Thank you, Braun Strowman.
WWE Payback finally showed Roman Reigns as vulnerable, merely a speed bump in the path of the company’s best character since the birth of Bray Wyatt. The “Monster Among Men” took ownership of the yard the “Big Guy” proclaimed was his after beating Undertaker at WrestleMania 33. Hopefully, this puts an end to an almost psychotic relationship between the former Shield member and the company that won’t cut the strings.
Strowman is every bit the dominant force this company needs. What the pay-per-view taught us is someone other than Seth Rollins finally got a clean win over Reigns and now should be in line for a Universal Heavyweight Title match with Brock Lesnar.
Like all things, though, there is a catch to that kind of thinking. As we learned, Finn Balor wants a match with Lesnar. Reigns wanted a match with Lesnar, but he may be more concerned that all his body parts are in one place. Sable wants Lesnar, but that’s a different kind of storyline and we aren’t writing erotic verse here.
Payback told plenty of great stories while still closing the book on a few unfinished novels. Bray Wyatt won the House of Horrors match – a cheap knockoff of a TNA-themed match. However, Wyatt cannot claim the WWE Title because Jinder Mahal has to sell his legitimacy so WWE can make millions in India.
Enzo and Cass somehow beat Anderson and Gallows – proving once again the company has no idea what to do with the former Bullet Club members. Cass needs his own run as a singles star. Enzo needs a short trip to 205 and a date with Neville to show how bad he really is.
The idea of Bayley dropping the Raw Women’s Title in her hometown to Alexa Bliss was brilliant. WWE sees more value in Bliss as the title holder. Bayley’s character is stale and instead of the good-girl Molly Holly routine, WWE wants a champion with a bit of an edge.
Samoa Joe and Seth Rollins worked well in the ring, showed plenty of chemistry and still have more chapters to write in this feud. The win by Rollins was solid, but it also protected Joe, who should win the next match. I like what the company has done here – using Joe as an extension of Triple H to make both performers look strong.
There was no way the Hardys and Cesaro and Sheamus were going to get along in a program like this. Finally, Cesaro has turned heel – a move he should have made months ago. Now, the combination of the two makes more sense. Like most fans, seeing these two teams dance some more makes me happy. It was a solid, well-played program.
In the end, however, it all goes back to Strowman and his place as the cornerstone of Monday night. How does the company build from here? Will Reigns get another shot at chopping down the big redwood? Will a Lesnar-Strowman match becoming a torch-passing moment? WWE has been able to show fans the Universal Heavyweight Title means nothing on Monday nights. Does a title change do anything to add value? I doubt it. Until Lesnar wakes from his slumber and Paul Heyman sells this confrontation, it means nothing.
Payback was the real deal Sunday night. Moving forward, will WWE take it to heart and book more meaningful pay-per-view events? There are plenty more stories to write. The company has to decide how it ends each chapter with better booking.