Originally announced as a WWE championship match, Sunday’s meeting at Payback between Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt at Payback will now be a non-title affair, WWE confirmed to CBS Sports.
While it’s still yet to be determined exactly what their House of Horrors match will look like in terms of logistics at the first Raw-exclusive pay-per-view since WrestleMania 33, removing Orton’s title from the mix does fix certain issues regarding continuity.
It’s confusing enough that Orton, who defeated Wyatt for the WWE championship in their brief and disappointing WrestleMania match, will be competing on a Raw pay-per-view despite being staying with SmackDown after the recent “superstar shakeup.” Wyatt, who the company moved to Raw, could have won the title, but WWE provided no clarity as to whether the strap would have gone with him to Monday nights.
Had the title remained at stake, it would have been easy to predict Orton would retain it, considering Raw already has the red universal championship that matches the show’s colors.
What the switch does negatively, however, is just dig a deeper hole in terms of the Orton-Wyatt feud just not making sense at all.
Wyatt entered the expected blowoff match at WrestleMania as the champion but was hellbent upon revenge after Orton burned down his prayer shack at the end of the seven-month build of their rivalry. Now we are supposed to believe that he’s OK with not getting a mandatory title rematch, which has been given the majority of defeated champions in recent memory?
Suspending one’s disbelief to imagine the evil Wyatt being more obsessed with getting back at Orton than winning his title might not be that far of a leap provided it was actually explained or the accompanying story had no holes. Instead, their story has become a cluster of chaos with Wyatt echoing just about the same threatening sermon each week with the buzz that accompanied this feud two months ago all but gone.
This feud originally worked because WWE implemented major swerves and took chances in terms of cinematic production and a supernatural storyline. But once the story stopped making sense, production tricks like turning the ring at WrestleMania into an evil projection screen became noting but gimmicks.
Wyatt being revealed at the end of Raw
as the mystery partner for The Miz
(are we really to believe he sent Miz a backstage note pitching his services?) and closing the go-home show with premeditated attacks on Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose only made things more ridiculous.
By taking the belt off Wyatt so quickly at WrestleMania — handing him yet another PPV loss in the process — WWE already did its part to continue his burial just when it seemed Wyatt might finally reach his incredible potential as a third-generation main-event star. Now he enters a circus match in a feud that has gone on too long without a chance to regain the one item that made up for all of the bad booking he has endured.
In a weird way, that’s par for the course in this derailed feud.