It says a lot about WWE’s build up to WrestleMania that the normally pointless Payback already feels like a much better show. With the introduction of Shane McMahon and a load of new talent, suddenly WWE seem to be on a bit of a role, and it’s hard to see this show failing. Not only do we have established like Cesaro back in the fold but exciting new feuds featuring Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin. WWE might just be headed in the right direction.
Ryback vs. Kalisto (C) for the US Title
Which makes it a shame that they are kicking off with this match. Nothing personal to Kalisto or Ryback but does anyone care? As I mentioned in another post, I’ve started watching Raw on a weekly basis and I honestly can’t remember this being booked. I have to admit to occasionally fast-forwarding, but you’d still think I’d have seen something? It makes predicting who is going to win pointless. The pre-show usually sees the babyfaces going over, but Kalisto won at ‘Mania, so I’m going to go for Ryback to pick up the US Title here.
Ryback wins and continues into obscurity
Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin
Six Months ago I would have told you Baron Corbin was all set up to fail. His one facial expression and lack of in-ring ability meant he really didn’t have what it takes. Somehow since then the guy has come on leaps and bounds. Suddenly he is a kick-ass heel who does not give a shit what anyone thinks and his in-ring work has stepped up a notch as well. Ziggler makes a perfect first feud as he will make Corbin look a million bucks and should do so here while getting his shoulders pinned to the mat.
Baron Corbin wins
Enzo and Cass vs. The Vaudevillains #1 Contender Match
Enzo and Cass are already taking the main roster by storm. While the team is limited in the ring (Enzo sells and Cass throws people around), they get tag team wrestling, and they know how to build a feud. The Vaudevillains meanwhile have been a pleasant surprise. I was genuinely worried they’d be overshadowed by their more charismatic peers, but the soft introduction they’ve had to the main roster seems to have worked. It’s because of this they have to pick up the win here. Enzo and Cass can get back their momentum, but I’m not sure if The Vaudevillains have the same buffer. They also seem a more natural foil for The New Day as Enzo and Cass might just be a bit too similar to them.
The Vaudevillians win after shenanigans
Charlotte (C) (w/Ric Flair) vs. Natalya (w/Bret Hart) for the Women’s Championship
Charlotte and Natalya have good wrestling matches and this will be the same. I actually hope the two men on the outside are involved as little as possible and these two women are just allowed to work. I can only see Charlotte walking out with the belt as all rumours point to her holding it until SummerSlam when Sasha will finally get her moment. My problem with this is that WWE still seems stuck in the mindset that they can only have one women’s feud at a time. They have a great roster they should use it. Even if Sasha were fighting Naomi or someone like that on the pre-show (after actually having a feud), it would be better than nothing.
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are fighting on a WWE PPV. Can you believe that? When Kevin Owens was beating the crap out of El Generico before he headed off to that Mexican orphanage did you ever think that you would see this? Of course not, you would have been insane to think so. This will, of course, be brilliant no matter how long they get or who goes over. I think at this stage in their feud, however, that Owens needs to win. Assuming WWE are going to do this properly and not rush through it, Sami needs to be constantly fighting from behind and Owens picking up the win here with some heel tactics will be the first step in that.
Kevin Owens wins via shenanigans
Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho
Considering he keeps being lumped with some pretty atrocious comedy Dean Ambrose is still stupidly over. Chris Jericho meanwhile has really settled into his heel persona. This will be a good match but I just wonder if it actually does anything for either guy. All logic suggests Ambrose gets the win but then it also said that Styles should have beaten Jericho at ‘Mania. Despite that, I’m going to go for the obvious.
Dean Ambrose wins
The Miz (C) (w/Maryse) vs. Cesaro for the IC Title
Colour me surprised but Maryse is exactly what Miz needed. The humour is still a bit hit and miss with these two but the act is working and wrestler’s wrestler Cesaro is a brilliant foil. Which leaves WWE in a bit of a tricky situation; the returning Cesaro could use the win here but it seems too early to take the belt of Miz, especially with his character hitting its stride. Therefore, I think Maryse plays a part here. Have her help Miz for the finish and keep this one going for a few months until fans are desperate to see Cesaro wipe the grin off his smug face.
The Miz wins via wife related shenanigans
Roman Reigns (C) vs. AJ Styles for the WWE Championship
Much like with Sami vs. Owens this match needs to be appreciated just for existing. AJ Styles will main event a WWE PPV. Holy shit. Sadly it’s not going to be a glorious party because there is no chance in hell he wins here. Roman is the anointed one and WWE won’t be giving up on him this quickly. However, the real question is how we get there. What role do Anderson and Gallows play? Do they try to help their brother and have it backfire? Does the Roman Empire grow by two more? Or is there someone else waiting in the wings with feelings as to how this match should end? I don’t know but I like that I’m intrigued to find out.
Roman Reigns wins