WWE’s build up to Payback has been surprisingly enjoyable and on paper, this show had the potential to be one of the best WWE shows of the year. So did it deliver on the night?
Enzo & Cass vs. The Vaudavillains
This one can’t be reviewed for obvious reasons. I feel awful for the two teams involved. To have your first big chance ruined by such a freak accident is a horrible thing and I can only hope that Enzo makes a full and quick recovery. There is plenty of upside to both these teams, and I hope they get a chance to do it again.
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
What a match. To come down minutes after seeing one of your friends (I know for a fact that Owens rides with Enzo & Cass on a regular basis) get stretchered out of the arena and put on that performance deserves all the credit in the world. I could watch Zayn and Owens do their thing all night, and everything about this match went the way it needed to go. If WWE plays this right, the moment that Zayn finally pins Owens could be huge.
The Miz (C) (w/Maryse) vs. Cesaro
Another highly entertaining match that saw the right result. Cesaro has been on a bit of a role since his return, and the fans have embraced him. To follow Zayn vs. Owens and keep the fans on your side is an impressive feat. The ending was also a whole lot of fun. If they want to throw these four guys into one big match and hold off on Zayn vs. Owens two for a little bit longer, I am definitely okay with that.
Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho
This was a good match, but I think it suffered in comparison to the fun that had come before. Ambrose getting the win makes sense, but it does leave you wondering where everything goes next. Do these two keep feuding? There doesn’t seem to be a natural next place for them to go. Ambrose has a great bond with the fans, and WWE needs to do something with it before it is wasted.
Charlotte (C) (w/Ric Flair) vs. Natalya (w/Bret Hart)
Before we get onto anything else, it is great to see Bret out there. It’s been a tough year or so for the Hitman and while he may be the grumpiest man in wrestling I am delighted to see him looking so good. The wrestling in this match was good. Charlotte is embracing her heel character, and little touches like her standing on Natalya’s head while using the single leg Boston crab are great. It’s a shame then that they went for such a ridiculous finish. Do we need to keep going back to the Screwjob? Somethings should be left alone. Also considering how critical Bret is of other people doing the sharpshooter he struggled to do it himself.
Who Runs Raw?
I know it’s Chicago, but CM Punk chants are daft now. He left the company and from what I can gather is perfectly happy where he is. Put it in the box with the screwjob and throw them in a lake. By the time Stephanie was finished her speech, this had gone on too long. Does Vince think people still care about McMahon family drama? Does he think people care about who runs the show? No. We care about wrestling. There were three people in that ring none of whom are in a position to put on a good wrestling match. Put it in the bin.
Roman Reigns (C) vs. AJ Styles
The announce table spot was ace. It was a bit of a unique twist on a pretty overused idea, but I didn’t like the finish it led to. AJ looks like an idiot for not rolling in and out of the ring himself, and it was all just a bit gimmicky. The second it happened you also knew that Steph would be making an appearance later on. I get that they are trying to protect Reigns with this shit, but the match up until that point was pretty good. I liked that they made AJ Roman’s equal rather than portraying him as an underdog.
The rule change also made the Anderson and Gallows attack obvious. The shenanigans weren’t exactly bad, but I think a lot of people will be disappointed. There was no real progression to the story, and we still don’t know where this thing is going. AJ is not a natural heel, so I hope someone else is revealed to be behind these attacks. Reigns winning was exactly a surprise, but it was still a bit dissapointing.
If you took everyone named McMahon out of this show, I think I would be delighted with it. As it stands the insistence on focusing on all that crap took away from a really well-wrestled show.