It was a pay per view that promised much, even though it didn’t have a title match as it’s main event. But did it actually deliver? That was what I was hoping to find out by watching WWE Payback, shown live in the early hours of this past Monday morning on Sky Sports here in Britain.
The show began with the first title match of the evening as Paul Heyman guy Cesaro challenged Sheamus for the United States title.
I always enjoy it when you get an all-European battle in America’s biggest wrestling promotion, and these two put on a great opener. It was basically two guys trying to beat the proverbial out of each other with sheer power. Sheamus, as always, brought his A game to the proceedings, while Cesaro put in his usual solid performance. Both of these ingredients made this such an enjoyable match.
As for the finish it came shortly after Cesaro’s big swing, because just as he was about to go for his neutralizer Sheamus got him with a small package for the pin.
Tag team action followed as Cody Rhodes and Goldust faced former Paul Heyman guys Curtis Axel and Ryback.
This match certainly had a lot of pedigree in it as far as backgrounds go, and it showed throughout in this highly entertaining encounter. The Rhodes boys put in some good work early on, but it wasn’t long before Ryback and Axel used Goldie as their personal punching bag. They showed some nice chemistry, which is something I haven’t seen from them before.
The face-painted one eventually made it back to his corner for the hot tag. Rhodes came in and cleaned house and almost got the win on Ryback a few times. But when he launched himself off the ropes Ryback countered his disaster kick attempt with shell-shocked for the winning pin.
Young Cody was quite distraught afterwards, so upset in fact that he took to the microphone and quit the team.
Then it was back to singles action as Rusev, accompanied by his lovely lady Lana, took on Big E.
There’s nothing like a bit of good old fashioned east/west rivalry, with two big behemoths beating the hell out of each other. What we had here was your basic big man brawl. Rusev beat on Biggie for a bit, Biggie then returned the favour, spearing his man through the ropes to the floor.
The big Bulgarian/Russian quickly recovered, connecting with a superkick before synching in his accolade submission for the win. It may not have lasted long but it was pretty entertaining.
The impromptu match of the night saw Kofi Kingston taking on Bo Dallas.
That was the plan anyway. After Dallas gave us one of those motivational speeches Kane hit the ring, and while Dallas headed for the hills the big red machine destroyed Kingston, finishing him off with a chokeslam and a tombstone, apparently in retaliation for something he said on the internet. Oh well, at least he didn’t call him an “internet parasite”.
When the coast was clear Dallas got back into the ring and told Kingston he’d be fine, because all he had to do was Bo-leave. I think I’m starting to hate Mr. Dallas already.
It was back to championship action for the next match as Rob Van Dam challenged Bad News Barrett for the Intercontinental title.
I really liked this one. They came in with a good storyline, with Barrett trying to prove that RVD was yesterday’s (bad) news, and once they got in the ring they put together some very good sequences.
RVD looked good as he went through his usual impressive array of moves, but once Barrett took control he showed just why he’s been so good lately. Everything he did just looked so smooth.
As for the finish, after RVD missed with his patented frog splash and Barrett missed with the bullhammer a fast exchange of moves and near falls followed until Barrett finally connected with his blow of choice to get the title retaining win.
After a very interesting segment in which included Daniel Bryan refusing to give up his title and Mrs. Daniel Bryan quitting and slapping the billion dollar princess it was on to the last man standing match between Bray Wyatt and John Cena.
I’ve really enjoyed the matches these two have had in the past. They were great pieces of storytelling. This one, however, may have been the best of the bunch.
Before the match began it looked like Cena would be in a three on one situation as Erick Rowan and Luke Harper looked primed to attack. That was until the Usos arrived on the scene. So with the sides now even Cena and Wyatt proceeded to beat the you know what out of each other.
It began as a normal kind of match with the action taking place in the ring, with the main protagonists throwing everything they had at each other before the various supporters brawled with each other as they temporarily left the arena.
It was the corner men who gave us the Joey Styles OMG moment when Rowan superplexed one of the Usos off the top rope and through two tables at ringside. This left Cena and Wyatt alone so they could move to the finish.
Their brawl took them through the fans and to the technical area, and it was there that Cena took Wyatt down with an attitude adjuster from the top of one equipment case onto another. He then pushed a third case onto the fallen Wyatt so he couldn’t beat the referee’s ten count, giving Cena the hard fought win.
The final title match of the show saw Alicia Fox challenging Paige for the Divas title. Moving on…..
After last month’s efforts this match had a lot to live up to, and they just about pulled it off. It was part-wrestling match, part-obliterating brawl, and it was utterly compelling throughout.
These two teams tore each other apart. There were plenty of great exchanges in the ring and a ton of top notch brawling all around the arena. It also had it’s great moments of drama as well, with Trips and his boys taking Reigns to the woodshed, beating the hell out of him with chairs and kendo sticks.
The eliminations didn’t come until well into the match, but given everything that had gone on before that it really didn’t matter, and when the came they made perfect sense.
Batista was the first man to go. After catching Rollins with a spear as he came off the top rope it looked as if he was about to put him away with the Batista bomb. Reigns put a stop to that, and after taking him down with his own spear Rollins took the pin.
Orton followed soon afterwards. Having taking Rollins down with an RKO his pin was broken up by Reigns. But just as he was about to get a measure of revenge Ambrose clobbered him with a chair, sealing the deal with his dirty deeds face-plant onto the weapon for the pin.
This left Trips alone against the entire Shield, and after a little help from his already eliminated friends he found himself with his trusty old sledgehammer in his hand. But before he could take out Reigns Rollins came off the top rope, connecting with a knee to the head, setting him up for Reigns’ spear and the match winning pin.
In conclusion – I’d heard many great things about this show (and one bad thing), and I have to say that for the most part I agree with the many great things.
From top to bottom this was a very enjoyable show. As the old saying goes all of the matches delivered, and there were some fine performances throughout from the likes of my fellow Europeans Barrett, Cesaro and Sheamus.
As for the prestigious match of the night no-prize that honour goes to the main event brawl between Evolution and the Shield. Nice work all round there.
So with all of that out of the way there’s just one more thing to do, and that’s to give Payback the big thumbs up.
By day I’m an unemployed retail worker, and at weekends I volunteer at a local museum, but by night I’m the author of The Two Sheds Review, Britain’s longest running professional wrestling and mixed martial arts blog. Visit my site at www.twoshedsreview.vze.com. It’s been online in one form or another since June 2000!