WWE Raw: The Payback Go-Home
April 26, 2016 10:12 AM - Season 24, Episode 33 - Subscribe

Raw was a decent enough go-home, propelled largely by one of the better storylines in a while. So we're ready for perhaps the most dispensable PPV on the schedule, but a couple of compelling matchups and questions are making it work.

The theme for Payback seems to be "trying out the new guys to see whether they get over"*, with half of the matches featuring someone who wasn't on the main roster in 2015.

Roman Reigns (champion) vs. AJ Styles for the World Heavyweight Championship -- Reigns is tweening it up, and the fans are responding with legit heel heat. Styles is on a meteoric path, but the top belt hasn't changed hands at the post-WM PPV since 2011. The introduction of fellow Bullet Clubbers Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows as enforcers for a reluctant Styles gives the writers plenty of options, but all signs seem to be pointing to Reigns retaining.

Charlotte (champion) vs. Natalya for the Women's yay Championship -- Bret Hart vs. Ric Flair on the outside ensures that the new belt will continue to be about the men. *sigh*

The Miz (champion) vs. Cesaro for the Intercontinental Championship -- Is Cesaro finally getting the push? Is the Miz better now than he's ever been?

Kalisto (champion) vs. Ryback for the United States Championship -- Probably on the pre-show. Belongs there.

The Realest Guys in the Room vs. the Vaudevillains for the number one contendership to the Tag Team Championship -- The Vaudevillains' schtick doesn't seem to be playing as well on the big stage as it did in NXT, but Enzo and Cass are over as hell. Will they earn the shot at the other over-as-hell team, or are they better chasing glory than achieving it?

Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho -- A meaningless placeholder feud for one of the biggest stars in the company, but Jericho is making a legit run at top heel in the business right now, and he can still go in the ring when he needs to.

Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens -- They're pulling the trigger on this feud really early. It's just the first step in a decade-long simmer that sees them swap the World Championship many, many times, right?

Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin -- Corbin is pretty much the biggest (size-wise) pure heel left on the roster right now. If the fans respond to him beating the hell out of Ziggler, there might be more on the horizon.

* -- Other than "well, we have to have an April PPV, I guess...", but that's always what the theme to the April PPV is.
posted by Etrigan (17 comments total)
I love that the new guys are getting so much time to shine, especially since that was the main issue with WM (or at least co-issue with Roman Reigns and the fact that the PPV lasted approximately seven geological epochs) but years of "awesome, they seem to really know what they're doing with th....oh, dammit" reversals has murdered my Wrestling Optimism to death.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:28 AM on April 26, 2016

Xavier Woods closes the fucking book on how "fake" wrestling is.
posted by Etrigan at 6:05 AM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

It would be nice to see them doing something with the rest of the women. Sasha Banks, Becky, Paige, and Emma could all put on better matches than the Ambrose and Jericho time filler. I can only hope New Day is at least on commentary, because it would be a waste to not have them on the show.

Granted, they're stuck doing something with Ryback, but I'd much rather see Tyler Breeze being used in the Kalisto match. There is at least somewhere to go with Prince Pretty, but Ryback is getting close to Big Show level meaninglessness.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:20 AM on April 27, 2016

I never watched a second of wrestling until I moved in with my current roommate, but now I'm kinda fascinated by it. I was watching something with him last night that gave an overview of the Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens feud, and it struck me just how much the wrestlers' charisma and personality and chemistry with each other seem to matter. The actual "hurting each other" parts almost seem secondary.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:47 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I was watching something with him last night that gave an overview of the Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens feud, and it struck me just how much the wrestlers' charisma and personality and chemistry with each other seem to matter.

Owens' reaction to Zayn entering the Royal Rumble is the best gif there is.
posted by Etrigan at 1:04 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

In a just world, there would be a video of Owens hanging upside down from the ankle, swaying back and forth, explaining to Sami Zayn that they are destined to do this forever.

The two of them are literally found gold. All Vince needs to do is stay out of it, and we have a feud that could run for years. Belts or no, they'll steal every show they're a part of, even if it's just talking at each other in the ring.

I just hope that someday, we get to the point in the story where they bury the hatchet and team up again.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:20 AM on April 28, 2016

I guess if I could fantasy book one thing for payback it would be that the Chicago crowd never do a CM Punk chant.

I'm actually looking forward to this show more than I expected I would, I feel like there's a lot of opportunity for good wrestling and interesting swerves. We'll see.
posted by jermsplan at 5:05 PM on May 1, 2016

OMG New Day on beanbag seats at ringside with popcorn for the tag match I already love this PPV.
posted by jermsplan at 5:08 PM on May 1, 2016

Man, you take out Enzo decapitating himself and this was a really good show. I even liked a Ryback match because of Ryback.
posted by Etrigan at 7:54 AM on May 2, 2016

Yeah, I generally agree. I wish the The Decision segment had been a hell of a lot shorter, especially given the non decision it ended up being, but I did end up enjoying the show quite a bit. I finished watching it on delay, so I didn't know what time it was when the title match ended in count out. That really helped my enjoyment of everything that came after, because I genuinely figured the night was over and was that much more excited to get the restart. I think if I'd been watching live and it was 10:15 or whatever it was when that happened I would have been less believing.
posted by jermsplan at 12:23 PM on May 2, 2016

I wish the The Decision segment had been a hell of a lot shorter

The worst part is that the crowd chanted "BORING" when Stephanie was going on and on and on and on, but not when Shane was going on and on and on and on or when Vince was going on and on and on and on. Really ugly.
posted by Etrigan at 12:38 PM on May 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

two separate thoughts, though with Stephanie in common:

I wish someone with a loud voice to the WWE Universe could convince it that what the WWE abhors more than anything is a lack of reaction to a bit. Heckling ("Booring", "You Can't Wrestle", etc) annoys me more and more as it becomes more prevalent. Cheering and Booing are all good, and if you really want to get a person or story off your screen then I promise you it will happen faster if you sit on your hands and shut your damn mouth than if you make any sort of noise, at which point the WWE is just going to turn that person heel or call them "Controversial" or say "What a crazy crowd we always have in Chicago!" There must be some twisted analogy here, like "no noise is bad noise" in the WWE's mind.

Second: I think there is some really fascinating growth in the "Stephanie points out sexism that generally goes unnoticed" storyline which I'm still not entirely sure is intentional except that I'm starting to wonder if Steph isn't slipping it in out of her own mind and Vince et al are just too blind to it to realize what she's doing. Going back to her great "why his sons? why not my daughters?" promo, to the boring chants while she lays out her accomplishments vs "you still got it" while Shane describes his. She starts to suggest a match to Vince only to have Shane cut her off and suggest the exact same match which Shane then gets credit for. She has to change her demeanor to try and act "nice" because acting bossy (even when she was legitimately the boss) is seen as a negative. I'm kind of loving it. Meanwhile JBL (as the HEEL!) is pointing out that she's not one of the greatest women, she's one of the greatest, period.

meanwhile: hot damn, the Vaudevillains with some serious heel-ing. I nearly fell out of my chair between "a real man would have gotten up" and "How are you doing?"
posted by jermsplan at 1:43 PM on May 3, 2016

The blackest Black Friday of them all claims Damien Sandow and a bunch of other people no one really cares about (and frankly, didn't think even were still employed by WWE).
posted by Etrigan at 6:47 PM on May 8, 2016

I wasn't surprised to see Sandow released, but definitely saddened by the waste of a fantastic wrestler and character. It makes me wonder sometimes how many writers there are working for wwe because so many wrestlers seem to fall through the cracks. Seeing as the show is all about making things interesting and compelling for the fans, it might behoove them to start figuring out the gaping hole in the central concept of putting on a show.

Personally, I'd like to see teams of writers for each spot on the card. Have a set of writers for the upper card/ heavyweight contenders, a set of writers for the upper mid-card/IC title chase, a set for the mid-card/US title contenders, a set for the women's division (preferably, shockingly, women), a set for the tag division, and a set for the bottom of the card. Three to four writers per group, and sure, have some overlap. Have an editor in charge of things who sorts out the stories and gives advice. Each group gets to pitch their segment, not every group has to be on every show. For example, Raw could get two top tier segments, two IC level segments, two women's segments, and a tag segment. Seven segments for three hours. Smackdown gets a tag, an IC, a women's, a U.S., and a lower card. Main Event gets a tag, a women's, a U.S., and a lower card.

Stories could have a beginning, middle, and end. Wrestlers could be involved in stories and not be left out. It's not impossible, just horribly unlikely.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:27 PM on May 8, 2016

Aw, man, I was really looking forward to Big Cass main-eventing Raw.
posted by Etrigan at 9:25 AM on May 10, 2016

Rolling Stone has a pretty good interview with Damien Sandow.
posted by sporkwort at 1:33 PM on May 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

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