Friday, September 29, 2023

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Payback in Review: Payback’s a Bliss

All eyes are on the red team as RAW are the first to take the PPV stage following WrestleMania and the ‘Superstar Shake-up’. With the RAW women’s division changing its landscape completely, one woman stepped up to the mark to earn her right to take on the Champion. Let’s see how it all went down at Payback!

Before the PPV, Sasha Banks appears on the kick-off show to weigh in her thoughts about the match for the RAW Women’s Championship. She is quick to show her support for her best friend and the current Champion, Bayley, as well as her excitement to take on new challengers Mickie James and new #1 Contender, Alexa Bliss. When questioned about how she’s always at the Champ’s side, Banks deflects the accusations of cheating by saying that she’s just “evening the odds if [Bayley] needs it”.

Onto tonight’s big match, RAW’s new pocket rocket Alexa Bliss makes her way to the ring first and interestingly seems to get quite a large cheer from the crowd. However, the San Jose crowd blow off the roof as the hometown girl and our RAW Women’s Champion Bayley makes her way to the ring!

It’s safe to say that the San Jose crowd were more than vocal about showing appreciation for their hometown girl. Now, much like my past PPV reviews, I won’t give a match play by play report… since most of you will have seen it already!

The key themes throughout this match were Bayley’s emotions and when they would reach a certain point, Alexa’s swift ability to capitalise on any little slip-ups to counter that effect. This dynamic was perfect for this match. Each minute that Bayley took a beating, the crowd got more and more pumped to see her get on the offence – only for her to get grounded immediately, making the crowd (and the viewers) get back on that journey.

As ever, the closing stages of the match had most of us on the edge of our seats. Bayley hits a sick running knee which floors Alexa! However, instead of going for a pinfall, she climbs to the top rope and looks to replicate her WrestleMania 33 moment by hitting her version of the Savage Elbow! 1… 2… NO! Alexa managed to kick out!

The hometown crowd are stunned, Bayley is stunned and much like throughout the match, her raw emotions cause her to snap on Alexa. Stomping her out into the corner, Bayley hits her frustration point. Alexa uses her agility to attempt a sunset flip to get out the corner, but Bayley sits it out to enter a pinning position. 1… 2… Alexa kicks out and the force pushes Bayley head first into the ring post! The damage has been done, Bayley attempts one more roll up, but Alexa picks her up and hits her final DDT. 1, 2, 3! Alexa Bliss has dethroned The Huggable One in her hometown, becoming the first woman to win both the SmackDown Live and RAW Women’s Championships!

Alexa holds her new Championship proudly as she heads up the ramp, as a defeated Bayley is close to tears in the centre of the ring.

A distraught Bayley is seen backstage, clearly disheartened about losing her Championship – particularly in her hometown in front of friends and family.

Our new RAW Women’s Champion, Alexa Bliss, also made an appearance on the post-PPV show RAW Talk. Miss Bliss gloats about how she achieved what she set out to do, which was to end Bayley’s Cinderella story once and for all. She also goes on to talk about her new record at being the first woman to win the SmackDown and RAW Women’s Titles… which leads her to calling out the Four Horsewomen! “I do what it takes to win at all costs…”, our new Women’s Champion is more than ready to hold that new Championship up high!

Thoughts: Congratulations Miss Bliss! Those of you who peeped my predictions would probably notice that I didn’t expect this one… although looking at the RAW Women’s Championship and the tell-tale story of wrestlers in their hometowns, I really should have! I also mentioned in my predictions that this would have harmed both women’s characters… but you know what, after seeing how that played out, this was definitely the best thing for both women.

First off, as seen in the review above, their dynamic for this match worked. You could see from the early booking that Bayley is bigger and stronger, so Alexa’s catty offence really worked in terms of telling a story. Bayley is a natural babyface and seeing her taking a beating makes you really warm up to her – it’s what made her shine and it’s something that we haven’t really seen since her debut on the main roster. She ran through Dana Brooke, she pinned Nia Jax a good couple times and was booked very evenly against Charlotte… which goes against her whole underdog persona.

However, this match finally managed to give is that NXT underdog Bayley that we all grew to know and love. She lost a huge match in her hometown and has lost her title – now is the time for WWE to go full victim on us and make us fall in love with her character again. We’re not deaf and we can hear (and see) that there are a couple smarks that are starting to boo her each week. It’s because she’s been booked as Superwoman! Now is the time for us to finally get behind her properly, so let’s hope they don’t mess this up by having her tussle for the limelight with Sasha Banks…

Finally, let me praise Alexa Bliss! What an amazing year and accomplishment for her to join the record books. Her RAW Talk segment where she mentioned the 4HW definitely seemed like a touch of real emotion and it’s only right. Alexa jobbed to each four of them throughout her time in NXT and now she has comfortably sat on top of both of these divisions. This has elevated her heel character to easily fill Charlotte’s shoes.

Sure, we can’t expect Alexa to hit 450 splashes outside the ring or hit the most innovative chain wrestling, but she damn sure as hell has presence in that ring – which is the most fascinating thing despite her size. I have been curious to see how she fares in these big one on one matches with girls that have had more time in the limelight and this is a very strong start. Here’s to hoping that she continues because RAW is FINALLY about to get interesting.

Did you expect Bayley to suffer from the ‘hometown’ curse? Is Alexa winning the title too premature? Who do you think will be her first challenger… or do you think Bayley will be getting it back soon? You know where to comment!

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