So, the post-WrestleMania PPV, Payback, has happened (over a week ago now) and it was a night of good, bad and in-between but it was fresh and had a feel of something new, like WWE are making an effort to build new stars (finally).
- Kick-Off Show: Kalisto retained his US Title against Ryback
- Kick-Off Show: Dolph Ziggler beat Baron Corbin
- The Vaudevillains and Enzo & Big Cass went to a no-contest
- Kevin Owens pinned Sami Zayn
- The Miz beat Cesaro to retain his I-C Title
- Dean Ambrose beat Chris Jericho
- Charlotte retained her Women’s Title against Natalya via ref stoppage
- Roman Reigns successfully defended his World Title against AJ Styles
The PPV started with the Kick-Off show. The Corbin/Ziggler match felt like a typical television match and featured Ziggler bumping around for Corbin. Strangely, Ziggs won the match. The other Kick-Off match was much better than expected. Ryback lost to Kalisto but both men showed a chemistry in the ring. Kalisto showed his great aerial offense and Ryback showed off his strength and it made for an entertaining match.
Payback 2016 properly began with Enzo and Cass against The Vaudevillains to determine who would be the number one contenders to the Tag Team Titles. The New Day sat at ringside eating pizza and playing around. The fans were into the match early on and Enzo & Cass were very over in Chicago. Sadly, in a spot involving Simon Gotch throwing Enzo out of the ring, Enzo hit his head on the side of the ring and knocked himself out. The referee stopped the match and the fans, announcers and wrestlers showed concern. It was announced later in the night that Enzo was recovering in a local hospital and had suffered a concussion but no neck injury. It was a scary injury to witness.
Moving on from the unfortunate events of the opening match, Owens and Zayn brought the crowd back around with the match of the night. The two have incredible chemistry in the ring and their feud is the best of the year, in my view, in WWE. Owens plays the antagonist so well and Zayn is a fantastic underdog who the fans can get behind. He has a chance to fill the shoes left empty by Daniel Bryan. Owens won the match and cut a promo afterwards saying that he had “finally proved to be the better man”. Fantastic. Owens then did commentary for the following I-C match. His commentary was very entertaining. The Miz/Cesaro match was just okay, but it became more interesting when Zayn and Owens got involved. It seems we might see a four-way for the I-C belt at the next PPV.
Ambrose and Jericho had a fun match. Their feud has been much better than I expected. Jericho has been pretty good as a heel since turning on Styles last month, and Ambrose continued to be over with the “WWE Universe”. Ambrose won but the feud is likely not over yet. The Charlotte/Nattie match could have been a show-stealer but sadly it wasn’t. They had a great match, that is undeniable but steal the show it didn’t. I blame the Flair/Hart inclusion and the “Montreal Screwjob” rehash finish. The screwjob finish has been used so much since 1997 and it’s tired now. Try something else guys. Just because Bret Hart is involved, it doesn’t mean a referee has to screw anyone. I wanna see Charlotte without her father showing what she can do as a villain. This as a singles match without any outside nuisance would have been much better in my view. One day, perhaps.
Finally, Roman Reigns took on the challenger, AJ Styles. Styles was over but didn’t get as big of a pop as perhaps WWE expected. Reigns was booed by seemingly most of the Chicago fans. The match was enjoyable and featured some twists and turns involving Shane and Stephanie coming out to restart the match when DQ’s and Count-out’s occurred. (Vince McMahon had named both Shane and Steph as co-runners of RAW earlier in the night). Anderson and Gallows got involved as expected, but in the end Reigns picked up the victory to retain the World Title. After the match, backstage, we saw Shane announce that the next PPV, Extreme Rules, would be headlined by an Extreme Rules match between Styles and Reigns.
The show was decent. It featured plenty of great talent and some fresh matches and that is very positive. It was a shame to see Enzo hurt in the opener, and the booking of Reigns is not working still. Still… most of the matches were enjoyable and Zayn and Owens stole the show with their awesome grudge match. More of that please, WWE.