WWE returns to pay-per-view for the first time since WrestleMania with this weekend's RAW brand WWE Payback. Seven matches are on the main card with an eighth on the pre-show. The main event features Roman Reigns seeking revenge on Braun Strowman after the goliath became the toast of the WWE Universe for destroying the former SHIELD member a couple weeks ago. One has to wonder whether the real-life death of Reigns' brother, who wrestled in WWE under the ring name "Rosey," affected the build to the match. Critics have stated that the lead-up has been weak, but that is understandable given the circumstances.
Elsewhere on the card, WWE Champion Randy Orton faces Bray Wyatt in a House of Horrors match that no one quite seems to know what to make of. WWE also made a late decision to make this a non-title match. Some had speculated that Wyatt would win this match and bring the title to RAW after he was drafted back to Monday nights as part of the recent roster shakeup. Had that happened, it was believed that WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar would have shifted to SmackDown to even up the balance of gold. Obviously, that's not going to happen now.
But plenty of matches seem a little harder to pick including the RAW Women's Championship tilt between Bayley and new challenger Alexa Bliss. To kick around the possibilities, I've brought back my fellow WWE scribes; Aaron Oster from Rolling Stone and Scott Fishman from TV Insider.
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
Scott: One of the things WWE has consistently gotten right has been the development of Braun Strowman. He is really gained momentum the last few months. He may be one of the few to overcome the so-called "Make Roman Look Strong" movement. Given the last few weeks, I'm really looking forward to seeing what kind of destruction Strowman creates. Pick: Braun Strowman
Aaron: I could see this end in a no-contest to set up a Last Man Standing or Ambulance match for Extreme Rules. However, barring that, it would be insane to have Roman Reigns win here. He already got the win back in March, he's coming off getting dumped in an ambulance. Let Braun win. Pick: Braun Strowman
Chuck: If WWE really, REALLY wants to make the fans go ballistic, they will have Roman Reigns win. A win over Strowman following his defeat of the Undertaker will accomplish that. But I don't see that happening here. They've been grooming Strowman for a major push, and a win Sunday is just what the doctor ordered. Pick: Braun Strowman
Randy Orton (Photo Credit: Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
House of Horrors Match (non-title)
WWE Champion Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt
Scott: I have no idea what a House of Horrors match is, but it's got to be better than Kennel in a Cell, right? I'm going in blind here and just taking a stab in the dark saying Orton wins. Pick: Randy Orton
Aaron: It's crazy that we still don't know what this is. I guess this is basically a Boiler Room Brawl, but creepier? Anyways, the only reason to not make this a title match is if you have Bray Wyatt winning. It's still nonsensical that it isn't a title match, but hey, Bray needs to win, so it's hard to complain too much. Pick: Bray Wyatt
Chuck: I hate to sound like a broken record here, but how can you pick this match when you don't know what it is? The fact that WWE opted not to make this a title match does provide somewhat of a clue. I think Bray Wyatt gets the win here in a match on "his turf," which still allows champion Randy Orton to look strong in defeat. Pick: Bray Wyatt
Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe
Scott: In order for Joe to be really solidified as a top performer and muscle in WWE, he needs a good win. This could be the perfect one. Although I wouldn't be surprised to see some kind of chicanery. Pick: Samoa Joe
Aaron: They didn't have Seth Rollins beat Triple H just to have him lose weeks later, did they? Granted, there's the opportunity here for some sort of run-in to help Joe win, and it would make sense. But a Rollins win seems more necessary. Pick: Seth Rollins
Chuck: WWE has a habit of handing relative newcomers to the roster a string of losses on big shows before they get a big push. Including the Royal Rumble, AJ Styles only won one of his first six pay-per-view matches in WWE. Why should Samoa Joe be any different? Pick: Seth Rollins
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Kevin Owens (Photo Credit: JP Yim/Getty Images)
United States Championship
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Chris Jericho
Scott: Kevin Owens has done wonders for the U.S. Championship, and there are already a number of contenders on SmackDown Live to build a really good division around. AJ Styles is already waiting for his shot at the title against Owens, which means Jericho's chances aren't very good. Pick: Kevin Owens
Aaron: We saw Chris Jericho perform all of his greatest hits on Monday. He got to say all his trademark lines, and he did all his trademark moves, including some we haven't seen in quite a while. He can go hang with Fozzy, while Kevin Owens stays as the Face of America over on SmackDown. Pick: Kevin Owens
Chuck: I'm going to miss Y2J while he's off playing rock star. Even though we've known this was coming for some time, it doesn't make it any easier. Jericho's latest run may be been his best eh-eh-eh-everrrrrr. But since he's on his way out… whatcha gonna do when K-O Mania runs wild on you?! Pick: Kevin Owens
RAW Tag Team Championship
The Hardy Boyz (c) vs. Sheamus & Cesaro
Scott: I've been looking forward to this match, as I think it will be fun to watch. Coming off of their big WrestleMania win, I don't see the Hardyz losing the championships so quickly. Pick: The Hardy Boyz
Aaron: I don't expect the Hardyz reign to last long. Eventually, they'll lose the titles, which will trigger the Hardyz Broken Brilliance once again. However, especially with Extreme Rules looming, I don't see it happening here. Pick: The Hardy Boyz
Chuck: I just can't see the Hardyz losing the straps just yet. They received a huge reception at their WrestleMania return, and the pops haven't died down. Matt and Jeff walk in the with gold, and they'll be leaving with it as well. Pick: The Hardy Boyz
RAW Women's Championship
Bayley (c) vs. Alexa Bliss
Scott: Bayley will probably win to move closer to SummerSlam and a probable showdown with Sasha Banks. However, I am going with Alexa Bliss, because she really is one of the best things going today, and I don't want to go against her. Call it blinded by Bliss. Bliss vs. Sasha Banks could really be a money match. Pick: Alexa Bliss
Aaron: Coming out of WrestleMania, I would have guessed that Bayley would hold on to the title at least until the summer. However, after Alexa Bliss's promo on Monday, it's hard to go against her. What better heel move than to beat Bayley in front of her family and friends on Sunday? Pick: Alexa Bliss
Chuck: I've been picking Bayley to lose the championship for some time now, and Sunday I think will be the day. Alexa Bliss owned the women's division on SmackDown Live, and now it's time for her to ascend to the top of the flagship show. Pick: Alexa Bliss
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries
Scott: Neville has really been one of the bright spots in the otherwise lost-in-the-shuffle cruiserweight division. Austin Aries has been another. And after losing at WrestleMania, I'm going with Aries to take the title and become 205 Live's top banana. Pick: Austin Aries
Aaron: This is interesting, because you could make a good argument either way. Just like Mania, they've hit their stride with Neville as champ. However, would they really have Aries lose twice in a row? That's what this comes down to. If Neville wins this though, expect him to hold it until SummerSlam. Pick: Austin Aries
Chuck: The name of the show is Payback, and that's exactly what Austin Aries will be getting here. And that's good news, because it means the feud will continue for at least one more pay-per-view. Frankly, the cruiserweight division needs this. Pick: Austin Aries
Enzo & Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Scott: I will always hold out hope that Enzo & Big Cass get a run with the tag team titles. However, the way Enzo & Big Cass have been booked the last few weeks makes we wonder if not winning the gold will be a catalyst for the duo going their separate ways. I think Big Cass teaming with main event singles stars on Monday was very telling. Pick: Gallows & Anderson
Aaron: It's the pre-show, which tends to be rather unpredictable. But as long as the main contenders are faces, they need a strong heel to bounce off of. Thus, The Club wins this. Pick: Gallows & Anderson
Chuck: My affinity for Enzo & Cass has not changed. Unfortunately, it wouldn't appear that WWE views them as a viable choice to hold the belts. I can't see them defeating the Hardyz anytime soon, and it makes sense to make Gallows & Anderson the next guys to get a crack at the titles. But is the end near for Enzo & Cass? Bada-boom… the tag team might be doomed. Pick: Gallows & Anderson
Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.
Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.
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