WWE brands RAW and SMACKDOWN LIVE, produced two PPV’s shortly after Wrestlemania, Payback and Backlash, and this month WWE Home Video has released them both as a “Double Feature” DVD for fans to own.
The 2-disc sets will continue throughout the year, with each containing a RAW PPV and a SmackDown Live PPV to make sure the WWE Universe won’t miss a thing on the Home Video schedule.
Throughout the years after Wrestlemania, WWE PPV’s tend to be hit or miss, and this year, so far the fans are divided. With RAW after the brand shake up, taking the lead in the best story lines in a stark contrast compared to last year with SMACKDOWN being the must see show.
Below are my notes on the matches from the two PPV’s, however, you can read more about them in more depth in Tony Quant’s and Steph Franchomme’s excellent reviews about each PPV respectfully, on the Steelchair site.
United States Championship Match:
Kevin Owens (C) vs. Chris Jericho
An entertaining match, better than their Wrestlemania bout but this startles fans with a more surprising finish. However, this would be undone later that week on Smackdown, regardless it’s still great to see these two do battle once again.
Cruiserweight Championship Match:
Neville (C) vs. Austin Aries
Another great bout between two excellent performers and if given more time, there is no doubt that this match would have been exceptional. A shame to think afterwards that Aries isn’t part of the Cruiserweight Division or part of WWE for that matter, but on the flip side, the Cruiserweight Champion has excelled continuously in this role and his part in this match demonstrates why he owns the Division, even now.
RAW Tag Team Championship Match:
Hardy Boyz (C) vs. Cesaro & Sheamus
The Hardy Boyz returned at Wrestlemania and continued to show fans exactly why they deserve to be seen on the worldwide stage in their match with Cesaro & Sheamus. This match continued the rivalry that began at Wrestlemania and reached another level when Sheamus inadvertently knocked out one of Jeff Hardy’s teeth, as well as the post-match heel turn by the challengers.
RAW Women’s Championship Match:
Bayley (C) vs. Alexa Bliss
Champions and their hometowns huh? Oh WWE loves to play the game of ripping the heart out of any hometown hero and this is no exception. Bayley arrived to cheers and left in tears as she lost her Title in a good match that fans witnessed Bliss making history and who would have thought that this would have happened this time last year.
House of Horrors Match:
Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt
The match that divided the WWE Universe, was it meant to be a take on the Broken Universe? Was it meant to be something unique or was it as some WWE fans say a car crash. Regardless, it was definitely something you had to see to be believe what you seen.
Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe
A good bout this one that showcases exactly how far Rollins has come in his career by being seen as the reliable foil to any opponent but when you look back at the match now, it highlights just how far Joe has cemented his place in the main event picture on RAW.
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman.
A match that now pales in comparison to their Great Balls of Fire Ambulance bout, but better than their previous outings. It is entertaining to watch and comes complete with the excellent closing line from Braun, “I’M NOT FINISHED WITH YOU!” that has now become meme worthy and almost his very own tagline.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler.
The long awaited arrival of the King of Strong Style’s main roster debut match with Dolph Ziggler, kicked off Backlash, and as much as we wanted to see the man who has owned NXT and NJPW, we got a match that left fans shrugging their shoulders in the aftermath and questioning was this the same man who captured the imagination of the fans. But he seized the victory nonetheless, in a balanced match.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match:
The Usos (C) vs. Breezango.
As entertaining as Breezango are, and how much fun this match was, there was a part of me that wanted to see the comedy team demonstrate exactly why the fans are always in their corner. Regardless of what WWE almost portrays Breezango like, the two are excellent performers, a strong team in their own right given the opportunity but while this match wasn’t that opportunity it was a superb showing by The Uso’s who consistently show exactly why they are the glue in Smackdown’s Tag Team Division.
Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin.
An enjoyable battle this one, and its always good to see Sami Zayn get the victory, despite against the larger Corbin. The two had several matches before and after this match, but they saved some of their best for this bout.
Six-Woman Tag Team Match:
The Welcoming Committee vs. Charlotte Flair, Naomi & Becky Lynch.
This match is…not bad but not great either, and that’s a disappointing affair to be honest as with the array of wrestlers involved you would be expect your attention to be seized and you left talking about the bout afterwards, but neither happened. Perhaps it could be the rushed booking of the storyline, the arrival of Charlotte or perhaps that Naomi wasn’t defending her Title but instead she was in this Tag Team Match. When you think of the sterling matches and storylines that Smackdown have had in the last two years within the Women’s Division, this match and storyline was a wrong turn.
United States Championship Match:
Kevin Owens (C) vs. AJ Styles
An excellent match complete with a bizarre finish, that basically screamed out to fans that this is only just the beginning of a feud that is continuing to even today. Aided by the Chicago crowd who never fail to disappoint on vocalising their emotions share exactly what everyone who witnessed this at home or in a bar thought of this bout.
Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan.
A match added to the card for no rhyme or reason. Both men do what they can but like many WWE wrestling matches it’s hard to get into the bout when there is no reason to be emotionally invested in the match. But the sad thing, is that after this match, Harper and Rowan have dropped of the Smackdown Radar. Unless the two of them have re-united and are the ones trashing Breezango’s Office, I wonder when we will see them again.
WWE Championship Match:
Randy Orton (C) vs. Jinder Mahal
So, it happened. The man who has lost more matches than Orton has unleashed RKO’s on opponents captured the WWE Championship, to the surprise, the horror and the delight of the WWE Universe. The reactions are a must for fans who do love to see WWE troll their fans, except this troll has come at the expense of the WWE Championship during the Summer as this match has become the catalyst for the multiple Orton/Jinder re-matches and a lack of excitement in WWE top tier Championship.
Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson.
Miz TV w/ Finn Bálor.
Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English.