You know what? I totally forgot that last weekend, the WWE put out Payback. And this isn’t the first time this happened to me. It’s usually around after Wrestlemania when my interest in wrestling starts waning. I mean, this is generally when the WWE starts pumping out really lame storylines and this year is no different. But, since this is a WWE pay-per-view and we still have the WWE Network over here, I might as well make the most of my subscription and watch it.
So, did Payback disappoint me? Well, let’s go find out!
Match #1: Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs the Vaudevillains for the Number 1 Contender Spot for the WWE Tag Team Champions
Okay, if there was a match that would be good, it would be this one. The Vaudevillians were great in NXT because of their totally crazy retro look. And I love Enzo Amore and Big Cass’ antics and insane wrestling style… and you can’t teach that! Ultimately however, I don’t think I can actually review this match due to some unfortunate events…
The introductions of all the teams were great. New Day came out first as their favorite cereal, Booty-Os, were the primary sponsor of this tag team tournament. They’re still magical on the mic and I’m still not tired of listening to them even up to now. Enzo Amore hyped the crowd with his catchphrase intro. The action was good while it lasted with both teams showing why they were the right teams to move up to the main roster.
Unfortunately, the action didn’t last long as Enzo Amore took a bad spill to the outside, getting his head snagged on the ropes when he tried to slide out of the ring. The ref did the right thing and called off the match, throwing up the dreaded X symbol with his arms to end the match immediately. You could tell it was serious because even the New Day didn’t do their usual antics. Enzo was carted to the hospital to get checked on.
Thankfully, it seems like he’s fine. I’m glad they stopped the match. Even though I love wrestling action and the usual brutality, I know it’s make believe and I don’t really want to see anyone get seriously injured.
Rating: Nope. Not gonna do it.
Match #2: Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens
I didn’t feel jealous for these guys because of what happened just a few minutes ago. How do you try to follow up a possible serious injury? Well, I guess give them a match between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn! Because they managed to blow away the dark mood successfully!
These two have already proven they can pull off fantastic matches in NXT and this night was no different. Owens is one of the most perfect heels in the business today being a brute of a bully with the muscle and the brains to back up his mouth. Zayn, on the other hand, is an incredibly charismatic athletic wrestler and the perfect underdog, making him an excellent natural rival to Owens. Right from the opening bell, the match was filled with action, with Zayn pulling off some fantastic high-flying movies right out of the gate.
There were a lot of really great spots throughout the entire match, such as Zayn hitting a couple of Blue Thunder Bombs and Owens connecting with a couple of his signature cannonballs. The match definitely picked up the pace in the middle with both participants pulling off some really amazing moves and reversals.
The match ended with Zayn going for his Helluva Kick finisher but ran right into Owen’s Superkick. Owens capitalizes by hitting his own finisher, the popup powerbomb for the pinfall victory. But things didn’t end there! Owens continued the assault and threw Zayn out of the ring. He then called color commentator Byron Saxton into the ring so he could proclaim his feud with Zayn over and done with and he can now go after his Intercontinental title. He will now do commentary for the Intercontinental match… which is up next!
Kinda hard to find anything wrong with the entire match. It was very good from bell to bell. I guess it just needed that little “oomph” to push it to classic status. Maybe if there was a title involved? That’s probably the worst thing I can say about it.
Rating: 9 of 10 “This is awesome” chants
Match #3: Cesaro vs The Miz (with Maryse) for the Intercontinental Title
Oh, wait. Kevin Owen’s sitting at ringside. I can see where this is headed…
Not many people give The Miz enough credit. He’s actually phenomenal on the mic and his wrestling ability is pretty good. He’s just been booked as a goofball. Hopefully, now that he has Maryse with him, the WWE will do much more with him. But I can’t ignore Cesaro. I’ve been a fan of the man for a while now and I’m surprised the WWE hasn’t really done anything with him for a long time. Like The Miz, I think Cesaro is highly underutilized.
The two did pull of a really good match. The Miz did need a little help from Maryse but he did hold his own for the most part, actually attacking Cesaro’s shoulder as often as possible. But Cesaro wasn’t a person to be one upped as he pulled his usually antics such as the giant swing and doing his running European uppercuts in quick succession.
It was a very good match for the most part. It was kind of slow at times and I totally disagree with Cesaro being able to kick out of The Miz’s finisher, the Skull Crushing Finale. But it was still a great match.
Unfortunately, the match was marred by a rather unsatisfying ending. Zayn ran out and attacked Owens. This led to the referee getting distracted while The Miz was tapping out of Cesaro’s crossface. The Miz took advantage of this by rolling up Cesaro (with a handfull of tights) to get the pinfall victory. Everything devolved into chaos soon after. Cesaro connected with a Neutralizer on The Miz. Owens kicked Cesaro out of the ring. Owens then connects with another popup powerbomb on Zayn. In the end, Owens was standing tall… and headbutting the Intercontinental belt?
Great match for the most part. I do dislike the ending as it wasn’t a really logical finish. It’s a good start to a possible feud between all four men in the future so I can’t really be mad about it too much.
Rating: 7 of 10 Kevin Owens headbutting the Intercontinental belt for some reason.
Match #3: Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho
I like Dean Ambrose. I think he’s a very entertaining wrestler who’s great on the mic, has such a unique way of wrestling and has developed a really fantastic character. Chris Jericho is probably one of the most charismatic people not just in wrestling but the world and knows how to play to the crowd. I should be more interested in this match. But when you realize their fighting about who’s getting a talk show on Raw, it just seems ridiculous.
And there was indeed something wrong with the match. It just didn’t feel exciting. They did pull of some great moves, such as Jericho catapulting Ambrose from atop the announce table to the area over the protective wall. And both competitors tried their darnest to get the crowd into the match with all their taunts but I just couldn’t get into the match. Maybe I was just too drained from the previous two fantastic matches. Either way, my brain tells me the match was good but my heart says otherwise.
The finish came with Ambrose getting his knees up to counter Jericho’s lionsault springboard splash. Ambrose capitalizes by connecting with Dirty Deeds. Like the finish, the match was good but just wasn’t spectacular. It felt like it was a few minutes too long as well.
Rating: 6 of 10 slingshots from top of the announce table.
Match #4: Natalya (with Bret Hart) vs. Charlotte (with Ric Flair) for the WWE Women’s title
Do I really have to review this? Because it just pains me to see that, after a fantastic Divas match at Wrestlemania, we get this match.
No disrespect to both Natalya and Charlotte. They’ve both competed against each other in NXT and that was a spectacular match. This one just pales in comparison. It just didn’t click for me in any way. It looked like both Natalya and Charlotte were going through the motions which made it seem like they were telegraphing their moves. It never picked up despite both Divas efforts.
But the worst thing has to be the finish as they had the gall to force a Chicago Screwjob on us! Charlotte cinched the Hart patented Sharpshooter submission on Natalya. All of a sudden, the referee called for the bell, stating Natalya submitted! The Harts did get some form of revenge as Natalya locked the Sharpshooter on Charlotte while her uncle Bret did the same on Flair.
I’m sorry but the entire match was soured for me by this artificial Chicago Screwjob finish. I was going to give it a passing score but… no. I just can’t.
Rating: 4 of 10 Chicago Screwjob, my butt!
Storyline segment: Vince McMahon on who’s going to control RAW
I guess Vince doesn’t care about who controls Smackdown?
I don’t usually review storyline segments but I think I had to since this actually took the place of an entire match. So, essentially, Vince McMahon is going to let Stephanie and Shane try to outdo each other? They both have control of RAW? Please! This is the kind of thing that should be on RAW, not a pay-per-view event!
However, if I’m to speak critically about it, the performances of all the McMahons were pretty good. Vince still got it when it comes to talking on the mic. Stephanie may be a little shrill and too “corporate evil” for my tastes but it does work at times. Shane coming off as the “People’s Choice” is great. But still… you’re having this on Payback instead of RAW?
Rating: 4 of 10… we got this instead of a match?
Match #5, #6 and #7?: AJ Styles vs Roman Reigns for the WWE Heavyweight title
I think AJ Styles is one of the best wrestlers in the world right now. I can’t figure out for the life of me why the WWE took so long to get this guy! His wrestling moves are fantastic and the man’s got a lot of charisma… oh, and he looks great. Really handsome, got a great body and that 5 o’clock shadow is really sexy… where was I? Oh, yeah. Styles is a great wrestler.
And, as much as I rag on the WWE trying to shove Roman Reigns down our throat as the next best thing, he can pull off some great matches when paired against the right guy. And I guess AJ Styles is the right kind of guy that can bring the best out of Reigns… because the match was really, really good! Both Styles and Reigns pulled off some fantastic ring work in Payback’s main event match.
The match was, once again, kind of marred by two of it’s endings. Yes, I said “endings” because there were three finishes! The first came when Styles connected his Phenomenal Forearm on Reigns onto the announce table. Styles managed to crawl back into the ring to get the countout victory on Reigns.
Yes, Shane restarted the match, making it a No Countout match!
The match pushed on and Styles tried to finish it immediately by dragging Reigns into the ring and attempting another Phenomenal Forearm. Reigns tries to counter with a punch but accidentally (?) hits Styles with a low blow. The referee calls for the bell and gives Styles the DQ victory.
Stephanie comes out and, attempting to one-up her brother, restarts the match, making it a No Disqualification match! More great action ensued!
The real finish came when Styles friends from Japan, Anderson and Gallows attacked Reigns while The Phenomenal One was out of it. Styles connects with yet another Phenomenal Forearm but Reigns draped his foot on the bottom rope, breaking the count! Reigns’ cousins, The Usos, then came out to even the odds by attacking Anderson and Gallows. Reigns throws Styles into the fray… literally. He then jumped into the brawl himself… once again, literally!
Styles capitalizes with another Phenomenal Forearm and rolls Reigns into the ring. Styles does a 450 splash but Reigns kicks out. Styles goes for his classic finisher, the Styles Clash, but tosses The Phenomenal One to the ring apron. Styles counters the Superman Punch and goes for yet another Phenomenal Forearm… but Reigns ducks and nails a spear to get the pinfall victory.
Honestly, great match! Both Reigns and Styles performed great but it was mostly due to Styles carrying the match, in my opinion. I didn’t like the McMahon siblings restarting the match twice as it felt more like a setup for a future storyline. But it was still a fantastic match overall.
Rating: 8 of 10 Phenomenal Forearms… which is actually how many Styles threw in the match!
Overall Rating for WWE Payback (2016):
Payback surprised me this year. There were several great matches and the main event didn’t disappoint. There were a few miscues, such as the terrible Divas match and there’s also Enzo Amore’s injury. But the matches were, for the most part, really great and entertaining.
Rating: 7 of 10 Get well soon, Enzo Amore
What did you think of this year’s Payback? Let me know in the comments section below!