By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
ProWrestling.net Live returns today at 3CT/4ET with “Survivor” Hall of Famer Jonny Fairplay joining me to take your calls on WWE Payback, Saturday’s AEW All Out, and any other pro wrestling related topics you wish to discuss at PWAudio.net.
WWE Payback Hits
Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins and Murphy: A really good tag match that resulted in Dominik picking up his first pinfall victory in WWE. Rollins’ clearly showed frustration with Murphy over taking the loss in this match. It will be interesting to see if there’s fallout on Raw or if it’s just business as usual between the two. I remain surprised that WWE hasn’t put the tag titles on Andrade and Angel Garza with the plan of having the Mysterios eventually chase them for the titles. They can still get there, but Andrade and Garza have been severely damaged during their feud with the Street Profits.
Keith Lee vs. Randy Orton: WWE botched Lee’s Raw debut, but they got it right by having him score the big win over Orton at Payback. On a side note, WWE officials (and I think we all suspect one in particular) need to get over whatever hangups they have over Lee’s physique. The very thing they feel they need to mask with the low budget spandex shirt is actually part of his charm. Meanwhile, Orton has lost to Lee and Drew McIntyre on back to back Sundays. You have to assume the big bounce back moment is happening, and it may very well be him taking the WWE Championship from McIntyre at Clash of Champions.
Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles: A decent tag team match with Banks and Bayley doing the heavy lifting for Jax. I can’t say that the Baszler and Jax pairing does much for me, as I’d prefer to see Baszler cast as the badass singles bully heel that she was throughout her great run in NXT. Now that Banks and Bayley have dropped the tag titles, does that mean they will stop being overexposed by appearing on both television shows each week? Will Baszler and Jax start doing double duty? If nothing else, it would be nice to see them make a stop in NXT for a tag title defense.
Big E vs. Sheamus: A good match between the two powerhouses. Big E is off to a good start in his run as a singles act and I hope the company sees it through even after Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods return. For that matter, it sure would be nice if Kingston got another shot as a singles wrestler given how well he did as WWE Champion before the company ruined it with that quick loss to Brock Lesnar. They can easily keep New Day together as a unit even if the three members primarily work singles matches.
Apollo Crews vs. Bobby Lashley for the U.S. Championship: A quality opening match with Lashley taking the title from Crews. The outcome wasn’t surprising, but it is worth noting that Crews was not protected in any way, as he simply tapped out to the Full Nelson/Full Lashley. While I am all for clean finishes, it’s hard not to wonder if Crews will end up back in catering, just as MVP said he would if he dropped the title.
Overall show: The long overdue Roman Reigns heel turn apparently excited Vince McMahon enough to add another pay-per-view just a week after SummerSlam. The show felt largely unnecessary and took away from SummerSlam, but the matches were mostly good and they made it newsworthy with three title changes.
WWE Payback Misses
Matt Riddle vs. King Corbin: Why in the world would WWE have Corbin’s character state that Riddle has been a failure at home? Do company officials really want viewers who are unfamiliar with the allegations to seek out more information and discover that Riddle’s mistress accused him of sexual misconduct? There’s a fine line between being edgy and just plain stupid. Putting that aside, it was nice to see Riddle go over. WWE creative seems to position Corbin as a gatekeeper. I just wish they would figure out that there’s only so much that a babyface gains from defeating a clownish royalty character, especially when the cliche king character dominates so much of the match. Corbin doesn’t need the terrible gimmick to get heat, so why is he still doing it?
“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman for the WWE Universal Title: The ring collapsing spot has been done too many times to feel special (and many fans have figured out that the lack of LED boards is leading to something). Reigns entering the match late was super predictable. Strowman feels ice cold. I am skeptical that The Fiend will click as a top babyface. Really, the best thing I can say about this match is that they got where they wanted to go by putting the title on Reigns. It wasn’t pretty, but it’s behind us, and I remain excited about the Reigns and Paul Heyman alliance.
Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott vs. Peyton Royce and Billie Kay: The ongoing story of Royce and Kay trying to make Morgan believe that Riott was sabotaging her did nothing more than make Morgan look gullible. I can’t stand pro wrestling storylines that make it seem like the wrestlers are too stupid to watch a replay to see what actually happened. We’ve seen variations of this feud for weeks. Here’s hoping that this was the blowoff to this flat feud.
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