Last night was the Payback PPV, and the rumors that circulated shortly before saying WWE was desperate to not be topped by Thursday’s NXT Takeover PPV turned out to be incredibly true. The event was a rousing success, both in terms of the quality of the product as well as the fans’ reaction to all of it.
The opening pre-show match between El Torito and Hornswoggle in a Hair vs. Mask match turned out to be much more entertaining than expected. While these two also put on a very exciting pre-show match at Extreme Rules, that one was helped by 3MB and Los Matadores getting involved.
This one, on the other hand, didn’t need any assistance in both making us all laugh and making sure that we kept our eyes on the ring. Torito and the Matadores came down with Chicago Bulls-inspired gear, which made an already raucous crowd become even louder. Torito won the match, getting to shave Hornswoggle’s hair and prepare the fourth member of 3MB for his Leprechaun movie promotion tour.
Sheamus vs. Cesaro opened the PPV, allowing Paul Heyman to poke at the crowd and make sure they’re all riled up for what’s to come. While Heyman may have angered them by saying the Chicago Blackhawks would lose to the Los Angeles Kings, no one got to them like Stephanie McMahon did later in the night. Both of these men looked great in this match, but Sheamus managed to roll up Cesaro in a small package for the win. Until Cesaro either gets away from Heyman or inserts himself into a better storyline, he’s going to continue this fall from grace.
In my predictions, I said that Bray needed to win this and the WWE needed to let “Super Cena” die off. Cena ended up winning the match by hitting Bray with the Attitude Adjustment through a giant box up near the stage, followed by Cena pushing an even bigger container over the hole made by Bray, effectively burying the Wyatt Family head.
This finish didn’t make Bray look weak, nor did it make Cena look especially strong; instead, it allowed both to shine, with Bray looking like he had to be hit by a mack truck in order to lose. I still think that Bray should have been booked to win, but I was ecstatic with how the match transpired.
Daniel Bryan didn’t have to give up his belt because Brie Bella quit instead of getting fired. Stephanie laughed in Brie’s face, which was then followed by Brie slapping Stephanie so hard, all Steph could do was run to the back whimpering. Where this story goes, I have no idea, but I think the “Evil Boss” story line may be coming back in full force.
Oh, and Stephanie got the crowd going by saying, “These people want you to quit, just like CM Punk did.” They were in Chicago, Punk’s hometown, so you can imagine how that went over.
Saving the best for last was The Shield vs. Evolution in a No-Holds-Barred Elimination match. If you wanted a main event for your time, money and travel, this was what we as wrestling fans hope for each and every event. This could have headlined WrestleMania and we would have all been overjoyed by it.
They started the match with all six competitors going at one another, spilling into the crowd and wearing one another down; until several minutes later, they finally made it back to the ring. I said on Twitter and reiterated during the predictions what the elimination order would be: one Shield, one Evolution, one Shield, then Roman Reigns taking out the final two.
How wrong I was. After a very lengthy bout filled with Seth Rollins‘ death-defying moves (like the one from the Titantron), the Shield managed to do something that I don’t think any of us expected: a clean sweep.
The Shield said that they would make Evolution extinct, that they would show everyone they’re the dogs who run the yard. After that match, I can promise you this: they kept their word.