Here Are Your WWE Payback 2017 Predictions & Analysis

WWE Payback 2017 airs this Sunday, April 30, live on WWE Network. The Raw-exclusive pay-per-view is headlined by an incredible Universal Championship match. Just kidding! But we do have matches for Raw’s Women’s and Tag Team Championships, as well as Smackdown’s United States Championship and a non-title haunted house match involving the WWE Champion. Things are … weird right now.

Here’s your complete WWE Payback 2017 card, as we know it.

WWE Payback 2017 Card:

1. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman

2. WWE United States Championship Match: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Chris Jericho

3. House of Horrors Match: Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton

4. Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe

5. Raw Women’s Championship Match: Bayley (c) vs. Alexa Bliss

6. Raw Tag Team Championship Match: The Hardy Boyz (c) vs. Sheamus and Cesaro

7. WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries

8. Kickoff Match: Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson

As always, we’ve got the band together to share our analysis and predictions for all eight matches. Be sure to drop down into our comments section to let us know what you think will happen on the show.

Here’s what we think will go down (and what should go down) at WWE Payback.

Kickoff Match: Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson

What Should Happen: In a perfect world, we’d use the fact that Gallows and Anderson are having a retread tag team match on the same Kickoff show as a Finn Bálor appearance on Miz TV to turn the Kickoff into something important and reform The Actual Club. It’s very easy to have Bálor show up after the tag match looking like he’s going to make a save only to double-stomp the leopard-print Christ out of Enzo Amore, then have him stick around for Miz TV and it just be the Club destroying Miz. Instantly turn them into popular, ass-kicking tweeners. More importantly, do something with a batch of New Japan talent beyond “tag match we’ve seen 10,000 times already” and “talk show segment.”

What Will Happen: Not that, I guess? Best case scenario, The Club cheats to win a lightly competitive match and Finn will wink wink nudge nudge about it during Miz TV. Obvious case scenario, this match is filler, and Enzo and Cass get a clean victory. Then on Monday we move forward with the storyline stuff and ask audiences to think of The Club as “the most dominant team” despite watching them lose on Sunday.

Staff Picks

Scott Heisel – Finn Balor is not on this card, yet Gallows and Anderson are. Life’s not fair. Enzo and Cass win, I guess.

Bill Hanstock – The battle of who could care less! (Spoiler: Enzo and Cass could care less.) Bálor is also on the Kickoff Show, being interviewed by Miz on MizTV. If Finn hadn’t already seemingly been inserted into a program with Bray Wyatt, I’d be calling for the Bálor Club to finally, officially form here. Since that ISN’T happening, an Enzo-Cass victory seems like the easy call, so I’m going to go the other way and predict The Club gets a win to continue their half-assed “kind of a threat” thing they have going on right now.

Chris Trew – There’s only word to describe this match and I’m gonna spell it out for you. K I C K O F F. (By the way, I can see this being the kickoff match for the next 6 months. Who’s sadder about the Hardy Boyz being back, Enzo or Big Cass?)

Danielle Matheson – Again? Oh. Okay. Cool. Uhhhh….*flips a coin* Enzo and Cass?

Justin Donaldson – I think Gallows and Anderson win this right? Right? Doesn’t it feel like they are getting ready to finally do something more with these guys?

WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries

What Should Happen: The WrestleMania 33 pre-show match was better than anyone gave it credit for being — especially performed in direct sunlight, in front of half the crowd — so I’m hoping a rematch on the card proper will be huge for both guys. Rematches like this don’t make a lot of sense to me if the challenger lost the first match straight up, and I feel like the only reason to do it is if you retroactively decided you should’ve pulled the trigger on a title change. So that’s what should happen here. As good as Neville’s been as champ, give the strap to Aries (who looks like he’s working five times harder than anyone in the division), and light a fire under Neville’s butt to get the belt back, and not just wander out complacently as “King” every week.

What Will Happen: There are only a few Raw title matches on the show, but I’m gonna be brave and say that in the absence of both the Universal Championship and the Intercontinental Championship, we’re getting more than one title change. The reasoning to give Aries the title and have Neville chase seems a lot more productive than “the only challenger anyone’s taking seriously loses again,” so let’s go with that. Bonus points if WWE ever decides to make the cruiserweight division an actual division, and not just “the champion and challenger are the only important people and everyone else gets dumped into tags.”

Staff Picks

Scott Heisel – Congratulations, Austin Aries, on your first-ever championship in WWE. Keep eating those bananas and listening to Weezer, buddy. That’s my morning routine, too.

Bill Hanstock – Neville needs to be the king of the cruiserweights for a while yet, so I imagine TJ Perkins shows up to distract Aries via incessant dabbing and/or being the worst, letting Neville pick up the win and retain.

Chris Trew – Neville til the day I die. I want Neville to be the Cruiserweight Champ and the intercontinental champ. I want a Neville 30 for 30. I want a Neville Table for 3 but it’s 3 Nevilles. I want Neville on Bring it to the Table and every topic is Neville.

Danielle Matheson – My money’s on Neville, not just because evil Neville (Nevil?) is great, but nobody deserves to lose to a dude who willingly wears a velvet circle cape.

Justin Donaldson – I guess Neville. I don’t see a reason to put the belt on Aries. I see more of an upside in a long Neville title run.

Raw Tag Team Championship Match: The Hardy Boyz (c) vs. Sheamus and Cesaro

What Should Happen: The past two weeks of Raw matches to build to this have been the same. In the first week, Jeff Hardy pinned Cesaro. Sheamus was mad about it, but Cesaro cooled him down and they shook hands with the Hardys. The Hardys looked nervous, but shook back. In week two, Matt Hardy pinned Sheamus. Cesaro was mad about it, but Sheamus cooled him down and they shook hands with the Hardys. The Hardys looked nervous, but shook back.

At Payback, the payoff needs to be Cesaro and Sheamus going absolutely batshit heel on them, figuratively murdering them somehow and taking the tag straps. I’m talking a brutal, grade-A beatdown. Blood, if we can do it. I want nothing short of the Hardys getting tossed into a meat grinder. Raw’s tag team division needs tough heels someone might actually take seriously — sorry, The Club — and the Hardys need to get “broken” sooner rather than later.

What Will Happen: The safer bet seems to be Sheamus and Cesaro winning by subtle cheating, and spending the next cycle trying to downplay it. That feels like the Raw move. They won’t do anything in a night they could drag out over eight weeks. Either way, I’m calling new tag champs. The Hardys 1000% do not need the tag titles to be over, ever.

Staff Picks

Scott Heisel – Does the Broken Matt/Brother Nero transition officially start here? Are Sheamus and Cesaro being turned heel? I honestly don’t know the answer to either of those questions and I’m genuinely interested in how this match plays out because of it. I’ll pick the Hardys to retain for now, only to lose the belts at Extreme Rules in some insane stipulation match to help pass the “extreme” torch to another team.

Bill Hanstock – The Hardys need to lose the titles in order to kick off the reboot of Broken Matt and/or Brother Nero. Are Sheamus and Cesaro the correct team to hand them that loss? Yeah, probably. This match should be EXQUISITE, ahhhhh yeeeeessss.

Chris Trew – Dut Dut Dut Dut Dut Sheamus and Cesaro. Dut Dut Dut Dut Dut Sheamus and Cesaro. Dut Dut Dut Dut Dut Sheamus and Cesaro. (Sheamus and Cesaro)

Danielle Matheson – What a wild match-up to be writing about in this, the year of our lord Sasha Banks 2017. Given Cesaro’s familiarity with working tiny lucha guys and ability to make anyone look good, I think he’s the perfect foil for Jeff so I’m weirdly excited to see this go down. The Hardyz retain, but all four men could steal the show.

Justin Donaldson – As much as I want to see the Broken Universe fully merged into the WWE I’m happy we got this not-so-broken old school Hardy Boyz retro run first. This is the match I’m most looking forward to on Sunday. The Hardys are winning.

Raw Women’s Championship Match: Bayley (c) vs. Alexa Bliss

What Should Happen: Bayley has kinda sorta been the dirt worst since winning the Women’s Championship, so let’s have Miss Bliss murk her and win the championship. Bliss was rad as hell as the Smackdown Women’s Champion, and Raw needs an identity for its women’s division beyond, “we were slash maybe are still part of the women’s revolution? Remember us from that cool period of NXT?” Charlotte’s gone, so giving Bliss the strap can freshen up the entire thing. Feud her with Sasha, Mickie, Nia, whoever. I still want Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax to be the new Gail Kim vs. Awesome Kong.

Honestly, anything to humble Bayley a bit and remind her who that character’s supposed to be. I don’t want a Bayley that says “hell no” she’s not giving up a title she didn’t win fairly, or dragging people around by their hair for 2-on-1 attacks.

What Will Happen: Calling another title change here. I don’t think it’ll be fair by any stretch of the imagination, but Alexa Bliss is the jam right now and deserves that spotlight to shine. Infinity bonus points if Sasha shows up to help Bayley cheat to win again, fails, costs Bayley the match and then just wrecks her afterward. Or at least sets up the moment when wreckage occurs for later. Alexa and Sasha need to be the Beautiful Fierce Females 2000.

Staff Picks

Scott Heisel – Alexa Bliss deserves the title for how amazing she was at handling the “WHAT?” chants on Monday, and really, how amazing she has been on the mic in general. I say Bliss wins through some underhanded means that will somehow involve Sasha Banks, which will then lead to Bayley vs. Sasha No. 1 contender’s match, which will then, finally, mercifully lead to Sasha turning on Bayley.

Bill Hanstock – Boy, I sure want Alexa to win this match! They’re clearly delaying Bayley vs. Sasha until SummerSlam, so having Alexa run with the belt for a while is a wonderful way to do that. Come on, WWE, just give us what we want: a tiny perfect-heel dynamo with a hilariously oversized championship belt.

Chris Trew – Alexa Bliss is from Columbus, Bayley is from San Jose. Both the Blue Jackets and the Sharks lost in the first round of the NHL playoffs. I’d love to see a shark wearing a blue jacket and I’d like to see Alexa Bliss wear Bayley’s dumb jacket the way The Rock wore Stone Cold’s dumb vest at Wrestlemania 19. Alex Bliss with the hat trick.

Danielle Matheson – Oh no, my heart. I love them both so much. Can I flip a coin again? No, I can only do that once? Sigh. I guess in a perfect scenario, Bayley would retain, but not without shenanigans so it’s clear that Bliss could win if she wants to. Or Sasha f*cks it up for Bayley and Bliss wins and gets to be real smarmy about it. Ooo yeah maybe do that one.

Justin Donaldson – I could see Bliss winning. I think that’s the right move. It helps legitimize her, and a summer of Bayley chasing the belt could be fun.

Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe

What Should Happen: The match should begin with Samoa Joe throwing Seth Rollins into a river, followed by like two and a half minutes of Rollins yelling I DON’T KNOW HOW TO SWIM while being carried away by the current.

What Will Happen: If Rollins can rein in some of his worst in-ring tendencies, this could be the match of the night. I wish John Cena would give everyone a seminar about leading Rollins through the best type of Seth Rollins match, because nobody else seems to get it. If your knee is hurt, maybe don’t exclusively use your knee for offense, jump off the top rope a bunch, and use a new finisher where you jump AND hit someone with your knee?

This all sounds very aggro, but I do have high hopes for this, especially if Joe wins. If Joe doesn’t win, somebody’s head’s not on straight. The obvious call to me seems to be having Rollins go for the V-Trigger (or whatever he’s calling it), Joe drag him to the ground by jumping leg and choke him the hell out. If Rollins is ever going to beat Joe, it needs to be a quest that he earns. If he can beat Triple H AND Samoa Joe with a less-than-100% knee, why am I gonna ever buy him as an underdog?

Staff Picks

Scott Heisel – Rollins got his big win over Triple H at Mania, so it seems a little early to have him lose to a lesser competitor — but it also seems just as early for Samoa Joe to take a big loss on a PPV. I predict this match ends in a schmozz (double DQ, maybe?) and we start the long, slow build to Extreme Rules in June, where these two will lock up once again and beat the snot out of each other.

Bill Hanstock – This is a tricky one, because you don’t want to nerf Joe in his first big PPV match, and you don’t want to set Rollins back after triumphing over both Triple H AND his Pedigree addiction. Joe probably has more at stake, but now you have to start asking whether this feud is going to stretch all the way to the next PPV. I’ll predict Rollins wins, although my heart says Joe, always and forever.

Chris Trew – Seth Rollins wears a “Joe Slayer” shirt to the ring and goes over clean. Sales for the “Joe Slayer” shirt are slim, much like the chances of this not being the match of the night.

Danielle Matheson – Poor Seth. Samoa Joe’s gonna kill him, probably for real this time.

Justin Donaldson – I think Seth is taking this one. I hope this match wraps this feud up. Both of these guys need to be involved in something fresh.

House of Horrors Match: Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton

What Should Happen: We should all watch this video of pets in Halloween costumes and hope the House of Horrors lasts less than five minutes.

What Will Happen: Man, after the walk to the ring on a giant sperm and slide project pictures of bugs onto the ring bullshit at WrestleMania, I didn’t think these two could have a worse match. But here comes the House of Horrors, a backstage fight in a … haunted house? That’s inside the arena? That can only be won IN THE RING. So you have to escape the house, walk to the ring and then have a wrestling match? What are we doing?

This is especially bad because of the Superstar Shake-Up™, as we’ve got the damn WWE Champion in a non-title match with a guy he couldn’t actively feud with for the past month outside of video packages. So there’s no heat for this, a dumb concept, performers that are terrible together and a Smackdown championship non-title match on a Raw-exclusive pay-per-view. Woof. CAT DRESSED AS A TACO AGAIN PLEASE.

Staff Picks

Scott Heisel – lol don’t care

Bill Hanstock – Oh boy, this is going to be awful. We all knew this would be a train wreck the instant “house of horrors” came out of Bray’s mouth. It’s the ultimate holding pattern until Bray can make the full leap to Raw. Since this is almost certainly a non-title match, that probably means Bray will win here, to keep him “strong” for his impending “I’m on Raw now” maybe-top-heel push.

Chris Trew – How do you type that that thing that’s a bunch of keyboard characters but it looks like someone shrugging their shoulders? -__:)-___? I don’t think that’s it.

Danielle Matheson – Imagine running a House of Horrors match after re-signing the #Broken Hardy Boyz. And now imagine running it with baby teeth-ass Randy Orton. My god. I hope Wyatt wins, and can re-legitimize himself as an actual demon instead of “white guy with dreads who loses a lot whose only superpower is not getting salsa on his white pants.” A superhuman feat indeed.

Justin Donaldson – Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!

WWE United States Championship Match: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Chris Jericho

What Should Happen: Here’s another match hurt by the Shake-Up. What should’ve been a grand finale to one of the best feuds of the past year of TV programming turned into a segregated afterthought to whatever Owens is doing on Smackdown. It was obvious that Jericho’s losing — The Face of America just started, Jericho’s not going to Smackdown and that Fozzy tour starts May 5 — and now we don’t even get to be excited about it.

Ah well. Owens wins.

What Will Happen: Yeah, Owens wins. I’m excited for us to be out of this awkward period where Raw and Smackdown feuds actually become dedicated things again, and aren’t pre-planned rematches booked a week before the boss decided everything should be different.

Staff Picks

Scott Heisel – I am all about Corporate KO right now. A (somewhat) clean-shaven, suit-wearing jerk proclaiming himself The Face Of America feels like something right out of Chris Jericho’s playbook, which makes even more sense given that Y2J is hitting the road with Fozzy starting next month. KO for the win, and Smackdown once again becomes the better show.

Bill Hanstock – Well, I mean … Owens is winning this match. Jericho has a Fozzy tour coming up, and the Face of America Open Challenge has just begun over on Smackdown. This is such a weird pay-per-view, as the Superstars have been shaken up beyond all recognition. But I assume the blowoff happens here, and Owens maybe apron powerbombs Jericho a few times to get the win AND keep Y2J off T2V for a while.

Chris Trew – If Chris Jericho wins he goes to Smackdown Live. If Kevin Owens wins Chris Jericho goes on tour with Fozzy. If it’s a draw then Kevin Owens replaces Chris Jericho on the Fozzy tour. If it’s a double disqualification the Fozzy tour is replaced with a Festival of Friendship Tour. Double disqualification, please.

Danielle Matheson – Kevin Owens, and I hope he feels really really fucking terrible about it.

Justin Donaldson – The match the shake-up forgot. It’s a safe bet that Owens is winning or at least keeping the belt but I’d love to see Kevin lose and be forced to go on the road with Fozzy all summer.

Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman

What Should Happen: Lesnar vs. Cena from SummerSlam. Roman Reigns is supposed to be hurt — he’s got an injured shoulder, cracked ribs and was FLIPPED IN A GODDAMN AMBULANCE THREE WEEKS AGO — so why not have Strowman charge him, knock him down, powerslam him a few times and pin him in the middle of the ring? Better yet, have the entire match be one move. Roman charges in for a spear to start the match but stumbles because he’s hurt, Strowman grabs him by the nape and face-front chokeslams him to death.

Use Roman’s perpetual heat machine for good for once and give Strowman this rub. You’re never gonna have a more believable moment of vulnerability for Reigns.

What Will Happen: Three Superman punches, two spears, probably that bouncy spear he retired the Undertaker with, Roman wins. I don’t want it to happen, man, but I’m playing the percentages here.

Staff Picks

Scott Heisel – It would be absolutely idiotic to waste all of Braun Strowman’s heat by having him lose to Roman on PPV again. Guess that means Roman is going to win, right?

Bill Hanstock – Roman Reigns has suffered the most intense beatdown of his professional career, which means he has had to miss two (2) weeks of television. If he doesn’t show up with tape wrapped around his protective vest, what are we even doing here? Braun should by all rights win this match, but I think he might not. Since there doesn’t seem to be a stipulation just yet (it could always turn into an ambulance match, or some such nonsense), there’s the possibility of Braun winning dirty. But I’ll go ahead and predict that Roman wins, and that Braun does something diabolical in the coming weeks to make up for it, just like last time!

Chris Trew – Roman Reigns squashing Braun Strowman would be incredibly funny and bizarre and I lean towards incredibly funny and bizarre as often as possible so I’ll say it: Roman Reigns squashes Braun Strowman. Instead of the ring breaking after a suplex it breaks after a Superman punch which is probably physically impossible but it’s Roman Reigns, y’all. Let’s have some fun.


Justin Donaldson – I’m never betting against Roman ever again. Braun has been on a hell of a roll this month. Turning over ambulances and leveling rings. It’s all going to end up making it more impressive when Reigns beats him.

Now It’s Your Turn

You’ve read what we think should and will happen at Payback. What do you think should happen? What do you think WILL happen? Drop down into our comments section below and let us know. And hey, be back here on Sunday for live coverage, an open discussion thread and results from the show.