WWE Payback was a solid night of wrestling, but with some questionable storyline decisions and nothing to report home about in regards to title changes or noteworthy news – aside from the fact that both Stephanie and Shane are now running Raw together, which many people expected already. The show opened with a rather scary tag match that saw Enzo Amore quickly sidelining himself with a major concussion. Thankfully it wasn’t any more serious than that. So I would assume that either this match gets put on hold for now, or The Vaudevillains get immediately pushed into the title run with The New Day, but we’ll see what happens.
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn: Hit
A hell of a match. Zayn and Owens found themselves in a very tough position of having to draw in a very concerned crowd that was preoccupied with the Enzo incident, and yet they were able to pull them into the match and get them going again. They pulled out all the stops and had an awesome match. Great stuff. I’d love to see this rivalry continue on and off. Seeing Zayn and Owens fight has been great and their altercations on Raw have been a pretty major highlight.
The Miz (c) vs. Cesaro for the IC Title: Hit
The match initially felt like another Raw match, but it gradually snowballed into something much more entertaining. The Miz is a solid heel and Cesaro is a great babyface that the crowd loves at the moment. It’s a shame that Cesaro lost, but he was well protected in his defeat. The overbooked finish was fun and it sets up something bigger for Extreme Rules. Oh, and Kevin Owens is money on commentary.
Chris Jericho vs. Dean Ambrose: Hit
To be honest, I found the first half of this match to be kind of dull and boring. But they very gradually built steam towards an almost unexpected and unique finish. There were times where I legitimately thought Ambrose would get beaten again, but ultimately he got the clean win. A win he desperately needed. I loved the finish with Ambrose frantically trying to get Jericho in position for his finisher and Jericho struggling for his dear life, only for Ambrose to actually hit it and get the win. 99% of the time, you’d either see the move get countered, or Jericho kick out. It was a fresh finish.
Charlotte (c) vs. Natalya for the Women’s Title: Botch
The match was pretty good. It wasn’t the blow away match that they’ve had in the past, and I would say that a lot of emphasis was put on Bret Hart in the corner. Which was fine. But it all built up to this nonsensical “Montreal Screwjob” finish. Why do they insist on bringing that back? It’s been almost 20-years. I get that Bret was at ringside and they probably thought that this would be a clever way of keeping the heat on the Flairs and protecting Nattie for a rematch. But I’m sceptical that there will be much follow through on this. Was Charles Robinson ordered to do this by Vince or some authority figure? Was he in Flair’s pocket? What motivation does he have? I liked the closing spot with Bret and Natalya putting both Flairs in the Sharpshooter, but it just felt like a zany, over the top finish to me.
Vince McMahon announces the new “Authority”: Botch
I am not a fan of TV angles taking place on pay-per-view. Raw is exactly where this segment belonged. There is no good or valid reason why this couldn’t have just happened on Raw tomorrow, or last week even, aside from putting the McMahons all over the main event. People may be intrigued at the prospect of Shane and Stephanie co-GMing the show now, but I imagine it’ll get old very quickly. I just want the McMahons off of TV. I want them to use their authority figures on the main roster like they do with NXT and William Regal. They only send Regal out there when his presence is needed and he’s never in segments at the detriment of the talent. If anything, he’s out there to get the talent over. But the McMahons are out there to get themselves over. And it gets tiresome after so many years of the same thing.
Roman Reigns (c) vs. AJ Styles for the WWE World Title: Botch
Let me put this out there first: this was a very good wrestling match. AJ Styles was fantastic. Roman Reigns was also there and lived up to his side of things. I loved the initial psychology of it. AJ was the much smaller guy, but also the veteran. He was feeling out Reigns, trying to find a weakness and come up with a way to bring him down while Reigns overpowered him at every turn. But then things got wacky and the booking quickly became awful. Roman was counted out. Then Roman was disqualified. And the McMahon siblings were out there trying to one up each other and restart the match. The main event, instead of being about Reigns, Styles and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, became a platform to get the McMahon storyline over. Gallows & Anderson ran in, as expected, but there was no big swerve. No Finn Balor debut. No big heel turns or anything. They just ran out there and attacked Reigns again, then brawled with The Usos before Reigns laid everyone out. I found it just to be a bit too much that Reigns would eat no less than three of AJ’s finishers, go through a table, and get taken out by Gallows & Anderson’s double team move, but yet still kick out of everything before dispatching Styles with a single Spear. Roman should be allowed to look strong without making his opponent’s look weak. The next time someone kicks out of an AJ Styles forearm, no one will care, because it’s been done before. Three times. In the span of one match. I’m sure the rematch will be great, and I really did like what I saw in the ring (Super Roman aside). But this was a case of the McMahon ego getting in the way of great wrestling.
All photos via WWE.com