The first event of the new “Shane McMahon-era” of the WWE took place on Sunday May 1 with Payback. Payback saw a stacked card on paper that delivered a show more exciting than WrestleMania, yet just as predictable. With no surprises, this show will be remembered and appreciated purely for the wrestling…which was at its best.
I don’t know that you will find a better show from the WWE in regards to wrestling than this one, at least in the last few years. The majority of this show was just fantastic inside of the ring. The show should give any naysayers confidence that the WWE is in a real sweet spot right now with the current roster and is moving forward in a really exciting direction.
Roman Reigns predictably defeated AJ Styles in a No DQ/No Count Out match to retain the WWE world championship. The match lived up to the billing with arguably Reigns’ best match since Fastlane 2015 against Daniel Bryan. Reigns came a long way here and while he was booed out of the building I have to think that with more of these matches he’ll win the fans over at some point. Reigns dominated the beginning of the match until he caught in the Calf Crusher which was a big turning point. Shortly thereafter Styles beat Reigns to get inside of the ring winning via count out. Shane O’Mac came out and declared the match restarted with a no count out (see below, Shane and Stephanie are now running RAW together) rule. Reigns later countered Styles’ Flying Forearm with a low blow and was disqualified. Stephanie came out and restarted the match and declared it a No DQ match. Anderson and Gallows came out shortly thereafter and hit the Boot of Doom on Reigns. Styles was down when they hit the move so it was never acknowledged whether he was with them or against them. The Usos came down and Reigns pushed Styles off of the top rope onto everyone. The finish came when Reigns ducked the Phenomenal Forearm and hit a spear for the pin. This was really a great match and one to go out of your way to see.
Immediately following the match Vince was shown talking to Shane and Stephanie. They all agreed that Styles deserved a rematch, which I really don’t understand since he lost clean in a No DQ match. Regardless, they booked a Styles vs. Reigns rematch at Extreme Rules.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn kicked off one of the best four-match strings that I can remember on a WWE Network event. They had a match of the year candidate early in the show. Owens defeated Zayn in arguably the best WWE match of 2016 and maybe the last twelve months. Unlike their first match in NXT where they held a little back for later, they gave everything at Payback. Owens won the match clean with a super kick and pop up power bomb. Owens stuck around to do commentary during the intercontinental title match and Zayn attacked Owens at ringside. The had a real great brawl which bled over into the I-C title match. This feud must continue and that is great news!
This was the start of a series of really good to great matches. It may be hard to believe but Cesaro and Miz had a real good match, credited to Cesaro putting on a tremendous performance. The background of Owens and Zayn put it over the top as well. Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose had a better match than I expected and of course Natalya and Charlotte lived up to the hype.
In the biggest storyline news to come out of the show, Vince McMahon made a choice between Stephanie and Shane as to who would run RAW. The fans loved Shane in Chicago. Vince decided that they would both run RAW together and have to figure it out. RAW is struggling with the ratings and this is meant to jumpstart a turn around. I think it’s fairly obvious that at this point this angle is pointing to a Shane McMahon vs. Triple H match, most likely at SummerSlam. Maybe they could put up RAW and have the loser running it again the next day?
I can’t wrap up the show without mentioning the terrible injury suffered by Enzo early in the show. Enzo hit his head sliding under the bottom rope and knocked himself out cold. All reports at press time indicate that Enzo is doing okay. Michael Cole said he was diagnosed with a concussion and all other tests came back negative. It was a scary moment for sure and one you don’t see very often on WWE television.
Full WWE Payback 2016 results and winners…
Roman Reigns defeated AJ Styles to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Champion
Charlotte defeated Natalya to retain the WWE Women’s Champion
Kevin Owen defeated Sami Zayn
The Miz defeated Cesaro to retain the Intercontinental Champion
Dean Ambrose defeated Chris Jericho
Dolph Ziggler defeated Baron Corbin
Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady vs. The Vaudevillains (WWE Tag Team Championship No. 1 Contenders’ Tournament Final) ended in a no-contest
Kalisto defeated Ryback (Kickoff Match) to retain the U.S. Champion