Powell’s WWE Payback Hit List: Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the World Heavyweight Championship, Rhea Ripley vs. Raquel Rodriguez for the Women’s World Championship, LA Knight vs. The Miz

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WWE Payback Hits

Becky Lynch vs. Trish Stratus in a steel cage match: A very pleasant surprise. This feud never quite found its groove, but both wrestlers came through with terrific performances in the blowoff match. I hope Lynch can work her magic on Tiffany Stratton. The NXT Women’s Champion has the potential to be a WrestleMania headliner and yet the character she plays feels so phony and one dimensional. I’m curious to see what’s next for Zoey Stark now that she left Stratus lying. It’s unclear whether this was meant to be the final chapter for Stratus as an in-ring performer. If it was, then she can hold her head high while knowing that she went out with one of the best matches of her career.

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs. Damian Priest and Finn Balor in a Steel City Street Fight for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles: This lived up to the street fight billing with the wrestlers brawling all over the arena. The interference from Dominik Mysterio, Rhea Ripley, and JD McDonagh didn’t bother me as much as the idea that no one bothered to help Owens and Zayn. Cody Rhodes, who has recent history with KO and Sami, was in the building, yet he never bothered to help? Aside from that flaw, this was a really good brawl with a title change that I didn’t see coming. Does this mean that the moment Owens and Zayn had with Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits was a swerve rather than foreshadowing?

Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the World Heavyweight Championship: It’s a shame that creative didn’t figure out that Nakamura was going to be challenging Rollins sooner. He went from trading wins and losses with Bronson Reed and Tommaso Ciampa to suddenly being and thrust into the title picture. If WWE isn’t booking on the fly, then why didn’t they start pushing Nakamura sooner? Don’t get me wrong, they did a great job of building up Nakamura in short order with those really good subtitle videos and attacks on Rollins. But it would have been easier for viewers to buy into the possibility of Nakamura winning had his push had started sooner. Nakamura seemed motivated and rose to the occasion with a quality main event. The post match attack that occurred after the PLE stream concluded would seem to suggest that there is more to come from these two. I just hope that creative won’t repeat the same mistake and is already setting the table for the person who is next in line for a shot at the title.

Grayson Waller Effect with guest Cody Rhodes: A solid talkshow segment that became a Hit thanks to the unexpected announcement of Jey Uso moving to the Raw brand. It was interesting that they had Cody’s character take credit for getting Jey to Raw when they could have easily put that on John Cena. There’s obviously a storyline reason for Cody doing this and it will be interesting to see what it is.

WWE Payback Misses

Rhea Ripley vs. Raquel Rodriguez for the Women’s World Championship: The biggest disappointment of the night. Ripley and Rodriguez have worked well together in the past, but they didn’t seem to have much chemistry this time around. Rodriguez is not over, as the live crowd’s apathy during this match showed. And why would she be? She flexes her back and either smiles or flashes a mean face depending on the circumstances, and no one has bothered to tell her story on the main roster. Rodriguez was better as a heel than she was as a babyface in NXT. It’s time to consider moving in that direction, but either way the company needs to put in the proper creative work on her character.

LA Knight vs. The Miz: I never bought into the idea that creative forces were conspiring against Knight until now. I’m mostly kidding, but a nearly 16-minute match with The Miz? The same Miz who just lost to Akira Tozawa? The same Miz who loses to everyone? This is coming from a Miz apologist who thinks the company should book him to be more competitive. But this wasn’t the night to go in that direction. The match overstayed its welcome and felt like it went nearly twice as long as it needed to.

Rey Mysterio vs. Austin Theory for the U.S. Championship: A soft Miss. This felt like a Smackdown television match more than a meaningful PLE title match. Theory is still ice cold and is in need of another reboot. Perhaps teaming with Grayson Waller will give viewers a break from Theory as a singles wrestler. Something needs to change because whatever they are doing with Theory right now just isn’t working regardless of how many times the broadcast team compares him to Randy Orton.


Readers Comments (3)

  1. I noticed that Graves referred to Raquel as “Gonzalez” at least once. Cole quickly corrected him.
    I think rebranding Theory as a face might now be a bad idea. Apparently, offscreen he is a really nice guy

  2. Why Am I Watching This? September 3, 2023 @ 5:18 pm

    I hope Vince and Co. are drifting away from the alliterative names. Rhea Ripley and Raquel Rodriguez. Please. Corey is still calling her Raquel Gonzalez. Huh? And Dom’s interference made Rhea look just plain weak. She deserves better booking than that.

  3. Just watched this. MAYBE a D+. Saw the match list, predicted every match correctly. Haven’t watched WWE stuff in awhile, and its still meh. HOwever, thankfully, unlike the usual marks here who just HAVE to post negative stuff about AEW, I’ll just keep avoiding WWE and not waste my time being a dick.

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