This will be my WWE Payback review. The show just went off the air, so these are my instant thoughts without knowing any of the followup. Let’s go!
Kickoff Show – I didn’t watch it. Truth be told, these have never really been my gig. Even the days of Sunday Night Heat, it was always kind of meh. WWE has loaded up the glorified “pre-show” in the past, but nothing has stuck. This time, the featured bout was Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan vs. The IIconics. This is the kinda/sorta Riott Squad Reunion Tour happening on Raw right now. Decent story line for both, even if I did think Morgan was going to be doing a whole heck of a lot more after her BIG return at the end of 2019. Either way, this was an unofficial #1 Contenders Match to the WWE Womens Tag Team Titles. Thus, it was easy to predict. Liv and Ruby are faces. Current champions Sasha Banks and Bayley are heels. I find it odd why anybody was predicting The IIconics. Even if you do think Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax will get the belts later on, they are much closer to the heel side than the face side…so still, Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott win by default. I don’t know. It makes sense in my mind.
United States Title – Back in the ThunderDome baby! One week removed from SummerSlam, we’re starting things off with the United States Championship match. I enjoyed the MVP/Apollo Crews thing for Summerslam, but it felt like a waste of time too. Why was the manager getting the title shot on pay-per-view. MVP is representing Shelton Benjamin and mainly, Lashley. Yet, there was MVP in the actual match. Felt like filler until we got to the real showdown: Lashley versus Crews for the U.S. Title. That is exactly what we got here, and it was good. Fine back and forth contest until Lashley was able to submit Crews in the end. New champion. Picture perfect moment for the Hurt Business. I did like the Black Panther tribute from Apollo though. At least he had that moment. Very cool.
Big E VS Sheamus – I don’t understand what Big E is defending on Talking Smack. He is talking about how great it is to be in a comedy tag team that throws pancakes and literally rolls down to the ring? Um, okay? Congrats. The conversation is about how much potential Big E has as a big time main event star. A headlining act that can go on billboards and advertised as THE MAN! The man. Not the man that slaps his chest, talks about booty and makes weird faces while dressing like a unicorn. If he is defending The New Day, go for it…but going from that nonsense to the top of the card is an entirely different deal. At Payback, Sheamus was in his way. I like The Celtic Warrior as the bully heel character. Sadly for him, the story is all about Big E right now. His journey to the top of the card. Sheamus is already a former World Champion, former WWE Champion, former King of the Ring, former Royal Rumble winner and former Money in the Bank winner. It’s not his time. Big E takes it with the Big Ending. Pretty abrupt conclusion to the match but whatever. A fired up Big E says “HE IS READY!” afterwards. THAT is what we want to see!
Matt Riddle VS King Corbin – As a starter feud for The Barefoot Bro on the blue brand, this is okay. In terms of anything relevant or worthwhile, nah. King Corbin probably needs another reboot (get it?) after this Riddle story line comes to a close. The entire King of the Ring fiasco is in the past. Crown a new king, hold another tournament soon and move on from Corbin wearing the freaking crown. Beyond played out. Still, fans hate him and love the newcomer from NXT. Easy, peasy. Mr. Orlando Magic Matt Riddle wins clean. Even with the backstage attack by Corbin moments later, I don’t care. MOVE ON!
WWE Womens Tag Team Titles – Was that a parody of The Rock’s old t-shirt from the Role Models? Sasha Banks and Bayley go well together. Just wait until they finally feud with one another. Look out! As for their opponents and challengers at Payback, Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax, does anybody know what’s going on? Are they heel? I thought they were, as noted above. Are they hated rivals but friendly enough to carry the gold? No clue. Feels like bickering tag champs are on the way. Oh joy. Nia Jax getting any TV time, much less a title, is ridiculous. The breakup of Sasha and Bayley has to be imminent at this point. I am shocked by the upset here but not by the continued teasing of The Role Models tearing apart! Mixed bag. Shayna being so dominant is awesome. More Jax on WWE RAW is not awesome. New WWE Womens Tag Team Champions regardless.
Keith Lee VS Randy Orton – Remember a few days ago when fans wanted to nit pick and complain about Keith Lee’s theme music? Or his ring attire? Or his debut moment on Raw? Ridiculous then and even more ridiculous now. Keith Lee just defeated Randy Orton clean as can be on pay-per-view in very short order. His first WWE pay-per-view, while Mr. RKO is on the roll of a lifetime. Unreal. You still want to whine and cry about his gear or a slight change to his music? Just stupid crap really. Props to the big man for making an immediate impact on the main roster. I love to see. Don’t worry about Orton; he will be fine. All about basking in the glory of KEITH LEE right now!
Seth Rollins and Murphy VS Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio – A strange situation here because Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins has already been announced for Monday night’s Raw. Yet, here we have a rematch from last Monday night in the form of a tag team match. Yet, last Sunday at Summerslam was Dominik vs. Rollins? Yet, here we are at Payback! Got all that? Good because I don’t. The bottom line is this feud is likely coming to an end. Murphy and Seth Rollins had a miscommunication towards the end and stared each other down, while the Mysterio father and son duo picked up the victory! Dominik actually scored the pinfall. Cool moment for those too. The entire family has to be proud, Rey especially. Dominik has been impressive for a “rookie” on such a grand stage (WWE). Better than I suspected that is for sure. Now the question is how all of this shakes out on Monday night with Rey and Rollins battling to finally settle the score…
Universal Title Match – Ah, yes. The Fiend is our new Universal Champion after Summerslam. Braun Strowman is still hanging around the title picture for now even though his run on top since WrestleMania 36 has been a total bust. Oh, but it gets better! The added element here is The Big Dog Roman Reigns! The returning Roman Reigns might I add? The new Paul Heyman Guy Roman Reigns! Look, let’s be real here. The entire basis of this ‘extra’ PPV was to get the Universal Championship over to Reigns as quickly as possible. Face, heel, whatever, The Fiend will be alright doing whatever hocus pocus his next trick is. Braun can go back to flipping vehicles upside down. Smackdown can, will and should revolve around Roman Reigns. With Heyman now by his side, it is not even close who is the number one priority in the company. To their credit, Braun and Fiend didn’t even wait for Reigns to enter. They picked up right where they left off at Summerslam and just began brawling. Truth be told, a VERY good brawl! Much better than what we saw last Sunday night. That was rough. Perhaps they learned their lesson? I could have done without the ring imploding (again), but that spot is always cool to see! Ultimately, Roman Reigns did join the “triple threat” match and win the Universal Championship. That slime ball Heyman smiling all along the way. A few minutes later, Reigns was your new Universal Champion by pinning Braun after a spear. After the SPOILER statement on Smackdown, we all knew this was coming. The Fiend can now be the challenger, as he was not technically beat here. Sucks for him but who cares? Like I said, all attention shifts to Roman Reigns as a Paul Heyman Guy. Believe THAT!
SUMMARY: Good show. I think a lot of people doubted WWE having a second pay-per-view so soon after Summerslam. Well, they delivered. It’s so easy to rip on the product when it sucks, but when it’s entertaining, you have to give props. Credit where credit is due. Payback was only two and a half hours (not counting the Kickoff Show) and flew by in a breeze on the WWE Network. I enjoyed it. Did YOU? Let me know what you thought either via email or on Twitter.
By Justin Watry
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Thanks for reading.