WWE Payback 2017: Predictions for Kevin Owens, Alexa Bliss and Top Stars
Kevin Owens will enter WWE Payback 2017 with the chance to not only keep hold of the United States Championship, but to oust his former best friend from the Raw stage.
For both Owens and Alexa Bliss, gold will be at stake when they compete at Sunday's pay-per-view. KO, though, will step into the ring as the favorite. Bliss, meanwhile, is a newcomer to the red brand and isn't going to rule the women's division just yet.
Owens is likely to steal the show. Bliss is sure to make her mark in San Jose, California, too.
What of Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt? What awaits those warriors from Raw at Payback?
The following is a look at that very question, projecting how the night will unfold for those Superstars on Sunday.
Bliss won't dethrone Bayley. At least not yet.
The former SmackDown women's champ only recently moved over to the red brand. It makes sense to build her up in her new home first before crowning her.
Plus, WWE has had little time to hype this match and escalate the animosity between these foes. Blame the short turnaround between WrestleMania and Payback.
Sunday's Raw Women's Championship bout will then be the opening chapter of their saga, not its climax.
Bliss will come up just short but impress in the match. This will be as much a showcase of Bayley's resilience as it will be a reminder of how dangerous The Wicked Witch is.
Expect a fluky finish at Payback to leave the door open for their next battle.
Rollins will use Samoa Joe as a stepping stone to move up the ranks. And that process will begin at Payback.
WWE has made it clear how much more it values The Kingslayer than Joe at the moment. At WrestleMania 33, Rollins battled a future Hall of Famer in Triple H. Joe, meanwhile, didn't make the card.
The Destroyer will serve as a major test, but this story will center on Rollins' journey.
The babyface will avenge the attack Joe issued in January. With revenge on his mind, Rollins will take down Joe on Sunday, earning his first victory of many in this feud.
Wyatt may not defeat Randy Orton, but he will certainly be the talk of Payback.
The House of Horrors match promises to be either a dumpster fire or an artful trek into the bizarre corners of the wrestling world. There will be no in-between.
As we saw at WrestleMania 33, when images of worms and insects projected onto the canvas, this feud has gone to a weird, weird place.
That will only be truer at Payback. It's unclear what this bout will look like, but all the hints from Wyatt's promos suggest it will be a haunted house-like experience. The Eater of Worlds is likely to get help from masked men. Ghostly images are sure to swirl around the enemies.
This will be more about spectacle than result.
The safe bet is that WWE will struggle to avoid being too campy. There's a real danger of this battle becoming a punchline.
The WWE Championship not being up for grabs makes it more likely Wyatt wins, but history hasn't been kind to the cult leader. The company has often asked Wyatt to fall in the biggest matches of his career. Even with a home-field advantage, that's poised to happen once more.
Strowman will enter this match teeming with momentum.
He's Raw hottest commodity after a series of huge moments. The Monster Among Men is fresh off flipping over an ambulance, sending a Kalisto-filled dumpster off the entrance ramp and breaking the ring in a match with Big Show.
At Payback, though, he's going to run into a brick wall named Roman Reigns.
WWE has been adamant about elevating Reigns despite the mixed reactions he receives. Strowman looks like the better choice as universal title contender, but it's not safe to bet against The Big Dog right now.
Strowman is poised to get left behind in order to make Reigns Raw's top star.
The company may look to soften the blow of his loss, with a count-out or some mitigating circumstance, but the smart money isn't on Strowman. His hard-hitting, physical bout against Reigns will end up being a missed opportunity to build on what the beast has been doing of late.
Owens vs. Jericho will be the best match of the night.
The rivals' history as friends and then enemies will power the most compelling story of Payback. The Reigns vs. Strowman build has had bigger moments, but Y2J and Owens will have more emotion to work with, more of a personal tale to tell.
Expect KO and the man he dethroned at WrestleMania to outdo their previous effort.
Owens will be more vicious here. He'll play up The Face of America gimmick, barking at the crowd and insulting their Americanness.
And in a match that will act as Jericho's farewell before he returns to making rock music, Owens will retain the U.S. title in emphatic fashion.