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WWE Payback (2015) Review

Updated on August 24, 2015

Payback - It's not Wrestlemania. It's not the Royal Rumble. Nor is it Survivor Series. But good PPVs can come out of non-major shows. Canadian Stampede in 1997 was a stellar albeit brief show, Money in the Bank 2011 was a classic, and even if it had some filler No Mercy 2008 was a pretty solid show. Okay, this show is not as good as any of those, but Payback can still shine through, right?

Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus

Considering both guys have had to kiss either's behinds as of late, I really hope both Sheamus and Ziggler have been getting bonuses. This match was a solid opener. The match had good flow, and the two talented workers kept the action going at a good pace. However, the match seemed to end just as it was getting started. The match did see some legit blood. Fans have decried the lack of blood ever since the WWE went TV-PG many moons ago, but if there is one positive about the company banning blood. At least the few instances where guys juice, it is legit (most of the time). Sheamus won the match, but little feels accomplished other than a solid opening match.

The New Day vs. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd for the Tag Team Titles - 2 out of 3 falls

The Creative Team is pushing the new day in an interesting direction. No longer babyfaces, the New Day is now being pushed as heels that are so obnoxious in their optimism that they indirectly insult the fans. I like that. Speaking of things I like, this match was... off the hook. There was nary a wasted moment in the entire match. Plus, there were a ton of spots which kept the match going. There was the classic giant swing into the dropkick. Big E countered Kidd's suicide dive into a belly-to-belly. And there was one amazing spot where Kidd is thrown over the top rope onto Cesaso's back. Through pure strength or... OK, I seriously have no idea how he did it, but Cesaro lifted Kidd on his back and landed Kidd back in the ring, feet first. The heel Xavier Woods gets a tainted victory by stealing the pinfall. The New Day may have won the match, but both teams came away on top with a match that made all competitors look like a million bucks. Simply put, this was the match of the night.


Bray Wyatt vs. Ryback

This match was surprisingly decent. Okay, it was not exactly, Flair-Steamboat, but neither were the two men in the ring. There were some exciting spots such as an apron DDT followed by Wyatt performing a senton onto Ryback. This was a cool spot that came at the cost of slowing down the match a bit. Ryback must have been legit hurt because there was a bit of slowdown. That is a shame because the two managed to keep the flow going before and after. The match ended with a spot where Bray used an exposed turnbuckle and pulled Sister Abigail. Yeah, this was kind of a hoss match, but for what it was, the match was at least serviceable.

John Cena vs. Rusev - I Quit Match for the US Championship

Oh boy, this match. Who do you think would take away the Red White and Blue Gold at the end of this one? Hint: The guy wearing and selling a t-shirt with the US Championship on it. Yeah, if you thought anybody but Cena was going to win this, you were probably also surprised Judge Doom was the culprit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Remember how Rusev beat Cena at Fastlane earlier this year, looking like a legit threat? Yeah, neither do I. Rusev seems to be suffering from Big Guy Syndrome. The company pushes him as an unstoppable monster, he loses and the booking team no longer knows what to do with him so he starts jobbing out. It happened to Yokozuna, it happened to the Great Khali... Okay, that last one was no great loss.

As for the match itself, if you have seen one Cena I Quit match, you have seen them all by now. Say it with me: Rusev runs roughshod over Cena for the entire match, Cena barely gets in any offense, but wins anyway (Though to be fair, Cena does gain a little more offense than he did in his matches with Orton and Miz). As predictable as this match was,it at least had a few memorable spots - Cena hitting Rusev with a laptop, the barricade was used as a weapon. The ending was absurd. Rusev knocked Cena out with the Accolade, but the ref would not count that because Cena did not actually say "I Quit." Apparently knocking someone out does not count. Hopefully, none of the fans remember that really famous match between Steve Austin and Bret Hart. (My goodness, Hart vs. Austin was a great match.)

Cena used a disconnected ring rope to put Rusev into the STF. Rusev started yelling in Bulgarian. Lana interjected and announced that Rusev had in fact quit. After defending Cena in my Wrestlemania review, this match was an unfortunate reminder on why so many people dislike him. The match was the typical Super Cena shtick. Also, there is a heel commentator who gushes over Cena, as if the company refuses to accept that maybe - just maybe - there are people who aren't fond of the guy. Could you imagine if during the Hulkamania era, Bobby Heenan still gushed over Hogan? Oh well, looking at the glass half full, the match was decent. It could have benefited from being shorter. Cena vs. Rusev was nearly 30 minutes, and it felt that way!

Naomi/Tamina vs. The Bellas

This was a Divas match. It happened. Wasn't very good, wasn't that bad either. Anything to really talk about? Yeah, I really hate those Twitter feeds on the bottom of the screen. Vince McMahon's delusion that Twitter is the ultimate barometer of fan love is egregious enough, but do we really need that Twitter feed that looks a Tornado warning is in my area? If the match is good, I do not need a reminder. If the match is bad, a bunch of guys tweeting so they can see their screen name on the pay per view will not sway me.


Neville vs. King Barrett

Bad News Barrett had a cool gimmick going for him. The whole "Bad News" thing was one of those gimmicks that was just absurd enough to work (See Mr. Kennedy... Kennedy). Plus, his gruff, British accent was perfect for the delivery of the line. He has been reverted to a king gimmick, which seems to be the booking teams' way of saying "we kind of want to get this guy over, but we're really out of ideas." Speaking of indecisiveness, this match has the same feel to it. Neville won by countout - much to the delight of nobody. The end result has the vibe as if the writers could not decide who they wanted to put over. That was a shame because - barring one noticeable botch - this could have been a good match. However, a shaggy dog ending marred that.

Fatal Four Way for the WWE Championship - Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton

Four talented, worthwhile, hotter than sunburn athletes competing for the WWE championship, and the buildup of this match was still all about Kane. This was a pretty solid fatal four way match, marred only by a few factors - The Kane factor. The entire match was built around the threat that Kane would be fired if Seth Rollins did not retain the championship. I like Kane and all (at least I was a fan when he was in the peak of his career), but four men in the prime of their careers should just be able to do their thing without the interjection of someone whose time is clearly up. The other problem was the lack of suspense. With that Kane build, there was little doubt Rollins would keep the title. Also, none of the other opponents really had enough build to take the gold. Randy Orton seems to be fodder for the champions. Reigns is still regaining his goodwill with the fans. Ambrose is the only one over enough, but he was just recently interjected into the title picture. (Hopefully, the booking team is grooming him for bigger things.)

Even if the outcome was predictable, the match was still exciting. Four talented guys can still put on a good match. The most exciting segment was when Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose teased a Shield reunion. They pulled the classic triple powerbomb onto Orton. Ambrose and Reigns pulled a double powerbomb. Specifically, they powerbomed Rollins ONTO Kane through a table (the table didn't quite break so it was so nice they did it twice). The match ended when Rollins performed the Pedigree on Randy Orton. The company is still trying to find a finisher for this guy ever since banning the Curb Stomp, aren't they?

Overall, Payback was a good, but not great show. The only matches worth going out of one's way to watch on their own were the four way and the tag title match. However, the show overall was watchable. No titles changed hands, and nothing major happened, making this a relatively inconsequential show. Anybody who has the WWE network may want to check this out, but I can't foresee any fans adding this to their DVD collection.

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