WWE Payback 2017 ratings are in, and it may surprise fans to learn which match ended up getting the best star ratings overall. The latest WWE event was mostly a Raw brand-exclusive pay-per-view, but it also featured a few WWE SmackDown Live stars on the card. In addition to that, multiple championships were on the line, with Alexa Bliss able to win the WWE Raw Women’s title and make history. Chris Jericho did the same by defeating Kevin Owens for his United States title. The Hardy Boyz were also successfully able to defend their tag team titles, and Neville held onto his Cruiserweight Championship. So how did these matches stack up on the rating system and which match was considered best of the bunch?
As WWE Leaks reported on Friday, there was actually a two-way tie in terms of the top-rated matches from Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer. After each major WWE pay-per-view, Meltzer gives star ratings to the matches for how well they performed as part of the show. One star (or lower) is the worst rating a match can get, while four stars is an outstanding match. While there were no perfect four-star matches, two matches came up with three-and-a-half star ratings. One of those bouts was, in fact, Austin Aries challenging Neville for the Cruiserweight Championship. The two had a previous matchup at the WrestleMania 33 pay-per-view but really delivered a better overall matchup in the ring at Payback. Aries won the match due to a disqualification. He had Neville ready to possibly tap, but the crafty champion yanked the referee down to earn himself the DQ. As a result, Neville retained his title despite losing the match.
The other match with the best rating didn’t feature any championships and was a good old-fashioned singles match. It involved “The King Slayer” Seth Rollins taking on his latest rival, Samoa Joe. The two battled back-and-forth throughout this bout, with Joe able to lock a hold onto Rollins toward the finish. Luckily for Rollins, he didn’t pass out and sort of rolled back to help pin Joe’s shoulders to the mat.
Joe surfaced again on Raw this past Monday to cost Rollins the No. 1 contender spot for the Intercontinental title. It’s likely these two will meet again as they’ve been featured at a WWE live event in Rome recently as part of a tag team battle.
Three of the PPV matches brought in ratings of three-and-one-quarter stars. They were the WWE Raw Women’s Championship match in which Alexa Bliss defeated Bayley, Chris Jericho defeating Kevin Owens for the U.S. Championship, and Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman in a regular match. Bliss made history with her win and was given high marks on how she’s improved with her ring work, while Bayley continues to shine. Jericho and Owens are always known for putting on good work, so it’s no surprise to see them among the top matches for this latest card.
The latter of these matches, Reigns vs. Strowman, closed out the WWE Payback pay-per-view and featured Strowman getting the big win after really destroying Reigns. It led to further damage being done after the match, with Strowman ramming the ring steps into Reigns’ gut on the mat and the two battling after the PPV backstage. These two will probably have another battle coming up, either on Raw or at Extreme Rules next month. However, the two have performed remarkably well, with Strowman continuing to stand out as a great heel for his size, and Reigns continuing to be pushed to the fans as someone to feel sympathy for.
Surprisingly, The Hardys’ Payback match with Sheamus and Cesaro came in with just three stars. These competitors were all part of the Fatal Fourway ladder match at WrestleMania 33, which rated highly by Meltzer. However, it appears this match left something to be desired and could have worked as a match for Monday Night Raw. Matt and Jeff escaped with their titles but were attacked post-match by “Shesaro” who feigned good sportsmanship with handshakes before returning to attack the Hardys. The other tag team match on the program, Enzo and Cass taking on the team of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, rated at a mere two stars. This was a match on the Payback pre-show and not a whole lot was expected from it, so the rating makes perfect sense.
However, their match was not the worst overall match in terms of ratings from the pay-per-view. That distinction goes to the bizarre “House of Horrors” match featuring Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt. The two competitors have now put on two strange matches back to back. The first of these came at WrestleMania 33 in what was supposed to be a normal match, but it featured random creepy crawly insects being projected onto the ring during the match. Orton won the WWE World Championship in that one, but it wasn’t on the line for the Payback rematch. Instead, Bray Wyatt challenged Orton to his own personal match, which included being driven out by limo to the house. Inside the dark home were various creepy rooms, with Wyatt popping out and attacking Orton. It resulted in a refrigerator being pushed over on top of Orton, but somehow he and Wyatt both made it to the actual arena ring.
Once in the ring, Orton seemed in control and ready for a big win. However, his next opponent, Jinder Mahal, along with the Singh Brothers, popped out to attack. Since there were no disqualifications under the “House of Horrors” match rules, that allowed Wyatt to score a winning pinfall for revenge. Still, he didn’t reclaim the championship he held from the Elimination Chamber until WrestleMania. The match itself drew a lot of outrage from fans in attendance and on social media, and it all ended up earning just a half star. So while WWE was trying to flex their creative muscle to perhaps draw upon TNA’s Final Deletion event, it failed miserably. WWE fans have to hope that something better is in store for the Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt program that seems to be coming up next.
With all that said, did Meltzer get his ratings right? Were the Aries vs. Neville and Rollins vs. Samoa Joe the best matches from WWE Payback?
[Featured Image by WWE]