of an ambulance only to have Reigns side step the charging behemoth and send him careening through the door of the ambulance.

Braun has come a long way from having fans rip the idea of him facing the Undertaker at WrestleMania in the not too distant past and has become an impressive talent and main eventer for WWE. My friend goes into a full on Archer impression and screams “RAMPAGE!!!!!” when Strowman appears on camera. Fans, myself included love watching Braun Strowman annihilate the RAW roster.  An Ambulance Match with Reigns next month where Roman won’t be out and out pinned again spells victory for Strowman propelling him to the Great Balls of Fire main event with Brock Lesnar. Am I the only one who can’t wait to see a Paul Heyman promo selling the WWE Universe on Great Balls of Fire? It could be on par or better than his legendary “molten lava” promo from a few years ago.

Video Credit: WWE Channel, YouTube

Certainly the best solo PPV for RAW thus far, Payback was a highly entertaining show built on the backs of incredible performances by all of the talent involved, well thought out match placement on the card that never let the off the gas for 3 hours plus and methodical creative booking. All without appearances by Lesnar or Ambrose and without matches that included The Miz and Finn Balor. Combine that with the uniqueness of House of Horrors, a strong appearance by Jinder Mahal and the reacquisition of Kevin Owens and Payback was a big payoff for WWE and Monday Night Raw.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Rod

    May 1, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    I don’t recall hearing KO is being moved to Raw. He’s a Smackdown guy now.

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Break It Down: Ranking Every Major Wrestling TV Show (Week #2)

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Break It Down

While it’s still early on in 2021, the wrestling world has set a high standard for in-ring quality so far from last week and all of the shows continued in that mindset here. The shows were all varied and while not everything worked for each show, there were a lot of positives to takeaway.

A week that featured huge title matches, fantastic promos, and even some fireballs being thrown in for good measure has been enough to keep everyone entertained. But, which show was the strongest of the bunch? Let’s Break It Down and find out!


6. WWE Raw

Randy Orton

Photo Credit YouTube.com/WWE

WWE Raw has been a struggle as of late, and sadly this show didn’t change that run of form for the red brand. It was clear the show had been hurt by COVID-19, with a lot of people missing and a lot pulling double duty on the night, so credit does deserve to be given for that. On that note, praise is deserved for Drew McIntyre too, for making his appearances via video, despite having a positive COVID test.

Sheamus and Keith Lee had a fun match as partners and as opponents on this show, but outside of that this show lacked a lot. Charlotte Flair facing Lacey Evans was nothing special, and using Ric frequently right now isn’t helping her character while having Riddle be beaten so easily feels like a mistake, even if it helps Bobby Lashley overall.

The whole show was built around Triple H returning for a one-off match with Randy Orton, which was all set up nicely. It was never going to be a full match, but it would’ve been nice to have given this a little longer. Obviously, the big talking point was the Alexa Bliss fire, some people loved it, others hated it. I personally, quite enjoy a little magic and ridiculousness when it’s done well, and this story is working so far, with this being a nice finish to the show.

5. WWE SmackDown

Photo Credit: YouTube.com/WWE

WWE SmackDown kickstarted 2021 with a bang last week, but sadly this episode was a slight drop in quality. It was still a good show though, with lots of positives to take, especially in terms of the in-ring product, with Daniel Bryan and Cesaro have a particularly great match on this show.

The work with Billie Kay was a lot of fun, with her ‘punk’ vibes being fantastic comedy, while the storyline with King Corbin and the Mysterio family continues to be put together well. Jey Uso had a really good match with Shinsuke Nakamura too, who appears to be gaining a big push as a babyface, which is great to see.

However, there were elements that didn’t work, with Bayley’s new talk show and segment being a little awkward, while all of the build with Roman Reigns and Adam Pearce was a little dragged out and too repetitive from last week.

4. WWE NXT UK

WWE NXT UK was another really fun show this week, with the brand continuing to put together some great work lately. Seeing the debut of Sha Samuels was great, as he is a real talent in the ring and on the microphone, and he had a nice hard-hitting encounter with Joe Coffey to kick off the show.

Jinny and Kay Lee Ray had a really nice promo segment to build to their title match, and it certainly built interest in their upcoming title match. Plus, Sam Gradwell and Tyler Bate had a really enjoyable match together, with WWE clearly looking to build Bate back up.

However, this show was really all about the main event. WALTER defending his NXT UK Championship didn’t disappoint. He and A-Kid had tremendous chemistry with this being a very hard-hitting encounter that didn’t let up from start to finish, with WALTER retaining, but A-Kid looking just as good in defeat.

3. IMPACT Wrestling

Photo: Impact/Twitter

It was a big week for IMPACT Wrestling with the Hard To Kill event taking place this weekend. While that PPV was a lot of fun, our focus is on the weekly edition of IMPACT, which on the whole was also a great show, building to the PPV in a really nice manner.

The opening women’s match got plenty of time and they didn’t disappoint, while the tag team match featuring Manik and Suicide was also a fast-paced and frantic bout. The storyline development between Eric Young’s group and Rhino and his men wasn’t really needed, with the match itself being incredibly average.

Moose’s squash victory was also dragged on a little too long, and he would’ve benefited from being a little quicker. However, the main event between Karl Anderson and Rich Swann was solid, and the post-match brawl built up the six-man tag team match for Hard To Kill perfectly, which is what was needed.

2. WWE NXT

Photo: WWE/Twitter

Yet again the black and gold brand was very enjoyable this week. The show featured a lot of brilliant in-ring work, with a large focus being placed on tag team wrestling, with the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic beginning, which brought plenty of fun bouts.

Grizzled Young Veterans showcased just how good they are, although, booking Ever-Rise as a babyface team here was odd, while MSK’s debut was very fun to see, with the former IMPACT stars seriously impressing. Candice LeRae and Shotzi Blackheart had a good bout as well, while Xia Li’s character development continues to be done brilliantly.

Johnny Gargano’s match with Dexter Lumis was the only real disappointment of the show, as this didn’t quite connect. However, the work with Pete Dunne throughout the show was excellent, building him and his group up as a real threat, with Dunne facing Finn Balor being something that everyone should be excited for.

1. AEW Dynamite

 

AEW Dynamite was incredibly exciting this week, with a lot of really good matches taking place. The show benefited from not having and big multi-man matches, with everything being crisp and to the point. PAC and Eddie Kingston had an excellent opening match which set the pace for the entire show, with this story being a lot of fun.

This show also saw the best piece of booking that Miro has had since he joined AEW. He was dominant and physical, and hopefully, this is how he’s used moving forwards. The Matt Hardy and Private Party backstage segment will likely be overlooked by most, but it was really good storytelling here as well.

Kenny Omega choosing The Good Brothers over the ‘Bucks is a nice twist, and FTR also had a fantastic tag team bout with Jungle Boy and Marko Stunt. The Waiting Room segment was fun and really shows Britt Baker at her best, meanwhile, Tay Conti and Serena Deeb had a fantastic match. The main event also delivered, like everything on this brilliant show, but the only nitpick I had was Sting’s appearance. Doing the same thing with him every week is already feeling stale, he is someone who should be used less frequently to make him feel more special, in my opinion.

Sixth place= 1 point
Fifth place= 2 points
Fourth place= 3 points
Third place= 4 points
Second place=5 points
First place= 6 points

2020 results (each week, the points tally will be added up below):

WWE Raw- 2
IMPACT Wrestling- 6
WWE NXT- 10
AEW Dynamite- 10
WWE NXT UK- 6
WWE SmackDown- 8

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We Ranked: 5 Ways WWE Should Utilize The Legends On WWE Raw

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hulk hogan

Tonight is WWE Raw Legends Night, and plenty of familiar faces will be coming back to the company, but how should WWE use them? It’s going to be a blockbuster episode of WWE Raw to kickstart 2021 in style, and there will be a real element of nostalgia about the show, with a lot of legends being confirmed for the event.

While not every legend is going to have a significant role to play on the show, some of the talents are going to have a very big part to play in things. WWE has heavily pushed the legends aspect of the show, so there’s no doubt going to be some involvement. But what are the best, and most logical ways the talents could be used?


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Break It Down: Ranking Every Major Wrestling TV Show (Week #52)

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Break It Down

Well, here we are week #52, the final weeks worth of wrestling for 2020 (even if one show was technically 2021), and what a year it has been. When I started this feature series at this time last year, I certainly wasn’t expecting shows with no fans and the difficulties that the world has faced, but one thing that is worth mentioning is how hard everyone in the industry has worked.

But it’s time for the final Break It Down of 2020, taking a look at how each show wrapped up their year, and which show was actually the best of the bunch with all things considered. So strap in, and remember… 2020 is done!


4. WWE Raw

Photo Credit: YouTube.com/WWE

The show kickstarted in a great way this week with Sheamus and Keith Lee having a really fun one on one match as the Limitless One became the number one contender. The promos worked well for both men in the build-up and that led to a physical encounter that established both wrestlers.

AJ Styles and Elias had a match that certainly was better than expectations, but there was also a large chunk of the show that was incredibly forgettable. The work with the women’s division continues to leave a lot to be desired, and overall, the show lacked a lot of energy.

The work with The Miz and the Money in the Bank was an odd one, having him lose to Gran Metalik and then regain the briefcase in the same night. The briefcase has been handled so poorly that it’s no surprise fans are losing interest. The show ended with a cliffhanger with nobody knowing what Randy Orton actually did. For some people, that’s something that people loved, but for others, it was a frustrating finish.

3. WWE SmackDown

Photo Credit: Youtube.com/WWE

While this was technically in 2021, it makes this article as it was in the final week of the year. However, because it was technically 2021, WWE did push the New Year vibe, which provided a fun energy to the show, and throughout the night it was a very entertaining evening.

Seeing Sonya Deville return was excellent, as she will add a lot of quality to the women’s division on the blue brand which has proven to be entertaining as of late. Big E’s first match as champion was entertaining, with Corbin being a smart person to put him up against, while Daniel Bryan and Otis proved to be a fun team together on the night.

The main event was the shows strong point though, with Kevin Owens and Jey Uso having a great match together that was full of fire as KO continues to be one of the most exciting stars in WWE at the moment, with him being launched off the ThunderDome set being a great moment to end the night.

2. WWE NXT

The black and gold brand ended the year in a really strong manner with a great show that built towards New Years Evil really well. Every segment and match felt important and like it was necessary in order to build up certain matches for the upcoming show.

The End Of Year Awards throughout the night was fun and well put together, with nice segments following each one. This was particularly strong when Finn Balor and Kyle O’Reilly had a confrontation, with their promo segment being very well done.

In the ring, Grizzled Young Vets and Breezango had a good solid tag team bout, and it was also good to see Bronson Reed back in a competitive manner. However, the match of the night was between Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne, who had an incredibly hard-hitting battle that really showcased the best of both men.

1. AEW Dynamite

Brodie Jr. TNT Championship

There was absolutely no doubt about what show was taking the top prize this week to end 2020, and that was AEW Dynamite. While this was ultimately a very sad show, it was also a beautiful one that was put together with heart, compassion, and love from everyone within the company, and Tony Khan deserves massive credit for putting this together.

Normal storylines were thrown out of the window for one week with a tribute show to Brodie Lee, following his unfortunate death, and it was done perfectly. From having Erick Redbeard pop up to the way -1 was treated throughout the night, this show was incredible.

It was arguably the best AEW Dynamite of the entire year. The in-ring quality was superb throughout the entire show, with the touching messages being done incredibly well as the entire show just ticked the boxes that the entire wrestling world needed at this point.

Fourth place=1 point
Third place=2 points
Second place=3 points
First place=4 points

2020 results (each week, the points tally will be added up below):

WWE Raw- 108
WWE NXT- 158
AEW Dynamite- 146
WWE SmackDown- 112

So there we have it, my ultimate ranking of the three shows with WWE NXT just edging it over the course of the year, and for my personal taste, I think that’s accurate. The two Wednesday night shows have absolutely been head and shoulders above the two main WWE events, with great consistency and quality within those two events.

WWE Raw started the year quite well but has really suffered for quality towards the end of 2020, while WWE SmackDown has pretty much done the opposite.

But, that’s 2020. A year that most people would likely want to forget, and now here’s to 2021, one which we all hope will be more positive and while we are still a while away from a world of full arenas and sold-out stadiums, there is a hope that it will happen at some point this year.

For 2021, the Break It Down article will be making its return, and I look forward to seeing how the shows work in quality throughout the year. But for 2021, the article will be having a slight tweak, and that’s because I will be adding two more shows to the ranking.

As well as the four that have been used this year, I will also be bringing in WWE NXT UK, and IMPACT Wrestling. These are two shows that people have asked to be included throughout the year (IMPACT especially), and you ask, I will deliver. So, who will take the top spot at this point next year? Join me next week as once again, I Break It Down.

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