Though it was mentioned several times on tonight’s WWE Payback that the company was entering a new era, that’s not exactly how things played out. Indeed, over the course of the show, it seemed like the company was straddling the line between the old and the new, with one foot firmly planted on either side. Fortunately, the new stuff worked well for the most part (save for one scary moment that ended better than it originally seemed). But the old stuff? Not so much.
The main throwback moment was the return to the already-tapped-dry well of McMahon Family drama. During tonight’s too-long segment, Vince had to choose which of his children would take over control of Monday Night Raw, answering the question that could have been answered during the nearly 15-hour WrestleMania 32 if the company hadn’t decided to completely ignore the stipulation of the match between Shane McMahon and the Undertaker on that show.
Vince comes out (to a chorus of “CM Punk” chants) and introduces Stephanie who comes out and lists everything that happened under The Authority’s rule. Then Shane came out and put himself over, showing headlines from mainstream media that put over how good RAW has been lately. Of course, both of them get in plugs for the WWE Network, touting how successful that’s been. The WWE Universe chimes in, and if the Chicago crowd were deciding, the answer would be crystal clear. But Vince says that the only voice he hears is his own. Unfortunately, though, his voice is stupid and so he says he wants the siblings to continue fighting each other. He puts them both in charge and tells them that they need to run the show jointly and figure it out.
The first opportunity to try out their new dynamic presented itself later on, during the main event that saw Roman Reigns defend his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against AJ Styles. Reigns started off the match using his strength advantage to push around Styles, who had to counter with his quick-paced offence. This was a good David vs. Goliath contest, with Reigns showing off his power and AJ using his quickness and agility, including a nice combination of knees followed up by a big forearm smash. At one point, AJ locked on the Calf Crusher, but Reigns was able to use his long torso to break it. Later, in a beautiful spot, with Reigns on the floor standing in front of the announcers’ desk, AJ hit him with a Super Phenomenal Forearm that hit Reigns so hard, he crashed through the table. AJ got back into the ring, but Reigns wasn’t able to get there, and was counted out. The referee called for the bell, and AJ was announced as the winner, but not the champion, understandably disappointing the pro-Styles, anti-Reigns crowd.
So Shane McMahon came out and, wanting to give the fans a conclusive winner, he restarted the match as a No Countout contest. AJ quickly went for a 450-Splash, but Reigns got his knees up. AJ then went for another move, and Reigns went for a punch at the same time, resulting in Reigns hitting an accidental low blow that resulted in a disqualification. Then Stephanie came out and ordered the match to continue, this time as a No-DQ battle. A fired-up Reigns took things to the floor, dumping AJ into the crowd. They fought it out, with AJ getting the upper hand with a big clothesline. He rolled Reigns back into the ring and went for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Reigns jumped up and hit him with a Superman Punch for a very close 2-and-a-half count.
With Styles down, Reigns was ready to hit the Spear, when Anderson and Gallows ran down and saved Styles, pulling him out of the ring. They then came in and double-teamed Reigns, outside of the sights of AJ who was on the ground recovering. With Reigns down, AJ went once again for the Phenomenal Forearm, hitting it for the 1, 2, and – no! Reigns with his foot on the ropes! Anderson and Gallows looked to be heading back into the ring, but the Usos ran down and they started brawling in the aisle. AJ climbed to the top, but Reigns stopped him and threw him down onto the four combatants. Reigns then did a big flying dive onto everyone for good measure. Styles rolled him into the ring and hit a Springboard Somersault Splash, but he only got a 2-count. He tried for another Phenomenal Forearm, but Reigns ducked it, criss-crossed the ropes, and hit the big Spear to get the pin and keep his title.
After the match, the McMahons were shown in the back, with Vince trumpeting the good job Shane and Steph did in taking action to deliver this overstuffed, overbooked mess of a main event (admittedly, some paraphrasing here). He then goaded them into signing a rematch between AJ and Reigns for an Extreme Rules Match at the PPV of the same name in three weeks. Sigh… the more things change, right?
WWE Payback – Full Results
Note: In the spirit of Stephanie and Shane working together, so too are Bob Kapur and Matthew Asher to provide you tag team coverage of Payback. Bob’s comments will be in standard font, and Matthew’s comments will be italicized.
Tonight’s Payback comes to us live from Chicago, IL. The pre-show announce team of Renee Young, Booker T, Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Corey Graves ran down the action from Chicago, Illinois.
Pre-Show Match 1: Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin
We start off the wrestling part of the show with the Lone Wolf taking on the Show-Off. I’m glad that the announce team made a big deal of Corbin winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale match at Mania. As to be expected, Corbin starts off by manhandling Ziggler. Dolph, being Dolph, sells like nobody’s business. Every time he gets a little bit of offense, Corbin shuts him down. Dolph slaps on a sleeper hold which wears Baron down. Dolph hits a Fame-Asser but can’t get the pinfall. The fight spills out of the ring. Dolph tries to use the ring steps to get some leverage on a jumping move but a big boot by Corbin ends that. Baron lifts Dolph up like a powerbomb but tosses Ziggler into the ringpost. Baron puts Dolph inside the ring again and this ends up being his downfall. Baron talks trash to the official, allowing Ziggler to get a quick roll-up pin for the duke. I definitely didn’t see Ziggler getting the victory. For a pre-show match, it was fine. Nothing special, but not terrible at all.
Strange decision to give Ziggler the win here, as opposed to the up-and-comer. Doesn’t seem to make sense to curb Corbin’s momentum already.
I know. Definitely not the way I would have gone. I thought Baron should have mauled Dolph in a minute.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Match Rating: 3/5
After a wonderful montage of the history of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, we get a sit-down Q&A with Mauro Ranallo and Sami. Zayn answers a few questions on Twitter. No surprise that his inspriation is fellow Canadian Bret Hart. He also talks about the possibility of he and Owens teaming up again. Zayn said nothing’s out of the question with them being friends again. The final question was if Sami would change anything about his career. He said no because even with all the backstabbings from Kevin, Sami doesn’t know if that would mean him never coming to the WWE.
Pre-show Match 2: Kalisto (c) vs. Ryback – Intercontinental Championship
Thank you, Chicago crowd, for instantly taking the fun out of this match. We get the “Goldberg” and “You Can’t Wrestle” chants from the get-go.
Kalisto used his quickness to try to stupefy the big man, including a dive and a high twisting splash off the top to the floor, but Ryback’s strength stopped the champ’s momentum several times. Ryback threw Kalisto from pillar to post until Kalisto was able to counter a power move attempt with a Tornado DDT, and followed that up with a springboard DDT off the top, crashing Ryback’s head onto the apron. He followed that up with a flurry of flying feet, knocking down Ryback, but not out, as the big bully hit him with a big Spinebuster. After a huge Gorilla Press off the top, Ryback tried to follow it up with a Superfly Splash, but Kalisto moved, and then hit the Solina del Sol on a stunned Ryback to get the pin and retain his title. Good match, lots of neat moves by Kalisto and some impressive new things from Ryback as well.
Loved that DDT move and Ryback’s military press of the second rope was cool. Glad Kalisto kept the the strap because he’s still being criminally underused.
Winner and still US Champion: Kalisto
Match Rating: 4/5
The New Day comes to the ring before Number One Contender tag match. They sit in the corner of the outside next to the announcers.
Kevin Owens sent out an update on Enzo Amore via Twitter — he’s up and about and arguing with Big Cass.
Match 1: Enzo & Big Cass vs. The Vaudevillians – Tournament Finals for the Number One Contendership for the WWE Tag Team Championship
Simply a great promo by Enzo and Cass before the match begins. I’m so glad the WWE proper has brought these guys up. Looking forward to them tearing the house down. Simon Gotch and Enzo Amore start out the match and actually get some chain wrestling to start. English gets the tag and Big Cass follows suit. While Cass manhandles English the New Day sits on the floor eating popcorn, pizza and taking photos. Hilarious. We go back to our original pairing and Gotch throws Amore into the ropes. Unfortunately Enzo’s head hits the middle rope and it looks like a whiplash effect. Enzo can’t get up and the match is called as a stretcher comes out and we have no finish.
It would appear from replays that the back of Enzo’s head got whiplashed hard onto the mat and he knocked himself silly, possibly making it worse when he then hit the floor since he couldn’t protect himself. Scary moment. They keep us up-to-date on his status throughout the show, and while Enzo got concussed, luckily that seems to be the extent of his injury.
I really hope Enzo gets better quickly. This was definitely not planned because I was looking forward to seeing the former NXT tag team specialists showcase their talents. Definitely a disappointment but through no fault of anyone. The injury bug has once again hit the WWE. #GetWellSoonEnzo
Match Rating: No rating.
Match 2: Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
This one was too loaded and too good to try to do justice in a paragraph or two. Suffice to say that both guys impressed with their moves and their chemistry together made this one worth going out of your way to see. Simply stellar. Owens won this intense battle after a Pop-up Powerbomb. Match of the Night without question.
Agreed. A great match. Owens has a bloody nose from the match. These guys simply teed off on each other and the match could have ended several times. I know these guys have more in them so I’m hoping this rivalry is put on the back burner and we resume this for SummerSlam.
Winner: Kevin Owens
Match Rating: 5/5
After the match, Owens proves he’s a super jerk by direspectfully throwing Sami out of the ring and forcing Byron Saxton into the ring for an interview. Owens says that he’s down with Zayn and will now focus on regaining the Intercontinental Championship. And to scout his opponents, he’ll join the commentary desk for the next match.
Match 3: The Miz (c) w/ Maryse vs. Cesaro – Intercontinental Championship
I love seeing Kevin Owens wearing JBL’s hat at the commentary desk. And I love seeing Cesaro come to the ring looking like James Bond, complete with the white tux and the gun-barrel image in the background. The match saw Cesaro use his ridiculous power to score a number of near falls. Cesaro was going to hit his standing superplex, but Maryse interfered, which let Miz capitalize. In a nifty sequence, Miz had Cesaro in a sleeperhold, but Cesaro shifted around until he was able to get vertical and suplex himself out of the move. He then finally hit the standing superplex, and followed that up with a flying uppercut for the near fall. Miz recovered to hit his Skull Crushing Finale, for a near fall. Suddenly, Sami Zayn flew in from nowhere and attacked Owens the commentary desk, where they exchanged punches. In the ring, Cesaro gave Miz the Giant Swing and then locked on a crossface. Miz tapped, but the referee was busy dealing with Owens and Zayn who by that time had started fighting on the apron. The distraction allowed Miz to roll Cesaro up and get the pin. Afterwards, Cesaro took his frustration out on Miz, hitting him with the Neutralizer, and then all four men attacked one another. In the end, the crafty Owens stood tall, holding up the coveted IC title.
It looks like that’s your program for the next few months, possibly leading to a 4-way TLC match for the title at SummerSlam? Not complaining, but really, Miz in the mix is like that old Sesame Street song, “One of these things is not like the other”.
Good match overall but I hated the result. However, I can live with it if it indeed sets up a four-way match between these guys later. I wish WWE would pull the trigger on Cesaro but if he can win in the fatal four-way, I’m all for it.
Winner and still Intercontinental Champion: The Miz
Match Rating: 4/5
Match 4: Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho
Jericho tried to get into Ambrose’s head, but that’s certainly not where you want to be. Eventually, he was able to use Ambrose’s frenzied attack against him, sending the lunatic to the floor with a big high cross body. Then, he feigned a complaint to the referee to draw Ambrose in for a sneaky elbow, followed by a springboard dropkick that sent Ambrose to the floor. After exchanging moves and momentum back and forth, Ambrose went for his flying elbow, but Y2J side-stepped it, and locked him into the Walls of Jericho. A bit more back and forth, including Jericho getting busted open with a rope to the face, until the two started fighting on the outside. Jericho eventually catapulted Ambrose off the table into the timekeeper’s area. But back in the ring, Ambrose fired off a huge clothesline to take down the veteran. Some more action, including Ambrose finally getting the flying elbow, but ending up again in the Walls. He broke loose again, and fought hard to finally hit Dirty Deeds and get the pin.
Glad to see Dean get the win but that’s about the only thing positive I have to say about the match. There was nothing wrong with it, but there just wasn’t anything special about it. This match went on too long and I wonder if they were trying to pad out the show after Enzo’s injury prematurely ended the first match. I thought the match should have ended after Dean hit Chris with the elbow from the top rope. From there it just dragged on. Had Zayn and Owens gone on this long, that would have been fine. I did like Jericho throwing a temper tantrum afterwards and I did like his cowardly heel throughout but this was just took too long.
You took the words right out of my mouth. Meaningless match, meaningless feud. And it dragged on forever.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
Match Rating: 3/5
Backstage, AJ Styles denied that Anderson and Gallows would play a part in his upcoming match with Roman Reigns.
Match 5: Charlotte (c) w/ Ric Flair vs. Natalya w/ Bret Hart – Women’s Championship
The announcers note that this is Bret’s first appearance since his bout with prostrate cancer – glad he’s up and about. The story early on is that Natalya keep outwrestling Charlotte, who has to use underhanded tactics to turn the tide. Eventually, Charlotte starts working the leg, including suplexing Nattie strategically so that her leg hits against the rope hard – just ask Y2J about those ropes. Charlotte scales the ropes for a moonsault, but Nattie catches her and throws her to the floor. They fight it out there, and Charlotte tries for a powerbomb, but Nattie reverses it and hits a hurancarana instead. She eventually hit it, but to no avail. Later, Charlotte locked on the Figure 8, but Nattie reversed it. Then, in a show of blatant disrespect, Charlotte clamped on the Sharpshooter… What the hell? Referee Charles “Little Naitch” Robinson called for the bell, even though Nattie didn’t tap, and awarded the match to Charlotte. It’s a Chicago Screwjob! After the match, Bret and Ric had words, leading to Bret locking Ric in a Sharpshooter, while Nattie got some revenge by doing the same on Charlotte.
Great match up until the end. I have no idea why they did another Screwjob finish. Neither Bret nor Ric got involved before so I’m confused. At the start of the show they said they were focusing on “The New Era” and instead they decide to do a 1997 callback.
Agreed. This just reeks of laziness and a lack of creativity. Surely there are better ways to utilize Ric and Bret that could have still resulted in Charlotte unfairly escaping with the belt? Safe to say the Divas’ Revolution is dead and buried… just like the “Montreal Screwjob” finish should be. Unless this is going to lead to a Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart vs. Charles Robinson match or something, this was completely counter-productive.
Winner and still Women’s Champion: Charlotte
Match Rating: 3/5
Vince McMahon Announcement
What a waste of time. This segment was absolutely pointless with no payoff whatsoever. This was the Zack Ryder IC title reign of promos.
Yep. This was a 30-minute segment that could have taken 2 minutes. I get that they might be trying to pad out the show but seriously, this just felt like forever.
Match 6: Roman Reigns (c) vs. AJ Styles – WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
Winner and still WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Roman Reigns
Match Rating: 3/5
I hated the two match restarts but I’m glad we got somewhat of a definitive ending. I’m really impressed with Roman continuing the match after AJ knocked Roman back over the barricade in which Roman’s groin hit the corner of the announce table. That looked painful! Following the Bullet Club/Uso confrontation was somewhat of a letdown. If you’re involved in a No-DQ match, why didn’t Gallows/Anderson help AJ into the ring and cover Roman.
The match was good and entertaining up until the stupid endings and restarts. After the whole McMahon promo, this one felt only like a showcase for that storyline, and took away any significance of the title. It’s a shame when two non-wrestlers overshadow the guys in the match. To paraphrase The Who: Meet the new era, same as the old era. We all get fooled again.
Overall Show Rating: 3/5
- Bob Kapur and Matthew Asher are looking to dethrone fellow SLAM! Wrestling scribes Nick Tylwalk and Dale Plummer as the reigning tag champs of PPV recaps – but hopefully without anyone getting concussed! Matthew is the sports reporter for the Portales News Tribune in Portales, New Mexico. He wants to thank his girlfriend Chrissy for letting him cover Payback as Sunday is always their one day to spend together. The plus side is she’s now into pro wrestling and is looking forward to Extreme Rules. You can email Matthew at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @santavato. Bob Kapur can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.