Ring Crew Reviews: WWE Payback 2014
Posted by Jack Bramma on 07.02.2014
Evolution tries to break up The Shield, Rusev and Big E collide, and John Cena and Bray Wyatt see who The Last Man Standing is.
• Scheduled Card:
1. WWE United States Championship: Cesaro vs. Sheamus (c).
2. Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. Rybaxel.
3. Rusev vs. Big E.
4. Kofi Kingston vs. Bo Dallas.
5. WWE Intercontinental Championship: Rob Van Dam vs. Bad News Barrett (c).
6. Last Man Standing Match: Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena.
7. WWE Divas Championship: Alicia Fox vs. Paige (c).
8. No Holds Barred, Elimination Match: The Shield vs. Evolution.
• Video package uses the symbolism of broken glass and broken mirrors for vengeance. The text crawl reads, “Revenge, it's an instinct. When wronged, the desire for retribution takes over. Every man wants payback” with Aloe Blaac's “Ticking Bomb” playing in the background. Good stuff. Evolution/Shield and Bray/Cena get top billing. Zero mention of the WWE World strap and whether or not, Dragon will forfeit the belt.
• WWE United States Championship: Cesaro vs. Sheamus (c). This was set up by both guys losing in the IC title tournament, though Sheamus would snag the US belt in a battle royal the night after Extreme Rules. Cesaro, on the other hand, would break off into a mini triple threat feud with Swagger and RVD beating both at EE. In the past few weeks before the show, Cesaro did my heart some good and tried to get over a sneak German suplex bridge pin as a distraction finish instead of the idiotic school boys all the time, including once on Sheamus and it WORKED! Sheamus offered a handshake, but Cesaro, wise to his dastardly ways, wouldn't accept an unprompted shake and instead, neutralized him on the floor on Smackdown and then shook his hand.
• LADIES AND GENTLEMAN! PAUL HEYMAN! We're in Chicago tonight, so some fireworks are expected on the CM Punk crowd trolling front. Heyman is here to advocate for a Paul Heyman Guy, tonight. No, not Punk, he's busy watching the Chicago Blackhawks! YEAHHHHHHHHHHHH! LOSE TO THE KINGS! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Just like Undertaker lost to BROCK LESNAR AT WRESTLEMANIA! Just like this goon, Sheamus, will lose to the King of Swing, Cesaro. Whose idea was it for Cesaro to walk like he's a mannequin? Seriously, his torso and arms don't bend anymore, they only rotate on a fixed axis.
• Both guys come barnstorming out like this is NJPW and Sheamus quickly gets the advantage with a few Celtic Hammers. He nails a harpoon and a knee lift and wants the Finlay Roll but Cesaro ducks behind for a Saito Suplex to even the score. Time for the Euro uppercuts and foerarm shivers in the corner. Sheamus with punches to comeback and a short-arm clothesline. Sheamus whiffs on an elbow drop while King is all COUGHJBLCOUGH as Cole runs down the US title lineage. Cesaro lunges in for another uppercut and ANOTHER! ANOTHER! King still won't drop that God-awful “Paulrus” nickname even though it's caught on with nobody. JBL shuts him up by pointing out that the Euro uppercuts have nothing to do with pleasing Heyman or being nefarious but because closed fists are illegal. Sheamus counters a whip and immediately goes into the Finlay Roll. He wants the CLUBBINGBLOWBARRAGE but Cesaro counters with a Stun Gun. Cole and JBL debate battle royal prowess as Sheamus won the US strap in a battle royal but Cesaro won the Andre the Giant Memorial Inaugural Kevin Nash Open Invitational X-Division Gauntlet Battle Royal.
• Sheamus shitcans Cesaro into the barrage. He stops at 10 and Cesaro tries to take a walk but Sheamus hooks him back in for a count of 20 blows. Cesaro collapses to the floor and Sheamus trashes him into the barricade. Sheamus wants a third set of 10 blows but Cesaro blocks. Sheamus cues up the battering ram but Cesaro counters with another Euro uppercut. Back in, Sheamus eats turnbuckle and then Cesaro deadlifts him into a superplex. Cover gets 1, 2, 2 ½. Cesaro hits a Tiger Driver, called a “Scotty Steiner” by JBL which is fine by me. Double foot stomp gets 1, 2, kickout. Cesaro rakes the face and fires up for a few running Euro IEDs in the corner. Sheamus no sells for the half nelson backbreaker. Cover gets 1, 2, no. Sheamus stomps a mudhole in the corner and hits another short arm clothesline. Sheamus heads to the second rope for a big knee drop. Sheamus shoves him down for another knee drop and then a third. 1, 2, 2 ½. Sheamus needs to keep doing that as it looks legit and would hurt like hell. Cesaro gets the elbow up and flies off the top rope with a TORPEDO EURO UPPERCUT! Sheamus shoves him out of the corner to buy time and then flips up to the top rope. He whiffs but rolls through only to get flapjacked into the SWISS DEATH FROM BELOW! 1, 2, 2.99. Cesaro loses his patience and starts smacking around Sheamus with the KENTA strike combo. Sheamus overcomes with a Bulldog powerslam for another nearfall. SHEAMUSSUX says a vocal minority but it's too quiet to really catch on. Sheamus wants the Pump Kick but Cesaro sidesteps for the German suplex. 1, 2, 2.999 to kickout of the same move that beat him on RAW a few weeks before this. Cesaro hangs on and floats into the Neutralizer. NO! Sheamus counters to White Noise. 1, 2, kickout. Double KO spot as JBL speculates that both guys will suplex each other with kitchen sinks. Thanks for that. ANYWAY, Sheamus wants the Cloverleaf but Cesaro kicks him off. He tries another Torpedo Euro but Sheamus counters to the Spinebuster. He locks in the Cloverleaf but Cesaro makes the ropes. Cesaro fires up for a bit of a reverse FU for 1, 2, 2 ½. Crowd is solidly into the match and wants the Big Swing. Cesaro hooks the legs and the crowd ROARS into the life. He spins around Sheamus for SEVENTEEN rotations! BUT WAIT! Sheamus hooks him in a small package for 1, 2, 3 to take the win at 11:37.
• Finish draws a pop and a respectable response from the crowd even if that was a bit of a groaner. Trips used the same finish to go over Jeff Hardy back in 08 after he took a Swanton, though that was more egregious as the Swanton is more high-impact than the Big Swing. If nothing else, the finish at least keeps Cesaro strong which is one of the positives coming out of this. It's easy to read the Heyman as heel/Cesaro as tweener who doesn't do his crowd-friendly spots as much as a bit of a mis-step just as Cesaro was really getting over as a face, but at present, I'm content to see it as forceful push that's succeeding even if it's going in different directions. Heyman's over, Cesaro's over, and them together is a good sign for a time being. This had a definitive New Japan feel to it for huge chunks but with a slower pace and more selling. Neither guy strayed too far from his usual repertoire and in fact, used the same basic move multiple times – Euro uppercuts, knee drops, short arm clotheslines, clubbing blows – to try to wear down each other through sheer accumulation of strikes. Neither guy's best match by a long shot but they are a good pairing. ***1/2
• Post-match, Cesaro is up immediately and wants more as does Heyman, but Sheamus is content to keep his distance and exit with a clean win and his belt.
• Meanwhile, earlier tonight, The Rhodes Brothers had a pow-wow about their recent skid but they have hopes to turn it around tonight.
• Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. Rybaxel. The Rhodes family swept through the fall and winter on a winning streak winning the tag gold from The Shield and going over every team on the roster. They began a downward trend losing the belts to NAO on the RR pre-show. They lost a follow-up cage match and haven't got their mojo back since. Rybaxel rose from the ashes of two Paul Heyman guys getting dumped after the dead horse that was Heyman-Punk was finally burned least it become a White Walker. They have been division whipping boys since their formation in late 2013, but at least, it helped catapult the emergence of The Big Guy as a disingenuous prick.
• If they are in this for even the moderate haul, Rybaxel needs matching gear. Instead they opted for organizational piracy by lifting the pharmacology symbol for their skull caps. High comedy.
• Wanting to talk up the brewing feud and talk about the stakes – future title shots, winner purses, championship pecking order – JBL, master of the gift of gab, takes over: “Rybaxel has been very good lately.” Thanks for that. The crowd though takes another tack by chanting for the Blackhawks, while a 4 ft by 4 ft oil painting of Jinder Mahal is held aloft in the 4th row on the hard camera side. This is crazy.
• Axel and Goldust to start. Goldust avoids a cheap shot in the corner and lands a hard right on Axel. Axel comes back but telegraphs a backdrop and gets atomic dropped and uppercutted. Goldust armdrags him into a tag and Cody is in with the LOSING STREAK HAMMER. Fittingly, Axel shrugs it off and tags in Ryback. Cody flips out of a back suplex for a Bluechipper dropkick. Goldust back in for some combo offense but Ryback still kicks out at 1. Axel tags back in for Rybaxel to work the patented arm wringer, boot, knee lift sequence that has lost them so many sub-10 minute matches on free TV. Goldust tries an uppercut but Axel shakes it off to waffle him down. They line up Goldust for a running clothesline/Ho Train combo. Ryback finishes him off with a body slam and falling splash. Axel hits a sledge for a nearfall. Ryback drops a few knees and stays on the arm working a Kimura in the ropes. Goldust: “GET 'IM OFF MY ARM!” Suplex gets 1, 2, no. Crowd chants for Goldust while Ryback hooks the arm to slam him down ON THE BAD ARM! RYBACK RULES! RYBACK SPITS ON HIM! HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEL~! Goldust counters with a small package but quickly gets overcome with more Big Guy offense. Goldust cuts him off again with a step up reverse back elbow. Tag to Axel but Goldust fights him off as well for a Code Red. Crowd is ROWDY for everything even if it has little to do with what's going on in the ring. Tags to Cody and Ryback. Cody with a few burritos and the Rhodes uppercut. He springboards in with his dropkick and fires up for another dropkick on Axel. He heads up top for the Teardrop Moonsault but gets no bounce at all and barely gets over but still lands on both. Cody legit favors his head but tunes up the band. He wants the gamengiri but Ryback catches him and powerbombs him into Goldie. MEATHOOK on Cody but Goldust breaks up the pin. Powerslam for Axel. Cody sneaks a school boy on Ryback for 1, 2, 2.99. CROSSROADS! 1, 2, Axel saves the match only to get dumped out. Cody wants the kick again but again gets caught. Shellshock finishes the Rhodes Brothers at 7:38.
• Good TV match but nothing more. Rybaxel continues to amuse, if not impress, me. I like that both guys seem revitalized in trolling in every way possible and being the smuggest heels on the roster even if they almost never win. Gold-Rhodes always brings the goods and could easily carry the division again if given the ball, but the Fed wants the split and heel turn, so that's where we are. **3/4
• Post-match, for some reason, Ryback falls out of the ring, stumbling backwards, blown up, acting like they just stole a victory even though they won fair and square and relatively strongly. The reason, of course, is that the story of the match is The Rhodes Brothers' loss and not Rybaxel's win, thus they must exit promptly and prematurely, but it just doesn't fit with the match's conclusion. ANYWAY, Cody gets the stick and tells Goldust that he needs a better tag partner. Of course, subsequent weeks would reveal that better than Cody, according to Cody, meant Sin Cara, R-Truth, and Kofi Kingston. Though it would end with STARDUST!
• Rusev vs. Big E. Rusev spent weeks squashing most of the lower-tier of the roster. But when he took out Zack Ryder and tried to steal the Stars and Stripes, that was too much for not-so-noted patriot and flag-waver, Big E. He came out for Old Glory and struck a blow for realpolitik.
• On another note, Rusev's evolution and recent tweaking shows some interesting differences in the past few years in terms of debuting new acts. Whereas Ryback and Funkasaurus got months to repeatedly and repetitively to (attempt to) get over their act on live TV, Rusev falls into another category with Los Matadores of acts who weren't given that lengthy consistent courtship with the fans before they were tweaked. Rusev has only been around single-digit weeks but has already shifted from being a cold-blooded, stone cold Sambo machine controlled only by the bell and his femme fatale – a Festus/Fedor hybrid or more obviously, Ivan Drago – to the more traditional, indiscriminate yelling and flag-waving of Iron Sheik or Nikita Koloff. Also, they have stopped having Lana directly introduce him to let Justin Roberts do it which doesn't have the same special attraction-ness to it.
• Lana is out first to strut and sing the praises of Mother Russia and Vladimir Putin with the usual. Super Athlete Rusev follows in tow with the OTHER good, ole red, white, and blue. Rusev's Titantron video is full of ridiculously generic, stock images of Imperial palaces, soldiers, and military vehicles with Russian flags indicating that Kevin Dunn did a Flickr search for public domain images of Evil Russian and somehow also got skyscrapers. Of course, it should be noted this is still marginally better than the old one which showed Rusev beating up Jack Swagger, Goldust, and Seth Rollins over and over again.
• E even bought red, white, and blue gear for the occasion. They both come out flying with shoulder tackles and Rusev buckles first. E goes to the breadbasket but Rusev comes back with CLUBBINGBLOWS. E no sells for some of his own. Rusev avoids a charge and FOLDS HIM THE FUCK UP WITH A GERMAN SUPLEX! JBL: “You don't learn that on a bench press.” Rusev goes to the Tong Po kicks and MOARCLUBBINGBLOWS. Crowd is not impressed and wants Ziggler. Rusev answers with a Ho Train but E catches him with a STO uranage in the corner. Rusev is reeling and Lana tries to pull him in for a talk about pierogies but no dice as E Spears him off the apron to the floor. E does that spot all the time, but because it's being done to the over and protected Rusev in a match with some heat, the crowd loves it. Back in, cover gets 1, 2, 2 ½. E wants the big splash but runs into the LEAPING SUPERKICK! OH MY! WHATAMANUEVER! Rusev moves in for the crush, spits some Sputnik, stops to fish hook Big E first, and then breaks him in half with the Accolade. Big E taps at 3:40.
• Awesome, awesome, awesome for the time given. Just blunt force trauma in another NJPW-ish way for the second time on the card. Would have loved to see what they could have done with two or three times the length, but you take what you can get sometimes. ***
• Kofi Kingston vs. Bo Dallas. IT’S BO TIME, MICHAEL! This barnburner was announced on the kickoff show. Since (re-)debuting on the A and B shows this year, Dallas is undefeated going through the likes of Xavier Woods and Sin Cara. Kofi pulled analyst duty so he’s probably as relevant to the current pecking order as Booka and A-Ry.
• Pre-match, Bo gets the stick and says that he’s afraid he’s got some BA--……er…GOOD NEWS! Even though, the Blackhawks will go down tonight and they will be losers, none of you are! BO-LIEVE! BUT WAIT! KANE HAS COME OUT! Like a true bo-rilliant strategist, Dallas am-scrays, but Kofi decides to fight the good fight. Kofi gets promptly demolished and ChokeSlammed. No contest. PLAY HIS PYRO! Post-beatdown, Bo uses this opportunity to shill his catchphrase. Cole suspects foul play as Kofi was tweeting anti-authority propaganda earlier in the day. JBL: “DON’T CROSS THE BOSS!”
• We get a recap of Hornswoggle losing to and getting shaved by Torito earlier tonight.
• WWE Intercontinental Championship: Rob Van Dam vs. Bad News Barrett (c). Amazingly, Barrett got the BNB moniker over and a high-rise podium, official hashtag, awesome t-shirt, lots of mic time, and victories helped as well. He had a string of wins over Mysterio, Dolph, Kofi, Sin Cara, Sheamus, Big E, and of course, Rob Van Dam in the Ultimate Warrior IC tournament. Since then, Barrett has had some bad news of his own losing back to Dolph and Sheamus, had his tag partner Cesaro walk out on him, lost some of his mic time, lost his podium due to cutbacks, and hurt his shoulder.
• Rob Van Dam defeated ADR in a beat the block challenge match with the fastest time thus earning him a shot at the IC gold. Of course, RVD was attacked from behind after his victory and his attacked, Barrett was serenaded with cheers because they were in England.
• Barrett gets the stick. He’s got some BAD NEWS! JBL: “I KNEW IT!” BNB is going to put Old Yeller out of his misery and make sure he, RVD, goes on permanent vacation.
• Crowd chants for RVD at the bell as Cole puts over how he’s a 6-time IC champ. That ties him for second ever behind Y2J’s nine with JEFF JARRETT! Anyway, they slug it out to start before RVD sends him off. More punches follow off a missed backdrop and RVD spins him around for a… spinkick. Crowd is rowdy with the dueling chants that even the announcers meekly join in on. More soft strikes to get us started. RVD gets the elbow up in the corner and hits a thrust kick off the top for 2. A jawbreaker and some harpoons in the corner follow. Barrett ducks another kick and pulls him out for a neckbreaker. Cover gets nothing. RVD counters a whip for a spinwheel kick and Barrett bails out only to get baseball slid into the barricade. Another whip into the barricade and then RVD trashes Barrett into the front row. RVD sets him up for the spinning leg drop off the apron to the barricade. ECW chant gets going thus giving Dixie Carter inspiration to seek out Dreamer for one more reunion. Back in, another leg drop gets 1, 2, only 2. RVD tries a rather uninspired up and over as the whole match is coming off just draggy as hell so far. Barrett picks up the pace and blocks and rebounds RVD kicking the shit out of him on the way down nicely. Barrett hangs him across the ropes for a BOOT OF FEAR TO THE FLOOR! BNBBNBBNBBNBBNB! RVD slides back in to beat the count. He gets thrown in the general direction of the turnbuckles and RVD jumps gingerly onto them and lands softly on the bolt. Weak. Barrett preens to a pop and then knees RVD off the turnbuckle back down for another 2 count. JBL: “Can you imagine Winston Churchill with that cigar going, ‘I’VE GOT SOME BAD NEWS!’” Thanks for that. TO THE CHINLOCK, MICHAEL! RVD tries to escape but Barrett elbows him into a pumphandle slam. RVD lands on his feet and avoids a kick with the step over mule kick. Double KO spot. RVD lights up for a few Hogan-lines. He puts down BNB with a kick and another. Rolling Thunder follows and RVD wants the 5SFS. He whiffs and Barrett cues up the Bullhammer. RVD ducks for the scissors roll up for 1, 2, no. Blackhole Slam to come back for Barrett. 1, 2, kickout. Barrett fires up again for the elbow on the floor. RVD moves and Barrett EATS POST! NOOOOOOOOOOO! NOT THE ARM! THIS IS VAN DAM’S CHANCE! RVD capitalizes springboarding back in with a swinging DDT! 1, 2, 2.99. Last 90 seconds have better than everything before it. Van Dam wants the split-legged moonsault. But Barrett gets the knees up. BAD NEWS BULLHAMMER! 1, 2, 3 to retain at 9:31. King: “I’ve got to have a swig of my Diet Mountain Dew after that match.”
• I was excited to see RVD back last year when the MITB vignettes took over RAW for a month. He had a good run with ADR and The Shield through the late summer of 2013, but since coming back this year, he’s seemed a tad slower, a tad less over, a tad older, and a tad less motivated. It’s like he got the nostalgia run out of his system last year and now he’s collecting a check. At least, he’s not winning anything of substance that needs to be justified with his diminishing performance returns. If the company has any long-range plans with Barrett, he needs to get some of his swag back and a nice little program with Dolph or maybe a returning Jericho would do him and the belt a service. Match was generic-tastic except for Barrett’s kicks and the teased upset with Barrett posting his arm. **1/2
• Up next Dragon must decide between keeping the belt or his wife losing her job. This segment gets a FOUR MINUTE PROMO TO INTRODUCE IT! A PROMO FOR A PROMO! Stephanie out first and she thanks everyone for the warm welcome. Crowd is crazy over Dragon as usual. Stephanie says it’s all DB’s fault and if he and Brie should ever conceive of some “weird, bearded babies”, she’ll want them to think about the example they’re setting. Will they be selfless or selfish? DB tries turning the tables to give Stephanie an opportunity to change her mind. Crowd tries to hijack the segment with a CM Punk chant and Steph volleys it by calling him a quitter. With Dragon’s setup, Brie calls Steph a bitch, quits rather than get fired, and smacks Stephanie. Steph hightails it out of there aghast and beltless. From start to finish, this got 13 minutes. At least, Steph had some comeuppance, something that is happening more and more lately, thankfully.
• Last Man Standing Match: Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena. After defeating DB at RR, Wyatt and the Family turned their sights on John Cena. They left him lying, costing him the unified strap. At EC, it was more of the same as it was down to Cena and Orton and the Family attacked Cena costing him yet again. At WMXXX, Cena and Bray hooked up one-on-one and Cena came out on top. The cage rematch at Extreme Rules was so counterproductive, so protective of Cena, so not protective of Bray that it was arguably the worst, high-profile match of the year. After easily avoiding all three Family members attacks and getting surefire victories stolen from him, Cena finally succumbed to defeat when a child turned heel before he did. Other than the interference costing Cena and a member of the Cenation following the buzzards, there wasn’t a lot of storyline movement except for a general difference of values and motivation which the video package reinforces. In the final few weeks, Cena upped the ante bringing the Usos into his corner, while the Wyatts targeted Jerry Lawler in a strange segment. Let’s get to it.
• The Wyatts are out in full force with smartphone accompaniment. Cena is out solo and the Wyatts look to move in, but Cena is saved by the Usos. Awesomely, the dueling Cena chants are overcome and replaced by U-SO-U-SO-U-SO chants. We’re finally ready to go and both come out slugging. Bray WINS that one and goes to the headbutts. Cena no sells for a bulldog and a BOOT OF HOPE. Cena wants the count but Bray was playing possum and lays him out with an uppercut. JBL: “Cena may never give up, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be knocked out for an 11 count.” Bray with a back elbow and Cena is reeling. Bray follows up with a Ho Train and Cena is trashed. 1. 2. 3. 4. Cena uses Bray to pull himself up. Cena is lifeless and Bray flops him around for a little two-step but Cena Prototypes up for the shoulderblocks and the ProtoBomb. Cole: “NOW, CENA WANTS TO LEAD!” JBL: “NOW, THE MUSIC HAS STOPPED!” King: “JOHN CENA SAYS, ‘MAY I CUT IN?!’” Monsoon: “WILL YOU ALL STOP?!” ANYWAY, Cena hits the 5KS and wants the FU but Bray counters to a slick gutbuster. 1. 2. 3. 4. Cena up only to eat a Batista kick. Cena no sells to avoid a senton and drop Bray into the STF. Wyatt kicks him off for the Book End. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Bray taunts Cena with the set-up but no Spider Walk. He wants Sister Abigail but Cena shoves him off only to get steamrolled with the running crossbody. 1. 2. 3. 4. Cena crawls to the apron. 5. 6. 7. Bray picks him up on the apron and face smashes him down. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Bray, nicely, picks up on the King tangent by giving him the stink eye at ringside while Cena is down. 7. 8. Cena is back up again, jockeying for position with Bray on the top rope. Cena headbutts him down for the top rope fame-asser. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Cena up first and wants the FU. Bray pushes him off and catches him in SISTER ABIGAIL! 1! 2! 3! 4! 5! 6! 7! Cena stirs. 8! 9! CENA IS UP! Of course, he pogosticks right into an FU. I HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE that finisher/finisher spot that is all the rage in Cena matches now. ANYWAY. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. SPIDERWALK! Cena is amazed as Rowan tackles him from behind. Odd timing for that as Bray wasn’t in any particular peril as he just got up to beat the count. Uso 1 dumps out Rowan. Harper shitcans Uso 2 to hit a suicide dive on Rowan and Uso 1. Uso 2 reappears for a corkscrew moonsault on all to the/ floor. BUT WAIT! BRAY WYATT HAS GOT A CHAIR! He waffles Cena a few times to the ribs and back. Cena bails out to the floor for the count. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Cena uses the ringpost to pull himself up. Wyatt winds up for the baseball swing but eats post and Cena comes back. The Usos and Wyatts have disappeared, presumably brawling to the back. Cena gets the chair and contemplates whether or not he will blast Wyatt.
• Minor tangent: Remember how one of the key elements of the WM feud was that this was a battle for Cena’s soul? Bray has a Raven-esque edge to his character where he’s willing to take punishment to get what he wants, lose the battle to win the war. He turns his back on his opponents and BEGS them to hit him with a chair from behind to sink to his level – turn heel. He did it with Daniel Bryan and he did it with Cena at WMXXX. Would Cena embrace the hate of Wyatt’s kool-aid and strike down upon Bray with great vengeance and furious anger or would he stand up for truth, justice, hustle, loyalty, and respect of the American Way? Of course, Cena won the match but kept his character intact by not striking Bray with a chair. Fast-forward to Payback.
• CENA WAFFLES BRAY WITH THE CHAIR! He unloads on Bray again and the ref starts the count. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Bray beats the count but collapses again as Cena goes looking for plunder and comes up with a table. Bray cuts him off with boots. Cena wants the FU but Bray counters to a suplex through the table. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Cena uses the table to pull himself up. Bray brings in the stairs and BLASTS Cena. 1! 2! Bray leads the crowd singing in unison to “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands.” 3! 4! 5! THE LEGIONS HAVE BEEN BRAY-WASHED! 6! 7! Cena is up but gets curb stomped into the stairs. After a spell, Cena is up to cut off Bray and knock him out with the stairs. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Bray rolls to the floor to regroup but Cena picks up the stairs and THROW THE FUCKING STAIRS DOWN THE AISLE AND BRAY EATS THEM IN THE FACE! HOLY SHIT! That would have been a legitimate ending to the match. Cena agrees and says it’s over. 1! 2! 3! 4! Bray rolls over. 5! 6! 7! Cena can’t believe it and goes looking for more tables. Bray stumbles to his feet and Cena dives off the apron but gets caught in SISTER ABIGAIL INTO THE BARRICADE! YEAHHH! 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Both guys pull themselves up using the barricade and apron, but they’re up. Cena counters a whip and posts Bray and he cuts a flip over the bottom half of the ring steps. Cena wants a piledriver only to get backdropped ON THE STAIRS! Then, Bray runs and leaps off the stairs with a senton on the floor. Both men are up and Bray wants another chairshot but Cena ducks under for an FU on the floor. Cena then races to slide in the ring to set up the next spot like he just started the match. THE WYATTS HAVE COME OUT! They pummel Cena and help Bray to his feet to make sure that he beats the count. Back in, they blast Cena with a combo big boot. BUT WAIT! MY GOODNESS, THE USOS! One dive on Rowan. The camera catches Harper getting the table ready to waffle the other Uso diving out of the ring in mid-dive, but it’s still an awesome cutoff. The Wyatts set up some tables while Cole and crew yell at the ref to count Bray because he’s still down, thus needlessly protecting Cena again. Rowan catches a flying Jey Uso and tries a snap ab suplex but Uso lands on his feet and superkicks him back. Jey then follows up with the Runaway Samoan Semi through a table. Harper and Jimmy meet each other at the top and Harper wins that exchange and superplexes Jimmy TO THE FLOOR THROUGH TWO TABLES! And now, the match continues as Cena fires up but Bray lands on his feet out of a FU and crossbodies Cena through the barricade. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Both men get to their feet. They aimlessly brawl through the crowd, so Cena can FU Bray through a roadie trunk and bury him under another. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Cena is the last man standing at 24:14.
• That finish is a bit of a groaner as it furthers Cena’s goal in life to FU someone off of every free-standing object possible, natural and man-made. It’s also the same finish used in the Jericho-Kane LMS from Armageddon 2000 in one of the worst matches Jericho’s ever had. If Bray had gotten one relatively clean, strong win out of this, it might have helped him. As it is, losing to Cena twice and getting one of the weakest wins possible does little to help a guy who was already super over and had a clean wins over DB and The Shield on his resume.
• To their credit, this match is MUCH better than either of the other two and goes a long way toward washing the bad taste of the EE debacle away. They follows the template that was used most notably at SS 08 with Edge/UT HITC: get all the regular finishes and signature stuff out of the way early, because it’s going to take super-finishers in succession and weapons to settle this one. Each tries the usual 5KS, FU, STF or crossbody, Sister Abigail in the first half but each fails. It’s only the use of finishers on the floor, through barricades, and through trunks that deal decisive blows against each. The interfering mini-match in the middle is a definite choice, though I’m not sure a good one. The Usos/Harper & Rowan threw out some great spots, but it didn’t entirely serve the match’s interests as it just neutered Bray a bit more when Cena was winning anyway. Finally, on second viewing, the finish comes off so obvious and contrived as they do nothing outside of the ring area the entire match, and then just walk over for the finish a good 30 yards away from the ring. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a hellacious brawl with crazy spots including one of the most badass stair tosses and spots you’ll ever see, but it’s hard to go but so high. ****
• WWE Divas Championship: Alicia Fox vs. Paige (c). Paige debuted after WM 30 and defeated AJ in swift fashion to take the belt. Fox went Section 8 a few weeks back and pinned Paige clean on her territory in England to get this title shot. Paige armdrags under only for Fox to dump her out. Paige slides back in for a sunset roll up without the flip but they botch it. Paige pulls Fox up for some knees and a suplex back in. Bridge gets 1, 2, only 2. Paige tosses her into the corner for some elbows while King and JBL debate whether or not Paige looks like Barry Windham. Fox bails out to regroup and teases crying pulling tripping Paige up on the apron. Fox steals a drink from a fan in the front row and then tries to start a fight with a clown. She’s breaking Bobby Heenan’s cardinal rule: never start a fight with someone uglier than you. Paige takes over and trashes her into the barricade. Fox no sells a hair pull to fireman’s carry her off the stairs in a nice spot. Fox then sends her into the barricade. Back in, Fox covers for 1, 2, kickout. Fox with a few face smashes and the Troll Yell as the crowd chants for the Blackhawks, though they don’t deserve that. Northern Lights suplex gets another kickout. Fox takes a minute applying a straitjacket but gets it locked on. Cole: “LOOKITLOOKALOOKALOOKITLOOKALOOKIT!” Thanks for that. Fox bridges it back into a bridge and struts her stuff after releasing. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker gets torque into a submission as well. Fox finally slams her down for 1, 2, 2 ½. Another backbreaker and slam down into the mat gets another nearfall. King: “I’ve often said you don’t really know a woman until you meet her in court.” Do these assholes even know they’re getting paid to provide analysis and perspective? Fox then gathers her up and then just dumps her to the floor. Nice. Alicia brought her working boots, tonight. Paige comes back with a dropkick and a few clotheslines. Paige pulls her off the top rope and hooks her in the PTO and that’s all she wrote at 6:34. They were working hard and Alicia’s sinking her teeth in being a heel. **
• Post-match, the crowd informs her that, indeed, she tapped out. She tries to demand silence and then throws a tantrum running to the back crying. Eh. She’s a better in the match than during the post-match tirades.
• Cole: “WWE Payback is brought to you by Dt. Dew. The only diet with dew in it… Well, ladies and gentlemen--”
King: [Interrupting] “Are you going to drink your Dt. Dew or not?”
What follows next is the longest 3 seconds of Michael Cole’s life as his water practically breaks during the pause.
Cole: “I’ve been…Well—this is my second one, already… You guys are WAY behind me.”
• Tragically, this whole exchange has been edited out of the version on the WWE Network.
• No Holds Barred, Elimination Match: The Shield vs. Evolution. After losing to The Wyatts at EC, The Shield teased dissension before turning full blown face taking out Corporate Kane. At Mania, they easily dispatched Kane and the NAO. Meanwhile, the H’s, Orton, and Batista collectively lost to Daniel Bryan. Trips tried to strong-arm his way into a cheap victory for the strap, the night after Mania but The Shield were on hand to spoil his title chances. The next week, The Authority stacked the deck against The Shield putting them against virtually the entire heel roster in a handicap match. Trips, Orton, and Batista re-formed Evolution that night to try and eliminate The Shield. At EE, The Shield were victorious, but The Authority got Evolution one more match to try and force The Shield to disband at Payback.
• They repeat the Wyatt-Shield standoff from February that got massive reactions each time they did it. At the bell, they collide with Reigns/Batista, Ambrose/Orton, and Trips/Rollins pairing off. Reigns quickly dumps out Batista, while the rest take turns exchanging blows in the corner. Tornado rules apparently as Batista knocks Reigns into the front row. Trips and Rollins left alone in the ring as Orton trashes Ambrose over the barricade as well. Rollins with an enzuigiri that sends Trips reeling. Rollins clotheslines him into the crowd as well and follows with an EVIL ARCHITECT HAMMER. Ambrose and Orton battle back to ringside and Orton gets sent into the announce table. Rollins eats barricade as well from Trips. More general brawling as Trips gets backdropped back to ringside and Ambrose gets back suplexed on the barricade. Batista eats stairs and he goes down in a heap off-camera. Trips pulls Ambrose over the barricade, but the match finally gets going in the ring with Reigns working on Batista’s arm. He tags in Rollins for another ART VANDELAY HAMMER. Batista comes back sending him across for the HBK flip and Orton tags in. Rollins with a dropkick and tags in Ambrose. They hit a double suplex and hit combo knee and elbow drops. Ambrose steals a page out of Orton’s book working a mini-Garvin stomp and Deathlocking his legs. Cover gets 1, only 1. Reigns in and BOOOOOOO-tista in. Batista eats a LARIATO for a 1 count. A massive headbutt and Batista AWESOMELY tries to tag in someone from The Shield corner. Why does he get so good right before he quits? ANYWAY, Ambrose back in to rake the eyes only to run in a spinebuster. Ambrose kicks out at ONE. Trips takes over but eats boot and Reigns gets the tag. The likely, future SS main event gets a pop for the stareoff.
• Reigns winks and Trips is a bit perplexed. Cole: “YOU CAN’T PLAY MIND GAMES WITH THE CEREBRAL ASSASSIN!” They lockup and Trips runs into a STOUT shoulderblock from Reigns and scrambles back to a neutral corner. Trips looks to set up the jawbreaker but eats a backdrop and a LARIATO. Ambrose tags back in with some strikes and a stomp. Shield works some quick tags and Ambrose goes to the Three Amigos. Trips kicks out at 2. Ambrose back in for more choking and a cannonball in the corner. Cover gets 1, 2, kickout. Ambrose ignores a tag to try a COME AS YOU ARE HAMMER but eats boot. Batista tags in to blast Ambrose into the barricade and hang him out to dry. BATISTA KICK! THE NAMESAKE! Evolution cheats behind the ref’s back and Batista slingshots Ambrose into the ropes. Cover gets only 1. Orton in to throw down Ambrose by the hair and work his own Garvin Stomp. Trips in to work the GnP as well. Trips lands a few knee drops and covers Ambrose for 1, 2, no. Ambrose cuts him off for the H Flip. Man, H is just a revelation lately as well. He was the one taking the heat for the heels, he got nothing on Reigns and took it all, and now he’s getting thrown out of the ring by the face in peril. Speak of the devil as Trips tries the jawbreaker but Ambrose no sell into the JAWBREAKER LARIATO! Double KO. Both make tags to Batista and Reigns. Reigns blows right through him with a leaping clothesline. Reigns hits a running clothesline and backdrop for Trips. Rollins in with a dropkick on Orton. Reigns dodges the camera man for the SUPER BATISTA KICK! Downpour? Monsoon? Rainmaker? (I know, I know, but no one in the Fed cares about Okada).
• ANYWAY, Batista eats the kick and Reigns is fired up and so is the crowd. He wants the Superman Punch and hits it. 1, 2, Orton breaks it up and THEY ARE BREAKING DOWN, HERE IN CHICAGO! Orton and Trips take over shitcanning Ambrose and Rollins out and working them over. Ambrose gets posted a few times and Trips drags Rollins into the crowd for the scenic tour. Ambrose lands a sledge off the barricade on Orton. Rollins tries one as well on Trips but gets countered with a STEEL TRUNK LID! Much cooler than it sounds. Reigns posts Batista who sells it awesomely as Reigns preps the SAT. Orton tackles Reigns from behind as Evolution is holding court at ringside. They beatdown Reigns and it’s 3-on-1. Evolution now gives The Shield some of their own medicine with a TRIPLE POWERBOMB THROUGH THE TABLE! Rather than try for a cover, Evolution admires their handiwork and catches their breath. They steal The Shield handsignal and Ambrose comes flying in with a splash. Trips and Orton try to stumble to safety but eat a NO HANDS FLIP PLANCHA! YEAHHHH! Evolution is now on their heels retreating to the entrance way. Trips and Batista take back over with whips into the barricade. It’s 3-on-2 Evolution as Reigns is out from the triple powerbomb. Trips and Orton get chairs and it’s time to go to work.
• They beat the FUCK out of Rollins and Ambrose, culminating in a back suplex on a chair and a PEDIGREE ON A CHAIR! Evolution turns their attention back to Reigns and it’s 3-on-1 again. He tries to fire up but takes a Spinebuster and stiff boot from Orton. Batista brings in the stairs as they tear off his flak jacket. Orton gets the Singapore canes. This is no longer a match, this is about teaching a lesson. It’s like an n.W.o beatdown in the middle of a 6-man tag but as a part of the match. They smash him into the stairs and then Trips holds him in place as the caning is on in THE PASSION OF ROMAN REIGNS! There’s an uncomfortable silence from the crowd, while Reigns writhes in agony as if it’s getting a little too graphic and visceral for some. Reigns Kryptons up for a Superman Punch but quickly eats a few more devastating chairshots and he rolls to the floor with his hamburger back. They beat him all the way down the aisle and Ambrose has come back to life but gets tackled from behind. Orton hits the elevated DDT on the floor on Ambrose. BUT WAIT! IT’S ROLLINS! HE’S ON TOP OF THE VIDEO SCREEN DIVIDE! SPLASH ONTO EVOLUTION! BACK TO SQUARE ONE! Everyone is crawling on their hands and knees back to the ring. Batista and Rollins are back in first. Rollins gets the boot up in the corner but leaps off into a SPEAR! DEMONBOMB! NO! SPEAR ON BATISTA! 1, 2, 3 and Batista is eliminated at 27:32.
Crowd sings goodbye to Batista. BUT WAIT! RKO ON ROLLINS! 1, 2, Reigns breaks it up. Orton wants the DDT on Reigns but Ambrose has got a chair and lays him out. HEADLOCK DRIVER ON ORTON! 1, 2, 3 and Orton hits the showers at 28:40.
• Trips is all by himself against The Shield now. He fights off Ambrose with the LEGALLOWBLOW! He preps a Pedigree but Reigns knocks him down with a Superman Punch. SPEAR BY BATISTA ON REIGNS! Orton slides the trusty sledge to Triple H. He staggers to his feet and lays Ambrose OUT. He wants Reigns with the sledge but Rollins cuts him off with a flying knee. SPEARSPEARSPEAR shuts out Evolution at 31:00.
• I hate to borrow a JR-ism, but this wasn't a match, it was a fight -- gang-land style warfare. I'm sure the lack of pinfall attempts for upwards of a half-hour bothered some, but to me, this was a blood feud, more about power and hate than 1, 2, 3. Obviously, the match had to end with pinfalls, but I'm perfectly fine with Evolution bypassing pins to just cane Reigns into oblivion. Plus, each segment had a built-in reason for not going for a pin. Reigns is top dog and is going to need a ton of heat on his own before he goes down. Each time Evolution isolated and put him out, Rollins and Ambrose would recover and demand attention. Once they were put away, Reigns was back up. And etc.
• Put another way, I thought that was an AWESOME brawl that dumped out the RnR formula for some WarGames brutality. This is probably the closest to a WarGames that the WWE has ever produced. It doesn't have a double cage or staggered entrances, but it does have several guys united in a sentiment of FUCK YOU, I'M GOING TO KILL YOU for 30+ minutes and I loved every minute of it. ****1/2
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The 411: I know this won't be a popular sentiment but this is my (WWE) PPV of the year so far. You have a much better Cena/Bray match than Mania. Cesaro/Sheamus is better than any undercard match from Mania (I'm lumping Trips/DB into the main event). And Shield/Evolution is the best match on either show. Mania XXX destroys Payback when it comes to moments - DB's crowning victories, Cesaro dumping out Show, the opening promo, Taker going down, etc. - but in the ring, I don't think it's very close.