When Roman Reigns defeated Triple H at Wrestlemania, to win the WWE World Heavyeight Championship, he knew it was going to place a target on his back. When AJ Styles became the number one contender, he knew it was going to take the match of his life to take that title from Reigns… but having the match of his life is what Styles does and the recent debut of Style’s friends Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson has added another layer to the match. Who will leave Chicago’s Allstate Arena as the champion? Also on the card is a match, fourteen years in the making when Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens go one-on-one for the first time in a WWE ring in what is sure to be a MOTY contender. And the Tag Team Tournament reaches its conclusion as two upstart teams from NXT battle for number one contendership of the New Day’s Tag Team Championships, but will it be the Vaudevillains, Aiden English and Simon Gotch, or the team of Enzo Amore and Big Colin Cassidy? All this and more at WWE Payback!
+ Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn: absolutely fantastic match. These two have wrestled hundreds of times before, and this still felt like the first time they ever got in the ring. Every move and moment felt new and intense. Owens is destined for very big things, and if Sami follows him, like I know he can, then this may be a license for the WWE to print money
+ The Miz (c) (w/ Maryse) vs Cesaro (Intercontinental Championship): featuring a special guest commentator, this was a very, very good match. The Miz is a natural bad guy, and it is a joy to boo whatever he does. Cesaro seems to finally be getting his time in the spotlight, and throughout this match at least, he did not disappoint at all. There is going to be a lot more going on, very soon, I can guarantee it
+ Kalisto (c) vs Ryback (United States Championship): this was the third match up between these two, and coincidentally the third on the pre-show of the event they were on, and this was the best of their matches so far. A sloppy botch was covered nicely, and both superstars’ skills were on display
+ Baron Corbin vs Dolph Ziggler: relegated to the pre-show, this match was more or less a vehicle to make Corbin look like a monster than a competitive match. Ziggler’s sleek offense and (borderline over-the-top) selling really added to the aura Corbin is trying to create
+ Charlotte (c) (w/ Ric Flair) vs Natalya (w/Bret Hart) (Women’s Championship): as of this match, these two are the only ones to wrestle for the NXT Women’s Championship, the WWE Diva’s Championship and now the WWE Women’s Championship. Ric Flair has proven to be the deciding factor several times, so seeing Bret out to even the odds was a joy, even if the ending may leave a bit to be desired
+ Vince deciding what to do with Steph/Shane and who will run Raw was a welcome break from the action. Vince knows how to play the crowd like nobody else. The result was interesting, and certainly paves the way for future storylines
– Roman Reigns (c) vs AJ Styles (WWE World Heavyweight Championship): what in the holy hell was this? A horrible match with a horrible finish made sure both competitors looked like complete jokes. One of the worst planned matches I’ve seen in a very long time. The looming presence of Styles’ Gallows/Anderson friendship should have made for an interesting affair, but all of that was thrown out for an over-booked gimmick defense with a single goal in mind
– Dean Ambrose vs Chris Jericho: whilst it was technically sound, something about this match up just didn’t click for me. I couldn’t help but feel these two were going through the motions. After a comparatively fleshed out feud beforehand, it was disappointing for the match to be as un-engrossing as it was
> after a fantastic opening promo, Enzo/Cass vs The Vaudevillains had to be stopped after a severe injury to Enzo Amore. The crowd was hyped, but the match was cut short, which was a horrible way for the event to begin
Should you watch this event: Overall, this was a very solid event. After stumbling at the first hurdle due to a horrific injury to Enzo, the remaining matches were enough to get things back on track. The electric crowd brought an intense atmosphere to each match, which made them all worth watching. Even the mess of a main event may be worth a single viewing. Give this at least one look.