What effect does Roman Reigns’ heat have on Braun Strowman, who is much less established than most of Reigns’ opponents?
John Corrigan: Unless this match is taking place in Samoa, it’s inevitable that Reigns will be booed and the viral sensation known as BRAUUUN Strowman will be cheered.
Evan Cross: Putting Strowman against guys like Reigns, a babyface who gets booed, and Kalisto, a babyface who gets no reaction, has gotten Strowman more cheers than a monster heel should ever get. Say what you want about Big Show, but he’s been the best foil for Strowman by far.
David Levin: Wait, Reigns has heat? Strowman is The Guy on Raw, His slow burn has been booked properly. The only thing I see wrong with this match is neither guy should lose. Both must remain white hot going into the summer with Brock Lesnar in their sights.
Jay Mackle: People are not going to forgive Reigns a month after he ended The Undertaker’s career. His heat is still high and Strowman is going to get cheered. Strowman has been pushed as an unstoppable force, but if Reigns beats him clean again, it will destroy any momentum Strowman has.
Mark Macyk: This feud is just a placeholder until the debut of Darkness Reigns, so the effect is insignificant.
Anthony Mahalis: I don’t think it has much effect on Strowman. The only time Braun gets a positive reaction from the crowd is when he is wrestling Reigns. I think many fans are still on the fence about him overall. I imagine that Strowman wins this one to set up the rubber match, but man, I wish this feud would end.
Jesse Staab: For me it’s the primary reason Strowman is over with the crowd. Without the tremendous heat on Reigns, Braun would be the epitome of the Vince McMahon “body guy” smart marks love to crap on. Their knock on Reigns was that his ascension didn’t feel “organic,” but the same people selling that tale are fine with Strowman rocketing up the pecking order. Go figure.
Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho was a highlight of the WrestleMania build. Do you feel the same way about the build to the rematch?
Corrigan: The rematch feels pointless. It’s not like Owens cheated to beat Y2J at WrestleMania to make Jericho to want revenge. There’s also no stipulation to make it different than the previous match. Factor in the Superstar Shakeup splitting them up, and you’ve got a feud that went from molten lava to frostbite.
Cross: It’s nice that Owens is getting a gimmick alteration and is being made to be a huge deal on SmackDown, but Owens is essentially already feuding with AJ Styles and Jericho is essentially already on a stage doing vocal warmups for Fozzy. This match is pointless.
Levin: No. No. No. The match between Owens and Jericho lost all steam when Owens took his title and ran to SmackDown. The build has been awful. Jericho should put WWE on The List.
Mackle: The Superstar Shakeup really hurt the build for this match. Having the stars on separate brands didn’t help.
Macyk: They used to be such good friends. Now they hardly talk. Sometimes these things happen as we grow up.
Mahalis: No, this build has been lackluster. It is difficult to have a good build when the superstars are on different shows. I still expect Owens and Jericho to put on a quality match though.
Staab: Absolutely not. The Festival of Friendship attack, especially Jericho’s switch to shooting about loving working with Owens, was a truly memorable moment. This build hasn’t had anything anyone will remember a few months from now. Having said that I still fully expect them to put on a solid, if not great, match.
Is it too soon for Alexa Bliss to get a Raw Women’s Championship match?
Corrigan: How dare you question anything Little Miss Bliss does. If Banks won’t pull the trigger and stab Bayley in the back, then Alexa will just take the title for herself. #BlissFits unite!
Cross: On her own merits, absolutely not, but it’s odd that WWE has been clearly teasing Bayley vs. Banks and is now putting it on the back burner. Banks needs a heel turn badly, but I imagine WWE sees that as a bigger-than-Payback feud.
Levin: It would kill any potential of a Bayley vs. Sasha Banks match at SummerSlam. Besides the fact she is the hottest thing on Monday nights, Bliss has added new life to the sinking women’s division.
Mackle: Love her or hate her, Nia Jax should have gotten the shot at Payback. Bliss deserves a longer program with the champ, not a throwaway title match. If Bliss wins in San Jose it be a shocker.
Macyk: Wrestledelphia’s entire staff handed Bayley the prestigious Delphi Award in 2015 for Wrestler of the Year*, beating out even Brock Lesnar. And yet, Alexa Bliss is somehow even better. Give her the strap.
Mahalis: I’m surprised Bliss is getting a title shot on Raw so soon, but that is not because she isn’t deserving. I think Bliss is a terrific heel and I am happy that she isn’t getting lost in the shuffle, at least not yet. We just have to wait a little longer for Banks’ heel turn.
Staab: Definitely not. She’s held the SmackDown title twice recently, so in kayfabe it’s total fine. Plus another Banks vs. Bayley match doesn’t make sense right now.
*Editor’s note: This is a lie, only Macyk picked Bayley for this award, despite also picking “Nicole from Total Divas” as Woman of the Year.
Do you like the mystery of the House of Horrors match?
Corrigan: No. Nobody cares about Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt. You all thought you did after a house was burnt down, but then reality set in at Mania. It’s time for Bray to move on to Finn Balor and for Orton to move on to…JINDER.
Cross: I don’t care about Wyatt anymore and clearly Orton doesn’t either. When the promo package for the match begins to air I will think to myself “hmm, this could be neat,” but it probably won’t be.
Levin: Didn’t Kevin Sullivan create this one a long time ago? Wyatt is brilliant on any given night, but a match like this is doomed to fail because the interest of this feud died when Wyatt moved to Monday nights.
Mackle: House of Horrors sounds like a bad Rob Zombie movie. They should be in a Last Man Standing match to end their feud.
Macyk: There is not much mystery, to be honest. Wyatt and Orton will enter the House of Horrors. The lights will go out. There will be Gregorian chants. A flash of light will appear. Suddenly Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt are on the ground, dead. Over them stands a hooded figure. No one knows who this is. Tom Phillips enters with a flashlight. The hooded figure takes off his hood. It is Roman Reigns. “Buy why?” Tom asks. “Because Darkness Reigns,” says the former Roman Reigns. (This is the first time we will hear “Darkness Reigns,” which is his character’s new heel name, a.k.a. The Big Dog Who Guards the Gates of Hell a.k.a. The One Who Killed that Which Cannot be Killed.)
Mahalis: I am intrigued to find out what the House of Horrors match entails. However, it is hard to get excited about another Orton vs. Wyatt match after – in my opinion – they stunk up the joint at WrestleMania.
Staab: Like many people, I got sucked into believing their WrestleMania match would actually be good. After being so let down, I can’t say I like anything about this match going into Sunday.
What have you thought of the Hardy Boyz-Cesaro & Sheamus face vs. face feud?
Corrigan: I thought for sure that Sheamus was kicking Matt’s ass this past Monday, but alas, he remained calm. It’s a different type of feud, which has produced good matches, so I enjoy it.
Cross: I think it’s setting up a #BROKEN heel turn for Team Xtreme. All the friendliness can’t last forever. But if WWE can’t get the gimmick rights quickly enough, they’ll audible into a Cesaro and Sheamus breakup feud, which is another reason Anthem needs to take the money and run.
Levin: I like both teams, but I would much rather see Gallows and Anderson in this match. Unless Cesaro and Sheamus turn heel, this is a good feud – not a great feud.
Mackle: This has been the only feud that has my interest going into Payback. Hopefully this feud can go longer with some #BROKEN angles involved.
Macyk: I like it. The Hardy Boyz are afraid of Sheamus and Cesaro because they know how wrestling works. If someone tries to shake your hand, it’s probably a trick. But the truth is Sheamus and Cesaro just respect the game.
Mahalis: I don’t mind the face vs face feud. Although, after two straight weeks of post match handshakes, I don’t expect it to be face vs. face much longer. We are either being set up for a Sheamus and Cesaro heel turn or possibly a breakup of the team.
Staab: It’s been a highlight for me. I’m in the minority of people who didn’t fall in love with the #BROKEN gimmick in TNA, but the Hardy Boyz have been so enjoyable since returning I’m actually excited to see the inevitable switch back. On the other side, I wish Cesaro were the singles superstar he should be, but it’s hard to complain about the way him and Sheamus have been working together. It wouldn’t shock me if this ends up being the best match of the night.