On Sunday Night, the WWE put on their “special event” titled Payback on the WWE Network. The pressure was on the WWE main roster to put on a tremendous show after the NXT Takeover show got amazing reviews this week. Payback 2014 delivered. In a big way – almost to the point where it was the best event of the year so far.
From top to bottom, each match delivered & got across what it needed to. On the WWE Network side of things, the live stream went in & out for a while (I was watching on the Playstation 3, but it sounds like others had a few issues as well). Once the stream issues cleared up about 30 minutes into the event, I could tell that this was going to be one of the better shows of 2014, which it was.
Preshow – El Torito & Hornswoggle Finally End Their Feud.
The feud between El Torito & Hornswoggle has been basically made for the young kids to have a blast with, & it sounds like they have. The two had an okay match for what it was. Horny gets his head shaved. The bull is finally safe & gets his revenge for Hornswoggle ripping off his tail last week on Monday Night Raw.
At this point in the show, I decided that I needed to order a pizza & I couldn’t think of any better time than right at that moment.
Sheamus & Cesaro Had a Fun, Physical Match.
Before the match started, Paul Heyman came out & did his routine ripping on the fans of Chicago, who would chanting very loudly for CM Punk, who was actually in town because his beloved Chicago Blackhawks were playing in game 7 of the NHL Western Conference Finals at the exact same time the event was starting.
Heyman, being the brilliant orator that he is, blatantly admitted that Punk was at the game watching the Blackhawks, thus making it feel as though he walked out on the WWE & tried to make him the villain in his own hometown. It worked, especially later in the night, but more on that later.
With Sheamus & Cesaro, they had a physically intense match that was very solid, with Sheamus getting the victory & keeping his U.S. Title. Cesaro is a rising star, but at some point, he needs a championship soon, which could come with an opportunity at the upcoming event, Money In The Bank, on June 29. If Cesaro isn’t in the plans to win the MITB briefcase & later become a world champion, then he should have won the championship tonight.
Sheamus is a great performer for what he is, but I need to see something fresh from him. For far too long, Sheamus has basically been exactly the same happy-go-lucky babyface type & at some point, he needs to end up going into a heel mode & give his character some kind of refresh. The U.S. belt should mean a ton but WWE creative has watered down Sheamus so much that it is hard to care about him much right now.
Cody Rhodes & Goldust FINALLY Get Split Up.
At this point, Cody Rhodes & Goldust have their tag match with Ryback & Curtis Axel. The match itself was fine – I am a fan of both of these teams & while the Rhodes are far better technically in the ring, Ryback & Curtis Axel have been gelling so much better as a team than they were when they were first put together. This is a team that could do some fun things down the line & with the Wyatt Family (Luke Harper & Erick Rowan) getting stronger & the Usos are getting much better in the ring, the WWE tag-team division is starting to get more credibility for the first time in years.
With Cody & Goldust, this is a split that most wresting fans have seen coming & WWE has done a great job with teasing this for the longest time, but the way it was done was very unique & a twist.
After Cody gets pinned to lose the match, he is feeling terrible & you are expecting that he is going to hit Goldust or there is going to be some kind of backlash or blow-up from weeks of frustration, but Cody simply said that Goldust needed a better tag team partner. It was very effective, much more emotional & loving and it shows that the company isn’t going to just throw this program away.
I think a Cody vs Goldust match has to happen in order to really cap off this feud, especially for Goldust, who will probably go back into in-ring retirement & be a WWE road agent again. Cody Rhodes needs to be in contention for a singles championship. He is too talented to be stuck in a subpar program, which this has not been, but they are going down a bit of a slippery slope right now.
This program needs to have a great ending to propel Cody back into the singles game. Singles meaning wrestling, Cody Rhodes definitely has too hot of a wife to even think of being single again.
Kofi Kingston Should BOLieve That He Is Worth Not Getting Beat By Kane.
So, many people are shocked that Kofi Kingston is still in the WWE. No, really they are. Kofi has been so underutilized for so long that many fans are entertained when he is out there, but know that he will never have a chance to move up on the roster & possibly win a world championship. Kofi has amazing talent, but he isn’t amazing on the mic, but when he is an analyst on the WWE Network, he does a tremendous job. He doesn’t have that overwhelming personality that jumps off the page at someone, & because of that, that will keep him down unfortunately.
On the rise, however, is Bo Dallas, who is fresh from NXT. Dallas has a great gimmick right now in the “BOlieve” movement, but the company isn’t making him come off as a heel the way he did when he was in NXT. Right now, you can make a case that he is almost a good guy from the way his opponents are reacting to him at the end of matches. Its early on, but there has to be a stronger distinction coming soon.
Before the match gets started, Kane comes out & destroys Kofi for some reason & Dallas leaves quickly. Ok………
Oh yeah, Bad News Barrett beats Rob Van Dam. Yawn.
Now we get into the meat & potatoes of the card.
Stephanie McMahon, Daniel Bryan & Brie Bella Have a Great Segment.
Daniel Bryan legitimately had neck surgery recently & that was going to hold him out of the WWE Championship picture for a while. Stephanie McMahon played up the idea that either Bryan gave up the belt or his wife, Brie Bella, gets fired.
It played up extremely well, the way it should. Brie, building up more tension with Stephanie, flat out said that she quits, ending that issue & firing up rumors that Brie is possibly pregnant or trying to become pregnant soon. Going out, though, Brie slapped the daylights out of Stephanie, possibly setting up a program this fall or winter, if Brie is legitimately gone for a long period of time.
As for Bryan, this will keep him off of the card for a while, at least a few more weeks until Money In The Bank where he is expected to face Kane in a buried alive match which would get Kane off TV to promote “See No Evil 2,” the latest WWE film that will be released soon.
John Cena & Bray Wyatt Have an Amazing Match.
John Cena & Bray Wyatt’s first two matches against each other were only average. They spent a ton of time telling the story & building more layers to their storyline of Wyatt trying to take away Cena’s legacy & how the kids love every thing he does or says or merchandise WWE puts out for him.
At Payback, these two had one of the best last man standing matches in recent memory. The match was well paced & the story had all of the pieces involved in prominent ways – meaning the Wyatt Family & Usos. Bray Wyatt & John Cena needed a knockdown, drag out fight that really shows what this rivalry was all about & they gave us 25 minutes of amazing action from start to finish.
This feud should be over, however. There isn’t much else these two can go with this, Cena got the upper hand & Wyatt needs to get going into a fresh program desperately. Cena will most likely go into a program with Cesaro or Orton, the two most likely people in my opinion.
Paige Continues To Impress as a WWE Diva; Where’s Crazy Alicia Fox?
Paige & Alicia Fox wrapped up their rivalry for the WWE Divas championship. Paige has become one of the best technical wrestlers in the WWE, even though she has only been up from NXT since the night after Wrestlemania when she beat A.J. Lee for the championship. She has worked very hard to be as strong a performer as she can every single week.
Alicia Fox has had a transformation in her character in the last few weeks, where she has gone all kinds of crazy at ringside after she has lost matches, and it works. It was a refreshing new dimension to her character, but tonight, she was calm when I thought she should have really amped it up to a whole new level. Maybe it will be different on Raw on Monday, but it seems like WWE might have missed a golden opportunity in front of a hot crowd to really make something special & memorable for Fox.
The Shield vs Evolution Stepped Up Their Performance Past Extreme Rules.
At Extreme Rules in May, The Shield & Evolution had an amazing, 5-star match & many fans didn’t know if there would be a follow-up, especially with many people knowing that Batista was leaving soon to promote his new Guardians of the Galaxy movie by Marvel this summer.
But, they did & it was even better than the last one. The style was an elimination, 6-man tag & the storyline wrapped up very nicely, with setting up a possible Roman Reigns/Triple H matchup for possibly Summerslam.
There may be some fallout tommorow night on Raw with Evolution breaking up in some way to get Batista off of television, or since he is scheduled to be doing an NXT taping later his month, he may stick around for a minute.
The event, overall, was outstanding because of the final main event matches, which absolutely overdelivered. It wasn’t completely better than NXT Takeover, but it was right on par.