Powell’s WWE Payback live review: Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles for the WWE Championship, Vince McMahon reveals who will run Raw, Charlotte vs. Natalya for the WWE Women’s Championship with Ric Flair and Bret Hart

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WWE Payback 2016
Aired live on WWE Network and pay-per-view
Chicago, Illinois at Allstate Arena

New Day made their entrance to open the show. New Day performed some schtick in the ring in front of the receptive live crowd…

The Payback video aired and focused on Shane McMahon and the new era, then on the Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles match… Michael Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton were on commentary…

New Day remained at ringside while Enzo Amore and Big Cass made their entrance for the tag match. Enzo did some pre-match mic work and spoke about how they were going to give the Vaudevillains a beatdown. He told them to get a Delorean and go back to the future.

Cass said they would tee off on their “football heads.” Enzo said it’s said there’s no elevator for success and you have to take the steps. He said there’s an escalator for people like him and Cass, who then closed with the sawft routine. The Vaudevillains made their standard entrance…

1. Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. The Vaudevillains to become No. 1 contenders to the WWE Tag Team Championship. Cole reviewed the tournament brackets, then checked in with the rest of the broadcast team. New Day remained at ringside sitting on beanbags and eating pizza.

At 2:45, Simon Gotch threw Enzo to put him under the bottom rope. Enzo’s face hit the middle rope and his arm hooked the bottom rope. They stopped the match to have a doctor tend to Enzo. A stretcher was brought to ringside and the referee called for the bell.

Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. The Vaudevillains was called off at 3:50.

The camera closed in on the broadcast team as they spoke about what happened and then aired another replay. They showed Enzo being placed into a collar by the medical staff. There was no announcement made regarding the outcome of the match…

Powell’s POV: It looked like Enzo was still being pushed even though he was way too close to the ropes. It looked like an ugly spot, but not one where you would automatically think there was a serious medical situation. Here’s wishing Enzo the best.

The Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens video package aired… Cole said Enzo was taken out on a stretcher and they hope to provide more medical updates. He said it was a “terrible, terrible situation” and then JBL spoke about how they have trained professionals at ringside…

2. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens. Cole said this has been brewing for 14 years. Owens and Zayn traded punches with Zayn getting the better of it. Zayn tossed Owens to ringside and then dove over the top rope and onto him for a pop. Owens came back and ran Zayn into the ring steps at 2:30.

Cole said Enzo was taken to a local medical facility. He said that Enzo was moving his extremities and was talking.

Owens remained on the offensive and had Zayn down long enough to ask Cole if he was watching. Sami came back and threw ten punches at Owens while standing on the second rope. Owens caught Zayn with a boot to the face, then Zayn slammed him (Cole called it a Blue Thunder Bomb) and got a two count.

Zayn performed the Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count. Cole said it was the “traditional Blue Thunder Bomb.” Zayn mouthed something about mother f—er” and was censored. Owens came back and performed a frogsplash. Owens performed a couple of cannonballs, then went for his finisher, but Zayn pushed off in mid-air and dropkicked Owens, who came right back with a clothesline. The crowd cheered and chanted “yes” as both men stayed down on the mat for a moment. A “this is awesome” chant broke out.

After a network glitch on my end, Zayn backdropped Owens onto the ring apron. JBL said Zayn should roll back in the ring and take the count-out win. Zayn dove through the middle and bottom rope and DDT’d Owens on the floor. Zayn rolled Owens back inside the ring. Zayn went for the Helluva kick, but Owens superkicked him and then performed the Popup Powerbomb for the win…

Kevin Owens beat Sami Zayn in 14:25.

After the match, Owens slapped Zayn across the face. Owens called for Saxton to come to the ring. Owens boasted that he beat Zayn. “Kevin Owens is the better man,” Owens said. Owens told Saxton to ask him another question, then decided to speak more and said he can finally refocus and take back his Intercontinental Title. Saxton asked if Miz would retain the title. Owens said he doesn’t care. Owens said he would sit in on commentary for the IC Title match that was coming up next…

Powell’s POV: Owens and Zayn deserve a ton of credit for being put in the unenviable position of having to follow the Enzo injury, yet completely delivering in a way that had the crowd completely engaged by mid-match at the latest.

A WWE Network commercial aired and then ring entrances for the IC Title match took place. Owens spoke about how he wants the title back. He jawed at Miz and said his wife won the title for him…

3. The Miz (w/Maryse) vs. Cesaro for the Intercontinental Title. Cesaro went for an early suplex from the ring apron, but Maryse grabbed Miz’s leg to block it. Miz applied a sleeper, which Cesaro eventually powered out of with a suplex. Cesaro performed a series of running uppercuts and then threw a running dropkick for a two count.

Cesaro powered up Miz from the apron with a suplex and got a two count. Miz came back briefly, but Cesaro caught him with the corkscrew uppercut from the middle rope. Cesaro set up for the Swing, but Miz kicked his shoulder. Cesaro came right back with a popup uppercut and went for a cover, but Miz put his foot on the rope to break it.

Miz dodged a charging Cesaro, who sold a shoulder injury. Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale and got a good near fall. Suddenly, Sami Zayn ran out and attacked Kevin Owens and ended up clotheslining him over the barricade.

In the ring, Cesaro performed the Swing on Miz, then applied the Crossface. Owens rolled into the ring and Zayn hopped onto the apron and fought him, causing the referee to be distracted and miss Miz tapping out to the Crossface. Cesaro gave up the hold and ended up knocking Zayn and Owens off the apron. Miz rolled up Cesaro and held the trunks while pinning him.

The Miz beat Cesaro in 11:30 to retain the Intercontinental Title.

After the match, Cesaro gave Miz a Neutralizer. Owens kicked Cesaro. Zayn ran in and fought Owens, who gave him a Popup Powerbomb. Owens went for the same move on Miz, but Maryse grabbed her husband’s leg and pulled him to ringside. Owens mugged with the IC Title belt…

Backstage, Apollo Crews was shown having a friendly conversation with Stephanie McMahon and then shaking hands with her…

Powell’s POV: Wow, that was fun. No, not the baffling Crews and Stephanie moment, but the Cesaro vs. Miz finish and the aftermath. It didn’t feel like the right time to give Cesaro the title. The live crowd would have loved it, but I like that they found a creative way to drag this out. Are we getting a four-way with Miz, Cesaro, Owens, and Zayn at Extreme Rules?

A Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho video package aired… Ring entrances took place… They showed various foreign language broadcast teams. The Japanese team included Funaki…

Cole said Enzo is undergoing testing at the hospital. He said Enzo is communicating with the medical staff…

4. Chris Jericho vs. Dean Ambrose. Jericho controlled the bulk of the early offense. He threw a nice springboard dropkick at one point. There were dueling chants for both wrestlers briefly and then Ambrose blocked a bulldog attempt and Jericho landed in the corner.

At 9:40, Jericho caught Ambrose in the Walls of Jericho, which Ambrose eventually broke by reaching the ropes. A short time later, Ambrose caught Jericho with a suicide dive that knocked the back of Jericho’s head into the broadcast team’s table. The bridge of Jericho’s nose was cut at some point prior to this sequence. Ambrose went for his finisher on a broadcast table, but Jericho avoided it and capitulated him into the empty timekeepers area.

At 14:10, Ambrose performed his top rope elbow for a two count. Ambrose set Jericho on the top rope and went for a superplex. Jericho fought him off with headbutts and knocked him off, but the jumped into a kick from Ambrose. Jericho avoided Dirty Deeds and countered into the Walls of Jericho at 15:35.

Jericho dodged a clothesline and then caught Ambrose with an enzuigiri. Jericho jawed at Ambrose and then slapped him. Ambrose came back briefly, but then Jericho knocked him down with an elbow. Jericho went for the Lionsault, but Ambrose put his knees up. Ambrose tried to hook Jericho’s arms for Dirty Deeds. He threw knees at Jericho and then hit the move for the win. After the match, Jericho threw a fit at ringside…

Dean Ambrose beat Chris Jericho at 18:25.

Powell’s POV: The effort was there and the finish was unique in that I like that Ambrose fought to get in position for his finisher. There were some clunky moments. It wasn’t as good as Owens vs. Zayn, but it held my interest. I’m curious to see if Jericho gets the better of Ambrose on Raw tomorrow to set up the need for a gimmicky rematch at Extreme Rules.

Backstage, Mauro Ranallo interviewed AJ Styles, who said he would have the match of his life and become the new champion. He said Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson are his friends, but this is a one-on-one match. He said Reigns will know why he’s phenomenal by the end of the night…

Backstage, Sasha Banks was shown having a conversation with Shane McMahon…

5. Charlotte (w/Ric Flair) vs. Natalya (w/Bret Hart) for the WWE Women’s Championship. Natalya walked out wearing a t-shirt with Bret’s image, then Bret made his entrance as Cole said this is Bret’s first appearance since beating prostate cancer earlier this year. Bret pointed at Flair.

At 3:25, Charlotte slapped Natalya across the face from the floor, then did a quick strut. Charlotte let out a “woooo” as she returned to the ring, then she threw chops at Natalya. Natalya returned fire with a chop and performed a release German suplex for a two count. A few fans could be heard chanting “Suplex City” briefly.

Charlotte came back and worked over the left knee of Natalya. She ended up walking over Natalya and going to the top rope, but Natalya recovered and pushed to her to the floor. Natalya went for a baseball slide, but Charlotte caught her. The result was an awkward huracanrana by Natalya on the floor.

Later, Charlotte performed a nice moonsault. She eventually applied the Figure Four, which Natalya rolled over until Charlotte reached the ropes. Natalya sold a knee injury. Charlotte applied the Sharpshooter. The bell rang even though Natalya never tapped. Referee Charles “Lil Naitch” Robinson ran to ringside and grabbed the title belt. After the match, Bret ended up punching Flair, then Bret and Natalya applied simultaneous Sharpshooters on Ric and Charlotte…

Charlotte beat Natalya in 14:00 to retain the WWE Women’s Championship.

Powell’s POV: Wow, the Montreal Screwjob will never die. It made me laugh in the moment, but it is so ridiculous to play on that finish again in 2016. It’s been nearly 19 years! I don’t care how iconic it was, it’s reached the point of absurdity. So is Charles Robinson a heel referee now or are they going to just pretend like this never happened the next time he refs a match? I guess we’ll see the rematch in three weeks at Extreme Rules.

An ad aired for Extreme Rules with Dean Ambrose saying that if you think you know extreme, “you ain’t seen nothing yet”… An ad aired for Camp WWE…

Eden introduced Vince McMahon, who strutted to the ring. The Chicago crowd chanted CM Punk. Vince spoke about Raw’s success and how he “reinvents Raw all the time.” Ha! Oh, sorry. The crowd chanted CM Punk again. Vince played conductor and told them they can do better.

Vince said they need a leader with great ethics, business acumen, and vision. Vince asked the crowd whether it should be Shane (cheers) or Stephanie (boos). Vince said he doesn’t always appreciate their point of view. Vince introduced Stephanie. “Isn’t she beautiful?”

Vince asked once Stephanie was in the ring. Stephanie spoke and the crowd booed. Vince told the crowd to shut up and then said the people of Chicago are animals. “Show some respect,” Vince barked. Stephanie said she doesn’t want their support. She would rather be feared and respected than felt sorry for.

Stephanie ran through The Authority’s accomplishments including how they went from a Divas revolution into a women’s evolution. She said Shane thinks he can run Raw because he’s a man. Steph said that when the going got tough, Shane abandoned the fans for seven years. She asked what would stop Shane from doing it again.

Stephanie also reminded her father than Shane lost his match to Taker at WrestleMania. Stephanie said the risk that Shane took by leaping off the top of the cell was stupidity. There were loud chants of boring. Stephanie said Shane got his foot back in the door by blackmailing Vince and spitting in his face.

Shane made his entrance and the crowd cheered. They chanted “Shane O Mac” once he arrived in the ring. Shane said he normally wouldn’t come out and talk about himself, but that’s what he needs to do in this case. Shane asked Stephanie how many headlines she and her husband received over how good of a job they did running Raw.

Shane ran through a bunch of headlines and showed them on the big screen. Shane said the WWE Network is the brainchild of Vince McMahon. He said Stephanie is trying to take credit for the 1.8 million network subscribers, but only the subscribers can take credit for that. Shane said there was a jump around WrestleMania time, and he said there was one match that everyone was “extra interested in” and one of the participants is standing in the ring.

Shane brought up his departure and said Stephanie doesn’t know a lot about it. Shane said his voice wasn’t being heard. He felt the company should go in a different direction and that led to irreconcilable differences between him and his father. Shane said that instead of giving the fans new matches and new stars, they put their venomous poison all over the product because it was a huge ego trip.

Shane said The Authority nearly “burned the thing all the way down to the ground.” Shane said he returned to WWE to make sure the company is around for future generations. “So, dad, I ask that you listen to me,” Shane said. He said Vince doesn’t have to listen to his voice because “they all speak for me.” Shane held up the mic and the crowd cheered.

“Enough of that crap,” Vince barked. Shane did the bit where he led the crowd in cheers and boos by going back and forth between himself and Stephanie. Vince said Shane shouldn’t even be in the ring after losing to Undertaker. Vince said he gave Shane a chance to fall flat on his face.

Vince said Shane wants to listen to the fans and the media. “I don’t listen to anybody but me,” Vince said. He added that it’s about what he wants. “Figuratively speaking, I want blood,” Vince said. “I want to see you both slit each other’s throat.” He said he wants them to disembowel one another.

Vince said the alternative is that it could be a collaborative effort. He announced that they both have equal say and told them to go figure it out. Vince left the ring. Shane extended his hand. Stephanie shook it…

Powell’s POV: What a huge waste of time. Nothing says “a new era in WWE” quite like McMahon children battling for power in 2016. Awful.

The Kickoff Show team spoke from their spot on the floor… The broadcast team recapped Dolph Ziggler beating Baron Corbin, and Kalisto beating Ryback to retain the U.S. Title on the Kickoff Show…

The broadcast team pimped Camp WWE, and Saxton reminded viewers that there are parental control options. Cole assured viewers that Raw, Smackdown, and pay-per-views would remain PG so they can be enjoyed by the entire family…

A video package set up the main event and recapped the recent drama with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows…

The broadcast team recapped Enzo’s situation and replayed the footage again. Cole said Enzo had been diagnosed with a concussion and added that all other tests came back negative…

Powell’s POV: That’s tremendous news regarding all of the other tests coming back negative. The key part of the footage to watch is when Enzo’s head snaps down and strikes the mat. His eyes rolled into the back of his head when that happened and again when he hit the floor.

Ring entrances for the main event took place. AJ Styles was out first, then Roman Reigns entered to boos. Eden delivered the in-ring introductions for the title match…

6. Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. There were AJ Styles chants, boos for Reigns, and even a “you can’t wrestle” chant. After some network issues on my end, Styles landed a Pele kick. He’d been selling for a bit and was selling lower back pain.

Styles rolled Reigns into a Calf Crusher in 9:35. Reigns reached the ropes and the crowd booed. Roman stood with one foot on the floor and clutched the calf on his other leg to sell it. Styles knocked Reigns completely to the floor and then performed a springboard off the top rope into the Phenomenal Forearm on the floor. The weight of both men caused the table to collapse and it looked tremendous.

Styles tried to carry Reigns back, but Reigns fell to the floor. Styles rolled back inside the ring at nine and the referee counted out Reigns. The fans booed. Styles was declared the winner via count-out at 12:00.

Shane McMahon’s music played. He said that may have been the way things would have ended in the old era, but not in the new era. He restarted the match and said there would be no count-outs.

Styles rolled Reigns back inside the ring and caught him with a Pele Kick. Styles went up top and performed a 450 Splash, but Reigns put his knees up. Roman covered AJ for two. Reigns sat up and sold his left knee. Styles leapt off the middle rope and into a punch from Reigns. Styles sold it as if he was punched in the balls. The referee called for the bell to disqualify Reigns at 15:30. Eden made the announcement. Here comes the music.

Stephanie McMahon came out and said that as usual, her brother missed something. She ordered the match restarted with no disqualifications.

AJ went up top and Reigns knocked him down to the floor. Reigns knocked Styles over the barricade and followed him. Styles knocked Reigns over the barricade with a running clothesline. Reigns hit his knee on a broadcast table on the way down. Styles went for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Reigns caught him with a leaping Superman Punch. Moments later, Reigns hit him with another punch.

Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows came to the ring and pulled Styles to ringside. The duo worked over Reigns and hit their finisher on him before leaving the ring. Styles recovered and hit the Phenomenal Forearm and went for a cover, but Reigns put his foot over the bottom rope for a really good near fall.

The Usos ran out and fought Anderson and Gallows at ringside. Styles ended up diving onto all four men. Roman recovered and performed his dive onto the four wrestlers minus Styles, who hit a flying forearm off the barricade. Styles performed a springboard shooting star press for another good near fall.

Styles went for the Styles Clash. Reigns backdropped him over the top. Styles caught himself on the apron. Reigns went for a Superman Punch, but Styles clotheslined him via the top rope. Styles went for his finisher, but Reigns avoided it. Styles ran the ropes and then Reigns speared him and covered him for the win…

Roman Reigns beat AJ Styles to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in 25:00.

Backstage, Vince spoke to Shane and Steph. Vince said Shane did a good job and then Stephanie one-upped him a bit. He asked if Styles gets a rematch. They both agreed. Stephanie mentioned Extreme Rules. Shane said it should be an Extreme Rules match at Extreme Rules. Once Vince walked away, Stephanie told Shane that she fully supports his decision. Shane looked puzzled after Stephanie walked away. Roman was shown holding the title in the ring and looking weary to close the show…

Powell’s POV: A very good match once we got through the overbooked restarts with Shane and Stephanie. I hope this is all leading to something involving Gallows and Anderson because otherwise it just feels like they are forcing the McMahons into main events where they are unwanted and unneeded. We didn’t get a big storyline development with Anderson and Gallows tonight, which is disappointing, though in fairness it was never promised.

Overall, the show looked better on paper than it turned out to be. They obviously get a pass on the tag match opener and I can’t say enough good things about the way Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were able to get the crowd reengaged. The McMahon family announcement was a letdown, and the women’s match finish was ridiculous. Fortunately, the show had enough going for it that I came away satisfied with the time investment.



The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features ProWrestling.net staffer John Moore returning for an in-depth discussion on NXT, AEW, Impact Wrestling, MLW, and the NWA, and more...


Readers Comments (4)

  1. Wow. You are wound tight. You take this way too seriously. Which, I suppose, makes you the retard

  2. ^text on a screen obviously shows intent and sarcasm

  3. You’re a nice fella. Enjoying mommy’s basement?

  4. So Super Roman takes 4 finishers (2 Phenomenal Forearms, a 450 Splash, and the Anderson/Gallows move), and still ends up beating Styles clean with one Spear. And I bet Vince still wonders why Roman gets booed to hell and back. Seriously, that whole “superman babyface” thing may have worked back in the ’80s, but it just doesn’t work in this day and age. Hell, I don’t even think Hogan was booked to be as super human as Reigns.

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