This is not an original thought by any means, but the amount of WWE pay-per-view events per year is a lot. In a lot of ways, it cheapens what a PPV is. It takes away the thrill of PPVs and turns something normally special into a routine occurrence. Payback is an especially egregious example, for some reason taking place just one week after SummerSlam.
Which is why I was absolutely not excited at all about Payback. It has nearly no build to it, most of the matches are rehashes of ones from last week or just ones thrown together. I couldn’t care less about it. So with that extremely pessimistic intro, let’s jump into things!
The IIconics vs. Riott Squad: While I was not surprised to see this on the Kickoff Show, I honestly thought that there were a few other matches that could have taken its place so this could have been on the main card. For how negative my attitude was going into this PPV, I actually kind of enjoyed this match because… well… it’s The IIconics. How can you not love them?
It was a pretty simple match, but the IIconics can take any match and make it thoroughly entertaining. Furthermore, it did officially solidify the Riott Squad as back together, although it did feel like it was done less because it was an interesting plot point and more because they decided breaking up the team was a mistake.
Apollo Crews (c) vs. Bobby Lashley (United States Championship): Once the PPV proper started, the apathy kicked back in. This title change felt like it was done purely to make it feel like a proper PPV, nothing more. It was a boring match and it took what was a vaguely interesting plot and just made it boring. I also absolutely do not care about Bobby’s Full Nelson. They keep making it seem like a huge big deal, but it always looks extremely silly.
And while Bobby did win with it last night, he doesn’t seem to have much success with it overall. So far, ever since WWE decided Lashley was going to use that as his finisher, it has mostly been the commentators and MVP who have been talking it up. I don’t remember any significant victory Bobby had with it excluding last night, so when he got the win with it I was actually a little surprised. Perhaps now they will actually start establishing his new finisher as an actual finisher.
Big E vs Sheamus: Big E is one of those big heavy hitters I never get tired of watching. I actually enjoyed this match despite my negative attitude toward this PPV. If there had been some proper month or two long build up and some real emotional depth behind this, I would have loved it. But alas, there wasn’t. Because this was a PPV that we just had to do a week after SummerSlam.
One thing I feel was missing: the commentators keep pushing that Big E is completely out of his element in singles matches, but he seems to keep winning. Honestly, they should have had Big E lose his first couple singles matches first before starting to win some.
Matt Riddle vs. King Corbin: I’ll admit, Matt Riddle is extremely entertaining to watch in the ring. However, with the recent allegations against him, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has cooled on Riddle. However, even if Riddle was still super hot and didn’t have anyone speak out about him, the match wasn’t the best. Both men have had better matches and I absolutely did not care about the feud going on.
Bayley and Sasha Banks (c) vs Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler (Women’s Tag Team Championship): I absolutely did not see that coming. I would have thought that they would have kept the tag titles on Bayley and Sasha for another month or two. I think exploring Sasha still desperately trying to hang onto the one title she still has would be an interesting plot and something that would have been a good thing to explore for the next month or two.
I wish there had been more Shayna in this match. I’m just not the biggest fan of Nia and I absolutely love Shayna’s in-ring ability. I’m happy we are evidently going to see more of her though, and I hope that this tag title run is just a jumping off point for her on the main card.
Keith Lee vs. Randy Orton: This was a solid match, but if it hadn’t been Lee’s first PPV match on the main card I would have stuck this on the pre-show. I liked the dynamic and the back and forth — Randy getting the upper hand at first, then Lee retaliating in kind. But if this hadn’t been Lee’s first big match this would have just been a Raw main event at best.
There is no way this feud ends here. Randy has lost too much recently and if he doesn’t get a win on Keith he’s going to look extremely weak going into his next feud. I know I predicted Randy would continue feuding with McIntyre last week, but this time I swear I’m right. Trust me guys. Guys?
Seth Rollins and Murphy vs. Rey and Dominik Mysterio: I am absolutely done with this. I am just done. Please, no more. This should have ended with Seth destroying Dominik. Seth would have his credentials established finally as a heel to be paid attention to. Rey could wait a bit then get his revenge in a month or two.
But instead we had to sit through ANOTHER long match where I was just emotionally checked out. The match had some cool spots. Sitting there watching it last night I kept thinking, that would have been cool if I was even somewhat interested in this match. I wasn’t. I just absolutely wasn’t.
The Fiend (c) vs. Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns (Universal Championship): I was wary going into this match after last week’s match, and I feel like I was justified. It wasn’t bad, but it honestly wasn’t what one would hope from who was involved and the stipulation. It was extremely short and felt more like this match was simply a thing to check off their list than anything else.
It felt like creative asked, “how do we get the belt back to Roman without making The Fiend look bad?” They came up with their idea and then said “all right, there will be one or two cool spots, Roman wins, let’s get back to what really matters and add 10 more minutes to the Seth/Rey match”.
Again, not bad. Just not exciting.
The Verdict: The entire Payback card ranged from boring to fine. Some had some good spots, but there was no real reason to watch this PPV other than maybe seeing Roman’s first match back. I found it difficult to watch this with any more attention than I do an average episode of Raw or SmackDown. Even though some matches were good, it’s not enough for matches to be good; story and emotion need to be behind them, especially for a PPV.
Also, once again, I must note that RETRIBUTION didn’t bother to interrupt a major PPV. What kind of anarchist group are they?
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