Yes, it’s the show with the House of Horrors – and here’s our take!
Starting with the pre-show, as always, but we’ll skip everything that isn’t a match.
Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Enzo and Cass got the good reaction they always do, and Enzo starts out in some garish blue, orange and leopard print gear as he took Anderson into the corner for some shoulder charges.
Things changed up when Luke Gallows came in to take control, before a blind tag surprised Amore, who took a DDT. Yep, it’s the spot to roll outside for for the ad break! We return as Gallows has Enzo in an armbar, and sure enough, Amore fights back with a DDT and tries to make the tag to Cass… but Anderson just about dives in to stop it.
Another tag out is stopped as Gallows pulls Cass off the apron, but at the third attempt we get the hot tag as Cass clears house. The Empire Elbow leaves Gallows laying, before a series of avalanches is thwarted on the third attempt, with Cass staggering back into a tag to Amore… who was promptly dropkicked off the apron by Anderson. The end quickly came though when Amore was dragged back in for a Magic Killer, but Cass came in and booted Anderson, allowing Enzo to cradle Gallows for the win. Fine for what it was, an opener to warm the crowd up. **½
WWE United States Championship: Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens (c)
Thanks to the Superstar Shake Up, and the Intercontinental title being moved to Raw with Dean Ambrose, if the title changes hands, this is effectively a Winner Leaves Town outing. Short Haired Kevin Owens has rebranded himself as “The Face of America” as the US champion, and yes, the shorter hair and beard just looks odd as someone who doesn’t watch much Raw or SmackDown.
Good lord, even the German announce desk is a three man booth these days!
We start with a chase scene around the ring, but Jericho gets the first advantage with a diving elbow off the top rope for a near-fall, before a springboard dropkick intended to knock Owens off the apron ended with Jericho getting thrown into the ring post. A cannonball by the guard rails follows from Owens, who picked up a near-fall before grounding Jericho with a chinlock.
Jericho escapes, only to get whacked with a clothesline for a two-count, and yes “two” “sweet!” has infiltrated San Jose after being annoying at WrestleMania. We’re back to the chinlock, but again Jericho escapes, only to miss a charge into the corner as he sailed to the floor. There’s a pretty swift response though as Jericho returned to try a Walls of Jericho, before settling for an enziguiri for a near-fall… only to be almost beheaded by a superkick from Owens.
They block each others finishers before Jericho’s Lionsault gets nothing but knees as he crawls into the corner for a cannonball that almost ends it. A pop-up powerbomb’s turned into a ‘rana as Jericho switches it into a Walls of Jericho, but just like WrestleMania, Owens gets to the ropes with a FINGER. So that prompts Chris to stomp away on that left hand, before smashing the hand between the ring and the steps as the excellent storytelling there continued.
An eye poke and a roll-up should have won it for Owens, but he’s again caught in the Walls of Jericho, and this time he can’t make the ropes and is forced to tap. A pretty good match, but the Finger of America stuff seemed really rushed, all things considered. ***¼
After the match, Jericho gave an autograph to a kid who’d bought a List of Jericho clipboard – and had “KO” on a piece of paper on it. Classy stuff from Chris…
WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Austin Aries vs. Neville (c)
So this is why we had a load of back-to-back adverts – purple rope time! These two had a really good match on the WrestleMania pre-show, so the question here is will Neville be able to get back to that level? God, that tag-line is bad…
We start with an armdrag as Neville’s forced into the corner early on, before he charges Aries into the opposite as they each neutralise the other in the early going. A plancha from Aries takes out Neville as the challenger was on the ascendancy, but he takes too long going for the 450 splash and falls to the mat as Neville dropkicked the top rope to unsettle him.
A missile dropkick gets Neville a near-fall before he plays to the crowd, and this is feeling more of a TV match than their WrestleMania outing. Aries dropkicks Neville to the floor, then keeps up the pressure with a series of chops before a uranage gutbuster and a power elbow left Neville reeling.
Aries drops Neville with a neckbreaker in the ropes, before a low-pe takes both men into the crowd barriers. Neville’s forced to fight out of a Last Chancery attempt, before he takes a shinbreaker into a back suplex as Aries built up a head of steam. Another 450 Splash is attempted, but Neville joins him up top and takes a sunset flip powerbomb before that Last Chancery is applied… only for Neville to grab the referee and pull him down, forcing a DQ. A horrid, HORRID finish – which does nobody any good. Least of all that referee who must be scared in any windy weather if Neville can pull him down like that. This match never really got out of the blocks, and paled in comparison to what we saw at ‘Mania **¾
WWE Raw Tag Team Championship: Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Hardy Boyz (Matt Hardy & Jeff Hardy) (c)
It’s been a month since the Hardys returned, but we’re still stuck with them in their nostalgia phase… which worked so well for the Dudleys a few years earlier.
The champions worked over Cesaro early on, with Jeff landing Poetry in Motion in the corner before an inside cradle getting a near-fall, only to get thrown into a Finlay roll by Sheamus as the Irishman claimed a near-fall. A double legdrop to Sheamus’ groin gets Jeff a two-count, before an armdrag through the ropes leads to a nasty bump for Jeff to the floor.
Jeff kicks out at two when he returned to the ring, and again after a gutwrench suplex. A punt to a downed Jeff sees Sheamus remove a tooth as the Irishman’s shin smashed into Jeff’s head… and from there Sheamus tones it down with a rear chinlock.
Jeff eventually hits back with a Whisper in the Wind as he made the tag out to Matt, who rammed Cesaro’s head into the corner multiple times. An elbow and a Side Effect connect for a two-count, as Jeff takes out Sheamus with a dive off the apron… that leaves Matt free to slam Cesaro and follow up with a moonsault. That misses, and Cesaro counters with a springboard uppercut before taking Matt for a swing.
Cesaro follows that up with a Sharpshooter, but he makes the rope as Jeff pushed it towards him… Sheamus tags in to plant Matt with some White Noise off the middle rope, only for Jeff to return to make the save, then throw Cesaro to the outside for another dive. This time Cesaro catches him, only to get shoved into the crowd as the Hardyz looked to finish of an isolated Sheamus… and succeeded when Jeff hit a senton bomb off the top onto Sheamus for the win as the Irishman thought he’d beaten Matt. This was fine – despite the Hardys being in the twilight of their careers, this felt like a muted version of the brothers. It’s only a matter of time before the nostalgia run peters out I’m afraid. ***
After the match Sheamus and Cesaro turned on the Hardys, with the Swiss Superman repeatedly throwing Jeff into the ringpost whilst Sheamus did the same to Matt, before finishing him off with a brogue kick.
WWE Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley (c)
What a pop for Bayley, who returned home and got to high five one of her inflatable tube men. Unfortunately, wrestling in your home town for WWE usually has one result…
We start with Bayley charging Bliss into the corner, before a knee drop gets an early two-count… which is a pet hate, but let’s avoid those for now, as Bayley lands a Drive By-ish dropkick across the corner to keep Bliss on the outside. A swift forearm from Bliss dropped the champion, and firmly put Alexa in control for a spell.
Bliss pulls up Bayley whilst standing on her hair, before whipping her to the mat and grounding the champ with another rear chinlock as Bliss continued to just bully the champion with ease. Alexa teases letting herself get counted out, but that just gave Bayley enough time to fire back, landing a neckbreaker in the ropes before a series of clothesline rocked Bliss, as did a side suplex.
A diving back elbow keeps Bayley in it, but a Bayley-to-Belly gets countered as Bliss shrugs her into the corner. Bliss again counters a Bayley-to-Belly, this time off the top rope, then switches it into a sunset flip for a two-count, before a moonsault knee drop missed… allowing Bayley to land a running knee and follow up with the Macho Man elbow for a two-count.
Bliss slaps Bayley, sparking some anger from the champ, who then countered a sunset flip by sitting down… only to get shoved into the post from the kick-out. A small package almost wins it, but Bliss kicks out and goes straight to a DDT for the win! That was really out of nowhere and deflated the clearly pro-Bayley crowd after a match that was well on the way to being something special. They made a big deal of Bliss being the first woman to capture the Raw and SmackDown Women’s titles – not bad for someone who’s only been on the main roster for ten months! ***¾
House of Horrors Match: Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton – Part One
Well this was weird… they announced that the match would start in Bray’s House of Horrors and end in the arena. Cue a lot of boos as the crowd awaited the video to start, and we get the “live” graphic as we see a limo driving down a dirt road, with a shirtless Randy Orton inside. If it’s going to be pulled off him in the fight, then why not?
The outside of the house is lit in Undertaker blue as Orton kicks his way into the house, where we suddenly go all horror movie-ish with camera cuts as Bray appears behind Randy and jumps him whilst muttering about how he’s going to take everything from him. Cue the creepy Wyatt tropes as we see him choke Randy from around a corner, before Orton wanders into a room full of dismembered baby dolls.
Complete with burbling noises.
Wyatt throws Orton through a wall, and now we follow Randy wandering some more in search of Bray. They head into a kitchen where “we’re here” is written onto the side of a filthy fridge, before Bray swings and misses with a pan. This is more of a fight than a match, but you didn’t really expect holds here did you… not when you can get Bray killing Randy by throwing a fridge onto him!
Bray throws open the door and walks out of the house to bask in the Undertaker’s old blue lights… which then turn blood red as Bray screams his catchphrase and laughs. Despite having killed Randy, Bray climbs into the limo and asks to be taken to the arena, presumably to take a forfeit. To be continued!
The crowd in the arena are booing, but let’s wait for how this plays out, eh?
Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe
These poor buggers had to win back a crowd that’d sat through the House of Horrors video and were pretty much out on their feet.
They started out with some back and forth, with grounded punches from Joe and a dropkick and plancha from Rollins, before a tope took Joe down again… to a mild reaction. Another tope succeeds, but he’s caught with a Dragon screw in the ropes as Joe looks at Rollins’ knee with an evil eye.
Joe’s elbow suicida keeps up the dive count, before a leg sweep forces Rollins to faceplant in the ring. All the focus stays on that knee, before an enziguiri in the corner knocks Seth down for a near-fall, but Rollins returns with a thrust kick and a forearm in the corner before a neckbreaker takes the Samoan down.
Joe returns with a move they called the Knee Capper, like an inverted double knee-breaker, before switching it into a knee bar. Seth grabs the rope to force a break, but Joe stays on top of him, following up with a powerbomb before spinning into a half crab after the kick-out as Seth started to scratch and claw his way towards the ropes once more. Again, Seth makes the ropes, and manages to rebound with a Slingblade to leave both men laying.
A corner enziguiri from Seth softens up Joe for a Blockbuster for a near-fall, before Joe goes back to that knee… missing with a back senton. Joe recovered to catch Seth up top, but Rollins comes back with a powerbomb attempt, only for his knee to buckle, before a modified Michinoku Driver gets him a near-fall. Seth gets a frog splash for a near-fall – and more knee pain – before a roundhouse kick takes Joe down once again.
Another Slingblade attempt is blocked and turned into a sleeper, which Seth counters into a pin by climbing the ropes, but he’s again clotheslined to the mat as Joe snapped back into the match, catching Seth in another sleeperhold, but Seth rolled through and managed to take Joe down… and surprises the big man with the pin! Yet another out-of-nowhere finish, but this was pretty good while it lasted, especially given how dead the crowd was at the start of it! ***½
House of Horrors Match: Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton – Part Two
We’re taken backstage now as a limo pulls in… and Bray Wyatt drags himself out of the car before taking a rest on Neil’s workbox as he made his way towards the ring. Somewhere between this, Bray found a lantern to walk to the ring with.
Bray gets to the ring and blows out his lantern… and there’s Randy Orton behind him, having survived having a fridge thrown onto him back at the House of Horrors! Orton kicks Wyatt out of the ring, then they brawl around the ringside area as Bray’s thrown across the announce table, before Wyatt takes a DDT whilst hanging off of the table.
Randy gets a chair and uses it on Bray’s back, before taking him inside for an RKO attempt… but all of a sudden the renamed Bollywood Boyz – Samir and Sunil Singh – hit the ring and attack Orton from behind. He dispatches both yellow shirt and blue shirted Singh, before countering a Sister Abigail into an RKO attempt… but in comes Jinder Mahal with Randy’s WWE title belt, and a belt shot knocks the champion down, with Wyatt stealing the pin to snatch the win.
Well, overall, the House of Horrors was an entertaining break from the norm that ended out as a massive bust. The pre-taped stuff was fine if you went in with an assumption that this was going to be wacky and tongue in cheek, but the live stuff just felt really flat and not at all compelling. I get they had to segue from the Wyatt to the Jinder feuds, but this just felt like paint by numbers, except someone screwed up a number. The whole concept wasn’t as bad as some made out, but this wasn’t executed as good as it could have been, with that Mahal/Singhs run in hurting it badly. *
Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns
Reigns, who’d been kept off TV after being tipped over inside an ambulance, came to the ring taped up as if here trying to mummify himself, with only his left arm remaining tape-free. He launches into Strowman at the bell, and we’ve a slugfest in the main event!
Braun’s low bridged to the outside, where he’s joined by Roman’s step-up clothesline off the ring steps as the crowd boos him. Ehh, that’s probably not the response they were hoping for. Especially when a Drive By attempt is caught and turned into Braun swinging Roman into the crowd barriers, before a chokeslam planted Roman on the German announce table.
Back inside, an avalanche squashes Roman in the corner, before making sure to throw the “Big Dog” shoulder-first into the ring post. That taped shoulder may as well have been a bullseye as Braun continues to throw him into things, before using a grounded bear hug to try and force Reigns to give. Eventually, Roman catches a break, sidestepping a charge, before he swipes away a punch and squats up into a Samoan drop!
A Cactus clothesline from Roman sends both men sailing to the outside, before shoving Braun into the ringpost in a move that nearly won the match by count-out. Braun returned and ran into a spear for a near-fall, before eating a couple of Superman punches that really turned the crowd even more against Roman.
Roman bounds off the ropes into another Superman punch, but Strowman catches him in a standing arm choke before a powerslam sees Reigns barely kick out. Another powerslam did the trick though, as Braun gets the win in a thoroughly entertaining main event – but I wish WWE would be able to do something other than building Braun for someone, as it’s extremely hard to see him defeating, say, Brock Lesnar. ***¾
After the match, Strowman brought in the ring steps as he looked to put an exclamation mark on proceedings. The crowd chanted “thank you Strowman” in expectation as he gave Roman a Snake Eyes onto some upturned ring steps, before jabbing them into Reigns, prompting him to “bleed internally” as the show ended with the commentary team berating the lack of medical attention whilst Roman walked away under his own steam, rejecting a stretcher too.
Well, Payback wasn’t bad, but as is the case with a lot of these B-shows… it just felt flat. Bayley losing in her home town was predictably deflating, whilst the House of Horrors match was a worthy experience on TV, but a disaster to the live crowd. There’s good action on this show, but that’s the problem. Just about everyone has good action, but your marquee shows need to deliver – and this, when it was all said and done, didn’t feel like it did.