Royal Farms Arena – Baltimore, MD – Sunday, May 17, 2015
Michael Cole, Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler, and JBL are on commentary.
In a Kickoff match, The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) defeat The Mega Powers (Curtis Axel & Damien Sandow) at 2:57. Axel has now gone full Hulk Hogan. He and Sandow get in a few shots and a few signature moves of their guys they’re imitating, but in the end the Ascension hits Sandow with the Fall of Man to get the win.
For the pay-per-view opener, Sheamus defeats Dolph Ziggler at 12:20. Ziggler is the one out for PAYBACK here, as last month he beat Sheamus in a “Kiss Me Arse” match, but Sheamus reneged on the stipulation and it was Ziggler doing the kissing instead. These two have always worked well together and that trend continues here. They keep the momentum swinging back and forth and keep the energy up, always good qualities in an opener. Ziggler gets a receipt by rubbing his ass in Sheamus’ face. Sheamus tries several of his signature moves but is not able to put Ziggler away. Ziggler hits a desperation headbutt and a superkick for a close near-fall. That headbutt busted Ziggler’s head open something fierce. As a result, Sheamus then finishes Ziggler off with a wicked Brogue Kick. That outperformed last month and was a hell of an opener, a harbinger of good things for the rest of the night.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) (w/ Xavier Woods) defeat Tyson Kidd & Cesaro (w/ Natalya) in a 2-out-of-3 falls tag team match at 12:40 to retain the titles. New Day have been the Champions since 4.26.15, and this is their second defense. The challengers control much of the early going, and they isolate Kingston in their half of the ring. Cesaro puts on the Cesaro Swing and Kidd adds a dropkick to score the first pin at 2:48. Woods tries to interject himself in the match, but Natalya helps out to thwart his attempts. Kidd starts off hot in the second fall, but Big E catches him in a dive attempt and hits a swank belly-to-belly suplex. That gives the New Day the advantage, and they wear Kidd down and hit him with a tandem Big Ending / DDT (I think that’s what they were going for) to win the second fall at 8:13. The third fall begins with the Champions in control, but Kidd and Cesaro quickly fight back and seem poised to regain their titles. The referee gets distracted and Woods pulls the switcheroo with Kingston and traps Cesaro in a small package to win the third and final fall. Yes, the finish SOUNDS racist on paper, but when you’re wrapped up in a small package and the referee is by the shoulders, he wouldn’t be able to see the face, and Woods and Kingston have a similar build. The finish lends itself to another match between the teams and that’s all well and good with me, since all of their matches so far have been good, including this one. Both teams are starting to jell at the right time and it’s great that they have each other to play off.
Bray Wyatt defeated Ryback at 10:54. Ryback controls the very early going with his power advantage, but Wyatt is crafty enough to endure the early onslaught and fight back. Wyatt uses a varied attack, including a DDT on the apron followed by a senton splash out to the floor. That was rumored to break Ryback’s rib and I can see easily see how that could’ve happened. Ryback varies up his attack as well, even hitting a Frog Splash of all things, but it only gets a two-count. Both men get back to their feet after that, and after a series of reversals the turnbuckle pad gets torn off. Wyatt is able to shove Ryback injured ribs-first into the exposed steel, and then hit Sister Abigail for the pin. That was way better than I thought it would be. It was just a simple power versus power match between two agile big guys. Maybe they’ll keep this feud going and we’ll get to see what else they can do.
United States Champion John Cena defeated Rusev (w/ Lana) in an “I Quit” match at 27:58 to retain the title. Cena has been the Champion since 3.29.15, and this is his eighth defense. Rusev offers Cena the chance to quit before the match even starts, but Cena obviously doesn’t go for that. Even so, the challenger dominates for a good long while, barely allowing Cena any offense. Rusev uses the steel stairs to his advantage, but they eventually come back to bite him when Cena hits a desperation Attitude Adjustment right on said steps! Cena drives Rusev through the barricade, but even that’s not enough to make the Russian Super Athlete quit. They fight up the entrance and through parts of the crowd. Cena is able to hit Rusev with an AA into some equipment and it causes a minor explosion! Rusev still won’t quit. Both men heap punishment on the other but both appear unable to utter the two magic words. Rusev is able to trap Cena in the Accolade and makes him pass out, but Cena still hasn’t said “I Quit” so the match continues. The challenger removes the turnbuckle pad, and then goes even further by undoing the top rope entirely. Rusev goes to hit Cena with the unorthodox weapon, but Cena ducks it and traps Rusev in the STF! Cena wraps the rope around Rusev’s face, and Rusev starts screaming in Bulgarian. Lana comes in the ring and says that Rusev quits, giving Cena the win. This definitely ran a bit on the long side, but outside of the corny explosion they did some brutal looking spots, and the pace felt well-suited to the feud and the stipulations. I don’t see why Rusev had to lose three straight matches to Cena, but hopefully they can keep Rusev over after this feud.
Naomi & Tamina defeated The Bella Twins (Brie Bella & Nikki Bella) at 6:13. Once again the women get the tough spot of following something with as many bells and whistles as the previous match had. This follows the fairly typical tag team formula, with Brie playing the Ricky Morton of the team. Nikki gets the hot tag and unleashes a flurry of offense, but some babyface miscommunication leads to Naomi hitting the Rear View to get the pin. They worked the formula just fine and dandy for what they needed from it.
Neville defeated King Barrett via countout at 7:22. Barrett beat Neville in the finals of the King of the Ring tournament, and Neville beat Barrett back at the Extreme Rules Kickoff show, so this is a rubber match. It doesn’t take long for Neville to wow the crowd with his high-flying abilities. Barrett responds by slowing the pace to a crawl and using a variety of strikes and rest holds. Momentum swings back to Neville, and he gets Barrett in position for the Red Arrow. Barrett bails, so Neville wipes him out with a beautiful dive. Barrett is able to get back in the ring but chooses not to, so Neville wins by countout. Yes, they put that finish on a special event, which are supposed to be the selling point of their award-winning Network. Match was fine up until the idiotic finish.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins (w/ Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury) defeated Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Randy Orton in a Fatal 4-Way match at 20:52 to retain the title. Had Rollins lost the title, Kane would have been relieved of his “Director of Operations” position. Rollins has been the Champion since 3.29.15, and this is his second defense. The action starts fast and furious here, and it takes less than 10 seconds for J&J Security to involve themselves. Reigns scores the first high spot of the match with a dive to everyone on the floor. Reigns and Ambrose work together a bit, but the combined forces of Kane and J&J Security interfering every chance they get puts a stop to that. The crowd gets really fired up when they see the three former members of the Shield setting up for the triple powerbomb, which they hit on Orton through the announce table. Rollins looks excited to be back together, but Ambrose and Reigns quickly remind him that was a reunion of convenience. Kane tries to interfere some more, so Reigns and Ambrose together powerbomb him on top of Rollins on the Spanish Announce Table! They hit it again and this time the table breaks. That leaves Reigns and Ambrose to battle each other, and Reigns gives Ambrose his best shots but can’t put him away. Rollins makes his way back in and we have a Shield triple threat for a brief time. Ambrose gets Rollins isolated and hits Dirty Deeds, but Kane pulls the Lunatic Fringe to the floor and takes him out with the stairs. Kane then Chokeslams Reigns on the stairs and looks proud of himself. Orton takes Kane out and then crawls his way back in and he hits both Noble and Mercury with RKOs. He hits Rollins with the Rope-hung DDT and signals for the RKO. Kane jumps in so Orton hits him with the RKO, and that allows Rollins to hit Orton with a Pedigree to retain the title. That had a certain Attitude Era-charm to it, with lots of outside the ring brawling, tables breaking, tons of interference, and the best part – non-stop action with a hot crowd. I enjoyed this a great deal.
Tags: Payback, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, seth rollins