Gleed's WWE Payback preview and predictions: Who ends the night as WWE World Heavyweight Champion? Will New Day remain WWE Tag Team Champions? Will John Cena or Rusev say "I Quit"?
By Haydn Gleed
Overall, I'm not particularly fussed with the lineup for Payback. I'm sure that when the event starts I'll sit back and enjoy, but as I write this less than 48 hours before the event, the general excitement feeling I have for the show, using Jason Powell's trademarked 1-10 scale, is at about a three. Lets take a look at the matches and my predictions.
Pre-Show: Curtis Axel and Macho Mandow vs. The Ascension: There really isn't a lot to say about this match, except it's such a shame what has happened to Damien Sandow once again. Has he done something to offend someone, or is it ironically because he's too good at making the "old man" happy that he gets put in comedy positions? He had a wonderful run up to cashing in the Money In The Bank briefcase, and had a hard hitting match against John Cena, and afterwards they straddled him with a mimic gimmick, which he somehow made work with The Miz. The subsequent feud between the two was highly anticipated, but somehow WWE managed to find a way to make Sandow look weak coming out of the feud. Can he survive another run as a random gimmick jobber to the stars? Or have we seen the peak of the man behind the gimmicks?
Aside, from strange gimmicks, and WWE trying to create a Mega Powers against Road Warrior in 2015, this match will be rather dull. In my opinion, although Curtus Axel can wrestle, he doesn't connect with the crowd, and neither do The Ascension. Sandow is a fantastic wrestler, but even with his abilities, I do not think this will be anything more than 5-10 minutes of "comedy." Because it's the pre-show I'll say the babyfaces are going to win.
Prediction: Curtis Axel and Macho Mandow will win, then break up and feud.
Naomi and Tamina vs. The Bella Twins: Another match that I have no reason to care about either team. Naomi had a decent heel turn when she turned on Paige at the UK Raw tapings (man that ringside barrier must have been made of bronze for Paige to be out for so long), and Tamina is just a sidekick, but then The Bella's have been heel's dating back to their random reunion last October, but yet are being positioned as the face team even though there was no hard face turn. My head hurts.
I feel this is just a setup for Naomi and Nikki at Elimination Chamber, so as a result, I would assume that Naomi would have to go over here, that is after all the most logical path to take. However, sometimes I get the impression that WWE's writing team blindfold themselves and throw a dart at Diva's pictures to choose who faces each other and goes over, so who knows?!
Prediction: Naomi and Tamina to beat The Bella Twins.
New Day vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd in a best of three falls match for the WWE Tag Team Championship: Well, color me pink and call me an elephant, I would not have predicted that this would be my second most anticipated match of any PPV ever two months ago, but since New Days heel turn I've been so impressed with the way they have embraced the characters, and as a result I care about seeing them lose. Good job all round, although I do get the impression that it was by accident rather than by design. They haven't announced which two of The New Day will be defending the titles, but I'm guessing that the Cole slip up, either an intentionally or unintentionally slip up, has given us a clue as to what will happen.
Whatever four men are competing, it is going to be one hell of a match, with the crowd boo'ing New Day and firmly behind Kidd and Cesaro, but I think New Day will pull out the Bella switch, or as I call it the Demolition 1990 switch. Either Kofi or Xavier will start the match, but I'm guessing the other will get the pin. Before I get complaints that I'm saying that Xavier and Kofi look the same because of the color of their skin, it's not that at all, but that's why I say Demolition 1990 switch, as Ax and Smash looked nothing like each other (one had shoulder length hair, the other slicked back short hair for crying out loud), but WWE likes for you to pretend that the ref would be that stupid.
Prediction: New Day retain after a switch of members half way through the match.
Ryback vs. Bray Wyatt: Both men need a win, and both men can't afford to lose....how many times have we gone into a Bray Wyatt feud/match and said that?! Bray has done a good job for a second straight program of doing all the talking on his own, but just like the 'Taker feud, for me it's been saying a lot without actually saying anything of importance.
Ryback has been Teflon for the past couple of years, and as a consequence I see Ryback losing this one, winning one next month and Bray ultimately coming out on top, and I think Ryback will be just fine, as long as they get behind him after the feud ends. I think wrestlers like Ryback, who look out of this world, will get over just on their looks alone once a promotion gets behind them, so I don't think that Ryback will be out on the street jobless anytime soon telling people who pass him in the cardboard box to feed him more.
Prediction: Bray Wyatt defeats Ryback.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus: One thing you can say with certainty is I'm looking forward to this match more than the Kiss Me Arse match from the last PPV. Dolph is once again languishing in mid-card purgatory, and it doesn't look like he will climb out of that anytime soon. On the flip side, Sheamus is being an effective heel. Sometimes there's more go away heat rather than the heel heat he's going for, but he's clearly someone with a lot of support backstage, and one look at the main event should show the lack of heel depth on the roster, so for that reason alone, I'm going to pick Sheamus to win. I think this win will push Sheamus to the forfront of the World Championship battle, and Dolph will be fighting in the IC Elimination Chamber match at that PPV.
Prediciton: Sheamus to win with a Brogue Kick.
King Barrett vs. Neville: I think it's quite clear for this match that King Barrett has to win, simply to keep any momentum he's built up from winning King Of The Ring, otherwise the whole thing was completely pointless. As for Neville, after the initial wave of praise and a push he got, it's been cooled back slightly. Whether that was the plan all along, or whether he was only pushed for the KOTR tournament I dunno, but the announcers are not as wowed by him, and he's already stuck in an opponent cycle despite only debuting little under two months ago. This match has to be the blow off and I can see both these men in the IC EC match before moving into their next programs.
Prediction: King Barrett defeats Neville.
United States Champion John Cena vs. Rusev in an "I Quit" match: Listening to Dot Net Weekly this week, I did like the scenario that Will threw out regarding Lana being put in the accolade forcing John to say I quit, but then what would you do with Lana at that point? Would she be John Cena's valet? Would this lead to the feud that everybody in the world wants to see Lana vs. Nikki Bella? Let's hope not.
But joking aside, if there was any chance of Rusev winning the belt, I think WWE have changed course. This is not based on the advertisement for the Elimination Chamber PPV, this is simple my hunch that they have looked at the quarter hour ratings and realised that people are into the Cena US Open Challenge, and therefore taking the title off him at the moment would be insane. In order for this to happen, again I have to agree with Will that the only way to do this and not make Rusev look weak, is if Lana throws in the towel on his behalf. They have been teasing a breakup since before WrestleMania, so this would be the time that Rusev snaps and I can see Rusev's next challenger coming out to save her. Ultimately, though...
Prediction: John Cena to retain the US Championship after Rusev passes out or Lana throws in the tower.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton (Fatal 4-Way; if Rollins does not retain, Kane will be fired): The awful thing about this match is WWE have done such a hoo hum job of the build that people are having more fun booking this in their minds rather than what they are seeing. WWE haven't done a bad job, on the Haydn scale, it would be classed as meh.
For me, the intrigue is not necessarily in the actual match, but what happens coming out of it. Remember, there is only two weeks to go until Elimination Chamber, so whatever happens at the end of the match has to lead to where we are going at the EC (not)PPV. Now, what throws a curveball in all of this is the ratings that have been declining for Raw dramatically since the night after WrestleMania. At first glance it would appear that the viewers see the main eventers and champion as hoo hum (or meh on my scale), so I fear WWE might make a knee jerk reaction bad decision just to try and stabilise the ratings, instead of realising its been their poor and boring booking of the main eventers that have led to them looking like ratings failures, and sort the creative side of things out, but I digress. If this is the mindset of WWE going into this match that we need to scrap what we had planned, expect some surprises or possibly a shocking turn.
However, saying that, I still come back to the fact that Elimination Chamber is in two weeks, and any turn won't have had enough time to stick to make it work for that event, so I'm going to stick with my original prediction that somehow Dean and Roman hit each other, take each other out on accident, and end up either having a match at EC or adding star power to the IC Elimination Chamber match. Orton I think would be a good fit for a feud against Rusev, and possibly be the man to come and help Lana in her moment of need when the split happens, so as you can see I am picking Seth Rollins to come out as champion.
Although this is more a case of what I would like to see to blow off the Kane/Seth "feud" rather than what I think will happen is, Kane somehow establishes during the night that if he helps Seth then he will get a shot at the belt at Elimination Chamber, and on Raw the next night, Seth says yes he will face him as long as he doesn't show his face again in the WWE. Seth goes over at EC, Kane goes away for a few months and returns under his mask ready for his farewell tour to get his revenge on Seth. Although I don't see that scenario working out, I do see Seth against Kane at Elimination Chamber, not because I want to see it, but because considering the time leading up to that show, it's the only main event I can see that would make sense.
Prediction: Seth Rollins to retain with a little help from his friends (no not Ringo Starr).
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