Fatal 4 Way WWE Title Match: This was the highlight of the WWE Payback PPV. All four men worked very hard, and it paid off big time in this match. The crowd was hot for this match for the duration, which is something that couldn’t be said about everything on this show. The crowd especially loved the Shield teases throughout, including the triple powerbomb spot on Randy Orton. The Kane interference was predictable, but didn’t detract much from the match. Seth Rollins winning presumably sets up a match against Kane, possibly at the upcoming Elimination Chamber WWE Network special on May 31st. My one critique would be Seth winning using the pedigree. I’d much rather see him establish his own finisher now that the curb stomp is on the shelf. The was the 2nd PPV main event in a row in which Rollins won using someone else’s move, which to me, comes off as indyriffic. Other than that, really good match.
John Cena vs. Rusev “I Quit” Match for US Title: A solid blow off match to their near four month feud. They used plenty of smoke and mirrors to keep the crowd captivated for the 28 minute affair, which isn’t an easy task by any means. The match was a bit rough in spots, including when they had to redo the spot with Rusev putting Cena through a table near the production area. There were some wacky moments, including Cena almost blowing up Rusev after an AA near a lighting grid around the entrance area. In the end, they went with the most predictable finish, with Lana quitting on Rusev’s behalf as he was locked in the STF with a rope wrapped around his face. All in all, the match was entertaining and deserving of being in the “Win” category. I’m very interested to see where both men go from here. I assume we’ll find out Cena’s next challenger tonight on Raw, and my guess for Rusev is that he’ll be a top contender for the Money in the Bank briefcase.
2/3 Falls Tag Team Title Match: A good match, although at the same time, tremendously disappointing. The disappointment is more with WWE, as these guys were only given 12 minutes and change to work a three fall match. Would it have been a crime to maybe shave five minutes off the Cena/Rusev match and give it to these guys? Anyway, that aside, I enjoyed the match. These two teams work really well together, and the crowds always get up for their matches. I got a kick out of Xavier Woods attempting to exercise the “Freebird Rule” after one of the falls and being denied by the official. That played into the finish as Woods sneaked behind the ref’s back and got the winning fall with an inside cradle. I’d love to see more from the New Day & Kidd/Cesaro, and I suspect we will in the Elimination Chamber in two weeks.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus: Another good match from these two. I had the pleasure of seeing them work a street fight at a house show a couple of weeks ago, which was significantly better than this match, but that is to be expected given the time constraints of live PPV. Despite the restrictions, they had a pretty good match that was most likely cut short due to Dolph ZIggler taking a page out of Zinedine Zidane’s playbook and delivering the headbutt of doom and busting himself open, which required ten stitches to close. After ZIggler was opened up, Sheamus immediately hit the Brogue kick and got the clean pin. As I said on the radio show last week, I expect the “Celtic Warrior” will be the next Intercontinental Champion.
Ryback vs. Bray Wyatt: A surprising win, here. I went into this match with really low expectations, which is probably why I consider it to be a win. But I will give them credit, Bray and Ryback worked really hard (and stiff at times) and put together a perfectly acceptable pro wrestling match. Bonus points to Ryback for allowing Wyatt to deliver a flying senton from the apron onto him, which reportedly led to a broken rib. Hope he gets a couple extra bucks for that one. Ouch.
Neville vs. King Barrett: The fail here is not so much the match, but the finish. They had a pretty decent little match, but then, seemingly out of nowhere, Barrett decided he wasn’t going to beat the referee’s count, and was counted out. And then, Barrett decided to lay out Neville with his wacky elbow, only to be crowned with a Red Arrow. Yup, sure is good to be the king in WWE.
Naomi & Tamina vs. The Bella Twins: This was a pretty flat match. The crowd was drained because for some reason, they decided put this on right after the I Quit match. Way to give the Divas a chance! Anyway, as expected, Naomi pinned Nikki to probably set up a rematch between those two, perhaps at the Elimination Chamber show.
The “Mega Powers” vs. The Ascension: This was terrible. I cannot stand this “Macho Mandow” gimmick that Sandow is doing. He is an entertaining guy in his own right, he doesn’t need to be ripping off other people’s gimmicks. Just brutal. I presume this came about due to the lackluster crowd reaction his promo got a couple of weeks back. And what is there to say about the Ascension? These guys were DOA (Dead on Arrival, not Disciples of Apocalypse) in January. Just a bad act altogether that nobody takes seriously. The Axelmania thing I do find entertaining, but that was the lone bright spot of this clusterfuckfest.
R-Truth vs. Stardust: WHY THE FUCK DID WE NEED TO SEE THIS MATCH? I guess it was a hair better than listening to Renee, Booker, Tattoo boy, and Ativan Andy babble on and on and on and on…