What’s going on here? WWE has actually built towards a PPV – again! And we actually had an entire card announced before the Smackdown two days before! Is the WWE turning a corner? Hopefully, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Tonight we have the debut of a new PPV name: WWE Payback. It’s looking like a good show, with 7 matches announced for the main show, including 6 title matches and the possible returns of both the World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler and the Best In The World CM Punk.
Unfortunately, this time round Matt wasn’t able to get his predictions in due to unforeseen circumstances. How exactly this will impact the prediction league we will try and discuss next week.
The pre-show, or “Payback Kick-Off” as it has been dubbed features Sheamus vs Damien Sandow, in a match that has surprised many by not being on the main card. Theirs is a feud that has been given a lot of screen time over the last few weeks, but I think it’s a good thing that it has been kept off the show. It will be a squash match as it is, but at least this way it’s not going to be a squash match that is overshadowed by just about every other match on the card. Brogue Kick for the pinfall victory. Now, on to the main show!
Divas Championship Match: AJ Lee vs Kaitlyn (C)
The first time in months that I’m writing about a divas match. Why? Because this is the first time in months that there actually looks like a storyline in the divas division. It’s the first time in months that there is actually some attention being given to the divas division. Yes the secret admirer story was a bit lame, but it’s better than nothing. And it eventually led to AJ being put over as an evil mastermind. Genius. Crazy, but genius. And on Smackdown, we saw Kaitlyn respond with some ruthless aggression. This is simple, effective storytelling that shows that AJ has gotten inside Kaitlyn’s head. This is the first personal rivalry between women in the WWE since LayCool and Mickie James. Now, as for the match, it could go either way. I think AJ will end up with the belt eventually, it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. This feud has legs though, and it only really got serious in the last week. So I don’t think there’s any need to rush it.
Prediction: Winner and STILL Divas Champion – Kaitlyn via pinfall
Triple Threat Match for the Intercontinental Championship: The Miz vs Curtis Axel vs Wade Barrett (C)
This has got to be one of the most clear cut triple threat matches ever. There is no way that either Barrett or Miz was ever leaving with the belt. First the match was a way to pass the belt from one heel (Barrett) to another (Fandango). Now the match is still a way to pass the belt from Barrett to another heel. Axel will really benefit from having the belt, and even just from being in the mid-card. So far he has been up against the likes of Triple H and John Cena, who the WWE want to protect all the while trying to build Axel up as a threat. It was never going to work. But, allowing Axel to beat everybody there is on the Intercontinental Championship level before he moves back up to face the Cenas of the business will allow him time to look credible, and give his relationship and dynamic with Heyman time to blossom. Plus, and he has referenced this in passing on Twitter, his father Mr Perfect was one of the greatest superstars to hold the IC belt, so as a heritage point this will be an extremely significant moment in Joe Hennig’s career. So, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m going with the latest Paul Heyman guy for this one.
Prediction: Winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion – Curtis Axel via pinfall
United States Championship Match – Kane vs Dean Ambrose (C)
This will be a good experience for Dean Ambrose to work with someone as experienced on WWE television as Kane. It can only be a good thing for him personally, and we all saw the smile that spread across Kane’s face when he was told he was challenging for the US Title. That could have been and probably was because he was getting his hands on a member of The Shield in one-on-one action, but it’s nice to think that someone still seems to care about the actual championships. I would expect a decent match between these two, but in all honesty I think Kane’s days as a singles champion are over.
Prediction: Winner and STILL United States Champion – Dean Ambrose via pinfall
Tag Team Championship Match – Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton vs The Shield (C)
Now I want to pick up on something that, as far as I have seen anyway, has gone slightly under the radar. Two nights ago on Smackdown, Daniel Bryan made Seth Rollins tap, in doing so inflicting The Shield’s first defeat in 6-man tag competition. I was surprised it happened on Smackdown, and I am surprised more has not been made of it. For months now the commentators have been playing up The Shield’s invincibility – now that there is a chink in their armour I would have thought it would have been a pretty big deal. Apparently not. There have been a lot of rumours going into this that either Bryan or Orton will be turning heel – Bryan essentially because he has been rumoured to face John Cena in the near future, and Orton because he’s Orton. That seems to be the focus of this match-up, which is a slight shame because anything involving The Shield deserves to have them as the centre of attention, but nobody will be complaining because of the roll Bryan has been on, and I think the WWE Universe’s collective eagerness to see Bryan move up to the top of the card on his own.
Prediction: Winner and STILL Tag Team Champions – Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns via pinfall
World Heavyweight Championship Match: Alberto Del Rio vs Dolph Ziggler (C)
We are all happy to welcome back Dolph Ziggler, but this match just feels a little flat. Having Del Rio face off against Ziggler’s henchman Big E Langston was a good way to keep this feud going in Ziggler’s month absence, but what we got was overkill. It ended up being a best of 5 series. In about 3 weeks, that is ridiculous. But anyway, I think we have to go back to Edge and Lita for the last power couple in the WWE (where both members are active wrestlers, so I’m not including anything involving Vickie Guerrero), but we could possibly see Dolph and AJ walk out of Payback as champions. And I think the title on the line in this match is pretty much guaranteed to stay with the show off.
Prediction: Winner and STILL World Heavyweight Champion – Dolph Ziggler
Chris Jericho vs CM Punk
This is currently the only match on the main card that isn’t for a title, but if it goes as I expect, there is a pretty logical argument for this match going on last. Of course that won’t happen, owing to the fact John Cena is also on the card, but this is certainly a bigger match than the last one I wrote about, and will certainly be better and garner more of a reaction than the WWE Championship match. If it happens at all. There have been a lot of rumours as to whether this match would actually take place, with many theories being thrown about as to possible outcomes. Perhaps my favourite would be the suggestion that saw Curtis Axel take Punk’s place. It would be an easy way of getting huge heat on Axel – and I cannot stress huge enough. Imagine the Chicago crowd’s reaction if – instead of hometown hero and genuine best wrestler in the world CM Punk – they were presented with the much endorsed but yet to be proven on WWE TV Curtis Axel. He would probably be more hated than Cena. My personal scenario for this involves the debut of the Wyatt family. Is it just a coincidence that the first vignette for Bray Wyatt aired the same night as this match was made? Probably. But Bray tweeted earlier today including the hashtag Payback. And it makes a lot more sense to me for Chris Jericho to essentially be used as an enhancement talent, putting over new stars. He doesn’t need to be facing someone like CM Punk, who he already feuded with for three or four months last year. Unless it is being used purely as part of an angle – which it probably is – there is no reason for Chris Jericho and CM Punk to face each other once again (aside from giving Punk an opponent he already has chemistry with to put on a great match for his return, but this is CM Punk we’re talking about here, he can have a great match with just about anybody).
I have to say, I would be disappointed if Punk returned tonight. In a lot of ways, I don’t want him to make his grand return tonight. I think he deserves a longer break after carrying the entire company on his shoulders for the 18 months prior to Wrestlemania, and the longer break he has the longer he will presumably be around for in the long term, as theoretically he should be less burnt out. And the longer he stays away, the bigger the pop will be. I realise that probably sounds totally ridiculous considering not much should be able to rival a Chicago pop for CM Punk, but the longer he is away, the bigger his return will be. As it is, he will probably return tonight. And WWE TV will undoubtedly improve because of his presence. The rumour is that Punk will turn face and feud with Brock Lesnar, because Punk only has 1 year left on his contract and Vince wants one last big face run out of him if he leaves. For Punk to turn face, strange though it will be in Chicago and for the return of someone as established as he is, it makes the most sense for him to lose. He would then turn on Heyman for accepting the match on his behalf, thereby turning face and setting up a logical rivalry with Heyman’s other client, Lesnar.
Prediction: Winner – Chris Jericho via pinfall
Three Stages of Hell Match for the WWE Championship: Ryback vs John Cena (C)
I’m going to keep this short, because there only seems to be one possible outcome and as I’ve already said the return of CM Punk is essentially the main event tonight. The rumour is that the only reason this match was changed to a Three Stages of Hell match was to give Cena a landmark moment in his undoubtedly Hall of Fame career. And in all the talk regarding the WWE Championship’s future in the coming months, I haven’t seen a single mention of Ryback. Of course, he will win one fall – I would hazard a guess at the Tables Match – but he seems to have no chance of coming out victorious overall. I just think that everyone that has seen or heard about the rumour is already looking excitedly past this at the rumoured Cena-Bryan match for the WWE Championship.
Prediction: Winner and STILL WWE Champion – John Cena
So I’m predicting that only one title will change hands. I wouldn’t be surprised if AJ makes it two with the Divas Title at all, but officially I’m only going with one. It looks like it will be a good show quality wise – Punk/Jericho can be epic if given the time, Ziggler/Del Rio can have a good to great match if given time, and anything involving The Shield and Daniel Bryan has been excellent. Even AJ and Kaitlyn can put on an above average match for what we have been used to getting from the WWE – not that I’m expecting anything as apparently good as Gail Kim/Taryn Terrell. With a month of above average Raws behind us, and the returns of two of the best workers in the company in Ziggler and Punk, the imminent debut of the Wyatt Family, coupled with the ever excellent work of Daniel Bryan and The Shield, I think there is a lot to be excited about for the rest of the year.
It’s a shame that Matt couldn’t get anything in this time around, I’ve posted this later than I would have liked to give him every chance to submit something to me. As I said two thousand words ago, I’ll hopefully get the chance to speak to him in the coming week to discuss how his absence affects the prediction league.
Nearly a week ago I posted a column about why I was a fan of wrestling, with a little insight into the kind of fan I am. I poured my heart and soul into it (not really), and it would mean a lot if you could give it a look. It may help you decide whether this blog is for you or not, whether you agree with me or not. But if you stick with this blog through all that, then please share this with as many people as you possibly can.
And as always remember to get in touch with what kind of fan you are, whether you agree with my picks for Payback, and if not who you think will end up victorious.