- R-Truth def. Stardust via Pinfall
It was a pretty decent match to start the preshow off with. R-Truth has shown lately that he still has what it takes to be an entertaining midcarder, and possibly carry a midcard title. Unfortunately, Stardust has fallen in to a funk as of late. It seems like his gimmick is starting to grow stale.
- The Ascension def. The Meta Powers via Pinfall
I’ll never understand why WWE is investing so much time in to Axelmania if they never plan on making him anything else other than a joke. The Meta Powers are an interesting addition to the tag team division. They’re capitalizing off nostalgia, and the fans seem to really be behind them. The Ascension definitely deserve a few wins after the treatment they’ve received since making it to the main roster, but not at the expense of a new team that is over with the crowd. If this is the beginning of a new feud, then the loss is okay. But if the two teams simply move on, then this would be a waste of a good chance to capitalize off 80’s nostalgia since The Ascension feels more like an 80’s wrestling team as well.
- Sheamus def. Dolph Ziggler via Pinfall
The show kicked off to a good start with Sheamus vs Ziggler. Sheamus has shown an incredible aggressiveness as a heel. He has become a dominant powerhouse, and this match showed off his abilities even more than before. Dolph Ziggler feuding with Sheamus has only helped both superstars. Unfortunately for Dolph, a simple headbutt busted him open pretty bad during the match. It added a little more to the brutality to the match before Sheamus ended it with the Brogue kick to a downed Ziggler. In the end, it was an even trade since Ziggler won their last encounter before being forced to kiss Sheamus’ ass.
- The New Day def. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro via Pinfall
This was definitely one of the best matches on the card. From Cesaro passing out European uppercuts like candy at Halloween, to Big E’s massive suplex while outside of the ring, the action was fast paced and impressive as hell. This is what the tag team division should be. And despite it being an even match throughout, New Day using cheating tactics once again to score the final pin only helped make the match more enjoyable in the end. The New Day has been on fire lately after finally being allowed to be themselves. The incredibly funny trio got another chance for comedy later during their interview after the match. It seems like everyone, including fans who don’t like the group at all, enjoy hearing them talk. Because love them or hate them, there is no disputing that they are both entertaining inside the ring and on the mic.
- Bray Wyatt def. Ryback via Pinfall
Bray Wyatt needed this win after losing to Taker at Wrestlemania. Ryback has been on a huge winning streak, so taking a loss to Wyatt won’t hurt him at all. In fact, it helped solidify Wyatt again as a huge threat to anyone he faces. This could turn in to a decent feud if given time to develop. The video package sold the match more than WWE did with the actual build up. That’s evidence enough that it could turn in to something really good if handled correctly. Unfortunately, Ryback was injured during the match. So we will have to wait and see how things play out in the future.
- John Cena def. Rusev via Pinfall
The match was filled with questionable moments. The match itself was pretty good, but it seems like the rules to an I Quit match were changed on the fly. I distinctly remember past I Quit matches ending with one of the superstars passing out. So why did the ref randomly decide that the match could only end with Cena actually submitting? And what was the point of him passing out if it would only result in him eventually waking up and winning the match? Also, why would the ref allow Lana to make the decision for Rusev? It’s not like Rusev doesn’t speak English and is in need of a translator. The inconsistencies with the established rules of an I Quit match along with the ref constantly shoving a mic in the competitors’ faces made what could have been a good match in to a mess.
- Naomi and Tamina Snuka def. The Bella Twins via Pinfall
Aside from cheers for Brie, the fans didn’t seem as interested in the match as WWE would have hoped. Simply put, the only reason anyone cared at all was because of the interviews Brie Bella has done lately to capitalize off of Daniel Bryan’s injury. It’s kind of a lame attempt to sell the team as faces, but at least WWE is finally trying to establish that they are suppose to be the faces in the feud instead of assuming fans would just get behind them. So that at least helped to turn a feud no one actually cared about in to one that is just sort of forgettable at best.
- Neville def. King Barrett via Count out
I’m not sure why Barrett would intentionally allow himself to lose to a count out only to run back in the ring and attack Neville. You have to be a coward to cowardly run away. It seems like Barrett wasn’t intimidated by Neville at all. I can’t understand how attacking your opponent can seem more important than actually winning the match. It was a strange finish for the match.
- Seth Rollins def. Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Randy Orton via Pinfall
This match exceeded the hype in every way possible. It was a prime example of how a story could be told within a match. From The Shield temporarily forming an alliance, to Ambrose and Reigns clearing the ring before battling each other with respect, it was everything fans wanted plus more. The only downside to the match was Kane’s blatant involvement in it. The ref basically did nothing as he and J and J security openly attacked the competitors inside and outside the ring. The storyline with Kane and the Authority has been ridiculous so far. He basically had to make sure that Rollins won a match that would not have ever existed if it wasn’t for him creating it for Rollins. His character’s logic has been horribly written lately. How long do we have to endure Kane causing the very own problems he has to solve in order to keep his job? And why does it matter so much for him to avoid being fired if he was willing to turn in his resignation a few weeks ago? The Authority can’t remain its own worse enemy like this. Kane’s storyline needs to be resolved as soon as possible.
Despite having a few questionable moments, Payback continued the streak WWE has been on of actually giving us a good show. The matches were solid, we were given some entertaining moments outside the ring, and the in ring storytelling was phenomenal. I’m not sure what medication WWE’s creative team has been taking lately to stabilize their mood, but it seems to be working. For the most part, they have been able to turn WWE in to an actual enjoyable program again. There are some stumbles here and there, but the product is starting to finally turn around. Let’s just hope this is more of a permanent thing than just a phase.