The Booking Report – 04.30.2017: Booking WWE Payback

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by The Unemployed Booker, Staff Writer


If Vince McMahon delivered a state of the WWE address right now, it would probably be just one sentence. He’d take to the podium and say, “Eh, we’ll see what happens.” Booking a PPV hours before the event is asinine, and I hope The E has their plan laid out and are just waiting to execute it, but we don’t have to conform to their laid-out plan and can book Payback the way we see fit. This is not a dirt sheet article that tries to predict what will happen this Sunday night, it’s a creative piece from an old unemployed booker trying to lay out a plan that he thinks is beneficial to the fans as well as the company. We’ll go match-by-match, looking at ways to advance the storyline or tie up loose ends that we assume the WWE is needing to accomplish. 

Enzo and Cass vs Gallows and Anderson 

Is it me or does the RAW tag team division feel a little stalled? It feels like they put the belts on the Hardys with no plan for the rest of the roster. Enzo and Cass looked like they were on a rocket ship to the top of the division as, hands down, the most over tag team. The surprising return of the Hardys seemed to stall their momentum. Since we’re sure the Hardys are going to continue to carry the belts, we have to build up a heel tag team to feud with them. Honestly, Anderson and Gallows are the only legitimate option to push going forward. Even though this should be a win for the how-you-doing duo, we have to find a way to move Anderson and Gallows towards the tag team titles. Hopefully we can find a way to keep both teams looking strong. 
The goal is obviously to make the Club look like vicious, uncaring heels and not make Enzo and Cass look like a beatable team. As Enzo and Cass come out for the match, Enzo is back in his wheelchair again. Still injured from last week’s assault. He does his spiel on the way to the ring and then cuts a promo about how he’s fighting anyway. They can’t keep him down, and he’ll always get back up. Once the match starts, an obviously injured Enzo is no match for the Club. After several minutes of trying, Enzo overcomes the odds once again, and Big Cass gets the hot tag. The 7-foot Robert Gibson does what he always does and takes out both members of the Club. He delivers the big boot to Anderson, knocking him out of the ring. After a few more offensive moves he sets up Gallows for their finisher. Just as he’s about tag Enzo in for the finish, Anderson hits Enzo in the knee with, get this, a club! This causes Cass to jump to the outside to try to determine what happened to his partner, and while Gallows distracts the ref, Cass gets hit with the club. At this point, Anderson rolls Cass back in the ring and hands the club to a fan at ringside. Gallows gets the pin, 1,2,3. While the Club celebrates in the ring, Cass tries to convince the ref he was hit with something. He points to the fan that is holding the club to show the ref and that’s when the fan (a plant since fans these days don’t play along like the old days) throws the club into the ring. The ref picks it up to confront Anderson and Gallows and they attack the referee! This sets off Big Cass who attacks them. As they flee the ring to run away, they have to pass the injured Enzo still on the ground unable to stand from his knee injury. Just as they are about make their escape up the ramp, Enzo trips both members of the club! Cass hot in pursuit uses this opportunity to grab Anderson’s leg, but a swift kick from Gallows causes Cass to lose his grip and they take off again. Cass doesn’t give chase but instead helps his partner to his feet and their music plays as they exit. 

Neville vs Aries 

205 Live really needs a shot in the arm to get the product some buzz. I still believe an entire overhaul is needed, but since WWE paying me for my idea is pretty unlikely at this point, I’m going to try book a different direction and continue to live on my unemployment benefits. 
We start with Neville coming to the ring with his new sidekick TJ Perkins in tow. During the match, Neville ends up on the outside where he continues to show TJ disrespect. As we move to the finish, Neville has the upper hand and goes up for the red arrow. TJ, not pleased with Neville’s treatment of him earlier, grabs his foot so that he falls. This gives Aries a chance to get the win. While Aries celebrates his victory, TJ jumps in and assaults Austin Aries, proving that his allegiance lies with neither man. TJ heads for the back where he is attacked at the curtain by Tyler Bate. The segment ends with a satisfied looking Bate standing over the prone body of Perkins while Neville and Aries look on. 

Alexa vs Bayley 

I think it’s time for Bayley to lose the belt. I love Bayley. Her character is great, she’s not bad in between the ropes, and the kids really love her, but you can’t be the underdog if you’re always the champ. I need Bayley to lose, but it shouldn’t be because it’s time. We have to set her up for the future. 
I think this is a pretty simple booking. Alexa should pretty much have the upper hand for the whole match. I want Bayley to have several desperation kick outs at two or a foot on the rope at the last minute. Once Alexa realizes she can’t just beat Bayley, she has to resort to cheating. She gets the win by grabbing the tights, maybe using the ropes as leverage. Either way, she wins the match underhandedly. As Alexa stands in the ring, gloating, Sasha attacks. In the next few weeks Alexa refuses to face Sasha. She runs from their matches taking the count out or just plain refusing to show up.  Bayley, though, demands her rematch, and by contract Alexa can’t get out of this match. It’s made into a no count out, falls count anywhere match. Sasha pleads with Bayley to give up her title shot so Sasha can get in the ring with Alexa. Bayley eventually does and Sasha gets the win and they blow off their feud after the rematch. This sets up Bayley asking for a return on her favor and Sasha paying her back for her favor with a title shot for Bayley. They then have a great face vs face match at SummerSlam or you turn Sasha heel beforehand. That’s more of me booking in some versatility so that you have options going forward.

Hardys vs Cesaro and Sheamus 

I’m going to be honest here. What’s the point? I can’t understand what the purpose of this feud is. The Hardys are already over, Cesaro and Shemus are basically headed down the card, and they didn’t even use it for the obvious reason which is to split up Sheamus and Cesaro. 
If I had it my way, I would have used this to begin a feud between a heel Sheamus and a face Cesaro, but they haven’t done anything to plant that seed. If it happened now, it wouldn’t make sense. I just need The Hardy’s to win so that we can move them on into a real program where a legitimate heel team challenges for the belts. 

Seth vs Samoa Joe 

These two have the potential to put on a great match. The storyline so far isn’t horrible, but it could’ve been better. I would have liked to see a better build and more structure to the feud. Triple H was supposed to be the reason behind this, but he’s not been seen since WrestleMania. We’ll work with what we have, and try to advance the storyline. 
I’m going to book Samoa Joe to basically dominate this match. Seth seems to be hardly a match for the animalistic demeanor of Joe. Joe wins fairly easily forcing Seth to submit. From there you continue to use the HHH’s henchman story arc for Joe. You keep him feuding with Seth, preferably. That helps Seth build on his underdog character until you let him finally get one over on Joe and/or Triple H. Of course, you could take Joe in a different direction where he attacks another superstar on Hunter’s orders. 

Owens vs Jericho 

This has truly been the best slow burn feud in several years in the WWE. It’s a shame that it’s time for it to come to an end, but alas, it is. To be honest, they may have milked it a little too long, but that’s an article for another time. 
I’d let the two men in the ring work their own match, but throw in a few signs of Kevin Owens turning face. He shows good sportsmanship a few times, and really makes the crowd feel their emotions switching to KO. Then, Kevin Owens sucker punches Jericho with a low blow. A quick roll up and handful of tights to get the win. It fully establishes KO as a dastardly heel, the kind of heel the sport is missing. 

Orton vs Wyatt 

The upsetting part of this feud is the obviously unplanned switch to the RAW brand for Bray Wyatt. It looks as if now the WWE title is no longer on the line in this match. I have no idea how they plan to sell that reason, but I’ll be watching to find out. This has been one of the biggest creative botches in recent history. Honestly, at this point, most of us just want this to be over so that we can move into more meaningful storylines that will actually have an effect on each brand moving forward. 
I have no clue what this “House of Horrors” match will entail, but I assume it’ll be more of that ridiculousness that they used at WrestleMania. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll think better of it and we will just see Bray use several weapons to torture Randy Orton. 
I’m actually unmotivated to book a winner and loser here. It literally means nothing at this point. I have to put Bray over because this is his match. Much like Undertaker in a casket match, Bray should certainly win. You would assume I’d book Randy to look like the strong champion going forward, but I think I’ll go a different direction. I have Bray completely dominate this match. Randy actually looks kind of weak. I want to make people believe that Jinder Mahal has a legitimate chance to win the belt from Randy at Backlash. I would even book Jinder to dominate their match before a RKO out of nowhere saves Randy from certain defeat. I like that story arc going forward, but, honestly, this has become a throw away match that I doubt has much lasting effect on either competitor going forward. 

Reigns vs Strowman

Reigns has been held off of TV for a few weeks, and I’m not sure if that was by design or if it was just because Roman has been tending to family matters regarding the death of his brother. Either way, the absence is a good thing for the Roman character. I’m afraid the WWE will bring him back in a “hero’s return” scenario where he shows up hurt and tries for the sympathy pop. Luckily, I don’t work for Vince, or anybody unfortunately, but I don’t have to book within the restrictions of making Roman look like America’s hero. With that said, I’ll still play along…. for a minute. 
Roman heads for the ring and he’s obviously injured. (Note: I hope he does get a small pop to let him know that fans do respect his family’s grief). Walking with a limp and holding his ribs, he struggles climbing into the ring. The ref checks on him to make sure he can handle the match when it’s against such an intimidating opponent, and, reluctantly, he rings the bell to start the fight. Roman begins to get destroyed by the monster. He works over Roman’s obvious injuries and proceeds to kill him. If my calculations are correct, the crowd will likely cheer this beatdown. Just when it looks to be over, Roman pulls out some sort of brass knuckles. He begins to hit Braun repeatedly. This staggers the big man, but he still never goes down. After more repeated hits, Roman finally goes for the superman punch with his loaded hand. Not even that drops the big man, but it staggers him enough that Roman hits the spear. This gets Roman the three count and Roman only celebrates briefly before getting out of the ring. On his way up the ramp Braun wakes up and heads after him. Strowman catches him from behind and tosses him over his head and back towards the ring. Braun spins around and the camera catches his blood covered face in his monster pose. (God, I wish I could actually book blood in a match). Roman crawls away, and, before Braun gets to him, 5 or so men tackle Braun. He easily throws them off. Roman continues to retreat. 10-15 men now tackle Braun, and Roman gives a look of great fear, a look that acknowledges he has now met his ultimate opponent. Roman retreats through the crowd as Braun tosses the rest of the men and then gives chase after Roman, who is long gone. The show ends with the announcers making a big deal out of the chase. “If he catches him, he’ll surely kill him!” The last line said by the heel announcer, “Lets just hope Roman gets out of the building!” 


With PayBack in the rearview mirror we can finally put to bed the Owens/Jericho and Orton/Bray feuds. I’m excited to see a build of Bray being the irresistible force who continues to beat opponents using his mind, hopefully building up to a meeting with the unmovable object Braun Strowman.  I’d like to see them continue to push more people into the upper card of 205 Live and maybe find a way to get people interested in that show. I’d love to see Bayley get more of the Rocky Balboa story line going forward. She doesn’t have to have the title all of the time, because she plays the underdog so well that it’s ok for her to chase it. Especially if she is constantly cheated out of winning it. As for the tag titles, you have to build more heel teams to compete for the belts. That should be priority one with that division. If we are going to keep Seth in the main event picture but we don’t have a WWE title to fight over, we are going to have make his feuds feel more main event. Possibly entering into some sort of faction vs Seth type of storyline. The direction of the booking isn’t great, but they could do worse. I mean, they could give one of their PPVs a horrible name like Great Balls of Fire or something, but what do I know?
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