Powell's WWE Payback Hit List: Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton, John Cena vs. Rusev in an I Quit match, New Day vs. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro in a best of three falls match, Bray Wyatt vs. Ryback
By Jason Powell
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WWE Payback Hits
Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton: A strong main event that put the show over the top. I loved the Triple Powerbomb spot, and the way Rollins acted like all was forgiven as he stuck out his fist only to learn that Reigns and Ambrose saw this as a one-off rather than a full blown reunion tour. I also liked the way Reigns and Ambrose spoke to one another to set up their one-on-one portion of the match. It was hard to believe that Rollins' title reign was in jeopardy, but that goes with the territory this early in a reign. We're inching closer to the time when more fans will start to believe that a title change could occur during his pay-per-view matches, and that's only going to increase the interest in his matches. Here's hoping that this match marked the end of the pay-per-view main events being more about Kane than the participants. Kane is doing a great job on the mic and I thought last month's main event benefitted from his storyline, but it became overkill this month. Why WWE would opt to play up Kane's involvement while largely ignoring the fact that The Shield members were all competing against one another for the first time is just beyond me.
John Cena vs. Rusev in an I Quit match: Another strong outing from Cena and Rusev. I loved Rusev giving Cena a chance to quit before the bell and the way Rusev dominated early on, which was the best way to convince viewers that Cena was at risk of losing (even though I don't think anyone expected him to actually quit). They gave Rusev multiple outs. First, he had Cena pass out while locked in The Accolade, then it was Lana who quit for him. I'm curious to see if they opt to say he quit when he was speaking in Bulgarian or if they reveal that he was saying something else before Lana threw in the figurative towel for him.
New Day vs. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro: A good match that probably didn't need the best of three falls stipulation given that they received the usual allotment of time. Still, they did a nice job of keeping the falls interesting. I like the finish in that it gives Kidd and Cesaro an out and keeps them in the title picture. I got a kick out of the backstage interview with New Day, as they asked all the right questions about how the oddball tag team Elimination Chamber match is going to work. The only negative is that they had no clue they would be defending the tag titles inside the Chamber even though the match was announced days earlier via the same online release they made a point of telling us they read.
Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler: A good opening match and it was nice to see the strong Sheamus heel character go over clean. I assume they had to go home early based on the way Ziggler busted himself open with the headbutt. I'm not sure what it is about Sheamus that makes his opponents want to headbutt him, but it seems to have worked out better for him than it did Ziggler or Daniel Bryan.
Bray Wyatt vs. Ryback: A minor Hit for the effort of both men. I respect the fact that Ryback went outside his wheelhouse with that top rope splash, yet I must admit that I hope we either don't see him try that again or he saves it for a much bigger stage than Payback. The guy carries a lot of muscle mass and and has a history of injuries, and that type of risk should be saved for a key moment. I had a hard time feeling invested in this match and some of the other undercard matches because I fear that creative won't be able to stop themselves from even-steven booking. Both men need wins, but WWE has a shortage of meaningful heels, and thus Wyatt needs to come out of this feud stronger than ever.
WWE Payback Misses
Naomi and Tamina vs. The Bella Twins: A flat match with the fans still having no incentive to cheer for the Bella Twins coming off their long run as the mean girls of the Divas division. I like the Naomi and Tamina pairing a lot and it was nice to see one of these throwaway tag matches take the logical approach of having the next challenger pin the champion.
King Barrett vs. Neville: A weak finish with Barrett opting to be counted out rather than continue. This just reminds viewers that most of these matches don't mean anything. It's one thing when a champion splits to save his title (and set up the need for a rematch), but this just looked like Barrett chose to be counted out for the hell of it. He took the Red Arrow seconds later and it left me wondering why they didn't just have Neville pin him. Perhaps they're saving it for Elimination Chamber? I assume both men will be in the Intercontinental Title match along with Sheamus and Ziggler, but I'm curious to see who the other two entrants are.
The Ascension vs. Macho Mandow and Curtis Axel: The Meta Powers made someone in WWE laugh at one point, but it appears even that person realized the joke wasn't all that funny before this match started. I feel bad for Damien Sandow. I really thought he was finished with the impersonation routine, yet here he was playing White Machismo. If creative has no ideas for him, then maybe it's time for the Intellectual Savior of WWE to return.
R-Truth vs. Stardust: Another Stardust loss to R-Truth. The character desperately needs an opportunity to show a mean streak, but that's tough to do when you're trading wins with the undercard mascot.
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