Disc One gives us the Raw PPV, Payback.
The main selling point on the show however seemed to be Smackdown’s Randy Orton taking on Bray Wyatt in a “House of Horrors” match. To say it was abysmal would be to understate it. If it was supposed to be a response of sorts to TNA’s Broken Matt Hardy/Final Deletion insanity then it failed to recognise the one thing that made those segments a success; a sense of humour. This came across as something akin to a terrible WWE Studios Horror straight to DVD Movie that no-one would ever watch. To forensically analyse just what was wrong with this match would take more time than this utter catastrophe deserved.
And it’s a shame that Payback will be remembered for that abomination because elsewhere it was a decent night of action.
Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns was an action packed brawl that ended the show on a very high note. I still have the minor issue that Reigns losing clean here, so soon after apparently “retiring” The Undertaker meant that that match from Mania had been rendered largely irrelevant and missed any opportunity to capitalise on that result but on the night, in the moment, the match was a very good one. That should come as no surprise to anyone who has the ability to look past the IWC moaning about Reigns’ push. He can go in the ring.
The highlight of the undercard was the US Title match between Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho. Those who know me will know I am not the greatest fan of Jericho (which, I might add, is not the same as saying I don’t rate him) but even with that bias the result here seemed pointless, regardless of how quickly Owens would regain the title. Still with selling and psychology of a top-notch nature that is rarely seen anywhere these days this was a great match.
The other three Title matches were all good without ever really being close to becoming great. Neville and Austin Aries’ battle over the Cruiserweight title was spoiled by the non-finish, the Tag Team title match between Matt & Jeff Hardy and Sheamus & Cesaro was more interesting for what came after it than anything in-between the bells and the Women’s Title match between Bayley and Alexa Bliss became yet another in a long line of WWE matches where the hometown hero lost. Which is fine, in of itself, but rare is the occasion that the hometown hero ever returns and gets their revenge next time out.
The big disappointment was the plodding Samoa Joe/Seth Rollins match. It could, and should, have been so much better but was one of those matches that never quite clicked for whatever reason.
The DVD adds an OK Kickoff show match between Ezno & Big Cass and Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson.
Disc Two gives us the Smackdown only PPV, Backlash. As this was headlined by a main event few people wanted the main focus of the hype for this one seemed to be on the Smackdown “in-ring debut” of Shinsuke Nakamura and the US Title match between Kevin Owens and AJ Syles.
The latter delivered big time and is the best match from either show. The Countout finish was not exactly a welcome one, but it was understandable considering this was only stage one of their feud. Nakamura’s debut opposite Dolph Ziggler was less successful. It wasn’t bad, but if it’s aim was to show anyone who was not familiar with the former NXT Champion that Nakamura was a true superstar I would argue that it fell short.
The “main event” where Randy Orton put his WWE Title on the line against Jinder Mahal wasn’t awful but at no point did it feel PPV worthy. The main issue was that one win had catapulted Mahal to this level after YEARS of him being treated as an afterthought. I’m all for “new” faces getting a shot, but the least the WWE could do is at least attempt to build them up properly. At a time when the WWE’s talent roster is as stacked as it has ever been, there’s really no excuse.
The undercard delivered some good, some indifferent. Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin had an entertaining battle, even if it was essentially the same Zayn Vs Bigger Guy match we’ve seen a hundred times, and the Smackdown Tag Team Title match between The Uso’s and Breezango was reasonable enough for what it was. The six woman tag match showed that it takes a lot more than constantly hyping up the entire women’s roster to make things actually mean anything but at least that was miles better than the flat, and frankly boring, match between Luke Harper and Erick Rowan.
The Kickoff match between Tye Dillinger and Aiden English is passable but far from a classic.
It makes good sense to combine these two shows into one release, and you cannot argue with the value for money aspect of the release.
Raw’s Payback was the better overall show, even if it does include the worst match on the set and allowing for the fact that the best match on the set comes from Smackdown’s Backlash. Neither event could be said to be “must see” but there is enough spread across the two events to put this set as a mild thumbs up.
Photos courtesy: Fetch, Fremantle Media, WWE
Format reviewed: DVD
Thank you to our partners, WWEDVD.co.uk and Fetch for providing our review copy of Backlash/Payback which is available on DVD in the UK from Monday 17 July. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk now by clicking here