Payback 2016: The Booking Anchor
Date: May 1, 2016
Location: Allstate Arena, Chicago, Illinois
Commentators: Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield, Byron Saxton
We’re off to the first pay per view after Wrestlemania and things are kind of on a roll around here. The main event is Roman Reigns defending the WWE World Title against AJ Styles with the question of whether or not Karl Anderson/Luke Gallows will be interfering on AJ’s behalf. Other than that we find out who will be in control of Monday Night Raw going forward between the Authority and Shane McMahon. Let’s get to it.
Pre-Show: Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler
This was bumped from the main card earlier today. Corbin tosses him around to start and gets two off a hard right hand. Ziggler’s comeback is easily cut off with a modified hot shot as Corbin keeps casually walking around. A heavy clothesline sets up the chinlock to keep Corbin on Ziggler’s neck.
Ziggler gets out and grabs a sleeper for a bit, followed by a Fameasser for two. They head outside with Ziggler loading up a dive but getting kicked out of the air. Corbin loads up a powerbomb but it’s the old Big Show Alley Oop to send Ziggler face first into the post for a good looking crash. For some reason Baron takes way too much time getting back in, allowing Ziggler to roll Corbin up for the pin at 7:43.
Rating: C-. The match was a nicely done big man beatdown for the most part and then they do THAT ending? I don’t know how to make this any clearer to WWE but Dolph Ziggler isn’t going anywhere and it’s long past due to stop giving him wins like this. Corbin could be something on the main roster but now he’s losing his first major match less than a month after debuting. I’m sure it’s a surprise though and that’s what WWE must be going for, along with annoying the NXT fans who think they understand wrestling.
Pre-Show: US Title: Kalisto vs. Ryback
Kalisto is defending after Ryback beat him in a non-title match a few weeks back on Smackdown. The crowd is really not pleased to see Ryback here and bust out the tried and true GOLDBERG chants. Ryback blasts him with a right hand to start (that sounds so familiar) but Kalisto gets in a monkey flip to send Ryback outside.
A suicide dive sets up a springboard corkscrew plancha with Ryback barely getting underneath him in time to keep Kalisto from bouncing off the apron. Back in and a tornado DDT is countered into a suplex for two as we take a break. We come back to see Ryback sending him shoulder first into the post, only to grab a spinning DDT to put both guys down.
They head to the apron with Kalisto hitting a nice enziguri and another DDT to send Ryback onto the apron (Mauro: “MAMA MIA!”). Ryback comes up holding his shoulder but Kalisto goes with a spinning kick to the face and the hurricanrana driver for two. The Salida Del Sol is countered into a Shell Shock attempt but Kalisto flips out of that as well, only to eat a spinebuster for two. Ryback goes up for some reason but gets kicked in the head again to slow him down. Kalisto goes up as well and is promptly gorilla pressed face first onto the mat. The top rope splash misses though and the Salida Del Sol retains the title at 9:28.
Rating: B. That was an AWESOME match with both guys working very hard throughout. Now the problem here is WHAT WERE THEY THINKING??? Kalisto is another name on a long list of lame duck champions who never get to do anything with the title because they either never defend the thing or lose their non-title matches. At the same time, Ryback continues to flounder in his latest heel run because WWE keeps cutting his legs off in matches like this. Still though, awesome match and one of the best pre-show matches they’ve ever done.
The opening video is Bray Wyatt talking about how payback is the first thing we think of every day and how much it consumes all of us. This must have been made weeks ago.
Here’s the New Day to open things up. They’ll be down at ringside watching and sipping on some lemonade like Becky with the good hair. Woods offers his services to help Beyonce get back at Jay-Z for cheating on her and Big E. hits the catchphrases.
Now we get a normal opening video with the standard highlight packages on the big stuff.
Tag Team Tournament Finals: Enzo Amore/Colin Cassady vs. Vaudevillains
The winners get a title shot at some point in the future. Enzo: “If my aunt had hair on her back, she’d be my uncle.” The Vaudevillains need to get in their DeLorean and go back to the future and Cass thinks they’re posing like Hey Arnold. Cass: “You never should have gotten off the stoop!” After saying they never should have left their stoop (another Hey Arnold reference), Cass calls the SAWFT to get us going.
Enzo and Gotch start things off with Simon working on the arm before it’s off to the partners. The tag to Cass is treated as a big deal but everything breaks down with Cass throwing Enzo at both guys. Enzo gets sent hard out to the floor with his head hitting the bottom rope in an ugly crash. He isn’t moving and a stretcher is brought out as the match is called off at about four minutes. I won’t be rating this due to the time and the injury but it was fine while it lasted.
The announcers talk for a good while with the camera only showing Enzo for a few moments at a time.
Long video on Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens, the same one that aired on Raw and Smackdown.
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
They slug it out immediately and Kevin is sent outside for a big flip dive. JBL starts talking about a tiger attacking Roy of Siegfried and Roy, including ripping off Chris Rock’s line of “that tiger went tiger.” Back in and Owens gets in a hard shot before dropping Sami face first onto the apron. Zayn is sent hard into the steps as Cole tells us that Enzo is talking and moving his extremities. That’s such a relief.
Back in and Owens poses a lot while asking why Sami isn’t getting payback yet. A chinlock slows things down and it’s Sami slugging away with forearms. The hard clothesline puts Kevin down but Sami can’t follow up. Referee: “YOU GUYS GOOD?” Owens: “Shut up!” Sami hammers away in the corner before a Michinoku Driver (called the Blue Thunder Bomb by Cole) gets two.
The real Blue Thunder Bomb gets two more and Owens’ brainbuster onto the knee gets the same. Kevin drops a frog splash and a couple of Cannonballs (JBL: “He may roll a perfect game!”) but the Pop Up powerbomb is countered with a dropkick. The half and half suplex sends Kevin flying but he pops up and clotheslines Sami inside out. Another powerbomb is countered into a rollup as you can feel the chemistry here. These two just know each other so well and there’s nothing that can replace that.
Sami’s tornado DDT is countered into a backbreaker and Kevin’s face turns evil. A third powerbomb, this time onto the apron, is countered again with a backdrop to send Kevin spine first onto the apron and then the floor. The diving tornado DDT plants Kevin again but Kevin superkicks his head off and finally gets the powerbomb for the pin at 14:28.
Rating: A-. I was really feeling this one as both guys beat the tar out of each other for a long time and told an awesome story of knowing each other so well. I would have had Sami go over here but you really can’t go wrong with either guy winning. Both of them will be fine and Sami is the one who can lose most of his matches and be fine at the end.
Post match Kevin beats him up some more and demands that Byron bring him a mic. Kevin: “Ask me about beating Sami Zayn right now!” Byron, who is taller than Owens, asks if the rivalry is over. Owens: “THAT’S NOT WHAT I TOLD YOU TO SAY!” Kevin says he finally proved that he’s the better man between the two of them and now he can refocus on getting back his Intercontinental Title. Byron asks if Kevin thinks Miz will retain the title, which Kevin takes as an invitation to do commentary on the next match.
Intercontinental Title: Cesaro vs. The Miz
Miz is defending and there isn’t much of a story here other than Cesaro wants the title. Miz goes for the shoulder to start but Cesaro shoves him away and shakes a finger at him. The delayed vertical suplex gets two (Owens: “He can keep him up for awhile but he can’t keep him down for three.”) followed by a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for the same.
Miz gets in a shot on the arm and cranks away on the shoulder as Owens is asked who he would rather face for the title. Owens: “I would rather face you but that’s not going to happen.” Back up and Miz poses a bit before hitting the sleeper. Cesaro gets caught in a bodyscissors but casually picks Miz up and throws him off for the break.
We hit the uppercuts with Owens saying he never wants to take another one of those. Cole: “Well if Cesaro wins you’ll have to…” Owens: “COLE STOP TELLING ME WHAT I’LL HAVE TO DO!” A running dropkick gets two on Miz as Owens calls Miz Mike by mistake. Byron interprets this as Owens cheering for his friend. Owens: “Byron go call your mom or something because no one else wants to listen to you.”
The spinning uppercut sets up Swiss Death for a very close two but Cesaro goes shoulder first into the post. Miz gets the Finale for two but here’s Sami Zayn to go after Owens and fight him into the crowd. Cesaro swings Miz for a long time and puts on a Crossface but Owens and Zayn get on the apron to distract the referee as Miz taps. The distraction lets Miz roll Cesaro up for the pin at 10:26.
Rating: C+. DANG IT WWE STOP DOING STUPID THINGS! This should have been the biggest layup on the card but instead they’ll keep the title on Miz because we haven’t waited long enough to give Cesaro a major win. This is up there with the League of Nations beating New Day at Wrestlemania on the scale of stupid booking decisions. I’m a big Miz fan but they should have changed the title here and moved on to Owens vs. Cesaro vs. Zayn. On a more positive note, this was some of the funniest commentary I’ve ever heard as Owens is one of the best jerk heels in years.
Owens and Zayn keep fighting and Sami takes another Pop Up Powerbomb. Maryse has to save Miz from a powerbomb of his own.
We recap Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho which started when Ambrose took over the Highlight Reel and turned it into the Ambrose Asylum. Jericho doesn’t like the idea of someone upstaging him and the match was set up as a result.
Chris Jericho vs. Dean Ambrose
Jericho bails to the floor to start so Dean chases him back inside and hits an early cross body. Chris crawls over to the referee for protection before dropping Dean ribs first across the top rope. We hit the chinlock on Dean for a bit but Jericho’s bulldog is countered with a shove into the corner. Byron talks about both guys’ documented careers, prompting JBL to say that it’s documented because he and Cole have talked about him. Your lesson for this match: JBL needs to let Kevin Owens do the heel commentary.
Dean gets two off a bulldog of his own but the top rope elbow is countered into the Walls. A rope is eventually grabbed and Jericho is sent to the floor for the suicide dive. They head to the announcers’ table with Jericho trying the Walls but settling for a catapult over the barricade for a big crash. As expected, Dean dives back in at nine before escaping the Codebreaker.
The rebound lariat puts both guys down for a breather. Now the top rope elbow gets two but Jericho grabs the Walls again, only to have Dean make the ropes again. The enziguri and butterfly backbreaker get two each for Chris but Dean gets the knees up to block the Lionsault. An awkward sequence (with Jericho laying on Dean’s knees) sets up Dirty Deeds for the pin on Chris at 18:18.
Rating: C. It really is amazing how much damage that loss to Lesnar did to Ambrose as I just do not care about him anymore. This match went on for a LONG time and didn’t go anywhere other than two people doing moves (and missing a lot of them) for the better part of twenty minutes. Dean winning is the right call, even if it makes Jericho going over AJ last month all the more confusing.
Jericho throws a fit post match.
Sasha Banks is talking to Shane McMahon.
Women’s Title: Charlotte vs. Natalya
Charlotte is defending and has Ric Flair in her corner while Natalya has her uncle Bret Hart in hers. Charlotte WOOs at her to start but Natalya grabs the Sharpshooter. That’s flipped away so Natalya nips up to scare the champ a bit. Another takedown sets up a leg lock for a bit before Charlotte bails to the floor. A chase results in Natalya getting kicked on the way back in but the fans would rather have Sasha.
They trade some chops until Natalya sends her flying with a release German suplex. Charlotte starts in on the leg (“Hey Bret, you want to learn something?”) but takes too much time bragging and gets caught in an armbar. Natalya shoves her off the top for a big crash, allowing Flair to tell some fans to keep their mouths shut. Charlotte loads up a powerbomb onto the apron but Natalya counters into something resembling a hurricanrana on the floor.
Back in and a boot to the face stops Natalya’s discus lariat, only to have a slap (yes a slap) break up the Figure Eight. A quick Natural Selection gets two for the champ, followed by that great looking moonsault for the same. The Figure Four is put on but quickly reversed so Charlotte puts on Natalya…..AND IT’S FREAKING MONTREAL with Charles Robinson (a noted Flair megafan) ringing the bell without Natalya tapping to retain the title at 13:04.
Rating: C+. MONTREAL. It’s been nearly twenty years and they’re STILL doing that thing again? Would it freaking kill them to just put Sasha in the title hunt instead of giving us Natalya vs. Charlotte IV or whatever it’s going to be at Extreme Rules? Bret did absolutely nothing here and the whole thing feels like a huge waste of time and effort.
Bret and Natalya put on matching Sharpshooters post match. I’m so glad Natalya got over that loss in all of 14 seconds.
Here’s Vince for his decision on the control of Raw but the fans cut him off with a CM PUNK chant. Vince talks about how amazing Raw is but gets cut off again, prompting him to ask how long it can go. Vince: “COME ON! YOU’VE GOT MORE THAN THAT!” He talks about all the different eras Raw has gone through and thinks it’s time for a new visionary. Vince brings out Stephanie to even more booing.
The fans are pleased with the idea of Reigns spearing Stephanie at Wrestlemania but she doesn’t want their support or sympathy. Stephanie brags about her success, including the debut of the Shield and the Divas Revolution. Their biggest success was the launch of the WWE Network which went from an idea to 1.8 million subscribers. That brings her to Shane, whose only qualification to run Raw is being a man. After the better part of five minutes, Stephanie brings up Shane blackmailing Vince to get back into the company after leaving for seven years. Cue Shane to break up the BORING chants.
Shane shows a bunch of media clips about how he’s made wrestling cool again. That brings him back to the WWE Network comment, which was Vince’s idea. Of those 1.8 million subscribers, we’ve got about 18,000 of them in the house tonight. Oddly enough, a lot of those people came on board around Wrestlemania XXXII, which was probably due to one match in particular. Fans: “YOU STILL GOT IT!” Stephanie: “Thank you, yes I do!”
Shane brings up the departure in 2007 and says it was due to his voice being ignored. In the void he left, the Authority took over and promptly ran the company into the ground. Shane came back to save the company’s future for all of the future McMahon generations. The fans are entirely behind Shane of course but Vince says Shane shouldn’t be here after the loss to Undertaker.
Then Shane came out the night after Wrestlemania and was handed Raw because he would fall on his face. However, Vince didn’t think Shane failed that badly but he doesn’t listen to these people. Vince wants to see them slit each others’ throats and disembowel each other…..so they’ll both be running the show together. Shane and Stephanie shake hands before leaving.
We recap the World Title match. Reigns won the title at Wrestlemania and AJ became #1 contender the next night at Raw. The twist has been the debut of Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, AJ’s former partners in the Bullet Club in New Japan, who attacked Reigns multiple times. AJ has denied being behind it but Reigns doesn’t buy it.
Enzo has been diagnosed with a concussion but all other tests have come back negative.
WWE World Title: AJ Styles vs. Roman Reigns
Reigns is defending. AJ cranks on a headlock to start but is easily shoved away. Styles starts kicking at the legs but it’s still a standoff in the early going. They do a quick chase around ringside and AJ gets in a few kicks to briefly take over. A hard clothesline turns AJ inside out and a big old sitout powerbomb gets two. The Superman punch is countered with a quick enziguri (cool visual there) and AJ’s strike rush sets up the low forearm for two on the champ.
AJ elbows out of a Samoan drop and gets the Calf Crusher, sending Roman crawling to the ropes. Reigns bails to the floor and eats a GREAT looking Phenomenal Forearm to send both guys through the table in a big crash. AJ tries to throw Reigns back in but it’s a countout win for Styles….until Shane comes out to make this match no countouts. Ignore the fact that he runs RAW and not pay per views of course.
They get back in with AJ not being able to hit anything off the top. Another strike rush sets up a 450 but Reigns gets the knees up for two. AJ is up first but dives into a right hand below the belt for a DQ. As you might expect, here’s Stephanie to say not so fast because we’re restarting it with no disqualifications. Oh yeah it’s going to be all about the McMahons.
Reigns takes him outside and sends AJ into the steps before kicking him over the barricade and into the crowd. Thankfully Reigns doesn’t follow him to avoid being murdered. AJ kicks him again and they head back inside, only to have another Phenomenal Forearm countered with a Superman punch. Again, that looked GREAT. A second Superman punch drops AJ but here are Gallows and Anderson to go after Roman.
The champ is beaten down and another Phenomenal Forearm gets two with Reigns putting his foot on the ropes. Cue the Usos to go after Anderson and Gallows but Reigns shoves AJ onto all four of them to break up the fight. Now Reigns does his own big dive to take out the pile so AJ throws him inside for a springboard 450 (Not a shooting star Cole. Come on now that’s not even close.) and another near fall. Another Forearm misses and the spear puts AJ down at 24:58.
Rating: A. Oh yeah this was awesome with Reigns being the perfect foil for someone like AJ and his high flying offense. It’s clear that we’re getting a big gimmick rematch in three weeks at Extreme Rules but at least the first match was excellent stuff. Shane and Stephanie interfering was really annoying but that’s exactly what you have to expect going forward because they’re like interesting or something. Great match here though and better than I was expecting.
Reigns poses until we cut to the back where Shane and Stephanie make AJ vs. Reigns II in an Extreme Rules match for the title. Shane supports Stephanie’s decision to end the show.
Overall Rating: B. Well that was…..something indeed. There was a lot of good action but the booking decisions (Miz and Montreal) really brought things down. AJ vs. Reigns and Owens vs. Zayn were both excellent but my goodness the McMahon drama feels like something that is going to go on for the better part of ever. I had a good enough time watching it though and the wrestling in the two big matches really brought things up. Find a way to fix the booking (read as STOP DOING STUPID THINGS) and this show goes through the roof.
Enzo Amore/Colin Cassady vs. Vaudevillains went to a no contest when Amore was injured
Kevin Owens b. Sami Zayn – Pop Up Powerbomb
Miz b. Cesaro – Rollup with a handful of trunks
Dean Ambrose b. Chris Jericho – Dirty Deeds
Charlotte b. Natalya – Sharpshooter
Roman Reigns b. AJ Styles – Spear
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