WWE: Payback was LIVE on Sunday, May 1st from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, IL
Payback kicked off with a very hot Chicago crowd on the pre-show, which started off the action with Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler. They moved the match to the pre-show probably due to time constraints. Looking back on it with something that occurred later, it probably would have been better served to keep it on the main show, but more on that later.
The match was actually a decent piece of work. A great many have been critical of how Corbin has been used since he got to the main roster. The fact of the matter is he handed Ziggler a good beating for the majority of the match and looked like a million bucks. Ziggler is a man who hasn’t seen too many trips to the winner’s side of the pay window, but he did tonight as he beat Corbin with a rollup. The match was what it was, but Corbin coming out of this with a loss? Probably not the smartest decision, but with Extreme Rules a little over three weeks away? A rematch could lead to a Baron Corbin victory.
The second match on the pre-show saw the United States title being defended by Kalisto, the current champion, defending against “The Pre-Show Stopper” Ryback. Yes, he had that on his tights. Ryback is one of those talents that you either really like or really don’t like, but if you wanna talk about drawing heat? They were in Chicago, home of CM Punk. Ryback came out to his usual entrance, but he drew the lien in the sand and tapped the watch and said “It’s Clobberin’ Time”! The crowd went nuts at that. We laughed, as we watched the PPV amongst friends. Long story short, this was a shockingly enjoyable match. Kalisto is a tremendous worker and Ryback is either hit or miss, but he was hit tonight. Many expected a title change, but that was not the case as Kalisto eventually took the victory following Salida Del Sol. Where he goes with the title from here? Nobody knows. Excited to see who is the next challenger for the United States Champion.
The main show starts and the crowd goes bananas for the New Day who join us at ringside for the opening match which is the finals for the tag team tournament, the winners being named the number one contendors for the titles. The crowd keeps it going for the introduction of Enzo Amore and Big Cass who get on the mic and work their magic. The Vaudevillains are then introduced and I still maintain that their entrance is one of the coolest things to see live. Sadly, this match really didn’t even get out of the blocks hence why my reference to Corbin and Ziggler should have been on the main show earlier. The match got started and the crowd was into it, but there was a horrible spot and to be honest, only bad luck can really be blamed for it. Simon Gotch was executing a throw through the ropes on Enzo Amore and Enzo hit the middle ropes with his head and then smacked the apron and spilled to the outside. That deduction came after watching it slowed down on film. Initially, and there were about six of us enjoying the product, we all thought he broke his neck. Enzo is such a next level talent and so entertaining, whether you’re a youngster or full grown adult. His breathing was heavy and just looking at the faces of Gotch, Xavier Woods and JBL at ringside, you could tell that everyone was as worried as we were. The match was thrown out and ruled a no contest as Enzo was stretchered out for safeties sake and I am very happy to report here on the Scrum Sports, that Enzo is okay and while he suffered a concussion, he was released and all tests came back negative. Photos on twitter showed him released wearing the hospital blue and another photo with a smiling Kevin Owens and Big Cass in a fresh suit. He’ll probably be kept out for a short time to monitor things, but thank goodness he is alright. It was a hard spot to watch. I’m sure tonight’s RAW will inform us of the plans for the tag belts, but we’ll probably see The Vaudevillains competing against The New Day at Extreme Rules.
The very somber crowd was thankfully treated to a sensational piece of work following the injury as Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn performed at a very high level. The match was tremendous and there was a great deal of back and forth action. We saw some tremendous sports including Sami hitting the Blue Thunder Bomb and a wonderful spot were Zayn went for a tornado DDT that was countered into a backbreaker by Owens. Zayn actually hit the diving tornado DDT spot on the outside, but it was quite the quick twist ending as Owens hit a superkick and then a pop up powerbomb seemingly out of nowhere for a three count and a victory. This feud is red hot and will certainly continue, and to buy time, Owens cut a post match promo and then decided to stay at ringside to do commentary for the next match which was The Miz as he defended the Intercontinental title against Cesaro.
The Miz came out first and hilariously enough, Jim Ross groaned about that on his twitter which I thought was hilarious. Champions need to come out second, I’m a purest. It should always be that way. Having said that, Maryse joined her husband and did her amazing ring apron pose which entertained us for years. Cesaro came out doing the James Bond entrance to a great reaction and the two got after it. There are many who have been critical of the Miz in the ring, but the last few months, he’s been spot on because he’s working with the right people and tonight showcased that firsthand. He and Cesaro hit on all cylinders. We saw the big swing hit multiple rotations and ultimately it looked like Cesaro was gonna walk out with the belt after a Neutralizer and a crossface submission, but Sami Zayn ran down to ringside and brawled with Kevin Owens at the commentator’s table. Owens was glorious on commentary by the way. They mixed it up on the apron, distracting the referee, and Cesaro pushed them both off the apron allowing the Miz to get the three count following a rollup. The Miz retains the title, but it certainly doesn’t seem like this will be ending either despite the cheap victory for the Miz. After the match, we see all four men mixing it up, which saw a european uppercut into the barrier courtesy of Cesaro and a popup powerbomb by Owens who eventually holds the title up laying claim to a future title opportunity, while Miz and Maryse made their exit. A fatal fourway match seems the route they are headed moving towards Extreme Rules and with the four folks involved? I’ll allow it!
Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose were the next two men up as they got after it. It was a decent match as I’m a huge faaaaaaaaaan of both men to quote Triple H’s father from the King Of Kings blu-ray set, but I thought they might have taken it to next level. After some back and forth action, Jericho puts Ambrose in the Walls of Jericho, but Ambrose is able to escape and he eventually counters a moonsault and after several striking knees, a Dirty Deeds puts Jericho on the mat for the three count and Dean Ambrose comes away with the victory.
Next up, we had the women’s title match which saw Charlotte along with “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, her father, defending against Natalya, with her uncle, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, the excellence of execution. Great to see Bret there following a bout with, and ultimate victory over cancer. Bret has always been a personal favorite and his feud with Austin was on a different plane of existence. Charles Robinson “Little Naitch” was overseeing the affair as the referee which was crucial to the finish as I’ll be darned, we saw Charlotte slap the Sharpshooter on Natalya and although Natalya didn’t tap, they called for the bell and we’ve got a Chicago screwjob reminiscent of the Montreal screwjob that took place during a title match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels in 1997. That was hilarious, when they called for the bell, our house exploded with laughter. Bret wasn’t having it as we saw Flair in the sharpshooter and he wouldn’t be alone long as Natalya slapped the same maneuver on Charlotte and we saw the two writhing in pain. Needless to say, as it stands, Charlotte retained the title due to the shady finish.
The very short version of a very long segment saw Vince McMahon put BOTH Shane McMahon and Stephanie McMahon in charge of Raw. He says they are either to disembowel each other, slit each other’s throats or get along. Yes, his words, not mine. I guess that’s the PG era being ignored, because it’s Vinny Mac. Either way, could be good, could be good. I’ll leave that decision to you good folks as we progress towards Extreme Rules.
The main event saw a very hot crowd DESTROY Roman Reigns as he came to the ring. Poor guy. AJ Styles came out to a massive reaction and we saw a tremendous match, which despite the Roman Reigns critics, shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, because when he’s paired with the right athlete, he can go. We thought the match was going to be over immediately following a countout as the referee raised AJ Styles hand. Shane McMahon comes out and says that under the new era, things aren’t going to end that way and he restarts the match. The action continues and there is plenty of it! I definitely recommend watching this piece of business, it’s very enjoyable. Roman catches AJ coming off the ropes with a hard right hand, albeit a poorly placed one as the referee calls for the bell due to the low blow and AJ is awarded the victory via DQ. Stephanie McMahon comes out and says that under the new era we’re not going to see that as a finish. For old school fans, this is VERY reminiscent of the Shawn Michaels/Vader match from Summerslam 1996 which told me who was going to win because it was the EXACT same booking. The action continues and we see the Good Brothers themselves, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, come out and disrupt things, laying a hurtin’ on Roman Reigns. AJ takes this opportunity to hit a phenomenal forearm but he doesn’t take the victory. The Usos come down to even up the odds and they brawl with Gallows and Anderson as Roman takes the opportunity to push AJ off the apron onto the four men. Roman then hits an absolutely scintillating suicide dive over the top ropes onto the four men outside the ring. Key word, four. AJ had taken the opportunity to hide behind the fan barricade and leaps off onto Roman with a high risk maneuver. He rolls Roman back into the ring and hits a 450 splash and then just as he looks to end things with another phenomenal forearm, Roman ducks it and following a massive spear, we have a three count and a victory. I suppose that’s my only grievance with the match, AJ had hit several finishes and Roman kicked out like Cena always does with the false finishes and then after ONE spear, it’s over. Roman celebrates and they pan backstage and Vince, Shane and Stephanie announce a rematch between the two men at Extreme Rules in an “Extreme Rules” match. Awesome! Glad that we’ll get another month of it. Ultimately, I can see Finn Balor debuting with Gallows and Anderson at his side unless they’ve got other plans. Either way, heck of a show tonight! Definitely worth watching and I hope you all enjoy it!
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