THE RAGER! The Payback Investment (CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio)

So was WWE holding to all their good ideas of the past few months and then decided to unleash all of them in one weekend? Because that’s what Sunday and Monday night felt like. Was everything perfect? Absolutely not but I’ll definitely take what I can get from WWE whenever they start getting something right.

I didn’t catch the pre-show but it was Sheamus so does that really count as missing something?

Intercontinental Championship Match
Miz vs Wade Barrett vs Curtis Axel

Decent enough match with an interesting finish that plays into Axel’s character with the “a win is a win” mentality. I wish we had gotten to see more of Axel in the match because I still feel like we haven’t seen much of him and I’m not exactly sure where I stand with him. Every now and then, he’ll pull off 1 move per match that looks really impressive but that’s about it. Also, they really need to stop having people kick out of the perfect-plex, it’s not nearly as bad as Miz mutilating the Figure Four because Axel can actually execute but still, it hurts me.

Divas Championship Match
Kaitlyn vs AJ

For once there was a Divas match where I didn’t have a knee-jerk need to go use the restroom, stand in-front of an open refrigerator and not actually get anything out of it, carry on irrelevant conversations with the company that joined me or hang myself. I believe that factor alone is a huge win for the Diva division. It’s not perfect or anywhere close to that but it’s a step in the right direction. What should be next for Divas is bring in new, interesting talent that actually wants to be a wrestler and not women who’s acting, modeling, body-building career didn’t pan out and WWE is their last hope (much like John Cena’s origin story, actually).

US Championship Match
Dean Ambrose vs Kane

Surprisingly, this match didn’t do a whole lot for me but maybe it’s because we’ve seen Kane involved with
Shield constantly since the night after Mania. Sure, there was a bunch of interest in the fact that we got to see Ambrose and Kane one-on-one but I wasn’t really wow’d by much in this match which is upsetting considering how highly I hold both of them right now.

World Heavyweight Championship
Dolph Ziggler vs Alberto Del Rio

Considered to be the match of the night by several people, although that’s hard for me to say considering it’s a card with a Punk/Jericho match on it. The match was really good but the standout aspect of it was the story-telling that gradually and successfully accomplish the mythical “double turn.” You had Del Rio, the face that becomes increasingly frustrated at the heel and this causes the ruthlessness to exhume itself out of Del Rio. Then you had Ziggler, who was already getting a little of the sympathy story with the concussion to start with but you add the actions of Del Rio, the relentless attacking and Ziggler refusing to give up. All the ingredients given the correct application of heat.

CM Punk vs Chris Jericho

It was a fine match but wasn’t nearly as good as the previous two. Maybe Jericho has lost a step (he really hasn’t been all that impressive since coming back at Rumble, especially by Jericho standards) or Punk wasn’t ready to return. Whichever the case may be, something felt a little off. However, even at less than 100%, these two together can have a better match than the entire roster. I’m not saying it was a bad match, it’s just that the first two kinda spoiled us.

WWE Tag Team Championship Match
The Shield vs Team Hug-A-Viper

I forget who said it last week, but Orton really needs to take an extended vacation from wrestling. Maybe he can grow a full beard, learn how to weave a basket or pick up Minecraft. I think he needs to spend some time away and maybe look within himself to figure out if he even gives a crap about being a wrestler anymore. Sure, he had that extended suspension last year but apparently that (and the proceeding injuries) wasn’t enough because he seemed to care even less when he finally came back. As for this match, it was good in spite of Orton being unsure if he wanted to be there or not.

3 Stages of Hell WWE Championship Match
John Cena vs Ryback

No redeemable qualities.

Now, you’re probably asking why I was so upbeat and cheerful about WWE’s efforts this past weekend only to dump a bunch of gloom from Payback. It was a good pay-per-view but this was a unique 24 hours because of how the pay-per-view laid the ground-work for a stellar Monday Night Raw the next night.

CM Punk is interestingly turning face by distancing himself from Heyman which is leading to a feud with Brock. Sure, this is probably going to wait til Summer Slam, knowing Lesnar’s limited schedule but Punk going back on vacation is fine because we already had to come to terms with it once already.

Much like Inception, the idea of the double turn was planted at Payback and on Raw, we got the first results to see if it took with the audience and it certainly did.

Rob Van Dam is coming back. Not necessarily my cup of tea but I can understand why it would be exciting for you little scamps.

Speaking of returns, Christian! It was about time and I understand why they didn’t return him in a similar fashion a month ago. It’s not like a one-off match against Wade Barrett was time sensitive or anything.

There’s a new power struggle with the McMahons. Sure it isn’t anything new but it’s been a while so why not, right?

Orton almost injured beautiful Daniel Bryan! That statement may be a tad too much but still, the internet would’ve been out for blood if it was anything more than a stinger.

Stephanie threw her weight around like she was Viscera. I wouldn’t mind her being on-camera more and possibly taking charge of the Divas. Something is still better than nothing, right?

Dean Ambrose shook Vince’s hand on camera. I feel funny.

Zeb is now teamed with Cesaro. It’s not ideal but at least Cesaro isn’t being swept under the rug like we were dreading.

I like to make fun of Mark Henry just as much as the next guy (unless the next guy is Blair) and yes, his feud with Ryback and Sheamus was tortuous. However, give the big guy an Oscar for those tears. We saw the swerve the minute he interrupted Cena’s droning and yet there was a brief moment where you felt like maybe this is for real and we’re seeing the end of a very long, dedicated career. If I could just get Mark Henry being a character with that much conviction but never have to see him in a match, sign me up.

Maybe either show on it’s own isn’t anything special but having one as a companion piece for the other made this a really fun weekend to be a wrestling fan.

As always, The Classy Ring Attire Podcast will be coming your way later in the week but you need to get caught up, we’ve got you covered.

Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do twice,
Chris

The Answer: I need to get uber famous for the sake of my hometown. I know Fayetteville, NC is kind of a dump but no place deserves “Hometown of J. Cole.”

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