Another pay-per-view event is in the books for 2015 – a year that has meant little more than establishing Seth Rollins as the top heel in the WWE and making fans cease the booing of Roman Reigns.
Still, there’s been some decent wrestling at the WWE level, and Payback was no different. Here’s what we learned from the show through the eyes of Stoney Keeley:
10. Dolph Ziggler needs to tone down the headbutts.
Seriously, did you see that gash in his forehead? Maybe Ziggler meant for that to happen. We all know how committed he is to selling. Regardless, he and Sheamus set the bar high right off the bat with a strong, physical contest.
9. Bray Wyatt can crack your ribs with his body weight
Wyatt is no string bean – that’s for sure, but now we can confirm that should he give you a senton splash from the ring apron directly to the arena floor, you will sustain injuries. Kudos to Ryback for finishing the match. This was a bout I had mixed feelings about, but the two put on a surprisingly good performance.
8. How to protect two guys who both need a win
A count-out! Yes, the classic “heel refuses to get back in the ring” bit reared its’ ugly head again much to the dismay of the WWE Universe in Baltimore. After Monday, it appears we have our resolution to the King Barrett/Neville program, but the match at Payback was rather forgettable.
7. Naomi’s boots are the best thing about the Divas division
The main roster Divas division lacks any real depth, and its’ figurehead, Nikki Bella, just isn’t that entertaining. Naomi’s heel turn was refreshing but, so far, it hasn’t led to much. Hopefully, the returns of Tamina Snuka and Paige (on Monday’s Raw) will rejuvenate the division. Until that actually happens, I’ll stick with NXT for my women’s wrestling fix.
6. Kofi Kingston could survive a head-on collision with a Toyota
You can have your triple powerbomb, my pick for ‘move of the night’ goes to Cesaro for that charging, full-speed, head-on European uppercut that sent him and Kofi Kingston barreling into the turnbuckle. How Kingston got up from that is beyond amazing.
5. Rusev’s nose is unbreakable
Honestly, that STF with the ring rope was as hard to watch as the one with the chain…excuse me…Russian chain. The rivalry between John Cena and Rusev started with a bang at Fastlane, but each contest afterwards seemed to fizzle out to a point where we were all ready for this program to conclude.
4. Interference can only go so far before annoyance
I’m sure I’m in the minority on this one, but I wasn’t as high on the main event as some. Sure, the last few minutes were pretty fantastic and the ending was big, but there was just too much interference. Kane, Joey Mercury, and Jamie Noble were jumping in so much; it felt as though they were a part of the match – a match that already had 4 competitors. Overkill.
3. The tag team division continues to be the bright spot of the WWE
If you aren’t excited by the matches that the New Day has had against Cesaro & Tyson Kidd, then someone needs to check your pulse. For the 2nd straight pay-per-view, these two teams stole the show and took ‘match of the night’ honors.
2. “Loser buys the beers”
The main event did provide a couple of goosebump-inspiring moments: the triple powerbomb on Randy Orton, The Shield momentarily standing reunited, Rollins winning with the Pedigree. However, the greatest moment came when Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns came face-to-face. Reigns uttered “loser buys the beers,” before the two entered the ring to settle the match. The big takeaway from the encounter being that Ambrose vs. Reigns would be/is going to be awesome one day.
1. It seems infuriatingly hard to book an entertaining show from start to finish
Payback started pretty strong before John Cena and Rusev lost me. The divas match did little to help and by the time King Barrett and Neville took the stage, I was just waiting it out for the main event. 3 hours is a lot of time to fill with fresh, original content, but the WWE roster is loaded with characters interesting enough to feature – it’s all about the booking.
Before you guys kill me in the comments about NXT – I’m excluding it as a brand separate from the WWE pay-per-view roster. Overall, Payback is probably the second best WWE show of the year behind WrestleMania 31.
Stoney Keeley covers the WWE for WrestlingNews.co, and is the Tennessee Titans Lead Writer for Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter at @StoneyKeeley and the SPOT’s Tennessee Titans Twitter feed at @spot_titans.