Sunday May 1st will mark the 4th annual WWE Payback PPV and is shaping to be the best Payback show in its short history. With 3 out of the 4 titles defended on the show having builds that the fans actually care about which makes for a nice change as usually most of the titles in terms of build aren’t cared for much. We will also find out who the #1 contenders will be for the tag team titles next month at Extreme Rules, the continuation of the storied rivalry of Keivns Owens and Sami Zayn and we will see where AJ’s allegiance truly stands in terms of not wanting to cheap shot Roman, or choosing to side with his former Bullet Club stable mates. Now we usually have a survey type preview article with most of the staff members taking part, but this time it will just be me doing it, so apologies for the lack of diverse opinions in this preview, but without further hesitation, lets begin.
WWE Kickoff – United States Championship Match:
Kalisto (c) vs Ryback
The only title match on the card with no real big build or storylines to it, it’s simply Ryback going back to wanting to crush the smaller guys, but capture title in the process. While I feel he should have won at Mania to make his change of character have more of a booming start, him winning here would still help him out. If Ryback doesn’t win here, his character change and heel turn will be all for nothing. Kalisto has really proven himself since breaking out into single competition and I’m glad WWE have let him cut loose and do what he does best. As said many times by fans, he is the new Rey Mysterio and has a bright future ahead as long as WWE stick with him. The match itself will be solid I feel, these two had a nice big v small match on the kickoff at Mania, and I don’t expect any less here, both are good workers and if given time, they will produce a nice start to the show.
Dolph Ziggler vs Baron Corbin
A decent build surrounding this match, simply being Baron Corbin destroying Dolph, and Dolph having to ambush him to get any upper hand during their encounters, which makes Corbin look strong and Dolph seem a but smart in how he’s going about fighting Corbin. Now I feel this match will be decent-good but probably wont go above that, while I love Baron Corbin, I don’t thing he’s at the stage yet of producing classics, but Dolph being an amazing seller (Sometimes a bit OTT) Will be able to make Corbin look like a badass. With Corbin’s win at Mania and overall dominance of Ziggler, I say they should keep that up and have him win here, with the amount of up and coming NXT talent on this show, I feel it should be their time to shine.
Winner: Baron Corbin
Dean Ambrose vs Chris Jericho
Another decent build, and one of the few times I’m looking forward to a Dean Ambrose match, calculated heel Jericho vs unpredictable face Ambrose will make for an interesting dynamic as well as follow up their tension all the way back at NOC. Now much like when Ambrose was more technical against Triple H at Roadblock, I feel he’ll do the same here, hopefully to better effect as he’ll be up against a technical wrestler to help walk him through the motions. The big reason I’m not a Dean fan, is his lack of a move set, but I feel this match will rectify this and give him a bigger arsenal going into the summer. With Jericho’s big win at Mania, albeit not needed, and Ambrose losing at the grandest stage of them all, Dean should pick up the victory here and begin to rebuild him into a main eventer. The only way I would want Jericho to win is through shenanigans, forcing a rematch at ER with perhaps a street fight stipulation (That hopefully doesn’t get dicked for time)
Winner: Dean Ambrose
Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens
Another chapter in this extremely long multi company feud between two of the best in WWE right now. While the build hasn’t been anything special, it still gets fans excited and Owens continues to be a weasel and sneak wins and Sami of course being righteous face to try and stop him. This has the potential to be MOTN, these two have had amazing singles matches in the past, and so far in NXT/WWE haven’t collided too much in singles competition and with Sami adopting a more aggressive style against Nakamura in Dallas, I hope he does the same here instead of his usual underdog for 90% of the match shtick. It’s a hard to chose a winner as neither man truly needs the win to look stronger, I would say to keep with heel heat and with a mostly no DQ PPV around the corner. Have Owens again cheat his way to a victory, making Sami go crazy and challenging Owens in a more hardcore environment, this feud will last well into the summer so this win won’t hurt Sami.
Winner: Kevin Owens
#1 Contenders Match For The WWE Tag Team Championship:
The Vaudevillains vs Enzo Amore & Collin Cassady
The first build that I have personally enjoyed, me and a friend were jokingly talking about being a heel team against Emzo and Cass, constantly correcting their quotes such as “How you doin?” and “S-A-W-F-T” and well, The Vaudevillains are doing just that which I love. It makes the fans mad as technically they’re right, and as usual, sophisticated gimmicks and intelligence overall seem to make fans mad, but of course their character clashes very well with Enzo and Cass’s gangster slang personas. This and the IC title match are my dark horses for MOTN, both I feel could just come out of nowhere and steal the show. Both teams have shown how talented they are not only in this #1 contenders tournament but of course in NXT, especially Enzo and Cass. Now while the obvious choice is Enzo and Cass go over, with The New Day still being face by all accounts I wonder if WWE will go with turning New Day back to heel, or just having a face v face match. Maybe even have New Day run in forcing a double DQ, then having a 3-way at Extreme Rules, 2 heels vs 1 face team making Enzo and Cass real underdogs, continuing over from NXT and they finally get their big break then becoming the new tag team champions. While it’s a stretch, I’m going to go with a no contest finish with some kind of interference from New Day to force this 3 way match, I feel it gives both NXT teams even more exposure as well cap off New Day’s epic reign and cap off months of Enzo and Cass just falling short and finally winning the big one.
Winner: No Contest Via Interference From The New Day
WWE Intercontinental Championship Match:
The Miz (c) vs Cesaro
While we can all agree it should be Zack Ryder in this match NOT Cesaro, I can’t help but be excited to see Cesaro back in the mix and contesting for a title. Another build that has done it’s job without being outstanding, Miz has being “using” Maryse to get his way, as well as of course, keep up his movie star persona. Now the match itself, like a said before is one of my dark horses for MOTN, former world champion and one of the very best in WWE, this will be a good-great match. Now much like the last match, I feel interference will play a part and force another 3-way, this time Zack Ryder costing Miz the title, and while Miz invokes his rematch clause, Ryder is also inserted into the match, perhaps by winning a set of matches set by who ever is in charge after this show. This way Zack gets major exposure with again, a former world champion and Cesaro, one of the best in the business, for one the biggest titles in the companies history. While it’s another long shot in WWE’s booking department, with how they’ve been slowly rising since Mania, I have faith (Maybe a bit too much)
WWE Women’s Championship Match
Charlotte (c) vs Natalya
The first women’s feud in ages to be interesting and not just involve the horsewomen, I’ve really liked this build, and goes back to when these first squared off for the NXT Women’s Championship, so this rivalry has more to it than people think. Finally someone telling Charlotte straight up, you only win because if cheating, and with Bret perhaps coming back to be in Natalya’s corner, could this be the end of Charlotte’s long reign as champion? Now the match itself should be great, they’ve yet to have a bad match against each other, having MOTN back at Roadblock and both having good showings at Mania. Now while most, including myself would prefer having Sasha Banks take the title off Charlotte, I feel Natalya has more than earned her spot, I feel Charlotte will win it back later down the line around the same time Bayley comes up to the main roster. Which in turn will have everyone losing their minds with having the four horsewomen on the main roster fighting for the championship.
Main Event – WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match:
Roman Reigns (c) vs AJ Styles
Now WWE have been booking Roman smartly since Mania, giving him more a middle man, non heel, non face persona, therefore the boos feel optional, and of course gives fans even more reason to cheer for the babyface AJ Styles. Now the whole Anderson Gallows attacks have been a bit confusing, as AJ will say he’s not out to hurt Roman, yet doesn’t stop Gallows and Anderson attacking him, and only gets frustrated after. This I feel throws away my prediction earlier in the year with Reigns joining Balor Club, as at this point he’s been attacked so often, it wouldn’t make sense. But I don’t think WWE will go for the obvious AJ heel turn either, as people would still cheer him and boo Roman, if anything I feel AJ would try to call them off, then off the distraction Roman picks up the win. The built up tension and frustration will cause AJ to flip out on them in the coming weeks, which in turn will have Balor Club going for AJ once they form when Balor makes his eventual climb to the main roster. But they can use the fact that Roman used the distraction to gain advantage to win, slowly advancing his heel turn, maybe even have Dean on RAW confront Roman about it, teasing that feud for SummerSlam.
Now the match itself should be good and I feel will be MOTN, say what you will about Roman, he’s more than earned his spot as champion and much like Dean with Jericho, will have to adapt against AJ and find some new offense. Which again, being with a technical master and one of the best wrestlers in the world, AJ can guide Roman to make it look more convincing, and with a more diverse move set, fans will at the very least respect Roman more for advancing his move set, even though his current move set does suit his build. As stated, there will most likely be Gallows Anderson run ins, but what’s key is how WWE execute it, does AJ win off it? Does Roman? Does either man side with Kyle and Doc? I hope they go with AJ being distracted trying to stop the run in, so Roman picks up the victory, and using that heat to slowly begin his turn, and again, perhaps have Dean confront him, planting seeds for that eventual feud, which I feel would see Dean finally becoming WHC.
Winner: Roman Reigns
So overall Payback is shaping up to be a solid if not great non big 4 PPV, with a lot of the matches having at the very least decent builds and almost all the matches on paper looking to be good-great. This is looking to be the best Payback PPV yet, 4 titles on the line, #1 contenders for the tag titles, and many story advancements could be made this Sunday.
I hope you all enjoyed this preview for WWE Payback, be sure to follow us on Twitter @WeWriteWrestlin as well as follow my own personal Twitter @WWWDylanOsborn for live reactions from PPVs and weekly shows. Be sure to stay updated with us at WWW, and our review for this show will be released mere minutes after Payback goes off the air, so keep your eyes open for the live reaction/review article for WWE Payback 2016.