Payback has been hyped (during the show mostly) as the start of a New Era. Which almost always sounds good on paper, but, often turns out to be underwhelming in execution. So which way would Payback go? Let’s find out:
Pre-Show Match: Dolph Ziggler defeated Baron Corbin in 7:46 via pinfall:
The problem with Corbin’s version of “slow and methodical” is that it’s just a nice way to say he’s boring. Ziggler, tried and sold his moves the best he could, but Corbin’s “dominance” just threatened to put everybody to sleep. And then came the result. OK you’ve probably already gotten I’m not a Corbin fan, but what was the point in having Ziggler win here? Does anyone out there still believe in a Ziggler push? Of course not, so Ziggler won nothing, Corbin came off as a bore and that was that. Instantly forgettable.
Pre-Show US Title Match: Champion Kalisto defeated The Ryback in 8:40 via pinfall:
These two had a decent match at WrestleMania, just marred by some chemistry issues. So kudos to them for rallying and easily topping their previous outing. Rybak really made me laugh with his “Pre-Show Stopper” belt (nice wink) and did well in infuriating the Chicago crowd. Both played to their respective strengths and so we got the obvious power vs speed story, but one that was mostly well-paced and -worked. Some rough spots here and there, mostly due to Ryback struggling to keep up with Kalisto’s speed at times, but both worked their asses off, showed some good chemistry and put on an overall enjoyable outing. I’m still not a big fan of this feud, but hey, when a match works, who am I to complain? Good stuff from both.
WWE Tag Team Tournament #1 Contenders’ Match: Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. The Vaudevillains went to a no contest in 4:00 (Match was called off due to injury):
As you probably all know by know, this match was cut short due to Enzo injuring himself. At time of writing, the news was good, Enzo apparently suffered a concussion but shouldn’t experience any lasting effect from it. Just the kind of freak accidents that do happen in a wrestling ring from time to time, fortunately it seems without lasting consequences.
Kevin Owens defeated Sami Zayn in 14:25 via pinfall:
Though job to follow the Enzo injury, but KO and Zayn were more than up to the task and effortlessly got the crowd back into the spirit of things. These two are always so good against each-other, not only wrestling wise but also doing a great job of selling the emotional aspect of their rivalry. Great pace, great in-ring work, great in-ring psychology from both, what else do you want me to tell you? This one bags Match of the Night honors for me.
Post-match, Owens beat on Zayn a little bit more, before ordering Byron Saxton to come interview him and stated now that he had proven he was the better man, he was going after “his” Intercontinental” title again. As Saxton pointed out that the IC match was next, Owens invited himself to the commentary table. Owens is such a great bully.
WWE Intercontinental Title Match: Champion The Miz defeated Cesaro in 11:11 via pinfall:
They resuscitated part of M&M’s old entrance for Miz and Maryse, they should bring back the paparazzi’s too because that would work well with them. Cesaro then made his 00a entrance while Owens was already outshining everyone else at the commentary table. Good match overall, started a bit slowly but picked up speed when Cesaro entered “Swiss Superman” mode. Zayn returning and attacking Owens worked well here and gave Miz the opportunity to pull of the ROLL-UP OF DOOM for the typically sneaky victory. And that’s not a bad thing in his case, it goes well with his character. All of this will give us a four-way feud going forward which mean the IC title scene might very well become the hottest thing on RAW in the coming weeks, and I’m all for that. Fun.
Dean Ambrose defeated Chris Jericho in 18:30 via pinfall:
The chemistry between Ambrose and Jericho was better than between Jericho and Styles and that’s easily explained. Whether Y2J wants to admit t or not, he HAS lost a step of two, so him trying to wrestle like it’s still 2006 or something is not a good idea. Ambrose’s brawling style therefore suits him much better. This was good, but I can’t say i was really invested in the action. For me, the match with the story was the previous one, here it seemed more like something used to give Jericho and Ambrose something to do and it showed. That said, can’t say I wasn’t entertained and Ambrose winning was certainly the right choice as far as I’m concerned. Now PLEASE give The Lunatic Fringe something meaningful to do, WWE…
WWE Women’s Title Match: Champion Charlotte defeated Natalya in 13:07 via Montreal Screwjob:
Oh dear. Well, I guess I should have seen this coming, WWE has never been able to wheel out Bret Hart without making a Montreal Screwjob reference, why would I expect them not to do so now? I’m so silly sometimes. But first the match. Which was good, exept it illustrated what I’ve been saying all along. Charlotte is a more than decent worker, but she does need someone to lead her to a really good match. Case in point, Natalya having to salvage some moves were Charlotte got completely lost. Aside from that, this was fine, but still a notch or two beneath their Takeover outing from a couple of years ago. And then came the finish. I don’t know who in WWE thought this was going to be a good idea (Vince?) but this went down like a lead balloon with the crowd and had me wondering why they even bothered with the Women’s Division overhaul. I mean, this is supposed to be a “new era” for the women too right? Then why would you do a rehash of something that happened 19 years ago in a women’s title match? How does that illustrate this “New Era” everybody is talking about. Ah well, on to the re-match I guess…
In between matches we got “RAW is Talking”… Sorry, wrong day… Wait a minute, which show am I watching? Oh screw this, let’s simply call this WWE Is Just Talk and leave it at that. In a segment that had no business being on a PPV and was simply an excuse to screw up the main event, Vince decide that Steph and Shane were going to be co-bosses of RAW. Or something like that. They did have me laughing again, with their, “Shane lost to Taker, and shouldn’t even be here” line. Well, THAT’s a good point for once, but why highlight your creative team’s ineptitude Vince?
WWE World Title Match: Champion Roman Reigns defeated AJ Styles in 23:10 via pinfall:
Stles was phenomenal and Reigns once again showed he CAN do well in a powerhouse vs smaller, more versatile wrestler kind-of-match. And I really wish I could resume this main-event with that line, but, unfortunately, WWE over-booking once again raised its ugly head and frustratingly skewered what could have been WWE4s best main event this year.Was it really neccessary to have the match restart twice, just to drive the point home that Shane and Steph were now both in charge and have all the extra come out only for Super-Reigns to win clean once again? Well no, but that’s what they did anyway. I can only assume they wanted to sneak yet another #Spoiler:ReignsWins by us by muddling the field, but it ultimately felt like yet another missed opportunity. It now seems obvious we’re gonna get a Bullet Club/Reigns Family feud on RAW which will all lead to the Extreme Rules re-match. And at least here is still some intrigue with Anderson and Gallows since nothing was really resolved here, which means they can still go every which way. But, gods, I so would have liked to see this match without the extra’s.
Conclusion: This is supposed to be the start of a new ere, but, it’s still the same old song. Good and hard work by all wrestlers involved, marred by some very questionable booking decisions. On top of that, we get the 876th rehash of the Montreal Screwjob, which happened in 1997, by way of a throwback to the “Little Naitch/Charles Robinson storyline which has already been done to death in 1999. And, this “New Era” is apparently spear-headed by a McMahon-family power-struggle, which is also something that has been happening since 1999 (give or take). I don’t know about you guys, but this New Era seems awfully familiar to me…
Also, this was basically a build-up show for Extreme Rules. Which will be a build-up show for Money In The bank. Which in turn will be a build-up show for Summerslam. Can somebody explain to me what exactly has changed in this “New Era”?
Recommended: Watch the Zayn/Owens match for what is and the Reigns/Styles match for what could have been, the rest is fine but not exactly required viewing. Do skip the women’s title match finish if you watch that match as it may make you want to jump out of your window.
That’s all from me, see you all on Wednesday for my Wrestling Dontaku review. In the meantime, have fun!
Tags: AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Cesaro, Charles Robinson; Roman reigns, charlotte, Chris Jericho, dean ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Enzo and Cass, Kalisto, Kevin Owens, Maryse, Natalya, Payback, Ric Flair, ryback, sami zayn, Shane McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, The Miz, The VaudeVilains, Vonce McMahon, WWE