Payback (2016) – The Dawn of a New Era?

WWE Payback 2016Last night the WWE was in Chicago for their first PPV since WrestleMania 32 known as Payback. Since WrestleMania, Shane McMahon has been in charge of WWE RAW and he’s been introducing new matches and new Superstars to the company so we got quite a few new faces here as well.

Mark and I got together to watch the show as we always do and I have to say that overall I was very happy with the event. There were a couple of stand out moments (both good and bad) that I’ll get into here shortly. The WWE Network seemed to be VERY glitchy last night which was sort of a bummer but we got through it.

One quick note about the “official” Payback poster shown here. The Wyatt Family didn’t even make an appearance on the show. I completely understand that these posters don’t necessarily dictate what’s going to happen on the show, but this is a huge miss. I realize that this particular poster was most likely created well before the injury bug hit the Family but come on. With that little nitpick out of the way, let’s get to it.

(All photos courtesy 

Payback 2016 - Dolph Ziggler vs Baron CorbinDolph Ziggler Defeated Baron Corbin

I can understand why this was on the pre-show but I’m not quite sure of the booking decision here. Seems to me that if you’re going to continue to build Corbin as a beast after his win at the Andre The Giant Battle Royal he shouldn’t be losing pre-show matches to the likes of Ziggler. I can’t speak to the quality of the match as I didn’t watch it but the booking seems odd to me. On another note, Ziggler’s slide from grace continues. He gets a win here (which is a rarity of late) but it was on the pre-show.

Payback 2016 - Kalisto vs RybackKalisto Defeated Ryback To Retain The US Championship

Ryback went on Twitter recently and ran his mouth about he was upset that he was on the WrestleMania pre-show. Naturally that landed him back on the pre-show for this event. This guy has quite a bit of potential but he needs to really learn to shut his mouth. I’m not quite sure what they’re doing with this feud. Kalisto is really enjoyable to watch and I like him as champion but this particular match up with Ryback doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. It was nice to see Kalisto win this match in pretty convincing fashion and not just be the “undersized guy that got lucky”. Ready for this feud to be over and for Kalisto to move on to other things.

Payback 2016 - Amore Cassady vs VaudevillainsEnzo Amore & Colin Cassidy Vs. The Vaudevillains – No Contest

Very scary situation here as Enzo Amore takes a huge bump being thrown out of the ring and suffers a concussion. Luckily it sounds like Enzo will be all right as he was taken to a nearby hospital and was talking and had feeling in all extremities. Seeing him flopping around on the outside and seemingly struggling to breath brought back memories of Owen Hart and Jerry Lawler’s incidents. Luckily this wasn’t as serious as either of those. It will be interesting to see how WWE handles this moving forward. Will we get a three-way for the tag titles at Extreme Rules in just 20 days? Will The Vaudevillains get the shot? Will Enzo fully recover? Hope to get some answers this evening on RAW.

Payback 2016 - Kevin Owens vs Sami ZaynKevin Owens Defeated Sami Zayn

This was flat out awesome. These guys clearly have a chemistry in the ring and it shows. WWE has been doing a decent enough job explaining their story but they’re hamstrung a bit as the only footage available of their 14 year rivalry comes from their NXT days. That said, this was an outstanding match full of back and forth action that never seemed forced. If they’re going to go with the Sami Zayn underdog story it makes sense to have Owens get the first win here. I can see this program going all the way to WrestleMania 33 in a slow burn. Nice to see Zayn come out later in the evening to continue to come at Owens only to see Owens continue to establish his dominance. Also exciting to see them re entering the Intercontinental title scene. All good things here and strong candidate for match of the night.

Payback 2016 - The Miz vs CesaroThe Miz Defeated Cesaro To Retain The Intercontinental Championship

I’m not a huge fan of Miz, but I’ve got to say I actually really like him with the title here. Easy money was on Cesaro walking away with the win but having Miz hold onto it was a nice touch that I didn’t see coming. This title run for the Miz brings back memories of his WWE Title run where he held onto the championship much longer than many people thought he would. In the end that was actually a really good program and I have a feeling this will be as well. This feels like it’s building to something bigger, most likely a 4-way IC Title match somewhere down the road. The loss here doesn’t really hurt Cesaro as he made Miz tap out behind the ref’s back and the addition of Zayn and Owens makes for some potential compelling story telling moving forward.

Payback 2016 - Dean Ambrose vs Chris JerichoDean Ambrose Defeated Chris Jericho

This one had me worried. I’m on record as saying that Ambrose is my current fav on the roster but he was going against Jericho who has a recent history of beating guys that he really shouldn’t have beaten (see a WrestleMania 32 victory over AJ Styles as Exhibit A). That said, this was a solid match save for a couple of botches that are easily overlooked. It sets up Ambrose as the “Lunatic Fringe” going into Extreme Rules and gives him a nice win over a big name after losses to Lesnar, Reigns and HHH in recent months. Hoping they let this particular feud go and allow Ambrose to move on to bigger and better things. Perhaps a returning Randy Orton or Seth Rollins? Time will tell.

Payback 2016 - Charlotte vs NatalyaCharlotte Defeated Natalya To Retain The Women’s Championship

Better than average match here with an ending that essentially ruined it. Both Natalya and Charlotte looked great and told a good story in the ring. Ric and Bret didn’t get involved in the match itself which I really appreciate. Why in God’s name they’d go with the ending that they did is beyond me. Late in the match, Charlotte had Natalya locked in her own Sharpshooter and the referee called for the bell when Natalya clearly hadn’t tapped out. This of course hearkens back to the infamous Montreal Screwjob where the same thing happened to Bret Hart. Post match, old man Bret locks Ric into the Sharpshooter with Natalya doing the same to Charlotte but this was just plain silly. I can only hope that this will lead to Natalya getting another rematch in an I Quit or some other stipulation match where she can finally get a fair shot. For all the talk of the Divas Revolution it’s really disappointing to see stuff like this happening with the ladies.

Payback 2016 - McMahon DecisionMr. McMahon Revals Who Will Control RAW

At WrestleMania 32, Shane McMahon wrestled The Undertaker. If Shane won he’d get control of Monday Night RAW. He lost that match and ever since then… he’s had control of Monday Night RAW. Vince (who’s essentially been absent) was set to make a decision as to which of his children (Shane or Stephanie) would get control of RAW moving forward. In a very WWE-esq move, Vince chose… both. This segment went WAY too long for my liking and felt like it should have been on RAW itself. I’m not sure if they were filling time due to the Enzo injury but this seemed very drawn out to me. That said, I’m sort of excited about the idea of Shane and Stephanie going head to head and I’m REALLY excited about the fact that this may be the end of the Authority angle.

Payback 2016 - Roman Reigns vs AJ StylesRoman Reigns Defeated AJ Styles To Retain The WWE World Heavyweight Championship

I’ve never been a Roman Reigns hater. I’ve been a fan of AJ Styles for quite some time now. I was excited about the prospect of seeing what they could do in the ring and I’m thrilled to say that they delivered… big time. This match was, excuse the pun, phenomenal. Both Reigns and Styles worked incredibly hard and gave us what was the match of the night in my opinion. We got some incredible high flying from Styles and Roman more than held up his end of the match. Toward the end of the match we got both Shane and Stephanie coming out to re-start the match that had ended first with a count out and then via DQ. Glad to see that the match ended fairly in the ring even with all the outside interference. Before the show went off the air, Vince was shown back stage with Shane and Stephanie where they set up a rematch between Styles and Reigns at Extreme Rules. While I’m excited to see these two go at it again next month, I’m not thrilled with the decision to make the match last night. It sort of devalues the simply outstanding match that the two guys just had. Nit pick for sure, but didn’t take away from the best match of the night.

Enzo Amore Released From HospitalFinal Thoughts

This was generally a super solid show. It doesn’t compare to the pageantry of WrestleMania 32 but it was light years better than the Fastlane in February. It was great to see some new talent being pushed and I’m glad to see Roman Reigns beginning to grow into the Superstar that he’s been pushed as for the last couple of years. There are some great stories developing with several title races chock full of potential and a developing power struggle between Shane and Stephanie. I was very disappointed to see the rehashed Montreal Screwjob angle being played out during the women’s match. Hoping they rectify that by giving the ladies the non-interrupted time their so justly deserve. Above all, I’m very happy to see that Enzo was released from the hospital after what appeared to be much more severe than “just” a concussion. Very much looking forward to RAW this evening. Extreme Rules will be held on May 22nd so there’s not much time to get that event set.

Did you watch Payback? Leave me a comment and let me know what you thought!

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