Just when we all thought that WWE has changed their ways for the better, fans were served a huge helping of shenanigans at the end of what was shaping up to be an entertaining pay per view. Every match from the preshow to the final match before the main event delivered. But it would be the anticipated Reigns vs Styles to bring down the show from the excellence shown throughout, and it would be the moment to remind us of how ridiculous WWE’s booking is when it comes to Roman Reigns. And at the end of the night, no one truly benefited from how the outcome played out for Reigns. And in all honesty, it probably hurt him more than helped him.
What I liked
WWE Payback was mostly amazing from start to finish. With the main event and Enzo’s injury aside, there were very few gripes to have with how the matches played out. Dolph Ziggler reminded us that he’s not just someone for new talent to use as ring fodder while making their presence known on the main roster. His match with Baron Corbin was good enough to warrant the feud to continue. The show could have went the route of having Corbin immediately, and convincingly, destroy Ziggler in order to display his dominance. But it went with Ziggler scoring the win instead in order to take things to the next level. It was brilliant planning for the future because this feud can only get better.
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens stole the show with their five star match. It could have went either way and would have still satisfied greatly. And although Owens scored the win and declared the feud over, things are just getting started between the two former best friends. We could either see the intercontinental title find its way between the two men, or some form of cross feud for the title with Cesaro and The Miz added to the mix. I think I can speak for the majority of fans when I say that we could watch Zayn and Owens fight forever. And the fact that the feud spilled in to the already interesting Cesaro vs The Miz match added so much to both feuds. It’s great to see The Miz being an effective heel, Cesaro being pushed, and the feud between Zayn and Owens continue to deliver.
What I disliked
Accidents happen. There’s no way to avoid them occurring in the world of professional wrestling. We were reminded of that when Enzo was given a concussion due to his head hitting the ropes. And as serious as the injury was, WWE did a great job of addressing it without seeming to exploit it. Well, at least they did on television. WWE tweeted out a gif of the incident, which was a little tacky in my personal opinion. I understand that it was necessary to show it a few times on air, or even in a video that could have been posted on social media. But a gif seems very impersonal when dealing with an injury in which, at the time, was unclear of the extent of severity. I don’t think it was done with any type of ill intent, but it still comes off as bad taste in my opinion.
Another thing I had no interest in was the complete waste of time the McMahon segment turned out to be. No only was the ending unsatisfying and very much a cop out, but it went on for longer than it needed to. And the fact that it eventually spilled over in to the main event added to the frustration of having to endure an unnecessary power struggle. Stephanie McMahon is awful. Everything about her on screen character screams self promotion. From putting down talent, interrupting their speech to add comments in while they’re cutting a promo with her, and forcing staff and security to sell her attacks all seem like they benefit only her. She is a prime example of what’s wrong with WWE, and her place in the back and forward struggle would serve better with Triple H involved instead. Imagine Triple H using NXT as an example of how he could run Raw against Shane using his recent work as an example. It would make better conflict with son against son in sorts, and could lead to blows, and even a match eventually. With Stephanie in place, the feud can never really grow past where it’s currently at. And her inability to act and self serving antics will only hurt the feud.
And now for what was the weakest moment in the show. Styles vs Reigns was always destined to have shenanigans involved. But the thing about shenanigans in a match is that they should amount to something. If nothing is changed, then what’s the point of them taking place? That’s the biggest issue with the main event. Once gain, Roman Reigns was able to score the win despite the ridiculous amount of odds against him. Taking a lot of punishment from both Styles and the team of Anderson and Gallows, Reigns was still able to score the win with just one spear. It’s sort of insulting since he was hit with Styles’ finisher a few times, put through a table, and suffered a vicious boot of doom from Gallows and Anderson. He simply shook it off at the end, delivered a few superman punches, and hit his spear to score the win.
Not only was he obviously carried through the match by AJ, his victory despite the damage taken did nothing for him but expose his weaknesses and his dependence on others to help him look good regardless of if it makes sense or not. AJ should of either scored the victory due to so much interference along with his offense, or Reigns should have won without any outside interference getting in the way. Anything else is just piling more on to how Reigns is ruining the formation of the Bullet Club in WWE. One man can not consistently kick the crap out of a group of men and overcome the numbers game every time without it taking some sort of toll on how the group is perceived by the fans. This is Nexus and John Cena all over again. Or more recently, Reigns and the League of Nations.
Payback started off with an excellent preshow that showed off a couple of great matches before the scary injury at the beginning of the show. Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn brought the energy back up, and the Cesaro vs The Miz and Jericho vs Ambrose kept the momentum going. But another homage to the Montreal Screwjob for the thousandth time along with an absolute mess of a main event lowered the quality of the event. It’s interesting to see how things play out on the way to Extreme Rules. But if this is the way WWE plans on treating the Bullet Club, then what a waste of time and potential.