But it wasn't completely forgettable. There were a number of scenes that are destined to make it to the Payback opening video at the very least.
The first was an opening scene which saw The Authority mouth off about Daniel Bryan and The Shield before bringing out Brad Maddox. Maddox had allowed Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins to be guest commentators during a Batista v Roman Reigns match the week before. That hadn't sat well with Triple H and Steph. They had Kane come to the ring and rough him up then give him a choke slam and, just for good measure, a Tombstone piledriver.
Afterwards Maddox was fired as RAW General Manager. That had been a long time coming. The presence of Stephanie and 'The Game' on television every week has been making the GM position pointless since last summer. Maddox had barely been featured and when he had been he'd usually been doing something minor. This frees him up to be reintroduced in a new role. Possibly as a wrestler, which is presumably what he was signed to do in the first place.
Hour two's opening saw Bray Wyatt target Jerry 'The King' Lawler in the latest stage of his quest to upset John Cena. Why would targeting Jerry Lawler upset Cena, you ask. Apparently the two are very good pals. Such good pals in fact that it's never been referenced before. The real reason behind involving 'King' was that RAW was being held in Tennessee. That's firmly Lawler country, making what happened an easy way to present 'The Eater of Worlds' as a bad guy.
Lawler was brought into the ring by Harper and Rowan. JBL tried to make the save but got a discuss clothesline for his trouble. Cena dashed to the ring and stopped the Family from going too far with Lawler but wound up being held by Harper and Rowan. Before Wyatt could resume his heinous antics and perform a wrestling move on trained wrestler Jerry Lawler the Uso brothers entered the fray. With the numbers evened the faces managed to chase the Family off.
Cena told Bray he'd crossed a line by attacking Lawler (something he didn't say to Randy Orton when Orton attacked his dad in January, but whatevs). He ran through his arguments against Wyatt. Wyatt responded by saying he was a god. Cena's general gist was that he'd beat Wyatt at Payback. Sadly that seems entirely plausible.
Significant event number three was a showdown between Stephanie McMahon and WWE champion Daniel Bryan. Steph wanted the injured D-Bry to vacate the championship and assured him he could have a title match when he was cleared to return to the ring. Bryan said that doing that would be a slap in the face to all the fans that have supported him on his journey to the top. The title belts stayed with him, on his shoulder and around his waist.
Stephanie's response to that was to air two week old footage of Brie Bryan (a ring name I think she should adopt) giving her a shove backstage. Stephanie then threatened to fire Brie if Bryan didn't agree to vacate the championship. But instead of forcing the issue and getting Bryan to make a rash decision to save his wife in the heat of the moment she gave him the deadline of Payback to make a decision.
In non-storyline terms that's a good decision. The fate of the WWE championship and an appearance from Daniel Bryan are two extra reasons for people to tune into the currently-not-so-supershow. With Bryan unable to wrestle this is the next best thing to do with him.
The evening ended with a contract signing between Evolution and The Shield. What was the contract for? The six man elimination tag match at Payback. Yeah, that match that WWE had been advertising for weeks but apparently hadn’t had the participants officially agree to. For shame! Then again, why do contract signings need to take place in WWE at all? Last minute matches are made on a weekly basis without participants signing contracts. The whole setup’s ridiculous.
|Lawler looks surprisingly happy, doesn't he?|
After being introduced by Michael Cole 'The Hounds of Justice' lobbed the chairs, table and fancy black cloth out of the ring. Evolution sauntered out. The two factions had words before Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns signed the paper (Ambrose managed to botch holding a clipboard, which was amusing). The inevitable brawl happened once Batista, Orton and Tripper had inked their names. Evolution got the better of that when H3 introduced his trademark sledgehammer to proceedings. Ambrose and Rollins were thumped about in the ring before Reigns was triple power bombed through the announce desk.
Based on this show the top of the Payback card stands a good chance of being enjoyable. The undercard is looking pretty abysmal though. But hey, that’s nothing new at this point.