WWE – Payback 2014 (Cert 15)
1 Disc Blu-ray / DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 172 minutes approx
While the first instalment of Payback last year was about a triumphant return this year it was about absent friends – in this case Chicago’s favourite son CM Punk who walked out on the company after the Royal Rumble in January. Also missing from the card was a WWE World Heavyweight title match due to the current champ Daniel Bryan unfortunately suffering from a slow recovery from his neck surgery a month earlier.
And so it was that on June 1st 2014 that 13, 311 fans packed the All State Arena in Chicago, Illinois to find out the fate of the WWE Title and to remind old friends they were missed. Your commentators as always are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and JBL and while there are no results or spoilers in the match recaps, expect plenty of opinion.
US Title Match – Sheamus (c) vs. Cesaro
Sheamus won the US title in a 20 man battle royale which was punishment for then champion Dean Ambrose for not defending the belt. When Sheamus kicked Ambrose to eliminate him that was supposed to be his heel turn but no-one got it so they kept Sheamus face. Even so Cesaro was cheered more than Sheamus here as this two big hosses clashed in a decent and physical opener, preceded by another excellent promo from Paul Heyman.
Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. Rybaxel
This was a bonus match in the feud that doesn’t appear to want to end. The story is that Cody has been acting heelish as the brothers have racked up a series of loses against this duo and other teams. Match was what it was with a surprise development coming in the aftermath.
Big E. vs. Rusev
After squashing jobbers with ease, the chubby bloke with the 80’s throwback gimmick who accompanies Lana to the ring is given his first big a test in the form of former IC Champ Big E. A short but hard hitting affair this was Rusev’s best outing to date although I’ve yet to be fully convinced by him.
Kofi Kingston vs. Bo Dallas
Another bonus match that wasn’t a match as an uninvited guest had other ideas. This should have been a RAW angle not on a PPV.
IC Title Match – Bad News Barrett (c) vs. Rob Van Dam
I don’t know how he did it but Wade Barrett managed to make what was initially a lame gimmick with his “Bad News” interruptions into something entertaining and got himself over in the process. He is even cheered over the usually popular RVD here! Good match although RVD is starting to show signs of years of performing his trademark risky style catching up with now he is in his mid-40’s.
Daniel Bryan’s Decision
Again this should have been kept to RAW but the hopes were that the big decision would help with the buy rates/WWE Network interest (which in the US is just $9.99 apparently). To continue the ongoing feud between Bryan and The Authority, Stephanie McMahon demanded that Bryan relinquish the title at this show or Mrs. Bryan (Brie Bella to you and me) will be fired, the rationale being the WWE can’t have a champion who can’t work. Ironically in the video package they showed Triple H who in 2003 was unable to defend his World Title due to a groin injury for FOUR MONTHS yet retained his belt the entire time! Anyway, the ultimatum was answered and if you have watched WWE TV recently you will have seen the outcome of this segment as it has been shown ad nauseum since.
Last Man Standing Match – John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt
Guess who received the biggest cheers here? Clue: it wasn’t Cena. A fairly dull affair until The Usos leant a hand in dealing with Harper and Rowan to liven things up a bit. To be fair there are some cool spots, such as Cena launching the ring steps onto Wyatt as he stood outside the ring, but ultimately it is a Cena match so you can guess the result and expect a hokey and contrived finish to boot.
Divas Title Match – Paige (c) vs. Alicia Fox
This feud came about after Fox starting flipping out after losing her matches on TV which finally made her interesting. Then she beat Paige in a non-title match in the UK of all places (thanks Vince!) leading to this match. Despite being stuck in the dead spot they worked hard and had a solid match with some big bumps but the crow was unfortunately dead.
No Holds Barred Elimination Match – The Shield vs. Evolution
The infamous “Bluetista” match where Big Dave caused the aforementioned chants and trend on Twitter from wearing blue. It shouldn’t have been a big deal if he had left it at the trunks and boots but the sleeves were the source of amusing for everyone. The match itself was decent brawl but rather confusingly for a No Holds Barred match they spent most of the time observing regular tag match rules! Once again Seth Rollins was the star with another insane dive from the heavens.
The loss of Daniel Bryan as an active competitor was fairly noticeable to the overall mood and success of this PPV. The result was that the forward motion of the undercard wrestlers which was hinted at Wrestlemania 30 and sadly diluted at Extreme Rules was pretty much thrown on the scrap heap with this show. Aside from the main event result there was little to show any encouragement for a major change in favour of the new stars the future.
I hate to sound like a scratched record but as long as the usual suspects continue to receive preferential treatment then we are going to continue to be subjected to treading water shows like this one. It wasn’t bad by any means but nothing about it screams “must see”.
Best match – The Shield vs. Evolution
Payback Kick-off – Nikki Bella Weighs in On Daniel Bryan’s Decision
Payback Kick-off Match – Mask vs Hair Match – El Torito vs. Hornswoggle
Renee Young Interviews Sheamus
Monday Night Raw – 5th May 2014
20-Man Battle Royal for the US Title
SmackDown – 9th May 2014
Six-Man Tag Match – John Cena & The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family
Monday Night Raw – 12th May 2014
The Shield Challenge Evolution to Clash at Payback
Bray Wyatt Promises to be the Last Man Standing
Non-Title Match – Paige vs. Alicia Fox
Monday Night Raw – 26th May 2014
Bray Wyatt Sends a Message to the Cenation
The Authority Asks Daniel Bryan to Hand Over His Championship
The Shield vs. Evolution Contract Signing
Rating – ***
Man In Black