WWE Payback took place on Sunday June 16th at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois. With a guarantee of an awesome Chicago crowd, how will the event fare? Let’s take a look.
The Pre-Show match was between Damien Sandow and Sheamus. The match starts with them both trading blows before Sheamus hits a powerslam for 2. The action goes to the outside and Sandow is sent into the barricade. Sandow gets some momentum after sending Sheamus into the ring post followed by a boot to the head. Sandow goes to the tope rope but Sheamus snapmares him off it for 2. Sandow stops the momentum and hits the elbow of disdain for 2. Sandow continues his dominance by wearing Sheamus with chinlocks and punches. Sheamus tries a comeback with axe handles to the head but Sandow stops that with a spinning neckbreaker. Sheamus hits a rolling senton for 2 then Sandow hits a top rope reverse neckbreaker for 2. Sheamus goes for the white noise but Sandow gets out if it and hits a neck tie neckbreaker for 2. Sheamus hits 3 consecutive Irish cruse backbreakers then murders Sandow with a Brogue kick to get the win. Despite the match being interrupted by a commercial for Payback, it was a fun match and I thought both of them performed well.
Predictions: 1 for 1
The event officially starts with a triple threat match for the Intercontinental Championship with Curtis Axel and The Miz challenging Wade Barrett. The match starts with The Miz throwing Axel out of the ring and trying to pin Barrett early. Barrett hits Axel with a pumphandle slam when he goes back in the ring but Miz stops the pin. Barrett then lays Miz on top of the turnbuckle and punches his gut a few times. Barrett continues to wear down his opponents before getting sent out of the ring. Axel focuses his attack on the Miz, particularly on back of the head. Miz tries a comeback but is stopped by a back suplex by Axel and Barrett runs in to break up the pin. Miz starts clotheslining his opponents and gets some momentum and tries for the figure 4 on Barrett. However, Barrett pushes Miz against the ropes and hits the winds of change and Axel breaks up the pin. Barrett goes for the wasteland but Axel gets out of it and hits the Perfect plex and Miz just breaks up the pin in time. Miz hits the skull crushing finale on Axel but Barrett throws him out of the ring and pins Axel himself, and Miz stops that by pulling Barrett out of the ring. He then pins Axel for a 2 count. Miz then goes for the figure 4 on Barrett and while is going on, Axel covers Barrett and gets the win. It was a good match and I found the ending a bit weird. Normally, when you apply a figure 4 and your opponent puts his shoulders down, that counts as a pin. It has been that way for decades, so for WWE to basically rip up that rule seemed wrong somehow. Anyway, congratulations to Curtis Axel, especially as he won on Father’s Day.
Winner: Curtis Axel
Predictions: 2 for 2
The next match was for the Divas Championship as AJ challenges her former best friend Kaitlyn in a match that I’m really looking forward to seeing. The match starts with AJ blowing a kiss and getting the crap beaten put of her by Kaitlyn, and getting sent flying over the Spanish announce table. AJ flees and when Kaitlyn chases after her, AJ hits a flying kick from the ring apron. AJ continues her dominance and hits a couple of neckbreakers for 2. AJ starts to mock Kaitlyn and applies a sleeper. Kaitlyn gets out of it by sending AJ into the corner but AJ responds with a kick to the back of the head. Kaitlyn makes a comeback with shoulder blocks and clotheslines but AJ applies a crucifix pin for 2. She then hits Kaitlyn with her belt but she only gets a 2 count. AJ tries a crossbody and Kaitlyn catches her and tries to slam her down. However, AJ keeps hold of her and applies the black widow. Kaitlyn manages to power out of it and hits a backbreaker then almost kills AJ with a spear. However, instead of pinning her, she blows a kiss to AJ, slams her head to the mat and pins her for a 2 count. Kaitlyn tries to spear AJ against the turnbuckle but AJ dodges it and she hits her head off the second turnbuckle. AJ then applies the black widow to make Kaitlyn submit and become the new Divas Champion. Afterwards, Kaitlyn starts to cry in the aisle and Layla comes out to comfort her.
The match is probably the best WWE Divas match that I have seen in years and it told a really good story as well. This goes to show, especially with the Kim/Tarrell match at Slammiversary earlier in the month, that given the time, the women can put on matches just as good and as brutal as the men. All the WWE needs to do to build on it is keep the Championship on AJ; use wrestlers such as Natalya and Layla more instead of doing other bullshit; and promote people such as Paige and Emma from NXT to the main roster. If they do that, the WWE has the chance to build a very strong Divas Division.
Predictions: 3 for 3
Next was the match for the United States Championship as Kane challenges Dean Ambrose. Ambrose starts punching Kane before Kane gets the advantage. He wears down Ambrose with punches and sending him flying into turnbuckles. Ambrose stops Kane with a dropkick to the knee and starts to dominate the match. Ambrose goes for a neckbreaker but Kane reverses into a powerslam, hurting his knee in the process. Ambrose hits a flying elbow from the top rope for 2 then keeps on wearing Kane down with a reverse headlock then a sleeper. Ambrose tries a move from the top turnbuckle but Kane hits him while he is in the air and starts to make a comeback. Ambrose tries to slow Kane down with another dropkick for 2 then he attempts the Undetaker’s old school move but Kane throws him off the top rope, starts sending Ambrose into turnbuckles and hits a side suplex for 2. Kane goes for the chokeslam but Ambrose leaves the ring. Kane follows him and gets slapped by Ambrose. Kane slaps him back then attempts to chokeslam him through the Spanish announce table. However, Amborse stops that and DDTs Kane to the floor. While this has been going on, the referee has been doing a 10 count. Ambrose rolls back in the ring at the count of 8 and Kane gets counted out. I thought this was a good match but I wasn’t a fan of the ending. I feel that Ambrose pinning Kane clean would have made Ambrose look strong.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
Predictions: 4 for 4
The World Heavyweight Championship is on the line as Dolph Ziggler defends his title against Alberto Del Rio. The match starts with Ziggler punching Del Rio in the corner before Del Rio hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Ziggerl goes outside to regroup and for the rest of the match, Del Rio focuses on Ziggler's head, starting with stamping on it. Del Rio sends Ziggler flying to the outside then bashes his head into the announce table. Big E Langston gets involved to protect Ziggler and the referee Mike Choida sends him to the back. Ziggler tries to fight back and throws Del Rio back into the ring. However, Del Rio kicks him in the head when Ziggler is going back into the ring and that gives the chance for Del Rio to apply a chinlock. Del Rio tries a suplex but Ziggler reverses into a sleeper and Del Rio gets out of it by sending Ziggler's head into the top turnbuckle. Del Rio continues to focus on the head and Ziggler slows the momentum with a neckbreaker for 2 then a slightly botched fameasser for 2. Ziggler goes to the top rope but Del Rio stops that then hits a reverse super plex for 2. Del Rio baseball slides Ziggler to the outside then almost kicks Ziggler's head off and thsi prompts the doctor to look at him. When Ziggler is telling hi that he wants to continue, Del Rio does a dropkick through the ropes to the back of Ziggler's head which looked brutal. Del Rio puts Ziggler back in the ring and kicks him in the back of the head for a 2 count. Ziggler manages to hit the zig zag but he bangs his head in the process so is not able to capitalise on it. Del Rio then kicks Ziggler once again in the head to get the 3 count and become the new World Heavyweight Champion.
This was a very interesting match to watch. I saw it live and I was seriously cringing at what was happening to Ziggler, especially when Del Rio dropkicked him through through the ropes. It also led to a double turn which is good because I wasn't a big fan of Del Rio as a face. The whole point of a double turn is to make sure the heel look sympathetic and at the same time, make the face look like a total douche. They certainly acheived that here, especially when Del Rio came back out and celebrated. Looking at it now, I'm not convinced of Ziggler as a face just yet but he has the support of the fans so it will come.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
Predictions: 4 for 5
Next is Chris Jericho taking on CM Punk. We get a lot of chain wrestling to begin with and Jericho goes for a springboard dropkick but Punk ducks and bounces Jericho's neck off the top rope. Punk gets the advantage for a few minutes before Jericho makes a comeback. Jericho hits a facebuster and goes for the lionsault, but he misses and Punk hits a neckbreaker for a 2 count. Punk hits a running knee and goes for the running bulldog. However, Jericho pushes Punk off and hits the lionsault for 2. Punk tries for the GTS but Jericho gets out of it and applies the walls of Jericho. Punk manages to get out of it and applies a standing anaconda vice. Jericho starts to punch the ribs to get out of it but Punk takes him to the floor and keeps on the vice and Jericho finally gets to the ropes. Punk goes again for the GTS and Jericho gets out of it and goes for the walls. The two exchange punches then Punk hits a heel kick followed by a running knee then the Macho Man elbow drop. Punk hits the GTS but Jericho kicks out at 2. Punk clotheslines Jericho to the outside then does a suicide dive. Punk does a springboard clothesline but gets hit with a codebreaker for 2. Punk almost wins it with a small package then Jericho applies the walls right in the middle of the ring. Punk starts hitting Jericho to get out of it. Punk hits 2 GTS's to get the win. This was a really enjoyable match and might be the best one out of the three they have had.
Winner: CM Punk
Predictions: 5 for 6
Next the Tag Team Championships are on the line as Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton challenge The Shield. Bryan and Reigns start the match and The Shield wear down Bryan for a while. Orton gets tagged in and handles Reigns and Rollins quite easily. Orton tries for the RKO but Rollins rolls out of the ring; and Orton gets hit with a flying punch to the head to give Reigns and Rollins back the advantage. Orton tries to fightback but he gets his head slammed into the turnbuckle by Rollins. Orton gets hit with a Samoa drop by Reigns for 2 then Rollins comes in and applies a chinlock. Orton sends Reigns into the ring post then does a fallaway slam sending Rollins into the back of Reigns. This gives Orton the opportunity to give the hot tag to Bryan and he proceeds to destroy Rollins and Reigns. Bryan sends them out to the outside and tries a suicide dive. However, they move out of the way and Bryan goes flying into Orton. The action goes back inside and Bryan applies the LeBell Yes No lock but he lets go of it to stop Reigns coming in. Rollins does a schoolboy but Bryan reverses into the Lebell Yes No lock. Reigns breaks it up and goes for a spear. However, Orton comes in and tries to RKO Reigns. Reigns pushes him into Bryan, almost colliding with each other. Orton dodges a spear by Reigns but Bryan doesn't and Orton hits a RKO (outta nowhere!) on Reigns. Rollins comes in and sends Orton out of the ring then hits the blackout to Bryan to get the win and retain the Championships. It was a very enjoyable match with Bryan coming close to stealing the show.
Winners: The Shield
Predictions: 6 for 7
The main event is a three stages of heel with Ryback challenging John Cena fo rthe WWE Championship. The first stage is a 30-man lumberjack match and it starts with Ryback stomping a hole in Cena in the corner being gettign forced away by the referee. Cena tries a facebuster but Ryback grabs him and hits a powerslam then a fallaway slam. Cena gets some momentum starting with a suplex. Cena gets sent out of the ring but the lumberjacks don't go anything and Cena slides back in. Ryback applies a chinlock and sends Cena out again. This time, 3MB and the Prime Time Players get a few digs in then roll Cena back into the ring. Ryback hits a suplex then sends Cena out again to where 3MB are. They once again roll Cena back in and later on, Ryback is thrown to that area but they don't do anything to him. Cena makes his comeback with a couple of shoulder charges but when he does the five knuckle shuffle, Ryback picks him up and sends him crashing into some of the lumberjacks. Cena goes back in and sends Ryback out to the same area. The initially don't do anything but Ryback pushes Cesaro when he tries to help him back up. Therefore, they start beating on Ryback and all the lumberjacks join in then Cena does a flying crossbody to them, knocking most of them down. Ryback and Cena go back into the ring and Cena applies the STF. Ryback manages to power out of it and hits the shell shock to get the 3 count and take a 1-0 lead.
The second stage starts when the lumberjacks leave and it's a tables match. Ryback spears Cena into the corner then goes and grabs a table. Ryback tries to powerbomb Cena through the table but Cena wriggles out of it and goes for the AA. Ryback gets out of it then spears Cena. Ryback tries to Gorilla press slam Cena through the table but Cena gets out of it and once again goes for the AA. This time, Ryback pushes away the table and gets off Cena's shoulders. Cena then sends Ryback out of the ring. Ryback sends Cena into the ring steps then throws them into the ring. He rolls Cena back into the ring and hits him with the steps. He throws the steps at Cena but he dodges then hits Ryback with the steps. Cena goes to grab a table and gets hit with the steps after he had set the table. Cena hits a couple of shoulder charges then the five knuckle shuffle. Ryback responds with a brutal spinebuster followed by a meat hook clothesline. Ryback grabs a table and goes to put Cena through it with the shell shock. However, Cena reverses it into the AA which puts Ryback through the table to tie the series at 1 each.
The third stage is an ambulance match and Ryback immediately starts beating on Cena and powerbombs him through the announce table. He rolls Cena back into the ring and continues to beat on Cena as the match officially starts. Ryback starts to carry Cena to the ambulance but Cena wriggles out and pushes Ryback into the back of the vehicle. They start punching each other until Cena slams Ryback into the side of the ambulance. Cena then Irish whips Ryback through the open driver's door then he hits him with the now broken door. Cena tries to push Ryback into the driver's seat but Ryback pushes him away, sends him flying onto the bonnet then starting hitting with a panel of the amubalnce that he ripped off. Cena back body dropped Ryback onto the windshield then climbs onto the top of the vehicle and hits Ryback with the siren that he just pulled off. They both go to the roof of the ambulance and Cena AA's Ryback through the roof to win the match and retain the WWE Championship.
While the ending did seem a bit dumb to me, I quite enjoyed the match. I've liked Ryback as a heel, although that seemed to have stagnated over the last few weeks. As for Cena, his reign continues.
Winner: John Cena
Predictions: 7 for 8
I really enjoyed Payback. Except for a couple of questionable endings, I thought all of the matches were really enjoyable to watch. The crowd also made this event enjoyable and I think that Chicago generally has the best fans in the United States. The WWE have made some interesting decisions in terms of character development and it remains to see whether they have made the right choices.