WWE Payback 2015 gave us plenty of entertainment…for the first half or so of the event. We even had a Match of The Year contender with The New Day vs Tyson Kidd and Cesaro. However, as soon as John Cena and Rusev fought, the quality took a big dip. Even the main event struggled to make an impact due to Kane and J and J Security. But at least there was some storyline development among the action. And it was well worth it for The New Day vs Tyson Kidd and Cesaro!
Sheamus vs Dolph Ziggler
Their rematch was quite a few steps above their pointless and short match at Extreme Rules. It was fast-paced and hard hitting from the very beginning. Sheamus did try to slow the pace down with heelish headlocks a few times, but both wrestlers deserved to catch their breaths after some great sequences. Ziggler rubbed his right asscheek into Sheamus’s face towards the end of the match, as retribution for Sheamus’s ass-to-face action at Extreme Rules. They exchanged big moves at the end, until Ziggler connected with a headbutt and a superkick. Sheamus kicked out of the proceeding pin. Ziggler’s forehead was covered in blood. Presumably the match was called off early due to the extreme amount of blood pouring from Ziggler’s head. Sheamus hits the Brogue Kick for the victory. Both men came off as winners here.
VERDICT: 8/10. A great opening bout to start the PPV off. Action packed and rarely slowing down.
The New Day (c) vs Tyson Kidd and Cesaro-2/3 Falls for the Tag Team Championship
Their match at Extreme Rules was one of two pleasant surprises of the night (the other being the Last Man Standing Match between Roman Reigns and The Big Show). This match was even better. The match of the night, and the WWE tag team match of the year. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro work perfectly together. The New Day have been invigorated by their heel turn and their feud with Kidd and Cesaro. Cesaro was the man of the match. During the first fall, he gut-wrench suplexed Big E, did a sort of Attitude Adjustment on Kofi Kingston, and double stomped them both. He’s magic in the ring. That is not to say that the other competitors did nothing. Kidd is among the best-all rounders in the WWE, and this match proved that. Kinston can always be relied on. Big E is clearly pumped up by The New Day, and it shows in the ring. It was tied at 1-1, and the in-ring action reached a new peak. Cesaro’s running uppercuts went on and on, until I thought Kofi’s head was going to fly off. The Kidd/Ceasro double team move of a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and a springboard elbow drop looks beautiful. In the last minute or so, the match descended into a bit of a mess, but for a purpose: Xavier Woods stole the pin. The (racist?!?!) referee thought he was Kofi Kingston. Brilliant match, fitting ending. Heels get the victory, Cesaro and Kidd look strong.
VERDICT: 9/10. One of WWE’s matches of the year. Any other tag team match will be hard-pressed to beat this one.
Ryback vs Bray Wyatt
I wasn’t looking forward to this match at all. But they fought and clawed their way to a pretty good bout. Ryback still hasn’t the cardio-vascular strength to be on an all-out offensive for a long stretch, but he tried his best here. Wyatt is in a similar condition to Ryback. But they controlled their match to accentuate their positives and hide the negatives (to paraphrase Paul Heyman). An early highlight was Wyatt’s senton splash from the apron onto a prone Ryback on the outside. It looked brutal, and set up Ryback’s stomach/rib injury for the rest of the match. They exchanged power moves throughout, trying to out-power each other. Ryback took a different view on things and executed a top rope splash onto Wyatt! He looked scared in mid-air, and panicked on the landing, but it was an impressive sight. Of course, it only aggravated his injury (why did he do it in the first place?). But it took an exposed turnbuckle and Sister Abigail to put Ryback away. Wyatt picks up the victory and Ryback continues losing in big matches. Will we see a Wyatt rehabilitation after his loss to The Undertaker?
VERDICT: 7/10. An extra point for effort here. Both wrestlers tried their best. Whilst not a great match, their effort shined through. I’ll remember Ryback’s top rope splash for a while!
John Cena (c) vs Rusev-I Quit Match for the United States Championship
BORING! That’s all I can muster to say about this match. It was slightly better than their Russian Chain fiasco at Extreme Rules. But it was plodding and irritating. Within the first five minutes of the match, a dropkick by Rusev caused the referee to ask Cena if he wanted to quit. What? After a dropkick? The referee’s constant intrusions was one of the many flaws in this match. Big moves took very long to set up. There were few transitions. Psychology didn’t even register in the match. Cena passed out after Rusev’s application of the Accolade. But Cena made a quick comeback. Of course, Rusev lost again to Cena. Cena had a modified STF applied to Rusev, with the ring rope wrapped around Rusev’s face. Rusev started yelling in Bulgarian, so Lana translated it for us: Rusev quits. The split between Rusev and Lana carries on, slowly but surely. But where does Rusev go on from here? After three losses in a row to Cena? He didn’t lose easily here, that’s for sure. He refused to give up plenty of times. But we don’t want another match with Cena. Rusev needs to be rebuilt. But how?
VERDICT: 5/10. Mediocre. Slow. Pointless.
The Bella Twins vs Naomi and Tamina
After the previous tag team match, the Divas’ match looked dull in comparison. Passable fare, but nothing more than that. Why not scrap these Raw level Divas tag team matches at PPVs and have the Divas’ Championship on the line instead? The outcome would be of greater importance than the outcome of this Divas’ match. Naomi and Tamini win, with Naomi pinning Nikki Bella. Naomi will get a Divas Championship match…but why didn’t she have it at this PPV?
VERDICT: 5/10 Just average from the Divas.
Neville vs Barrett
Not much to say about this match either. After two very good matches between the two Brits, at a PPV they are given under ten minutes to work with and a silly ending. Each wrestler tried to fit as much as possible into the short duration. As a result it looked rushed. After Neville hit a corkscrew dive onto Barret on the outside, Barrett allowed himself to be counted out. He attacked Neville after the match, but Neville fought back and hit Barrett with the Red Arrow. What was the point? Why not let these two wrestlers have a proper end to their feud?
VERDICT: 4/10. A rushed match spoiled even more by a ridiculous ending.
Seth Rollins (c) vs Roman Reigns vs Randy Orton vs Dean Ambrose-WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
Like the main event of Extreme Rules, this main event was subdued due to the interference of Kane and J and J Security. Why the intense focus on Kane? If Rollins lost, Kane would be fired. That spoilt the ending anway. But Kane’s continued interference ruined the flow of an exciting match. When the distractions were minimized, the top-notch action spoke for itself. A mini-Shield reunion came in the form of a triple powerbomb on Randy Orton through the announcer’s table. Bring the Shield back!!! The pop was loud, but got louder when Ambrose and Reigns turned on Rollins. They powerbombed Kane onto Rollins, who was on the Spanish announcer’s table. They did it a second time as the announcer’s table didn’t break. That left us Ambrose and Reigns, who squared off in a thrilling sequence. However, strangely, Rollins came in to break up Reign’s pin on Ambrose. Where was Orton? He was the first to be powerbombed, so why was Rollins the first to get up? That bothered me, but after that the match turned into a mess. J and J interfered again, until they were RKO’d by Orton. Orton looked to beat Rollins, but a distraction by Kane left him open to a Pedigree from Rollins. A three count later, and Rollins retained the WWE Championship. So Kane isn’t fired…BOO! I expected Rollins to win, but Kane needs to be eliminated from the picture. And so do J and J Security.
VERDICT: 7/10. Maybe even a 6/10. The constant distractions by Kane and J and J Security took me out of the match. When the four competitors were left alone, the action was never less than gripping. Just let them wrestle!
OVERALL VERDICT: 7/10. A brilliant first half, including a possible Match of the Year contender in The New Day vs Cesaro and Tyson Kidd, led to a half-hearted a dreary second half. Pointless matches and silly endings paved the way until the main event. The main event was plagued by Kane. A good effort by all involved, but the never-ending distractions ruined the momentum. Get rid of Kane! He’s stalling the main event storylines.
(Click here for my review of the previous PPV, Extreme Rules 2015)