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411 PPV Roundtable Preview - WWE Payback 2013
Posted by Stephen Randle on 06.15.2013





Introduction

This Sunday, WWE has suddenly remembered that they have another PPV, as they present the newly-named Payback. Due to some last-minute booking and a little luck, WWE has actually managed to book a match for every title currently active on this show. In the undercard, Kaitlyn will take on her former friend AJ for the Divas title, the Intercontinental title will be up for grabs in a Triple Threat between Wade Barrett, The Miz, and Curtis Axel, and Dean Ambrose defends the US Title against Kane while his fellow Shield members will put the Tag titles on the line against Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton. Meanwhile, in the main event, Chris Jericho will take on a returning CM Punk in his hometown of Chicago, while Dolph Ziggler makes his comeback from injury to face Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight title. Plus, John Cena will defend the WWE Title against Ryback in a 3 Stages of Hell match. And as always, here's the 411 Staff with their thoughts on the show!

The Staff

Stephen Randle, The Wrestling News Experience

Craig Stevens, returning 411 alumnus

Justin Watry, 411 newbie

Jesse Nguyen, The 10 Count

Michael Benjamin, 411 Main Event and Smackdown recapper

James Wright, The Heel Report

Michael Weyer, Shining A Spotlight

Ryan Byers, The 8-Ball

Phil Hiotis, returning 411 alumnus

Jack Bramma, Ring Crew Reviews





Sheamus vs Damien Sandow
Pre-Show Match


Stephen Randle: Well, at least the pre-show features a feud that was built on TV, but man, what a waste of time this was unless they're planning to have Sandow go over in some sort of surprise underdog victory. Oh, wait, he's facing Sheamus.

Winner: Sheamus

Craig Stevens: Sheamus can go in the ring, but in every other conceivable way he's a terrible face. He's boring, corny, and kind of a dick. But then again, so are most of the faces in the WWE. Sandow's schtick is mildly entertaining, but he's got no shot here.

Winner: Sheamus

Justin Watry: Nice little battle here. I actually find the 'kick-off' subtitle to their pre-show match to be clever. Obviously, it plays off recent weeks of television and gives this match a twist of its own. Both men know what they are doing inside the ring, so quality should be of no concern. Assuming this feud ends on Sunday, that means the face goes over the heel.

Winner: Sheamus

Jesse Nguyen: Out of all the characters in the WWE, Sheamus is the one I can't stand the most. I understand he is a bully, but he is a face. Also the WWE is anti-bullying. Right? Right? Either way, they tried to market this match as brains vs. brawn, but the story really just fell short for me. Also, Sheamus is too over with the crowd to take a loss from the amusing, but only with mild heat, Sandow.

Winner: Sheamus

Michael Benjamin: This has the potential to be a really fun power match that could deliver beyond most people's expectations. I would have liked to see this slotted on the main card but I think it's a good idea to put a big match like this on the pre-show to keep people watching it. Sheamus wins because they don't put heels over on the pre-show.

Winner: Sheamus

James Wright: Since there is nothing on the line in this match I have to go with the Sheamus win by default, although Sandow deserves it much more for all the effort he has put in while building this match. Speaking of which why exactly did the WWE spend several weeks of segments just to build a match for the pre-show? Surely two guys can just go out there and have a good match rather than rating all of your current rivalries and deciding which one is the least important, except for the Divas match, which they need for spacing apparently, and sticking it on the pre-show. I'm sure this match will be a good one but it irks me somewhat that it has been resigned to the pre-show, although that might mean that it gets more time than it would have on the main card.

Winner: Sheamus

Michael Weyer: Man, Sheamus has come down hard to be doing pre-show stuff against Sandow. It's just a forgettable match to kick the show off, nothing too major so I'll give the win to Sheamus and hopefully he gets better stuff next month.

Winner: Sheamus

Ryan Byers: I'm still trying to figure out why this match, of all the matches on the card, got more build on this past episode of Monday Night Raw than the flipping main event. Oh well. These two have decent-ish chemistry, but, given the duration of your typical pre-show match, I'm not expecting much . . . except for a Sheamus victory, as he continues to slum it until something opens up in the main event scene.

Winner: Sheamus

Phil Hiotis: I'm happy that I'm seeing Mr. Sandow even NEAR a PPV, and facing a big player in the business. The rivalry makes sense between the characters, I haven't minded the build up to it with the intelligence vs brute strength, and these guys works well together. The end result is a bit of a give in, but hey, it serves its purpose by convincing me to watch the pre-show.

Winner: Sheamus

Jack Bramma: In recent weeks, Sandow has seemingly broken up with Cody Rhodes again to move on to bigger and better things, namely being a magician that challenges his opponents to Three Card Monty. Sheaumus hasn't done much different than his feud with Mark Henry lose parlor games, kick his better in the face, get his heat back. In back-to-back feuds, Sheamus has revealed himself as a loser at feats of strength and feats of intellect. Maybe, next month he can feud with Fandango and lose at dance contests all month and kick him in the face afterwards and still win the PPV match.

Winner: Sheamus



Kaitlyn vs AJ Lee
WWE Divas Championship


Stephen Randle: As I've said, I hope the whole secret admirer story plays out further after this match, because hey, at least then the Divas division would have a storyline. Besides, if they don't do that, AJ will basically be Stephanie McMahon'ing the belt, since she barely gets involved in wrestling anyway.

Winner: AJ Lee

Craig Stevens: The secret admirer segment from Monday night did a great job of getting me to give a crap about this match. The Big E swerve was cool for me, because I remember Big E on Twitter several weeks ago talking about how hot he thought Kaitlyn was. It makes me feel like they've been planning this for a long time, and I'm always a huge fan of continuity. I thought AJ's promo was fantastic, and I Kaitlyn's reaction was a good mix of shock, embarrassment, heartbreak, and anger. It wouldn't surprise me to see Kaitlyn retain, but my gut says new champ.

Winner: AJ Lee

Justin Watry: As expected (at least on my end), AJ Lee was behind the whole secret admirer thing. You had to know WWE was going to display a "Catfish" moment one of these months. The two divas have tons of history and could probably drag this feud out for a while. Since this is only the beginning, a title change seems likely.

Winner: AJ Lee

Jesse Nguyen: I feel like the whole 'AJ Lee is the secret admirer' storyline was written week to week, because that's how it felt watching it. This feels like another brain vs brawn type match up, as Kaitlyn is much larger in stature than her opponent. With how they are building up AJ recently, I'm pretty sure she will be the new champion.

Winner: AJ Lee

Michael Benjamin: It was rumored a while back that WWE brass was interested in putting the Divas Championship on AJ while Dolph held the World Heavyweight Championship. I love that idea and this is a great opportunity to do that. AJ can wrestle with the best of them and Kaitlyn has proved time and time again that she shouldn't be given a microphone. AJ made Big E and Kaitlyn look completely out of their league on Monday and hopefully the higher ups see this as well.

Winner: AJ Lee

James Wright: I am surprised that the WWE actually managed to make this feud interesting in one segment on Raw before the PPV. What's more you could argue that this is one of the longest spanning feuds in the divas division in recent memory, especially since AJ won her shot at the title months ago and has been biding her time in cashing in, or at least that's what I tell myself. I'm hoping that AJ wins here as believe it or not I think that pairing the World champ with the Divas champ could actually restore some momentum lost by the 'power couple' due to Ziggler's concussion.

Winner: AJ (New Champion)

Michael Weyer: I'll admit to being surprised at how this feud has actually been made compelling. It's clear WWE has intended for AJ to be Divas champ for a while now and looks like it's finally time to pull the trigger. At least it'll actually mean something rather than a forgettable title change and might even be a decent boost to the division.

Winner and NEW Divas Champion: AJ Lee

Ryan Byers: It seems like the company has booked themselves into a bit of a corner with this one. On one hand, the title seems like it belongs on AJ right now, because she's the most over woman in the company. On the other hand, with the angles that have been shot this past Monday and Tuesday, it seems like Kaitlyn is almost in a "can't lose" situation, because she needs to get a degree of revenge for being screwed over on Monday if she's going to be taken seriously as a babyface. That's why I'm guessing we get a bit of a non-finish, with Kaitlyn "snapping" in a manner similar to what she did on Smackdown and costing herself the match but not the title.

Winner: AJ Lee via DQ

Phil Hiotis: A women's title match with an actual build and character development. I still don't know much about who Kaitlyn is, what she stands for, where her goal is as a character, so most of that character development belongs to AJ. WWE needs to do the right thing and give the title to the more interesting character.

Winner: AJ Lee

Jack Bramma: Kaitlyn's got a while before she gets revenge.

Winner: AJ Lee



Chris Jericho vs CM Punk


Stephen Randle: Good to see Punk back, hopefully there are plans involved in his quick return. At the very least, they're setting him up for a big return, and thankfully, now that Axel has his own match, the talk of how it's all a swerve and we won't be getting this match have dropped off.

Winner: CM Punk

Craig Stevens: Punk's back and I'm glad, those awkward segments with Jericho and Heyman were starting to weird me out a little. Even though I'm excited about Punk's return, the actual matchup isn't doing much for me; Punk won the feud last year so decisively that this match feels kinda pointless. Still, it's hard to go wrong with these two in the ring, so we should be in for a great match. Punk goes over strong in his return.

Winner: CM Punk

Justin Watry: Do we see a double turn on Sunday with Paul Heyman getting involved? Will Punk no show or even refuse to wrestle? Is there any way Chicago does not cheer for Punk? So many questions. I love it! Regardless, you have to believe this will play into the summer return of Brock Lesnar somehow. Smart money says we get a 20 minute classic with Punk winning in his comeback.

Winner: CM Punk

Jesse Nguyen: Punk is coming back, and in Chicago no less. There really isn't a story to match other than Jericho trying to avenge his loss he received from Punk at Wrestlemania 28. Being that Punk gets huge pops just from his name being said, the arena in Chicago may collapse when Punk comes out. The WWE would never let Punk lose in this kinda of situation.

Winner: CM Punk

Michael Benjamin: CM Punk is going over in Chicago. There's no doubt about that. If they're looking to turn Jericho heel, a post-match codebreaker and a few cocky mannerisms would be a great start. I wasn't too big on their previous matches in the soon to be trilogy and I'm not expecting them to steal the show like everybody is. The crowd will be rabid and make this feel special though.

Winner: CM Punk

James Wright: This match has the potential to be a show-stealer, despite it mostly being arbitrary. The main question is whether Punk will come back as a heel or a face, obviously the hometown crowd will be for him, but his actions will dictate how the WWE spin things afterwards. Of course we might get a face vs. face match if Punk is only coming back for the one off before buggering off again, does that make him a 'part-timer' now? Anyway I'm sure they will tell a good story in the ring, but it might have been nice to have at least some sort of appearance from Punk before the match itself. I'm thinking Jericho wins here, maybe due to his rumored heel turn, with this one I think we'll just have to see.

Winner: Chris Jericho

Michael Weyer: Expect the match of the night here. The build's been great with killer promos from both guys and they know they have to bring it to pay off on all that. It'll be a fantastic match, plenty of moves both legal and dirty but as for the outcome, it shouldn't be in any doubt. It's Punk in Chicago, no way WWE risks pissing off the crowd by having him lose and should be amazing to watch Jericho put him over.

Winner: CM PUNK BABY!!

Ryan Byers: Punk is making a return in his hometown coming off of a series of huge PPV losses, while Jericho has spent the last year or so of his career largely doing what needs to be done in order to put people over. It's not difficult to do the math on this one. Granted, there's always a possibility that the powers that be could book a swerve because they think the finish is too well known, but this would be an awful match to pull that trick in.

Winner: CM Punk

Phil Hiotis: What can I say about this that the internet hasn't echoed? Two guys who have great chemistry together in Punk's hometown. Again, the winner is pretty much foretold in the annals of a wrestling storyline. The more pressing question to me is: should this be the main event?

Winner: CM Punk

Jack Bramma: This is setting up for face-face. Punk will be super over, and rather than go for the easy face cheap pop on RAW burying Punk as a quitter who doesn't deserve his spot or making fun of his name like he normally would, Jericho has played it straight and hyped Punk as a worthy if not superior opponent. Beating Jericho doesn't have a lot of cache these days since even Curtis Axel can get his only pinfall victory over Jericho on free TV, so the larger story is where does Punk go from here. Feud with Lesnar? Feud with Cena? Rematch with UT at Summerslam? Feud with Ziggler with WHW belt? Tag feud with the Shield with Daniel Bryan as a possible partner? Feud with Heel Ryback?

Winner: CM Punk



Wade Barrett vs The Miz vs Curtis Axel
WWE Intercontinental Championship


Stephen Randle: You've gotta believe that Fandango was going over here before his unfortunate concussion, so normally you'd keep the status quo going until you can put the belt on him for real. Instead, we've got Curtis Axel in the match, and if they care so much to continue to pretend they're protecting him against Triple H and John Cena, then you can't end his undefeated streak here. Plus, it's a much better option than The Miz.

Winner: Curtis Axel

Craig Stevens: I'm probably in the vast minority on this, but I have ZERO problem with the Curtis Axel build. He's not going over HHH or Cena clean, so I'd rather him win by flukes and shenanigans than get jobbed every week. True, he's not being booked strongly like the Shield, but why should he be? He's not as good as them; not currently, and probably not down the road, either. I think this is the perfect (no pun intended) opportunity for him to get a solid win, and settle into nice mid-card spot. Barrett's star has totally fizzled out, and the win probably does nothing for him at this point. As long as Miz doesn't win...

Winner: Curtis Axel

Justin Watry: Let's just take a look at each guy first. Miz? No way. His face turn seemed like a great idea but has fallen flat. Wade Barrett? That guy needs something to get going again. Having the IC Title seems pointless. In my opinion, WWE was going to throw the belt to Fandango here. Instead, he was removed from the match after sustaining a concussion. Now, the company will move on to their next 'project' of 2013 - Curtis Axel.

Winner: Curtis Axel

Jesse Nguyen: Even with Fandango out of the match, I still do not wish to see this match any more than I did a week ago. The feud between Barrett and Miz is paper-thin and holds no interest to me, and Axel being put in makes me think they are trying to get him over with a title win. I highly doubt Axel's Intercontinental Championship reign will come close to his father's.

Winner: Curtis Axel

Michael Benjamin: Wade Barrett and The Miz have been treading water in the midcard with no direction for what seems like an eternity. Curtis Axel has been picking up the W's albeit with hollow victories since his re-debut. Sneaking into the title match after Fandango had to be replaced and pulling out a roll up victory for the title would fit his character just fine.

Winner: Curtis Axel

James Wright: If Axel wins here then he is one lucky bugger seeing as how up until under a week ago it was Fandango's spot. My thought is that it was going to be Vince's 'boy' going over and now it will be Hunter's, so Axel is walking away with the gold. Also if Axel doesn't win then he will be pushed way down the card since so far his wins have all been flukes and really don't count for anything until years have gone by and most casual fans have forgotten the circumstances, like the Jericho Undisputed title win. If he can't even beat Wade Barrett, the guy who HHH kicked in the nuts like he was nothing, then he clearly doesn't have as much support backstage as we thought. On a side note; why the fuck isn't Wade Barrett being pushed more?! The guy has everything the WWE could want from one of their superstars.

Winner: Curtis Axel (New Champion)

Michael Weyer: Nice to see the IC title get a bit of love on a PPV. The match is quite promising and should be interesting to watch. Miz is too far over to get another rub while Barrett's run hasn't been that great. Meanwhile, WWE has been pushing Axel hard with wins over Cena so high time to pay off on that. Expect a cheap finish but in the end, Axel gets the win and gets pushed more as a top heel which is something WWE can use now.

Winner and NEW IC Champion: Curtis Axel

Ryan Byers: The Intercontinental Title in its current state is fairly worthless. Thinking back over the course of the last three reigns (because that's really all I can remember), Barrett, Miz, and Kofi Kingston have held the belt while essentially running in place on the company's treadmill. If the championship isn't elevating guys, there's no need for it . . . and that's the big reason it has to go to Axel here. He's on the way up, while it's apparent that, like it or not, Miz and Barrett are probably going to be at the level they're at for the rest of their careers. Put the belt on the guy that it'll do some good for.

Winner: Curt Axel

Phil Hiotis: The first Intercontinental Championship match since the pre-show of Wrestlemania, and you think there would be a substantial build or storyline to it. Even pre-Fandango concussion, the story to this feud felt rushed and lacked any backbone or structure. Giving the title to Axel is the right move, and I hope they give him substantial opponents and storylines to help build him.

Winner: Curtis Axel

Jack Bramma: The epitome of a belt going nowhere with guys who are nowhere or headed to that destination. I felt that Curtis Axel's debut on RAW as a "Heyman Guy" could have translated into big things for him. Obviously, that was before he was booked as an empty singlet content to take countout victories over everyone and use them as an accomplishment. Even Heyman is shown as a gunshy manager who fears for his wrestler getting in over his head before he really even has his first match. I'd just as soon Wade retain or Miz win it just because, but Axel seems to be the guy with the most to gain and the most to lose.

Winner: Curtis Axel



Dean Ambrose vs Kane
WWE United States Championship


Stephen Randle: An insta-match designed to give both men something to do on the PPV, highlighting the complete lack of midcard depth once Kofi went down. Anyway, no reason for Ambrose to lose the belt here.

Winner: Dean Ambrose

Craig Stevens: I felt like these two meshed together quite well on Raw, so the rematch with the US title on the line should be fun if it gets a little time. Kane doesn't need the title, so I don't think there's any real shot he gets the win here. I think he dominates the majority of the match, but Ambrose retains the title, probably after some shenanigans.

Winner: Dean Ambrose

Justin Watry: Their match on Raw was pretty good. I'm not sure a rematch was warranted, despite the funky finish. Either way, Kane is not becoming the United States Champion. Honestly, it wouldn't shock me to see Kane win by DQ or count out. I will play it safe though.

Winner: Dean Ambrose

Jesse Nguyen: This should be an interesting match, as these two seem to have some pretty good chemistry. There really is no reason for Kane to win the title unless they are already thinking about breaking the Shield up. The bigger question is how will Ambrose win? Will it be clean to show he is a more dominant force, or will there be some shenanigans?

Winner: Dean Ambrose

Michael Benjamin: Ambrose isn't going to lose here. The match should be entertaining and I'm looking forward to it quite a bit. They're not going to waste Dean's US title reign on the perpetually over Kane, especially this early on.

Winner: Dean Ambrose

James Wright: This is one of those weird things but can anyone remember the last time Kane wrestled for the US title? It seems like Kane is either involved with the world title picture, or too far down the card, or in a tag team, to ever go for a mid-card singles belt, so it is a rarity indeed. I think this adds quite a lot to Ambrose as champion and could be the start of a string of legitimate contenders for the title to rebuild the belt on his shoulders. The Shield's booking so far has been solid and I am expecting this match to be another solid affair, with Ambrose coming out on top, most likely clean.

Winner: Dean Ambrose

Michael Weyer: Want to know how forgettable this is? I'd forgotten Ambrose was champion until RAW reminded me. Still, it's early in his reign, too much so to waste it on a switch to Kane. No, Ambrose retains and hopefully better competition soon.

Winner and STILL US Champion: Dean Ambrose

Ryan Byers: There's absolutely zero reason for Kane to win here. The Shield dripping in gold adds a lot of their momentum right now. They'll have to lose at least one of their championships eventually, but the pay per view immediately after winning them is not the appropriate time.

Winner: Dean Ambrose

Phil Hiotis: This is an example of a substantial opponent for an up and coming champion. A win over Kane gives Ambrose (even more) credibility, but more importantly, puts more emphasis on the belt. Did you see how happy Kane was to have an opportunity at the United States Championship? Kane, who was formerly a World Heavyweight Champion, and has participated in innumerable memorable moments, is excited to compete for this championship. That's how you build a character and a belt. Kudos.

Winner: Dean Ambrose

Jack Bramma: These two should have a serviceable match but Kane is beyond the US title at this point. Feud-wise the match makes perfect sense but putting the belt on Kane a month after Ambrose broke out as the singles Shield competitor would be a step in the wrong direction. I don't particularly see a point in continually and incrementally chipping away at the Shield's streak aura DQ lose to Cena on RAW, clean submission lose to Daniel Bryan on Smackdown, etc. I'm OK with all of the losses but I don't see them building toward a larger story for The Shield. The submission loss advances Daniel Bryan's weak link storyline but advances nothing for The Shield. If WWE is now intent on breaking down what they built up, we could have a Kane "upset" for the strap but that's highly unlikely.

Winner: Dean Ambrose



Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns vs Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton
WWE Tag Team Championship


Stephen Randle: Boy, they'd better not do what they're thinking of doing here. In the right world, Orton turns on Bryan and gets that damned heel turn he wants, while Bryan goes on a mega face push that creates a new star. I can't guarantee we're in the right world, though. However, either way, the Shield stands tall.

Winner: The Shield

Craig Stevens: Daniel Bryan.

...

Oh, you want more? Well, I think it goes without saying that everything Daniel Bryan touches right now turns to gold, and anything involving him is must-see stuff. But, Seth Rollins is quickly elevating himself to appointment viewing as well. And I'm looking forward to what crazy new way of trying to kill him with a German suplex they come up with this time. As for the result, Bryan and Orton got along far too well this week not to totally implode on Sunday. Somebody's turnin' on somebody, it's just a matter of who's the turn-er and who's the turn-ee.

Winner: Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns

Justin Watry: Who turns heel? That is really the only topic of discussion here. Everybody knows the match will deliver. Everybody knows Team RK-No will not last. Everybody knows Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton are singles competitors. Thus, how does the Shield retain? Well, an RKO on the "Yes Man" would be my finish, but I don't run WWE...

Winner: The Shield

Jesse Nguyen: This SHOULD be the match of the night, being that Daniel Bryan is in it. The only other close one I see is Punk/Jericho. Rollins and Reigns have proven that they can have some fantastic matches against both Bryan and Orton, so let's hope that this is just another notch for their belts. I believe the story will play out with either Bryan or Orton doing a turn. Bryan seems to be the obvious choice, with his actions on the previous RAWs and Smackdowns. I only hope this match doesn't end with Orton standing above Bryan after a sneaky RKO.

Winner: Rollins and Reigns

Michael Benjamin: This match is going to kick ass. D-Bry picked up a huge win on Smackdown by being the first to get a pinfall victory against The Shield in six man tag action. That telegraphs a Shield victory at Payback. I'm expecting some sort of communication error to cost Orton and Bryan the match. Hopefully Kane and Taker vs Rollins and Reigns is going to happen at Summerslam like it's been rumored.

Winner: Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns

James Wright: A bit of a surprise move by the WWE but an interesting one, and good since there is nothing wrong with Bryan and Orton losing and still they are quite a high profile team, I am still skeptical about how they are going to build the Usos up to being legitimate challengers for the titles any time soon. There have been some reports of a Bryan heel turn at the event and if that is more than just trolling then the WWE are mental. No one is more over than Bryan right now and if they turn him now then it just proves that for some reason the WWE are constantly trying to keep Cena in his spot as top face, despite his splitting the crowd for nearly ten years. Seriously most of Cena's fans are either casual, women or kids, none of which would give a fuck if he was replaced by someone else as long as they were just as over. Whatever WWE, just whatever. Pessimistic Bryan heel turn causes his team to lose, good for the Shield, bad for us, even if it does lead to a Bryan WWE title shot later on (unless they give him the title and turn him face a-la Punk a couple of years ago, then take my money and shut my mouth!).

Winner: Rollins & Reigns

Michael Weyer: So the big question: Is WWE going to let the belts stay on Rollins and Reigns or give us another whacky tag team champion combo? It's tempting to say the latter but even WWE knows Bryan is better off back as a singles star and word of an upcoming push for him adds to that. So expect Orton to turn on his partner, letting the Shield retain and get Bryan back on the singles track where he belongs.

Winners and STILL WWE Tag Team Champions: The Shield

Ryan Byers: See my comments above . . . they apply with equal weight here. Plus, whether one of them is turning heel or whether they're going to go at it in a babyface-babyface context, it seems like we're getting ready to hit an Orton/Bryan singles match (or series of matches) en route to the rumored WWE Title push that AmDrag will be receiving over the course of the summer. There's no need to put the Tag Team Titles on them if that's the direction.

Winner: Rollins & Reigns

Phil Hiotis: We know who the winner is going to be, the better question is: who is going to turn heel? I thought about this for a few days, and I can't think of a good "business" decision to turn Bryan. Now that he's transitioned his character from comedic to serious, he is, by far, the most over wrestler on WWE. He's completely connected with the crowd and the feeling is reciprocated, as evidenced every time they pull back the shot to show the audience responding to him. WWE has their next star, and they can ensure that by letting him play face for a while.

Winner: The Shield

Jack Bramma: More of the same from above. This was by far the match that got the best showing and build up on RAW this week. The pull apart with Cena/Ryback was tame by comparison to the fire and energy behind the Orton/Reigns match but particularly the Bryan/Rollins match. If any of the reports of true that Bryan will be moving on to face Cena for the belt at either MITB or Summerslam, the easiest path to that is staying an angry face with an even bigger chip on his shoulder. Bryan got his crowning achievement against The Shield this week on Smackdown; no way it happens twice within a few days. Miscommunication causes Shield to retain, Daniel Bryan moves on to feud with Orton and beats him clean, then to either feud with Cena or win the MITB again.

Winner: The Shield



Dolph Ziggler vs Alberto Del Rio
World Heavyweight Championship


Stephen Randle: A foregone conclusion that more than likely got delayed due to Ziggler's concussion. Del Rio continues to flounder after a hot start as a face, and Ziggler hasn't gotten any chance to actually have his World title reign yet. The lasting damage done by Jack Swagger's last push continues to affect us.

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

Craig Stevens: Is it bad that the two World title matches are the ones I care about the least? I care more about Ricardo than ADR at this point, and I just feel lukewarm on Ziggles at the moment. Maybe it's just a case of "outta sight, outta mind", but the longer Dolph was gone, the less I found myself missing him. Don't get me wrong, concussions aren't something to take lightly. I hope he took all the time he needed, and didn't feel pressured to rush back in time for the PPV. I'm just not feelin' it right now when it comes to the Show Off. But the good news is these two can definitely deliver when the bell rings, so they could easily change my tune with a great match.

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

Justin Watry: I am more concerned for the safety of Ziggler over anything else. Concussions are tricky to come back from. Being back on Raw is one thing. Being on Smackdown is another. Wrestling a full blown one on one pay-per-view match is on a whole different level. Hopefully, he is okay and can tear the house down with Alberto Del Rio.

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

Jesse Nguyen: With Ziggler out of the picture for the past month, this rivalry really holds no weight to me. I'm pretty sure that Ricardo is more over than Del Rio. He is in my book, that is for sure. Nothing would be accomplished by giving Del Rio the title. I just hope after this that Ziggler gets put in a meaningful feud against a NEW number one contender.

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

Michael Benjamin: This is the match that I'm expecting to steal the show. They wrestled a clinic on the 2/13 episode of Main Event and I expect them to do the same here. Dolph Ziggler will retain because putting your World Heavyweight Championship on a wrestler whose manager is more over than him is bad business. Ziggler and a newly crowned Divas champion hold their belts high after the match!

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

James Wright: This is why I shouldn't listen to rumours, I had heard that this match was going to take place before the PPV because the WWE had other plans set for the event. Maybe it was the case that Ziggler just wasn't ready soon enough so the WWE scrapped whatever they were thinking about doing, either way we are lumbered with this match now, at least there is hopefully no chance of Ziggler losing now. If that happens then I will go mental, for my own sanity I have to say that Ziggler wins here, and it should be clean if the WWE has any sense. Honestly get the guy who's booking the Shield to book Ziggler as the guy really does need some clean wins to make him look respectable, especially now that he is champion.

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

Michael Weyer: It's way too early to give up on Ziggler as World champ, not after the reaction when he finally cashed in. The guy's been a star in the making for so long, they need to let him run with the title for a longer time yet. But the rematch should be a great way to help put him over more while still retaining a bit of rub for Del Rio. Still, Ziggler retains and pays off on the long-held promise for him, about time WWE elevated a guy like him up and can't wait to see more.

Winner and STILL World Champion: Dolph Ziggler

Ryan Byers: There's no way that Ziggler can be taken seriously as a top tier professional wrestler if he comes off of a six week long injury hiatus and then immediately loses the championship that it took him almost a year to win. Thus, as much as the promotion may like Alberto Del Rio and want him to be the number two babyface beyond John Cena, we're going to see him drop the fall here. What I'm interested to see is whether they give him some sort of out, whether it's interference by a returning Jack Swagger or perhaps a new charge of manager Zeb Colter.

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

Phil Hiotis: I'm excited for this; however, I'm afraid because of the World Heavy Championship's nonexistence on the programming the last month, the build for Ziggler might have slowed. Either way, a great match will rest my worries. This could be a great opening match for the PPV.

Winner: Ziggy Ziggy Ziggy, can't you see

Jack Bramma: Not much to go on here. Originally, this was supposed to be a triple threat back at Extreme Rules in a ladder match with Swagger. Dolph got the concussion so it was changed to a I Quit match with just Swagger and Del Rio. For the past several weeks since Del Rio became number 1 contender, Swagger has been AWOL with a hand injury and probably in the doghouse from causing Dolph's concussion and Dolph has still been sidelined. Because of all that, we've had a competent but lifeless series with Del Rio and Big E that have done nothing to make me want to see Del Rio/Ziggler. I was full force behind Del Rio after he won the strap from Big Show back in January in a nice moment on free TV. Since then, I've liked him less and less as each week goes by. He lost his cars, his music, and his personality and has been stuck in a video game hell loop trying to win never-ending last man standing matches for an achievement that doesn't exist. The entire title scene is just a muddled mess and none of it is really anyone's fault other than Swagger sinking his own ship twice. Time for everyone involved to move on. Maybe Daniel Bryan's more logical feud going forward is here to win the belt, just so he doesn't become another guy to increase Cena's legend. Or maybe a face Punk is up next for Dolph?

Winner: Dolph Ziggler



John Cena vs Ryback
3 Stages of Hell Match
WWE Championship


Stephen Randle: Everything about this has been booked poorly, and it's clear they gave up on Ryback about six seconds into his heel turn, because I've never seen an alleged monster heel booked to look so weak right off the bat. Since they're not going with Ryback, this becomes another piece in the "sacrifice people to Cena and hope people start liking him again" kick they're still on.

Winner: John Cena

Craig Stevens: Last week, I had decently high hopes for this match. The LMS match at Extreme Rules was better than I expected, and Ryback looked like a monster putting Cena and Team Hell No through tables. Then this week, they castrated him again, making him afraid to get into the ring and go toe-to-toe with Cena. Dudes that look like that just shouldn't be portrayed that way. When they are, it just completely takes you out of it. And why did we need Three Stages of Hell again? Oh yeah, to have Cena "overcome the odds", right? The guy who's dominated the last decade? You just can't expect to present a guy as the ace of the company 350+ days a year, then have us buy into him as an underdog the other 12-13. But hey, at least it's probably over after this one. Right? Oh, and Ryback takes the tables match, probably.

Winner: John Cena

Justin Watry: I have enjoyed this feud, but it could have been stalled out a little bit longer. Have the heel turn from Ryback simmer for a few months. Then have their big showdown at Summerslam or something. Now, you have to either change champions or have Ryback lose on PPV...again. Tough choice. Cena wins the first fall. Ryback puts Cena through a table (no pin or submission involved to protect Cena), and the third fall goes to Cena. Ryback takes an ambulance ride and gets a few weeks off.

Winner: John Cena

Jesse Nguyen: I didn't pay too much attention to this feud as a whole. I do know that the message of the story is that John Cena is once again the underdog. My main problem with this match is that they managed to pick three of the worse gimmick matches to have, and we get to see them three times in a row with two performers I'm not very keen on. As with the Ziggler/Del Rio match, there is no point in crowning a new champion yet.

Winner: John Cena

Michael Benjamin: This is quite the tame Three Stages of Hell, right? I'm not very excited about the stipulations but it should be booked well enough to stay entertaining for the entirety of the three matches. Oh yeah, John Cena wins. Fall one: Cena. Fall two: Ryback. Fall three: Cena.

Winner: John Cena

James Wright: This type of match is far too special for this rivalry and cheapens it somewhat. I also don't know if Ryback has this type of match in him to make it entertaining. One thing I will say for Cena is that when the stakes are high enough he usually raises his game to put on a good match, although this also usually has something to do with the caliber of opponent as well. If the WWE are planning some big return or twist this is where I would place it since this match really has nothing going for it at the moment, if that's not the case then this is one of the least spectacular 'Cena wins, lol' matches since the Ryback has completely lost all momentum and has no real appeal as champion at this point.

Winner: John Cena

Michael Weyer: Cena is always at his best in matches like this and they should be able to avoid the cheap finish of last month. Cena raises his game in bouts like this and should be able to help Ryback along as WWE still needs a bit more to sell the guy as a monster heel. Expect some nasty shots and maybe some blood but we all know the result. At least Cena should make it entertaining enough to watch.

Winner and STILL WWE Champion: John Cena

Ryan Byers: This match will probably wind up being OK because Cena is a talented guy and they've got a lot of gimmicks to use, but it comes off as a very cold match. Crowds haven't gotten into Ryback as a heel, and the match isn't helped by the fact that, as far as "Three Stages of Hell" matches go, we're dealing with some of the lamest stipulations possible. The Ryback experiment is essentially failure, though that has little to do with the performer and has a lot more to do with the booking. However, regardless of who is to blame, it's still a failure . . . and you don't need to be putting the championship on a failed character.

Winner: John Cena

Phil Hiotis: I'm not going to pretend that I like this match, but I will say that, unlike most people who have put the blinders on, I can give credit where credit is due and say that I enjoyed the faceoff last week. The tone was serious and tried to show the importance of the match. The winner will be Cena. If it wasn't obvious that there is little to no faith in Ryback, the fact that he can't have a non-gimmick match for the title cements it.

Winner: Cena

Jack Bramma: I seem to be one of the few that doesn't just believe that Ryback has a chance, but that enjoys his heel character and feels like he has stepped up his game since turning heel. The fed gets blamed constantly for forgetting their own show's history and continuity so to me it was a tremendous breath of fresh air when Ryback (admittedly in a taped promo) used MONTHS of footage to explain why he thought Cena was a fair weather asshole. I also liked the petulant promo he cut blaming the crowd for being out-of-shape slobs with no work ethic. I was less impressed with the lumberjack pull apart on RAW this week because Ryback felt like he was channeling Heel Batista with his "You can't beat me, John, and you know it" stuff and was coming up very short by comparison. I know all of the chatter seems to suggest this is yet another way for Superman Cena to cement his legacy as a hero to overcome all odds, but that seems too superficial, too simplistic. Even I think Cena can win and won't at all be surprised if he leaves still champ, but I'm liking heel Ryback even to hope they pull the trigger even if it's just for a month.

Winner: Ryback

Overall Thoughts


Stephen Randle: Good matches simply aren't enough anymore. WWE has lost that benefit of the doubt. They have a roster full of guys who can put on good matches, so that doesn't cut it. There are a couple of things which could be great for future storylines, but I no longer have faith that WWE Creative thinks of anything past the PPV.

Buy/No Buy: No Buy

Craig Stevens: This looks like a solid little show. The return of Punk and the continued rise of Daniel Bryan look like the highlights, with several other promising matches sprinkled in. But main event just sucks the life out of it, and drags the rest of the show down for me. Definitely worth seeing at a bar or something, but not worth paying full price for.

Buy/No Buy: No buy

Justin Watry: I believe Payback will be a decent show. The hype was great this past week on Raw, but previous weeks were suspect at best. If you care about CM Punk, the rabid Chicago crowd, and 'wrestling' from WWE, order the event! If you want entertainment value and something worth $50 this weekend, I would pass. For me, I don't illegally steal PPV events online or purchase many of the 'non-big four' PPV shows. Sorry!

Buy/No Buy: No Buy

Jesse Nguyen: I'm not too excited for Payback. Two of the matches I'm wanting to see have been broad casted free on television in the past week, so I can only image we'll see it free again later. Punk/Jericho is really the only match I see worth paying for, and I have a feeling they won't do better than their WM 28 match, since Punk is going to be shaking off his ring rust. That being said, I know Punk can go at any time, so I know that the match has potential to being great. The WWE and World Titles...I could care less at this point.

Buy/No Buy: No Buy

Michael Benjamin: There isn't a bad looking match on the card and I'm pretty excited to see how it all plays out. Punk/Jericho, ADR/Ziggler, and the Tag Team Championship match should deliver. The rest is interesting enough for me to sink my teeth into.

Buy/No Buy: Buy

James Wright: A lot like Extreme Rules I see this as being a card filled with entertaining matches, but no real surprises to speak of. Then again Extreme Rules wasn't actually that entertaining so what do I know. Still I am a limey git who doesn't have to shell out over $50 for this potential guff, so I always say 'buy', but if I did have to, then I wouldn't.

Buy/No Buy: 'Buy' (Conditional on you living in England)

Michael Weyer: A bit rough in places but Jericho/Punk alone makes this worth seeing. Also, should be good to see Ziggler pushed more and maybe an IC title change as well. Plus, the stips do add more to the show so might be worth checking out as it paves the way toward SummerSlam and more of what WWE has planned for the year.

Buy/No Buy: Buy

Ryan Byers: This looks like the quintessential b-show. You've got a main event that isn't particularly inspiring, both from the perspective of the angle they've put behind it and its potential as an in-ring spectacle. Also, though the undercard matches appear to be servicable, none of them strike me as having the potential to be classics. Jericho/Punk comes the closest to having that potential, but I have a feeling that it will be focused more on the fact that Punk is returning than it is on any effort to put on a classic performance. I could see ordering this if you're a WWE completist or a huge CM Punk fan, but, otherwise, it's a skippable show.

Buy/No Buy: NO BUY

Phil Hiotis: For a typically "filler" PPV, I'm pretty excited for "Payback." All the stories, minus the Intercontinental Championship match, have had a solid build to it. There's history between the characters that make the audience invest into their match. With the rumors of big Bryan push, a returning Punk, the Wyatt Family and other new talent set to debut; I have high hopes for the summer, and Payback is no exception.

Buy/No Buy: Buy (Call me an optimist)

Jack Bramma: The only matches I'm really interested in seeing are the 3 Stages of Hell, the tag title match, and Punk's return to Chicago. The rest I could take or leave. Probably not worth a PPV price tag, but the usual is recommended cheap in or go to a bar that's showing it.

Buy/No Buy: Buy

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